I've been wandering through Maine this last week, the third stage of a four part journey these last weeks which began in Washington DC and wrapped up at the Maine Media Workshops on Sept. 11.
My journey began in Washington DC at the National Arboretum with my friend Dan Pence. We had a good time just wandering among the plants, trails and ponds. We also found the strange remains of our original US Capital, replaced columns from the original 1860s Capital east portico. The day ended with a whirlwind walk through acres of amazing Lotus fields at the Keniworth Aquatic Park.
The journey to Maine was joined by my old friend Pete Sucy, long ago of Kodak, and friend for 25 years. Pete is a Maine native, and came along with me on my Acadia workshop, then guided me through a northern Maine tour of some of his favorite places.
We went almost to Canada, and then further north still, deep into Maine's reach into our neighbor to the north, with much of Maine still further north of us. It is a huge place.
I started the week with my workshop at Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island near Bar Harbor. Arriving the night before the workshop, we couldn't resist heading to the highest point, Cadillac Mountain. Just as the road was starting to gain some elevation, the view to the west grabbed us with a looming sharp pink sun sinking into the distant mountains. A quick stop and a flurry of camera adjustments later, a few photographs were made just as the sun disappeared.
The next evening, we returned to the mountain for a full-moonrise over the Atlantic. With our various smart cellular connections we knew where the moon was supposed to rise, and where, but a denser-than-it-seemed cloud bank stood in the way until the moon was higher in the sky. It was still beautiful.
While waiting for the moonrise, we heard music from on top of the mountain. It was magical, bag pipes gracing the evening with a kind of mournful beauty. I went up and talked to the piper, David Weeda from Bucksport. He gave me permission to photograph and do some video, which was a pleasure. He wore a big "Bernie for President" button, and said he was piping for Bernie.
Acadia National Park is basically split between Mt. Desert Island with Bar Harbor and Cadillac Mountain, and the more remote Schoodic Peninsula. Our second day wandered the Schoodic with its pink granite shoreline, dark pools and wildlife. We had a good and productive visit.
Rolling down long tree-lined highways became our days. Maine is vast, so much bigger than our notions generally encompass. Seeking rare high points, we slowly climbed logging roads and found secluded campsites, ponds and trails. One site was particularly remote, but nonetheless a well traveled trail complete with fresh moose tracks and a lake site campsite. Maine folks seem to know their backroads.
At Moosehead Lake we watched the sun set and the Milky Way emerge. The Loon songs on the lake were mystical, mournful and enchanting. Drifting off to sleep in our campsite up the trail later that evening, the night Loon song kept pulling me into another world, dreamy, mysterious, but full of the earth's life forces. It was homemaking with the planet, and wonder with their song. It seemed so much more than some biological imperative. The Loon calls seemed almost religious.
We followed many dirt roads deep into the Maine wilderness where there were few people, but endless trees, beaver-damed ponds, marshes and lakes. At one pond we came upon a Great Blue Heron standing on its edge, probably not more than 50 feet away.
Naturally we stopped, rolled down the windows, turned off the car and hoped we had not disturbed the bird too much by our approach. It gave me time to set the camera to focus tracking, a higher ISO for fast shutter speed, and waiting until it took flight. We did not have to wait long, and although most of the 17 frames I made were not as sharp as I might hope, about 5 were. A heron taking flight is a magnificent sight.
The backcountry logging trucks were another matter. Booming down dirt roads, stirring a vast wake of dust and carrying downed forests away to be turned to paper. More than once along these roads we had to shelter our cameras from the dust.
Stripping the mountainsides of trees, hauling away forests, for paper and lumber, is but a consequence of our consumption that we do not like to see. But here we were on roads made for logging, not photographers, having gotten into a position to be here partially through massive consumption of paper acquiring some small measure of fame. Adding all of that up reminded me of discussions in Antarctica of the huge carbon footprint of our journey's there.
There are not many vistas in Maine. The hills are not generally high, the forests tall, and viewpoints rare. We headed for the Rangely Lakes area for some elevation.
The view from above Mooselookmeguntic Lake (a Abnaki people name for "moose feeding place") was such an exception that it is even called Height of Land. At that dividing point between ranges, we watched the sun sink into receding layers of misty ridge lines of the Longfellow Range, finding it hard to leave even as the darkness came and the campsite was still miles away.
When it came time to shift gear from wandering back toward Rockport and the Fine Art Printing class I came to Maine to teach, we were a little sad to be coming off the road, but looking forward to a week of printing. To my delight, Pete decided to say on with me and help with the class. My students did great, as was evident at the end of the week gallery we assembled for the traditional Maine Media Workshops Friday night celebration of the week.
On our way to Rockport, we passed the Bucksport Bridge, a beautiful suspension bridge on Maine's Highway One. We always pass the bridge on our field trips to Acadia National Park from the Maine Media Workshop landscape classes that I teach. On the park outing, there never seems time to stop and explore Fort Knox at the bridge's base, nor the tower view from the top of the bridge.
In our Maine wander mode on this trip, this time I stopped. The sculpture that is the bridge, and the view from the tower was worth the time.
In Rockport Maine After Two Weeks on the Road
A quarter moon, white in the blue of the morning sunshine, floating above trees barely swaying in a light whispering breeze.
Insects and bird calls slip through the air as leaves dance back and forth in species-centric movement varying across my field of view.
The sun is already warm and the shade perfect, just enough air moving to remind me that this clear morning is filled with life giving substance, real gases of such density that as I wave my hands through it, I feel it's weight, resistance, and reality, despite its invisibility.
In this moment, life is precious, I feel contentment, all of my man-made worries seem distant. Being in this moment feels happy. I know the natural world brings me peace, opens me to love, and his driven my life's work. I know this, but I do not always live as though I know this. Today I am.
I know the company of my loved ones would make this time even more precious, but I believe they are all safe, they know that I love them, as I am not shy about telling them, so even this temporary distance is ok.
This morning feels sacred.
Recently at SJ Photo
Back in California, whales were again hanging out along the coast.
Humpback Whale slide show. Linda Mar Bay. Pacifica.2015. Canon 5DSr.
There were about seven humpback whales in Linda May Bay yesterday. A text from my assistant Elizabeth Bredall set us off from the house early. I stayed on the cliffs for 3 hours, and went into the studio with scores of 17 frame bursts adding up to over 2000 photographs. As these photographs were made with my Canon 5DSr at full resolution, it added up to almost 100 gigabytes.
Obviously it was way more images than I wanted, but I had to make them to know what worked. It took most of the afternoon to offload and go through them.