|Edgartown Light Before Dawn|
After being home from our trip to Alaska for just a week and one-half, it was a bit disorienting for us and more disorienting for our dog Nellie, to head off for a week on Martha's Vineyard. It is
|Abigail and Grayson, Menemsha Sunset|
Of course, my focus could not be solely on relaxation. I had to plan how I would take advantage of the photographic opportunities of this special place. There were many visual themes that I could explore, the quaint harbors and often overly touristy villages, the beaches and interesting pine and oak forests. I explored all of these, decided to focus on the island's lighthouses.
The Five Lighthouses
Martha's Vineyard has five lighthouses guarding its shores and, in our short time on the island, I decided to try to explore all of them. I discovered that each location posed its own challenges and opportunities, but in different ways, I bagged them all, sort of. Taken together the lighthouses represent an enduring monument to the regions nautical heritage. Before the construction of the Cape Cod Canal, Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sounds saw some of the heaviest shipping traffic in the world, second only to the English Channel. The Vineyard lighthouses were critically important for the safe navigation this difficult passage.
East Chop Lighthouse
I decided to start my exploration with a sunrise visit to the East Chop Lighthouse in Oak Bluffs. The lighthouse was built on a bluff above Vineyard Sound on the location of an early "telegraph" site. "Telegraph Hill" is the highest spot on the island and from there, beginning in 1828, signals about the comings and goings of ships were transmitted by flags to the mainland. The lighthouse is now the center of a small park with benches overlooking the ocean. On my visit the real attraction was the continuously changing sky as it was illuminated by the rising sun. The challenge was to expose sufficiently to the right to keep good detail in the silhouetted lighthouse while avoiding blowing out the dramatic sky.
|East Chop at Dawn|
|West Chop Lighthouse|
West Chop Lighthouse
West Chop Light was built in 1817. In 1838 the original wooden structure was replaced by he current iron tower and since it has been withdrawn twice from the eroding cliff. Currently the keepers house is used by the Coast Guard. We reached the light in the evening when only touch of warm light illuminated the lights upper reaches. During our return trip to Woods Hole I was able to catch a distant view of the light from Vineyard Sound.
|West Chop from Vineyard Sound|
Edgartown Lighthouse We first visited the Edgartown Light at the time of the 12th Annual Ceremony of Remembrance. The lighthouse pedestal is studded with over 600 engraved cobblestones each commemorating a child who died too young. Each year the Martha's Vineyard Museum sponsors a remembrance for those who were lost and their families. It was a moving gathering, but not the best time to capture a clean view of the
|Dawn Edgartown Light|
Gay Head Lighthouse
Gay Head Light sits at the far Southwestern end of the island above the constantly eroding clay cliffs. In a couple of years the lighthouse is scheduled to be moved back from the advancing precipice. The cliffs are known for their bright colors and are protected from disturbance by state law. A dramatic view of the lighthouse and cliffs is available from the visitors area, south of the path to the tower, but you must pass a gauntlet of honky-tonk to reach the promontory. My goal was to get to the lighthouse around sunset. We were late on our first try at least partially because of the distraction of spectacular light across Nashaquitsa Pond near Menemsha. I was still able to catch a little soft evening light. On a
|Nashaquitsa Pond Sunset|
|Mily Way, Menemsha|
|Gay Head Lighthouse, Aquinnah|
|Sunset Menemsha Harbor|
|Gay Head Cliffs, 1957|
As a child, I remember the cliffs of Gay Head being much more brilliantly colored. I found this image of the Cliffs from my parents boat, 57 years ago. It's a scan of an old Kodachrome slide, but, with reasonable color correction, the difference seems clear. Perhaps the effects of decades of acid rain?
Cape Poge Lighthouse
Ok, let's talk about Cape Poge Lighthouse. Cape Poge Light is located at the eastern extreme of Martha's Vineyard, actually on
|Cape Poge Lighthouse (I'm Counting It!)|
I'm a sucker for lighthouses and it was exciting to have the chance to explore five (sort of) new ones in such a concentrated period of time. Of course we enjoyed all of the island's attractions and had a wonderfully relaxing time. And I only have 800 images to get through instead of the nearly 5000 from Alaska! Now back to work.
You can browse more of my Vineyard Images on my
Martha's Vineyard Gallery
|South Beach Surf|