Archive for the ‘State Parks’ Category

Take A Scenic Drive Along the Rockport Coastline!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

As a resident of Rockport, Massachusetts, I love living in this quaint coastal town. As a photographer, I simply adore it!

A panoramic view of Rockport Harbor.

Rockport Harbor

Rockport is located approximately 25 miles north of Boston at the tip of the Cape Ann peninsula. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on three sides, Rockport is an ideal location for a scenic drive along the coastline. I’m happy to share with you my favorite route and to offer suggestions of things to see and places to visit.

A scenic drive along Route 127 in Rockport, Massachusetts

Drive the coastline!

Let’s Get Started…

Most visitors come to Rockport via Route 128 and take it to the very end, which is the town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. From there, continue going straight to the second traffic light and then make a left onto Route 127A.

Important! The southern half of your drive will be on what’s known as Route 127A. The northern half, however, will be on Route 127. It’s important to note that these are two distinctly different route numbers right from the start.

Okay, once you make that first left onto Route 127A, you are on your way. At this point you are still in Gloucester, but in no time will be crossing over the town line into the southern end of Rockport.

Welcome to Rockport!

While traveling from south to north (Route 127A to Route 127), there are the places I think every visitor should see for themselves. Here are some suggestions…

While Traveling North Along Route 127A…

Thacher Island Lighthouses at dawn from Loblolly Cove in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Thacher Island at dawn from Loblolly Cove

 

Motif #1 facing the inner harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts

Iconic Motif #1 in downtown Rockport

Mini Detour…

When you’re done exploring the overall town on foot, it’s time to jump back in the car. Follow Main Street through downtown Rockport and bear right onto Beach Street. This will bring you past two very different town beaches.
  • Front Beach – Sea glass hunters, beach lovers and sun worshippers flock to this convenient in-town beach.
  • Back Beach – A very popular location for scuba divers. Though rocky along the shoreline, as the tide goes out, more and more beach is revealed.

Sunrise over Rockport Harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts

Sailboat Sunrise

Okay, Now North Onto Route 127…

At the end of Beach Street, make a right onto Route 127. The scenic drive north continues…

  • Granite Pier – Turn right onto Wharf Road and follow the paved road down the winding hill and then up onto the dirt and gravel road of the pier for a great view of the town coastline.
  • Pigeon Cove Harbor – Look for boats in the small harbor and the building with the lobster on it!
  • Emerson Inn By The Sea & Cathedral Ledge – Turn right onto Phillips Ave. and follow the road down to the water. Sometimes off of Cathedral Ledge you can spot memorable waterfowl such as Mergansers, Eiders and Harlequin ducks.
  • Halibut Point State Park – Hiking trails, a historic granite quarry, scenic vistas, a birders’ paradise and more!
  • Lobster Pool Restaurant – End the day with a tasty lobster and enjoy a beautiful sunset at the northern end of town.

Harlequin ducks gather off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts.

Harlequin Ducks

There you have it. An easy, straightforward drive featuring a beautiful scenic route with lots of things to see and do along the way. Makes for a perfect day trip in my book.

As for you photographers, I can tell you first hand there are photo ops everywhere you turn.

Motif #1 in Black & White reflected in Rockport Harbor.

Motif #1 at midday as seen from the viewing deck at Lula's Pantry

Hope to see you around town!

~ Liz Mackney

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Battleship Cove – Perfect For A Sunset Shoot & Creative Play!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, is a war memorial and maritime museum beautifully framed by the Braga Bridge and Fall River Heritage State Park. Recently, several photographer friends and I met up there for a sunset shoot. It didn’t take long for me to see that Battleship Cove was an incredible location for some dynamic photography.

Bracketing and HDR

Low light shooting presents some challenges when it comes to maintaining detail in your shots. That’s when bracketing comes in handy — and it’s exactly what I used for this shot. I’m a big believer in less is more. When bracketing and HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography are done to preserve detail, the result can be magical.

HDR photograph of the Braga Bridge over Battleship Cove at sunset

Braga Bridge Over Battleship Cove

In this shot, I bracketed three shots (+/- 1 stop) and merged them together in Photomatix. I then brought the tone mapped image into Photoshop for some minimal fine tuning. My overall goal was to preserve as much detail as possible in the textured areas. This meant the ship, bridge, boardwalk, railing, benches and grass. I knew the reflected lights and cloud pattern would naturally enhance the image.

Blue Hour Beauty

The blue hour of sunset and sunrise are my favorite times of day. When the position of the setting sun falls in line with your shooting perspective, it’s a gift. Such was the case on this day.

Battleship Cove's U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. destroyer at sunset.

The blue hour before sunset

The U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. destroyer proudly rests at Battleship Cove. Just as the setting sun was about to meet the horizon, the orange glow behind the ship’s guns provided the perfect accent. Normally a straight-on perpendicular shot is not my favorite perspective to shoot, as the image appears flat. In this case, however, the angle of the foreground elements gave the scene depth. The sprinkling of lights along the bridge, ship and shoreline helped to anchor the shot – no pun intended!

Isolation

As evening descended upon us and spotlights pierced the darkness, isolated details became focal points. The U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. took on a new attitude as blue sky turned to gray. My photographic eye was suddenly drawn to the ship’s illuminated equipment. Standing tall against the backdrop of a patterned sky and cloaked in shadows cast by the light, it now became the prime area of visual interest.

The U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Destroyer illuminated at Battleship Cove.

U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. illuminated

Filter Play

Let me rewind for a second. I arrived at Battleship Cove well before sunset. This gave me time to scout the area and do some test shots for perspective. One of the shots I took featured the carousel pavilion — in addition to the Braga Bridge and U.S.S. Massachusetts battleship. It was a sweet setup that definitely caught my eye.

The Braga Bridge, U.S.S. Massachusetts, and Carousel Pavilion at Battleship Cove reflected.

Battleship Cove Reflection

Even though the light was far from dramatic at this time of day, I chose to do another bracketed series of shots. The pavilion and U.S.S. Massachusetts were both losing detail from the shadow cast by the bridge, so I thought bracketing would help to bring some of the detail back.

Once again I merged the three shots together in Photomatix and did some minor tweaking in Photoshop. However, this time I also decided to take some creative license and have a little fun with a certain post-production filter — Flood by Flaming Pear. That’s what I used to create the rippled reflection in the water. The filter gives you a lot of latitude with which to play. I, however, chose to stay somewhat within the realm of reality.

That is until a non-photographer friend of mine said he would have “flipped the image” to mess with people’s minds.

Well, how could I resist? Sometimes you need to turn reality on its head. So, I did.

A flipped image of Battleship Cove Carousel and Pavilion

Altered Reality

There you have it. One photographer’s look at Battleship Cove and the photographic diversity it has to offer. Definitely worth the trip.

~ Liz Mackney

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Exploring the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

This past December I set out to explore the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Winter’s chill had not yet taken hold, and I was curious to see what I might encounter there at this time of year. Positioned along the Atlantic Coast, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge attracts a variety of migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. It didn’t take long for me to bump into some of our northern neighbors.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese take flight at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Canada geese take flight

Soon after arriving, I crossed paths with a large group of Canada geese. They were all congregated in the salt marsh. I watched them for awhile so that they could get used to my presence. In no time at all they decided to put on a show for me.

Canada Geese fly towards the sun at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Flying towards the sun

At first they played coy; then they began to scatter. I soon discovered that while some Canada geese take flight in groups, others take off in a pairs, and still others are solitary fliers.

Canada Goose in flight at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Going solo

One thing they all shared, however, was a strong determination to get to their next destination. I could hear their focused energy with very flap of their wings.

Trails and Boardwalks

Two things that make exploring the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge an exceptional outing are the hiking trails and boardwalks. There’s no better way to see the diverse wildlife found throughout the refuge. Observation stations are also scattered about and offer the best view of the expansive landscape.

Boardwalk at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Boardwalk through the dunes

Among the shrubs, trees and thicket might be something with no apparent rhyme or reason for being there. I stared at this single section of fence for quite awhile trying to figure out its purpose. That answer eludes me to this day.

Solitary fence stands in the dunes at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Solitary fence

Along the edge of the beach and up in the dunes I stumbled upon some driftwood interestingly placed by Mother Nature. It made me wonder how far the pieces had traveled before resting together in that spot.

Large driftwood stacked in the dunes at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Driftwood

A Sun Lover

While Canada Geese were plentiful that day, my eyes were constantly scanning the salt marsh for other visitors. Just as the sun managed to break through the clouds, I saw it catch something in the distance. My zoom lens confirmed my suspicion. It was indeed a solitary egret enjoying the afternoon rays.

Solitary egret in salt march at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Solitary egret

Regardless of the time of year, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful place to visit. What you may encounter changes with the seasons. That’s reason enough to visit year round.

~ Liz Mackney

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