Find The Right Light Friday – Lighthouse

By Lane Erickson

“Lighthouses are not just stone, brick, metal, and glass. There’s a human story at every lighthouse; that’s the story I want to tell.” – Elinor DeWire 

Photography is fun, can be an adventure, but like all art forms, is not always easy. Often, despite our hard work, we just can’t seem to find the right light and great images seem just beyond our reach. Sometimes, even in our photography, we need a lighthouse to help us find our way. 

The Setting

This was true for me one summer day while on vacation with my family on the coast of Oregon. We were staying in Lincoln City, but decided to spend a day in the city of Newport. We went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, spent time on the beach, and enjoyed the shops and stores. 

The problem was, I wasn’t creating any images I was happy with. I was frustrated. Then, to make matters worse, the fog came.

We saw it on the horizon, out on the ocean. Slowly it rolled into town. When it did, the light wasn’t great. 

The Idea

However, with the fog came an idea. When we arrived in town earlier in the day, we’d passed a nature area. On it stood the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. We drove back and began exploring, my family with their eyes and me with my camera. 

The first photograph I took included a small rise in front of the Lighthouse, which I used to block out the people walking around. The image was fine, but I couldn’t put my finger on how to make it better. 

The Image

The fog continued to roll in.  I walked around. Then I saw it. 

I realized as I walked around and looked for an angle, that I was focused on the tall grass more than the building. The light on the building was blah, but on the grass the light was great. So I went with it.

I got down as low as I could, and focused even more on the grass, which caused the Lighthouse to be slightly out of focus. From this angle, I created this image. 

Lighthouse and Grass with Fog

I used the best camera I had at the time which was the Nikon D200. The lens was a 28-75mm f/2.8 Tamron, that was very sharp. The exposure was ISO 100, 1/250 at f/2.8. 

The image may not win any awards, but I personally love it. To me, it captures the essence of our trip. It’s also a reminder that great light is everywhere and strong images can be created at any time. 

So when the light isn’t great and your images don’t seem to be coming together, don’t give up. Keep working. You never know when the elements will come together to help you find the right light, and a great image can be created. 

Always open to comments, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and even your critiques. Have a great Friday and best wishes in finding the right light for your own photographs.


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