A Gray Afternoon at Rockport, Massachusetts

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© Paul Mozell – article and photographs – all rights reserved

Even in a year when the New England spring has been unusually cool and gray, the coastal town of Rockport beckons my camera.

A peaceful sea wets the rocks of Halibut Point, Rockport, MA

Halibut Point, Rockport, MA

From July through September, downtown Rockport is usually packed with tourists who fill the art galleries and the ice cream shops on Bearskin Neck. Motif Number 1, the bright red shack in the middle of Rockport Harbor is recorded again, and again by photographers and painters. The old shack, which is always kept in good repair, is appreciated by artists for its uniform geometric shapes and angles. But, few visitors venture off the beaten path in search of other coastal scenes. On this day, I was specifically hoping to avoid the picture postcard scenes and perfect blue skies. The gray days pose more compositional challenges for the photographer, when the bright colors of late spring and early summer can’t be relied on for a photographic “wow factor”.

Anchor chain and weeks

Anchor chain and weeks

A drive north on Route 127 takes you past many cozy little harbors populated with lobster boats, old dingys, rusty boat ramps, creaking piers, the remains of once-proud boat yards, and a wealth of photographic opportunities. This is where Rockport and parts of Gloucester resemble the Maine coast to the northeast and its hundreds of fishing towns and villages. My eye is so often drawn to the relics of the old days, when fishing—not tourism—was the true backbone of the economy here.

Lobster boats at rest, Rockport, MA

Lobster boats at rest, Rockport, MA

These days are tough for the the fisherman of Gloucester who run the big boats out to Georges Bank in search of halibut and cod. Tight Federal regulations and reduced fish populations have dramatically impacted their take-home pay. I understand however, that the lobster population is still healthy, and prices are acceptably high.

Bows of lobster boats, Rockport, MA

Bows of lobster boats, Rockport, MA

I ended my day of shooting at Halibut Point State Park, a gem of a place, with adjoining sections managed by the The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and The Trustees of Reservations. You can photograph the water-filled remains of an old granite quarry, stroll gravel paths through lush coastal forest, catch the scent of a wide variety of wildflowers, and be amazed by the 270 degree panorama of Massachusetts coast from the high point of land.

The rocky coast of massive granite boulders at Halibut Point, Rockport, MA

The rocky coast of massive granite boulders at Halibut Point, Rockport, MA

As shown on a helpful informational panel on the grounds, the view to the northeast encompasses portions of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts coast a rare view indeed. On this heavily overcast day the view to the horizon was still exceptionally clear, and I could see all three states.

From Halibut Point, Rockport, MA, you can see the coasts of Maine, NH, and MA

From Halibut Point, Rockport, MA, you can see the coasts of Maine, NH, and MA

All photographs taken with Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-70, Nikkor 70-300, Gitzo tripod, Manfrotto ball head. Files processed in Adobe Lightroom 2.0 and Photoshop CS3

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