Jim Salge Photography Blog

Images of New England captured in dramatic light and atmosphere

Ideal Icons

An iconic view is one that has a spectacular yet simple view of a landscape or landmark that all who know New England can relate. It’s a view that resonates far and wide, that when hung on the wall in a coffee shop in, say California, people think of this beautiful region.

I make it a point to shoot a New England beyond the icon, but always feel their draw. I’ve pulled over in front of the Mount Washington Hotel hundreds of times, and been to Portland Head Lighthouse dozens, but have yet to get a winter shot that rivals the literally thousands that are in the marketplace. For me, a shot of an icon has to be truly special.

And finally, this vacation week, I have shots of both of these icons of which I’m truly proud.

Mount Washington Hotel…
Clouds had choked out my view of Mount Washington from a vista in Bethlehem that I’ve been working on, and I had left a bit discouraged. However, as I was driving back towards Conway, the high peaks began to clear. By this point, the sun had long set, but it was not yet pitch black. Photographers call this time ‘The Blue Hour’, as the temperature of the light is extremely cool, and prone to saturation with long exposures.

As I passed the Mount Washington Hotel, I was drawn to the remaining clouds surrounding Mount Adams. A thirty second exposure, and a stopped down aperture allowed for the color and light to come together. Strong hues of blue and orange draw you into the iconic landscape, which otherwise speaks for itself.

Blue Hour at the Mount Washington Hotel

Blue Hour at the Mount Washington Hotel

Portland Head Lighthouse…
Finally a snowstorm. And what a storm. It snowed for about 36 hours straight, and around a foot of snow accumulated by Friday morning on my deck. A quick check of the weather at 3AM saw clouds still overhead in SoNH, but some possible clearing over Portland, Maine. Worth the trip? Well, it was high tide…so why not.

The whole way up, it remained cloudy. Not until I was in Cape Elizabeth, where the lighthouse resides, did I see any breaks in the clouds. But over the lighthouse itself…it was miraculously clear.

The conditions were tough! The wind was strong, and the waves were ten to fifteen feet. The wind blew salty spray up over the rocks with every wave, dampening the lens and ruining most shots. But a few were clean. I used a neutral density filter to slow down the exposure and blur the roiling ocean. The snow clung to the rocks. The sky was pastel. And a unique shot of an iconic New England scene was slayed!

Fresh Snow at Portland Head Lighthouse...

Fresh Snow at Portland Head Lighthouse...

Two shots off my list…but amazingly, the list is no shorter. Plenty of other iconic views around…waiting for perfect conditions!

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