Birch Point State Park – Tintypes

Birch Point State Park, Tintypes, 3.5 x 4.5 inches

Every once in a while I get the urge to go out in nature, to some extent or another, and spend some time just seeing what’s there to be seen. After spending the summer surrounded by hundreds of people, dozens changing every week, and no time to speak of in the lab to make photos for myself, I had a daydream of heading out to Birch Point State Park and making tintypes for a day.

Birch Point State Park, Tintypes, 3.5 x 4.5 inches

At first I wasn’t by myself, as I had envisioned, but I had been having dinner with a good friend and realized it was a small compromise with myself to invite him along. We did have the beach to ourselves for a short while, but despite it being a weekday after Labor Day, the parking lot and beach filled up pretty quickly.

I was able to set up my darkroom in a little out of the way space, and made a few photos of the beach without people showing up in the images. (I was not in a portraiture mood…or so I thought. More on that in a sec.) When the sun got too high overhead I went into the woods and photographed ferns and roots. I spent the entire day within probably 100 yards of my darkroom. (And that was not the area I had even planned on going to – so there is more I still need to explore visually.)

Birch Point State Park, Tintypes, 3.5 x 4.5 inches

At lunch my friend suggested getting a burger at the Owls Head General Store, which turns out to have “the best burger in Maine”. It was pretty good! He took off after that, so I was on my own for the afternoon.

Many people were interested in what this guy with an apron and rubber gloves was doing running around the beach with a big tripod and is-that-a-camera? view camera. I spoke to several of them, with often amazing results.

Birch Point State Park, Tintypes, 3.5 x 4.5 inches

One couple asked if I was “making pintypes…pinholes…?” I offered: “tintypes? Yes, I am. Do you know of them?” “We’ve been subjects!” I started to realize this may be a small world conversation. Sure enough, they had been guests at a wedding where Kari had made tintypes of the guests.

Birch Point State Park, Tintypes, 3.5 x 4.5 inches

[The blob in the center is actually a small pool of water in a fissure in the rocks, surrounded by bright green seaweed.]

Another woman was interested in what I was doing, and mentioned along the way that she was taking a course in October taught by somebody… starts with a K. “K-E-R-I, maybe?” (Kari is teaching a workshop in October.)

I hadn’t really made any images that bowled me over. Maybe one of the beach from early in the morning. Then as I was talking to the woman about the Workshops and photography I realized I couldn’t resist making a portrait of her and her four children as they scrambled around the beach.

It turned out to be my favorite photo from the day, and made me realize making portraits is maybe what I should have been doing all day after all.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jason Philbrook

    Indeed it’s a small world. I live a half mile up the coast and visit there regularly on foot, in all weather. Haven’t run out of B&W photo creative possibilities yet, and if there are people there, there’s a fair chance I’d know a few of them. Indeed a good spot.

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