Dec 29, 2014

Behind the Image: Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse

Last week I got up in the wee hours to photograph The Nubble Lighthouse at sunrise. Lighthouses are a favorite photo subject for local and travel photographers. I planned the photo tour so that I would arrive at twilight well before daylight. In fact I was hoping to capture the lighthouse with its Christmas lighting on full display but while driving towards the location I started wondering if the town would turn off the lights at night to save energy. Upon arrival that suspicion was confirmed; Bummer! I will have to come back either this year or next year to capture my initial inspiration. However, I faced the matter and got ready for shooting at sunrise. I explored the seacoast to find a suitable location and composition that would capture this historic lighthouse in a new way. I finally climbed down near the edge of the Atlantic Ocean where a single, large boulder was constantly hit and surrounded by the incoming ocean surf. I decided it would make for a fine foreground feature and immediately got to work. I equipped my Canon camera with a wide angle lens that allowed to feature part of the Maine seacoast, Nubble Light and the sun rising above the horizon. As exposure times increase with the amount of available natural light I decided to use a neutral density filter. This type of filter limits the incoming light on the sensor and cut down the shutter speed to 20 seconds with an aperture setting of f/11 at ISO400. 20 seconds is plenty of time to create silky water effect of the Atlantic Ocean. The second challenge was presented in the form of high contrast between the dark seascape foreground and the bright morning sky. I solved this problem by using a split density filter and before placing the ND filter I metered the exposure on the darker ocean and seacoast. Then locked the exposure and moved the gray shaded area of the ND filter across the sky while the clear ND filter area covered the darker foreground areas. What a great morning it was after all; Maine, always worth experiencing!

Back at home I followed my routine post processing workflow where I cleaned up the image from dust spots, minimally adjusted contrast, lighting and color saturation before sharpening the final image of this historic Maine landmark of the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse.

Good light and happy photo making! 

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