One for Two

The weather put a damper on my adventures in Maine but I did manage to get in a couple of decent days in the White Mountains before heading home. Seems to be a common theme with me and these trips. Acadia then the Whites. This one may be the last time I make this journey, well, for while. I will be turning my sights elsewhere for future solo journeys which hopefully will not be solo. Natalie did say she is interested in a spot in West Virginia I am eyeing up so we will see if the city beach girl is up for an adventure there.

The four hour drive from Bar Harbor to North Conway provided me with ample time my first day in the Whites. I was able to check in early at the hotel and this opened up even more time for me, so I did something I would rarely ever do. Paid admission to an attraction. I did not have any hikes planned out, I had already seen the falls I wanted capture in previous trips and I figured I had two hours to kill so I purchased a ticket to The Flume Gorge. It was actually a cool way to spend the time and it turned out to be very educational. A few falls and a bunch of huge glacial boulders and a visitor center filled with information, pictures and relics. The park made you really embrace the history of the area. And it was not crowded. Ahhhhh, peacefulness. Totally worth the $18 admission. And I thought it was going to be cheezy, oh how wrong I was.

I came away with a few photos, the first being Avalanche Falls. It is a very photogenic place but you do have a walkway to contend with and when people are milling about it is hard to include in the composition so you get what you are given. Still nice to look at.

Since it was the middle of the summer the flow of water was subdued, I would certainly like to experience this during the spring thaw. The decrease was especially noticeable at Liberty Falls

My favorite look in the park was the covered bridge and cascade running underneath it. This in the fall would be magnificent. It’s like I am talking myself in to going back.

After the park it was time for an early dinner at Gordi’s then off to grab a sunset. Before the sunset though I stopped by a little pull off and grabbed this little diddy. Probably about as artsy as I am going to get here.

My sunset location for the evening was at the Pemigewasset Overlook on the Kanc. This was more crowded than the park but I got there early enough to have no one in front of me. To the side and behind yes, but all clear in front. I have been trying out circular neutral density filters lately but I have found they are not as forgiving as regular filters are. I brought my Lee’s with me just for this type of shot. I think I had a 0.9 soft grad on for this one.

Turning out to be quite a busy day considering I got into town around 13:30. It was the only clear and not cloudy or rainy day of the trip. So, setting off on what I made the trip up for I went down the road a bit to set up for the night sky. While not as dark as Acadia it was gorgeous. Met a local and asked him about other locations to grab and he was kind enough to let me in on a few spots so they will be recorded in the notes for the next time. This years Milky Way adventures did not turn out at all like I was hoping. Weather has been terrible and it is now mostly in the southern sky so that will negate almost any location possible in NJ. So because of the interruptions I guess my Milky Way education will be continuing for another year. Tragedy eh? I think I learned mostly about positioning this year. Still have a couple more months to go so there is hope.

I finally made it up to the top of Mt. Washington – by car- other times it has been closed or only 4200 feet access. The weather is wicked. The clouds are wicked and there was a bunch of them at the top. Like nearly a white out. After walking around a bit and checking out the museum I went down to a pull off a few hundred feet below the summit.

Can I tell you again the clouds are wicked. I could have watched them all day long. Rolling right through.

Next one is just because clouds are cool when they are at eye level. Even though we are right now under a Tornado watch in NJ, I adore Mom Nature.

Shortly after I got back down to the bottom it started to rain, so the rest of the day was shot. One shot of the Milky Way, two different locations. Could have been worse. Make the most of what is in front of you!

It was a trip back to sea level for me the following day to await the next journey.

Thanks for stopping by!!

Phil

Never Give Up

My working title and placeholder in my drafts as I began this was “Without Success”. A mid summer trip to Maine proved to be unfavorable to its intended purpose of grabbing some photos of the Milky Way in a dark sky location. I went up for a three night stay and every night was either cloudy or rainy. Quite the drag. My second reason for the short trip though, was to reacquaint myself with a few spots and a general scouting mission for a trip up in the beginning of October. I have been to Acadia three times without my wife, and our schedules finally fell in line for both of us to get away. I promised her a trip to see the milky way with her naked eye. Mother Nature please be kind to us.

Arriving on a Tuesday night I had a little bit of time before darkness fell so I cruised into the park to check out my spot then jetted off to Jordan Pond to check out the last few minutes of the setting sun. Does anyone even say jetted still?

Darkness fell and the night was a total wash. Covered in clouds. But I did scope out a couple of other spots along the road other than Sand Beach to hit up in October. And of course make sure they were doable in the dark. The next day I just drove around the park a bit, biding my time until a slotted 14:30 reservation to go up Cadillac Mountain. I did manage to find the quintessential coastline shot I keep seeing in the advertisements. So why not?

And just because, the rear bay/lake/pond behind Otter Cove. Nothing special, but there had to have been twenty or thirty people on the actual Otter Cove side while just me on this side of the road. A very peaceful few feet difference.

So reservation, you now need to secure a spot to go up the mountain. I get it, and although not over crowded, it was still crowded. The past two trips were sparse, active but sparse. This one was just filled with an insane number of people. Anyway, Cadillac Mountain. The goal was to tool around up there until the sunset. It was nice for a while, then came the clouds and no colors to be had. And no night shooting…

On way way down I did see this very interesting bit of cover which I had to capture. Clouds just hovering over the islands. No where else were they that low.

My plan for Thursday was to drive up to the Mt Katahdin area and check out the views from the Katahdin Loop Road. Well, yup, you guessed it. Clouds and rain. The start of the loop is very discernable, a good sized lot on the left and this on the right. I captured this on my way out, had to get to the overlook before….

I arrived at the overlook just in time to see the peak of Mt. Katahdin disappear into the clouds

I did get my adventure in though. The loop road is 16 or so miles of packed dirt, pot holes, rocks and gravel. That is after the 5+ miles of logging roads you travel to get there. It was fun, hardly anyone up there, very remote. Had to cut the agenda short because of the rain though. But since I was 3 hrs away from Acadia I had to get in at least one waterfall before I left.

Shin Pond Falls is a very short hike once you find the trail head. It is flat until you get to the falls so no problems there. My old man cautious self kicked in, well mostly, so I did not go seeking vantage points other than what was given me. This is a view of the upper falls. I actually dislike shooting from the tops of falls.

The lower falls. It was a sketchy trip down the hill just because of the rain. Angled wet roots scare me. Between my tripod and a small guide rope to hang on to when needed it all turned out OK.

So my goals in Maine were not met, my efforts, while altered were not wasted. One day, I will get mother nature on good behavior for me when I am shooting. Never Give Up! Spent a couple days in New Hampshire after this. Follow up soon.

Thanks for stopping by

Phil

Lavallette – #5

I do not think anyone in their right mind would head over to Lavallette and attempt to grab shots of the Milky Way. It is just not dark enough. Sandwiched between the Seaside and the Brick/Point corridors it is an area with copious amounts of illumination in the sky. Well, I guess I am not a sane person then. I am a very curious type though and when learning opportunities present themselves, sometimes you have to go outside the box.

I remember there being a few jetties off the beach in Lavallette, so I went to where I thought a couple were, but I could not see or find them. Note to self – Update list of Jetties in town. No Jetties means somewhat boring views. HHmm. Here I am trying to talk myself out of going there after the fact. I knew there would be light pollution, no biggie. It is practice.

00:29 16 mm 15 secs, f4, 3200

Well that is certainly not going to work. The human psyche is a fragile beast. You know all the shots are going to be crap, you know why you are there, but it behooves us to do the best we can and overcome the odds. Since I could not find my boulders, waters edge it is.

00:36 16 mm 20 secs, f2.8 3200

So much light coming in from Seaside, but there she is, looks visible to me. Well, visible to the camera, I cannot see a damn thing. My goal for the night was to get some longer exposures of the foreground and try to stack some images of the sky. I am still not grasping this stacking thing, perhaps it was because of the brightness in the sky I could not tell a difference. I actually appreciated the single shots more. Continued education needed.

Sky 7 images at 10 seconds, foreground 90 seconds

Here is a single sky shot blended with the same foreground. Learning what not to do…

I think more than anything, we learn what not to do and them adapt our to do’s. Is that called trying? There is always something to adjust, every location is different. The two week viewing period for June is rapidly approaching, I have three spots I am eyeing. One is common, one is popular but could be hit or miss. and one is, um, different. We will find out soon enough.

01:49 17 mm 15 secs f4, 6400

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Rain, rain, and more rain. Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

Batting Clean Up, Holgate Beach

I heard the median batting average is .246 for the entirety of MLB. WTF. Pitchers unite! This is a shocking number. Anyway, my Milky Way cleanup, commonly known as the fourth attempt, happened while I flexed my hours at work to get off an hour earlier than normal. Thursdays are a peak day for me, swing shift as some would call it, so I am always working till midnight. I headed down to the southern tip of LBI to see what I could see. I have grabbed a couple of sunsets here so I was familiar with the location and structures on the beach. Most people convene at the other side of the island by the Lighthouse. I will try that eventually, but since I am not most people I like to try the unpopular or less traveled spots. Hard to come by here in NJ due to the limited night spots in the immediate area. The initial thing I saw when I shut my car lights off was Atlantic City glowing in the sky. Gulp. Amazing how much light is put out from a small city. Casinos…

There was also a very bright street light probably a block or two away from the other direction that was casting some wicked light in the area in front of me. Was not expecting that scenario but we shall adjust. I could have walked out a bit on the beach and got out of it, mostly, but I am still a bit sketched being by myself late at night in an isolated spot. These are weird times we live in. You can easily see the line from that light here. I do not remember the steel wall from when I was here last. Probably paid no attention to it then.

I spent about an hour (1 – 2 am) – shooting different compositions before calling it quits. A few clouds low on the horizon too. Overall I would say it was a successful mission. Nothing print worthy yet, but right now I am developing a good understanding of everything involved. I did try stacking some photos and did not really notice a difference, grabbed a few extra longs of the foreground as well which ended up not being that much longer than the sky shots. Average settings were f2.8, 15 seconds and 6400

Ok, maybe one of them has a smaller print worthy quality to it. To be determined. I will do a few 8×10’s to see how they really look and go from there. It is still very early in the season for this stuff. Just started discussing a September gathering in Acadia which is always prime territory.

I was not fond of this next look when I captured it, but when looking at the big screen it kinda works out OK for casual viewing.

The perfect vantage point. If only you could see this with the naked eye. Yes I did take an obligatory selfie with me sitting on the bench which was posted elsewhere.

I was getting set to leave and decided to grab a look from right in front of my car. Why not right? I was going to try some panoramas while we are arched, but there is no way they would have worked out with all that light. And I would have been there for another two hours waiting for the stars to get into position. Hey, could have stayed for the sunrise! Not. 13 hour work days makes one a bit tired.

These were all taken on May 7. Since then, and up next, I went to an even unlikelier location. More on that to come. Thank you for stopping by! Till the next one.

Phil

Quick Trip to the Cape

Heart in the middle of this years dance season I was sent to an event in Foxboro. Normally, I stay somewhat local due to my Full Time work schedule, but with this particular weekends events scattered they gave me plenty of notice so I could adjust and take a Monday off. This meant I now had three days off in a row and since I was out of state, well, might as well take advantage of it. After surveying my possibilities, I was one hour from the Cape. Let’s go! I had no concrete plans, other than trying to find the Milky Way, I was figuring I would get in a couple sunsets and just do a little exploring. Two days is not a great deal of time to fully immerse yourself in area of unknowns so I did as much research as I could to get the lay of the land, and whatever played out from there I was good with.

Waking up Monday, figured I would make it up as I went along. Since it was only a few miles from where I was staying, Nobska Lighthouse was the first stop of the day.

I visited three lighthouses during my stay and the thing I found most interesting is that they were all small. Perched on little hills, but all not as tall as one would think. Guessing that light is pretty powerful to be seen 12 miles out. This one had a very homey feel to it. Definitely would not mind staying in that house.

The theme continued for second stop of the day at Nauset Light. I needed to scope out a nearby location for the sunset and a night sky and this seemed easy to get to from where they were. The parking lots were under construction and the surrounding land appeared in the midst of a manicure so it was a bit messy. Quite a bit of history with this one. Worth the look it you are interested.

I had chosen Rock Harbor beach for the evening’s sunset. Touted to be the best sunset spot on the cape. Isn’t any spot where you can grab a sunset the best spot? There was a location right across the inlet from the official beach, less crowded just as pretty and a few tidal pools were included. Kinda of a bland evening photographically but a cool experience nonetheless. I am a big fan of Lee filters but I was having some issues with condensation a while back so I purchased a screw on ND Graduated filter. Figured it would be easier in the long run. It was, but you do lose some control over your points of darkening. Really nice, just not as adjustable. But, instead of two or three areas of potential moisture build up, now there is only one. I heard a lens heater works great for eliminating build up and they are not that expensive so that is on the purchase to do list.

So, the night sky. The location I had chosen was Salt Pond. Read a bunch of good things about it and the composition looked good. Now I enter the phase for mind games. It was 20:30 hours. I had to wait 5 hours for optimal conditions, it was getting cloudy out, I was by myself in an unfamiliar location and I was an hour away from the hotel. What the heck do I do now. If I wait and the clouds do not clear I’m screwed. Well, I did not feel like waiting so I headed back. I remember a beach I drove past that was five minutes from where I was staying and it was pointed in the direction I needed. Drove past it to make sure the gates were open, got some dinner and relaxed for a few. Midnight struck and the skies were clear. Of course now I am cursing myself out for not sticking out the original spot. As I always do though, we make the best of the situation and take advantage of what we have to work with.

My third attempt with the Milky Way. This one was very difficult to see with the naked eye but the camera can see what the eye cannot. And Vice Versa. I still need to figure out the foreground aspect of things but plans are in place thanks to the knowledge of an old co-worker. I know very little about stacking right now, hopefully I will get a chance this month to learn all about it. Fingers crossed and weather permitting.

The foreground in this next image was taken from a test shot while getting things set up. Little did I know at the time in would come in handy. Ambient light was much brighter than I anticipated, and it was very dark. It is amazing how much light travels and illuminates the surroundings. During the two hours I was out thereI kept thinking I should go further out on the beach but I kinda appreciated this composition from the parking lot.

Since I was combining and blending images, a little bit to the left of me was residential light so why not right? More joy to come with these attempts. I am hoping by October I have this whole process down.

Day two was pretty interesting, headed over to Chatham to check out the lighthouse at the Coast Guard Station and took a little unexpected stroll on the beach before grabbing a sunset. On the way there I saw this 1797 windmill… Yowser. An impressive sight in the middle of a green.

One of the more substantial pieces I encountered during my two days was the Chatham Lighthouse. Another 19th Century wonder warning approaching vessels of potential dangers. So if I ever get up there again I need to capture these at night with the beacons shining. Lacking a bit of character in daylight and I am sure not doing them justice in this scenario.

Peaking out over the beach I saw a distant object with a flag flying over it. Naturally I satisfied my curiosity and made the jaunt out to see what it as. While not having an official name there is a sign on it that says “Occupy Chatham South Beach”. Apparently it is an ever changing structure without anyone seeming to know how it got there or who adds/subtracts objects from it. Though I do believe it is a community effort to keep it up and going. You can check out their Facebook Page here for more enlightening history and mystery

Headed over to First Encounter Beach for the sunset. Said to be the first encounter between Native Americans and the Pilgrims. Whether it was or not it was very pure and peaceful. About 20 people gathered for the event. Just the beach, water, sky and a bunch of kids playing in the sand. Simplicity at its finest.

Milky Way attempt number four is already in the books so I shall share that soon. The people side of things is slowly coming back, We have a couple of shoots booked so when they are done we will make sure and share those over on the people page. Thanks for stopping by, till the next one!

Phil

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