Farewell Acadia – One Subject, with many points of view

Author: Ken Brown

After an amazing adventure, it was time to leave Acadia.  However even on our way back to Portland we found time for one more shoot !
Just past the large town (ha) of Damariscotta, Maine lies the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.  It was commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1827, and is just a marvel to behold. It has one of only six Fresnel Lenses still in service in Maine, and shows itself well when lit.
This particular lighthouse also enables and invites many different points of view for the photographer.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to shoot what we consider the perfect composition that we don’t move.  It is almost as if our tripods become immovable objects, like the 400+ million year old “rock” that this Lighthouse sits on.  But please remember to pick up your tripod and move !!
There are so many great ways to view this lighthouse that can be captured from all sides.  No, one composition, is right or wrong and many are striking.  Here are just a few…

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Also once you have several compositions, you can do something fun/cool and even create your own Poster…
Never get stuck in a rut, in this case literally and figuratively.  Move around and explore multiple compositions.  Yes, work to make sure you’ve captured your vision for the shoot, but remember that you don’t need 1000 snaps of the same view !!  This Lighthouse provides an excellent lesson on why it’s important to explore multiple points of view.  You might find something you hadn’t expected if you look at your subject a different way.


Ken Brown is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Autumn in Acadia – Here comes the Sun, but thankfully, not too much for this shot !

author: Ken Brown

As  our Acadia workshop was coming to an end after a day or so of rain,  we were happy to see the sun emerge, but in the case of this shot, not too much of it !!
This area is called Duck Creek, and the weather could not have been more perfect.
What helps this photo…   First, after 2 days of rain and wind, there were a lot of fallen leaves in the creek.  Second, since the storm system was still clearing out, we arrived in the early morning with overhead clouds and absolutely perfect diffuse light to show off the running creek, the rocks, leaves, and surrounding trees.  Strong sun would not have appeared nearly as good, and would have created many spectacular highlights, bright reflective areas, on the rocks and water.  The last element that makes this photo work is the sense of the moving water, created with a 1 second exposure with a tripod mounted camera.  So the main message is – while everyone loves the sunshine, sometimes you really don’t want too much of it.
Ken Brown is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Autumn in Acadia – Don’t let the rain keep you from heading out !!

author: Ken Brown

Our Arizona Highways Photo Workshop, Autumn in Acadia, kicked off this past week with 15 excited participants from both Arizona and around the country.  Autumn here in Maine is in full swing, but despite all our planning, one thing we can’t control is the weather.  One day there was a steady, mostly soft but regular rain, but it didn’t slow us down one bit.  What we were able to capture is a great reminder to never let the weather get you down or keep you inside !  Get out, enjoy the day you have, and capture something amazing.  We saw some stunning colors and had a magical experience on Little Long Pond.  The rain helped to bring out the color, and the raindrops brought a certain abstract pattern to the water.
Facing more difficult shooting conditions is also a great time to try the unconventional, or as our Pro Photographer, Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, would say “Break The Rules”.  Sieur De Monts, our second shooting location of the day (we had three) is a very special place, with a mix of old, original growth Acadia Forest, new trees, and an incredible diversity of vegetation, shown to us today seemingly as a Rain Forest.  A broad mix of colors, so many different greens, light, dark patterns, and everything in between.  If you do an image search on this location, you will see a lot of photos of the walkway shown in this photo – really pretty with surrounding tall trees and covered with a tapestry of Autumn leaves.  A perfect Fall scene.  However, you might not see something like what’s shown here.  A very abstract, soft, almost watercolor-like view of the walkway and surrounding forest.  This was shot handheld (not tripod) with a 2 second exposure. Once again, inspired by the day and location.
Don’t let anything, especially not the weather, ever stop you from going out to shoot.  You never know what you can create.
Ken Brown is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Kicking Off an Amazing Week in Acadia National Park

Author:  Ken Brown

AHPW Trip Leaders, Amy Ganske, Christina Heinle, and Ken Brown arrived into South Portland in time to get ready for the arrival of 15 participants for a 5 day workshop shooting the most iconic scenes in Acadia National Park with Pro Photographer Colleen Miniuk-Sperry.  Colleen has served as Artist-in-Residence several times in Acadia, so you could say she knows her way around here !
Since we arrived a day ahead to get ready for the workshop, the three Trip Leads decided to go out on our own sunrise shoot, you know just to make sure the vans were ok and such  With a little bit of research, we discovered that we were within 30 minutes of the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine – Portland Head Light, built in 1791, in Cape Elizabeth.
Arriving before dawn we found a beautiful vantage point to shoot from and waited until we had the most beautiful light.  The concept for this photo was to capture the sunrise just kissing the lighthouse and the surrounding rocks.  Casting some shadows to make clear the time of day, direction of the light, and some of the beautiful features of the lighthouse and surrounding scene.
 Since this is a workshop, we also wanted to highlight an important technique for this type of shooting situation – the use of a Graduated Neutral Density Filter.  Looking at the two images below, besides the change in composition, you can see the results of one with the Filter and one with no Filter.  This filter transitions from a darkened (but optically clear for shooting) area to a light, totally clear area.  Correct placement of the filter over the lens allows the photographer to dramatically reduce the exposure of the brightest portion of an image like this, the bright sky, and regions in dark shadow.  More light can get through the filter where it’s clearer, and less light through the filter where it’s darker.  While the photo without the filter is not terrible, it completely lacks the drama, intensity, and visual contrast of the image that was shot WITH the Filter.
 In addition to using the Split Neutral Density filter, both images were shot with an added FULL neutral density filter (yes – you can also stack filters !!), this was done so that the image could be shot with an exposure time over multiple seconds, giving the water a nice, smooth, appearance of flow – also being targeted for this photo.
Finally the last item to mention is composition.  Now putting aside the lighting for a moment, there is a very clear difference in composition between these two images, and it makes all the difference in the world.  It’s the fence…  The first instinct was to capture some of the green low shrubs in the foreground.  But after looking at this a bit, it became clear that a much more important feature was that fence, leading to the lighthouse.  It brings the viewers eyes through the image to the central theme – the Lighthouse.  Now also add in the lighting and filters, where the brighter, more reflective features (like the fence) pick up more of the light, and the features in shadow remain a little darker, and we’ve got a wonderful leading line for the eyes.
We’re off to a good start for our week in Maine and we haven’t even officially started yet
Ken Brown is a Trip Leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.