Portland Head Light

I caught a glimpse of the B&M Baked Bean factory as the bus rolled north toward Augusta. Dormant memories awoke. Memories of a summer family trip to Maine when my dad’s job as a forman at Thatcher Glass — which made the jars B&M’s beans went inside — required him to spend a week on site. The bean factory didn’t leave an impression on me, or so I thought. What did was the putrid smell of paper recycling and outbound tide.

Growing up in New Jersey, the closest we ever got to a rocky shoreline was a Belmar jetty.

It was decades before I visited Maine again. For the past nine years, I’ve traveled to Portland for an annual gathering of craft beer loving technologists. Most years I fly up the Atlantic coast from Philadelphia, taking off from Philly in the late afternoon and watching the most glorious sunsets out of the left side of the small plane’s window as we descend into the Portland jetport.

One year I decided to drive up the coast. I timed the drive so I had time to stop along the way and capture the landscape on camera. My ultimate destination was Portland Head Light. And I timed it to arrive at sunset. I’m proud to say that my calculations were correct, though with very few precious minutes of light to spare.

But that’s not this image.

This photograph is from the next morning. When you have a subject as amazing and iconic as this, and when Mother Nature decides to play nice, you capture all the frames and angles you can.

I arrived just before sunrise and claimed my spot on the cliff just south of the point. Tripod set, I dialed in my exposure and waited. Mother Nature did not dissapoint. The air was frigid, but the rising sun brought with it a welcome kiss of warmth.

I smiled as the good light faded into bright morning sun. Packing up my equipment, I hiked back to my car. Maybe next year I’ll bring my family in the hope of instilling memories to awaken when they get older.

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