Summer Weekends

Summer is here in North America, and as I type this, schools are closing down all over the country for summer vacation. Beginning today, the drive to all points of interest on the Jersey Shore will take more than double the time, but all carnivals and summer fiestas will roll into town. The circus will come in, baseball season will reach a fever pitch ( pun absolutely not intended), the grills are out and people will picnick on every available patch of  green grass. Except the heat, everything about summer is fun and we started celebrating it a little early with a carnival at a town close by.

It is so inviting to see a Ferris Wheel tower over the landscape, as your driving along a busy highway. It’s like a tiny beacon, beckoning the kids who pass by – irrespective of their actual age. Shiny, colorfully lit, surrounded by thrilling rides and the rising smoke of an open barbecue with the heady smell of grilled sausages.  The closer one get to the grounds, the louder the screams. The louder the scream, greater the fear. There is everything, from laughter at the sheer exhilaration of completing a torturous ride to the disappointment of not being able to ride one; due to height challenges. For us personally the zinger was a ride called ‘The Tornado’, I think its more a reference to how vomit is induced rather than the motion of the ride itself.

Its candy land for a photographer, and if you have read this blog before you know I have a serious fetish for ferris wheels and any kind of lights that go around! One could go to a carnival for interesting portraits or  for some fantastic long exposure shots to capture motion, which is what I did and always do. Its hard to resist swirling lights set against the backdrop of twilight. The resulting effect is that of a decadent, giant lollipop! I can’t find better words to describe the effect more eloquently. And if I sound excited, that’s exactly what it is – that’s the effect a carnival has, no matter how mature you attempt at being. Every time I look at a Ferris wheel, the little girl wearing the polka dotted dress comes out to skip along, look at everything with wide-eyed wonderment and eat cotton candy.

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Summer Weekends

A Natural Beauty

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting ” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are very few places that evoke an instant emotional response from me. New York City is definitely one of those places that had me at hello. It defined my ethos as a city bred person who counts the noise and congestion as part of the charm. To solidify that statement, let me also add that, I am from India; a place where noise and congestion are part of our DNA strand. So it’s startling to me that over the Memorial Day weekend, I found myself cheating on NYC. I was instantly and irrevocably attracted to a place that is ragged around the edges, with no noise or congestion and where everything shuts down at 9pm and is a stark contrast to the city I love. The ever-present, tall, dark and gorgeous stranger.

Acadia, Maine – an absolute beauty, is just a 10 hour drive away. There is an accessibility about this region that transcends the upscale sensibility or east coast snobbery (as some like to call it) that most places in New England are tagged with. Right next to the Marina or on private coves, there aren’t sprawling mansions, but a more middle class peppering of New England style homes. The park is accessible at all times, weather permitting, and dogs are everywhere (dare I say even more than New York City).  I think it’s the Bank of America ad that proudly talks of Main Street America and coming from New Jersey – where there are very few of those that maintain their character – Bar Harbor and Bass Harbor are perfect examples of little mom & pop stores that are seasonal and more artisanal. Beer and lobster are a way of life during the warm months. That pride and that character that Non-Americans like me seek to see is available and accessible at Acadia. Even the tiny little village of southwest harbor where we chose to stay was just exactly that – a tiny little village. There aren’t Ritzes and Four Seasons’ here, just cutesy little Bed and Breakfast inns, run by families as an additional source of income. Like the one we stayed at – Kingsleigh Inn. Run by a really congenial couple, the inn is on Main Street overlooking a cove on Southwest Harbor. When they weren’t attending to their guests, they were busy canoeing to see nesting loons and hiking trails that they love.

It’s a different lifestyle, one that needs a bit of adjusting but comes with instant gratification. This is a place where one wakes up at the ungodly hour of 3.30 am, drives 15 miles to a rocky cliff, just to witness the breaking of dawn and the sun rise. It is made for photography and my passion can just be a lifestyle here. Sunrise, sunset, primeval cliffs, clear lakes, rocky shores, sandy beaches, foggy forests and gurgling streams – an endless buffet of opportunities at every corner which can by 10 pm induce a certain amount of physical exhaustion that prompts a satisfying slumber until dawn. Seasons are made for places like this and each one comes with its own set of experiences and sights. I came here in spring and yet as I stood on the shores of Eagle Lake, I was already hatching a plot and picturing my trip here in fall. As a photographer, I have very often been swept away by being in the moment. I have missed shots because I was so caught up about rendering a technique accurately that the essence of the moment was lost during the clinical dissection. But Acadia promotes a sense of salubriousness. It forced me to slow down and take a look at the whole picture, be deliberate and take care.  It forced me to capture her with just the right amount of angled light hitting her pink granite cliffs and just the right amount of masculine rocks in the foreground to offset the feminine allure of sunrise hitting the dark waters of the Atlantic.

Acadia may dupe you out of perfect sunrises at times, but even when wet and foggy, just be patient and wait for her to put on a show. There is an opportunity in every little weather shift. Just remember to pack your rain gear and carry your 10 stop neutral density filter as well, because you will encounter a moment where it will be required. It’s worth spending a good long time with Acadia, because she is a willing participant in the shoot. Wandering about is the best part of travel and that is exactly how I chanced upon the village of Seawall. There is a small stretch of rocky beach on the way to Bass Harbor Light House which is east facing and perfect for shots of sunrise, but it isn’t a place to be ignored on a rainy, cloudy morning when nature switches on its own soft box lighting. From the quiet Schoodic Peninsula to the more crowded Frenchman’s Bay or the silence of Somes Sound, there is something to be enamored about, in every curve. Just like real women!

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A Natural Beauty