Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yet Another Lighthouse

With the number of times I go back to a lighthouse image you'd think I lived on the Maine coast. Unfortunately, I don't. The nearest lighthouse on the Maine coast is about a four hour ride. Not exactly close enough to check the forecast and decide to run out and grab a few shots. Shooting in Maine typically means at least a weekend, which means some planning at least. We pick the place, we pick the season, we pick the date, but there's no way we can pick the weather when pre-planning is involved. That's the case with today's image. We had planned a long weekend about a third of way up the coast, about Boothbay Harbor or so. As we drove toward Maine the weather basically sucked. All the way through Connecticut and Massachusetts the sky was a zero. New Hampshire is only about a twenty mile stretch and then it's into Maine. Things didn't look good, but that would put us up the coast early enough to check in and head out for some sunsets. As we neared the bridge on the NH/ME line the edge of the weatherline sat right over the border and Maine looked a lot better than anything we'd seen all day. It got to looking so good that we jumped off the highway and headed over to Cape Natick (Nubble) Light.
Once at the parking area (the "standard" place for the shot of Nubble) the cloud formations were the best of the day. So, does that mean today's image is (other than "developing" the digital negative) straight out of the camera? Close, but no cigar. A 50mm lens would probably give a pretty reasonable shot of the lighthouse and island (it's that close). But, that wouldn't give you much of the sky and the sky is at least as much the star of the shot as is the lighthouse. That meant going wide. Making the lighthouse look small in the great expanse of sea and sky was the picture in my mind's eye. The lens was set on 18mm. Several shots were taken, varying the exposure. On the 3" screen of the camera it looked just about right. There was only one problem that couldn't be seen on the camera's LCD. Oops!
Once back at the studio the shots were looked at and the one you see was slected. Studying it, the flaw became apparent. Because of the wide angle lens and the horizon being so low in the frame there was a reverse curvature of the earth. At first glance it loooked like a simple case of the horizon being off and the waterline on the right angled down toward the center of the image. Straightening the water resulted in the lighthouse and building to the left of the image now being angled severly to the northeast. It looked more like a cannon than a lighthouse. I finally decided the lighthouse was the "most important" object in the shot and straightened it up to vertical. (You can still see a slight pitch of the building on the far left.) Now the water was back to being angled. The simple solution was to make a selection, using the Marquee Tool. It was just a simple rectangle starting at the waterline on the rocks and included the sea/sky horizon line. It took about five seconds to clone out the angled sea. Solutions don't have to be complex, they just have to be believeable.