I drove down to Sandy Hook from Skillman with my family yesterday. Bhavana is helping me create a series on the lighthouses of New Jersey and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the nearest one to Skillman. The drive is just over 1 hour.
I guess I didn't do my research because the lighthouse isn't near the water and is on an old army base surround by dilapidated buildings and people visiting the beach. I had expected something more like Old Barney at Barnegat Light.
I had just a few minutes to capture some images before the building was surrounded by people. I tried different angles but either I had the parking lot with cars in the frame or I had beach goers walking by on the road.
Perhaps I'll go back and try isolating the lighthouse itself from the house. Or maybe a shot from inside the light house tower would be more interesting.
This is a three exposure HDR: +2/0/-2. The images were combined in Photomatix Pro and tweaked in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I wanted a darker blue in the sky so I used the gradient filter in the top quarter of the image.
I was rushing this morning so I did not have time to export the image from my iMac's catalogs. I synced it over to Lightroom mobile and exported the compressed JPEG.
Few structures have the universal appeal and fascination of lighthouses. They are superbly romantic constructions: beacons of hope on a wild night, symbols of human ingenuity and perseverance in the face of the unforgiving seas.Peter Cox
Bhavna and I have lived in New Jersey for many years. Bhavna moved to New Jersey with her family in 1974 when she was six. I moved to New Jersey in 1994. I've never liked the Jersey Shore. New Jersey beaches do not have the fine sand and turquoise blue waters like the ones on the islands like Antigua and Bequia where I grew up. The brown polluted waters of the Jersey shore are no comparison to the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. That's my reference point.
But the Jersey shore is what we have, so I must make the best of it. But I'm not too fond of noise and sleazy Las Vegas-style beaches. When I go to the beach, I want to relax. I don't think anything is relaxing about arcade machines and beach blankets and umbrellas stacked so close to each other that I can smell the sweat dripping off the other beach visitors. Yuck!!!
Thank goodness for Long Beach Island (LBI). We booked a bread and breakfast in Barnegat Light for one night — I would have booked more nights if I had known how beautiful the place was — and spent a day on an empty beach. No fracking boardwalk — again, if I wanted Vegas, I would go to Nevada, and I don't wish to go to Vegas.
I've always loved photos of birds in flight, and the seagulls did not disappoint. The real challenge here was the changing nature of the light as the gulls flew across the sky from east to west. I'm not sure how I pulled this off. I put the camera in aperture priority mode, letting the camera choose the exposure speed.
I took a lot of photos of the gulls. With its head tilted to one side, this one bird seems to have a curious expression on its face. Almost like he's thinking, "What's this daft bloke up to?".
Kiran and Shaan love the beach. The water was a bit cold and rough that afternoon — we did not know it then, but an earthquake had just rocked the eastern seaboard — so the kids had fun splashing around in the surf and chasing each other.
I don't have any photos of the sand castle, but they did build one, dragging buckets of wet sand up from the surf.
We ate on the beach but had to watch out carefully for the seagulls. One of these figured out how to open our back of goldfish and before we knew it had eaten most of the bag.
Shaan's not a fan of swimming. Ever since he was a toddler, he preferred playing in the sand. I can't say I blame him. The water was cold and brown.
Kiran's favourite thing about the beach is the water. She's like a fish out of water when on the sand—flipping and flopping around. I like to think that her love of the water comes from my and Shaan's love of the sand.
Bhavna was happy. Most likely because none of us — myself, Shaan and Kiran — were face down on a computer. No iPhones or iPods either. I think that's bliss for her. Or ... she could just be enjoying spending quiet time with her family.
We retired to our bread and breakfast — Minerva's by the Sea is near the top end of Barnegat Light — to shower and change for dinner. A friend and coworker recommended a seafood place in Viking Village with outdoor picnic-style seating. It's fast-food seafood, but we enjoyed it.
After dinner, we went up to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse. The lighthouse has a long and storied history. There is a visitor walking path along the rocky bayside of LBI near the lighthouse. Old Barney is no longer an active lighthouse and has become a tourist attraction.
We stuck around to watch the sunset over the bay. The light casts a glow that makes the skin a golden colour. Bhavna and the kids posed for me since I insisted that the light was perfect.
Bhavna and Shaan enjoyed the attention of my camera.
Kiran's growing up too fast. She starts the fifth grade this year, but my baby girl will be a baby no more in a few years. Sometimes that makes me sad.
Bhavna and the kids started goofing off, and I got some great candid shots.
The sunset was breathtaking.
After a long day at the beach, the kids were tired and did not want to stick around to see the lighthouse at night, so we retired to our room. We got a chance to meet some of the other families staying in the house. There was a couple from Hillsborough — just over the border from our township — with two girls, one of whom was Kiran's age and another couple from Ocean County with a toddler. Our room had a lock, friendly families were boarding next door, and there were a restaurant and bar,Kubel's, across the street. So I walked over to Kubel and had a beer or two.
On the way back from Kubel, I noticed the lighthouse glowing up the street and could not resist. I used my tripod and got a few long exposure shots of the lighthouse.
Shaan and I are early risers. Minerva offered breakfast at 8:30 AM, and we were up at 6:30 AM. On our exploration of Viking Village the day before we had found a coffee takeout place called How You Brewin' — part of a hyper-local chain of coffee places. I bought a coffee mug as part of a promotion. For the cost of the mug, I was offered the opportunity to get $100 refills for the rest of my life. Perhaps they meant the life of the mug, but Shaan and I decided to try it. We were a bit early still, so we waited our time chatting.
The sunrise lighting was just magical. I regret not having the writing skills to describe what I saw fully. I've since decided that I love summer light at sunrise and sunset and prefer to take photos at those times of the day. Perhaps that's true, and maybe I'm just using that as an excuse for not making any photos for my 365 projects in over five days. Yikes!
Shaan and I noticed some small gnat-like bugs intended to bite us, so he jumped back into the car. I used the opportunity to explore more of Viking Village. To the right of the coffee shop is this island furniture store with colourful chairs and other items that one might see on a Caribbean island beach. I wanted to sit and enjoy the rising sun's warmth on my skin.
I looked to get some photos of the gulls sitting on dock posts waiting for a fisher-person to make a mistake, but ... it was not to be.
On the other side of the coffee shop is an antique store called The Seawife. The main building is a renovated schoolhouse (at one point a barn ) that has been relocated from Harvey Cedars, a lighthouse on the island. Next to it is an ornamental outhouse.
Climbing the lighthouse
After checking out of Minerva's, we went back to Old Barney. We did not have time on the previous day to climb the lighthouse before it closed. I'm not sure how many steps we climbed, but we were pretty winded when we got to the lookout deck. Shaan and I are both "apprehensive" about heights, but I overcame mine and ventured out to take the photos. Shaan did not.
I used some graduated filters in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to create a tilt-shift effect.
Bhavna, the kids and I agreed that we all had a good time, and next year we want to rent a home on the beach for a week. I can't wait.