2020 in Review

This was a year to remember…or perhaps forget. In spite of travel restrictions, I managed to produce a decent amount of photographs in 2020. But unlike every other year, the vast majority of those photos are from my neck of the woods in New England. If anything, the ghastly pandemic has made me appreciate photographing close to home, teaching me to become more creative in my own “neighborhood”. And I never lacked for subjects.

I only squeezed in two trips outside New England this year. The first was to the island of Senja in northern Norway just before the break-out of the pandemic, and the last was in mid-October to photograph the beautiful waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania with my buddy, Ed Bacon.

Continuing with my annual custom, I’ve rummaged through my photo archive to select some favorite images from 2020. It’s always an interesting and subjective exercise, full of reminiscence. Well, here are a dozen of my favorite photographs from last year, at least as of today. I’ve included a narrative similar to what you would find on my posts for those who are interested in behind-the-scene details.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season. Here’s to hoping for a MUCH better 2021!

DUSK AT THE FJORD, SENJA, NORWAY. The only European trip I made in 2020 was in January to the island of Senja in northwest Norway. I’ve taken a winter trip to Norway almost every year since 2012. I love the winter ambiance and low light of the Arctic regions at that time of year. There are only 3-4 hours of daylight in January, with the sun rising late morning and setting down again by mid afternoon. But conditions are usually favorable for photography during the short span of daylight hours. This post-sunset scene represents the main attractions found on the island: dramatic peaks, placid fjords, and the stereotypical red cottages that adorn the countryside.

WOOD ISLAND MOONRISE, KITTERY, MAINE. The Wood Island Life Saving Station sits at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. The place has a long and proud history, having stood watch over the bay for some 112 years. Before the US Coast Guard, the station housed brave men who would wait with their small rowboats to save mariners in distress under terrible and life-risking conditions. The life saving station was recently restored to its former glory, with the buildings repaired and repainted once more. I took the photo at moonrise (i.e. dusk) from New Castle, New Hampshire using a long lens.

ATTACK OF THE PERSEIDS, CABOT, VERMONT. I’ve been to the A.M. Foster Bridge many times, including at night. But the last time I photographed the bridge under the Milky Way was four years ago, so it was time to go back. This was a challenging night image, involving a horizontal panorama with numerous frames. I shot the bridge and foreground at dusk, and waited till 10:30pm to take a “stack” of Milky Way photos. I then shot the Perseids meteor shower continuously over a 2-hour span. A small number of resulting frames were blended in post-processing to yield this composite image.

SENTINEL, SCHOODIC PENINSULA, MAINE. It was a fabulous night sky on Schoodic Peninsula, without clouds but with a lot of “airglow’. Airglow shows up as green bands in the sky, a faint light emission in Earth’s upper atmosphere. I even captured a couple of leftover meteors from the Perseids meteor shower. You can see a green meteor up on the left edge of the Milky Way, and a yellow one closer to the horizon. The brightest “star” in the sky left of center is Jupiter, with dimmer Saturn as its side. I shot the red granite coast at dusk to retain details in the landscape, and then waited a couple of hours for the Milky Way to reach its ideal position before shooting a “stack” of sky photos (i.e. a quick sequence of short exposures). I used the lone pine tree to anchor the left side of the frame, while the granite rock and Milky Way dominate the right side.

STUCK IN THE MUD, SCARBOROUGH, MAINE. This is from Pine Point Beach. I arrived before sunset and walked around to find a composition, quickly settling on these two boats in the mud at low tide. At first, the boats lay parallel to either other, which was a bit too linear for my liking. So, I took it upon myself to adjust the angle of the white boat in the foreground to make the composition a tad more dynamic. Sunset itself was nothing spectacular but the after-glow was quite memorable. The most intense light and color appeared some 15 minutes after sunset, when I took this 80-second exposure.

ZIG ZAG, SOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE. Spring Point Ledge Light is a small lighthouse on Casco Bay built in 1897, after vessels ran aground near Spring Point Ledge. Its historic walls form zig-zag lines leading up to the lighthouse, with Hog Island in the distance on left. Sunrise was not the most spectacular but the clouds were nevertheless quite photogenic, taking on some light as the sun reached above the horizon line. The stone walls and breakwater also reflected sunlight, which accentuated their shape in this 6-second exposure.

BEND IN THE TRACKS, JEFFERSON, NEW HAMPSHIRE. I spent a day in late September roaming the northern regions of New Hampshire, inside the White Mountain National Forest. Given the draught conditions, the prognosis for fall foliage was uncertain this year, but Mother Nature delivered a fine display in these parts. I took this photo in the latter part of the afternoon near Jefferson after a productive day of photography. After driving over these railroad tracks, I noticed the curve with its vibrant foliage colors and quickly backtracked to capture the scenery. And don’t worry. The rust on the tracks is an indication that this railroad line is inactive.

COWS GRAZING, PEACHAM, VERMONT. Once voted one of the prettiest villages in New England, Peacham continues to appeal to tourists and photographers everywhere. I was here with friend and Cape Cod photographer, Betty Wiley, to photograph the village before sunset, and we had the place all to ourselves. The trees were showing good color, especially when the golden light shined upon the scene. Peacham is a stereotypical Vermont town complete with a white steeple church, red barns, rolling hills, and grazing cows. It was cloudy earlier in the day, but the clouds to the west parted long enough to cast brilliant light upon the scene.

AUTUMN LEAVES, GRANVILLE, VERMONT. Moss Glen Falls may be the most photographed waterfall in Vermont but it’s also among the most beautiful. The waterfall is a “horsetail” type with thin streams of water that flow down textured rock into Deer Hollow Brook. I stood on a rock in the brook, using a wide-angle lens to include the leaf-strewn rocks in the foreground, while yellow and orange leaves adorn the top of the falls.

GANOGA FALLS, BENTON, PENNSYLVANIA. The only other trip I took outside New England this year (in addition to Norway) was to Ricketts Glen State Park in mid October with my friend, Ed Bacon. Ricketts Glen is known for its old-growth forest and 24 named waterfalls along Kitchen Creek, not to mention its countless unnamed waterfalls and cascades. This is a virtual Shangri-La for waterfall photographers, especially in autumn We were lucky to have a full day of overcast skies and light rain, both ideal for waterfall photography while keeping tourists at bay. This is Ganoga Falls, a 94-foot high waterfall surrounded by lush autumn foliage colors.

DIGNHY OF THE LIGHTHOUSE, CAPE NEDDICK, MAINE. Late November was my first visit back to Nubble Light in 2020. After stumbling around in the dark in search of a different spin on the heavily-photographed place, I saw the iconic rowboat from the corner of my eye and realized that I had never shot from the left side of the lighthouse. So, I rushed down to this spot just as the sky was lighting up in pink and orange hues. A 30-second exposure served to soften the ripples on the water surface.

ON A ROCKY OUTCROP, NEW CASTLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Whaleback Light sits at the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine. But the lighthouse is within convenient viewing distance of New Castle, New Hampshire, from where I took the photo using a long lens. I arrived about 45 minutes before sunrise and watched the dawn light and color progress to a climax of yellow, orange, and red hues. I used a 4-second exposure to soften the ripples a bit. The water close to shore was calm, catching some of the sky color and tower reflection.

38 thoughts on “2020 in Review”

  1. Trying to find words that express the exquisite beauty of these pictures, Mike. Your work always makes me try to up my game. Magnifique!

    1. Michael your photos take me back to a time I traveled with my husband. We planned on retiring in either Maine or Vermont. Unfortunately my husband passed away and I never got to return. Your photography makes me feel like I’m home again. Thank you so much 😍

      1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, KC. So sorry about the loss of your husband. I love Vermont.

  2. Always a pleasure to see your year end review. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work and while New England does afford many landscape opportunities, I hope you can get back to some level of travel. Stay safe and Happy New Year

  3. Thanks for sharing these images Mike. Let’s hope we all get to expand our collection next year. Great work!

  4. These photos are spectacular! I love seeing all of these places and reading the locations and descriptions. Do you have these in a calendar, available for purchase? I was Maine-born and raised, and Maine is still in my blood! Thank you for the chance to see all this beauty!

  5. These are just wonderful and make my heart happy to know that such beauty did exist during such an ugly year. Take care and be safe!

  6. This work is beautiful, within the fine arts, wonderful and I would love to follow them for me it would be a great pleasure. Thank you !!!

  7. Just stunning photographs! Thank you for including the story behind your photos. I feel like I went on a photo journey of all my favorite places in New England and now Norway is on my bucket list! Are you related to Anne Blanchette in New Hampshire? She is my first cousin.

    1. Thank you. I don’t think Anne is related unless down a very levels in the family tree. I do have 2nd cousins and it’s always possible that she’s somehow related, but she’s definitely not a close relative if at all.

  8. Just stunning photographs! Thank you for including the story behind your photos. I feel like I went on a photo journey of all my favorite places in New England and now Norway is on my bucket list! Are you related to Anne Blanchette in New Hampshire? She is my first cousin.

  9. Thanks, I love seeing your pictures. You have a unique way of capturing simple pleasures. I love the lighthouse pics and the Vermont landscapes. I always look forward to seeing your posts on FB. Thanks again.

  10. An outstanding body of work as always. The Milky Way and fall color images stand out to me. Scheduled for two trips with Jim and Susie in 2021. Lets hope that we don’t suffer cancellations again this time.

    1. Hello Mark. Great to hear from you. Yeah, looking forward to traveling again. Stay save!

  11. I love seeing the beautiful scenes through your eyes. Thanks for all you do to make a difference in the lives of others..

  12. Very much lovable ‘those captured photos quiet my euphoria & excitement truly done by a good hands handling those experiences actual takes of a good click sequel proper finger touch angles. Thanks sir…

  13. Thank you for sharing your photos, now and throughout the year! Your works…and your words….touch so many people! Love New England, especially when the fall colors grace its trees, and, not to mention, I have a passion for trains…..the photo above just blows me away! Wishing you a year (plus) filled with good health, prosperity and myriad photo opportunities!! Thank you! Happy New Year!

  14. What fabulous pictures. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. I can’t get out right now and miss my rides to York me. Your pictures bring me there all the time. Happy New Year and stay safe.

  15. As always Michael, your images are so inspirational to amateur photographers like me. I spend half the year in New England and my goal for 2021 is waterfall pics. I look forward to shooting some of the falls you’ve featured in the past.

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