I really enjoy photographing lighthouses, especially because they really challenge me to “see” beyond the ordinary, and hopefully take me to that edge of creativity where real growth occurs. There isn’t a lighthouse in existence that hasn’t been photographed countless times, so it can be difficult to find a unique perspective- an interpretation that goes beyond the literal. Certainly it’s all been done before, you might say, but we each have our own way of seeing the world. And if we bring our personal experiences into the process of choosing a particular composition over another, then no two images are exactly alike.
The Esopus Lighthouse on the Hudson is unique in that it sits in the middle of the river and is completely surrounded by water. This has always intrigued me, and I’ve struggled with how to convey the remote feel of the lighthouse, while at the same time giving a sense of the surrounding area.
“A good photograph is a metaphor that’s reminiscent of something else” -Chris Orwig
While these two images are very similar in terms of their angle to the lighthouse, they are vastly different in terms of what they convey, and how I’ve tried to place the lighthouse within the context of the landscape. In the color image, my goal was to give a sense of the remote, floating, almost isolated feel of the island. Having a foggy day, which helped mute the colors and contrast, was critical to this effect. In addition, I waited until just the right time when the fog had cleared the lighthouse in order to make it feel very clear and very present; a beacon out of confusion, something to grasp on to, both visually and metaphorically.
In the second image, I’ve tried to achieve the same result, but in quite a different manner. The strong, dark, and very heavy shapes and lines make a very graphic, almost unorganized statement that seems to dominate the image. But out of that, again the lighthouse brings some temporary order, a place to rest the eye on something familiar, even if just for a moment, until the dark shapes again demand attention. Musically, the first is light, airy, and very melodic, while the second dark, foreboding, but steady and definitely very rhythmic.
Both of these images are also somewhat different from my typical work, but risk and failure is part of the process, and I’m more than willing to fail in order to learn.
I hope these examples are helpful in your quest to both understand the process I follow, and also inspire you to “see” more than what is obvious at first. Thanks as always for your time, and please share the blog with someone who may enjoy reading it.