Odd Encounters in Rockland

posted by tucker

We went on a small journey to Rockland, Maine for dinner, yet another quaint, picturesque town in Maine. The destination was Suzuki’s, some of the best sushi I’ve ever had, being as it is basically unloaded from the boats that come into the harbor. Doesn’t get much fresher, and it’s my favorite food, so naturally I was quite happy. Of course, I had my camera with me and lately I have been feeling much more adventurous with doing hand-held HDRs. I used to think it wasn’t a viable option but Photomatix has such good correction for the small shifts that occur during hand-held bracketing that I have gotten more comfortable with it. I had about an hour before our reservation, so I decided to simply get lost and see where I ended up, always a surefire way of getting great pictures. Unfortunately, the harbor in Rockland faces east, the exact opposite direction from the setting sun, but with a sunset this good it didn’t really matter as it illuminates the entire sky. I found myself following some train tracks next to the shore, and I ended up inside a fenced-in compound that had some train cars in it, and some tugboats pulled up to a dock. Not really sure if I was allowed to even be there, I decided to take some HDRs and leave quickly. As I was popping off a few, I saw a tall man with a ponytail and a leather jacket approaching me and was like oh, here we go, I get to be yelled at for taking pictures in a place that I’m not supposed to be for the umpteenth time. Us photographers get used to it but it is never fun. I said hi and quickly turned around to get out of there, and as I was walking away I heard “Hey, why don’t you take a picture of me and my friend? She walks her dogs through here a lot and I’ve gotten to know her real well.” And I was like um…. “ok… sure.” The woman in question was walking up at that exact moment, and they said hi and then posed for this picture, which I was of course not prepared for and so fired off a 3 shot bracket with them moving the entire time, making for an impossible-to-process HDR. The guy went on to tell me how he worked from 3am to 2pm every day unloading tugboats full of cement and loading it onto trains, which then took off along the tracks to travel throughout Maine. We didn’t have much in common, so the conversation ended fairly quickly… I came home and was puzzled as I began to process the picture. It didn’t work at all when I threw the 3 into Photomatix like I would normally do, so I decided to choose the middle frame and do a pseudo-HDR using the Raw Converter. This worked OK, but the resulting image just wasn’t that great composition-wise, was too saturated, and noisy. I decided to try black and white HDR,┬ásomething I have never really experimented with. Using tone mapping, I was able to simulate the effect of an Orange filter (terminology from all the way back to when cameras actually used film….) and am pretty happy with the effect (after some severe cropping…). The other shot is simply one of the harbor in Rockland, with the same train tracks that are used to carry this random dude’s cement throughout Maine. It was rather surreal.

Random leather-jacketed, nice guy who works unloading cement from tugboats onto freight trains. Single-shot, hand-held HDR tone-mapped to black and white.

Train tracks running alongside the harbor in Rockland, Maine.

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