Cape Disappointment – Part 1, Lighthouses

This last week I took the Labor Day holiday early.  On Wednesday, I took a vacation day, left the house before 8:00AM, and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to Cape Disappointment, the farthest southwest corner of Washington State. I spent the day exploring the peninsula and taking photos.  So this weekend, while the roads are jammed with motorhomes and boat trailers, I’m sitting here editing my photos, away from the mad rush and crowds.

There were three main areas I wanted to get photos of when I researched the park online before my trip.  The lighthouses, Deadman’s Cove, and the beach.  When I arrived, it was overcast and foggy.  Cloudy skies are both a blessing and a curse.  Clouds diffuse sunlight and make for more even exposures, but it also makes everything look very dull, flat, and gray.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse - edited in Lightroom 4 & NIK Color Efex Pro 4

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Here it is the last week of August, and the original RAW file of this photo looks like a scene in the dead of winter.  I didn’t try to warm it up, but I did use software to add a neutral density filter to the sky and bring out some of the clouds.  This was originally a white sky and very dark lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1856, and has had some modifications to it’s light since then. It is positioned right at the mouth of the Columbia River.

This next lighthouse is two miles up the coast. It was built because ships coming from the north could not see the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse very well.

North Head Lighthouse

North Head Lighthouse

I used Lightroom to get some contrast and sharpness into a very dull picture.  Then I used NIK Color Efex Pro 4 using the Pro Contrast tool and Graduated Neutral Density filter to get the most I could out of the sky. I usually do the best I can in Lightroom, and then use Color Efex Pro to get a little more out of the image. It’s been a learning process to know how far I can push a photo without degrading image quality.

North Head Lighthouse - no editing

North Head Lighthouse – no editing

Just for comparison, here is the original, un-edited image straight from the RAW file. Amazing what a transformation can take place with a little tweaking in software!

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