Best of Bar Harbor
- By: Greg Hartford
- Photography by: admin
Greg Hartford’s new book, Best of Bar Harbor, is a celebration in photos of Maine’s most famous tourist destination. Capturing everything from the area’s misty dawns to the town of Bar Harbor’s lively night life, this book is the ultimate keepsake for Bar Harbor visitors and residents alike. As his answers to our five questions prove, Hartford used traditional and cutting-edge photographic techniques, as well as the photographer’s greatest assets – planning and patience – to produce a book that is much more than a souvenir of a multi-faceted place.
Q. Your book contains a wonderful variety of images representing the Bar Harbor experience. How did you decide which photos are "musts" in a book that fulfills the promise to deliver the "Best of Bar Harbor?"
A. I must confess that I have had a deep love affair with Bar Harbor and the Acadia Region ever since I was a young boy. There are so many images that come to heart and mind when I think of the area and selecting from the many images that I have was a challenge. In the end, I wanted to paint Bar Harbor with a broad stroke, showing the various moods, colors, tones, and hues, the varied textures and lifestyles, the light of morning, day, and evening, so that there would be something special, something that would resonate for everyone. I presented these to the publisher and we came up with what seemed to be just the right selection.
Q. Several of your photographs, especially some of your night scenes — have a vibrancy that is especially remarkable. What did you do technically to achieve this?
A. There can be so many things that contribute to the success of the final image. It is almost like a symphony of choices that culminate in the final moment when the shutter is finally clicked. Yet, it does not have to end there. As an artist, I must be open to new tools and manners of expression that allow me to convey what my mind and heart's eye sees for the viewer's pleasure. This new digital age has opened up many new possibilities. One of the most recent photographic innovations is a technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR). Ideally, it involves taking multiple photographs at different exposure settings, and then combining the correctly exposed areas using special software. When I only have one camera RAW file to work with, I use a Pseudo-HDR work flow method. From the one RAW file, I create several different images at different adjustment levels or exposure settings. I then combine the correctly exposed image areas into an HDR file, work on it using software, then arrive at an image with more shadow and highlight detail than usual. Form appears almost three-dimensional and colors richer. The final result is often closer to the way we actually perceive real life to be.
Q. Please tell us about an image that required the most planning to capture.
A. This is a difficult question. The reality is, most images that I create require a good amount of planning. When my alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. so I can arise and get to a location early enough to capture the rising sun, it may seem like a lot of planning to me. The truth is, I have to think my way through many images to be sure that the right settings are being used. With landscape shooting, high apertures (f numbers) are often used because it increases the depth of field (how many things are in focus). In effect, it decreases the size of the lens opening (aperture) which decreases the amount of light entering the camera and hitting the digital sensor or film. To compensate for the loss of light here, I have to increase the exposure time or how long the shutter is open. Some exposures can be over 30 seconds. I've done some that were six minutes. This requires using a tripod, a cable release, and if available, mirror lock-up capability on the camera. Shooting the Bar Harbor evening shots took some experimentation because they were mostly hand-held shots. To really maximize the image result, much time was spent on the computer, after the initial shoot was done, using the Pseudo-HDR work flow. The viewer of the final image is usually less concerned about how the image was created than in the final visual experience and the emotion that it conveys.
Q. How much does serendipity or lucky chance play into capturing atmosphere in your photography?
A. I would have to say that serendipity or lucky chance are the real joys of doing photography. Over the many years of shooting images, my most pleasure is realized when I am "in the moment." I began as an artist whose main medium was pencil, charcoal, and pastel. It gave me a real appreciation of composition, form, light, and shadow. As a photographer, I am always chasing the light. The light of the early morning and late evening is fleeting and changing. It requires great attentiveness mixed with some anticipation of events soon to unfold. Shooting images is almost like some form of meditative prayer. It is a quiet place where you have a sense of being part of the whole.
Q. What aspect of Bar Harbor and vicinity did you come to appreciate better as you took photographs for the "Best of Bar Harbor?"
A. Ultimately, the beauty of places like Bar Harbor lies in the clarity and understanding it brings to each one of us, about ourselves. In those moments, we become part of the experience and it becomes part of us. This is the true gift that I received and one that I hope to pass on to others.
Buy Best of Bar Harbor Now
- By: Greg Hartford
- Photography by: admin