Stonington Borough

The historic town of Stonington Borough is located at the tip of the Stonington Peninsula and is the only town in Connecticut to face the Atlantic Ocean.  It has lived through days as a trading center and as a ship building center. In the mid-1600s, it survived two major battles with the British during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. In more recent decades, people have been buying the historic homes to use as second homes, and new construction in the surrounding area has brought many newcomers, both seasonal and full-time residents. 

Water Street runs through the borough straight to the water. It is lined with prim colonial style homes and gardens.

Water Street runs through the borough straight to the water. It is lined with prim colonial style homes and gardens.

When you walk or drive through the streets of the old town of Stonington you appreciate the age of the colonial era homes that hug the sidewalks. Many are beautifully kept clapboard or shingle homes, some with white picket fences that separate the property from the street, providing a pretty border for the gardens that are invariably tucked inside. Since the homes are so close to the street, it is easy to appreciate at least a little of what goes on in each yard. It’s best if you park your car and walk along the streets to get the closest views of the buildings and appreciate the care that has been taken of each home or business.

Foggy mornings and sunrise make a good mix for photographing at the shore.

Foggy mornings and sunrise make a good mix for photographing at the shore.

What to Photograph

Since the town ends at a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic, it faces both east and west and is a good place for photographing either the sunrise or sunset over the water. If you park in the public lot at the end of Water Street,  there are plenty of spots along the water to capture the water and the skyline. Long Island, Shelter Island and Block Island are all visible from the point in clear weather, so you may be able to capture some shots with some trees silhouetted against the sky. On foggy mornings, which happen especially in the spring or fall when days are warm and nights are cool, you can have fun trying to capture the misty morning. There are often boats passing by or maybe even a yacht anchored in the waters just off-shore. In the early morning, the only traffic that seems to stir the air are the dog walkers and the early morning cyclists who might stray down to have a look over the water.

Dog walkers, cyclists, and runners are good subjects, like the silhouetted pair.

Dog walkers, cyclists, and runners are good subjects, like the silhouetted pair.

This is a wonderful town to wander through the streets with camera in hand. The sidewalks are narrow so a tripod may be a bit of a nuisance, but it’s a necessity if you want to try some multiple exposures of the beautiful flowers that overflow the white picket fences, or even for some long shots of the scenery. This is a compact historic town, which makes it relatively easy to meander through the streets to enjoy the home fronts and view some of the gardens that are open to the street. There are a few streets that you might want to meander along to photograph some of the old homes and their gardens. Try walking north on Water Street, then turn right onto Church Street and wander back on Main Street. Turn right onto Diving Street to circle back to Water Street again.

Just remember that these are private homes, and you should be discrete about what you photograph, and how close you get to the property. It seems fine to photograph the pretty flowers that decorate the fence, or the front walk or the side yard that might lead to the water, but do be respectful.

The summer months are best for gardens in Stonington when the inky blue hydrangeas decorate the picket fences.

The summer months are best for gardens in Stonington when the inky blue hydrangeas decorate the picket fences.

When to go

I love to photograph the shoreline in the winter, when most of the people have deserted the beach and the town. It gives a chance to see everything a little closer, and to feel what it’s like when it isn’t bustling with the vibrancy of summer. The sunrises and sunsets can still be spectacular, and the days are shorter so you don’t have to get up as early or stay as late.

But this town is great in the spring and summer, not just because it’s near the water, but because the town looks so scenic when the gardens are lush and filled with color. For sunrises and sunsets, it means you have to get up early or stay late, since the days are longer. It’s worth the trip to see the town all dressed in its finest flowery show from May through September. Spring and summer is also prime time for migrating and nesting birds, if that is what you’re interested in.

Hollyhocks stand tall in a streetside garden.

Hollyhocks stand tall in a streetside garden.

Pink roses peek through a picket fence on Water Street.

Pink roses peek through a picket fence on Water Street.

Tips and Techniques

If there happens to be fog over the water, don’t fret that you won’t be able to get a good sunrise photo. Fog is fun to shoot, as long as you remember that it is white, and will make your photograph just look dull and grey if you aren’t careful. Try using your EV adjustment on your digital camera to overexpose a stop or two to compensate. You can also put a red filter on to bring out some color in the fog, or you can do that in the computer afterwards. Photoshop has a red filter in its filter menu, or try using the cloudy day white balance, to give it a yellow tone. You can then adjust the vibrance a little to bring out the glow.

Directions

You will come into town along Stonington Road to Water Street. Follow Water Street through the small town , past the Old Lighthouse Museum, and onto the tip of the peninsula, where you reach the water and a parking area. This is a great place to start, especially if you are there to photograph the sunrise.

To get to the base of Water Street, use the following address in your GPS:

1 Water Street,
Stonington, CT

 http://www.stoningtonboroughct.com/

GPS coordinates:  Latitude: 41.328201, Longitude: -71.905768

Parking  is available in the waterfront parking lot beside McBains Beach for no charge. There is street parking available also.

Tourist Tips

Noah’s Restaurant

 A great little place for coffee, bagels and sandwiches. A busy place in the morning.
 
113  Water Street, Stonington
860-535-3925

Hours: Sun., Tue.-Thu. 7:45 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 7:45 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (closed Monday)

http://noahsfinefood.com/new/

The Yellow House

149 Water Street, Stonington
(860) 535-4986

 Hours: Monday – Friday: 6:30 am -5:00 pm; Saturday: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm;  Sunday 7:00 am – 3:00 pm.

https://www.facebook.com/Yellowhousecoffee

A weathered house on Main Street, pretty in pink, grey and white.

A weathered house on Main Street, pretty in pink, grey and white.

Stonington Walking Tours

Guided Walking Tours of the Borough take place most Sunday afternoons from  June through August. Meet at the Old Lighthouse Museum at 2 pm, weather permitting               

7 Water Street
Stonington, CT 06378
Telephone: (860) 535-1440

www.StoningtonHistory.org

$7 per person

Try a vintage look with your photographs. This view of Water Street is timeless.

Try a vintage look with your photographs. This view of Water Street is timeless.

Barn Island Wildlife Management Area

This is another possibility for those who want to seek out birds and a more natural setting. This is the largest coastal protected area for wildlife in the state at just over 1000 acres. It is located just east of Stonington Borough. The property borders the ocean and has four miles of trails running through open fields, forests and salt-marsh terrain. It is a hunting area, so beware if you go during that hunting season. Check the government wildlife website for season information.  http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325726&deepNav_GID=1655

There is a parking lot and boat ramp at the end of Palmer Neck Road, and the head of the trail is located here. Look for the sign saying “Marsh Viewing Area” on the left side of Palmer Neck Road.

 249 Palmer Neck Road
Stonington, CT

http://www.lisrc.uconn.edu/coastalaccess/site.asp?siteid=551

A view of the harbor from Water Street.

A view of the harbor from Water Street.

This entry was posted in Region, The Shoreline and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

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