Pemaquid Point Lighthouse – One of My Top Locations and How the Seasons and Conditions Impact My Shooting


EXIF Data: Focal Length – 22mm, Aperture – f/10, ISO – 100, WB – 6500 K, Exposure – .8 sec
Conditions: Filter – None, Month – July, Time – 4:39 AM, Shooting Direction – Northeast

 

Maine has more than its share of iconic lighthouses. From Cape Neddick (Nubble) in the south, to Portland Head near the largest city, to West Quoddy on the Canadian border, it is a landscape photographer’s dream. Poised on rocky cliffs and combined with ever-changing weather conditions, there is always an amazing image waiting for you.

 

If you’re not from New England, you may not be familiar with my favorite lighthouse, Pemaquid Point. While not as well known, it hosts 100,000 visitors a year and was voted by Mainers to represent the state on the US Mint’s Maine state quarter. According to local legend as reported by Northeast Magazine, “If you drink from the puddle in the foreground, your hands will turn into lobster claws and your pupils into two tiny whoopie pies”.

 

Why the popularity? It is certainly not the tallest lighthouse (only 38 feet) or unique in design (plain white with no spirals or stripes). It’s the exceptional setting on a rock ledge, plunging dramatically into the Atlantic that catches the eye. And while the coast of Maine is full of dramatic cliffs, here the rock layers alternate in color and are twisted to leave the photographer feeling as though they are standing in a giant kaleidoscope. Adding to the photographic adventure is the unlimited access to a huge expanse of steep but navigable cliffs. Finally, with the lighthouse situated at the tip of the Pemaquid Peninsula, the weather changes quickly and often. When you add in the seasonal changes, you are provided with a never-ending combination, from dramatic sunrises to dark clear skies, to pea soup fog to blankets of snow and everything in between.

 


EXIF Data: Focal Length -65mm, Aperture – f/8, ISO – 100, WB – 5300 K, Exposure – 1/200 sec
Conditions: Filter – None, Month – February, Time – 11:22 AM, Shooting Direction – Southeast

 

Arrival at Pemaquid Lighthouse Park offers you very little preview of the upcoming experience. The lighthouse, oil house and bell tower are all tucked neatly behind the keeper’s house with the cliffs and ocean below totally out of sight. On my first visit, I arrived at 2 AM in order to shoot astrophotography and, with no moon, I could see nothing of the drop-off as this is one of the darker locations in Maine. From late February until mid-October, the orientation of the lighthouse allows for southerly shooting which is perfect for the Milky Way.

 

Shooting in mid-summer (as the image below shows) allows for a full view of the lighthouse with the galactic center still angled to the left. By covering the lens for two seconds and leaving it open for six through a twenty-five second exposure, you are able to avoid the blinding beacon and instead, capture the ambient light from a few lights in the parking area across the scene.

 


EXIF Data: Focal Length – 14mm, Aperture – f/2.8, ISO – 4000, WB – 3400 K, Exposure – 25 sec
Conditions: Filter – none, Month – July, Time – 2 AM, Shooting Direction – South

 

With the first light of dawn, you can make your way onto the cliffs and look for different compositions based upon the structures, such as the ledge rock or puddles and small pools. If you are there in the summer, you can catch a great sunrise or sunset as the shooting angle can range from east/northeast to west/northwest. You will find yourself often spread-eagle on the rocks in order to bring in leading lines and reflections that make this such an interesting location.

 


EXIF Data: Focal Length – 21mm, Aperture – f/13, ISO – 100, WB – 6400 K, Exposure – 1/4 sec
Conditions: Filter – Graduated ND, Month – July, Time – 5:15 AM, Shooting Direction – Northeast

 

My most recent visit was in winter, and I found the ledge to still be very walkable with very little ice. With its location on the water, winter storms often are rain and above freezing, but a hiking pole and micro spikes are good supplies to include, just in case. With the sun in the south, early to mid-morning and mid-to-late afternoon provide a beautiful soft winter light that is perfect for bringing out all the cracks and crevices in the layers of rock. You can literally spend hours searching out compositions. If you are fortunate to catch it after a snowfall, the combination is dazzling with contrast between the two and you can usually take your choice of using just the ledge or one of the many reflecting pools that form in the depressions. Either is a great choice.

 


EXIF Data: Focal Length – 24mm, Aperture – f/10, ISO – 100, WB – 5300 K, Exposure – 1/125 sec
Conditions: Filter – None, Month – February, Time – 12;33 PM, Shooting Direction – North


EXIF Data: Focal Length – 24mm, Aperture – f/10, ISO – 100, WB – 5300 K, Exposure – 1/125 sec
Conditions: Filter – None, Month – February, Time – 12;33 PM, Shooting Direction – North

 

So, by all means as you travel across the midcoast of Maine from Boothbay to Camden, make sure you drop down the tip of the Pemaquid Peninsula for the favorite lighthouse of mine and apparently, that of many Mainers as well.

 

 
 

About the Author – David Long

 

I live in Massachusetts and have been doing landscape photography professionally for the last ten years. I run workshops throughout New England. If you are interested in more information on these, please visit https://www.bluehourboston.com/

 

My eBooks include:

  • FALL FOLIAGE LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY IN NEW ENGLAND
  • CREATING LANDSCAPE IMAGES
  • CENTRAL VERMONT - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
  • BOSTON - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
  • NORTHEASTERN VERMONT - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
  • WHITE MOUNTAINS - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
  • CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
  • LOWER CAPE COD - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
  • PROVINCETOWN - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
  • SAINT AUGUSTINE - SELF-GUIDED PHOTO WORKSHOP
 

You can see all of eBooks and prints available for sale at www.davelongphoto.com and follow me on www.instagram.com/davidlong3653