When Everything Comes Together

May 15, 2015  •  4 Comments

Earlier this week, I took a short trip to Holland, Michigan. I timed my visit to coincide with the prime season for the tulips. In addition to the tulips, I discovered some other interesting photography subjects--including three churches and two lighthouses.

During the evening, I took a drive north to visit the Grand Haven Lighthouse. I wasn't optimistic about my chances to get good photographs of the lighthouse as the sky was overcast and dull. But, as I was driving to Grand Haven the sky began to clear at the horizon.

Once I arrived, I immediately started shooting. I was happy with some of the images, but as time passed the conditions kept improving. So, I kept shooting. Thankfully, we live in the digital age. If I had been shooting film, this would have been a very expensive night.

Once the sun started to set, the light became far more interesting. I always enjoy including multiple sources of light within a frame. In this image, my first thought was to include the warm light of the setting sun. A little later, the white lights along the pier illuminated. Then, the red lights in the lighthouses activated.

It took many tries to get everything to come together. Finally, I captured the following elements within a single frame:

  • I had only a few minutes when all three light sources were "on" at the same time: the setting sun, the pier and lighthouse lights.
  • There are two structures on the pier: the Inner Light and the Entrance Light (in the background). The Inner Light rotates and is visible every second. The Entrance Light rotates more slowly. My goal was to time the exposure as both the Inner and Entrance Lights were visible.
  • The waves were crashing into the pier now and then. I waited until a wave hit the pier in the right portion of the frame to strengthen the composition. More challenging is trying to time the crashing wave with the rotating Inner and Entrance lights!
  • Thanks to the cold and windy conditions, the pier didn't attract a large crowd on this night. A few people walked to the end of the pier and back. But, it was relatively easy timing this to avoid having people in the frame.

After more than 100 attempts, I finally nailed it! Here's the final image:

Grand Haven LighthouseGrand Haven LighthouseGrand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light with Entrance Light in background in Grand Haven State Park at 1001 Harbor Avenue in Grand Haven, Michigan on May 12, 2015 After capturing this image, I went on to create several other photographs of the Grand Haven Pier and lighthouses. I'll share some of those in a future blog entry.


Glenn Nagel Photography
Thanks Dave...much appreciated. Glenn
Dave Sparks(non-registered)
Ditto Alex's comment. Beautiful image as a result of your skill and patience.
Glenn Nagel Photography
Thanks Alex...this is a location that I plan to visit again! Glenn
Alex Feldstein(non-registered)
Patience and skill rewarded. Well done Glenn!
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