Acadia National Park. A photographer's playground.
This past July, my wife Joanne and I traveled to Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, Maine to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Unlike me, Joanne had been to Acadia previously and knew firsthand of its incredible beauty. As we are both lovers of nature we eagerly looked forward to celebrating our anniversary there.
In writing about Acadia it's a bit difficult for me to know where to begin. The beauty of the land and seascapes are simply too beautiful for me to describe or capture with words; anything I could write would simply not do justice to this natural gem. So, I turn to my photography to help me. Before heading to Acadia I had heard and seen images of the incredibly beautiful sunrises that can be viewed from atop Cadillac Mountain, and I was eager to try to capture them. For the first time on any vacation, Joanne and I awoke each morning at 3:30. We traveled to the top of Cadillac Mountain each morning to view the sunrise. On our first morning there, we made our trek despite weather forecasts that called for heavy fog and clouds. Not a great forecast for viewing the sunrise.
As we reached the top of the mountain by car, I sheepishly hauled out my camera bag and tripod and we made our way to a spot we thought suitable for viewing the sunrise. I felt tremendously silly. The fog was ridiculously thick and there was no chance we would view the sun that morning. I'd have felt much sillier had I not been accompanied by at least 40 other foolish souls who stood by silently awaiting a sunrise that was just not to be viewed that day. Nonetheless, we remained for about twenty minutes, bonded with these folks by the common desire to see one of nature's greatest displays.
With only three days in Acadia, I left Cadillac Mountain that morning feeling like the weather would cheat Joanne and me out of a day to enjoy the scenic beauty. Selfishly, I admit that I was also disappointed that the rain and overcast weather would cheat me out of a day's worth of photography opportunities.
I was wrong. So very, very, wrong.
The day turned into a wonderful blessing for us, as we spent the entire day driving around Mt. Desert Island honing in on the spots we really wanted to visit over the following days. Midway through the day, as the rain had let up, and we traveled along the southwestern side of Mt. Desert Island, we stopped at the Seawall, a naturally occurring seawall of boulders and loose granite. The crescendo and decrescendo of the waves and the charcoal skies evoked a sense of calm and comfort. Soon we found ourselves walking among the boulders and granite of the seawall, looking, admiring and seemingly searching for something. What, we searched for I don't know, but we were both walking heads down, looking at the stones, seaweed and driftwood as people are wont to do alongside the ocean.
As I walked and looked I was drawn in and amazed by the stunning colors of both the rocks and seaweeds within the seawall. There were brilliant pieces of red granite aside gray-blue stones and pebbles of various hues. Mixed with these were iridescent seaweeds of deep purple and light greens contrasted by those of softer earth tones. The contrast of colors was matched almost equally by the contrasts in textures, from the smooth curves of stones to the grittiness of the course sands to the jagged, yet soft, edges of the seaweeds. All of these colors and textures were brought further to life by the glimmering wetness of the ocean saltwater and the misty rain. These colors and textures called to me, pulled me closer and inspired me to frame and photograph them.
The weather taught me a lot that day about photography, patience and gratitude. It's easy to get wrapped up in what we want and what we expect. If we get too wrapped up in our own understanding of what we need, we can lose sight--literally and figuratively--of what we truly need. I started that day with grand plans for capturing a glorious sunrise. As luck would have it I was able to do so the next day, and for that, I'm grateful.
But when I think back upon our trip to Acadia, I don't think first of the glorious sunrises that we experienced together and that I was able to capture. Rather, I think back to our first full day when we traveled about the island in what was sometimes a steady rain and at others a mere drizzle. There was a closeness about that day that is memorable and that evokes some of my fondest memories. And by getting close, I was able to create some of my best photographs of the trip. The photograph I have included here, which I have titled "Ocean Palette," is one of the images I captured that day by getting closer at the Seawall.
Let go of what you think you might want or need and instead see and listen to what life gives you.