Twilight Photography at Cape San Blas Lighthouse

Twilight photography at Cape San Blas Lighthouse in Port Saint Joe, Florida has been on my list of things to do since I first saw the lighthouse in January 2016 and last Saturday I left early at 3 o’clock in the morning to ensure I arrived at the lighthouse well before sunrise for a chance to get those shots. I like driving at night especially during the hot summer months, there is always less traffic and occasionally nature presents a treat as it did on this morning when I noticed a beautiful crescent moon in the night sky. Gorgeous!

I arrived in Port Saint Joe in plenty of time to set up a tripod mounted camera on the wooden stage behind the lighthouse and near the pond which I hoped would yield some nice reflections for pictures. Framing my first shot of the morning I suddenly realized….the moon!! The moon was in almost a perfect position to be photographed with the lighthouse. Wow! How lucky could I get! Sometimes the Universe conspires to make things come together in ways we never expected and this beautiful shot is the result of that work. Even better the stars were incredibly bright and show up as small streaks of light in the photographed sky.

Twilight photography at Cape San Blas lighthouse under a blue twilight sky with stars and a moon in the sky and golden city streetlights.
Twilight at Cape San Blas Lighthouse, Port Saint Joe, Florida

Twilight is my favorite time to photograph and in this picture one may clearly see why. About forty five minutes before official sunrise time the sky takes on that beautiful shade of blue and is accented wonderfully by the colors of city street lights. If you are someone who loves sleeping late catch that beautiful sky in the evening about thirty minutes after sunset. Twilight makes for some gorgeous photographs.

For the photography lovers interested in the technical side of twilight photography I will explain a bit about how I made the image. Camera settings were 109 seconds with an aperture of f/16 and I raised the ISO from 100 to 800. Typically when I take pictures at night I have always liked a low ISO of 100 to avoid the digital noise typical of a higher ISO but I upgraded to the Canon SL1 camera a couple of years ago and I know I can shoot the higher ISO without too much noise and what noise there is Adobe Camera Raw does a nice job of removing in post-processing. Yes, my camera is set to save images as RAW image files so it needs processing.

Such a long shutter speed required a tripod and I used a remote shutter release so I never had to touch the camera to make the picture. Leaving the shutter open for so long in the low light allowed the camera time to gather enough light for a good image and the higher ISO meant I could use the shorter 109 second exposure instead of the much longer one a lower ISO would have required.

See those lovely starbursts in the moon and street lights? The aperture blades in the lens set to a small aperture opening create those. In addition to depth of field those starbursts are a good reason why I shoot pictures like these at f/16.

I set the camera white balance to tungsten because it gives a more natural look with those city street lamps. Otherwise, everything would look very orange which I can fix in post-processing but it is easier and works better to simply change the white balance to match those lights.

This is one of my favorite twilight photography images ever and I am so happy to share it with you and I look forward to a return to Port Saint Joe, Florida and the lighthouse. I am already planning my next shots so be sure and check back for the next post or subscribe and receive email notifications when there is a new post! Thanks for reading!

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  1. I’m glad you’re finding time to photograph some of the lighthouses at twilight. Don’t forget there are also fabulous lighthouses at St George Island, Carrabelle, Saint Marks and any number of other coastal communities in Florida and Georgia. I’m sure you could make some remarkable twilight photos at any and all of those. Have fun. Godspeed.

    1. Thank you Renda. You are so right. The Carrabelle lighthouse is one I have intended to photograph for some time and I’ve been thinking where else my travels may take me in northwest Florida as well as the Georgia coast. In fact, the next time I visit Port Saint Joe I may not stay overnight and instead take the scenic route along the coast back to St. Marks to finish the day photographing the lighthouse there. Thanks for dropping by.

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