At the very southern tip of New Jersey lies Cape May and its lighthouse first established in 1823. It is the most southerly lighthouse capture for Stars and Lights. The present tower was opened after erosion and shoddy construction led to the demise of two previous ones. The lighthouse is cared for by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Center and sits on state park land. There was a six-week permitting process to shoot on the property and was specific to one night only. We had been having unfavorable and cool summer weather but finally the pattern changed and we were able to agree on a shoot night with short notice. In talks with the caretakers, I asked about lights on the property and was told there were only two small lights and shouldn’t cause any problems. Upon arrival, I found the lights and they certainly weren’t causing any issues, but what I also found were five extremely bright streetlights on the surrounding state park property. There was no way to turn them off as well as no other choice but to shoot what was being offered. I’ve had the great opportunity to teach several classes as the Rhode Island School of Design and often offer students my three rules of lighting: “Control. Control. Control.” Now, here in the middle of the night and six hours from home with a limited-use permit was the worst-case scenario for the project. While striving to get the most beautiful images possible, I must also remind myself the other mission: to document these lighthouses at night. While not the best image of the collection, it does offer historic proof of its purpose. To capture the beam the camera ISO was pushed higher allowing a faster shutter but eliminating most visible stars on this mostly cloudy night.
Cape May, New Jersey July 21, 2017 1:01am78° no wind
Nikon D4, 14m lens ISO 6400, f2.8 1.6secs