It’s easy to forget that a photograph is a period of time captured and immortalized. I always strive to make a good photograph – something that conveys a sense of place, a feeling, an emotion or elicits a reaction. There are definitely an infinite number of ways to approach a shot, a scene, or a moment…and I often gravitate to the ways I have become most comfortable with. This shot definitely does not fall within that range…it’s two minutes and sixteen seconds of recorded time at Fort Foster in Kittery, Maine during a muted sunset over the pier and Portsmouth in the distance. When you’re using tools to experiment with capturing a scene, it can be stressful…especially when so much time is at risk and you’re on the sidelines until the exposure is complete. I happen to love the shot and the overall softness of the scene…and with the unfamiliar texture of the water, thanks to the duration of 2 minute and 16 seconds of setting sun and rolling waves at high tide.
This image captures the working waterfront of Portsmouth, perhaps as much as or more than any other photo I’ve shared. You can catch a glimpse of the Moran Towing tugboats, a freighter docked in port, Kittery, ME, and the Memorial Bridge all in one glorious panoramic shot. I went with a black & white treatment here because I thought it appropriate to boil the scene down from its familiar colors and elements to capture the essence of the elements.
Portsmouth has no shortage of places to eat and drink, ranking as the city with the most bars per capita in the State of New Hampshire. The Coat of Arms Pub on Fleet Street is a pretty unique spot, with a distinct feel and look inside and a great menu featuring traditional English items – and the Seacoast’s only snooker table. Check it out sometime…but in case you don’t get there for a while, today’s shot gives you a feel for it. This visit was spent with two fellow photographers who happen to be great at what they do – and also hilarious and a blast to hang out with…check out their work at Brian Matiash or Chris Lazzery.
For today’s post we travel back through the archives to December 2009 on a quick trip I made to Boston. This image features a few buildings…one of which is among my favorites in the Financial District. Exchange Place is a glassy structure that rises out of the 12-story Boston Stock Exchange, a classic Boston piece of architecture originally constructed in 1896 and redeveloped in 1985 to feature the glass tower. What I like about the building (and I’m sure others hate), is the fact that the original structure is still standing and compliments the new addition, bringing a nice blend of the modern and the historic character of the area. I love the way the structure captures the light around it and reflects neighboring buildings.
Badger’s Island is a little slice of Maine that sits in the middle of the Piscataqua River and is connected to Kittery to the north and Portsmouth to the south by the Memorial Bridge. This little gem of a photo was taken with a medium format lens designed for use on the Hasselblad 500 series camera and is manufactured by Carl Zeiss. I’ve learned to love this 100mm piece of glass…which seems to bring a nostalgic look and a unique texture to images taken on my Canon 5d Mark II. I look forward to getting back out in warmer weather and taking the older lenses for more test drives.
For once I think I managed to make a tugboat scene less about the tugboats than the other elements in the frame. In this shot, the deck of the Old Ferry Landing, The Tugboats, the freighter in the background and the Middle Bridge in the distance all make for relevant subjects in the shot…creating the wonderful sense of place that only The Decks can command on Portsmouth’s waterfront – but for me, it’s more about the natural elements of water, the setting sun, and the clouds and how all of them are interacting. It’s important to find yourself in the right place at the right time…or (more accurately) to put yourself there. That becomes an easy thing when you love where you live, and the weather agrees with you (in this case it was a fall shot where the temperatures didn’t require gloves, earmuffs, etc.).
The Norther Tier of Portsmouth is an interesting and changing place. The neighborhood known as The Hill sits atop this part of town in the block between Deer Street and Hanover Street, and is filled with older historic homes from the area that were saved from the urban renewal efforts that saw hundreds of homes torn down to make way for the former Parade Mall (soon to be Portwalk Place). It’s an interesting spot and ensures that this part of town will always have some historic character amidst the larger brick buildings that now include the Residence Inn and the Sheraton and will soon include more residences as part of the progress of the Portwalk Place project. The brick driveways and pastels of the clapboards are a nice part of the rich historic fabric of our charming town. (don’t miss the crescent moon hovering over the chimney at center frame)
This shot marks the first attempt at a panorama…and I thought what better place to feature than the lovely waterfront in the South End. The little presentation here doesn’t do the scene much justice – click the photo for a larger view…the red barn on the waterfront was a nice central focal point and a nice contrast in color against the blue and yellowish afternoon sky. Definitely a neat shot and definitely needs a lot of work before it can be a knockout – just wanted to share something a bit different. As I recall – it was a chilly afternoon, but the cool clouds in the sky made it well worth losing feeling in my fingers.
Oftentimes we take for granted the fact that Portsmouth and the NH/ME seacoast played a vital role in the freedom of the United States. The area is rich with history, as it was originally a rich and successful port in the trading of various goods, with many Brits in the newly established colony and the convenient access to the Atlantic Ocean etc. not far.
It’s these various facts that seem to rise into my head when I see places such as Fort McClary in Kittery, Maine. When I see fortifications lining the coast such as these, I can imagine soldiers either waiting aimlessly for nothing to happen – or a concentration of people hunkered down, surrounded by tons of ammunition and ready for who knows what. I’m thankful that we still have some wonderful places to enjoy such as this…and others including Fort Stark in New Hampshire and others lining the coast from Maine to Massachusetts.
If this photo feels a bit warmer to you than the recent snow-laden images, it’s because it was taken on a gorgeously warm summer evening in August. The commercial fish pier looks more like a postcard than a working portion of Portsmouth’s waterfront when it’s sandwiched between the green water and the orange and blue sky at sunset.