I’m spinning my archive. The good thing about living in Maine for a while is that you got to visit lighthouses in inclement weather. Fog is always a hard subject. The other element is the light itself. Then to blend soft light and focused detail is harder yet. I let the camera figure out the exposure. I just fixed the compositional elements. In that instant I got the shot I wanted. It’s good.
There is a distinct advantage to having a local lighthouse to visit. While I was in Maine I took advantage of the less than sunny days to visit the Portland lighthouse. Fog, snow, and rain became part of the inventory of interesting images. I always saw tourists in a hurry, drive up, photograph the lighthouse, hop in the car, and drive away again. I never even had the chance to point out the best show was at their feet in the reflections of the tidal pools on the rocks below. On the days when the reflection was sharp because the wind was still, you got that signature shot everyone looks to get.
I’m not one to camp out and wait for sunset, or to wait hours upon hours for the clouds to arrange themselves for my image. And I’m not a fan of changing things in Photoshop. I prefer drive by shooting. Hey, it works for me. I can appreciate some images that were made by others who toiled and waited…. just not me.
If you just look down at the tidal pools, there’s a reflection to reward you. On a sunny day a polarizing filter will get you a more distinct image. Either way try to break out of the typical tourist mode and get something different.
Sometimes you never know how things will come out. I was pleasantly surprised to get the lighthouse detail of this shot in the early morning fog. We were in Lubec, Maine and I’m shooting to the Canadian side lighthouse. It has that little red crest that they like in Canada. The shot is too centered. My bad, I’m still an amateur at that time. It’s film not digital, so there’s no way to know whether the shot is good until much later. I look at the old shots and am pretty amazed to have such nice slides. I really trusted to luck back then. There was some skill, I suppose. To me it was like conducting a photo experiment. The results would come back months later. You needed a lot of patience. In those days I was already developing my own slides. So I would shoot enough to make it worthwhile to mix up a batch of solution – usually about 60 rolls. That could take about half a year. As I said I was patient… and careful. You have to hold the water temperature to 100 degrees plus or minus a tenth of a degree. Yes, I did it… nerve wracking but I did it.
We are at the eastern most point on the north fork of Long Island. It’s the terminus for the ferry. This ferry has had a significant part in our lives. It connects Long Island to New London, Connecticut. It is the way to summer camp, friends, skiing, Maine and so many events. It’s not a regular trip but we’ve made it often enough for the scene to be familiar. Like everything else, I take a picture of the lighthouse on each trip. Sometimes you like the shot better than others.
Under the George Washington Bridge. On my last day in New York, the kids and I rode our bikes to the GW Bridge. It was my last outdoor bike ride for now. As part of our ongoing silliness project, the kids ‘jumped’ in front of the Little Red Lighthouse. It took a few tries to get this one. I had a Canon G11 with the usual fractional timed shutter delay. You’d be surprised but a jump doesn’t last but a moment and to get both kids in the air was more challenging than I expected. Anyway, I got the shot. Since then I have gone to the other side of the globe and Julia will land in Africa in a couple hours. This is a memorable moment on many planes.
West Quoddy Lighthouse, Lubec, Maine. Ah, old age. I was incorrect in the original post and described this light as on Campobello Island. I have been there too. I guess I have been to too many lighthouses in one day and got them mixed up. Fran Corriveau pointed out my mistake. No doubt she is more familiar with the area than I am. Thanks and many apologies to the kind folks in Maine. The image remains the same, just the location is different.
Yellow goldenrods are in the foreground and all around on the hill surrounding the site. My father used to suffer greatly from summer allergies. Fortunately I’m not affected too badly. The Ram Island Ledge lighthouse is in the background as a speck. I’ve never been able to figure out how to get both lighthouses effectively on the same frame. Since I lived in Maine for a couple years, I had an opportunity to visit this lighthouse many times in different seasons.
Portland Headlight, Maine. I will post a summer photo. So this is my autumn storm photo. It’s high tide and the weather is blustery. You can catch the umbrella action close by to the building. And, the light is just now coming around into view.
Portland Headlight, winter. Well I guess it’s no secret with the snow. It’s not as popular in the dead of winter although the kids like sledding on the hill nearby within the park. The Ram Island light is a bit easier to see.
Bass Harbor lighthouse, Acadia, Maine. This is another classic shot. It’s one of the best views you can get from land. I have seen better shots with snow or sunset or better clouds. This image is mine. I was there.
The first time I saw the Marshall Point lighthouse my friend Bob made us drive out of our way from Port Clyde. It was kind of him, since the other passengers were more about getting to brunch. The fog blocked out any visibility. The fog horn wailed its warning periodically. I have returned many times since, but I still remember that first visit.
This was for fun. I took the Owl’s Head Light photo and superimposed a texture upon it. The rocks were from the same area. I put a little halo vignette around the light. Clearly it is manipulated and stylized. It was my computer desktop for a time. Then other things became more interesting.
This is the Owl’s Head light. It is at the mouth of the harbor. You can just see the Rockland Breakwater lighthouse from here, just not in this picture. Because of location and accessibility, lighthouse pictures tend to be classics that are done over and over. This angle is no exception except that I was there and I took the picture. Somehow I have ownership and have documented the experience. It’s better than looking at the picture in a book.
Another time, another year I visited the Pemaquid lighthouse in Bristol, Maine. And again there was a reflection waiting. Sometimes the breeze is too stiff to give you a good one. I use a polarizing filter to dial the reflection in. Some patience is required to wait for the breeze. Fortunately I did not have an impatient family clamoring to move on.
Owl’s Head lighthouse, Rockland, Maine. Once a year I’m told, the lighthouse is open for tourists to climb the tower. It’s not much height to the top. But it is fun to see the light up close. This is the one and only time all year. I didn’t plan to be there but I was happy to climb up. The sunlight shining through was warm enough for me to imagine how much heat there must be when this light is in action.
This reflection is enhanced with a polarizing filter. I generally carry on just for this occasion. It will nicely enhance the lighthouse and block out some glare from the water. The small ripples from the breeze are just right. If it were a perfect reflection I would wonder about image processing.
This was a favorite lighthouse for me to visit in Maine. It just wasn’t too convenient to drop in on frequently. Here again I especially liked the pools that would reflect the image of the lighthouse. There were no restrictions except for common sense when climbing around on the rocks.
There is a Little Red Lighthouse that sits right under the George Washington Bridge. Yup, it’s the subject of a children’s book. Built in 1880, it was moved to this location and later decommissioned when the lights of the bridge overwhelmed it. The site is not easy to access. Yet, everyone seems to know about it. I have known about it but have never visited until now. David and I biked along the Hudson River path. There’s a killer hill to ride up and out if you go north, which we did.
Lubec, Maine. Looking across a narrow body of water from Maine – bay or river, you are actually looking at Canada. Lighthouses look just a little different there. It’s Campobello Island, famous mainly as a retreat of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Fog is tricky thing to photograph. Surprising to me is the amount of detail retained in the image. This was a slide taken many years ago during the same memorable bicycle trip. It’s early morning, just as the sun is beginning to burn away the fog. The soft pastels of color and the detail of the lighthouse are an event not easily recreated.
Rockland, Maine. There is a long jetty that protrudes into the harbor. At the end is a lighthouse. We were visiting some very close friends and had made the long walk over the rock jetty. There was a sailboat exhibition. So, many of the shots were of the boats and lighthouse. Inside there were glass bricks and the sailboat just sailed into my picture. How convenient was that?
I like this spot. It is a bit out of the way. You need to keep an eye on the map and travel down a peninsula to the end. The lighthouse sits up on a bluff. There is a long rock ledge that leads down to the sea. It’s popular so there are always folks climbing around. Photos are taken from every angle. Once again, I suspect that most people miss the reflection in the pools that collect. When the wind is calm it is always nice to catch the reflections. It is very helpful to enhance the contrast with a polarizing lens filter.
For a while I was an enthusiastic roof top container gardener. Ever on the lookout for something more exotic than petunias, and impatiens, I found African daisies in the garden shop. I nurtured them and photographed them all summer. I had to check because there are variations of this daisy. Yep, there’s an example on the internet. And, everything on the internet is true, right? I love the delicate central flower detail. I couldn’t find this plant every year so this was special.
One more Maine shot. Portland Head Light is picturesque and sits in Fort Williams Park. Because of its easy accessibility many shots of the lighthouse have been taken in all lighting and weather conditions. I’ve been there to many times to count. There are several overlooks parallel to the height of the lighthouse on the cliff. And I been down below to get an image looking up the cliff. Numerous busloads of tourists disembark for ten minutes or so and rush up to the fence to have their photo taken with the lighthouse in the background. They look forward but never down. There has always been a small tidal pool at the base of the cliffs. When the wind is calm this reflection is always available and gives a much different and unique look to the mood of the lighthouse. I watch everyone rushing to get an image without pausing to appreciate the moment. Well, one definite aid to enhance the refection is a polarizing filter. It will make the lighthouse really pop from the water. Otherwise, you only have to look down to get the shot.