Larry Treadwell  

Hillsbrough Light by Larry Treadwell

May 2022 - Hillsbrough Light

About the Image(s)

Hillsbrough Light

5 exposures
Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70mm lens, Tripod, Cable
Base Image: ISO 100, f4, shutter 10 seconds
Light Beams ISO 640, f3.5, Shutter Speeds .4, .7, 1 second

This is a project I’ve been thinking about for several months and finally decided to do try and make it happen. I was going to try this when I was at Cape Hatteras, but the light is a non rotating light that just flashes. (the literature I read said it was a rotating light) This shot requires a rotating beam. Thus when I got back to south Florida I went to Hillsbrough. The Hillsbrough Light House is about an hour drive from home and then about a mile walk along the beach which, by the way is delightful stroll in the dark, with the sounds of the sea lapping the shore. I purposely chose a night with clouds (to reflect the light beams) and a night with almost no wind so the sea would be as calm as possible. My base photo was taken at 10 seconds to flatten the sea (on the left) and to capture the waves as they broke on the beach. I didn’t want the white of the waves to be completely smooth and milky but to have some texture and detail to create an interesting leading line. I needed 11 attempts to get the water the way I wanted and chose the shot just after the break of the wave. I was also counting on this shot to get a noise free shot of the break water in the background, plus the sand and the lighthouse. I wanted a rotating beam to capture the light rays and while this light rotates it is unfortunately not level. Note how the beam rises to the left and dips to the right. This changed the type of effect I was hoping to achieve. I was hoping to get a perfect triangle of light facing left and a mirroring triangle facing right. So stay tuned I’ll be trying this again at another light house. The rays shown here were captured using the various shutter speeds listed above. The small rays were captured at .4 seconds and work up to 1 second for the larger beam. The beams cannot be captured at long shutter speeds like 10 seconds because the light diffuses. To capture the beams in various different position requires timing and multiple attempts. Altogether I took over 80 exposures. When I got home I batch processed the set in Lightroom then chose which beams I liked the best and exported them to Photoshop where they were layered and then blended together. I’m pretty well satisfied with the results.

10 comments posted

Michael Jack   Michael Jack
You are an intrepid photographer! To my eye you made the right choice on the waves - smoothed out but the wave action still visible. The light from the lighthouse looks perfectly fine to me - the different angles just appear to be the perspective effect. I also like the clouds - visible but obviously night time dark. For me, I may have considered slightly darkening the line of rocks going out from the lighthouse and cloning out the building to the right so the story stays focused on the lighthouse. My eyes complete the circle of the waves which form a leading line to the lighthouse. I wonder if the image would be a little better if all of the waves were visible on the right.   Posted: 05/02/2022 18:20:40
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for your thoughts on this image. I did remove on lit structure to the right of the building but decided to leave the darkened structure (Light keepers residence) Think I'll go back and remove that building now. As for the water and missing waves. I would have to build the waves in Photoshop because the light on its sweep facing me absolutely blows them out. Neither a long or short exposure made any difference. As the beam comes toward me it is angled low.   Posted: 05/02/2022 19:54:19
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
See my reply to Arne's post and the attached image.   Posted: 05/17/2022 10:05:22

Barbara Gore   Barbara Gore
I like that you decided to go on a night with clouds and how the light hits them. I also like how you captured the light beams at different shutter speeds going from narrow to wide. The waves are nicely done. Did you use Tungsten light for your white balance to stress the blues in the sky? Also, I'm wondering why the light beam on the water didn't carry through more on the waves like it does during a sunrise. For me brightening the darker section of the waves would enhance the curve of the waves. Very nice image.   Posted: 05/03/2022 17:27:31
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Thanks for your thoughts on this image. The light in the lighthouse is a 1500 watt halogen blub this has a yellow bulb but casts a blueish light. (at least according to the literature I read at the lighthouse) With that b right light being aim low at the shoreline it completely blows out the waves. Most light houses do not have an angled beam--the light is either level as it revolves or it just flashes with only a minimal beam being cast. Interesting thought about making the sea brighter.   Posted: 05/05/2022 12:40:50
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
See my reply to Arne's post and the attached image.   Posted: 05/17/2022 10:04:43

Bill Peake   Bill Peake
That's a great shot, Larry! The lighthouse beams as well as the cloudy sky definitely add drama to the picture. I actually like the other structure, it adds interest without being distracting. I do agree with Michael, the the rocks should be a bit darker. I'm actually ok with the sea where its at, since the subject of the photo is clearly the lighthouse. The reflection in the water creates a nice leading line towards it.   Posted: 05/16/2022 22:54:29
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
see my reply to Arne's post   Posted: 05/17/2022 10:04:01

Arne Skinlo   Arne Skinlo
I like both the image and the story behind it. Now I also know more about different types of light houses. Taking the time to get all the details right, like the exposure of the waves, is something many of us have to learn from. To me, the lesson is to take less picture and work hard on every detail in the ones you take. Then you get results like this.

My only suggestion is to include the end of the wave to the right. That would given a complete leading line up to the light house.   Posted: 05/17/2022 00:55:59
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I've taken the majority of suggestions from the group and redone the lighthouse. This took a bit of Photoshop magic but I've completed the shoreline with waves on the right completing the leading line. I also patched in the waves where the beam from the light burned them out and extended thew ave line completely across the bottom edge. I also darkened the distant rock on the breakwater as requested. Did this all work out to better the image??

Arne. Thanks for your compliment. In answer I do believe you are correct. I do believe taking the time to get the details correct does matter. And yes, this often means taking fewer total images but getting better ones.

I have been working a team of photographers on writing and now teaching a PSA course in creating images for competition. I trying to practice what I have been preaching and in my one work,I have seen a great improvement in my images (the part that matters) and also in the quality of my scores in actual competition.   Posted: 05/17/2022 10:03:26
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