Guiding Light

Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast under the night sky
1 sec | f/1.2 | ISO 400 | 17mm

Throwing another image of the Heceta Head Lighthouse (see yesterday’s post with the photographs from below and across here) at you doesn’t really do justice to the splendid day I spent yesterday on the Oregon coast. I enjoyed sunshine, pristine beaches, colorful towns and saw about twenty Grey Whales from the shore.

I will post more images from the coast, but simply need to process them first. But coming back to my motel from another nightly visit to Hecata Head Light, I had to check out the images I took at one of my favorite spots on the Oregon Coast. The thing is, you can’t really see what you shot in this kind of conditions on the small LCD screen of the camera. Especially shooting in RAW, as the files need some processing to bring out the tonal range captured.

When awaiting nightfall up at the lighthouse (I was all by myself), I so much treasured the sight of the rotating beacon with its 8 beams, illuminating the hills and trees behind the light. And this under a darkening sky, with the stars slowly appearing.

I knew I still needed rather fast shutter speeds, as I found that beyond two seconds I started losing the beams. As it started to get really dark, I pulled out my fasted lens I brought along, the 17mm F/1.2 (prior I was shooting with the 12-100 F/4 and the 7-14 F/2.8, but both lenses couldn’t capture what I saw.

The 17mm (34mm full frame equivalent) gave me much less room for composition, as it was a tight fit to get the lighthouse into the frame, with the barriers on the cliff right behind me.

But I got the shutter speeds I desired (between 1 and 2 seconds). ISO was still acceptable. But I got the beams at exposure seemed acceptable, even on the small LCD screen. But I had no idea if I got any stars in it or not.

eceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast at night
2 sec | f/1.2 | ISO 800 | 17mm

But as it turned out, I managed to capture a few stars, when viewing the files on the MacBook this morning. In the first image with 1sec shutter speed and ISO 400, they are a few white dots. In the second photograph I let in more light, by doubling shutter speed and ISO. And in the two second exposure there are even mini star trails visible (although it did blow out the grid of the lighthouse glass top). I am by no means a night photographer, but I was totally happy with my results, as I manage to capture what I saw and felt in a photograph. Mission accomplished.

I would have loved to wait for the real night sky to come out, but didn’t dare. I was all by myself up on the head and knew I need to walk 1/2 mile down through the woods to the car park in total darkness (iPhone flashlight helped). And technically the State Park closed at 9pm, and I didn’t wan’t to push my luck getting a fine or the car removed (turned out it was all ok and even a few campers in the parking lot).

Both images were taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and the mZuiko 17mm F/1.2 pro lens. I used a Platypod Ultra flat travel tripod for both shots.

Post processing in Adobe Lightroom CC Classic

If you want to go out shooting on the weekend and are still looking for tips and inspirations around photography, check out my free Learning Center.

Have a great Sunday!


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26 thoughts on “Guiding Light

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  1. Beautifully capture, composed, and post-processed. And you are kind to reveal the magician’s tricks (though I would definitely not be able to replicate!)

    Twenty whales? That must have been amazing!

  2. Amazing shots, Marcus! I very much appreciate your sharing the technical details too, and showing us the work that goes into images like these. I do think you deserve to be very happy with the results. 🙂

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