The Coast of Maine|
Carl Heilman II
Rizzoli, 240 pp, $17.95
Award-winning nature photographer, Carl Heilman, II first visited Maine in 1976. During college semester break, he and his sister drove the coast from Kittery to Acadia where they were the sole campers in the Blackwoods campground. Maine presented them with sub-zero weather the entire visit--twenty-five below in Acadia--but they were not discouraged. They stayed and explored until time ran out.
Today, Heilman and his wife, Meg, visit Maine annually from their home in the Adirondacks. Photographing for The Coast of Maine, however, was a special trip. It gave Heilman an opportunity to "explore much more of the coast and learn about the wonderful diversity of the residents, villages and terrain." Such a working visit gave the photographer an increased awareness of the immenseness of his subject. "It's only 278 miles on a direct route from Kittery ...to West Quoddy Head Light, the easternmost point in the lower 48. However the same area encompasses about 3500 miles of convoluted shoreline--not including that of the 3,000 offshore islands."
The photographs in this oddly diminutive book (just over seven by five inches) confound their format. One of Heilman's specialties is the panoramic shot for which he uses a special camera and lenses. The intensity of a seven by five panorama is extraordinary. The viewer wants to bring the little book up to his nose and jump in. Even familiar scenes become almost unrecognizable through the several lenses of Heilman's camera. Heilman shoots village scenes, architectural details, panoramas, wildlife, beach scenes and all the glorious natural phenomena from sunsets to fall foliage in a way that is as fresh as the moment. Always, the angle, the special lens, the emphasis on textural contrasts, and the intense color saturation bring a whispered "wow" from the reader/viewer as he turns each page. The unexpected size of the book is a stroke of genius. It creates an intimacy that makes the viewer/reader feel he is taking the trip along with the photographer--but with a hugely enhanced vision.
The book is organized into four sections by geography--the Southern coast, Mid Coast--both mountains and islands, Acadia and Mt. Desert Island and Down East There are no stock shots. Heilman acknowledges the considerable help of local people along the way who brought him to their own special spots--which fills the book with surprises.
The Coast of Maine is marketed by the publisher as a "keepsake album for anyone planning or dreaming of a visit to this glorious area" but the fact is it will be treasured by locals and visitors alike for Heilman's superior skill and vision and for the almost rapturous appreciation for his subject that his work consistently conveys.