From a photographers’ point of view, Maryland is one of the most widely diverse states in the entire country, which is impressive given its diminutive size. If you started out heading west on Route 50 in Ocean City, onto route 97 up to the Baltimore Beltway, then took route 70 out to 68, exiting into West Virginia, it would be six and a half hours of constantly changing terrains, environments, and uniquely interesting places to photograph.
Just in Central Maryland alone, there are countless places to visit which could keep a photographer busy for season after season. Some of them, however, are “must-sees” for anyone who considers photography a hobby. If you’re one of those people, here are 5 places in Central Maryland which you must visit to shoot:
1) Annapolis. You could spend your entire lifetime photographing just parts of this incredible little capital of the state. Home of the Naval Academy, and self-proclaimed “Sailing Capital of the World”, the town boasts an endless number of marinas from which to shoot infinitely different waterscapes featuring boats sailing into and out of their dock. For the photojournalist, the downtown area, while quite small in size, offers endless quaint brick and stone streets funneling you from the outskirts of town into the center of it all at the main downtown harbor, which is littered with eccentric shops and outdoor dining. Cross the Spa Creek bridge, and you can track down the perfect spot to shoot the harbor, and sun setting over the capital building as sail boats pass you by in the foreground.
In doesn’t really matter whether you’re a photographer or not, Annapolis is a must-see for anyone.
2) Jones Green State Park. A stone’s throw from Annapolis, this little state park sits on the Severn River, neatly tucked underneath the Naval Academy Bridge (route 450). One one side of the bridge there’s a view of the Academy across the river, on the other side an iconic view of the Severn’s natural beauty. If you’re shooting wide waterscapes, you will most likely be dodging fisherman perched over the dock or along the beachside…or making them part of the scene.
Many photographers also choose to include the bridge along the south side of the images, which provides some interesting architectural spice into an otherwise purely natural landscape. Given that you’re looking predominantly west, if you choose a night where Mother Nature cooperates with the setting sun, you can be treated to some memorable experiences at dusk.
3) The Late-Summer Sunflower Fields. Every summer there are farms all over Maryland which grow sunflowers…the one I frequent is in southern Harford County, on the corner of Jarrettsville Pike and Hess Road, right across from the Royal Farms gas station. If you go, bring a ladder and walk to the top of the hill. You will be awestruck by the enormity of the seemingly endless rows of sunflowers.
It’s also a great place to grab a family photo…there are people all over the place taking in the scene, and I’m sure anyone would be more than happy to help grab a picture of you and yours with the field as a beautiful backdrop. And, the kids will have a great time running through the maze of flowers.
4) The Federal Hill Skyline. Baltimore City offers all kinds of interesting landmarks to photograph…and one of the easiest to get to is the skyline of downtown Baltimore from the top of Federal Hill. It’s easy to reach…simply park alongside any of the roads in the Federal Hill neighborhood. And it’s the perfect scene for a panoramic shot…as well as a nice opportunity to work on cloning in Photoshop, as the lights which illuminate the volleyball courts below stick up and get in the way of the scene, especially at night when they’re on.
Late afternoon/early evening shots are perfect (depending on the time of year), as you can grab the sun setting behind the buildings on the left. Sunrise is OK also…the sun rises off to the right, away from the skyline…but as the sun rises up, those fresh rays of light illuminate the buildings and cast a pleasant, warm glow over the architecture.
If it’s a partly cloudy day, try a long exposure…it will add the element of movement as the clouds will appear to be “stretched” out. A long exposure at night will create laser beams across Fort Avenue, Light Street and Pratt Street, as moving cars end up looking like beams of light when the shutter stays open and records them moving across the scene.
5) Kilgore Falls. Saving the best for last…this is my favorite location to shoot in Central Maryland. The falls are tucked away inside the northern portion of Rocks State Park, a moderately painful jog from Street, Maryland. There’s a small parking lot off of Falling Branch Road (the Falls are a part of the Falling Branch tributary)…park there, walk a quarter-mile along the easily navigable trail, and you’re treated to a beautiful waterfall that offers many different vantage points for photographers. You can shoot it from downstream (the south)…the falls looked tucked away behind an enormous boulder which sits directly to the right. To shoot it from the left is tricky, as there’s very limited space to situate yourself and your tripod, and the rocks there are perpetually slippery. Shooting it head-on is possible from many locations, but getting close-up requires some careful footing, as those slippery boulders offer up an interesting way to leave you with a week-long limp.
The best times to shoot the falls are late in the afternoon, around sunset, or early in the morning just around sunrise, which offers diffused, warm lighting…and the best season is the fall, when the foliage around the scene offers up the opportunity for a beautiful wide-angle image.