Through the Viewfinder: Newfallen Snow at Pemaquid Point

March 27, 2022  |  Pemaquid Point, Maine

With winter receding in the rearview mirror, I was chatting with a friend today who had asked me about my photo, "Newfallen Snow at Pemaquid Point". It was taken January 18, 2018. I was still employed at the camera store in South Portland, and had worked the previous day and the 18th was supposed to be my day off. Snow was predicted overnight so I decided I would begin the day by getting out to photograph the fresh snow. I'd never seen Pemaquid Point with a fresh blanket of snow, so I decided that was where I'd go.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse stands above the snow-covered rocky Maine coastline.

Newfallen Snow at Pemaquid Point

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, at sunrise on a winter morning, stands tall and proud, its white exterior contrasting against the deep blue of the early morning sky. In the foreground, the rocky landscape is blanketed in a layer of fresh snow, covering the ridges of rock of the Pemaquid peninsula and drawing the eye back to the historic beacon. The light of the impending sunrise casts a warm glow over the landscape, illuminating the lighthouse as well as snow-covered rocks and trees, completing this peaceful winter tableau.

The sunrise that day was at 7:07am. One of the redeeming qualities of winter is the later sunrises, as opposed to the 4:30am sunrises of the summer. I set my alarm for about 5am, thinking that I wanted to arrive before the sun was actually up to get that soft blue hour light, and that if we got as much snow as was expected, about 6 inches, it might take me a little while to get there.

At the time I was living in Freeport, Maine, which was normally about 45 minutes drive from Pemaquid Point, with no snow. I was out of my apartment and slowly making my way up US-1 by 5:20am. With the snow slowing me down, I pulled into the parking lot at the lighthouse at about 6:25am. It also wasn't too cold- about 29ºF with very little wind. I was excited; a plow had plowed to the entrance of the parking lot, but there were no tracks in the lot itself. No footprints. No one else had been there yet.

I quickly got out of my car and grabbed my gear. I knew I needed to be careful, as I didn't want to disturb the fresh snow anywhere that I might want to have in my photo. I knew the ridges of metamorphic and igneous rock that make up Pemaquid Point would likely make an interesting pattern in the snow, and I knew I wanted that to be my foreground. I walked to the far edge of the parking lot, where I knew there was access down to the rock, giving a wide berth to anything I might want in the scene.

Once I found a spot I thought looked good, I moved into position. I had essentially made a wide semicircle to get here so the snow would look pristine. I dropped my bag down in the snow and set up my tripod, then opened my bag and set up my camera. I went with my 16-35mm lens for a wide view, but after taking my first photograph, decided to zoom in a bit for a tighter composition. The second shot is the one you see above. It was taken at 6:37am, 30 minutes exactly before sunrise, right in the heart of what photographers call "blue hour".

Walking around on the rocks was difficult, to say the least. They were slick with the snow and ice, and being bundled up with two layers on my legs and 4 on my upper body, I wasn't as nimble as I normally am on these rocks. More than once I found myself on my rear end. Thankfully, no photographers or camera gear was harmed during the making of this photograph.

Over the course of the next hour, I made 82 exposures, working various angles on the lighthouse, making some photos of trees nearby, and the gated entrance to the lighthouse yard with a Christmas wreath still hung on it. I thought that might make a nice greeting card. All told, I finished eight images that I am happy with, but this photo was just so far above the others that I rarely show the others.

I was back in my car by 8am, where I found a text from my manager that he would need me to come in to the store due to a coworker being sick. Sigh. Oh well. It had been a nice morning anyway. Though I am glad that I am now photographing full time and the only boss I have to worry about is my wife!

Below is a springtime photo of Pemaquid Point that is also one of my favorites.

Sunlight streams through the cloud-filled sky over Pemaquid Point Lighthouse on a spring evening in Maine.

Gathering Clouds Redux

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse stands under a cloud-filled sky on a spring evening on the coast of Maine. I first captured this image while teaching a workshop. I noticed the clouds moving in and decided the lower vantage point down the rocky headland from the lighthouse would give us the opportunity to capture the lighthouse backed by the dramatic sky. The clouds parted just enoough to allow the sunlight to stream through. I call this one "Redux" as it is a new edit. My original edit was a bit flat and heavy-handed. As time has gone on my skills have improved to allow me to bring the photograph to life.