The Magic of Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Stars Above Lime Kiln Lighthouse: Pentax K-5, Pentax DA* 16-50mm f/2.8

The above is an image from an overnight trip to San Juan Island.  I wanted to capture the sunset and night moods in a single photograph. For those who are interested, here’s how I “made” this photograph.

1. At ISO 80, I took 5 bracketed exposures (-4, -2, 0, +2, +4) about 20 minutes after sunset to capture the warm glow in the sky and detail in the foreground rocks afforded by the the ambient light.

2. From the same spot, I took a single, 30-second exposure several hours after sunset at ISO 6400 to capture the stars.

3. In photoshop, I combined the 5 bracketed images to obtain proper detail in the foreground and sunset sky.

4. For the last step, I placed the image with starts as a separate layer on top and used blending mode “Lighten”. This allowed the bright stars to “show through” while leaving the sunset colors intact.

While on the island, I also came across a few foxes.  Below are a couple of snaps of them.  I hope you enjoy the shots!

Fantastic Mr. Fox: Pentax, K-5, Pentax DA* 60-250mm f/4

The Black Fox: Pentax, K-5, Pentax DA* 60-250mm f/4

  • Bev
    June 18, 2011

    Just great; love the sky and the stars.

  • Joel
    June 18, 2011

    Beautiful lighthouse picture and starry sky. Thanks for sharing how you brought out the stars without disrupting the exposure for the remainder of the picture. The foreground rocks are great – dark enough to feel the time of day, but detailed enough to visualize, with their scattered lighter areas adding texture and interest.

  • Naveen
    June 18, 2011

    Love the lighthouse picture. Thanks for sharing the technique…

  • Julie
    June 19, 2011

    Really love the light house picture, its gorgeous!!

    you are talented with the foxes…

  • linda lin
    June 19, 2011


  • JoAnn
    June 20, 2011

    In awe of the litehouse! ..and love seeing the foxes. Were they tame or were they going to eat you?

  • linda
    June 20, 2011

    amazing…and a little freaky. It’s so unlikely to get stars so clearly, it seems like it must be pinholes in the paper. And water in foreground by dark rocks manages to look like ‘fog’ rolling in…but only by land. thank you.

  • Alan Grose
    June 20, 2011

    You beat me to Lime Kiln. I’ll be there in July. Awesome lighthouse photo! I’m going to look for more on your site.

  • Chris Budech
    June 20, 2011

    Mahesh, thanks for the composing tips and great pics. So is combining bracketed images recommended when you have a big contrast in light and dark in your image in general? Or best for eve shots such as this one?

  • Rachael
    June 21, 2011

    The way he sits, it looks like you got to know the little black fox. he probably watched you for a while. He is soooo cute!

  • Dona
    June 21, 2011

    I am such a sucker for starry skies! This is really a gorgeous picture. I also appreciate knowing how you did it.

  • shanter
    July 29, 2011

    It is impossible not to look at the black foxes eyes–mezmerizing. Love it.

  • tiffany
    August 28, 2011

    I am in complete awe of your pictures. That first image with the stars is probably one of my favorite landscape pictures I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing the photoshop info, I would love to improve my landscape photography.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *