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Travel help needed for Florida lights

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Postby Hersh » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:29 pm


In a couple weeks I'm going to be in Ft. Lauderdale on business, but I'm extending my stay so I'll have some extra time on my hands. For those of you familiar with the area, what lights would you recommend I try to visit or avoid? I will have a rental car and probably no more than a couple of half-days to do my lighthousing, as a co-worker is traveling with me and we already have some other plans in the works.

Any assistance is greatly appreciated.
Mike Hershberger
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Postby Rob143 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:32 pm


If you are looking at half days you only have 3 choices.

Hillsboro will be right next door. Their next tours are this Saturday the 10th of April, and May 29. It sounds like you'll be there some time between those two dates. That leaves you shooting it from across the inlet. There is a small public parking area just south of the drawbridge that will be your best bet. The other option is to follow the recommendation on lighthousefriend's site and park at the end of 16th St. It is probably the light side of a half mile walk up the beach from there to an old pier. I like the area by the bridge in the morning and the old pier at the other end of the day.

Depending exactly where you're staying you will be an hour or more to Jupiter. Unless you get there at a time of day that you can do their tour you won't get close to the light. Lacking the ability to walk up to the light I'm not particularly fond of shooting it from their parking area north of the inlet. For my money you'll do a lot better south of the inlet off the end of Yarborough St or beside the crab house off of Cramer St. If you have the time and inclination you can also go to Dubois Park for another view. If you do you want to go out onto the point as far north and west as you can go in the park.

Your third possible is Cape Florida. Here again you are at the mercy of what times they are open for full access to the grounds. If you go, and if you have enough glass with, you can get a distant look at Fowey Rocks. It is supposed to be about 6 1/2 to 7 miles out. With a 400 5.6, a 1.4TC, and a 1.6x crop body I was starting to see a lighthouse out there.

Anything else in Florida will take more than a half day trip unless you're going to stay on for a full day or several after.


Hopefully others can chime in with some more thoughts.
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Postby Hersh » Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:55 pm


Thanks Rob, I appreciate the thoughts. I might end up taking a whole day for photography by moving some other things around, if that happens, what options have I opened up?

Good hearing from you again, too.
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Postby Rob143 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:02 pm


That depends on how early you want to start that full day, or how late you want to get back from it. Aside from those 3 you're not close to anything.

Heading up the Atlantic coast you're about 4 hours from Ponce and another hour from there to St Augustine.

Going across the state you're about 3 hours to Sanibel and maybe another 2 hours from there to Boca Grande to cover what amounts to probably 25 miles as the crow flies.

Having been to all of those my first choice if I could only do one would be Ponce. It is the best photographic subject of the lot and offers a nice display of fresnel's as well. I must admit I had to peek at their site to refresh my memory on all the lenses they have. The rotating first order can be shot from several vantage points. I know Gary had some shots posted at one time. Their site says two fully restored first orders, a third and a half order, a fourth order bivalve, and a sixth order reproduction.

From there you would be an hour, each way, from St Augustine. It is a beautiful light but photographically not one of my favorites. It is just too closely surrounded by older growth trees that to my way of thinking ruin a lot of possible shots. You can get the light towering over those trees if you like, but clean views of the entire light are from very close up. Standing on the second floor rear balcony of the keepers house with a 15-30 on a 1.6x body.....roughly 24mm equivalent.....I think I was still having trouble getting the full tower in the frame. Shooting from the ground even if you have wide enough glass you're dealing with extreme perspective issues. Now if only I had an extra 2 grand just lying around that I could drop on Canon's new 17 TS-E maybe I could get closer to what I wanted. I'm doubting you want to extend your day to 10 hours on the road anyway but that is one mans thoughts on St Augustine just in case you care.

I wasn't really struck by Sanibel and Boca Grande as lights I needed to rush back to any time soon. If you look into your choices and decide you prefer those lights that would be your other realistic option. We all like different things and only you can know.

Of course the one other option that wouldn't be much more than the run north if you included St Augustine would be to head south to Key West. If I recall correctly you've already been there though so you already know what is there and probably aren't rushing there over seeing new lights.


I know I'm heading off topic here but did they stop lighting St Joe?
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Postby Rob143 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:29 pm


I'm sitting in a hotel room at this moment but I did pull up a few shots of Ponce and St Augustine. The shot of Ponce is one that I kinda like from a vantage point that I hadn't seen before. The two of St Augustine are just examples to show what part of the light towers over the trees as shot from the east and the perspective as shot from the gate between the keepers quarters and the museum.


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Postby Hersh » Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:58 am


Hmmm.... Looks like I have some research to do and choices to make. I have never been to FL, so any light is a new light for me there. I'll look into Key West as well.

As for St. Joe they're still lighting it as far as I know. They were doing some work last summer and hat scaffolding around the outer light, but there was a temporary beacon lit there, so it didn't look like any kind of deactivation, just painting or resurfacing.

Thanks again for the info Rob, no mater what lights I choose I know it's going to be a cool trip.
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Postby Hersh » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:39 pm


I'm still researching on this one before I leave...

Say I decide to run as far as Jupiter north or Cape Florida south. What else might I have available to see and/or photograph besides lighthouses? I ask because I'll be traveling with a friend from work who wants to learn more about photography, but has no special affinity for lighthouses as far as I know. Bird sanctuaries, nature preserves, photogenic scenic areas that offer good opportunities for creative photography beyond the normal stuff?

Thanks for the help.
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Postby beachbum1616 » Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:09 am


Personally, if you have the time and want to make the trip to Sanibel and the Boca Lights, I would do it. Neither of these lights are the most photogaphic lights to shoot, but the shelling on Sanibel is said to be the third best in the world. And you get two for the price of one on Boca.

I will admit there are some cool shots of Ponce to be had inside and out, and it is the second tallest brick tower as well next to hatteras and they have all of the buildings open, plus a lens exhibit, so it is worth the trip as well.

Just make sure you look at each possibility and do what interests you the most. Each is a good option IMPH!
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Postby Hersh » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:28 pm


Based on timeframes and my partner's plans, I have decided that I'll do Jupiter, Hillsboro and Cape Florida.

All will be approximately midday... :( I'd love to do low-light, but I didn't even pack my tripod on this trip. Thursday morning I'll drop him off in West Palm for some family stuff and I'll continue on to Jupiter for a couple hours. Probably on the way back we'll stop at Hillsboro. Then Friday morning we'll head to Miami for Cape Florida.

I'd love to be able to do more exploration, but this will at least let me check a few new lights off of my list, and I might get out with a couple decent photos.

Thanks again for he help.
Mike Hershberger
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