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Sunset at Quakish Lake

A close-up of "Sunset at Quakish Lake" by Aaron Priest: an ultra-high-resolution VAST photo.
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179 megapixels! A very high resolution, large-format VAST photo of sunset over Quakish Lake in New England; fine art landscape photograph created by Aaron Priest in Millinocket, Maine

Sunset at Quakish Lake

Millinocket, Maine

Standing at the edge of the Quakish Lake, you would not know of the treasure that lies beneath, or the commercial industries that have grown and faded over time. This 1,021 acre reservoir in Millinocket, Maine, is a favorite fishing spot amongst the locals. With an average depth of 18 feet and a shore line of almost 17 miles, the bottom is lined with over a million cords of wood that have sunk and been resting there for more than a century. The lake used to be a holding area for logs floating downriver to the Great Northern Paper Company in Millinocket in the early 1900s. Railroads and interstates did not exist yet to transport logs and so rivers and lakes were used. The wood is remarkably preserved by the deep, cold water and lack of sunlight and oxygen. Recently, the lumber has started to be dredged and is highly sought after all around the world for its unique color variations and patinas. What cannot be used for lumber is turned into pulp, biomass to heat local homes, and even shavings for animal bedding.

I had been exploring this area, shooting panoramas at a nearby foot bridge earlier in the afternoon, when I struck up a conversation with some hikers that were passing through and vacationed here every summer. I like to engage with locals and learn more about a region I’m photographing to discover secrets they hold. They knew about this peaceful spot at the end of a peninsula that had a wide, sweeping view of the lake where they liked to fish, and told me of a pair of eagles that lived on a nearby island and loved to swoop in and steal the fish!

I arrived about an hour before sunset and had plenty of time to just sit and take in the scene before setting up the camera. It is an amazingly tranquil and quiet view. I didn’t see the eagles, but there were a couple of loons in the distance making their customary haunting call at sunset. I chose the framing of my image from the dam on the far side of the lake 1.6 miles away to the fallen tree 160ft away that had not yet succumbed to the water’s depths, leaving a couple logs at my feet as a foreground, and waited to see what magic light might transpire. I didn’t have to wait long and I was rewarded with a beautiful palette of pinks and blues as the sun set below the trees behind me.

I spent the next twenty minutes shooting long exposures so the surface would look as smooth as glass and reflect the fallen tree and islands in the distance. I bracketed three exposures to capture the entire dynamic range between the bright sky and dark foreground. I didn’t want to rush, but the gathering mosquitoes and dimming light encouraged me to shoot and pack up quickly!

Camera settings: 70mm, f/9, ISO 640, and 3 exposures spaced 1.3 EV apart from 5 to 30 seconds.

Stitching data: 2 rows of 10 images x 3 exposures for a total of 60 images.

Equipment used: Nikon D700, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod & leveling base, Panoneed robotic panning head, and Promote Control. RAW conversion with Lightroom, exposure fusion with SNS-HDR Pro, aligned with PTGui, and manually blended via masks in Photoshop.

Date & TimeMay 28, 2013:  7:48pm
LocationMillinocket, Maine
Coordinates45.636111, -68.763333
Focal Length70
Shutter Speed30 sec
Number of Exposures60

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Total Pixels179,188,240
Horizontal Pixels23,408
Vertical Pixels7,655
Aspect Ratio3.06 : 1
File Size1,024 MB
Width @ 300ppi (perfect)6.5 feet
Height @ 300ppi2.13 feet
Width @ 150ppi (near-perfect)13 feet
Height @ 150ppi4.25 feet

Date & TimeMay 28, 2013:  7:48pm
LocationMillinocket, Maine
Coordinates45.636111, -68.763333
Focal Length70
Shutter Speed30 sec
Number of Exposures60

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Photo id: 10268