Published: November 2005
Michael Melford

What was your best experience in the field covering this story?

On my last night at Acadia, I planned to do long film exposures over several hours to track the stars as the Earth rotated. So I set up two cameras on two tripods on the side of Jordan Pond and waited for it to get dark. Well, no sooner had it gotten dark than the northern lights started to brighten the sky, and red streaks appeared over my head—a rare phenomenon in Maine.

Since the lights can be fleeting, I worked quickly to capture images before the show was over. It was kind of a panic-filled moment because I wanted to capture the reflection of the lights and surrounding mountains in the pond as well as the aurora above my head. The show lasted about 30 minutes, and in the end I photographed both. It was a wondrous way to end my time in Acadia.

What was your worst experience in the field covering this story?

I was told that the house I rented in Acadia came with cable TV. So after downloading digital images off my camera at the end of the day, I looked forward to watching the play-offs between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. But as I settled in on the night of the first game, I discovered that the cable had been disconnected. Only three channels came in, and none of them were showing the game! I had to listen to the radio for the first couple of games before the cable was finally reconnected.

What was your quirkiest experience in the field covering this story?

Storm after storm blew through while I was shooting in Acadia, and I loved it. Most people think that photographers want those crisp and crystal clear days of October to photograph fall foliage. But in fact the opposite is true. The best lighting conditions to shoot are the overcast rainy days.

I liked the bad weather so much that during the worst storm, I donned all my foul-weather gear, put my camera in an underwater housing, and stood on the shore. The wind blew the rain sideways, and ocean waves cascaded over me after hitting the rocky coast. People driving by in their warm dry cars must have thought I was nuts. But I thought the same thing about them for not experiencing the storm.