Florida Lighthouse Photography

When I wrote this post about Waterfalls in Florida, it was somewhat tongue in cheek – since we’re not really a waterfall kind of state.  Lighthouses are a different story.

Cape St. George LighthouseCape St. George Lighthouse and clouds. Infrared, Black and White, panorama, ISO 200, 28mm eq., 1/1000 @ f/5.6.

Florida has  1350 statute miles of shoreline bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  Currents and shoals make navigation difficult so we have many lighthouses.   This Wikipedia page has 54 entries for Florida Lighthouses.  Some are gone or in ruins, but 32 are still in operation.

Cape St. George LighthouseCape St. George Lighthouse – rebuilt from the original bricks and plans after it collapsed in 2005. ISO 125, 33mm eq., 1/500 @f/4.0

There are many ways to photograph these interesting buildings. Straight exterior shots are one way. Look for good light or cloud formations to add interest to your photos.

Jupiter Lighthouse interiorJupiter Lighthouse interior. Hand held at ISO 800, 15mm eq. fish eye lens, 1/13 sec @ f/3.5

The interiors and especially the stairs can be good photos too. You may want to have a fish eye lens handy, since it’s usually very cramped inside.  You’ll most likely have to use a high ISO, wide aperture, and some form of built-in image stabilization, since tripods may not be allowed.

Night photos can also be very nice.  In this August 2013 post I have some details on how I made a different lighthouse night photo in St. Augustine.

Ponce Inlet light, Moon, Venus, Mars, SaturnPonce Inlet light, Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn. ISO 200, 70mm, 6 sec @ f/8.0

Many of these are open to the public and you can take a tour and climb to the top.  If you have the energy, they’re a wonderful vantage point.

View from the Jupiter LighthouseView from the Jupiter Lighthouse. ISO 200, 15 mm eq. fish eye lens, 1/2000 sec @ f/5.6

If you like to photograph lighthouses or historic buildings, our state is a great hunting ground.  This map can help you find them. Try your favorite techniques with these photogenic structures as the subject.  I like to look for appealing details, interesting viewpoints / geometry, and scenes and background that look good with my Infrared camera.

I’ve posted more Florida Lighthouse photos in this album on Flickr and a few more lighthouse photos from other places in this album.  I’m nowhere near photographing all the lighthouses in Florida, but I’m going to keep working on it and I’ll add to those albums as I go.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some lighthouse photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Florida Lighthouse Photography

  1. Another inspirational blog, thank you. Great shots and great advice! Looking at the terrific infrared panorama, I’m intrigued by the settings, which feel very counter intuitive to the likes of me. I’m off to look at flickr next, to see if you say anything more about how you did it. (If not, please would you?!)

    1. Hi Rhona, Thanks!

      The look of that first photo is due to two things: 1) The way the infrared sensor renders the scene. 2) My position up close to the base of the lighthouse.

      I wanted to make sure everything was in focus, so I made two photos. The first pointed up and focused on the top of the lighthouse and the second pointed further down and focused near camera level. Then I stitched them together, cropped to a square format, and converted to black and white.

      Clouds reflect a lot of IR light and clear sky doesn’t reflect much at all. This can really brings out the texture in cloudy skies. You can see what it looks like in a more normal photo in the second image of the same lighthouse, made a few feet away.

      I hope that explains it, if not please let me know.


      1. Thanks Ed, you’re very kind to bother to explain. Down at my lowly level of understanding, I’d have thought that with such height/ distance involved, even with two shots stitched, you wouldn’t have got enough depth of field if you chose an aperture of f/5.6. So I’d have thought you’d have to have a much smaller aperture, and slower speed – is my problem!

        1. It’s not a bother at all.

          One thing I forgot to mention is that using a smaller sensor (like the micro 4/3 one in the Olympus E-M5) increases the effective depth of field. So f/5.6 on that camera has a depth of field about like f/8 on an APS C size sensor, or f/11 on a full frame sensor. That helped me get everything in focus.

          Sorry for any confusion!

          1. Ah! I didn’t know about the increased dof with smaller sensors, or had forgotten! (There’s always such a lot to learn with your blog.) (Please thank the lead writer, chief photographer and main publisher, once again.)

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