The Casco Bay Bridge
Portland Harbor is nestled in the chilly island-dotted waters of the Casco Bay. The “Casco Bay Bridge”, or referred to as the “Million Dollar Bridge” to locals swoops off the southern slope of Portland’s old port, climbing over it’s bustling waterways of commercial and recreational vessels and lands in Knightsville, a little village in South Portland.
I’ve been walking and cycling across the Casco Bay Bridge for over a decade. I lived in South Portland for many years and worked full time in Portland. When I moved to Portland for I found work in South Portland, so I know this bridge well. My wife and I met when we worked together in South Portland. We would walk over this bridge many times a week. It was the beginning of a connection that grew into friendship which grew into love and later marriage and a family.
Throughout the years when I would cross this bridge the Eimskip terminal always intrigued me. It stood as a colorful meditation on the wonders of the modern shipping industry. I can't help but think of all those things that most of us, myself included, take for granted that are coming and going in those containers. Bobbing and steaming to and fro the arctic circle via Iceland and beyond to China and Europe and to all corners of the globe. As a landlubber I am confined to roadways, pathways, bridges, sidewalks and boardwalks. That great blue expanse on the map is nothing but a barrier. A pretty barrier mind you, but a barrier nonetheless. I find myself often times gazing at a map thinking “If I could cross that little blip of water I would be at my destination just there over the small blue expanse, but instead I have to traverse miles and miles down stream, cross a bridge and traverse miles miles up stream". But the boatmen tell a different tale. The oceans and river-ways are a superhighway to him, and the J Pictor, EIMSKIP’s largest vessel in her fleet is a fine specimen to navigate those highways.
I've been plotting this photo shoot for a few weeks now. After pouring over the EIMSKIP schedule, comparing it with my own schedule I settled on the date and time: August 23, 2019 at 5:00 pm. It turns out the Pictor J was due to arrive that day. The EIMSKIP schedule didn't say what time she would arrive, so I guessed that the high tide mark would be a good time to setup. A week prior to shooting I spent a few hours on an afternoon scouting out a good position and settled on a perfect local right in the center of the bridge. I was hoping for a more comfortable spot either under the bridge, or across the water on the banks, preferably a place I could comfortably sit, but I had to go with the shot and say to hell with my comfort. I did find a concrete barrier to lean against.
I arrived an hour before high tide and the Pictor J was already being loaded. My guess is she arrived many hours before and was already offloaded.
I was very lucky with the weather, which provided a comfortable temperature and beautiful cloud cover. Although I was a bit nervous about hanging on the bridge for many hours, the experience was quite pleasant.
I met a few interesting folks walking across the bridge asking me about my project. One fellow warned me that there were a "family of spiders" that inhabit the area where I setup my gear. To be honest I thought maybe he “lost the plot”, but later on that evening as the sun was receding in the west, low and behold a family of really big spiders appeared right next to my tripod! What I love about Time lapse photo shoots is I get to spend so much time in one place. The man who warned me about the spiders knows this bridge so well that he has observed a family of spiders. He has spent enough time crossing and recording this bridge that all the various organisms that dwell there were familiar. It makes me ponder on all the hours I breeze through without noticing all the layers of life going on around me. The busy fog creates this tunnel vision where we forget that we are all connected in so many various ways.
About the song that went with the video: I recorded a few tunes, but I wasn't happy with any of them. I went through my tune archive and decided that this song “Cosmic Gypsy" was perfect. It was apart of my “31 Tunes in 31 Days" challenge back in 2016 (it was day 2).
What I Learned: Every art project I learn something new. This is what I learned from this project:
In ever changing light environment, decrease your intervals to about 200-400 shots (depending on how quickly the light changes), take a new reading and change the aperture accordingly.
Take notes of what the thought process behind the project was and what I experienced while the camera is clicking away (that’s why this blog entry is chock-full of information).
Bring more chocolate.
Thanks for visiting! My next project I’m thinking about making a longer eight hour timelapse. I set a goal to post a video a week, but this next one may take a little longer since I have to take a full day. Stay tuned!