“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life….climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees” John Muir

I had been to Acadia National Park a number of times over the years, but never in autumn when New England color is ablaze. And I also knew that the visibility of the Milky Way’s galactic core would begin to wane in late October. So off we went on our five hour drive up the Maine coast to Bar Harbor, Maine.

Confused in Maine

This is why they invented GPS. I thought I was on Rt. 1 South, but apparently I was in a multi-directional vortex.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

Cadillac Mountain is one of the iconic places in the park and very crowded at sunrise and sunset as everyone wants to experience the beauty and mystery of night turning into day or day transforming into night. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point (1,530 ft.) on Atlantic coast from Maine to Brazil and is largely composed of stunning pink hued granite. The area is famous for its’ high quality granite and it was used in many of the country’s institutional buildings, the U.S. Treasury building in Washington D.C. being a prime example.

Surveying the Scene

Even the Gulls enjoy the view from the top of the park.

Boulder’s Beach

This is Boulder Beach which, as you can see, is an apropos name. This is early in the morning just as first light is coming over the horizon. This light is very blue and it added an eerie feeling to the image. Moving across these rocks is hazardous as they can be slippery and they often move as you gingerly step on them.

Otter Point

This section of the park is popular with photographers because the sunrise is due east of here and the morning sun lights up the red granite that lines this coast. This color only lasts a few minutes and if you miss it, it’ll be back in 24 hours.

Milky Way

Photographing the Milky Way was one of my objectives in traveling to the park. The eastern coast of Northern Maine has the darkest skies in New England and is the best place in New England to do astrophotography. You might notice that the most dense and colorful section of the MW is right at the horizon. In another month, this section of the MW would no longer be visible in the night sky until Spring.

White Birches in the Meadow

The park has a section of low meadow land which is populated by these white birches. It’s challenging to find a good composition because of the haphazard tree placements.

Carriage Road

The Carriage Roads and stone bridges in Acadia National Park were financed and directed by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., between 1913 and 1940, for hikers, bikers, horseback riders and carriages. The network includes 57 miles of woodland roads free of motor vehicles, of which 45 miles are within Acadia National Park.

These are some of the most spectacular hiking trails you will ever encounter, particularly in autumn.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

The Bass Harbor Lighthouse is among the most photographed and visited in the U.S. It’s particularly popular at sunset when the sun lights up this section of the park’s coastline. On any given summer or fall day, there will be hundreds of folks climbing all over these rocks as sunset approches. I shot this image on a previous trip to the park. On the day we visited the lighthouse there was a torrential rain and windstorm, but amazingly, there were still many people walking down the short trail to this area.

Hunter’s Head

I got up each morning in the dark and went to Hunter’s Head to try and get a great sunrise view. The good sunset composition is in the opposite direction and I set my camera and tripod up to capture a golden sunrise over the little cove in that direction. But alas, each morning the hoped for sunrise glory never materialized. On the last day I turned around to go back to my car and noticed that the risen sun was lighting up the area on the other side of Hunter’s Head. This golden rust color only lasted 2 minutes and I was forunate to get this wonderful image.

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Frank Binder

Formerly an important summer gathering spot and base for moose-hunting in the Klondike Valley as well as a camp for the First Nations’ community in the area, Dawson City rose to prominence as the center of the Klondike Gold Rush. It began in 1896 and changed the First Nations camp into a thriving city of 40,000 by 1898. By 1899, the gold rush had ended and the town’s population plummeted as all but 8,000 people left. When Dawson was incorporated as a city in 1902, the population was under 5,000. The current population is 1,300.

Dawson City, Yukon
Dawson City, Yukon

The City of Dawson and the nearby ghost town of Forty Mile are featured prominently in the novels and short stories of American author Jack London, including The Call of the Wild. London lived in the Dawson area from October 1897 to June 1898.

Riding the Dempster
Riding the Dempster

Reaching north for 457 miles, the Dempster Highway runs from Dawson City to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. If you wish to drive to Inuvik, you’d better fill up the gas tank because there is only a single gas station complex on the journey.

Yukon Color
Yukon Color

The Dempster Highway bisects Tombstone Territorial Park and the mountains on either side of the highway are covered with a colorful montage of reds, yellows and golds that are startling in their brilliance.


Rivers of Gold

The yellow and gold stripes on the mountainsides mark the areas where water runs off the mountains and supports mostly scrub vegetation.

Jack and Janice
Jack and Janice

Today, Dawson City’s main industries are tourism and gold mining. Gold mining started in 1896 with the Bonanza (Rabbit) Creek discovery by George Carmack, Dawson Charlie and Skookum Jim Mason. The area’s creeks were quickly staked and most of the thousands who arrived in the spring of 1898 for the Klondike Gold Rush found that there was very little opportunity to benefit directly from gold mining. Many instead became entrepreneurs to provide services to miners (Wikopedia). Today’s gold miners are mostly small time operators, sometimes single individuals working their claims hoping to find that one rich vein.

Jack and Janice are boyfriend/girlfriend and each has staked out a claim in Dawson and work them nearly year round. Janice works on one of the big cruise ships that explore Alaska’s inner passage each summer and returns to her claim once the season ends.

Al the Toe Captain
Al the Toe Captain

I met the Al at the same time I met Jack and Janice. He introduced himself as the “Toe Captain” over at the National Hotel. Seeing my quizzical look, he went on to describe the rite of passage that happens each night at the hotel. The short version is that years ago an unfortunate local lost his big toe to frostbite and brought the toe over to the National Hotel bar and started dropping the toe into people’s drinks as a lark. This turned into todays Toe Society where thousands of people have come to the bar and paid the Toe Captain $5 to toss back a shot of Yukon Jack with a human big toe floating in the glass. I’m proud to say that I was the 53,314th person to join the Toe Society by downing a Sourtoe Cocktail. You might wonder how a single toe survived all these years. The answer is that it didn’t…people donate severed toes from all over North America to the Toe Society.

Yukon Beaver Pond
Yukon Beaver Pond

We waited a while for the beavers to show themselves but they were shy that day.

Shaft of Yellow
Shaft of Yellow

This is another section of the beaver pond above.

Yukon Mountain Stream
Yukon Mountain Stream

All of these images were shot on the same overcast day. Since there is no reflected sunlight on the leaves, these overcast days provide the perfect light to show off the brilliant colors of the Yukon landscape.

Golden Reflections
Golden Reflections

The amount of color in a Yukon autumn was completely unexpected and as a New England native I would have to say that it rivals any New England autumnal color display. You have to work to get there…but it’s worth it!

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Shrewsbury, MA

“Can I help you?” The question floated through the car window from the speaker of my local Dunkin Donuts drive through. I was on my way north for five days to photograph New England’s autumn splendor. The Vermont state website map showed peak colors for my southern Vermont destination. It was going to be great. “I’ll have a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese and a coffee with cream” I said. I would have ordered the pumpkin coffee latte as well, but I had heard stories and didn’t want to be over pumkinated on my road trip.

Autumn Leaves

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.
Johnny Mercer – Originally a French song Les Feuilles Mortes with lyrics by poet Jacques Prevért.

Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves

Here’s a lesson….be skeptical of a web site that exists for the purpose of attracting visitors to a state. Of the several bullet points categorizing the status of the colors in the southern portion of the state, the Vermont gov website checked “Peak Color”.  Not “Moderate”, not “Past Peak”…but “Peak Color”. Crossing the border into Vermont it was obvious there was no color.  I fact, there were no leaves…90% of the trees were bare. Based on my crack observations, I’m sending a note to the website suggesting other more appropriate categories they might have used.  How about “Leaves no more” or “Leaves go bye bye” or the Humpty Dumptian “Leaves all fall down”. Any of these probably would have worked.

I set out to make the best of it by finding locations that would be great if there was color so that I could visit them next year.  By just wandering around you never know what you will find.

Battenkill Farm

Here’s a perfect example of kismet. The sky was overcast. There was no color anywhere so I drove to a covered bridge just down the road from here to scout it as a possible location for a future trip. I noticed this farm a short way up the road and sauntered up to it. Just as I got there the sky began to turn orange and then red behind the barn and all of a sudden I’m in frantic mode getting my camera out of the bag, setting up the tripod and trying to make sure that something was in focus. The color lasted less than five minutes. This is the magic. I’m walking around rural southern Vermont at the end of a disappointing day, thinking about where to get dinner and something unexpectedly glorious happens

Meandering Through Autumn

Taken on an overcast day which is the best sky condition for shooting moving water and surrounding color. It provides an even light which promotes saturation of the colors.

Maple Grove Farm
Maple Grove Farm

I shot this image last year in central Vermont. I wandered around this scene for a while, took a number of shots and then settled into this scene. I set up the tripod and camera and snapped the shutter. Ten seconds later this horse, which had been behind the small structure, moved out into the open and stared at me. I snapped the shutter a second time.

New England Church in Autumn

Really all you need for a great New England autumn photograph is to find yourself a white church with a steeple and some colorful leaves. Then you’ve got yourself a postcard.

Autumn on the River

Taken on the campus of Mt. Holyoke college in South Hadley, MA. The breeze stopped momentarily so there’s a nice reflection of the color in the water. I also like the diagonal lines of the trees leading one’s eye to the back of the image.

      “Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
William Cullen Bryant 

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Shrewsbury, MA

A few years ago, on one of my first photographic journeys, I found myself, a photographer I had hired as a guide and my wife, Cathy all gathered on a ledge in Patagonia waiting for the sky to illuminate a great scene before us. We waited one hour; two hours; three hours; finally dusk came and we climbed down from the ledge without having gotten the shot. That scene has repeated itself in various places around the world and when it does, when it seems like we are completely wasting our time…Cathy will roll her eyes and say “I know, we’re waiting for the light!”

Over the past three years I’ve waited for the light frequently and managed to build a small business doing photographic programs for senior audiences. And it’s been wonderful. I show my work to live audiences almost a hundred times a year and each time I get live feedback on my work and the audience gets 45 minutes of entertainment. What could be better?

Still, I’ve been thinking about how to expand my base (there’s a phrase I’ll bet you haven’t heard in a while) and show my work to a wider audience. I’ve considered doing a photographic blog for some time now but have dawdled because..well, starting a photographic blog is a bit daunting. It means publishing images and commentary people will find interesting and stimulating, it means finding those images in the first place, and it means “f8 and be there” (look it up). Lastly I guess it means you have to throw some level of modesty out the window and believe that people will like what you do.  So here goes…

Cemeteries & Autumn

Every New England town has a cemetery that dates back at least two hundred years and many are in the town center next to the historical church with the white steeple. Almost every day I drive by the one in the center of my town which contains an abundance of large stately maple trees that are the centerpiece of our New England autumns. Depending on the tree, the leaves can be yellow, orange or even red or a combination of all three. Photographed on a blue sky day with a polarizing filter and hopefully some wispy white clouds, the results can be a breathtaking display of color

Autumn Glory
Autumn Glory

Even though the colors may be spectacular, the graphics of an image are equally important. Notice that the leading lines of the monuments move your eye back to the orange tree blazing in the blue sky.

Autumn Angel

She has been there for over two hundred years and I imagine she has been praying all this time for a day exactly like this one!

This is the second image I shot of this scene. Initially, I filled the frame with the angel against the orange backdrop. I prefer this framing. It adds additional yellow color and also frames the shot from the upper left of the image.

Peak Colors!
Peak Colors

Sometimes you have to change your point of view. Look up!

Orange Blaze
Orange Blaze

The vibrant blue and orange hues here are amazing and the monuments form a diagonal line into the image.

Oak Hill Cemetary, Sterling, MA
Oak Hill Cemetery, Sterling, MA

So concludes my first photographic blog post. I plan on publishing 1-2 times per month as my ability to gather interesting material permits. Hopefully you and future readers will find it worthy of your time. You may subscribe to this blog by checking the “Follow” box on the right side of this page.  You will then receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Confirming the subscription will mean that you will automatically receive new blog entries.

Shrewsbury, MA

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