Stunning. Inspiring. Astonishing. Well, I really don’t have adjectives sufficient to describe the photos by Tom Blagden, Jr. in a new book, Acadia National Park – A Centennial Celebration.
Tom has been a professional nature photographer for 35 years, concentrating on Maine, South Carolina, and Costa Rica. I have honestly never seen photos this stunning. From gorgeous sunsets to an amazing photo of a herring gull chasing an osprey that has an alewife in its claws, I spent a lot of time savoring each photo.
Linda and I now have the book on the coffee table in our living room, where we flip the page each day to enjoy a different photograph. All of the photos were taken in and around Acadia National Park, and the book was published as part of the park’s 100th anniversary.
Six essays by writers with personal connections to the park are included in the book. Christopher Crossman, Dayton Duncan, Christopher Camuto, W. Kent Olson, David Rockefeller, Jr., along with Blagden, tell the history of the park, the story of its founders, the importance or private stewardship and philanthropy there, and it’s uniqueness.
I particularly enjoyed Blagden’s essay in which he relates some of his encounters with wildlife, including a close up view (and photos) of a peregrine falcon. Getting close ups of the fastest bird in the world is quite an achievement! But Blagdon also raises some serious concerns about the park.
He was taking photos from the east shore ledges on Ocean Drive when 13 people were swept off the ledges and into the sea by a massive set of waves. Most were rescued, but one seven-year-old girl drowned. “Nature’s ferocity is as seductive as its beauty,” he notes. The photo of crashing waves brings that story right into your head and heart.
“In our parks we want people to experience wildness, if not wilderness” he says, “yet one of the biggest challenges is protecting us from ourselves. Issues of overcrowding, drugs, and accidents can exhaust the management and budget of our beleaguered parks.”
“We must grapple with how we define our national park experiences,” he reports. “Like other early parks in America, Acadia was created in the historic tradition of saving a place for its scenic grandeur and aesthetic beauty, protecting it simply for its monumentalism. Now with its roads, small scale, and millions of visitors, Acadia is far from a true wilderness, becoming instead a vistage of its once-wilder self. Yet, it still offers the glorious opportunity to feel wild.”
As far as the book is concerned, Blagdon says, “I photograph to create images that inspire people to make those journeys and immersions by evoking a landscape that is temporal, forever dynamic, vulnerable, mysterious, unbounded and, above all, humbling. The goal of this book is not simply to reveal Acadia, but to affirm a sensuous, shared vision, a connection to Acadia that stirs us to discover our own wildness there. That wildness, in turn, will empower us to demonstrate that we are somehow worthy of Acadia.”
Well, with this book, Tom and his friends have achieved that and a lot more. It’s a book Linda and I will enjoy and treasure for many many years, share with friends and family, and then pass on to our children and grandchildren.