The wholesome appeal of an American lighthouse is rooted in history, safety and clarity. Why? The lighthouse showed marine navigators the safe way to shore before the days of radar and sonar. Their sturdy towers braved storms and endured decades along rocky coasts overlooking perilous seas. Today, their physical appearance on a sunny day is wholly in line with these historic values. The scene of the lighthouse on the coast is rendered in a palette of red, white and blue with a foundation of green earth. The lines are crisp and defined. The mirrored light is its clear focal point. When clouds gather around the light house, their drama gives contrast to the tower’s steadfast stability. Let’s take a close look at Kilauea Lighthouse on the north coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Cliffs and beaches of the north side bear the brunt of severe winter storms, and Kilauea stands tall on a cliff-edged peninsula. As I shot this close-up with a 200mm lens, I had a bird’s eye view that a gave me a background with more ocean than sky. The sun was low in the west, shining brightly on the west face of the lighthouse, and clouds overhead gave the water a vibrant blue hue. Camera settings: ISO 100, f/8 at 1/20 second with a circular polarizer.
A wider view of the scene through a 75 mm lens gives the viewer a better feel for the drama of the cliff. The background also benefits from the action of the incoming squall. You can see the changing color of the water and the region of heavy rain. Seen as tiny specs, unsettled birds are circling the lighthouse. Camera settings: ISO 100, f/8 at 1/3 second and a circular polarizer.
A few days later, I shot the lighthouse from Secret Beach looking east as the sun was setting. Camera settings: ISO 100, f/22 at 1/25 second.