Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Pigeon Point Lighthouse was built in 1872 on notoriously dangerous coastal cliffs fifty miles south of San Francisco.
The lighthouse is one of the tallest in America, and has a first order Fresnel lens. The lens is a seventeen foot tall glass beehive of 1008 lenses and prisms. It weighs four tons and simultaneously shines beams in 24 directions. The spokes of light spin slowly, visible for as far as the eye can see.
The Fresnel lens -- now obsolete -- has been preserved in the lantern room and is illuminated once a year for the anniversary celebration. For five minutes the Coast Guard doesn't engage the massive clockwork mechanism, to allow photographers to take time exposures such as the photos below. And then, the huge lens and its beams begin to spin.
I've collected photos of the lighthouse from the past three years. Each year the weather has been different. This year the air was very dry, making the beams hard to see. Yet last year it was so foggy you couldn't see the lighthouse past 200 yards. The weather in 2006 couldn't have been better beam weather.
1 page / 3 photos