Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Faces of St. Marks Lighthouse

Click on a photo for a larger view, then use your BACK button to return to this blog.  Enjoy!

A friend recently asked if I had any photos of the St. Marks Lighthouse, a local icon at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  Over the years, I have made quite a few photos of this beautiful building so I started looking through my archives and found some to send him.  I picked out ten. Some are classic postcard --"ahhh, wouldn't those make a nice gift card set?" -- while others are unique or unusual (even arty) perspectives. Let's start with a panorama.

This image I made one clear evening from the observation tower next to the lighthouse.  It is a high dynamic range composite of 15 images blended and stitched together, creating a huge finely detailed photo that is capable of any size enlargement (like, really BIG).

 Anyone heard of the Rule of Thirds. No subtlety here. This shot I made back in 2005 at a high tide sunrise with my first digital SLR camera.
 From east of the lighthouse in early light (my favorite time of the day), this image catches the sunlight raking (and showing off the beauty of) the saltmarsh grasses.
After one amazing day at the Refuge photographing a surreal sunrise, black skimmers, fishing dolphins, and a pretty sunset, I turned around (after sundown)  to see the "lighthouse in blue" from a viewpoint I had never before noticed.
Lighthouse pond is nearly always full of action with wading birds, sea birds, ducks, and osprey, so on this morning I set out to highlight the birds in a vista with the lighthouse.
Many visitors enjoy the walk east along the coast from the lighthouse, leaving a well-worn trail.  Looking back up the path which led my eye right to the tower, and then to the lovely reflections in the pond, the photographer-in-me said 'nice composition'.
Nearly a year ago, early one morning I set out to photograph the fall migration of the monarch butterflies and include the St Marks Lighthouse to give the photo a sense of place.  The butterflies had been plentiful in the preceding days, but many must have started across the Gulf just before I got there.  The shot I want will look something like this, but with many more monarchs clinging to the juniper.  (Maybe next month?)  Not that this shot failed.  I liked the graduation of color in the sky and the position of the butterflies, but I want more of them.
One full moon evening a few years ago, the St. Marks Photo Club gathered at the lighthouse.  As we stood offshore in the dark behind our tripods, we wondered if the moon was going to show given all the clouds in the east.  It peeked through a window for a few minutes and here's what I got.
Not long ago, the club lent a hand at clearing a small peninsula in the waterway along the road to the lighthouse and added a bench to make a new observation point.  This early morning was my first photo visit to the spot, and I was stunned by the perfect conditions and reddish light.
And finally, my March 2011 Super Moon photo.  Crystal and I drove down near Shell Point to a spot where the lighthouse was but a distant speck on the horizon in the east.  The hype was that this full moon would be the largest in my lifetime.  So I had my biggest telephoto lens and extender and set up my tripod a full hour ahead, having picked a spot where I thought the moon would rise directly behind the Lighthouse.  It didn't work out perfectly - does it ever? -  but I was happy with the results.  I wrote the full story at a previous blog you can find by clicking on this image (in caption text).
Ten photos of the same thing... hope I haven't bored you.  Really, it is a pretty stunning lighthouse with many moods, faces, and changing light.  Make a trip to see it ... or at least order some prints for your wall or a gift...
Oh, and please leave a comment here if you'd like.  I read and appreciate them all!