Light over the Sea
With the holiday season in full swing, it seemed an apt time to check out the Christmas lights adorning Nubble Lighthouse during this festive time of the year. It was a cloudy evening, and the threat of rain was in the forecast, but it looked like I could squeeze a quick photo shoot in before the impeding storm. When I arrived at the lighthouse around sunset, I was surprised by the agitated seas across the waters of the Gulf of Maine. Large waves were crashing against the coastline, and large rolling swells could be seen out to the horizon.
As impressive of a sight as it was, I figured the only challenge would be keeping a safe distance above the shoreline as I worked to find a composition of the lighthouse before darkness set in. However, as soon as I stepped out of the vehicle I was met by ferocious winds out of the northeast. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been unexpected with the incoming storm and the large waves, but it certainly caught me by surprise! I became concerned that I would not be able to keep my camera steady enough for a long exposure in such wind, but since there was nothing I could do about the tempest, I set out to find a relatively sheltered spot.
This would prove futile, for the few spots where shelter could be found provided rather poor views of the lighthouse. I accepted that I would have to attempt to photograph in the face of the winds and soon found an attractive composition. After a few exposures, each of which was blurred by the wind shaking my camera and tripod, I abandoned the location and quickly began to search for another possible spot. I settled on a composition featuring some of the rocks that were lying in front of me, with the illuminated beacon and dark clouds rising up in the background. I was able to capture a couple of sharp frames here, though I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the resulting image so I set about to find another location.
A few more failed attempts later – again due to the wind incessantly shaking my camera and blurring the images – I gave up on the idea of getting a crisp image and decided to try my hand at an entirely different one. As I was searching for a composition of Nubble Light, I noticed Boon Island Lighthouse, which sits about 6 miles offshore, flashing its light across the wave-tossed sea. I was intrigued at the idea of capturing this and quickly made my way to the most protected location I could find on the southern shores of Sohier Park.
I managed to find a deep ravine, though it seemed impossible to completely get out of the wind, and pulled out my 600mm lens to zoom into lighthouse. The light was getting very low now and I bumped up the ISO so that I could maintain a fast enough shutter speed to still get a sharp image. I fired off a few exposures using different shutter speeds to see what effect it would have on the large, rolling swells. I tried to time the exposures with the flash of the lighthouse, while also keeping an eye on the ever changing foreground of the sea.
I spent about 20 minutes and captured dozens of versions of this scene before it became too dark, but found one image that depicted exactly what I was looking for when I began to set this composition up. Beyond catching the flash of the lighthouse, the faster shutter speed also allowed me to freeze much of the wave action in this scene.
After this, I packed my gear away and headed back up the rocky embankment toward the parking lot. I debated attempting another image of Nubble Light until the strong northeasterly winds buffeted me once again. I decided it was time to retreat and head for the warmth of my car.
If you wish to purchase a print of “Light over the Sea” by Dominic Trapani, check it out on our gallery here