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At The Coast. February 5, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: , , , , , ,

This Friday evening I headed into Boston with three objectives – to visit my daughter Ursula, whom I adore and see too infrequently; to revisit my friend/housemate/photographic mentor Lizz Bartlett’s photography showing at the Belmont Hill School’s art gallery; and to get out to the coast to photograph it, inspired by Lizz’s brilliant shots of lighthouses and coastal waters.

Two of these were blessed no-brainers – I got to Boston early enough to snap off a shot of the skyline beneath a waxing gibbous moon:

That’s from Cambridge, across the Charles river.  I got to Boston an hour early hoping to park somewhere downtown and photograph the emerging moon set against glass-faced buildings reflecting the setting sun, but Boston doesn’t work that way.  Not only could I not park where the photos were easy, I couldn’t park at all!  So I drove out of town and settled for this overview, which  I kinda like, though it wasn’t what I was there for.

Then I picked up Ursi as she was coming out of work and spirited her off (in as much as rush-hour traffic allowed) to Belmont where Lizz’s work was being displayed.

It was tear-inducingly beautiful, though I admit to being a softee, and to being partial to her style of rendering landscapes.

Hey, one has to learn from someone,  right?  And Lizz has it happening, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, after the show we had a really nice dinner at a place in Arlington, then Ursi and I parted ways with Lizz and Holly.  I spent the night at Ursi’s, then got an early start to catch the sunrise at Scituate Light on the bay side of Cape Cod, a bit south of Boston proper.

It really isn’t a “sunrise” kinda place, but I didn’t know that.  The angles and visual interlopers were way sub-optimal, but I punted and none-the-less got a few shots worth sharing.

Here’s Job One, which is to just shoot the damned thing  before you get too technical.  This means that if a rabid dog appears and you have to run away, you at least have some proof that you were there.  It also gives you a rough idea of what you’re working with, and if it’s worth putting subsequent effort into.

Job One, culled from half a dozen Job-Ones:

That came out pretty viewable in this format, but it wouldn’t hold up to being enlarged, i.e. printed at any reasonable scale.  Still, it captured the moment, and got me going on the path toward more “keeper” material.

This isn’t a great light for sunrise shots; the sun does indeed rise here, but it’s difficult to get views which show the good and exclude the ugly.  So I scurried a bit to snag this shot from the opposite side of the light:

All of these shots are courtesy of Elliot, my Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens.   While the (horizontal) “landscape” shots are reliant on the tilt function of this amazing lens, the taller “portrait” shots were mostly done by spinning the mechanism into “swing” mode – the above shot has a vertical plane of sharp focus laid onto the fence and lighthouse and distant sunrise.  I only regret that the lighthouse wasn’t pulsing its red glow at this point, and don’t really know if I missed it by careless timing or if it had shut down with the impending daylight.

This shot, from the same side and taken soon afterward, is my favorite of the lot:

I think this was still with Eliot in “swing” mode, with just a tiny bit of lens shift to lay the focal plane outward from the light toward the sun, even though most of the “landscape” oriented shots employ “tilt.”

I backed off a bit and found evidence that I wasn’t the only one who had hung out here:

This beat-up deck shoe spoke volumes about both the power of the pounding surf and the casual carelessness of those of our species who hang out where the sea meets the land.

Lastly (for this post) I got a shot of the Scituate Light from the south as the light settled into its daylight palette:

All of these were fun for a Hill-Town Boy, but leave many subtleties unspoken to.  Perhaps with more time prowling these regions I’ll get into the swing and do it justice.

But for now, these shots will have to do.


1. beatgrl - February 5, 2012

Wow, R. Lighthouse pictures usually turn me off but I was drawn to these. I don’t understand any of the technical details with the tilt shift lens you are speaking of, but I like the result.

2. notakidding - February 5, 2012

I love all of these. What is it about lighthouses? Have to say, I’m a fan!

3. notakidding - February 5, 2012

BTW, Ralph. ^ That’s me kkryno/Vikki.

4. susan - February 5, 2012

I like that third one too. Maybe you should try a summer jaunt to NS as a good place with a few more opportunities of missing the ugly stuff. It’s here but not in quite such abundance as close to Boston.

5. littlebangtheory - February 5, 2012

Beargrl, thank you for making an exception on the lighthouse thing. I’m not a coastal-cultural guy as a rule, but the challenge of making images worth viewing in this very different environment engaged me, and I did my (limited) best to make them worth your time. 😉

Vikki, thanks for the hint, you threw me there for a bit! 😆 And I could get to be a fan of lighthouses as well, given more frequent opportunities to interact with them.

Susan, I’d love to venture northward, there’s a lot up there on my “bucket list.” And I’m sure it’s waaaay less cluttered than Boston’s immediate environs!

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