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“Deer Amongst The Birches” By Jonathan Steele


It was the second day of a five-day trip to Acadia National Park and Machias Seal Island for research into an upcoming workshop. The day had started two hours north of Acadia along the Bold Coast of Maine, a cloudy, dreary looking day even by Maine coast standards. By 7 a.m., the boat trip from Cutler to Machias had been canceled for the day because of rough seas. The marine forecast for the next few days didn’t look promising either, so off to Acadia I went.

The overcast skies extended down the coast, well past Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, thereby denying any opportunity to shoot the grand scenes Acadia is known for. I had to look for the scenes within the scenes, the macro landscapes as I call them. I started at the active lobstering town of Bernard where the waters in Bass Harbor were smooth as glass. I isolated my shots on the dories moored in the harbor and then the lobster pots stacked on the docks waiting to be hauled out to the deep waters. From there, I worked my way north along the western side of the island to Pretty Marsh, an area I refer to as the Pacific Northwest’s Rainforest of the East.

After shooting the moss overgrowth on the long-since-fallen trees in the Marsh, I headed over to Jordan Pond. Looking for shots that would keep the overcast skies out of my compositions, I spent some time hiking and shooting on the boardwalk that winds through the trees around the pond. It was late afternoon and the overcast skies were starting to break up a bit, I decided to start moving towards the Otter Cliffs for a possible sunset shot. To get there, I had to drive past Sieur de Monts where I instinctively turned in to see what might be.

As I pulled in, I spotted a white tail deer among the birch trees of the grassy area just off of Sweet Water Circle. With my camera on the seat next to me, I realized I had my wide-angle lens attached and knew that I’d need my telephoto. Not wanting to spook the deer, I drove around to the other side of the circle where I stopped, changed my lens and camera settings, shut the radio off and lowered the passenger side window. Slowly driving back around to the side the deer was on I let the car coast until I was adjacent the deer. Curious, the deer raised its head to look at me through the trees. I was able to fire off several shots before instincts took over and the deer bolted deeper into the woods.

What is probably the only series of shots I have ever taken from the driver’s seat of my car, this day, netted me the image I call “Deer Amongst The Birches.”

Equipment & Settings: Canon EOS 6D, Canon 70-200mm, Hand Held, ƒ/8, ISO 1600, 1/200 sec., 180mm

Jonathan’s images along with information on his Acadia and Colorado Workshops as well as his new ebook, Fundamentals from Acadia (Photography Tips) can be found online at or follow him on Facebook.