Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pigeon Point Lighthouse 2010 Lighting

The 138th anniversary lighting of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse occurred on November 13th, 2010 from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the State Historic Park with 3,000-5,000 people in attendance. Several photographers stake out their tripod spot as early as 6:30 A.M. and are very tight lipped about their settings. The 115 foot 1872 brick masonry tower still has the original First Order Fresnel Lens built in Paris, France in the 1850s and originally installed in the 2nd Cape Hatters Lighthouse briefly before being shipped over to the west coast. Consisting of 1,008 glass pieces of prisms and lenses, the Fresnel Lens was designed by French scientist Augustine Fresnel.
I have to work during the lighting, but I always slip away just before the light turns on because the Coast Guard will not rotate the light for the first five minutes for photographers. After that, the rotating motor turns on and slowly rotates around. The effect for mariners is a white flash every 10 seconds as the beam of light sweeps by their ship. This is the signature pattern of Pigeon Point.
The first photograph I took was from on top of the Dolphin House hostel so I could capture the half moon and escape the hordes competing for "the shot". I used my new Nikon D90 with my 18-55mm Nikon ED lens at f/8 at 30 seconds. I used Lightroom 3 for my post production edits.


The second shot I got just before the light was turned off and again the rotation is turned off for photographers. This time I took it from behind the Carpenter's Building looking strait up with my Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens at f/8 at 30 seconds. Both photos are 400 ISO. I have to use LR3 to bring out the beams and undistort the fisheye. I like this photo for its simplicity.