Photographer Cate Wnek has not always lived in Maine. However, immediately upon her first visit Cate found herself at home. “It was love at first sight. Landing over the bright blue Portland Harbor, eating on a foggy lobster pier, and seeing the golden grassy fields was all I needed to do to make the decision to spend my life in Maine.”
Cate’s photography captures much of the natural beauty of the northern US state that she lives in, but the images that she creates which include water are particularly captivating. When asked what she thinks about when pondering the waters of Maine, Cate explained “Ever changing in textures and hues. The waters in Maine are so alive with color and movement. Truly seeing the water here is like noticing and appreciating light. The water is just as playful and gorgeous, from before sunrise to after sunset. There is intricate interplay between the light and water, often sparkling, veiny, and beaming as the light passes over and through… There is tremendous visual variety to explore across the marshes, rivers, estuaries, inlets, lakes, oceans and even the tidal pools in Maine.” Recently, Cate purchased underwater housing for her camera and has been infatuated with the way that light and water play together, under the surface. The underwater images in Cate’s portfolio demonstrate her appreciation, as she treats the scenes with a special dreamy, otherworldly touch.
Including water in images is a wonderful way to add variety, movement and unique beauty. Cate encourages photographers to spend time getting to know the behaviors of the location they plan to photograph, watching and noting the changes that occur over day and season. “For example, I know that on a clear day in Maine, the water is almost always calm in the morning. A steady breeze comes along in the afternoon, which usually calms again by evening. My favorite time to shoot is when the water is calm because it gives the best reflections. I love to see the sky and my children reflected on the surface. When the sun is low on the horizon, there is beautiful sparkling on the surface, which makes for beautiful bokeh or starbusts, depending on what aperture I am using when shooting.” When shooting underwater, pointing the camera up towards the light can help to capture the sparkly bokeh created as sun glints off of water and exposing more deeply will allow a photographer to emphasize the depth and form that the light brings to the scene.
For those who are pondering a trip to Maine, Cate has few tips about locations to check out:
-Personally, for ease and accessibility, I love a beach we can drive onto in our town, called Stover’s Point. It is a quick 15 minutes from our house. It has a small tidal inlet that my children love to ‘surf’ when the tide is beginning to go out. I love to go to this spot when fog is lifting and the sun is beginning to come out. The water is quite calm here as well. When it is too cold to swim, my children love to find rocks and sea glass along the shore. It is a part of our local land trust, which includes several waterside locations with trails and places to explore.
-A location that I have just re-discovered with new eyes is Popham Beach in Phippsburg. It’s a beautiful state park with vast expanses of sand and space. When the tide is moving out, the reflections of people and the sky are so dramatic on the wet sand as the waves roll in and out. There are surrounding islands with spruce trees all around. It is quintessential.
-My most favorite spot to photograph is on Long Pond on Mount Desert Island, which is surrounded by Acadia National Park. We have rented a camp on this pond since before my husband and I were married. It has a breathtaking view of Mansell and Bernard Mountains and a dock for swimming which stretches across a submerged granite slab. From dawn to dusk, this spot is positively radiant and magical. The water is so clear that it is easy to see my older son jumping off the dock with all his style from beneath the surface! They love to snorkel here. Maine lakes are incredibly clear and fresh. It is the highlight of the year to photograph my two children in and around this water.
If you’re heading out to the water with kids, Cate recommends bringing along nets, buckets, shovels and snorkeling gear. A variety of accessories will give the kids options, whether they want to play in the water, or beside it.
Thank you for the tips and inspiration, Cate, and for sharing some of the incredibly beauty of your corner of the world with Let the Kids!
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