Maine Photography Trip – July 2013

We’re Ba-ack! from an AWESOME trip to Maine!

We’re Ba-ack! from an AWESOME trip to Maine! - July 2013

Rich and I just returned from an amazing week-and-a-half trip to Maine.  If you like rugged coastline, Atlantic Puffins, picturesque lighthouses and bridges, fog, sunrises, and stars, then stay tuned to my blog for the next few weeks.  I have plenty of adventures to share! :) First we visited Acadia National Park, located on Mount Desert Island. Acadia contains a beautiful stretch of the rugged Maine coastline, which was really fun to photograph. It’s hard to believe that this is the same Atlantic Ocean that we see in Florida.  1500 miles is a long way, and the sandy beaches transform into beautiful rocky coastline.  We had fun climbing on the rocks! The highlight of the trip was a boat ride to Machias Seal Island, where I got to photograph Atlantic Puffins and other pelagic birds.  This was the most incredible birding experience I’ve ever had!!  I have thousands of images that I need to sort through, then you’ll get to read all about it.  Here’s a sneak preview of coming attractions… One of the other reasons I was very excited to visit Maine is the low levels of light pollution there. You can really see the stars at night! Both […]

Atlantic Puffins on Machias Seal Island

Atlantic Puffins on Machias Seal Island - July 2013

During my recent trip to Maine I had the great privilege to visit a breeding colony of Atlantic Puffins on Machias Seal Island. Puffins are pelagic birds, meaning that they live their lives out on the open ocean. They only come to land to breed and raise their young. Can you image living your entire life at sea? They swim and fly all day, catch fish to eat, and sleep bobbing on the waves. Atlantic Puffins are commonly known as the “clowns of the sea”, due to their brightly colored bills in their breeding plumage. Atlantic Puffins are the only puffins that can be found in the Atlantic Ocean. (Their cousins the Tufted Puffin and the Horned Puffin live on the Pacific Ocean.) Atlantic Puffins are fairly common birds in the northern frigid oceans, but they are most commonly seen in places like Iceland and Scotland. In the United States, there are only a few islands where the birds come to breed. Machias Seal Island is one such place, and it is the only island (to my knowledge) that lets birders land on the island to observe the birds from blinds. For photographers and non-photographers alike, this was an incredible […]

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park - July 2013

I think I saw a few pigs fly by the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park as Rich and I stood watching the sunrise. Yes, you read that correctly. Rich joined me for sunrise during our recent trip to Maine! It was especially nice of him because sunrise that morning was at 4:55am. We got up at 3:30 to arrive at the summit with some time to spare. Rich thinks this may be the earliest he’s ever gotten up! Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard. It is popularly believed to be the first point in the US to see the sunrise (which is only true in the winter). Lots of people at Acadia National Park go to see the sunrise. I’m not used to seeing that many people so early in the morning! It was hilarious to watch all the antics of people posing for cameras. Rich decided that being up for sunrise wasn’t so bad. For one thing, it was gorgeous, and the cool breezes on the top of the mountain were a welcome break from the record heat that marked the second part of our week in Maine. After we left […]

Star Photography In Maine!

Star Photography In Maine! - July 2013

Rich and I are both interested in astronomy, so we were excited to go to Maine where there is so little light pollution.  Part of the reason we rented a cottage at Seaside Cottages was the easy access to a little strip of beach on the western side of Mount Desert Island.  We spent several evenings sitting on the rocky beach, watching the stars.  It was incredible just how many stars you could see!  The sky was so bright with tiny pinpoints of light.  I had a blast experimenting with star photography. It was our first opportunity to view the Milky Way, which was just incredible!  You can see the Milky Way in the summer in the northern hemisphere.  Our little cottage’s western beach was perfect for framing the Milky Way with rocky Maine coastline and gorgeous tall trees.  I experimented with a variety of exposure settings to make the image above.  A too-long exposure yields star trails, which are fun but not what I was going for.  A too-short exposure doesn’t capture as many stars.  Low ISO settings are less noisy, but higher ISOs yield more stars.  This image was made with my 17-40mm wide-angle at f/4.0, for 30 […]

Whale-Watching in Maine

Whale-Watching in Maine - July 2013

Ever since my six-grade class did a study of marine biology with a video series called The Voyage of the Mimi, I’ve been interested in whales.  The Mimi focused specifically on humpback whales, some of the largest whales in the ocean.  So when Rich and I planned our vacation to Maine, I scheduled a whale-watching adventure.  It was through the Bar Harbor Whale Watch company.  A huge boat takes you and several hundred people out into the Gulf of Maine in search of whales.  This adventure was very, very different than my puffin trip, which was geared towards nature-lovers and photographers.  The whale trip was nothing but tourists, with lots and lots of kids under the age of five!  But it was really cool to see whales. The company takes tourists out whale-watching several times a day, so they know where they have recently seen whales.  So it doesn’t take long for them to start showing you whales after you get far enough off shore.  They are pretty fair about turning the boat so that people on all sides can see.  The first whales we saw were Fin whales, which are the second largest whales in the world.  The only bigger […]

Another Perspective on Maine: A Special Guest Blog Post by Rich

Another Perspective on Maine: A Special Guest Blog Post by Rich - July 2013

During our recent trip to Maine, Rich amused himself with his iPhone, taking pictures of me doing silly things with the camera.  I told him he needed to write a guest blog post after we got home!  At first he thought I was kidding, but then he started to like the idea.  He did tease me that it was an awful lot like writing an essay about his summer vacation!  Enjoy…  Our Trip to Maine: A Non-photographer’s Take on a Photography Vacation A couple of years ago when Jess said something about Maine, a boat, and some birds on an island, I raised an eyebrow or two, but not wanting to discourage my aspiring birder/photographer wife, I said, “Sure. Ok.” When she brought it up again earlier this year and threw in the bit about hiking in Acadia National Park, I was sold. This was our first long distance photography trip, and I learned a few things. First, I like to travel light, but traveling light for photographers means taking two bags full of camera gear and cramming in the clothes wherever they can fit. Also, it means that you need a large rental car. Fortunately, we had a Subaru […]

Sandy Point State Reservation, Massachusetts

Sandy Point State Reservation, Massachusetts - July 2013

On our way back from Maine, Rich and I stopped at Sandy Point State Park. It’s on the southern end of an island about an hour north of Boston.  My objective was Piping Plovers, who nest in the area.  We have Piping Plovers in Florida during migration, but I haven’t had such good luck finding them.  Well, I found them in Massachusetts!  There were half a dozen of them running around the sandy beach at the very tip of the island. I’m used to Florida beaches, where nesting birds are protected by roped-off areas, often stewarded by local Audubon groups. On this beach in Massachusetts, nesting cages are placed over the Piping Plover nests. The cages were all empty, so I assume that means that the babies had all fledged. I think I spotted a couple of juveniles in fresh plumage, which is lighter than that of the adults. It was a rainy, icky morning. Thunderstorms had moved through the previous night, and everything was all wet. I walked up and down the beach, amazed at how the Massachusetts shoreline was so different than my beaches back home in Florida! Sandy Point State Reservation is an important nesting location not […]

2013 Christmas Ornament – A Puffin!

2013 Christmas Ornament – A Puffin! - December 2013

Regular readers of my blog may recall that I cross-stitch an ornament every year for our Christmas tree.  This year’s subject was a no-brainer – what was one of the most incredible things we did this year?  Go see puffins, of course! I thought the ornament turned out pretty well.  It looks very similar to one of the pictures from my trip to Machias Seal Island… On our boat ride back from Machias Seal Island, one of the other photographers noted that I hadn’t yet wiped the grin off my face.  He asked me how long I’d be grinning.  Well, I still am!  It was such an amazing trip.  Being within arm’s length of such cute little birds was beyond incredible. This was one of the few puffin interaction shots from my morning in the bird blinds.  Most of the puffins were by themselves, either landing on the rock in front of us, or taking off from it.  These guys were cute as they seemed to talk together.  Look at those beaks! The guy in the front of this shot seems to be looking into the bird blind and wondering who the photographers are inside!  I bet they were as […]

Revisiting an Old Favorite – Milky Way Photography

Revisiting an Old Favorite – Milky Way Photography - June 2014

After reading David Kingham’s Nightscape book, I revisited an old Milky Way shot and redid the post-processing. I’m loving the result!

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