When we travel I seldom go anywhere without my camera. Even in our hotel at breakfast I sometimes manage to find some interesting things to aim my camera at. One morning on our recent cruise I walked around the ship, looking for interesting little scenes. The car I posted at Christmas was an obvious subject, but sometimes it is the not-so-obvious things that make the most interesting photographs. I’m often aware of people looking at me and wondering what I am taking a picture of. Sometimes they ask.
We were somewhat disappointed with our time in both New Hampshire and Vermont, but it wasn’t the states’ fault. A low pressure system decided to visit about the same time we did, and other than a little sun at the beginning, it was mostly rain, fog and general cuck the entire time we were there.
Our first visit to New Hampshire actually occurred when we passed through the twenty-ish mile strip of the state that sits along the coast between Massachusetts and Maine. We stopped for breakfast at The Airport Cafe in North Hampton, which as you would guess, is a cafe at a small airport. One of the highlights there is a track attached to the ceiling that carries a parade of model aircraft around the restaurant, much like you would see a train running in some place. It was very clever, and from what little I know about conveyor systems, appeared to be very well designed. If you ever go there, I recommend the Cinnamon Streusel French Toast. Sugar coma on a plate! 🙂
After all of the lighthouses on the coast, it was nice to see something different: COVERED BRIDGES! We had identified a number of them along our drive from Asticou to North Conway, where we had arranged to spend a couple of nights. We visited bridges in or near the towns of Ossipee and Conway (Conway has at least three!).
The highlight of our New Hampshire visit was a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway, to the top of Mount Washington. When we woke up that morning, it was about 40 degrees and starting to rain. When we got to the parking area for the railway base station, it was 35 degrees and raining harder. We brought everything we could bring to try and keep warm, and it was just barely doing the job.
As we approached the top of the mountain, the rain was turning to snow and sleet, and at the top it was about 31 degrees in fog and a wintry mix with a 40-50 mph wind. Everything was covered in ice, including the ground, railings and walkways. Yikes!
We first went into the visitor center to get our bearings, then decided to try and find the actual summit. We went out on to an “observation deck” where the only thing you could observe were the ice-covered viewing machines! Finallly, through the fog we could see people climbing up some rocks about 20 yards from us and realized that must be the summit. So carefully made our way up, slipping and sliding as we went. The cool part was that everyone was helping each other, lending a hand or a boost when necessary. A couple in front of us was taking turns taking each others’ photo with their phone, and when I offered to take a photo of the two of them, they readily accepted. I then handed my camera to them and they shot a few of us. I was a little nervous handing my camera over in those slippery conditions, but it turned out fine. Other than getting a little wet from the snow and feeling like we were getting blown off the mountain, it was truly a memorable experience!
After returning to our car, we then explored the area, looking for photographs in the fog and rain. We then drove a portion the fabled Kancamagus Highway, but of course couldn’t see the views that make it so famous! That night, tired and chilled after an eventful day, we opted to have dinner in our motel room, stopping at a grocery store for meat, cheese, olives and wine. 🙂
The following day we headed toward Vermont, taking the “long way” through Laconia and Belmont before crossing the state line at Norwich, Vermont.
For years I have been seeing photographs of a lovely bridge, reflected in a pond and surrounded by – depending on time of the year – snow and Christmas decorations, spring flowers and fall colors. Karin Pinkham is a Maine photographer who has made several splendid photographs of this bridge. I didn’t ask for her permission to show her photos here, but several examples can be found on her website: Flag, Flowers, Fall, More Fall, Winter. Spend some time on her site – she does beautiful work.
I knew that this bridge was in Somesville, somewhere near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine in a place called Somesville Museum and Gardens. I imagined it as this idyllic place, hidden in a quiet forest with hiking paths and benches for contemplation and rest. Actually, it is right beside a busy road!
In most of the photos I have seen, the road is cropped out or well hidden behind greenery or with a low perspective. There’s a little parking lot, enough for about 10 cars, and there is always someone pulling in or out. It’s one of those places that few people actually look for but many people recognize. We were actually driving through town on our way to somewhere else, planning to find the bridge on our way back. When I saw it I said, “that’s IT?” But of course it was, just not in the context I had expected it to be.
The lesson for me is a reminder that not everything is what you imagine it to be. The power of photography, and particularly of composition, is to make a photograph of what something is, often without reference to its surroundings. It was an interesting place to see with my own eyes. I was not there at an ideal time, condition-wise, but I did make a few photographs to illustrate my points. I’m glad we took the time to check it out!
After our time in Hyannis we headed toward Rockport, Massachusetts. On our way there, we decided to stop in Plymouth to see Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II. I’m pretty sure the rock is just a rock that someone carved a date on, but the Mayflower II is quite impressive. We didn’t go aboard, choosing to not take the time or pay the admission fee. So I just took a few photos from outside. We also stopped by train stations in Easton and Stoughton, and visited the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln where we learned about the opening battles of the Revolutionary War.
Continuing with our small coastal town theme, we looked for a place to stay in a town that was walkable, scenic and situated in a location that was close to other things we wanted to do. We liked the Cape Ann area of Massachusetts, as it looked to be fairly quiet but located in an area with lots of choices. We eventually settled on Rockport.
The town of Rockport is situated at the end of Cape Ann, on Sandy Bay. When I saw photos of the iconic fishing shack called Motif #1, I was instantly drawn there as a photographic destination. It’s about as cliche as you can get, often referred to as “the most often-painted building in America.” But what the heck? I’ll do a separate post on Motif #1, because there is a lot more to Rockport than just one building!
As we planned our trip, I realized that we would be arriving in Rockport on the day before a full moon. A little research led me to identify several good spots to catch the rising moon over the town, on the night before the official full moon. As it turned out, the inn we selected for our stay there was directly across the street from one of those places. Sweet!
While we were on Cape Ann, and one of the reasons we chose to stay there, we booked a whale watch cruise out of Gloucester. Gloucester is a much more commercial-oriented town, likely due to it having a more protected harbor area as compared to Rockport. That’s part of the reason we chose not to stay there. There are a number of places we could have chosen, but the more laid-back vibe of Rockport suited our needs better.
One of the great things for me about Rockport was the ability to get up and out before sunrise, walking around the town to take advantage of the many photographic opportunities. Besides the full moon and Motif #1, there was plenty of other subject matter. Mostly boats and boat stuff, but that was perfectly OK with me.
The one surprising and perhaps disappointing thing about our stay in Rockport was that many of the businesses had gone to off-season hours or closed completely. This was purportedly due to the lack of staffing, and while most places we visited appeared to be struggling a bit but managing, Rockport seemed to be impacted more by the lack of seasonal help.
It was most irritating that businesses did not keep their signage or their websites up to date. One restaurant we wanted to visit said they were open, but on the day we wanted to go they were closed. But the next night they were supposed to be closed, we walked by and they were open but full. We stopped at a restaurant on another night nearly an hour before closing time, but were turned away because they were understaffed. Across the street, another restaurant that was open was still welcoming walk-ins an hour after they were supposed to have closed.
One morning while I was out walking around I had planned to stop at a shop that was known for its strudel, hoping to surprise Kathy with a little treat for breakfast. Their website and sign on the door said they would be open, but they were not. So we had to forego the strudel and make other plans. First world problems, I know. 😉
Rockport is a nice little town. Now that we have “done” it I probably wouldn’t need to stay there again. There just isn’t that much to do, and maybe that’s the point. 😉 After our stay in Rockport, we headed north to spend 9 days in Maine. I have a lot to say about Maine! 🙂
I posted this on Instagram yesterday but not everyone here would have seen it. One of a number of interesting scenes in Rockport, MA. I need to and will begin to highlight some of my more favorite photos from the various places we visited on our recent road trip.
I’ve edited and processed my photos through Massachusetts, but realized this morning that I have over 2500 from Maine! 🙂 Many of them are burst shots of waves and whales, but still. We were there for 9 days, so there was a lot of subject matter!
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love to visit there, but hate dealing with the crowds that flock there, especially in fall when the colors are happening. Such was the case this week, when Kathy & I decided to head to the high country for a few days to check out the fall colors.
Like all the National Parks, the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the most-visited National Park in the country, has been overrun by tourists seeking an outdoor experience. I’ll be glad when many of them head back to the office, although there appears to be a large number of retired folks as well. Drivers on the Parkway range from the Floridian driving white-knucked around the winding corners at 30 MPH to the motorcycle riders trying to make the Parkway their personal Lime Rock Park. Add in those of us just trying to drive comfortably and enjoy the scenery and it can be a frustrating mix.
We left home on Wednesday morning with the goal of driving the Parkway from Blowing Rock to Mount Pisgah before heading to Waynesville for a couple of nights. We have friends who own a motel there, and I have a cousin who lives nearby who we don’t get to see often enough. Seeing both of them was long overdue.
Wednesday was a Chamber of Commerce Blue Sky Day on the Parkway. The leaves in the Grandfather Mountain area were just about at their peak. We stopped at an overlook and had lunch before continuing south toward our destination.
I didn’t take a single photograph all day.
Between having a case of “Get-There-Itis” * and all the people crowding into any overlook with a view, my heart just wasn’t in it. It was nice to see, but I rationalized that the mid-day light wasn’t ideal for good photographs and decided that any photograph I made would be no better than a cell phone photo, just taken with a nice camera.
On Thursday, we headed back to the Parkway with the express intention of making photographs. As we headed higher, it became clear that fog would be our companion for the day. That suited me just fine, because fog means interesting photography and…fewer people! The fog and the fall color varied greatly by elevation, and we drove in and out of the fog for several hours. Some places were pretty clear, while others – like Richland Balsam, the highest point on the Parkway at 6053 feet, were totally in the soup. But for the first time in a long time, I was able to get a photograph of the sign without someone’s car or motorcycle parked in front of it! 😉
On Friday, we headed toward home by a different route than we usually take. I got a few photographs from the drive home that I’ll share in another post. We may try to head back up to the Parkway early next week, weather permitting. If so, hopefully I can contain my “affliction” and make a few nice photos!
*Get-There-Itis (my definition): (a) in photography, a condition where one is so focused on the final destination that it prevents stopping to take pictures; (b) in aviation, often referred to as exercising poor judgement, resulting in a decision to fly despite adverse conditions, often with sub-optimal results.
Photographers know this, of course. But for the few non-photographers who read my blog (and possibly even the photographers!) this might be interesting.
I took these two photos exactly 30 seconds apart. For the first one, above, there was just the right amount of light filtering through the clouds to provide some shape and contrast to the scene. In the second shot, below, the cloud has moved over the sun and the light has gone flat. Both of these photos are pretty nice, but to me the one with the shaping light and subtle shadows is the superior one.
We capped off our adventure today with a cruise on Seneca Lake and a visit to both a distillery and a winery. More souvenirs! This is a pretty typical and boring tourist shot but it is a landmark in the town of Watkins Glen.
Other than the Wright Brothers, perhaps no other individual is as important to the history of aviation than Glenn Curtiss. Just a few years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903, Curtiss, almost single handedly, improved and advanced the newfangled airplane to see ever expanding commercial, military and personal application.
Curtiss’ various ventures centered in the area around Hammondsport, New York. The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is a tribute to this aviation pioneer and is a fascinating place to learn about this area of aviation history.
The title comes from an old Joni Mitchell tune, but it is also the title of my latest website gallery: Every Picture Has Its Shadows. I had a tough time with this one, as I know that 140 photos are too many, but I had so many I didn’t want to leave out! So here is my collection of shadow images.
We’re off this morning on our latest adventure – 4 weeks along the New England coast, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. We’re hoping to meet up with some friends – Joe in Maine, Ken and Paul in New York, and with any luck we’ll run into Bob Krist along the way, assuming he gets back from the Azores in time. Postcards to follow!