2017 In Review

Well, here we are. Another year gone by and a bunch of photos added to my archive. But, does our photography improve year-to-year, or are we doomed to rehashing old successes within our cozy comfort zone?

I do think most photographers tend to stick to a fairly narrow range of subjects and techniques, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, our choice of location, composition, lighting, and post-processing not only reflects what we love the most but also defines our personal style. And if we succeed, it becomes our calling card — the very reason anyone may be interested in our photos in the first place.

As for me, I’m happy to continue photographing lighthouses, covered bridges, mountains, reflections, and coastlines. So, you can expect me to turn out more of those types of photos in 2018.

And now back to the 2017 Year in Review. Once again, I have sought to select 20 of my favorite images from the 2017 pile. As usual, this is all very subjective, reflecting nobody’s opinion but my own. For anyone interested in behind-the-scenes details, I’ve included a short backstory under each image.

2018 is already shaping up to be an ambitious year, with winter photography in the Canadian Rockies and photo trips to Europe in spring and summer. Also, Ben Williamson and I will soon announce new and exciting photography workshops around New England, in addition to our 3rd annual Best of Fall Foliage workshop. We invite you to subscribe to our mailing list if you wish to stay informed of our workshop plans.

There should be lots of new images coming your way in 2018. In the meantime, I wish to thank you once again for following my work. The positive feedback I get from photo enthusiasts gives me the boost I need to persist with this work. May your Holiday Season be serene and full of joy!

1) FORT FOSTER, KITTERY POINT, MAINE. Fort Foster Park lies on the southern tip of Kittery Point. The park includes a well-maintained pier that faces New Castle, New Hampshire, on the opposite side of the bay. I came here in January to catch sunset across the pier. As the sun crossed over the horizon, a sun pillar appeared in the moody sky. These vertical columns appear when falling ice crystals reflect sunlight. The 30-second exposure added a silky look to the surface of the water.
2) A.M. FOSTER BRIDGE, CABOT, VERMONT. This little covered bridge sits on private property, overlooking the Green Mountains of Vermont. Its pristine location makes it one of my favorite hotspots, especially in autumn and winter. I took this photo last January at sunrise. I had driven more than 2 hours from home to catch sunrise in Peacham, Vermont, but by the time I arrived there, the sky was completely overcast. Changing course, I headed for Cabot over snow-covered roads in hopes of better conditions. And this is what I found. You can see the snowstorm retreating in the distance.
3) SNOW MOON OVER NUBBLE LIGHT, CAPE NEDDICK, MAINE. Fresh snow had fallen on the same day as the full moon last February. February’s Moon is traditionally called the Snow Moon because our heaviest snows usually fall in February. This name dates back to the Native Americans during Colonial times. Anyway, I know a family who owns a beautiful home on the coast, just down the street from Nubble Light. After getting their permission to trespass, I stood on shore and waited for the rising moon to be in position above the oil house before taking this photo at dusk.
4) GREAT ISLAND COMMON, NEW CASTLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Great Island Common is a 32-acre seaside park in New Castle, New Hampshire. From here, you have an oceanside view of Whaleback Lighthouse (left of tree), the Wood Island Life Saving Station (far left), and the Isles of Shoals in the distant background. The weather forecast looked promising on this February morn, so I drove to New Castle in the wee hours hoping to catch some color in the sky. I’ve photographed this shapely tree near shore many times, but never with such a dramatic backdrop.
5) CLAIRBORNE PELL BRIDGE, JAMESTOWN, RHODE ISLAND. The Clairborne Pell Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans across the east passage of the Narragansett Bay. It connects the city of Newport on Aquidneck Island with Jamestown on Conanicut Island. I came here last February for sunrise, as I’ve done many times before. But this time, the bridge was mostly hidden in thick fog. So, I waited for the rising sun to part the fog and paint the sky in orange hues before taking a photo of what looks like “the bridge to nowhere”.
6) BLUE DORY, ISLE OF LEWIS, SCOTLAND. Last May, I had the pleasure of revisiting the Outer Hebrides of Scotland with a few photographer friends. We spent the better part of two weeks roaming around three separate islands, enjoying every minute of our little escapade. One of my favorite images from the trip is of this “retired” dory on the Isle of Lewis, taken around midnight on a moonless evening. The bright sky is attributed to very long 17-hour days at that time of year, when the sky never turns completely dark. We used two small flashlights to bring out details in the old dory as it lay in its final resting place.
7) SCOLPAIG TOWER, ISE OF UIST, SCOTLAND. Scolpaig Tower sits on the Isle of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The tower was built around 1830 by a Dr. Alexander MacLeod merely to provide employment during harsh periods of famine. It lies on small Loch Scolpaid in view of the Atlantic Ocean. Since it serves no real purpose, it’s also known as “MacLeod’s Folly”. We hiked down to the isolated tower at sunset and were not disappointed. A colorful sky emerged directly behind the tower, casting a peaceful reflection amidst grasses in Loch Scolpaig.
8) THE SALTINGS, ISLE OF HARRIS, SCOTLAND. This photo was taken on the Isle of Harris at “the saltings”. Saltings are marshy grasslands near the ocean, in this case, facing Chaipaval Mountain. I took the photo just as the sun hid behind the 1092-foot mountain. These moody islands are not exactly known for their vibrant sunrises and sunsets, so we took advantage of them whenever they came along. These grasslands frequently have sheep grazing on them and also host a variety of birds.
9) NAUSET MARSH, EASTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS. Fort Hill provides extensive views of Nauset Marsh below. The area has a rich history that dates back some 200 years. I saw the sky begin to light up as I drove to Fort Hill in Eastham at 4:15am. By the time I was in position down on Nauset Marsh, the sky was ablaze in various hues of orange. There’s not much processing required for photos like this — nature does all the work. I positioned my camera low to capture a sky reflection amidst the grasses, admiring the unfolding scene as the sun approached the horizon.
10) HIGHLAND LIGHT, NORTH TRURO, MASSACHUSETTS. Highland Light (previously known as Cape Cod Light) is on the Cape Cod National Seashore in North Truro. It’s the oldest and tallest lighthouse on Cape Cod, with construction authorized by George Washington in 1797. I was here last June to create a panorama of the lighthouse with the Milky Way arching over the top. This can only be done in early summer, as the Milky Way moves out of range later in the season. The image is assembled in software from six separate photos taken in quick succession at around 11:30pm.
11) PEARL LAKE, LISBON, NEW HAMPSHIRE. This photo was taken last June. It was a warm and windless evening, with only a small amount of light pollution emanating from the town of Lincoln (orange glow near the horizon). I got down low near shore to include a healthy cluster of daisies in the foreground, as fireflies filled the air with dots of green light. The calm air enabled a serene lake reflection that included the Milky Way along with millions of stars. Saturn is the bright star visible near the base of the Milky Way, while the bright star to its right is Antares, one of the largest known and brightest stars.
12) SALT POND, EASTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS. Salt Pond is a “kettle” left behind when the last glaciers receded some 18000 years ago. I took this photo in late June, as the Milky Way passed over the boat (far center) and dual boat houses. It was a calm evening, so the Milky Way and stars reflected nicely in the pond. The star reflections appear elongated only because of slight motion in the tidal waters of the pond. I took a three-minute exposure at dusk to bring out details in the foreground and a sequence of ten-second exposures for the stars.
13) PISCATAQUA RIVER, PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Portsmouth is a New Hampshire port city on the Piscataqua River, a short but wide river that divides New Hampshire and Maine. I took this photo at sunset on a summer’s evening along the Piscataqua River, with a historic section of Porstmouth in the background. The 25-second exposure adds a glassy look to the surface of the water.
14) QUODDY HEAD STATE PARK, LUBEC, MAINE. Quoddy Head State Park encompasses 541 acres at the tip of America’s easternmost peninsula. It includes a historic lighthouse and a 5-mile scenic trail that overlooks Quoddy Channel, which divides the U.S. and Canada. I took this photo in August as the Milky Way rose over Quoddy Channel. Late summer is the only time of year when the Milky Way crosses directly over the channel opening also known as “Gulliver’s Hole”.
15) RIALTO BEACH, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON. In September, I spent two weeks in the Pacific Northwest with a group of fellow photographers. It was also during that time that big wildfires were ravaging much of the northwest. In spite of the wildfires, I managed to come back with some memorable photos. Rialto Beach is a public beach located on the Pacific Ocean in Washington State. It’s composed of an ocean beach and coastal forest. The many miles of beach offer views of sea stacks and rock formations in the Pacific Ocean like these captured at sunset.
16) RUBY BEACH, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON, Ruby Beach is one of the southern beaches on the coast of Olympic National Park, Washington. It takes its name from the ruby-like crystals in the beach sand here. Like most beaches along this rugged coast, Ruby Beach contains a large amount of driftwood, including the trunks of gigantic trees. The beach is also known for its sea stacks, like the prominent ones in this image. I stood barefoot up to my ankles in water for this reflection photo taken at sunset in early September.
17) REFLECTION LAKE, MOUNT RAINIER, WASHINGTON. Mount Rainier is a 14,410-foot icon located 54 miles southeast of Seattle. It’s the highest mountain of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, and the highest mountain in the state of Washington. Mount Rainier is also an active volcano, considered one of the most dangerous in the world, posing a grave threat to the City of Seattle. We spent two days here in September, photographing the iconic mountain at both sunrise and sunset. I took this photo from Reflection Lake at sunset.
18) TURTLEHEAD POND, MARSHFIELD, VERMONT. Turtlehead Pond (also known as Marshfield Pond) is located in the northwestern part of Groton State Forest. The small pond is partly surrounded by State land. I took this photo on a September morn at sunrise as fog covered much of Owls Head Mountain in the background, and the sun momentarily lit its top. This is one of my favorite little ponds in all of Vermont.
19) ECHO LAKE STATE PARK, NORTH CONWAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Echo Lake is a small lake in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and home to both Cathedral Ledge and White Horse Ledge. We escorted a group of photographers here on a moonless evening in October for a night shot. The wind was down, so we were able to get a good reflection of the stars on the pond surface, as the Milky Way stood up in the sky near Cathedral Ledge. My main challenge here was to remove light pollution at the base of the mountain created by the White Mountain Inn just beyond the trees.
20) NUBBLE LIGHT, CAPE NEDDICK, MAINE. The Christmas lights go on at Nubble Light on Thanksgiving Day, prompting a flurry of admirers to descend on the place at dusk through New Year. I’ve photographed here over the Holiday Season many times, but the scene is heavily photographed so I avoided going back these last three years. I decided to go back this year though after the first snowstorm of the season and at high tide (which I prefer). I lowered myself and my tripod inside a rocky crevice to capture the water action, and waited for the scene to unfold as waves splashed at my feet.

30 thoughts on “2017 In Review”

  1. Excellent year for you and the fall foliage workshop was the best! Looking forward to new workshops.

  2. Thanks Michael for sharing your Best of. We met at Jenne Farm this October and I mentioned how much I enjoyed your newsletter. You had a great year both locally and on your travels. I hope 2018 is even more rewarding. If I can be of any help on locations please let me know.

    1. Hello again David. It was nice to meet you up there in the field. Maybe we’ll meet again sometime. Have a great 2018!

  3. Found your amazing photography through a friend’s Facebook post. That alone made joining worth it.

  4. As always, you do magnificent work, and, again, your folio of this year’s outings did not disappoint. Happy digital gathering in 2018…

  5. I look so forward to seeing so many beautiful places through the your eyes being guided by Mother Nature. Most I would never be able to see in person, and it is so nice to see the ones I have seen in person again. You have such a beautiful song to sing…please continue to post!

  6. As always I am in awe of your brilliance as a photographer. Thank you so much for sharing your magnificent photos. Happy Holidays!

  7. As always I am in awe of your brilliance as a photographer. Thank you for sharing your magnificent photos of your interesting travels. Happy Holidays!

  8. Thank you for sharing! I do so enjoy seeing art through photography. I’m glad that you made it to Washington state. Ruby Beach is one of my favorite places.

  9. I don’t remember now how I discovered your work, Michael… but I am so glad I did! Thank you for sharing your awesome photographs throughout the year! I am confident that our friends are going to love your calendar that we sent them this year for Christmas! You are the best!

    1. Thank you for following my work, Judy. Much appreciated. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  10. Michael, as you know I LOVE your photos. I have purchased quite a few during the last few months. You never cease to amaze me with your stunning works of art. They are all so beautiful! I often share them with family and friends and they inform that they love my photos! Never fear, I always give your name to them, hoping that they will follow you and perhaps make a purchase of their own. I want to thank you, once again for sharing your Masterpieces with us. Yes, they are Masterpieces! ??? I look forward to seeing your posts as they always brighten my day! You had a great 2017! Who knows what amazing adventures and places 2018 will bring? I for one, can not wait to see! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you Michael!

    1. Thank you so much, Karen. Well, you’re certainly a devoted customer and I do appreciate it. May you have a Merry Christmas and a great 2018!

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