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Tag: nature

Here’s my Experience Living in this Lighthouse

If the idea of vacationing in a lighthouse appeals to you, let me tell you a story about what to expect…

Is living in a lighthouse on your bucket list? I had it on mine, and I was finally able to cross it off after my family and I spent a couple of April nights at the Rose Island Lighthouse. It’s located in the Narragansett Bay next to Newport, Rhode Island.

The Adventure Begins
We boarded a little boat out of Fort Adams and were shuttled by Captain Cal to Rose Island, in the direction of the Newport Bridge.
After the 15-minute boat ride, we carried our luggage off the dock and wheeled away our cooler that contained all of our vacation’s food.
Then we headed up the hill to our temporary home in the lighthouse.

We moved into the first floor ‘museum’ section, which also doubled as a two bedroom apartment, complete with living room and study. Well, it wasn’t exactly complete as the kitchen didn’t offer drinkable water or modern plumbing. (Instead, 5-gallon Poland Spring jugs were provided.)
At the kitchen sink, we had to literally pump in rain water that was stored in a huge cistern nearby. (The same 19th-century system was used for the toilet.)

The Geography
Rose Island is 18 acres, but because of the time of year, much of that is off limits to protect the many nesting birds. So, we really only had access to the shore lines on both sides of the lighthouse.
We could also walk around the land surrounding the nearby Fort Hamilton Barracks, which originally housed the workers who built torpedoes during both world wars.

Nesting Birds and Territorial Geese
Though there was still plenty of space to walk about and enjoy all of the birds, we did encounter a couple territorial geese. They had other ideas about humans visiting their island.
That said, their aggressive posturing was just that. Our 12-year-old son tested their resolve on a few occasions with a running start, and happily, he walked away unscathed.

Self-Reliance
Of course, we found plenty to do on our little island.
That included visiting the top of our lighthouse on multiple occasions. Sunsets were particularly spectacular.

We also roasted marshmallows at night by the fire pit. While making s’mores, we shared our day’s stories with a couple who were staying in the keeper’s apartment above ours.

I cooked our dinners outside on a gas grill, as there wasn’t a stove in our kitchen. We weren’t exactly roughing it, but you did get a sense of what it was like to live in a secluded place a century ago. That was definitely a part of our little adventure.

Yes, we still enjoyed some modern amenities, like our solar-generated electricity and heated quarters. (And cell coverage does reach the island.) But when the sun went down, I fully absorbed the reality that we were pretty much on our own.
During those overnight hours, it felt comforting to have that beacon at the top of the house shining bright.

Be Prepared for What You Might See
As you may expect, I brought along my camera gear.
I happily spent time capturing the beautiful imagery that surrounded me.

On our first morning, I was surprised to see a cruise ship enter the harbor. (It was early in the season for this.) I grabbed my binoculars. It was the MS Amera, a Phoenix Reisen ship.
So I ran to get my camera and snapped away. I watched as little ferry boats shuttled passengers to Newport for the day.

Lighthouse Timelapses
But of course, the main attraction was our 1870 lighthouse, which was renovated in the mid 1980s and reopened in 1993. And I focused most of my timelapses on the building itself.

Please click my Vimeo video to watch my timelapse sequence…


Not your Typical Vacation

I’m not exactly sure why I’ve wanted to stay in a lighthouse with my family. I think the idea felt a little adventurous and romantic. (Maybe something out of a movie.) It was like camping, but much more comfortable. Certainly, it was different. We all really enjoyed it.

I’d definitely do it again.

Hello Spring!

It’s my annual tradition to welcome springtime by walking through my neighborhood with camera in hand to witness all of the sprouting colors.

I looked out the window this morning. It was sunny, cool and blustery, but I knew it was finally time. So, I grabbed my Panasonic Lumix LX-10 camera and strolled around the neighborhood in search of spring. I didn’t have to look too hard. Nature is ramping up. The explosion is still to come, but we’re close.

I am so ready. So, let’s do this!

Here are my early spring 2023 photos…

Can You Hear the Song of the Sirens in this Waterfall Video?

If you should come upon a waterfall during a hike and feel drawn to it, you’re not alone. Here’s what happened to me.

My wife, son and I regularly go on hikes in Connecticut with two other families. I’ve found this group weekend activity to be particularly stabilizing during the pandemic. Plus, we really enjoy hiking.

I always take a camera if just to capture a group selfie in the forest. I originally relied on my GoPro with its wide angle lens, but more recently I’ve simply been using my iPhone along with my Apple Watch’s ‘Camera Remote’ app.

This pairing allows me to walk away from my iPhone that I’ve mounted on my little Joby tripod. I can then join the group shot and look at the frame from my wrist. Finally, I remotely snap the photo by simply tapping my Apple Watch (with a 3 second countdown).

Of course, there are any number of other forest photos to capture, ranging from the macro to the panoramic. Nature is always there for you. So if you miss a shot, you’ll get another chance the next time.

The Lure of a Waterfall
That said, there are not that many waterfalls. So if you pass one, you probably should spend some time with it. And yes, that includes framing a few shots or video clips. Not that you’ll need to force yourself to do this. Waterfalls have a magical quality. I find it hard to look away.

  • The movement of the water
  • The power of its flow
  • That mesmerizing sound
    (There must be invisible creatures singing within the water streams.)

Usually, I see people taking shots of the complete vista. But for me, that’s not enough. Waterfalls are sirens. They call to me…

“Come closer… closer. Step on that slippery, wet rock. Stretch your camera next to my mist. Forget the danger.”

And so I do. It’s intoxicating. I want to touch that magic and somehow capture it all with my camera.

But I can’t. Not really.

To do the job right, you need to really take your time. (That can extend beyond the patience of your hiking mates.) And if you’re going to put your gear in harm’s way, you should have some waterproofing to protect against the spray.

My Encounter with the Prydden Brook Falls
Recently, our little hiking pod was back on the Zoar Trail in the Paugussett State Forest in Newtown, Connecticut.

And into the back half of our 7.8 mile hike, we came upon the Prydden Brook Falls.

This waterfall is stunning, especially in the afternoon as the sun highlights all of the droplets dancing in the air. I’ve taken pictures of this enchanted space before, and explored slower shutter speeds to create a silkier water effect.

Editing Together the Songs of the Falls
This time, I needed to get even closer. Everyone else snapped away from afar, and I waited until they got their shots. Then I almost blindly stepped in. I had my little DJI Osmo Pocket camera with me, and I began shooting video clips from different angles.

It was an entirely imperfect exercise. I didn’t have the right ND filter to prevent the brights from blowing out. I could barely see what I was shooting as I stretched in as far as I dared. (I hadn’t entirely lost my mind.)

When I returned home and reviewed the footage, I saw that my twenty-minute shoot (or was it longer?) had yielded some interesting clips, but they were far from perfect. That said, my Osmo Pocket had successfully captured the amazing sounds of that waterfall.

And based on that variable, I decided to edit together the video clips into this short sequence:

It’s hard to properly record the majesty of any waterfall, but happily, I did successfully capture the different songs from this little water beast. And that carried the day for me.

It’s just another example of how audio is often the unsung hero behind any successful video.

The Sirens Still Sing
In hindsight, I should have brought my waterproof GoPro. But happily, I didn’t destroy my DJI Osmo Pocket. Nor did I fall to my doom on the slippery rocks. My family and friends indulged my waterfall encounter, and we eventually continued on our glorious hike.

I’d call that a good day.

Yes, both my camera and I escaped the lure intact. But this waterfall still calls to me. I can still hear its music.

I’ll be back…

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