Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Surprise Fresnel Lens Lighting on 11/11/11


I was very surprised to end my day of work and was walking home from my office when I decided to go into the Fog Signal Building where I knew the workers were planning on taking down the First Order Fresnel Lens the very next morning. They informed me that in a few minutes they were going to go up into the tower and test the light and lens to "make sure it was working". I was able to quickly run over to my home and get my camera ready in order to get a good shot. But they did not stop the rotation of the light, in order to get a really good long exposure in low ISO to reduce noise but to be able to get the light beams during a full moon. So I had to boost up the ISO to 6400 in order to get 2 second shots at a wide open aperture f/4 at 18mm. I set up on the boardwalk just south of the tower over looking this deep cove and shot a few test shots and then decided that I need to bust out my intervalometer and get a time-lapse of the event since my high ISO created so much noise it would ruin any chance of a good still. I set the intervalometer shoot continous 2 second shots and the first ten seconds of the time-lapse shows the results! I had the moon to my back and the clouds moving swiftly through the air! The 24 beams of the First Order Fresnel Lens had dramatic contrast to the night sky, but my high ISO almost made the sky to bright and the ocean as viable as daylight. Luckily the door to the lighthouse opened and someone walked in! You can also see an airplane zoom by as well!
For some reason, I also wanted to get the shot from the other side, and although I like the effect of the moon and the clouds and the traffic on highway one, the first angle was just so much better. I did get the light turning out for the very last time and the tower lights being turned out as well as if to signify the end of an era.
The Lens, manufactured in Paris France for the first Cape Hatters Lighthouse tower, only lived there for about 20 years until it moved up to Staten Island in New York before being shipped around The Horn of South America in a Clipper Ship to San Francisco and then installed in Pigeon Point's Light Station tower in the fall of 1872. It was first lit on November 15th of that year. Who would have known that it was to last be lit almost 139 years later on the fateful day of 11/11/11?
Not to worry, it will be on display inside the Fog Signal Building until, the tower is restored and placed back in the lantern room safely. To help fund the restoration, please visit www.calparks.org/PPLS . To see in HD go to my website at: Jeff Parry Photography