Thursday, May 29, 2008

Made in Maine, May '08: Perched on the rocks at Portland Head

The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
and on its outer point, some miles away,
the lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.

Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
in the white tip and tremor of the face.

And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
through the deep purple of the twilight air,
Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light,
with strange, unearthly splendor in the glare!

No one alone: from each projecting cape
And perilous reef along the ocean's verge,
Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
Holding its lantern o'er the restless surge.

Like the great giant Christopher it stands
Upon the brink of the tempestuous wave,
Wading far out among the rocks and sands,
The night o'er taken mariner to save.

And the great ships sail outward and return
Bending and bowing o'er the billowy swells,
And ever joyful, as they see it burn
They wave their silent welcome and farewells.

They come forth from the darkness, and their sails
Gleam for a moment only in the blaze,
And eager faces, as the light unveils
Gaze at the tower, and vanish while they gaze.

The mariner remembers when a child,
on his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink
And when returning from adventures wild,
He saw it rise again o'er ocean's brink.

Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!

It sees the ocean to its bosum clasp
The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss of peace:
It sees the wild winds lift it in their grasp,
And hold it up, and shake it like a fleece.

The startled waves leap over it; the storm
Smites it with all the scourges of the rain,
And steadily against its solid form
press the great shoulders of the hurricane.

The sea-bird wheeling round it, with the din
of wings and winds and solitary cries,
Blinded and maddened by the light within,
Dashes himself against the glare, and dies.

A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,
Still grasping in his hand the fire of love,
it does not hear the cry, nor heed the shock,
but hails the mariner with words of love.

"Sail on!" it says: "sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse.
Be yours to bring man neared unto man.

-- The Lighthouse
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Made in Maine, May '80: On the point at Pemaquid

I must've shot this lighthouse more than any other, with every camera I've ever owned, beginning with my first -- a Kodak disk point-and-shoot. It may be 500 miles from where I grew up, but I have to have photographed it more than Twin Lights or Sandy Hook, only minutes from home. But those, I'd visit on a whim, not always with a camera, and I always knew I could go back at any time to shoot them. At Pemaquid, I always start from behind the light, walking from the parking lot toward the tower, then make my way down to the rocks and around the point, covering it from every angle. It's a tradition, a ritual, one I expect to continue on future visits.

Made in Maine, May '08: Churning sea at Pemaquid Point

The weather during our trip was amazing. When we left Bar Harbor on this morning, it looked like this. During the three-hour drive, we passed through some intermittent as well as steady rain. When we arrived at Pemaquid, we had blue skies and wispy clouds above a surging ocean.

After leaving Pemaquid, it began raining again, but stopped shortly after we arrived at my uncle's house an hour later (with a stop at Round Top for ice cream).

Then we had clear skies again, for the most part.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Made in Maine, May '08: Boardwalk in the woods

Most of the western side of Jordan Pond is a delicate ecosystem, so boards have been laid for hikers. Casey and I stepped aside onto a rock at one point because three sullen teens were gaining on us -- one had her iPod blaring in order to keep out the annoying sounds of the calm forest -- and let them pass. Their parents soon followed, apologizing.

"I promised them ice cream at the end," their father said.

"We're following you, too!" I replied.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Backseat driver," Pennsylvania, December 2007

Night driving pics, with the longer exposure for the effect of motion, are difficult shots to take. I've tried a couple of times (some of which are on film and not yet linkable), with mixed results. I kind of like this one, because it gives a little more perspective taken from the back seat. It also helped that it was Christmastime, so there are more lights as people decorate their homes for the holidays.

I know I'm not the first to use this type of photo for this challenge, but I'm not sure how many difficult shots I have digitally (even out of 4,000). I have several other difficult shots that I haven't yet pulled off -- star trails, a bone-jarring home-plate collision, lightning -- but I'll keep trying.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Springsteen," New York January 2006

I had just bought my new digital SLR after the New Year and was itching to use it. The cold, gray winter days didn't provide much inspiration, but I did stop at a park overlooking the Hudson River during my lunch break on one sunny day. I took pictures of the George Washington Bridge, the New York skyline, Yonkers, and even leaves on the ground and cracks in the sidewalk -- anything to try out the camera.

But then I saw that the New York Guitar Festival was going to open with a tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, a bare-bones solo acoustic album he put out in 1982 but recorded on a four-track recorder in his bedroom in 1981 (thus the "25th anniversary" arc for the festival's staging of the songs). They brought together a collection of artists to interpret each track as they wished, so we decided to go, for free, to hear a great album played live. And I figured I'd get to really try out my new camera.

I also had a slight suspicion that Springsteen himself might drop in.

At one point, I left my wife standing off to the side where it was less crowded and there was a wall to lean on or sit against and moved into the crowd to get a clearer shot of the artist on stage, Laura Cantrell, who was signing "Used Cars." As I lowered my camera after taking this picture, my cell phone rings. I see it's Casey, who is no more than 50 feet away. I'm already heading back to her, so I don't answer it.

"He's here!" she says to me. I turn around to see that I'd just passed him. I retreat and approach him, brushing him on the arm to get his attention. (It may have been a bit of a "grab," but I don't think it was that extreme.) He stops and turns, we shake hands and I simply say I love what he does and thank him for doing it. He responds, though I have no idea what he says. It may have been along the lines of, "Thank you. I appreciate it," as his wife, Patti, smiles and says hello.

I then leave them alone and take a few pictures of their silhouettes in the darkness of the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan. Though he was recognized, maybe only one or two other people approach him. Had I not reached him while he was still walking in, I doubt I would have, either, choosing instead to let them enjoy watching other artists interpret his work from nearly a generation ago.

As the album nears its end -- the artists came out to perform them in the order they appear on the album -- Bruce and Patti make their way to the side of the stage, where he goes over some lyrics with the festival's founder. Then he gets on stage to sing Woody Guthrie's "Oklahoma Hills" with the full roster of musicians.

It put the perfect cap on a magical musical night.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Window cleaners," New York, September 2007

Professionals. Do not try this at home.

Friday, May 02, 2008

"Women go fast," Daytona, January 2008

Daytona, Florida: Where you'll find fast cars ... and fast women*? Maybe that's no secret.

*In their CARS, people. In their cars.

Though my secret could also be that I established a new personal record in being the seventh to post this week's Photo Friday.