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Peak experience

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Many people have their peak experience in Acadia National Park atop Cadillac Mountain. Not high even by Appalachian standards, the 1529-ft. summit of Cadillac Mountain nevertheless provides a view of the land and sea for miles in all directions, as we confirmed on the afternoon of June 9th. Because dozens of people were wandering about, I had to work quickly at times when a scene momentarily cleared. In contrast, one thing up there I didn’t want to exclude is this prominent boulder:

Smaller boulders adorned the mountain as well:

Look at the natural grooves in the top layer of rock:

And here’s a closer look at one of the many rocky surfaces covered with lichens:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 14, 2018 at 4:49 AM

More than waves

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In addition to waves shooting up from rocks along the Atlantic coast in the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park on June 8th, I paid attention to several shallow pools of water that had collected in depressions on top of the nearby rocks. The picture above, intentionally taken at a somewhat skewed angle, gives you an overview of how little pools form in the rocks. Below, seen more closely in other pools, you get a sense of the intriguing colors and textures sometimes found within them.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2018 at 4:46 AM

What a wave

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Our first contact with Maine’s Acadia National Park came on June 8th. That afternoon, arriving from New Brunswick, we visited the Schoodic section of the park, which is not connected to the main part across the Mt. Desert Narrows. Like other sites we’d already been to on the Atlantic coast, this one had rocky outcrops standing against the sea. In one place I noticed how the rocks caused crashing waves to hurl their water upward.

The difficulty for a photographer was that incoming waves didn’t consistently break in the same spot, so it was hard to know where to aim. I chose a high shutter speed, put the camera in a mode that would take several pictures a second, and then stood waiting, looking through the viewfinder in the direction where some waves had already splashed up, hoping my reflexes would be good enough to press the shutter release button as soon as a wave seemed to be beginning to break. Given the difficulties, most of the resulting pictures didn’t turn out great. Still, I was happy with a few of them. The one I chose to show here pleases me because, while we usually think of waves as horizontal, the water in this one formed a vertical arc. If you look beyond the wave, you might reasonably think you’re seeing portions of a man-made wall; in fact those rocks were all natural.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 8, 2018 at 4:47 AM

Blomidon Provincial Park

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On June 6th, after the Evangeline-related things we did at Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia, we worked our way north-northwest to Blomidon Provincial Park, which had been indistinctly visible across Minas Bay from Evangeline Beach. Occasionally there’d be a break in the clouds and a shaft of light would briefly light up the cliffs.

As much water as came up twice a day from the extreme tides in the Bay of Fundy system, a little extra came down from above.

We visited at a low enough stage of the tides that we could venture out onto the beach.

Notice the rock above in the shape of an elongated heart, and the rock below covered with barnacles.

Do you remember the pōhutukawa-like trees clinging to the cliff at Halls Harbour? At Blomidon I similarly saw a lone tree at the edge of a cliff that looked like it might not be long for this world. At least it was still upright, unlike a tree in Austin two years ago that kept living while upside down.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2018 at 4:57 AM

Mount Katahdin

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I’ve been reading Laura Dassow Walls’s recent biography of Thoreau. Near halfway through comes an account of Thoreau’s 1846 visit to Mount Katahdin, which at 5267 ft. (1605m) is the highest point in the state of Maine: “From Quakish Lake they got their first glimpse of Mount Katahdin*, still twenty miles away, its summit veiled in clouds.”

On June 2nd of this year, driving north on Interstate 95, we took the pullout for a scenic view of the mountain. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photograph, we had the same experience Thoreau originally did, and the summit remained obscured by clouds. Oh well, maybe another time. No clouds obscured my view of some birch trees (Betula papyrifera, I believe) adjacent to the pullout’s parking lot. Given the briskness of the breeze, I used a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second to keep the leaves from blurring yet still let them convey a sense of the wind.

* By a curious coincidence, in the evening on the same day that I updated the draft of this post to include the information about Thoreau, we watched an unrelated documentary I’d taken out of the library. As the introductory credits appeared, we saw that the company that had made the documentary was Katahdin Productions.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 4, 2018 at 4:40 AM

Two insights

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1) “Third-graders who spend a class session in a natural outdoor setting are more engaged and less distracted in their regular classroom afterward than when they remain indoors, scientists found in a new study.” You’re welcome to read more about the study.

2) For those of you in the Austin area, you’d do well to check out the Blanton Museum’s exhibit called “Ancestral Modern,” which features Aboriginal Australian paintings. The show will remain up through September 9th. As a sample, here’s a painting by Rosie Nangala Fleming called “Three Dreamings: Fire, Mulga Seed, and Emu,” from 1993.

Click to enlarge.

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2018 at 4:44 AM

Posted in nature photography

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You don’t have to travel far

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You’ve been seeing scenic pictures from faraway New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, along with plants from Massachusetts. As rewarding as traveling to exotic locales is, we needn’t travel long distances. On July 12th I went as far as my front yard in Austin, sat myself down next to a Turk’s cap plant (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), and at the price of two mosquito bites over half an hour took several dozen pictures. Here’s one of those portraits, which plays up color and shape while slighting detail, thanks to the maximum f/2.8 aperture of my macro lens.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 2, 2018 at 4:46 AM

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