•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Returning to Southwest Harbor


When I left Bernard the sun had fallen below the hills and the harbor was in shadow. In about 5 minutes I would pass the spot at the head of Southwest Harbor where I had missed the shot the summer before, but I knew I had missed my last chance to get it this summer. I had followed the principle of not chasing after a preconceived shot and had gone to Bernard and Bass Harbor instead to catch what was given me. My B&B was near, and I was already thinking of the cheese and porter I had purchased earlier. I was eager to look at the evening's catch. I still had a full evening ahead.

As I reached the spot at Southwest I saw another photographer packing up his tripod I stopped and called out, "Have I missed it?" I'm not sure what he replied, but his actions made his answer unnecessary.

Yet, there was still something magical about the way this body of water caught the evening light, and my camera and tripod were already set up before his car pulled away. I had already shot from this spot several times on this trip, so I had a good idea what my options were. The shot above makes it appear wide open and easy to shoot, but foreground bushes and trees, the arrangement of boats, piers projecting from the shore on my right all put severe limitations on my composition, and I didn't have much time left for fine tuning. Somehow I found time to shoot 64 images before low light turned to no light. Perhaps I rushed too much. The previous summer's whipped cream froth at the harbor mouth was missing, but a number of the shots I took managed to make something of the moment.

I wish the big sailboat was not right in the middle. I wish I had a shot that used the double birch in the foreground to frame the scene. I wish I had a few more shots that included the long pier that reaches out into the harbor from just to my left. Lights lined its handrail, and I know they would have added much as they reflected in the water beneath. Once again, this may not be the ultimate answer, but it will serve to remind me to pass this way again next summer, and in the meantime, it manages to catch a bit of the magic of Southwest Harbor, a magical place to go to with a camera.