Photographing Split Rock Lighthouse
Capturing the Perfect Photo
During a trip to Minnesota, I was able to photograph Split Rock Lighthouse. When we were planning the trip, I spent some time reading up on the lighthouses and studying photographs from other photographers. I had heard that Split Rock was one of the most photographed lighthouses in the USA. That gave me a big challenge. What could I do differently to get a unique photograph of this much photographed lighthouse?
When we arrived in Minnesota, we saw that it was peak time for the fall colors and I decided that if I could capture the lighthouse with some great foliage perhaps I could get that unique shot.
In all I shot nearly 250 photos of the lighthouse from a variety of angles. I think the one here is my favorite, but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As you read about my adventure to photograph the lighthouse and see my photos, think about which you prefer and let me know your favorite in the comments at the end.
all photos by the author, mbgphoto
My First View of Split Rock Lighthouse - views along Hwy 61
My first view of Split Rock Lighthouse was at a wayside stop along Hwy 61 about 1/2 mile from the turn off for the lighthouse. It was a rather gray looking day, which made the sky look very dull, but on the other hand it really brought out the colors in the fall foliage. I walked along the path at the wayside stop photographing the lighthouse from various angles. I took about 50-60 different shots, trying to line up the lighthouse and the foliage in the foreground without getting in too much of the gray sky.
The photo above is one of the ones I like best.
Lighthouse with Foliage in Foreground
As I walked to another section of the stop I found I could capture the lighthouse in the background with a lot of the fall colors in the foreground. I worked to find an angle where the lighthouse stood out in the background and I could also capture the beautiful fall foliage in the foreground. Here is that shot.
High Contrast Edited Version - editied in Lightroom
When I got back to the hotel and loaded my photos into my computer, I decided since I could not eliminate the gray sky and still show the whole lighthouse, I would use the gray sky to my advantage and I put a high contrast filter on the photo. I did this editing in my Photoshop Lightroom product. This contrasted the gray sky and rock against the lighthouse and the bright yellow foliage in the foreground. The photo above is the result of that edited shot.
Help me decide--which photograph above do you like best? - vote for your favorite
I have selected three shots from my first views of the lighthouse and show them above.
1. My first view of lighthouse.
2. View with foliage in foreground.
3. High Contrast edited version.
Vote on Your Favorite
Photographs of Split Rock Lighthouse - view photos from other photographers
Before we traveled to Split Rock I studied photographs of the lighthouse from other photographers. This lighthouse has been often photograhed and I wanted to see what angles other photographers used to try to capture the lighthouse.
Since we usually travel by car , I always stop at the Visitor Centers and pick up any brochures they have on lighthouses. I have found many nice photos in these brochures and I use them to help me plan my photography.
Here you will find how other photographers captured the image of the lighthouse.
Photographing Split Rock from the State Park
On our second day we entered the Split Rock state park to take photographs of the lighthouse from the campground area and to then visit the lighthouse up close. My husband left me off at the parking lot to the camping area and I made my way down the trail keeping my eyes peeled for a glimpse of the lighthouse. It didn't take long and I found a path heading to the bay and I followed it and saw a great view of the lighthouse. It is beautiful and I was delighted to photograph it from this angle.
I spent about an hour walking along the edge of the water, climbing up on rocks and trying to find the perfect shot of the lighthouse. When I first got there I didn't like the way the sun was casting shadows on the lighthouse, but after the first bit the lighting changed and I was happy with the shots I was getting. I took about 100 shots from this spot along the shore at the base of the lighthouse, but the photo below is by far my favorite.
To capture this shot, I climbed on some rocks and framed the lighthouse in the beautiful yellow colors of the fall leaves.
Split Rock - Orange Foliage
Split Rock Lighthouse Up Close
Split Rock Lighthouse is located just north of Two Harbors, Minnesota. It was built in 1910 on a 130 foot sheer cliff on the shores of Lake Superior just 46 miles north of Duluth. I took a tour of the lighthouse and the grounds and climbed the 32 steps to the top of the lighthouse. I always find lighthouses fascinating and each one is a bit different. The lighthouse at Split Rock is on the smaller side of lighthouses I have toured, but it gets it's height from the location on the cliff.
As I toured the grounds, I again started taking photographs from various directions. When you are up close it is hard to get a great view of the lighthouse without a lot of other buildings or trees in the photos. This photo is the one that I like best from my up close visit to Split Rock. It was a little after 9 am and the sun was beginning to rise in mid sky. I like the way the clouds in the background look with the sun reflecting on the lighthouse.
Split Rock View from Lighthouse Grounds
Stop by and let me know which was your favorite photo.