Friday, February 09, 2007

Direct access

When I first visited Door County in 1998 to photograph its lighthouses, I was disappointed to discover that the Sherwood Point Lighthouse, which marked the entrance to Surgeon Bay, was basically off limits to visitors because it sat within the confines of an active Coast Guard station. At least that’s what a large sign at the entrance road stated, and not wishing to incur the wrath of the U.S. government, I complied, and after taking a final glimpse of the lighthouse through the trees, turned and left.

Fast forward eight years. It’s a chilly February weekend in the Midwestern U.S. My wife and I are visiting Door County to get some winter photographs. She suggests we drive to Sherwood Point. Who knows? Maybe we can get an interesting shot of the lighthouse through the trees, since it’s winter and there is no foliage to obscure the view. Not a bad idea, I think, so we drive off, not exactly sure how to get there. Over nearly a decade of finding and photographing lighthouses, we’ve developed a pretty good lighthouse radar and can usually sniff out a path to get to one. We follow a progressively narrowing set of roads in the general direction, and taking one last turn at an official looking U.S. government sign, find ourselves sitting in a small parking lot a few feet from the lighthouse. No scary signs forbidding our presence. Just us, the lighthouse and the stiff arctic wind off Green Bay.

Woo hoo. I walked a looping path around the grounds and filled a 36 exposure roll of film with images of the lighthouse and the squat fog signal building in front of it. This one was taken through a small clearing in the surrounding woods as a large wispy, frozen cloud floated by. It reminded me of the ancient mapmakers’ drawings of the old man in the sky blowing on the waters below.

Man, his breath was cold that day.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Update: My photograph Kewaunee Mist was chosen as Photo of the Day at EarthShots, a website that features inspirational photos from all over the globe. Head over to browse their archive. There are some really great photos to be seen.

1 comment:

thatsteveguy said...

We actually had lunch on that picnic table several years ago when we were there (in less cold conditions). Every spring Door County sponsers a Lighthouse Walk where all of the major lighthouses on the peninsula are opened to visitors. The normally closed grounds pictured here were opened for this event which is how we were able to visit. It's a beautiful spot for sure sun or snow.