A Week Stalking the Lime Kiln Lighthouse

They say that good things come to those who wait. But perhaps it comes to those who patiently suffer. Such was the case when I decided to spend the better part of week during a blustery December commuting back and forth between my home on Lopez Island to the “Big Island” San Juan Island.

Day 1 – Morning

My goal for this shoot was to visit the same location multiple times and really get to know the site. More planning and a bit less shooting with the idea of finding more compelling compositions under various lighting. The first visit turned out to be a lovely, blustery pacific northwest winter day. And there was plenty of sun and clouds. I had planned for all these shots to be long exposures and the conditions were perfect, with a rough surf and dramatic clouds blowing across the sky towards the lighthouse. I caught the 7:10 ferry from Lopez Island to Friday Harbor and headed to Lime Kiln straight away as I wanted to catch the morning light. I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first visit to Lime Kiln State Park. And oh my, what a glorious place. Especially on a winter day with 20 to 30 kt winds.

The images I envisioned was a rough onshore gale with the lighthouse standing guard and lending guidance. By the time I arrived the sun was coming up fast so I set up and started shooting.

And I was rewarded with perfect conditions. A difficult aspect of planning to photograph the same location multiple times is deciding when to stop and when to keep going. The condition on this day were so perfect I had serious doubt a return trip would yield anything close. But I pushed on.

Day 2 – Mid-Day

My plan for Day 2 was to catch a later boat, the 12:10 to Friday Harbor, and shoot during the afternoon and into the evening catching sunset. And the weather for Day 2 was just about a carbon copy of my first visit. Just as blustery and windy and the clouds were even more stunning stunning and blowing directly onshore.

Day 2 – Mid Afternoon

Day 2 – Evening

After a quick trip to Friday Harbor for some coffee, food and warmth I headed back out to Lime Kiln for the late afternoon light and sunset. It was a total disappointed all around. Normally sunset / twilight is my favorite time to shoot, but I was unable to find a compelling composition that took advantage of the golden hour light.

Day 7 – Evening

The nice thing about visiting the same site multiple times is the reflection that happens when you aren’t shooting. Time and time again, ideas for compositions came to me on the ferry ride home, or while I was doing some mundane task and I would quickly add the shot to my list of possibles for my next visit. Armed with new ideas, I took the mid morning boat to Friday Harbor and planned for a late afternoon shoot. With time to kill I spent two hours scouting out the Cattle Pass lighthouse on the south tip of San Juan Island and then spent another hour hiking around the old Lime Kilns.

When all was said and done I didn’t come up with any other compositions that inspired me at Lime Kiln. But I had wanted to try and capture a shot of the Lighthouse during sunset just as the light comes on. So I waited and took one last image. Unfortunately clouds on the horizon prevented the sun from casting a warm glow on the lighthouse and the rocks in the foreground.

But I am pretty sure that this wasn’t my last trip to Lime Kiln State Park.

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