I can’t imagine a better start to the day than capturing this image on a perfect morning in Marblehead yesterday.  The road to this shot was long and convoluted – I hope you don’t mind a bit of a backstory…

A few years ago, I happened upon an image by Ulrike Welsch of Abbot Hall and Old North Church juxtaposed so that one couldn’t quite tell which was in front of the other.  The composition was nothing short of brilliant and I tried in vain to figure out where it was taken from.  Fast forward to a recent Farmer’s Market where Uli was displaying her photos and there hung a framed version of the shot.  I spoke to her for a bit and commented on the shot at which point she confided the location but also explained that she used a 500mm lens and still had to crop the final shot (captured on film no less!).  With that conversation, I gave up any hope of trying for my own version of the iconic shot.

During the excitement of the lunar eclipse, I happened to see an image from a local resident taken with a 600mm lens.  Suddenly, the image was no longer out of reach.  A few emails and a quick drive later, I was the temporary caretaker of this incredible lens.  What followed was a scouting mission with my son at sunset to figure out possible compositions and set up the unwieldy lens in the field.  I realized the lens wasn’t long enough and went about searching for an extender to bring the final reach to an incredible 840mm (by comparison, my recent shot of the moon rising over Chandler Hovey was captured at 400mm).  Next came a wait for the perfect conditions.

On Wednesday, October 13, I woke before dawn and headed out of the house with a plan.  I arrived at my destination and set up the tripod and lens while the sky slowly filled with light.  I actually started off shooting toward the rising sun and was treated to a bright red dawn which I hope to post tomorrow morning.  Once the sun was up, I went to work.

The scene before me differed from Uli’s in that St. Michael’s church now had a steeple that lined up nicely with Abbot Hall and Old North Church.  I started off with this image of the three iconic towers in Marblehead in a row with subtle signs of foliage in the foreground trees.  I noticed that birds kept flying on and off the top of Old North Church and so I waited for the moment when they took off and shot this image to add a dynamic element to the static scene.

After capturing this version, I moved a few feet to my left and got a similar compositions to Uli’s iconic shot – I’ll share that one next week.  For now, I hope you agree that this image captures a perfect morning in Marblehead.