About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Camden and the Middle Coast of Maine

Marshall Point Light
A Couple of Days Exploring the Maine Coast

The only thing that I really regret about living in the Monadnock Region is the lack of easily accessible ocean.  Whenever I return to the coast I find fresh subjects to invigorate my photographic eye.  The Camden area, in  Maine’s middle coast, is a great region for finding new perspectives on New England's Atlantic edge.

While growing up, my parents kept a small boat on Rocky Neck in Gloucester, Massachusetts and I spent all my summers cruising around the harbor in my little 8 foot tender with its sputtering thre horsepower motor.  Every summer we took a long cruise of 3-6 weeks exploring the New England coast.  Most often we headed south to the Cape and Elizabeth Islands, but occasionally we would turn north to the Maine Coast which was an entirely different experience.  

I love whenever I get the opportunity to return to the ocean and especially to the Maine coast.  It is a different kind of photography, with subjects laid out against the distant, rod straight, blue horizon, the detail of the fishing and lobstering industry, and the light, which has a sharper quality unfiltered by hills and trees.  I know, light is light, but there is a difference which is felt more than seen.  And of course, there are the lighthouses which have an irresistible attraction.


Early this week Sue and I got away for a few days to the mid Maine Coast around Camden.  We stayed at a friend's house, high on a mountain in Lincolnville, just inland from Camden Harbor.  The weather was variable, with fog and rain the first day, slowly clearing over the rest of our stay.  The variable conditions gave me the chance to photograph the coast and the early fall colors in a wide range of moods.  

Evening Fog Devenseller Mt,
Lincolnville, Me

Fog is Great!  Rain, Not So Much
Our first day was largely a rain-out with the drizzle only broken by periodic
downpours.  As I was shooting the Lobster boats at Lincolnville Beach, I was drenched by a sudden downpour even though I was only feet from the car.  Thank goodness I had a towel over my camera.  I tend to dry out better than the equipment.  We spent of the day exploring the coast north of Camden including the quaint seaside village of Bayside.  We spent the night in the wind, and fog at our friends snug mountainside retreat.

Lincolnville Storm.  Before the Deluge

Lincolnville Beach
The forecast looked better for the next day and I returned to

Lincolnville Fleet
Lincolnville Beach to try for a sunrise.  The beach has a good view to the east and the Photographer's Ephemeris showed that I could catch the lobster boats and pier against the rising sun.  Unfortunately the clouds from the departing storm still obscured the eastern horizon, but with some diffused light coming through I was able to catch the boats in harbor before they headed out to their traps.  There was actually more interest along the shore.  The mud flats were exposed by the low tide revealing interesting patterns in the rocks, and I was also able to slowly approach a heron who was preoccupied with fishing in the shallow tidal waters.  I made the best of the conditions then headed south to Camden Harbor.

Tidal Flat Fisher


Camden Anchors
The morning sun had broken above the clouds by the time I reached Camden.  Camden is a classic Maine harbor noted for its beautiful stately schooner fleet and the hordes of tourists who clog the streets and docks, but in the early morning the warm light and quiet make it a magical place.     The tall ships provide great opportunities to catch nautical detail as
Camden Forest
well as grand views through the forest of soaring masts.  Camden's schooner fleet is available for cruises of varying duration.  On previous visits we have enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Appledore and, one summer, Susan and I  spent a week exploring Penobscot Bay on the Grace Bailey. The magic couldn’t last forever and as the crowds began to gather I headed home for breakfast.

Sunset Helm, Schooner Appledore
Camden Skiff


Bald Mountain
Camden is surrounded by dramatic hills, most famously, Mount Battie which looms over the harbor and is accessible by trails and an auto road.   The view is spectacular, but the summit is often crowded.  On this trip we escaped the mob and climbed Bald Mountain. The mountain is a few miles inland from Camden, but at 1260 feet, its bare summit provides an excellent panoramic view of the coast including Camden and Rockport. The trail is a bit rugged, but quickly breaks above tree line, providing frequent stopping points with excellent vistas. And without an auto road the summit was peaceful and quiet.

Camden Harbor From Bald Mountain

Port Clyde and Marshall Point Light
In the evening I decided to head south to Port Clyde and the classic

Port Clyde Traps
Marshall Point Lighthouse.  Port Clyde is a working fishing village with great collections of lobster traps, buoys and lines, which seem to be arranged solely for the benefit of passing photographers.  I visited Port Clyde several years ago as part of a wonderful Maine Media workshop with David Middleton, and the place has not changed. After collecting my share of authentic lobstering images, I headed down the road to catch the sunset at Marshall Point Light.  The lighthouse was built in 1857 and is famous for the sturdy keeper’s house (circa 1885) and the walkway leading to the light itself.  All this provided interesting photographic perspectives which continuously evolved as the sun settled below the horizon.  Perhaps most interesting was the opportunity to chat with the other photographers who had traveled to capture the magic.   One gentleman from New York joined me in
Marshall Point Frame
an elaborate dance of moving tripods, trying not to block each other’s shots while simultaneously calculating how to steal the best angles.  While we restlessly roamed about, a photographer from Germany stayed fixed to one spot on the keeper's house porch, periodically capturing bursts of images for HDR.  He was waiting for the perfect light.  Happily there was plenty of perfect light to go around and I hope he found his.  He was still there as the light faded through the blue hour and I had to reluctantly retreat to make a reservation for dinner with friends in Rockland.  It had been a long day and I had my priorities.

We worked our way back home the next day.  The weather and our

Curtis Island Light
limited time allowed us to sample only a small part of the beauty of this lovely piece of the Maine coast, but it was a fantastic escape.  Throughout Susan was reasonably patient with my photographic
stops and side trips.  On the way out we made one last stop at a nearly hidden vista that provided an angle on the Curtis Island Lighthouse.  The light guards Camden's outer harbor, but it is usually best seen from the sea.  This spot off the coast road revealed the lighthouse in the late morning light, but the best part was that on the short path to the viewpoint Susan actually carried my tripod!  It must have been the magic of the coast.  I have to get back soon.

Jeffrey Newcomer