Acadia from under an umbrella…

the view from Gorham Mountain. Not quite raining. 4 shot panorama from Sand Beach to Otter Point. Click to enlarge.

The weather, of course, does not always cooperate. My family and I tried to fit a few vacation days into the busy schedules of 5 people…just a quick trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park to visit daughters who live and work there (one full time, the other for the summer), and, of course, to do some hiking and photography in our most favorite of National Parks. Thanks to the wonder of internet weather, we knew by the time we left home that we were faced with pretty much rain every day, but the reservations were made, the schedules cleared, the vacation time approved, and we went, despite the weather forecast. It is New England, after all…things can change…things do change…and we can always hope for better than the prediction. Still, I made sure to pack three unbrellas (all I could find).

The Molly Todd at anchor in front of the Bar Harbor Inn. Still a bit of sun.

Hope was not, this time, rewarded. We had a few hours of sunlight after arriving, while we had lunch with one daughter, and walked around Bar Harbor, but then the clouds moved in, and it more or less (at times a lot more than less) rained the rest of the visit. So it goes.

Still, I was not about to come home without any new images of Acadia. It was a great opportunity to practice photography from under an umbrella. It is possible. It is simply a matter of juggling the umbrella while handling the camera, often shooting one handed using the LCD to frame, and frequent applications of the micro-fiber cloth to clear raindrops from the lens.

Wild Iris, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Sieur de Mont Springs, Acadia Nat. Park. ISO 400. Raining.

The main issue is exposure. There is not a lot of light in the rain, especially for hand-held photography (and messing about with a tripod and an umbrella in the rain is beyond even my ambitions). It is better these days, with higher ISO performance, and better high ISO performance, even on Point and Shoots. In fact, the base ISO on my newest camera, the Nikon Coolpix P500 superzoom, is 160, and it does very well up to ISO 800. Higher ISOs are coupled with fairly advanced image stabilization in an increasing number of P&Ss, either lens stabilization or sensor stabilization…either works. The combination makes shooting in the rain, even under heavy forest canopy, and even hand-held, much more possible.

One of the delights of Acadia this time of year is the Lupines, which grow wild in yards and fields all over Mt. Desert Island. These are between the Park Loop Road and Great Meadow. I was not the only one photographing them, but I was the only one with an umbrella. The umbrella allowed me to take my time composing, to try more different angles than I would have if I had been constantly in fear of a stray drop shorting out the electronics of the camera, and to generally enjoy the experience more. Of course I still got wet feet, but some sacrifice is generally to be expected for any art’s sake. :)

This shot received some extra attention in Lightroom. I used a Graduated Filter Effect pulled up from the bottom to slightly darken the foreground.

Even where there is sufficient light, and views of the open sky, exposure is difficult. If the sky is visible in the frame, you run the risk of the foreground going way too dark…or the sky comes out as a blank white space. Maintaining detail in rainy clouds and mist, and in the foreground can require extended dynamic range. The Nikon P500 offers Active D-Lighting, which helps to extend the range…but some work in Lightroom with the Fill Light Effect and Blackpoint adjustment is still needed most of the time.

out to sea from the Ocean Path between Thunder Hole and Otter Point. ISO 160 and Active D-Lighting.

the second point is Otter Clifts on Otter Point. Similar exposure to the shot above. Between the Active-D Lighting and some Lightroom work it is possible to attain a reasonable balance of exposure.

One of the benefits of shooting from under an umbrella in the rain is that you tend to focus on what is close to you…and the glitter of the raindrops on everything draws the eye and adds allure to the most common of objects. If you click these images a larger version opens.



These lichen flowers are what you see when you look really close. The soft rain light and the collected water make an interesting macro shot. Or notice the slug in the shot below. I was just shooting the rain slick bark, because the pattern interested me. I actually did not see the slug until post processing.

With everything wet, forest shots have a particularly rich look. Above is Bubble Brook where it flows out of Bubble Pond. And reflective water, under the rain sky, takes on an almost metallic look. As you can see, the rain had paused for a moment here, though I was still carrying my umbrella.

The marshy area at the lower right corner of Jordan Pond.

the Bowl on the trail between Gorham and Champlain, not yet raining, but thinking hard about it.

There were moments, like this one below, where the clouds parted and we saw some blue sky. This patch moved over us, and Jordan Pond, in about 30 minutes and disappeared out to sea. Within an hour it was raining hard again.

On our last morning we hiked, against all common sense, up South Bubble (which you see in the image above at the end of Jordan Pond). It was raining in the parking lot, and we could see the cloud heavy above us, between us and the top of the Bubble. Still, it was our last chance at a hike before the long drive home. Below is the famous view of Jordan Pond from South Bubble, or it would be if not for the cloud in front of it. Notice the Krumholtz in the foreground. A perfect miniature forest. The tall tree there, though a perfectly formed mature specimen, is about a foot small.

So, don’t let a little rain stop you. Dig out that umbrella and see what you can see from under its edge. Even if you are not in Acadia National Park, you might be surprised.

This entry was posted in inspiration, instruction, Nikon Coolpix P500. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Acadia from under an umbrella…

  1. MaineBirder says:

    Fabulous photo series Stephen!

  2. Pingback: Pic for Today » 6/19/2011: Lichen Flowers: Happy Sunday!

  3. Pingback: Pic for Today » 6/28/2011: Log Walk with Cedars, Jordan Pond

  4. Pingback: Canon SX40HS vs. Nikon P500. Feature fight and IQ. | Point and Shoot for Landscape

  5. Jan says:

    Absolutely stunning photographs.
    Hard to believe it was not done with Nikon D3X camera … :o)
    Very inspiring …
    Your love for the photography (and the Creator of this beauty) just sing!
    Thank you very much for sharing …

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