Otter Cliffs, Acadia Nationa Park, Maine 2007
This is a view from the southern end of the Ocean Path Trail in Acadia National Park, a trail that is quite easy walking. Walking along it is more like strolling down a sidewalk than taking a hike, though it is mostly paved with fine gravel, not concrete. But the ease of the path is the only similarity to a city sidewalk; few cities are sited in such spectacular places. Thankfully no city will ever spoil this shore.
When we went for a walk on the day I made this diptych, my husband was not feeling well, but he knew I really wanted to visit Acadia and go for a hike before going back to Boston. Lansing's back was causing him pain, a result of a ruptured disc two years before. We had been vacationing at the Wagner's new summer house in Brooklin, Maine, and we had been sanding and varnishing the floors, which exacerbated his problems. I suggested a slow walk down the length of the Ocean Path might be something we could both do. As we went along I kept shooting pictures, composing my diptychs in camera. It was a beautiful day, so I knew at least one of them would work out well.
One of the themes I try to include in my work is the impact of humans on the environment, or at least how we interact with it. I see this everywhere in Maine. Sometimes the impact is subtle, a grassy hay field or blueberry crop is there because someone is cultivating that acreage. The buoys of lobster traps dot almost every bay, ringing the islands and peninsulas. Though a lot of my landscapes and seascapes don't have people in them, I do like it when I can include humans.
When we got to Otter Cliffs, at the end of our walk, we saw several people rappelling and rock climbing. I first tried my 135mm lens, a short telephoto on the Bronica RF 645. Then I switched to the 45mm, a wide angle lens, which when used to make a diptych like this takes in 100 degrees. So this scene captures basically all of what I saw with both eyes including my peripheral vision. But it's more than just a snapshot of one moment, because as I had been making earlier pictures I had also been tracking the progress of a lobsterman's boat. They were slowly making their way northward, checking traps that were surprisingly close to the perilous cliffs, and they were about to come into the scene I was capturing.
Before the boat arrived, I shot a picture of the cliffs and hikers, the left frame you see above. Here is a detail of that image. In some ways it doesn't really illustrate what they were doing there. The people actually climbing the cliffs were on the far side, out of the sightline of my camera, so only the people on tip show up.
After having made the photo that would be the left half of the composition, I had to wait patiently for the boat. When it got to where I wanted it I released the shutter. I didn't know how lucky I was to have pressed the button when I did. As you can see in the detail, one of the men on the boat, the guy who had been pulling up the traps and taking out the lobsters, had just thrown a trap back into the sea, with a nice splash recorded onto film. I could not have been much happier with these two negatives, and so far this is the best selling diptych I have made. While it looks good even printed small on an 8x10" sheet of paper, it's truly impressive when the print is enlarged more, and I have a few prints on 20x30" and 20x24" that show how medium format film captures details that 35mm pictures just can't deliver.