Nautical New England

August 12, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Morning GloryMorning GloryIn autumn and winter, the spot where the sun first appears in the morning shifts significantly further south - creating opportunities to compose images featuring Nubble Light and colorful skies at daybreak much differently than during the longest days of summer. (Cape Neddick, Maine) New England has a wonderful, unique character. There you'll find rich colonial history, picturesque villages filled with antique red-brick buildings, old white churches with tall steeples, covered bridges, mile after mile of stone walls, quaint seaside towns, panoramic mountain views, and - of course - brilliant autumn foliage.

Another signature sight? Lighthouses. This is a seafaring region with a longstanding maritime tradition, after all. Think about New England and you probably conjure up an image of a lighthouse or two. Like Butch and Sundance, Lennon and McCartney, Aparicio and Fox - it's a classic pairing.

Nine of the ten oldest lighthouses in the United States are located in New England. And if you're looking to get the most bang for your lighthouse buck, head to Maine - home to more than 60 of them. Among those many dozens of shoreline beauties is Cape Neddick Light Station (aka Nubble Light) on the Atlantic coast in far-southern York. 

It's not the oldest, nor is it the tallest, but it's absolutely endearing and definitely my favorite.

Fun fact: Voyager I, launched in 1977 and now way "out there" in interstellar space, carries onboard it a so-called Golden Record which contains, among other things, photographs of notable features one can find on Earth - both natural and man made. The Pale Blue Dot's hit parade, so to speak. If you guessed that a photo of the Nubble is included on that disc, you're correct! When the goal is to show off the magnificence of our planet to any extra-terrestrials who might happen upon the spacecraft and rummage through its contents, why not include this lovely lighthouse as an example? In my book, it was an inspired choice.

In case you're wondering, nearly 43 years after its launch, Voyager I is still communicating with the Deep Space Network and continues to transmit data back to NASA. As far as we know, nobody has looked at that Golden Record just yet...

Anyway, back to Maine. A relative youngster, the Nubble was constructed in 1879. Perched on a steep rocky inlet and visible for 13 nautical miles, it's still in use today, though its enchanting Victorian keeper's house in now unoccupied; the lighthouse was automated in 1987. Added to the National Historic Register in 1985, it's one of the last remaining Maine lighthouses to still have its Fresnel lens.

My home in New Hampshire was only about 25 miles from Nubble Light. I spent many early morning hours in its company with my camera. Often it was just the four of us: me, the camera, the lighthouse - and the wind. Even in the summer it can be a chilly spot in the darkness before dawn thanks to that wind. Let's just say after an hour or two out there it often felt very good to jump back in the car and blast the heat.

If you're visiting the area, don't miss Nubble Lighthouse. York is a quick run up either Route 1 or I-95 from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Try to stop by at the edges of the day as it gets quite crowded during the summer months and again when the leaves are turning. Once in York, go to the far north end of Long Sands Beach. Nubble Road will be the first right. Make your way through a residential area above the coastline before arriving at Sohier Park, where you'll make another right. There's a parking lot (space is limited) - and Fox's Lobster House is nearby if you're hungry. Obviously, their menu features plenty of lobstah! But also chowdah. Ice cream. Blueberry pie. And much more. Fox's is open May through mid-October. 

I made the photograph featured above on a blustery and frigid late November morning. Though heavy overcast hung over the scene at dawn, it broke in time for spectacular color to develop just before the sun came up. Not only were the conditions lovely, but I was able to enjoy it all in complete solitude. Quite a magical start to the day.


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