Cape Elizabeth Icon

Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

No visit to Portland, Maine is complete without a visit to nearby Cape Elizabeth and its iconic lighthouse, the Portland Head Light. While there are numerous lighthouses along Maine's rugged coast, this is one of the largest and arguably the signature lighthouse of Maine. The light is surrounded by a huge park where visitors can picnic and engage in recreational activities. Although I didn't shoot this in soft early morning light (I was actually scouting for the next day), it is still a pretty impressive structure.

Clearing Fog

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero, California

One of my favorite scenic drives was when I visited California for the first time and took the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco on California Route 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway). Being the first time on the west coast, I fell in love with that drive. Whenever I traveled to the west coast on business, I always managed to get there a day or two early to hop onto the highway. There are so many things to see and visit that it is hard to pick one that is my favorite. It is no secret that I have a love of lighthouses. That being the case, it would be hard to leave off the Pigeon Point Lighthouse pictured here off of any list of places to visit on the Pacific Coast Highway. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse is arguably one of the most picturesque lighthouses on the Pacific coast. Built in 1871, the tower measures 115 feet tall that seems even taller as it stands on a rocky promontory above the Pacific Ocean below. It is located just south of San Francisco outside the town of Pescadero. This particular morning, we left Monterey with my brother-in-law and his family and headed to San Francisco. The weather was quite foggy and a bit wet when we left and, along the way, my brother-in-law hopped off the coast onto a major highway. Knowing that the Coastal Highway can clear at any time, I stayed true to my route and by the time we reached the lighthouse, the fog was clearing. Sometimes, perseverance for the shot works out.

Empty Benches

St Catharines, Ontario

A quick post and run today. This image was taken during last year's trip to shoot Niagara Falls. After shooting the falls at sunrise, I headed out to St Catharines and Lake Ontario to see what I could find. I stumbled on this marina that had a long jetty along with two lighthouses. The marina was surprisingly deserted and I really liked these benches that extended out toward the lake with one of the lighthouses in the background.

Sandy and Lighthouse Reflections

Cape May Light, Cape May, New Jersey

Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast unlike ever before. Particularly hard hit was the Jersey Shore. I grew up in South Jersey and remember spending over 15 years vacationing in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island. I haven't been back to Beach Haven since I was a teenager but still have fond memories. My wife and I still have large families in New Jersey. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law own second houses in Wildwood and Cape May respectively. I was happy to hear that they had minimal damage to their houses. I was actually visiting New Jersey the weekend Hurricane Sandy was headed there. I went down to visit my Mom and catch an Eagles game with my brother-in-law. Needless to say, I never made the game as I hightailed it out of there back to Connecticut after helping him put up a tarp to block some of the rain (the tarp actually survived the wind).

I hope that the Jersey Shore recovers quickly and becomes even better than before. I haven't shot there in a couple of years so I am posting a re-edited image. This image is of the Cape May Light reflecting brightly after a big storm the night before. At least for me, it is symbolic that the Jersey Shore will shine again soon.

Blustering Wind

Fort Pickering Light, also known as Winter Island Light, is pictured in this image on a very windy day near Salem, Massachusetts. The lighthouse is located just offshore Winter Island which is now connected to the mainland. Winter Island was the site of Fort Pickering which is now abandoned. The 28 foot light was built of iron lined with brick in 1871 to serve as a guide into Salem harbor. The original lighthouse keeper was a Civil War veteran who watched the light from 1871 - 1919, only being absent for 5 days during that period. It was later taken over by the Coast Guard who abandoned the light in 1969.

Fort Pickering Light, Salem, Massachusetts

Run, Forrest, Run

Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, Maine

Those who regularly follow my blog know of my fascination with lighthouses. I am not sure exactly why. Maybe because they are quickly becoming relics of the past with the advancement of GPS electronics or because they are often built in some wonderful location or maybe because most of them have stories of sunken boats and how they were built to save lives. Whatever the reason, whenever I travel, I always am on the lookout for them. On this particular trip to Maine, we had stayed in Camden and were on our way south. Rather than hop on the interstate, I chose to hug the rugged Maine coast, stopping at lighthouses along the way. When we stopped at this particular lighthouse, the Marshall Point Lighthouse on Port Clyde, it looked so familiar even though I hadn't been there before. Then I read a sign in the museum and it came back to me. The light was featured in the movie "Forrest Gump" (one of my favorites). In the movie, Forrest starts on a 3-year run across the country and back. When Forrest hits the east coast, he stops at a lighthouse (the Marshall Point Lighthouse), turns around and starts running to the west coast.

Cape May Light

Cape May, New Jersey

This image is from the southernmost part of the Jersey Shore in Cape May. The Cape May Lighthouse was built in 1859 and continues to provide light to the cape. The light is the third of its kind although the first two would be under water today due to beach erosion. The lighthouse tower is about 157 feet tall. The walls were designed to withstand winds several times above hurricane force. The lighthouse is owned by the state of New Jersey. This image was taken from the grounds of the lighthouse shortly after dawn. The light gave the clouds some wonderful color that acted as a nice backdrop to the white lighthouse tower.


Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown, Rhode Island

We finish the week of touring New England on the blog by visiting the Ocean State otherwise known as Rhode Island. I know some of you might ask, "What about Vermont? Isn't it part of New England?". The answer is yes and I plan to post an image from Vermont on Monday. Now to the tip of Rhode Island to view a closeup of the Beavertail Lighthouse located in Jamestown. It is a unusual lighthouse in that instead of the typical circular shape, it is actually a square structure. It offers a panoramic view of the Narragansett Bay. The lighthouse is surrounded by rugged rocks on three sides as can be seen in this previous post.

This is the third iteration of the lighthouse with the first one originally built in 1749. Alas, it was made of wood and burned down four years later. It was rebuilt in 1753 and lasted until 1856 when this iteration was built. It stands 45 feet tall and its light is on 24 hours a day.

Lake Ontario Reflection

Fort Dalhousie Harbor Lighthouse, St. Catharines, Ontario

Last year, I headed out to Niagara Falls to photograph this wonder of nature. I had been to the falls in the early 90s on a family vacation but was not taking photos at the time. I spent a couple of nights at the falls (travel tip - go in April on the Canadian side - I was able to book a hotel at the edge of the falls for $120 including a breakfast buffet). The best time to photograph the falls is early morning or late evening, so what is there to do during the day? I headed out to the town of St. Catharines located on Lake Ontario. I had remembered seeing images of the two lighthouses in the Port Dalhousie section of town. When I got there, I spotted two piers that extended into Lake Ontario. For some unknown reason, both of the lighthouses are on the same pier rather at the end of each pier. This image is of the lighthouse at the very end of the pier. It was very windy and the water was splashing over the side of the pier. In between splashes, I was able to catch this shot of the lighthouse its reflection in the pier.


Portland Head Light, Portland, Maine

Quick post and run. Lot's going on today as my niece is getting married and the house I am staying in will be crazy. Arguably the signature lighthouse of Maine, the Portland Head Light is actually located outside of Portland on Cape Elizabeth. The lighthouse is surrounded by a huge park. This image was actually taken on my scouting trip for the following morning pre-dawn shoot. The day was beautiful and, although it didn't have the soft early morning light, I was pretty pleased with the result.

Acadia Guardian

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Acadia National Park, Maine

The cliffside Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park marks the entrance to Bass Harbor on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island. This composition is the only decent view of the lighthouse as all other perspectives are really unappealing. The challenge, particularly ay sunset, is getting to this vantage point. There is a slippery climb down from the parking lot and trying to find any spot among 40+ other photographers that can fit there. I was fortunate to get one of the last physical spots on the rocks and, even then, it was hard to get a shot without someone's head, arm or other appendage in it. The light is a wonderful place to shoot and my advice is to get there very early before the parking lot and the rocks are overflowing.

Island Protection

Nubble Light, York, Maine

I first visited this lighthouse on my tour of New England lighthouses with my son as he searched for a location for his movie short. While we loved the light (known as either the Cape Neddick Lighthouse or Nubble Light), my images were pretty awful as it was mid-day and the light and glare was terrible. I decided that I needed to revisit sometime in the future. That chance came in the fall during a vacation with friends. We were staying in Kennebunkport and decided to take a boat tour out of Perkins Cove in Ogunquit to see the island from all sides. The tour is a nice way to spend an afternoon seeing the beautiful Maine coast and it's most southern destination is the lighthouse. The tour circles the island (or at least 90% of it) before heading back to Perkins Cove. The best vantage point, whether it be from a boat or on land, is this one that shows the full lighthouse.

The Other Side

Portland Head Light, Portland, Maine

Today we revisit the Portland Head Light located outside of Portland, Maine on Cape Elizabeth. Arguably the signature lighthouse of Maine, it is often seen from the vantage point of this earlier post. The lighthouse is surrounded by a huge park and the parking lots are located on this side. What many people don't realize is that there is a trail that leads away from the lighthouse along the cliff. It is from the "other side" that I went to after taking the first series of shots. As you can see, the view of the lighthouse is very different but no less beautiful. Just goes to prove to look at a subject from all angles.

Iconic Pemaquid

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine

Okay, I admit it. I am fascinated by the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. I visited and shot the lighthouse four different times in 2011 in all types of weather except snow. This is amazing to me as I had absolutely no plans to visit Maine in 2011. I have posted four very different images of the lighthouse from the inside to the great view from the rocks below. To date, I haven't posted the iconic view of the lighthouse until today. Why? I wanted this perspective of the lighthouse to have a great reflection with very little wind in terrific light. I had given up hope that I would catch the right conditions but I convinced my wife and friends to take a detour to the lighthouse on the way from Camden to Newcastle. The ride turned out to take much longer that I thought. They probably would have made me turn back, but when driving down the northern side of the Pemaquid Penisula, there are very few choices to cut across to the other side. When we finally arrived at the lighthouse, it was late afternoon when the light is really good from this vantage point. I knew my time was limited given the looks I was getting and I quickly scrambled down the rocks, hoping that the wind was still. As you can see, it was.

I know many of you are as crazy as me to "get the shot". If it wasn't for the support (and patience) of our spouses and friends, we wouldn't be successful in pursuing it.

Spiral Staircase

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine

As many of you who follow my blog know, my favorite lighthouse in Maine is the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. Today, I have decided to take you inside of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was commissioned in 1827 by John Quincy Adams and built that year. While the lighthouse appears to be tall as it sits high on a huge rocky promontory, it only measures 30 feet. To enter the lighthouse, you go through the keeper's house which is now the Fishermen’s Museum at Pemaquid. The museum contains displays and artifacts of the lighthouse and local maritime history.

This image is looking up the spiral staircase to the light itself.

Island Light

Nubble Light, York, Maine

After viewing Steven Perlmutter's wonderful shot of Nubble Light Monday, I took a look at one of the images that I shot there this past August. This image was taken during my tour of New England lighthouses with my son as he searched for a location for his movie short. Since the light was located on an island, he didn't consider it seriously since getting all of the equipment onto the island would be a logistical challenge. We were actually planning to skip visiting it, but he changed his mind and wanted to take a look. Once we got to the light, we fell in love with it. He wanted me to take some photos but I really didn't want to as it was mid-day and the light and glare was terrible. He insisted, so I snapped a few hand-held 5-bracketed series that he could refer to it when we got back home. After editing this particular image, I wasn't happy with it and simply put it out of my mind until Monday. After looking at it a second time, I realized that it wasn't that bad and it actually had a fairy-book story feel to it. I decided to post it today and see what everyone thinks about it.

Early Morning Sentry

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine

Today we are headed back to one of my favorite lighthouses, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. I wanted to show a different perspective of this lighthouse. There are two classic views that are normally captured. The first one is from the vantage point from the rocks on the southern side, which usually has the lighthouse reflected in the collected water. The other classic view is from the rocks on the other side that show the strata in the rocks that lead toward the lighthouse and the sea.

This perspective is from the ground level and is probably the best angle to capture the early morning sunrise. While it doesn't have the drama that the rocks provide from the classic shots, it is still a pretty sight with the right light. This particular morning, the skies had cleared up significantly from the night before (check out this post for the previous night's weather). The warm glow from the rising sun cast a wonderful light on the scene and promised a great day ahead.

Sunrise at Portland Head

Portland Head Light, Portland, Maine

Arguably the signature lighthouse of Maine, the Portland Head Light is actually located outside of Portland on Cape Elizabeth. The light was initially commissioned by George Washington in 1787. The light stands 80 feet above the land and 101 feet above the water. Edward Rowe Snow wrote about the light: “Portland Head and its light seem to symbolize the state of Maine—rocky coast, breaking waves, sparkling water and clear, pure salt air.” The lighthouse is surrounded by a huge park and when I visited it the day before to scout, it was swarming with people. I was sure that I would not be alone the next morning when I went to shoot the light at sunrise. Much to my surprise, the only other person there was a cameraman from the local television station who must have been telecasting a live shot of the light. As a result, I had the run of the park and shot the light from all angles. This is the first one that I have posted and it is the most familiar composition. The sunrise was beautiful and it was very serene except for the fog horn which blasts every 15 seconds 24 by 7. Look forward to posting other compositions of this wonderful light in the next few weeks.

Stormy Skies at Pemaquid Point

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine

Today's post is another in my series on New England lighthouses. Located at the tip of the Pemaquid Peninsula, the lighthouse sits above the Atlantic Ocean as a beacon to passing ships. This is the same lighthouse whose reflection I posted a few weeks ago. This image was taken the night before as part of my scouting out the location. I wasn't planning to shoot any photos as it rained pretty much the whole 5-hour trip from CT and the wind was blowing pretty hard. My main goal was to pick some vantage points for the next morning's shoot. As I looked around for a way to climb down the slippery rocks, the stormy skies began to lighten. I decided to grab my tripod from the car and finally found a relatively easy way to climb down. As I began to compose the scene, a break in the clouds on the horizon added some great contrasts to the sky. I am always surprised that some of my favorite images come when I least expect them.

Path to the Light

Eastern Point Lighthouse, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Continuing our New England lighthouse tour, today we visit the Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester, Massachusetts. This is the third lighthouse to reside on this spot and was built in 1890 (the original light was built in 1832). The location of the lighthouse is at the entrance to Gloucester Bay and watches over very treacherous waters. In fact, between 1830 and 1910, 779 vessels and 5,305 persons out of Gloucester were lost at sea. If this lighthouse looks familiar, you may remember it from the movie, The Perfect Storm. This image was shot from the breakwater that extends into the harbor. The 2,250-foot breakwater was built using 231,756 tons of Cape Ann granite blocks to protect the harbor. Before the breakwater was completed, nearly forty ships had crashed into it, demonstrating the need for a light to mark the outward end of the obstacle, and one was added in 1905. Today, visitors and fisherman frequent the light.

If you are interested in visiting the lighthouse, follow Eastern Point Blvd. past a beach on the right and the main road will turn to the left. Continue to the right on Eastern Point Blvd. through the granite pillars (ignore the "Private - No Entry" sign as it is not a private drive). Follow Eastern Point Blvd. to the end and park in small parking lot next to the breakwater.