As I’m currently making my third and final “pass” through the negatives in the “North Carolina Places” series, I couldn’t help but note the many fine Morton images of our state’s famous lighthouses (nor could I resist the pun in this post’s title — “high lights,” get it? Ugh, sorry).
All three of the images in this post are testaments to Hugh Morton’s artistic eye. Lighthouses are photographed so often, and usually in highly mediocre fashion. It is, admittedly, difficult to bring visual interest to a tall, skinny object — but Morton achieves it here through framing, pattern, and the use of models.
In the photo above of the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse (notably, the second oldest lighthouse in the U.S. in continuous service), the shadow, shape and texture of the tree in the foreground draw the eye powerfully to the image’s primary subject. Meanwhile, in the Cape Hatteras image below, the placement of the female models and the patterning of the foremost model’s bathing suit provide dramatic variation and contrast with the lighthouse’s famous stripes. (Ladies in swimsuits usually don’t hurt in terms of visual interest, either — as Morton was keenly aware).
The Oak Island image below may be my favorite. There’s just something very charming about the stance and placement of the model (who I suspect is a young Jim Morton), the jaunty angles of his arms, and the way the stripes of his t-shirt echo the stripes of the lighthouse. Well played, Mr. Morton.