Monday, December 17, 2012

POTW: 'Return to Pigeon Point Lighthouse' by Darvin Atkeson

"Return to Pigeon Point Lighthouse - 138th Anniversary" ~ © Darvin Atkeson (click on image for a larger view)
Our Photo of the Week was taken by Darvin Atkeson at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, west of San Jose, California. The question most often asked when people see this photo is, "Are the beams real?" Darvin assures us that this is how it really looked on November 13, 2010 when they stopped the rotation of the Fresnel lens for the attending photographers. Darvin took this photo with a Nikon D300, using a Nikkor 10-14mm f/3.5-4.5 @ f/4.0. The exposure was for 48 seconds, at ISO 100. There is no Photoshop work on this image other than adjustment to the levels.

"The waves sparkled in the moonlight as they crashed upon the rocks below my vantage point. As always, the lighting of Pigeon Point Lighthouse annual lighting was a stellar event. The evening was warm and clear with just enough ocean mist to get the brilliant beams of the lighthouse to absolutely glow," reports Atkeson.

Challenges: High contrast is normally an issue when photographing lighthouses at night. "It took me four years attending the event to get this shot with the moon helping out the sky and sea foam, but still getting the stars," says Darvin.

Satisfaction: Hundreds of photographers show up but only a few stay till the very end when this shot was taken. It's cold, wet, windy and chills one to the bone.

"I wanted to capture the mood of the event," says Darvin. "The 24 beams of light are so intense and travel to the horizon. I had envisioned the shot years earlier but didn't have the necessary camera to do the job properly. It would take four more visits to the event to get the same look as [the] previous years were foggy. It was a pure joy to see and then have the image actually look as it appeared [when] viewing the event."

More of Darvin Atkeson's photography can be seen at his Flickr and 500px websites.

Editor's Note: The Pigeon Point Lighthouse had it's 140th anniversary on November 17, 2012. The anniversary marks the first lighting of the lighthouse’s magnificent Fresnel lens on November 15, 1872. Most anniversary celebrations in past years have included a once-a-year lighting of the Fresnel lens. That won’t happen for some time because a year ago the lens was removed from the lighthouse for safe keeping so the tower could be repaired. The lens will be returned to the tower when the restoration is completed.

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