I don’t do much to promote my work these days, and never really have, actually. I did assignment work for a couple of magazines and I had photos with a local stock agent at one time, but both of those went away as microstock took over. Since then it has been completely hit or miss. Now, I mostly give prints away to friends and family, but once in a while I get an inquiry from an art consultant, magazine or website wanting to purchase a print or license an image. Mostly by accident, I’ve actually sold some photos that now hang in pretty interesting places.
A few weeks ago I received an email from a partner in a new restaurant (now open) out on the coast of North Carolina. It’s called Salt 64 and is located in Oak Island. Turns out the chef is the former chef at a restaurant we’re familiar with in Mooresville, NC. And he is friends with a friend who runs a frame shop and gallery there. Small world.
So Erika (the partner) found this photo of mine on my website through a search, and wanted to know about buying a print of it for the restaurant. She said that she was decorating the restaurant with local photography, that the boat “Cape Point” is owned by a cousin of the chef, and she wanted to surprise him with the photo. So I had a print made and shipped to her. She loves it and so does the chef!
I asked her to pay me in food, so Kathy & I are going to head out to the coast in a few weeks with plans to stop by Salt 64 for dinner one night! Can’t wait to see my photo hanging on the wall!
By the way, not to give away trade secrets, but when I got the request for a print, I went back and re-processed the photo to make it more print-worthy. I had done some very basic work on the original version, but decided to use some of the tools in my Lightroom toolbox to kick it up a notch or two. I often do that anyway with photos I plan to print, but this one just hadn’t hit my radar. While the old version was pretty nice, the new one is really nice, I think!
I know not everyone is able to share this sentiment, but from my perspective, 2021 was actually quite a fantastic year. I admit that we were quite fortunate to have not faced a lot of the trials that impacted others. Luck, circumstance, perspective and attitude make a huge difference, of course, as do flexibility and acceptance. Kathy & I are happy, positive people with a good outlook on life, a sense of adventure, and it doesn’t take a lot to make us happy.
What matters to us most are three things: (1) are we healthy?, (2) are our family and friends healthy and safe? and (3) can we pay the bills? The first two have gotten a little complicated lately, but we deal. The “New Normal?” Nah, that’s just Life. And in the words of (Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon made famous by) Mr. Sinatra, “as funny as it may seem, some people get their kicks stompin’ on a dream. But I don’t let it, let it get me down ’cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around.”
This is not intended to be a political or philosophical post, but I think what gets a lot of people down is that they pay too much attention to shit that doesn’t affect them. Kathy & I remain peripherally aware of current events, just enough to know what big things are happening in the world. We spend very little time on (anti)social media, stay mindfully aware of and avoid the hysteria boobytraps that lurk there. Yes, we’re aware of all the boogeymen (and boogeywomen?) out there, but for the most part the idiot politicians, celebrities and bazillionaires (real and imagined) have very little direct impact on our life or our happiness. And hand wringing about things that are out of our control is pretty much pointless. Play on!
We’ve traveled, mindfully and – where necessary – carefully. We drove over 22,000 miles, visited 12 new states, met some new friends and caught up with some long-time friends. We even took our first cruise in nearly 2 years. And I took over 16,000 photos – not quite as much as 2000 but almost! Some of the precautions and protocols inspire a forehead slap or an eye roll. But if it needs to be done to do what we want to do? Roll with it and move on. Complaining about it just makes you look like another idiot – not the image we want to present to the world.
So anyway, I took some photos. I don’t generally feel the need for a “My Year In Review” retrospective, but it is sometimes interesting to go back and look at what I saw and aimed my camera at. I don’t try to a “Best Of” or even a “Favorites” post, because as we discussed on Joe’s Blog a few weeks ago, the selections tend to change every time we look. I’ve long contended that for most people the quality of the memory is more important than the technical quality of the photograph. Which is why you see so many cell-phone-out-of-car-window photos, selfie sticks and other various head scratchers.
I chose a group of photos that show my year. I didn’t even limit them to 21 (as in the year 2021). Some of them are pretty good technically, some of them might even be OK artistically. But mostly they say, I was here and this is what I did/saw/felt/experienced. And ultimately it doesn’t get a lot better than that.
Kathy & I send our sincerest wishes to everyone for a healthy, happy, amazing and fulfilling 2022!
Many of the larger Royal Caribbean ships have an inside area known as the ‘Royal Promenade.’ It’s actually an indoor space lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Often there is a British pub, and to go with that theme there is usually a sports car parked somewhere along the way. Such was the case on Harmony of the Seas.
If my research is correct, this is either a 1954-ish Jaguar XK-120 or a really nice replica. In the “correct” color, too! 🙂 It seemed to be missing some key components, such as door handles and a license plate holder, and I couldn’t tell if there was a motor in it or not. And of course the cockpit was filled with Christmas presents so I couldn’t check out the interior! It may be a replica but was still a pretty sweet car. You could keep all those boxes and give me the car, and that would make for a pretty nice Christmas gift! 🙂
Kathy & I spent last week on our first cruise in nearly 2 years, aboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas out of Port Canaveral. It felt good to get back on the water and we had a great time.
There has been a lot of sensationalistic reporting in the media about cruising, with much hype around the occasional rare but real report of some kind of outbreak. Covid is only the latest hand-wringer. I’ve said for years that cruise ships have been among the cleanest places we’ve visited. They have always been very vigilant about cleaning in an effort to reduce the spread of all kinds of passenger-borne bugs. A report of an outbreak of any kind is fresh meat for a media looking for anything to wring their hands over. Yes, it happens. But relax. It was fun. Yes, we had to take a Covid test before we left home. Yes, we had to wear a mask on occasion. But we have to do that at home anyway, and it was a lot warmer in Cozumel than it is back here in NC! 😉
We paid a visit to Kennedy Space Center before the cruise. I took a few photos and will have more to share over the next few days.
As promised in a previous post, here is a selection of my photos from the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee Gorge Village near Hartford, Vermont. The museum’s website is down, possibly due to the recent AWS issues, but I got the following from Atlas Obscura:
Nestled above a charming general store near the Quechee Gorge, the Vermont Toy Museum’s vast collection of dolls, action figures, lunchboxes, yo-yos, and matchbox cars is a hidden treasure right off the White River Junction. Around 100,000 toys are housed inside the museum.
The museum’s items largely came from members of the local community. They were collected and compiled decade-by-decade, which displays the evolution of toys and games from the 1950s to the present day. Though it’s unknown who operates and maintains the museum, it’s closely watched by the employees at the downstairs Cabot Cheese Store and the antique mall next door.
The museum also houses an intricate model train exhibit that takes visitors through the four seasons of the Green Mountain state for only a quarter. This museum’s tireless attention to detail, nostalgia, and cozy atmosphere make it a must-see for travelers on Route 4.
It was a fun visit. A place we might have spent a lot more time, but just like the camera museum in Staunton, Virginia, there is only so much time…. 😉 As it was, we spent a lot of time saying things like, “I had that!” or “I remember those” or “the kids had these.” Fun stuff!
Almost forgot! I have completed processing my photos from our New England trip and have posted them on my Adobe Portfolio site.
Growing up in western Pennsylvania, I had actually visited New York many times prior to this most recent trip. I went to Peek’n Peek to ski, visited Buffalo, Corning, Watkins Glen, Troy and even Lake Placid. But those visits were all before I started getting serious about photography, and many of them, including Lake Placid, were Before Kathy, and I wanted to take her there. While I had some photos that would have worked – they’re our rules, after all! – we decided that another swing through the state would be the right way to do it. Plus we wanted to visit the Finger Lakes.
Departing Burlington, we swung around the south shore of Lake Champlain, crossing into New York near the town of Moriah. Moriah’s claim to fame is as the home of Johnny Podres, 1955 World Series MVP for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Your trivia for the day. 😉 The rain and fog were still with us, but as we drove north and west the skies finally began to clear.
Our first destination was Lake Placid, and we arrived there in time for a late breakfast and a few photos of the fall color on the lake. We didn’t stay long, since we had a long day ahead and didn’t want to linger at the beginning. Also, the town was in the process of some major road work in town. Main Street was torn up and loaded with piles of dirt, rocks and road equipment, rendering the normally picturesque town pretty rough looking. Another technicality is that the lake in town is actually Mirror Lake, and that Lake Placid is out of town to the north. We did stop to see the Olympic ski jumping site on our way into town, but didn’t try to take a tour.
Leaving Lake Placid and heading west through Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, we crossed a bridge over the Raquette River near Piercefield and were greeted with a lovely park overlooking the river, complete with still water reflecting the fall color of the trees along the riverbank. The skies were clearing but still mostly cloudy, providing us with ideal conditions for photos. It made for one of those unplanned stops we were glad to have taken the time for.
Our ultimate destination was a lodge on the west shore of Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes and central to the Finger Lakes wine region. I had a chance to do a little early photography before heading out to explore the area attractions. We visited three wineries, bought souvenirs at two of them, visited a distillery and the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport. We took a boat cruise on Saranac Lake out of Watkins Glen. That was the seventh boat cruise of our trip – do you get the feeling we like boat cruises? 🙂
One of our days there was dedicated to a drive to Rochester, where we visited the George Eastman Museum and, most importantly, met up with two of our long-time photo buddies Paul Maxim and Ken Bello. We had lunch with them and Ken’s wife before driving along the shore of Lake Ontario through Webster (Where Life Is Worth Living) and ultimately returning to our lodge.
New York made for our 49th state visited. Number 50 is Hawaii, and we have plans to visit there in February. After that? We’ll have to see, but there is a lot more of this country we want to see, we have friends to visit all over, and we might want to see a little bit more of the world. 🙂
There’s no question we didn’t spend enough time in Vermont. Even if it hadn’t rained most of the time we were there, it would not have been enough. But what a beautiful state!
Our first stop after crossing the VT-NH state line was the King Arthur Baking Company in Norwich. We’re not bakers but know the name, and since it was on the way we thought we’d check it out. I guess if you are into making breads and cakes from scratch, this would be your Mecca. From what I could tell they have a little bit of everything in the store, including seemingly dozens of types of flour, pans, mixers, storage containers, you name it. Like a camera store for bakers! There is a cafe on site where they serve products that are made in-house, and there is a cooking school where you can learn to make lots of yummy things – after buying all of the proper equipment and ingredients, of course!
Next we stopped at a place called Quechee Village, and visited the Vermont Toy Museum (what a place – I’ll do a separate post) and Vermont Spirits Distilling Company. Of course we brought home souvenirs. Then it was on to Sugarbush Farm, a working maple syrup and cheese making farm near Woodstock, where we sampled and purchased some of their products. After that we visited The New England Maple Museum in Pittsford.
We spent most of our time in Burlington, which was essentially only one day since we got there late and were only staying two nights. But we crammed as much as possible into one day, visiting Ben & Jerry’s, taking a boat cruise on Lake Champlain, and exploring the town. After a nice dinner at an Irish pub, we headed back to our motel to prepare for the drive to New York.
“Once, man turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.
Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind.”
Frank Herbert’s Dune, 1965
I’m currently reading the first of six books in the Dune series. Why watch a movie when you can read a 500+ page book, right? 😉 I was particularly struck by this quote when taken in context of the world we live in today.
I started this book years ago as a teenager and couldn’t get through the first few chapters. It’s a different writing style than I had become accustomed to reading Asimov, Heinlein and Bradbury. It took me a while to get into it, but now that I’m over halfway through I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. Will I read the rest of the series? Likely, but no rush!
After spending 9 days in Maine, it is easy to see why it has become a very popular destination over the last few years. I read recently that, according to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, restaurant and lodging sales reached $2.3 billion between May and August, a roughly 12% increase over 2019. It seemed like most, or at least many, of those people were in Acadia, Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas!
Our visit was based at the Asticou Inn, located in Northeast Harbor. That area is much less busy than Bar Harbor and made a fairly central place to stay without being too far away or right in the hustle and bustle. We heard about Asticou from a waitress at a restaurant in Whiteville, NC. She had waited on us in April and during our conversation told us that she worked at Asticou during the summers. When we made our travel plans we got reservations at the inn and met her there during our visit. Small world! We stayed in a group of rooms on the first floor of an 1854 “cottage” which is really a big old house. We had plenty of space, and although the floors were uneven and squeeky, it was a nice place to call home for a few days. The restaurant there was awesome, although it was closed for two of the five nights we were there. Not lacking for choices, however, we found two great alternatives the other nights!
Our first morning there entailed sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in Acadia National Park, and the first place in the US touched by the sun each morning. Reservations are required to go to Cadillac during the day in-season, and sunrise spots are especially coveted and limited to one per person every seven days. Sunrise was about 6:25am, which required a very early alarm in order to get there with time to spare. And Kathy went with me! My funny story from that morning was at the entry gate, the ranger checked our documents, welcomed us and allowed us to go ahead. I asked if he had any tips (meaning for sunrise) and his reply was “keep it between the white lines!” It gave us a laugh. Despite the restricted entry, the parking lot filled quickly, as did the top of the mountain – people bundled up against the cold and wind with all kinds of clothing, both weather-appropriate and otherwise! It was pitch black dark when we got there, and as it got lighter we were able to see more and more people. I can only imagine the pandemonium at peak times before the restrictions!
Admission to Cadillac Mountain after 7am was by timed entry every 30 minutes. Once there you can stay as long as you want. I arbitrarily made a sunrise reservation for our first day, and a 7am reservation for our fourth day. It was good timing, as the sunrise morning was “severe clear” while the second visit was socked in with fog. A few clouds on the sunrise morning would have been preferred, but clear was better than pea soup!
After sunrise we headed back down the mountain and took the Park Loop Road, which goes past many of the top destinations, such as Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Boulder Beach and Otter Cliff. The nice light faded quickly and we stopped a lot to explore, but our main goal was to get there before the “nooners,” as we like to call the crowds of people who start showing up at popular places late morning. They were all in Bar Harbor having breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, heading into the park afterward. Case in point was when a couple days later we cruised past this area of the coast on a boat tour. That afternoon the traffic on the Loop Road was bumper to bumper, and there were dozens of people trying to get a peek at Thunder Hole. When we visited there early in the morning there were only a handful of people at each place!
That afternoon we headed toward the eastern side of Acadia to the Schoodic Peninsula. It turned out to be the least-populated part of the park and probably our ultimate favorite. It doesn’t have the views or the terrain of Acadia proper, but what it lacks in drama it makes up in quietude. It does still have its own beauty, with rocky coastline, nice views and plenty of places to explore. We didn’t have nearly enough time to really relax and enjoy Schoodic, and would make up for it be staying closer to there on a subsequent visit.
We planned a boat cruise out of Bar Harbor for the afternoon of our second day. So we got into town early so we could find a place to park, spent some time walking around town and had a late breakfast at a restaurant called Jordan’s Restaurant. Jordan’s is known for, among other things, their Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes. Maine IS blueberry country, after all! And they were as good as you might expect, topped with real Maine maple syrup. There was a bit of a wait, but we expected it and it was well worth it. We went to the boat dock in the early afternoon and took a cruise aboard Acadian Boat Tours’ ‘Eden Star.’ We saw…more lighthouses. Also lots of wildlife – seals, dolphins, lobster fishermen and tourists. 😉 The weather was less than ideal – cold and rainy – but the water was smooth as glass, the clouds made for glare-free photographs and we saw some very interesting clouds. We returned from the boat ride ready for cocktails and dinner, and had both at Jack Russell’s Steakhouse and Brewery, a nice steakhouse right across the road. No, it’s not sacrilegious to have steak in Maine!
We devoted our third day for a drive to Quoddy Head State Park, site of the Quoddy Head Lighthouse and known as the Easternmost Point in the Continental US. That means we have now visited the two easiest points to get to – the other being the Southernmost Point in Key West. The Northernmost Point is in Middle of Nowhere (not the actual name!), Minnesota and the Westernmost Point is in Middle of Nowhere (not the actual name!) Oregon. We want to get there but it may need to wait a while! The lighthouse is quite beautiful, and from the shore we could see Canada. In fact, when we were in the parking lot our phones buzzed with the message “Welcome to Canada” and we were charged for using my phone “internationally” even though we never actually left the country! We had a nice dinner – seafood this time – at The Chart Room, a a local waterfront place we had passed earlier in the week.
We devoted our fourth and final day, after an early morning drive back to Cadillac Mountain, to exploring the western side of Mount Desert Island (pronounced ‘dessert’ even though it is spelled like ‘desert.’ It’s evidently a French thing.). We returned to the inn for a late lunch of Lobster Bisque, Lobster Roll and Lobster Popovers (an Acadian thing), knowing that we probably would not be getting lobster in New Hampshire 😉 and spent the afternoon getting ready for our departure toward New Hampshire the next morning.
As spectacular is Acadia is, I don’t know that I would rush back there. I’m glad we went, but truthfully there is so much more to see than just that area. There’s a good reason it is so popular – it is truly gorgeous – but like so many National Parks it has become almost too popular for its own good. We did really enjoy the afternoon we spent exploring the Schoodic Peninsula, and I would go back there in a heartbeat. But the entire Maine coast has some beautiful places just waiting to be explored. We barely got to see inland Maine, and we weren’t anywhere near the north woods or Katahdin. So there is plenty of unseen territory for another visit, or two or ten! Plus we have friends there, so how hard is that!
For anyone interested in seeing even more of my photos, I have posted a photo gallery on my Adobe Portfolio page for Maine, as well as the other parts of our New England trip. I hope to have the final group processed over the next week or so.
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!