This past weekend I traveled to Newport RI for some night photography of the Milky Way at Brenton Point State Park. My wife came along to enjoy the scenery as its one of our favorite spots in New England and to get some great seafood. We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday and checked into our hotel, then proceeded downtown to find dinner. After checking out menu’s at several locations we decided to try Clarke Cooke House along the waterfront. Dinner was exceptional followed by some Gifford’s Ice Cream at Sprinkles ice cream shop around the corner.
We then drove over to Castle Hill Lighthouse to capture sunset. The lighthouse is located near the Castle Hill Inn, but public access is provided. Being summer the Inn is very busy and parking is limited, but they did provide free parking at the entrance of the road at the intersection with Ocean Avenue. From the parking area it was only a 10-minute walk to the lighthouse.
Upon arrival at the lighthouse the sky was filled with large dark gray clouds in the western sky. As it was approaching time for sunset it appeared it was going to be a lackluster event. Nonetheless, I proceeded with taking some photos. My first setup attempted to capture the sunset behind the lighthouse, but with gray skies I was only able to take a images in a different direction without the lighthouse where lighter cloud coverage and developing colors provided more interesting photos. I took several photos, but was tempted to pack up my gear as it appeared the western sky was not going to deliver.
As the time for sunset passed, I notice another photographer setup on the other side of the lighthouse that provided the composition I had in mind with the emerging colored sky in the background. I quickly picked up my tripod and walked further down the trail looking for access to this location. I found a narrow trail through the brush that lead me to the location and quickly setup my tripod as the colors in the skies were really starting to pop. I took numerous compositions in both portrait and landscape format.
As mentioned earlier I wanted to get some photos of the Milky Way and met several other photographers at Brenton Point State park later that night. I arrived around 10 PM and the night sky was partially obscured by clouds. By the time I got my camera set-up the clouds had substantially thickened and was really only able to take one set of photos of the Milky Way. We waited until 11:30 PM, but it was apparent the skies were not going to clear as confirmed my our weather apps. Instead of throwing in the towel for the night, we decided to take an opportunity to photograph the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge.
We proceeded to the Jamestown side of the bridge to get a better view of the bridge at night. We parked at Taylor Point Lookout and walked down a narrow trail to rocky edge of Narragansett Bay passing several fisherman done for the night. The bridge was beautiful with its lights casting a glow across the water and onto the rock ledges where we proceeded to setup our cameras. There were also fewer clouds that provided more interest to our compositions. Grabbing several photos of the bridge at night certainly made up for lost opportunity at Brenton Point and was I able to get back to the hotel at a reasonable early time of 2 AM.
For some additional technical information regarding the photos above all were taken with my 24-70 mm f/2.8 Nikon lens with my Nikon D750. The sunset photos at Castle Hill Lighthouse were taken without any filters and processed with a combination of Lightroom and DXO Nik Collection Color Effex Pro 4. I’m particular fond of using Color Effex Pro 4 as it gives me the detail and colors I desire for my photos. Unfortunately, the images of the Milky Way were shrouded in heavy clouds and I was only able to salvage a single image of a portion of the star field taken at 58 mm and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. I took several images of the Newport bridge at different exposure settings and settled for a long exposure of approximately 5 minutes to use a small aperture of 16 to get the starburst effects for the lights and low ISO to minimize noise. I used Lightroom to edit this photo. If you have any questions about photographing the Milky Way or long exposures or my processing technique for any of the photographs, feel free to contact me.