Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Cold Outside, So Why Not In Maine

Today's image, Portland Head Light in Maine, was cold the day the shot was taken. It was October rather than December, but the wind coming off the water made it necessary to bundle up as if it were year's end. What is it you can do to one of the most iconic images of Maine to make it stand out from the thousands of other images taken from the same place. Get hold of almost any calendar featuring either Maine or lighthouses and one month will be a shot of Portland Head Light. It is that big a deal. Why? The biggest point I can think of is that it's accessible. If you're going to fly into Maine, chances are you'll fly into Portland International. If you go to Maine by car it's the second iconic lighthouse you'll go past (Nubble Light of Cape Natick would be the first). From the time you hit the border on Route 95 you can have your tripod setup on Cape Elizabeth within an hour. Other "must see" stops for photographers are two plus hours (Pemiquid Light), five hours (Acadia National Park) and about a day's drive (Quoddy Light) away. So, ease of access is one of Portland Head's "selling" points. Beauty is obviously high on any checklist of why a shooter heads to the "rock bound coast". Time of year, time of day and weather are other draws. These factors are probably more important to the locals. It's a little tough to head up on a whim because there's a coastal storm (winter or summer) going through tonight and the dawn should be spectacular tomorrow. So, most of us have to take the conditions nature gives us and try to make the best of the hand we're dealt. To find out what was done to today's image to try to make it stand out, hit the "read more".
Detail is one of the keys in today's image. If the rocks were just plain blocked up it would be a nothing shot. Therefore, preserving detail in the rocks was important. Putting some emphasis on the sky to make sure it was an area that would hold the viewer in the image was also a must. The rocks and the sky produce a "frame" to showcase the light itself. If the rocks were blocked or the sky blown out the image would never had seen the light of day (sorry, bad pun). In the sky we have a couple stringy clouds that serve as pointers, basically acting as arrows saying "here's the primary object to look at.

The last piece of making this image was to give it a subtle duotone look. The overall image has been given a slightly blue cast. The highlights have just a touch of yellow, giving the illusion of the failing sunlight and warming the scene faintly.

Does today's image come up to the level being saleable? I don't think any calendar companies are going to be beating down my door and throwing money at me for the use of the shot, but it does put my stamp on a very familiar landscape.