Blogodocious ramblings of a landscape photographer living in Maine.
It had been forever since the camera's been out of the bag so this morning I took some time out in the fog to go find something to photograph. You know when you just have a feeling about it- like the time is right to go make some images. So I went down to the harbor and figured to look for some kind of fog play scene. Walking down to the shoreline I heard this kind of murmuring that sounded like a baby and here were these two little guys! Baby seal pups laying on top of each other next to a boat launch about 30 feet from the low water at that time. I couldn't believe my eyes- you see lots of seals around here if you want to see them and I've seen the pups from afar all amongst their crew but I've never seen them so alone and by themselves. I have heard though that it's no reason for concern as it's common to see pups without their moms around so I figured to try to enjoy the opportunity and make them my subject. And I knew these silvery gray seals against the reddish brown granite rock scrabble would absolutely pop in black and white. It was the kind of moment where I was so excited to get to meet these guys and photograph them that I was completely nervous and trembling- that's when you know that you have a great picture that you want to make. They were totally unafraid of me- first I approached quietly and looking the other way and sidestepping closer to them and whispering to them like I would to a dog, and they just kept on mewling and never looked afraid or hardly even cared that I was there at all. This kind of behavior really shouldn't be encouraged and it very well could probably be construed as illegal by some eager naturalists and for that I'm really sorry. But I just had to say hi to them and photograph them. I wish I had some kippered herring for them or a nice tuna sandwich with pickles- but THERE you go- that's why the whole thing becomes a big hullaballoo and all that's where the humans muck it up for the rest! So after a while they made their way down to the water and mewled off into the fog and I hope I get to see them again. That was the coolest thing I've experienced in a while! Sometimes you get lucky- I just knew I should try to make photos this morning!
-sorry I didn't film the ending- I wanted to go back to making stills, but I photographed the ending:
and some more of the raw files-
And off they go. And then I photographed that rock with the chains on top of it for a while- figured they intentionally pointed it out to me- thanks guys!
Bridge To Nowhere, Or The Way Off This Crazy Island?. Martha's Vineyard, Ma. (gotta title it something- what would you call it?)
I've got nothing more to add for the day- hope you're well.
Old Timer Lobsterman. Made this photograph last year, I just needed something to lead off story hour here.
Right then- where were we? Yes, yes I wanted to tell you guys (at least my loyal 10 or 20 or so readers) about my cool new gig- guess what it is? Give up? Well- I'll just tell you: I'm now a Sternman on a lobster boat out of Bass Harbor Maine! Yeah! I'm going lobstering- how crazy is that!>? I know, I know you guys probably thought I was going to say something like: I'm the new L.L. Bean catalog photographer or something :-) ? Ya right, but no, I'm not really a big time pro dog photographer, I just play one on t.v., or the interwebs, or whatever. Actually I make photography because I love it and it's my passion, but it's never been my sole method of supporting myself. I do make a bit of money from making pictures but when you really get down to it, it really doesn't disappoint me that I don't make my living through photography- that way I can keep doing it only for the satisfaction and reward of doing it and not have to confuse passion for profession. At least that's my excuse! So I have to work other jobs to buy gear and pay bills.
Here's how I ended up here- not the long story that goes: my mother met my father in Brooklyn N.Y. in 1947... but the short one where: as of January of this year I was supposedly hired on to an awesome photography job that involved lots of traveling through the late spring and summer and beautiful locations, and great gear, and great people, and I was totally psyched for it- then, two Fridays ago I was informed that the whole thing was cancelled. Cancelled! In a nutshell- I was crushed. But I'm a tough guy so I only cried for a day and a half. After that point it was time to make a new plan. Quickly! The thing is that since I had such big plans for the summer and my life was going to have had been so exciting and interesting, at least different(?) I definitely didn't want to go back to doing something that I'd done before- I didn't want to replay the old me, I wanted something new, and interesting, and exciting!
So, going to the neighborhood store Sunday morning of two weeks ago to buy my soothing pack of cigarrettes for the first time in a month. Ya, that wasn't really working out for me, the whole nicotine abstinence thing, I came out of the store and stood there puffing on my smokey mc'pacifier and ogled the bulletin board and there was the sign for 'Sternman needed'- and right off I emailed myself the phone #. After living over here on "The Backside" of the island (Mount Desert Island) for the last 6 years, which is the heart of lobster country USA- I've learned that sometimes lobstermen will hire inexperienced people to train as sternmen because they can be trained from the ground up like, no previous bad habits or such. So I figured that I'm healthy, still young enough (almost), and at least like to get up early and I like boats and love the ocean, and my whole family (except brother Andy) has gone to sea, so maybe I had a chance. Therefore the next day, after considering a couple other mostly lame options, I called the fella. He answered the phone on the dock and after some questions and some further follow up questions by his fiance (mostly to check my reputation it seemed) I ended up down at the dock on Friday morning of last week at 5:55 am (I showed up a bit early)- (and 5:50 AM is pretty late for this time of year, so he must have been going easy on me for that day). Met him as he was pulling up to the dock at the time which is good because he didn't have to wait, he said come on aboard and I said, which was redundant at the time, but I just really wanted to say it- "permission to come aboard Captain?". A couple guys in the boat over on the other side said something about breaking in the new greenhorn, a couple chuckles later etc, and we were off.
A dock on Bass Harbor last Friday morning n the fog.
Fishermen's memorial. Then you walk by this.
Captain Dan at the wheel. I'll introduce you to him proper later on.
Motoring past another lobster boat at anchor.
My whole life I have been a fickle dood- for the first part of my life I wanted to be an Air Force pilot, then I wanted to be a professional windsurfer, then I went to college to be a jazz musician and composer, then I became a chef, then I worked as a carpenter, then I was a truck driver all over Maine which led to finding all kinds of excellent locations for photography, then I was a glassblower, then I discovered making photography. Not to say that any of those things I didn't love enough to keep doing them forever, just for one reason or another I moved on. Photography has sustained me for the last 13 years now though because I can always find time for it on my own time and I don't need to depend on anyone else for any part of the workflow to achieve creativity. Photography is something that has always been just all mine. I guess one of the big reasons that I've never tried to "strike out on my own" with it though is that I learned being a musician that it's extremely discouraging to have to find jobs all the time. I just never had enough faith to work for myself and always wanted to work for someone else and then later go and create for myself. And as far as being a fickle guy, change is good- and that's why Maine is such a great place to live: just about the last job you'll end up working at around here will be in an office, therefore experiential life moments become par for the course. You work a day and feel alive for it, not the opposite. Not to compare anyone or any job or to say that this is better than that- and I'm sure there are a number of office jobs that I would thrive in- creative ones in some kind of way or other, I'm just wicked psyched for my new office out on the ocean off the coast of Maine.
Here's a reality check: it's not a pleasure cruise out there! We're not waterskiing while drinking beer with bikini girls playing Jimmy Buffet songs casually plucking lobsters like cherries off the waves- no. Do you like fish? Are you a cat? Then you'd loooove my job! I get to scoop up handfulls of dead herring into bait bags- a couple hundred bags so far per day- all day.
Oh and day starts at 04:30 am, so I get up at 03:30 to pound coffee and sit there reading PetaPixel crosseyed. The nice thing is that my commute is all of 4 minutes from leaving my driveway to parking at the harbor, I leave at about 4:20 to get there early. So on the steam out to the first string I bait bags up then the Captain gaffs the first trap leader and pulls it up in the block and hauls it aboard. Then I grab the pot and drag it down the rail, whip open the door and remove the old bait bag (either nothing but bones or a stinking gelatinous gumball) replace with a new bag, then I pull out the lobsters and put them on the sorting/bait table, meanwhile the Cap'n is doing the same on his trap as they come up in pairs usually. We chuck the bycatch out and the baby lobsters and muck out a couple handfulls of seaweed, close the doors and he steams aways till he knocks them back over. Meanwhile I'm checking them for size and to see if there are any egg bearing or v-notched females (the Cap talks very fondly of the females), banding their claws so they don't destroy each other, and then I get to make more bait bags! The whole time the boat, which is 36 feet long, is totally rolling and rocking literally and sonically to classic-rock so if you can't ride on a subway car without holding on to your straps you probably wouldn't enjoy being out there very much. There's no real time to be sea sick or eat or pee or really anything else but keep on pulling pots but the air is fresh and the ocean is a beautiful place to work. Also, where part of me fantasized about somehow turning this into a working-editorial in photos, I knew before I ever stepped out onto the boat that that wasn't a likely scenario. There's always something that needs to be done on a boat. The only way to ever make serious photography on a lobster boat would be to go out with a crew and only shoot. A number of times I have tried to turn on my iPhone to make some quick snaps and the thing won't even slide to unlock as apparently Cupertino has built in a 'will not recognize a fishy finger' feature. So I've got a few here for you here for now but that'll have to suffice until I make a day of it with just my kit and a clean fish-free hand.
Traps on the transom.
Landscape from the sea.
Rail and sea abstract- feels like a Google maps sat view of a beach and waves.
Tools of the trade. Lobster banding pliers. (I've got a real bad story concerning these- ask me later)
iPhone wanted to make this image without asking- I agreed later.
Insurance policy. Analogous to a UV filter for a photographer (really doesn't do crap but makes you feel glad that you have it?)
Haulin' Traps 1
Haulin' Traps 2
Haulin' Traps 3
Bugs waiting to be banded.
Gulls looking for a handout.
Yours truly. Since it's becoming obvious that the only camera I'll be using will be my phone I really feel the need for a better phone camera than my iPhone4. I figure I'll get a GoPro at some point which will be cool, so maybe that'll be the answer.
By the way I can still feel the boat rocking if I close my eyes, even if I don't close my eyes it's still rocking-
And, maybe, if we hit it hard and make a killing I'll even be able to go to Iceland AND buy myself something nice like that new Canon 200-400 with 1.4 converter on it or some Hartblei Tilt-shifts of something :-)
We'll see. Wish me luck and maybe I'll even run a FREE LOBSTER GIVEAWAY or something sometime this summer!
Have a good one my flatlander friends- Nate!
Eagle Lake Driftwood in the fog. Yesterday morning: 70 seconds at f/8.0, iso 200. 17 mm on Canon 17-40 f/4.0, 5D mkII, B+W ND 110.
Happy spring everybody! We're deep into one of my favorite times of year here in Acadia for photography, the spring fog season- yay! Fog has such a great way of wrapping everything in cinematic drama and mystery and makes the ordinary look extraordinary. At least that's what I think. Fog also has a great transformative potential of changing the look of this small big island that I have been photographing on for the last 13 years- just when you think you've photographed everything: the fog rolls in like a team of gifted Hollywood set designers and the stage is transformed and the images just keep on coming. That's the beauty of any weather to a photographer, weather is the spice that makes the jambalaya, weather is the window dressing, weather is the soul of landscape imagery. And fog is my jambalaya! The other reason, and most important one to me, that I love love love fog is that it really helps to simplify a scene. The floating mists will help keep distracting details and elements to a minimum and tames some of the chaos that is nature, and I can pursue more minimal landscapes and then play the #MinimalMonday game hosted by my good buddy Olivier Du' Tre over on the Google Plus. Good times! So this one was a driftwood stump that I found out on the shores of Eagle Lake yesterday morning going for a walk in the fog looking for minimisma- I photographed this stump and shoreline here for a good 30 to 45 minutes standing up to my knees in the lake making little changes as to how it was laying on the stones, good times!
Right then- that's it for me for now, have a fine week everybody, stay safe out there, and make great work whatever it is you do. Stay tuned for my big-time announcement of a crazy new and exciting job I signed on for just last week after my previous big plans suddenly changed- Crazy! New! Exciting! -Bye for now, Nate!
Pygmy Shrew Forest- in Acadia over near Seawall.
Hey now! So I meant to get to the drawing yesterday but life got in the way- you know how it is, anyways in order to make the drawing the most impartial- I wanted to get my doggy in on the whole bit. And I figured I'd put it on video so you could see that there were no shananigans or tomfoolery involved. Here though I should make some explanation: my doggy is a crazy erratic and happy go lucky real-time maniac of the highest order, and to think that he would just play along without any complications makes me the fool- cause as I loaded up a hat with the individual numbers of the commenters who entered: Grover the Dog went and chased the hat before any of the numbers this time, cause he's a crazy Maineiac and this was only the second take, and I didn't want to make any more! But I got him back on track and into the game and he grabbed one real good which was
Grover Picks the Winner!
#13: Nancy Mize- who said something like "it would be lovely to have a piece of your vision of my heart's home. Especially when the rest of me is hundreds of miles away." Aw, that's wicked nice Nancy- and I'm glad that you get to be the lucky winner= I hope that you're a nice lady and that your luck somehow makes the world a better place! Or just go and hawk the print at a pawn shop and buy some nips at the corner packy- whatever! Do what you want to do! And that's all there is for that. Well, I had a great time doing this and there are more where that one came from, so after I let the grass grow for a bit longer then perhaps I'll make another print giveaway before too long. So in the meantime- save a place for me and have a nice day, Nate from Maine, Usa.
P.s. This was an effort to drive traffic to the site, and it worked, in the area of advertising fees and costs I think it was a reasonable expense in the long run to have had the traffic that I did over the past couple days. I already had the print, I already had the shipping tube, so then the only outlay was taking time to do it and the 5 bucks or so that USPS will charge to send it (good luck getting it anytime too soon though Nancy- I would never use USPS for anything urgent!) once the USPS took 6 weeks to deliver a print only 350 miles away. Ouch. Double ouch- Ouch Ouch! Right then- bye.