Do It Now! — Again

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Some time ago I wrote a blog post admonishing my readers not to postpone getting that picture until “later,” because you never know whether the subject you want to photograph will still be there later, and as an example I posted a photo I had taken of a vintage, no longer operative country store in Arkville, Delaware County, NY. That was the “before” image. In the “after” image, the building had been sanitized into a red-vinyl cookie-cutter adjunct to a petrol station by a company that obviously had plans to operate the business in a, well, somewhat more character-challenged incarnation. Clearly my “Do it now!” admonition doesn’t apply in every single instance — for example, Mt. Washington isn’t likely to change much or disappear if you put off shooting it for a few weeks or so. But it does have to be taken seriously when you’re shooting ruins or abandoned buildings, for example.

I just had another example of this happen last week. One year ago I visited Gloucester, Massachusetts for the first time and, in a random walk through the town, came upon the old fish processing factory you see in the above photo. This is the best of three photos I took, all fairly wide-angle shots. The sky was clouding over, the wind was picking up (the latter is nothing unusual for Gloucester), so I packed it in, figuring I could try some close-ups on another visit. (The close-ups would have required a change of lens, and with the wind there was quite a lot of dirt and sand blowing around — enough to make you consider whether it was worth risking a lens change.)

Fast forward one year, and I was in Gloucester once again, two weeks ago. Since this building wasn’t too far from the famous Fishermen’s Memorial, and I was heading that way, I figured it would be a good time to revisit the building and get some different shots.

And when I got there, here, to my dismay, is what I saw:

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The Good Harbor Fillet Co. deconstructed!

Well, I’m glad I got some images of it when I did. Do I regret not having changed the lens for close-ups on my previous visit? Given the weather conditions that day, no. But now that I have the Olympus SH-1, with its 600-mm zoom, that I carry round as a backup. I would have regretted not pulling that out and using it as an alternative.

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Gritty Gloucester — You Must See It!

OK, it’s stretching things a bit to say that Rockport, Massachusetts, about which I’ve blogged earlier, and Gloucester, its neighbor to the west, are opposites, but these two jewels of Cape Anne are quite different from each other. Rockport is much smaller – you can walk it very easily – and so its charm and character are more evident. Gloucester is larger, more bustling, and definitely – in spots – grittier. Its famous harbor is a working harbor, and the relatively recently completed Harbor Walk (explanatory map brochures are available) takes you on the most delightful tour of everything from the piers to the beaches as well as to the erstwhile home of 19th-century Luminist painter Fitz Henry Lane. Lane’s home, perched on a promontory overlooking the harbor, features a lifelike sculpture of him with a sketchbook in his hands, sketching the nearby Ten Pound Lighthouse.

Virgilio's Italian Bakery offers delicious Finnish nisu bread!

Virgilio’s Italian Bakery offers delicious Finnish nisu bread!

Gloucester (pronounced “Glosta” if you’re in the know) boasts an eventful 400-year history across whose stage have marched everyone from intrepid fishermen to artists of all kinds (the Cape Ann Museum on Pleasant Street houses the largest collection of Lane’s works in the world, but Winslow Homer and William Morris Hunt have also painted here). If you’ve ever eaten Gorton’s Seafood products, guess what? It’s here in Gloucester.  Walk up the hill from the harbor to Main Street and you’ll find signs of an Italian district, including a superb Italian bakery/deli that, somewhat puzzlingly and ironically, sells the most delicious nisu bread, a cardamom-flavored Finnish delicacy that in taste and consistency almost approaches a pastry rather than bread. This extraordinary building, which appears to be standing right in the middle of the harbor, is the historic Tarr and Wonson Paint DSC-0024 blManufactory. Dating from 1874, this factory was known for developing a special kind of paint to prevent the formation of barnacles on the bottoms of boats. As of summer 2013 the building serves as headquarters of the Ocean Alliance, a nonprofit organization that researches ocean pollution. “You can almost smell the water!” Here is a sample of Ed DSC -0048 blGloucester’s fishing fleet. At the end of June Gloucester celebrates the feast of St. Peter — who was, after all, a fisherman — with various festivities, including a contest for climbing a greased pole. The platform for this is in the harbor off Pavilion Beach. Someone told me that in order to compete, you have to be Italian and a fisherman. DSC-0037 blAnother sign of Gloucester’s connection with fishing.  I walked out onto a pier from which to photograph Ten Pound Lighthouse, one of three lighthouses in Gloucester Harbor. (Gloucester’s other and perhaps most famous lighthouse is Annisquam Light, located on Gloucester’s north shore on Ipswich Bay.) I didn’t get a particularly good shot of the lighthouse, but I did notice this nice fisherman’s shack. Here is another of Gloucester Harbor’s most prominent and most intriguing buildings, Cape Pond Ice. They bill themselves, not surprisingly, as “The Coolest GuysEd DSC -0051 bl Around.” They really do sell ice and ice-related products, and they have a “‘cool’ gift shop” and offer historic tours. Well, I hardly need say more to convince you that Gloucester is well worth a visit–oh, but just one more thing. When you’re tired from all that walking and looking and want a place to eat, you can’t do better than the Topside Grill & Pub. Great food, wonderful friendly service. It’s on Rogers Street. Some of these photos are for sale. Just click on the photo to reach the page on my website. UPCOMING EVENTS: For those of you in or traveling to the Catskills region: Saturday July 26 at 2 pm: I’m giving a talk about my book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour at the Golden Notebook bookshop in historic Woodstock. Meanwhile, the Golden Notebook is housing an exhibit of my photography which is up now through at least the end of the month. All prints are for sale. Sunday August 3 from 2 to 4 pm: Opening reception for my photo exhibit  at the Mountain Top Historical Society Headquarters in Haines Falls. The show will run until after Labor Day. I look forward to seeing you!

ROCKport and Gritty Ol’ Bearskin Neck

In my last blog post introducing Rockport, Massachusetts, I mentioned that settlers were initially drawn to the area by two things: fishing and timber. Then, in the 18th century, came the quarries. It’s interesting, given Rockport’s proximity to The Granite State (New Hampshire), that this little nearby village in Massachusetts should have had the reputation for rocks – which is, a lifelong resident pointed out to me, where the name came from – but that’s how it is.

By the beginning of the 19th century, the first granite quarries were developed, and by the 1830s, Rockport granite was being shipped to cities and towns throughout the East Coast of the United States. The Industrial Revolution was on, and Rockport became a major source of the high-grade granite that was now in demand.

DSC-0108 cr - 2 blThe remnants of one of the major quarries can be seen at Halibut Point State Park. The northernmost point of Rockport, Halibut Point is a lovely day (or half-day) outing. I was blessed with great weather the day I visited — the sky and thus the water, as well, were deep blue, and the calm winds allowed me to get this reflection.

You absolutely can’t walk through Rockport village without coming to (and continuing through) Bearskin Neck. Bearskin Neck is indeed a neck that juts out into Rockport Harbor, and it gets its name (so the commemorative sign tells us) from a bear that was caught by the tide in 1700 and killed. For Rockport’s first 150 years, Bearskin Neck was its commercial and shipbuilding center. During the War of 1812 it also had a stone fort to protect against invasion.

I like to think of Bearskin Neck as the “gritty” part of Rockport. It’s where you find fishing shacks (including Motif no. 1) and rows upon rows of very old buildings, now repurposed into interesting shops and restaurants. Here are some of my photos.

These vintage bottles sat in the basement (the windows were just above ground level) of a historic old building in Bearskin Neck.

These vintage bottles sat in the basement (the windows were just above ground level) of a historic old building in Bearskin Neck.

When I photographed the Harbormaster's little boat, it sat just under Motif no. 1.

When I photographed the Harbormaster’s little boat, it sat just under Motif no. 1.

 

To purchase any of the photos in this post, just click on the photo and it will take you through to my site. Thank you!

This fishing shack occupies the pier next to Motif no. 1.

This fishing shack occupies the pier next to Motif no. 1.