BEN'S PICKS

Our photographer Benjamin Williamson highlights some of his favorite shots from around the state.

Popham Beach Sunrise

Popham Beach Sunrise

BY BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON

I admit that I haven’t been as active chasing sunrises and shooting for myself lately. My excuse? I’m parenting a 1 ½ year old. That said, I was able to get out on Sunday morning last week and capture this incredible sunrise from Popham Beach. When considering where to be to impart a sense of place, I knew I wanted to include two familiar landmarks, the pilings in the water and the old lifesaving station on the shore opposite. I also wanted to give the viewer the feeling of being there and anchor the scene by putting the water-line directly underneath me and using the break of the waves to create a leading line into the scene. The amount of color in the sky was almost overwhelming. I know that Popham is a place people hold dear. I have loved coming here long before I had interest in photography. My hope, and my goal with my imagery, is to make you feel what I felt, standing there with the water lapping at my feet, enjoying a beautiful moment in a beautiful place. Thank you for looking.

Cutler-Sundown-by-Appleton-Images

Cutler Sundown

BY APPLETON IMAGES

We all know Maine’s working harbors make great photo subjects, but Colin Chase does something special with this beautiful portrait of Cutler, on the Down East coast. What first caught my eye was the palette. The soft magenta sky, green land, and blue water are punctuated by classic white and natural-shingled buildings and the white fishing boats in the harbor. The warm glow of the setting sun is particularly attractive, hitting just a few of these objects at a low angle. Notice the name of the boat in the foreground, "Sundown". Chase pays attention to the edges of the frame — see how the boats are all neatly included inside, not overlapping. And the elevated perspective makes for good separation between the boats and the land — always worth paying attention to when you’re photographing harbors. Finally, the rule-of-thirds composition and the strong focal point in the bottom center of the frame creates an image that just holds together splendidly. Who wouldn’t want to be enjoying this view on a warm summer evening, listening the the water lap upon the shore?

Brunswick, Maine Sunrise

Sunrise, Brunswick

BY BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON

Ben captured this beautiful sunrise this morning near his home in Brunswick. This was taken at the old Pennell Brothers shipyard.

Deer Isle, Maine

After the Storm, Deer Isle

BY FREDDY BLOY

"After weeks of not shooting, it was nice to finally get out. After a heavy snowfall throughout the entire day, the clouds lifted just before sunset to reveal some beautiful winter light and I managed to barely capture one of my favorite images to date. There was a composition, good light, fresh snow, and high tide matched with sunset. It’s these times where everything seems to fall in place perfectly that keeps me shooting," Freddy says.

Storm Light at Giant Stairs

Storm Light at Giant's Stairs

BY BENJAMIN WILLIAMSON

Strong wind and large waves provided an awesome sight at the Giant's Stairs on Bailey Island this afternoon [Jan. 27, 2019].

Maine Mountain Media, Fort Popham Ice

Fort Popham Ice

BY MAINE MOUNTAIN MEDIA
Canon 6D with 16-35mm f/2.8
1.3sec, f/16, 22mm, ISO 50

A strong image can stand alone, but as many visual artists know, a good accompanying story can add greatly to a viewer’s appreciation. I was initially drawn in by Maine Mountain Media’s strong composition and beautiful tones. The shapes work together masterfully and the front-to-back lineup creates tremendous energy that draws your eyes through the photo. The subject, familiar to anyone who has visited the fort side of Popham, doesn’t overpower the design — this is a hallmark of a great image. So often, we are drawn to photos because of the subject, not the skill of the photographer. All of that made me want to read the story that accompanied it. Spencer Austin Mendell’s thoughtful narrative brought me closer to what he was feeling when he created the image, and it reminded me of so many of my own similar experiences. We are all telling stories in our photos, intentionally or not. The best photographers are usually great storytellers and know how to connect with their audience.

“Leaving the house this afternoon I was not very optimistic about capturing a great photo. I have been wanting to shoot more photos of these old piers that litter the Maine coast, but upon arrival at Fort Popham, I was not very inspired. Watching the tide go out and my original photo idea disappearing, I was observing these large chunks of ice floating out from the Kennebec River into Sagadahoc Bay. Because of the receding tide, a few of them floated near the shoreline and proceeded to beach themselves. As the waves splashed over them I knew I only had a short amount of time to be able to capture the water streaks that I wanted. I set up the tripod, put the camera on, tried not to get my feet wet, and worked as furiously as I could to get just the right composition. Sometimes you see beautiful elements but are not able to arrange them in a cohesive manner, this was one of those times. But I was able to overcome some of those challenges and create what is by far my favorite photo of 2019.” - Fort Popham Beach, Phippsburg, Maine. 2.6.19

Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach

BY KARL RAMSDELL

In addition to capturing the Van Gogh-like waves at Old Orchard Beach two weeks ago, Karl Ramsdell also captured this magnificent sunrise at the same location this morning [Feb. 5]. Karl says it was there for three minutes and then, poof — it was gone!

Ocean Point, Boothbay

Ocean Point, Boothbay

BY BEN WILLIAMSON

Most of Maine saw a spectacular sunset this evening [Jan. 28]. Our photographer Benjamin Williamson was out there capturing the magic at Ocean Point in Boothbay.

Dean Bugaj, Sailor Take Warning

Sailor Take Warning, by Dean Bugaj

This image by Dean Bugaj is a fantastic example of a seascape. Maine’s shoreline can be challenging to capture, but Dean handled it well by paying close attention to detail. First of all, the composition is wonderful. By placing the horizon near the top of the frame, he’s eliminated a flat expanse of sky above the sunrise and brought our attention to the arrangement of rocks. I love the way the water flows through the scene. This is a great example of using a slow shutter speed to your advantage. Finally, the color contrast between the burning orange sunrise and slightly cool blue water adds another layer of interest to this great photo.

The Androscoggin Swinging Bridge, Brunswick–Topsham, by Ben Williamson

The Androscoggin Swinging Bridge was featured in our March 2018 Where in Maine? Ben was able to fly the drone over the bridge in November to capture this beautiful view of fresh snowfall.

Chris Lawrence, Full Moon Over Portland

Full Moon Over Portland, by Chris Lawrence

This image was sensational from the moment it arrived on the scene to ring in the New Year. Full moon images were becoming popular, and Chris really took it to the next level in finding the perfect corner of Portland to showcase what makes these so exciting. The working waterfront with a tall masted ship and lobster boat, a touch of arctic sea smoke on the ocean, snow-covered brick buildings with windows reflecting the light of the rising sun, and the moon perfectly positioned behind a beautiful church steeple all work together brilliantly to tell the story of an idyllic city, Portland at its best. Timing is everything, and Chris chose the right moment with the moon being neither too bright, or washed out with the light of day, to capture this. This one is worth repeated views.

Colin Zwirner, A Perfect Storm

A Perfect Storm, by Colin Zwirner

When gathering images for this post, I was trying to stick to 2018, but this image from October 2017 was just too good to pass up. Bass Harbor Head Light is a popular location to photograph. In fact, it’s probably the most popular location to photograph in Maine, even beating out Portland Head Light and Nubble thanks to its location in Acadia National Park. Standing out from the great number of images I’ve seen from here is hard to do, but this does just that! Extreme weather is one of my favorite subjects, and this has to be some of the most extreme conditions I’ve ever seen someone capture. The sunset looks like it almost didn’t happen, but a small window on the horizon allowed the sun to come through and light up the foreground in the most spectacular way. I can just imagine all of the water in the air and the intensity of the moment of being in this very exposed perch, capturing one of nature’s finest moments.

Logan Hoover, Sunset Storm

Sunset Storm, by Logan Hoover

Another great storm image, this taken just a few miles from the previous, comes from Logan Hoover. I was floored by the careful attention paid to finding a perfect foreground to showcase this display of atmospheric beauty. The dock creates an incredibly strong lead-in to the scene with strong diagonal lines pointing directly into the center, giving it a great sense of depth and involving the viewer in a powerful way. This is really well balanced from left to right, with the storm being right at the moment of overtaking us. Notice the spots of the first raindrops on the wood, a really nice detail. The ominous texture and detail in the clouds is very well handled with this exposure, and the colors are attractive without being over-saturated. Just an awesome image.

Jack Milton, Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds, by Jack Milton

Do you see a pattern here? Yes, I’m a weather nut. I was lucky enough to be standing next to Jack with my friend Jon when he captured this beauty. We were all totally giddy with excitement at the incredible display of light unfolding. A thunderstorm had just passed overhead, and the cloud structure was just like nothing we had ever seen. The setting sun was casting beautiful light onto them, and below, a rapidly thickening mist was forming over the ocean. It all came together in Jack’s stunning composition, where he made the creative decision of pushing the iconic fishing shacks of Willard Beach and Portland Head Light into the lower right corner to keep our attention instead on the bank of clouds. This is the mark of a true photographic artist, knowing how to respond and react to a rapidly changing situation with thoughtfulness and poise. Nice work, my friend.

Jamie Malcolm Brown, Moored Boats

Moored Boats, by Jamie Malcolm-Brown

Here we’ve moved from amazing weather events to pure design brilliance. This distillation of lobster boats and the coast of Maine is perfect in my eyes. The boats are perfectly arranged, the seaweed-covered rocks provide a well-known transition to land, and an unbroken monoculture of fir trees provides an amazing texture. There are three distinct zones, and three corresponding tonal values that also work very well together, blue-green, muted orange, and green-blue. And, to provide the pop and wonderful detail that really makes this sing, you have a spot of red in the lobster boat at the top of the frame. Design, design, design. This has it.

Evan Leith, Boon Island Light

Boon Island Light, by Evan Leith

This is such a cool image. I can’t imagine Evan knew exactly what he would see when the sun rose behind Boon Island Lighthouse, over 7 miles offshore. Thanks to the wonders of technology, he did know where to stand. I imagine he had in mind the opportunity to capitalize on the thick smoke that was filling the air from wildfires out west at the time, and boy did he. The gradation of light as the perfect disc of the sun comes off of the ocean makes an incredibly attractive frame for this majestic pillar. The small bar of rock across the frame does not detract, but actually adds to the image with the few seagulls fortuitously perched directly in the center of the frame. Many of us had been trying similar ideas with the moon, but Evan had the great frame of mind to try something different here, with a rising sun that would not have been possible without the obscuring smoke in this very unique image.

Fredrick Bloy, Parting Stones

Parting Stones, by Frederick Bloy

Another example of impressive design, this image by Frederick Bloy captures coastal Maine geology in a beautiful way. Our weathered, smooth granite stones are a defining feature of the coast around here. We also have over 4,600 islands in Maine, and I don’t think I’ve seen more photogenic ones than in this capture. Freddy ties it all together with a brilliant composition, highlighting the split between the stones, and placing the foremost island perfectly in the line with these features. I also love the tones he’s chosen, with a harmonious color palette of warm pink highlights smoothly transitioning to deep cool purples. Such a beautiful image.

Cape Porpoise Sunrise

CAPE PORPOISE SUNRISE

It’s hard to believe how awesome the sunrise was this morning. This image felt like it was burning a hole on my memory card, I just had to share it!
Babb's Bridge, Windham, Maine

BABB'S BRIDGE, WINDHAM

Babb's Bridge in Windham is one of the few covered bridges in Maine. When it comes to locations to visit when the snow is falling, this is among the best!
Cliff Walk, Prout's Neck

CLIFF WALK, PROUTS NECK

Morning light shines on a park bench on the Cliff Walk, Prouts Neck.
Sparhawk Mill, Maine

SPARHAWK MILL, YARMOUTH

The Sparhawk Mill in Yarmouth is majestic in the snow. Ben loves this view across the Royal River no matter the time of year, but he says it's extra-special in the winter with heavy snowfall filling the air.
Wolfe's Neck

WOLFE'S NECK WOODS, FREEPORT

Wolfe's Neck Woods in Freeport is one of the best places in the area to explore classic Maine natural splendor. This time of year things have quieted down and the osprey have left, but so have the crowds. On this morning Ben was alone to witness this peaceful sunrise.

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1 Comment

  • January 8, 2019

    Russ Considine

    Most of the photos shown are obviously very good choices (one or two excellent in my opinion), but why was it at all necessary for Ben to go back to 2017 for his “best photos of 2018” ?

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