Stop three on our 2018 NE adventure takes us to the Portland Headlight. It is, of course, located in Portland, Maine and not Oregon, as it has been suggested on several occasions.
The light is located in Fort William Park. From the “Old Port” section of town, drive south on Commercial Street and cross the Casco Bay Bridge (SR 77), and follow to a Right turn on Cottage Rd., which soon turns into Shore Rd. Follow it to the park entrance on your left about 2.5 miles from the turn onto Cottage Rd.
Watch the signs for parking here. They’re very particular and there’s always a guard around to let you know. Also, the park closes at dusk, and it’s abundantly clear that the guard wants to lock up and go home. Can’t blame him. So, be ready to go once the sun sinks below the horizon. They’re pretty good about opening back up at dawn too.
Photographers will want to arrive early for sunrise and sunset during peak color season. It can get pretty crowded and a lot of tripods lining the short fence where most shoot from.
Here’s a couple places not to overlook. You will, of course want the shot from the chain link fence opposite the lighthouse and facing to the north, but don’t disregard the other side. There are some outstanding shots to be had from the north side of the light. You can even go to shore level on that side.
On the south side of the light (the most popular shot), you have to deal with the chain link fence. Like I said, it can get crowded and there are better perspectives from that side. I have seen people just jump the fence and go out on the rocks. Most won’t and it’s probably not legal or appreciated by the park people, but every time I have been there, there are usually 4 or 5 people out there.
If you continue out farther south from the light along the fence, you will find another spot that may get you away from the crowds but you will want a longer lens. Also, even further out, there is a rise where you can look back and at a down angle at the light.
The wave activity was pretty good this year. Not fantastic, but previous years the sea was even flat, like a lake. So, inclement weather is an excellent time to shoot the light.
Here’s a sunset shot from south side. The postcard shot. The sun sets over the park entrance side of the light, so it’s always going to light the face of the tower, unless there is no direct sun at sunset.The sun rises out at sea in the east and will be in your face in the morning. Be ready and get your shots quick. It’s a harsh sunrise, from either side. I like to catch the sky just before the first bit of the sun rises above the horizon and starts with the blowout and lens flare. I actually framed the sun out of this pic below, to alleviate problems. Starburst effect in your sunrise is best achieved at your smallest aperture (i.e., F22>) when shooting into the sun. Try and remember a lens hood and to manage your lens flare. Hate for you to get home and find all kinds of sun spots in your image..So that’s a shot from the north side at morning. You can get down in the beach area here. Just walk out along the paved trail and you’ll find several places to shoot and then there won’t be a fence any more and an obvious way down. Just be careful.This pic was shot from the place where the fence quits. I went down in to shoot the one below. Just below from the above shot location.If you are there at sunset, keep an eye out for foxes. I saw no less than 6 of them on my way to the car last trip. They seem to live in the tall shrubbery out in front of the light, and probably all along the coastline there. They come out when people start to leave to scavenge for goodies. Next year I’m going to be ready with the right equipment and see if I can’t catch a shot.
Here are a couple more shots from the 2018 visit, as well as some shots from the Old Port section of downtown, which is a mandatory visit if you have the time. Just walk around and down each one of the individual piers for some great shots.\
Also, a plug for a couple good resaurants. Becky’s is good for breakfast and dinner. On Commercial St. just before you go over the bridge to the lighthouse. Bayside American Cafe is also good. They have a different kind of menu from Becky’s which is more traditional and Becky’s turns over customers faster.