Landscapes,  Travel

Photographing the Lighthouses of Maine’s Midcoast

I recently spent two days driving, visiting and photographing the Midcoast of Maine.  In two days, I photographed 5 lighthouses as well as a botanical garden and waterfall that will be discussed in other blogs.

Each day, I drove north from Freeport so there was quite a bit of driving and a few times I reached my destination later than I would have liked.  It may be easier to stay overnight at one of the quaint towns on the Midcoast like Rockland or Camden.  If your driving up U.S. Route 1, don't forget your sunglasses as you will be driving into the sun at several points of the drive.

Marshall Point Light Station, Maine

Marshall Point Light Station

On the first day, we visited the Marshall Point Light Station, Owls Head Light and State Park, and Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.  On day 2, we visited and photographed the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, and Hendricks Head Light.

In this blog, I'll describe the photo opportunities for each location, the best times to shoot, equipment tips, and GPS coordinates. We could have probably seen all 5 lighthouses in a single day but we also stopped at other attractions and took time in the afternoons to explore the coastal towns of Maine’s Midcoast.

Marshall Point Light Station

GPS:  43.917837, -69.260688

Marshall Point Light Station is a charming white New England Style house and light.  This turned out to be a good morning photography destination.  The light and the house were both side lit by the morning sun. 

Compositions:

In the morning shoot from the left of the light and the house.  I took several compositions of the house and light together. Another good composition is of the light with the beach in foreground taken from the left One of my favorite compositions is looking straight from the beginning of the pier toward the lighthouse.

Also make sure to take some time to walk down on the beach and look at the compositions of Port Clyde Harbor in the morning light.  I took some photos of a gentleman in a boat who was rowing to get his morning exercise.

There are also several beautiful harbors that you will see on the way to Marshall Point Light Station that deserve a few photos in the morning light.

I used a circular polarizer on my camera while photographing the Marshall Point Light Station which was perfect since the sun was at a 90 degree angle to the lighthouse.

Owls Head Light

Owls Head Light, Maine

Owls Head Light

GPS: 44.091662, -69.050203

Owls Head Light is Located in Owls Head State Park at the entrance of RockLand Harbor.  It is about a 30 minute drive if you're coming from the Marshall Point Light Station.

There are two trails in the park.  One that leads to the lighthouse and another that leads to the beach.  The best composition that I found for the lighthouse was from the stairs leading to the light.  From this location, the sun was at my back for a morning photo shoot.

Reportedly, the lighthouse can also be photographed from the beach.  I did not find this to be true.  The trees had grown too tall and only the top of the lighthouse could be seen and that was from a good distance down the beach.

While at the beach, take time to photograph the colorful seaweed in landscapes of RockLand Harbor.  It is also a fun place to experiment with long exposure photography of the seaweed and waves.

There is also a working harbor at Owls Head.  It's worth driving down and taking a few photos of the working boats in the harbor.

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

Rockland Breakwater Light

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

GPS: 44.116161, -69.085071

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is a cool lighthouse that is located in the middle of Rockland Harbor.  There is a 7/8 mile long stone pier that leads to the lighthouse. 

Unfortunately since this was our third stop, the sun was harsh and directly behind the lighthouse from the shore.  At sunrise or sunset, the lighthouse looks like it would be side lit.  On the way from Owls Head State Park, I looked for locations to photograph the lighthouse from the southeast side of Rockland Harbor.  Unfortunately, all of the access roads to the harbor were private drives.

There were also quite a few people walking on the pier at this time of day. I seem to have bad luck with this lighthouse.  The last time I was here it was cold, windy, and rainy, making for a miserable walk on the pier while dodging waves.

Compositions

The length of the pier provides some challenges in photographing the lighthouse.  Either a longer focal length lens or a walk down the pier is necessary to get a close up of the lighthouse.

I found a decent composition with a 45 – 200mm lens (micro four thirds) from the trees at the end of the road.  This gives a nice composition from the right of the lighthouse and pier.

Take some time to walk around the shopping and dining area of Rockland, Maine.  This is south of the lighthouse along Route 1.  There are some nice shops, restaurants, and brew pubs to visit.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Reflection

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

GPS: 43.837923, -69.505537

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is located in Bristol, Maine about a 45 minute drive from Boothbay Harbor and 1.25 hour drive from Freeport.  Pemaquid Point Light is built on a rock ledge that is over one hundred yards long between the lighthouse and the sea. 

The grounds contain the light, house (now a fishing museum), and several smaller buildings (oil and bell buildings).  There is a $2 admission fee per person for using the lighthouse and grounds.  However, there is no one to collect the money and no honor box before they open at 9am.

Compositions:

The classic composition of Pemaquid Point Light is from the rock ledge to the right of the lighthouse when facing it from the parking lot.  Look for pools of water in the rock ledge to capture the reflection of the lighthouse along with the lighthouse itself.  The lighthouse will be side lit in the morning.  You also may need a polarizer or ND filter to avoid blowing out the whites in the house and lighthouse.

I also found good compositions of the house and light from the rocks on left side of the light (from the parking lot).  The lighthouse will be more front lit from this position.

Hendricks Head Light

Hendricks Head Lighthouse, Southport, Maine

Hendricks Head Lighthouse

GPS coordinates for the beach: 43.8246, -69.6861

Hendricks Head Light is located on Southport Island which is located just south of Boothbay Harbor.  Hendricks Head Light is privately owned and no longer operational.

The lighthouse is best viewed and photographed from the small beach on Lighthouse Lane (GPS coordinates above).

Although the lighthouse is visible from the beach, the view is partially obstructed.  I did find two ways to get a clear shot of Hendricks Head Light.

  1. There is a large boulder in the cove.  During low tide, you might be able to climb onto the boulder and get a clear view of e lighthouse.  But, be prepared to get your feet wet.
  2. At the left side of the beach, there are rocks you can walk out on to get a clear shot of the lighthouse.  I like this view as you can use the large boulder as a foreground for the lighthouse.  Part of the shore on the left side of the beach is mark as private property, but there is room to walk on the rocks before the sign.  Just be careful not to slip on the wet rocks.

The lighthouse is on the western side of the island making it good for a morning photo shoot. I arrived there at about 11:30am and using a polarizer was able to get a good photo of Hendricks Head light.

Written by Martin Belan

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