'First Light' photos capture national park's natural beauty

Sunday, September 14, 2003

From dawn to dusk, the landscape of Maine's Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island offers a variety of breathtaking views that conjure the feeling of a safe haven -- indeed, of home.

Those views are displayed in "First Light," a glossy, colorful coffee-table book that not only catches the eye but makes an honorable attempt to inform readers about the importance of protecting the land.

The book's 128 color images depict the wonder of Acadia's ecology in its many facets. Photographer Tom Blagden Jr. spent three years on the project, which reveals the natural beauty of Acadia during each season. He focuses on conservation of the environment, capturing its raw beauty in images so luminous that some look like oil paintings.

A fiery dawn breaking over Egg Rock Lighthouse, Frenchman Bay and Schoodic Peninsula displays the grandness of the open sky. The emerging sun seems to rage at the manmade lighthouse, while the purple sky symbolizes nature's position of royalty and ruler of life -- something often forgotten in this high-tech world.

Text by Charles Tyson Jr. brings this message home -- although at times, it seems, a bit too forcefully. Tyson is a member of the Friends of Acadia, an organization that raises funds to preserve and protect the park.

Besides its plea for saving the park, the text explores the discovery, history and diversity of Acadia, and is accompanied by appropriate images.

Blagden's photos of animal life are especially noteworthy since some of these creatures rarely appear in the presence of humans. Images of fox kits and a litter of mallard ducklings show their silky coats in shimmering detail while reminding readers of the animals' vulnerability in a changing environment.

Frozen in time is the power of the surf as it storms against Ocean Path's rock wall, creating a mist that makes it look like nature's spa. Sunrise along Ocean Path captures a feeling of solitude as golden sun is reflected off the pink rocks and blue water, with the surrounding deep green pines serving as a gateway to this paradise.

The exhilarating yet serene atmosphere of Acadia is captured perfectly through Blagden's lenses. It's a place for which a visitor could become homesick, and "First Light" is a book that brings it all right into the home.