« West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

Lubec, Maine

I’d had this photo in mind for about a year and I was finally able to make it happen recently, but not without quite a few challenges. First there’s the porcupines, which for anyone who visits this lighthouse at night knows all too well. They don’t run at you but you have to be careful not to walk into them, especially in the bushes that I had to go through to get to this cliff where I was standing. But the worst problem was the dew in the air, my lens would fog up very quickly. It wasn’t a problem for the sky exposures, but the foreground exposures were a challenge. I couldn’t get a long exposure in without the lens fogging over pretty badly, despite wrapping chemical handwarmers on the lens.

Side note: The “light beams” from the lighthouse are real, they are caused by the intense and very directional light being broken up by the window posts in the lighthouse, and show up like this in a long exposure.

So in order to get some shots of the foreground that weren’t washed out with fog I used shorter exposures at high ISOs, wiped off the lens, and then took another shot. These shorter (60 second and 120 second) exposures didn’t have as much fog, and using the stacking method in Photoshop I was able to get a median of the exposures, resulting in less noise. Load the layers into a smart object, set the smart object blend mode to median, and you have less noise. Unfortunately I didn’t take enough of these high ISO foreground exposures, I could have used a few more to get the noise way down. You can’t tell in this small image but this is one of the most noisy images I’ve published, but it’s mostly limited to the rocks and water in the bottom of the image. I used Nik Dfine to lower the noise but it’s still a bit of an issue. The sky is rather clean due to the same stacking technique.

This is one of the only night photos I have that was shot at 24mm. Usually I shoot at 14mm to get a big sky, but I liked the composition from this angle better at 2

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