Casco Bay

Keeping Watch by Todd Henson

Keeping Watch - Portland Head Light watching over Casco Bay

Maine’s coastline can be a rough and rocky terrain, potentially dangerous for the boats and ships that must navigate its waters. Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine, stands watch over Casco Bay and the channel leading into Portland Harbor. Located in Cape Elizabeth within Fort Williams State Park, Portland Head Light is likely the best known lighthouse in Maine.

Being the most popular Maine Lighthouse also makes Portland Head Light one of the most photographed. Most of the photos I’d seen of the lighthouse were grand sweeping landscape images that included much of the coastline and the grand keeper’s house and were often full of bold, vibrant colors. There are some really fantastic photographs out there of this lighthouse. But I wanted to try something with a different feel to it.

Trails follow the coastline in Fort Williams State Park, so I chose a path to the left of the lighthouse. I found a vantage point that let me isolate the lighthouse from the keeper’s house and the other small buildings. I really liked the idea of this lone sentinel atop the rocky coast standing watch over the bay. Late afternoon storm clouds covered most of the sky, with a bit of a clearing towards the left. I liked how this clearing to the left helped balance the lighthouse to the right. And finally, processing the photo in black & white helped add to the mood I was looking for.

It didn’t matter that people were all around me walking the trails of the park. Carefully isolating the lighthouse from the rest of the scenery helped create a quiet, intimate look at a lighthouse and the body of water it keeps watch over.

Keeping Watch is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.


Foggy Morning on Casco Bay by Todd Henson

Black and white image of lone sailboat anchored before island in the fog on Casco Bay. Portland, Maine.

This image, of a lone sailboat in the fog, is one of my favorite views from the train ride on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad along the Eastern Promenade in Portland, Maine. The morning was very foggy and misty, with brief periods of light rain. Many of the views of the bay were obscured, but I felt the fog added a beautiful sense of peaceful serenity, of calm. I captured some views with large numbers of sailboats anchored on the bay, but I was most drawn to this single boat with the island in the background.

Converting the image to black & white seemed an obvious choice given how little color there was in the scene. I was inspired by Michael Kenna in my post-processing decisions. I wanted to draw attention to the lone sailboat so I increased contrast around the boat by raising the intensity of both blacks and whites. I lightened the horizontal band around the horizon just a touch to draw the eye to that portion of the image. I darkened the island slightly to help it stand out just a bit. And I added graduated filters to both the top and bottom of the image to create darker edges that lightened as they approached the boat, again, drawing the eye more towards that region, and accentuating the patterns in the waves and clouds.

Foggy Morning on Casco Bay is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.


Ghost Ship of Fort Gorges by Todd Henson

Ghost Ship of Fort Gorges

This week I share a single photograph I created in Portland, Maine, from Fort Allen Park. It was a very foggy day. My father and I had just visited the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum, riding the train along the coastline looking out at Casco Bay. We’d seen Fort Gorges appear and disappear in the fog. We’d seen ships docked in the bay, and ships moving through the fog from one ghostly location to another.

We hadn’t necessarily planned to visit Fort Allen Park, and really just happened by it on our way out of town. But when driving by I saw views of Fort Gorges in the fog and thought it might make a nice image. So we turned around and found a place to park and watch the continuously changing scene, a faint drizzle, like the fog, moving in and out.

The fog around Fort Gorges cleared slightly, making it easier to see its walls, trees and bushes growing along the top, a flag pole at the end of the dock, and the openings in the wall to the right where some of the 34 10-inch Rodman guns would have been mounted, facing out into Casco Bay. Smaller window slits can be seen on the wall to the left of the flag pole, on the back side of the fort, along with the entrance at the center of this wall.

A new heavy bank of fog began rolling in from Casco Bay to the right of Fort Gorges, and with it, almost seeming to pull it along, was a lone sailboat, my Ghost Ship of Fort Gorges. It moved slowly into the scene, pulling the fog with it, this ghostly apparition sailing by the old ghost of a fort, a fort where no battles were fought and no soldiers were stationed, obsolete before it could ever be used. A ghost ship for a ghost fort. Ghost Ship of Fort Gorges.

Ghost Ship of Fort Gorges is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.