•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lobster Traps, Bass Harbor, Maine


The back yard of the enchanting cottage is one kind of underworld, and it took no less will power to extricate myself from its charms than Odysseus needed to escape the power of Circe. While my family and several others indicated it was not to their taste, a few of you suggested it let you step briefly into some grim bit of Grimm - to poke your nose around behind the witches gingerbread oven or walk a bit with a dark elf. Eventually I did move on.

By then the promise of a good sunset was becoming a reality. My plan was to watch it develop in Bass Harbor where I expected excellent sidelight for the next three hours. Reflections in water always open another sort of underworld for me, and we had several discussions at the workshop regarding how much of the reflected original to include or exclude, how much explaining needed to be done. Of course we reached no conclusion except perhaps that each composition will provide its own answer to the question, and too much explaining undervalued the viewer. That bit of wisdom seems to have wide applicability.

In any case, this composition should not cause difficulty. I'm especially intrigued by the odd area to the right of the ladder, back underneath the dock and its bit of daylight double. I can hear Frank Lavelle wisely wondering if that was the shot. Well, maybe, but that's easier to guess at now. When I shot this, the water was flickering, and I don't think I quite believed those under-docks would be so richly visible. My eye was riding the colorful lobster traps over the ripples, and I was wondering if I should be using a video camera. Finally, there are a number of things in this composition that made me select it, of which the drama next to the ladder is but one part.

Bass Harbor was filled with lobster traps, neatly stacked on docks sometimes ten high. I wondered, if the docks were filled, what was in the water? Everything was sleepy here and in my visits between Saturday morning and Monday morning I saw fewer than 4 boats load traps and head out. I had shot trap reflections here the day before after a lousy plate of clams and when the weather was overcast. My shooting interest then was gulls periodically flying into my image to pull a bit of dinner from my canvas. I have a hundred of those that you will probably never see.

This one's for you, Jonathan. I make no promises on the next one.