Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA by Michael Thomas

Picture Story

On the grounds of Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth. During the day, the lighthouse and park are swamped by busses of tourists as well as locals enjoying the trails and ball fields. Luckily by sunset, the crowds are mostly gone. Until recently, one has had to clamber over a chain link fence to get to the rocks that offer the classic view. The old fence has been replaced by a modern pole and cable fence with a gate! Much appreciated by those of us of a certain age. However the view from the north side of the lighthouse is also nice and is only a short walk away.

Since the park is closed and gated sunset to sunrise, one has to be quick to capture color when the sun is just below the horizon. I usually stop in Cape Elizabeth on my drive from Maryland to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park but somehow have never been here at sunrise. Seeking to rectify that, I arrived just before dawn with a few other cars just in time to see one of the caretakers unlocking the gates. We all made a beeline for the lighthouse parking lot only to be enveloped by a thick fog. Hopes for a magnificent sunrise dashed, I headed out on the rocks anyway and waited. It became quickly apparent that the rising sun was burning away the fog at a rapid clip. This image was taken shortly after I arrived at my favorite spot, but I still had plenty of time to walk to the north side of the lighthouse and shoot there for a few minutes before returning here for a second round of fog.

The lighthouse and its environs have so much character that a colorful sky isn’t necessary to keep a viewer’s attention. The powerful light shining through the fog is plenty evocative of what lighthouses are all about.

This image is a single exposure with an ND filter to smooth out the water. In Lightroom a gradient and adjustment brush were used to control the brightness of the sky, primarily towards the rising sun.

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