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Articles highlighting my photographic style, images, and techniques, photo opportunities at selected locations, with a few tips for photographers on the road.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

St. Augustine Lighthouse Staircase

St. Augustine Lighthouse Staircase

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse, located on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, Florida. The lighthouse, built in 1874, is 165 feet tall, has 219 steps, and 8 landings. I went to the lighthouse while visiting the nearby St. Augustine Alligator Farm for bird photography, specifically to photograph the interesting spiral staircase and interior.

Below are a few images captured during my visit.

Spiral staircase of the St. Augustine lighthouse looking up from ground level.

View looking down inside the tower and spiral staircase.

Inside the lighthouse there may be a wide range of light levels between the somewhat dark interior and the windows and sunlit areas, which was certainly the case when I was there. I successfully used High Dynamic Range (HDR) techniques to create the image below, but, in any event, use of a tripod is recommended to allow for the bracketing needed for HDR or slower shutter speeds. This works best during a time when there are no or few other visitors inside the lighthouse because the staircase vibrates when anyone is climbing the stairs.

A view of the spiral staircase, window, and the outside world.

On the Road

For RV’ers and campers visiting the lighthouse or St. Augustine, here are a few places to be aware of:

  • Anastasia State Park – located adjacent to the lighthouse has 139 sites which provide excellent access to the beach and St. Augustine, which is 10 minutes away. This is a very popular beach and campground, so sites may not be available without a reservation.
  • Faver-Dykes State Park – approximately 20 miles away, is a smaller park with 30 campsites in a residential area just south of St. Augustine off of US 1. The park is quiet and peaceful and is a good location for nature observation. I had armadillos come through my site when I stayed there.
  • Flying J St. Augustine – located approximately 15 miles from the lighthouse, provides all the usual services and amenities for RV’ers.

Click on the photos above for more information, click the link in the caption to see all photos of this lighthouse, or click here to see more images of lighthouses.

All images © Clarence Holmes

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West Quoddy Head Light Station

West Quoddy Head Light Station

West Quoddy Head Light Station

The West Quoddy Head Light station, located in Lubec, Maine within the confines of West Quoddy Head State Park, is a unique and picturesque place to visit. The light station was established in 1808 mainly to protect ships passing through Quoddy Narrows between the mainland and Campobello Island (a distance of 1-2 miles), but also to protect ships passing through the Grand Manan Channel between the mainland and Grand Manan Island, in the Bay of Fundy (approximately 9 miles away). The red and white candy-striping was added to the lighthouse in 1858.

The location of the light station is the easternmost point of land in the US, and therefore sees the sunrise before any other place in the country. Good images can be captured from the parking lot or from the road leading down to the light station. There are also hiking paths leading along the shoreline from which images can be made.

For the curious, there is an East Quoddy Head Light Station which is located across the narrows on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada.

Below are a few images of the West Quoddy Head Light Station.

West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec, Maine with Venus rising prior to sunrise. The water is the Grand Manan Channel with Grand Manan Island in the distance.

West Quoddy Head Light as the sun rises over Grand Manan Island

West Quoddy Head Light in pre-dawn light

West Quoddy Head Light protects the easternmost point of land in the United States.

West Quoddy Head Light station on a sunny, almost clear day

On the Road

A great place for RV’ers and campers when visiting this part of Maine is Cobscook Bay State Park, which is located on Cobscook Bay, approximately 30 minutes from the West Quoddy Head Light station. Many of the 106 sites are large and secluded. The park is a great base for exploring this part of Maine for photographers, birders, and kayakers and the park is also close to the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, just across the border in New Brunswick. Also, since there are no large cities nearby, the park is great for star gazing and capturing images of the night sky. This is one of my favorite state parks that I have visited.

Click on the photos above for more information, click the link in the caption to see all photos of this lighthouse, or click here to see more images of lighthouses.

All images © Clarence Holmes

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San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm

One of the interesting sites to be seen when traveling on interstate I-10 in southern California is the wind farm in the San Gorgonio Pass. The San Gorgonio Pass, located in the Coachella Valley, runs between the San Bernadino Mountains and the San Jacinto Mountains. The Coachella Valley because of its location between a desert climate to the east and more temperate coastal climate to the west, generates the sustained winds required to drive the wind turbines in the wind farm, producing electricity to serve the needs of nearby Palm Springs and the surrounding region. The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm is one of three large wind energy facilities serving southern California. The other two are the Altamont Pass Wind Farm and the Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm. Combined, these three facilities provide approximately 95% of California’s wind energy.

I first saw the wind farm when driving from Arizona to Los Angeles on I-10. It is impressive to see the over 3,000 massive wind turbines, the largest of which are over 300 feet tall with blades 150 feet long. The turbines are on either side of the road and up the slopes of the mountains as far as the eye can see for many miles.

I was able to spend some time shooting at sunrise and during the day with varying cloud cover conditions. One of the tips here is to choose a shutter speed which will lead to the sense of blade motion that is desired. A faster shutter speed to freeze the motion, a slower shutter speed to show some blade motion, or an even longer shutter speed to make interesting images with the blades blurred in a full circle. On a bright day, even with a small aperture of f/16, or f/22 and low ISO, neutral density filters may be needed to reach the target longer shutter speed. Some experimentation is certainly called for to create interesting effects.

Below are a few images of the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm.

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm turbines, silhouetted against the sunrise colored sky

Massive wind turbines cover the valley and nearby mountain slopes

Some of the over 3,000 wind turbines in the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm turbines are up to 300 feet tall with blades 150 feet long

A single wind turbine with the San Jacinto mountains in the background

Wind turbines with low clouds over the San Jacinto mountains

Click on the photos above for more information or click here to see more images from the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm.

All images © Clarence Holmes

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Tarrytown Lighthouse

Tarrytown Lighthouse

Tarrytown Lighthouse

[June 2011 Update: I have been able to revisit the Tarrytown lighthouse and capture additional images on less hazy days than on the day of the original post.]

Today I visited the Tarrytown Lighthouse, located near the village of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County, New York. It sits in the Hudson River just off shore from Kingsland Point Park, which is a Westchester County Park.

The lighthouse went into operation in 1883 and played a vital role in helping to safely guide traffic through this part of the Hudson River. It was finally decommissioned in 1961. Originally, the lighthouse was 400-500 yards offshore, but over time landfill closed the distance considerably. It now is closer to 50 feet off shore, and is accessed by a foot bridge from a path connecting with Kingsland Point Park. Much of the area between the shore and the lighthouse was occupied for over 80 years by a sprawling General Motors assembly plant, which closed in 1996, and has since been decommissioned and razed to the ground. The Tarrytown Lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is currently managed by the Westchester County Parks Department.

Photograph of Automobiles on the Frozen River, ca. 1912

Automobiles on the Frozen River, ca. 1912
(William J. Cannon/Westchester County Archives)

The weather for the day was warm for a November day, with temperatures in the 60s, and the forecast called for partly cloudy skies. The cloud cover turned out to be more hazy than was forecast, so the nice views of the New Jersey Palisades which I had envisioned were, for the most part, obscured.

The images captured while the sun was still high above the horizon reflect this haziness in the sky. An interesting observation was the appearance of concentric rainbow-like halos and “sun dogs” or parhelia around the sun, formed by the reflection of light through ice crystals in the atmosphere. The haziness provided some color to the sky in the late afternoon approaching sunset.

Scale Drawing for the Tarrytown Lighthouse

Scale Drawing for the Tarrytown Lighthouse, 1985
(A. Gismondi/Westchester County Archives)

Good shooting locations are along the shore of the river in Kingsland Point Park and, if the gate is open, along the path leading up to the lighthouse. Since these are mostly views looking south/southwest, in both morning and afternoon, the sun will be arcing in the sky behind the lighthouse. Other views are possible from the New Jersey side of the river or from ferries/boats/kayaks on the river.

Below are a few images taken from Kingsland Point Park and the path leading up to the lighthouse.

Tarrytown Lighthouse and footbridge connecting to shore, on the Hudson River near the village of Sleepy Hollow, New York.

The Tarrytown Lighthouse under a hazy sky near sunset. A sun dog (parhelion) is visible to the left of the lighthouse.

The Tarrytown Lighthouse with the Tappan Zee Bridge in the background.

The Tarrytown Lighthouse and Tappan Zee bridge during evening twilight with the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Click on the photos above for more information, click the link in the caption to see all photos of the subject, or click here to see more images of lighthouses.

All images © Clarence Holmes (or attribution as noted in caption)

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Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse

Jeffreys Hook Lighthouse

Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse

Having lived in the New York City area now for almost 30 years, I decided it was time for a visit to the “Little Red Lighthouse”, otherwise known as the Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse. The lighthouse is located in Fort Washington Park under the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. To many, it is known because of the children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hildegarde Swift.

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

The best views of the lighthouse from Fort Washington Park are facing west or northwest, so in the morning, with the sun at your back, the lighthouse and views west will have good lighting. Note that there is a security guard stationed at the base of the George Washington Bridge who may politely notify you that photography of the underside of the bridge support structures is forbidden (due to terrorism concerns post 9/11).

For access to the lighthouse:

  • Follow 181st street toward the river, and turn right at the wall overlooking Riverside Drive. Down the hill there is a pedestrian bridge over the Henry Hudson Parkway. Follow the winding path down to the lighthouse.
  • Follow the Hudson River Greenway north from Riverside Park, or any other access point. This is a great way for cyclists, runners, in-line skaters, etc. to reach the lighthouse from farther south in Manhattan.

More on the history of this lighthouse can be found on the NYC Parks website.

Below are a few images captured this morning.

Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse on the Hudson River, with the New Jersey Palisades in the background.

Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse on the Hudson River, under the George Washington Bridge.

The George Washington Bridge spanning the Hudson River from Manhattan to Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse

Click on the photos above for more information, click the link in the caption to see all photos of the subject, or click here to see more images of lighthouses.

All images © Clarence Holmes

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