Back down to earth

Even as I begin this blog post, I have no idea what it will be about. How exciting is that?
“What a rebel! What a firebrand! How does he do it?” I hear the audience marvel.

I do know what it won’t be about though: flight. It suddenly struck me that my last three posts had all involved flight, and that I was inadvertently drifting higher and higher: 120m with my Mavic, 40,000ft on that Dreamliner and then about 408km for the International Space Station. This wasn’t at all intentional, it just happened that way.

Anyway, it could be that this post actually ends up being about not knowing what it is going to be about. I’ve been sidetracked so many times since I began writing it (picking fantasy football side, answering emails, doing lab work), that I’m now running out of time to complete it before I have other places to be.

Quota photo?

Quota photo.

How about another one of those Brittany lighthouses?

This one is La Vieille – the Old Lady – off the Pointe du Raz, and forms part of a chain of lighthouses guiding ships safely around the end of Brittany:

There you go. Not a wing, rocket or rotor blade in sight.

Kermorvan

A lighthouse in Brittany (and number four listed here): Kermorvan

Photo by Duarte Sol Photography.

Not my ideal style of lighthouse. I like the round tower – this is all a little too bulky and reminiscent of a castle keep.

But the photo – wow. The clarity and detail of the solid elements against that deliciously soft, cotton wool, long exposure sea.

Very nice.

Canal Beagle

No, not a trip to our local waterway with the dog, a black bin liner and a couple of bricks.
El Canal Beagle  – The Beagle Channel – is a waterway right at the bottom of South America. It’s named after Charles Darwin’s vessel, which took this route between Argentina and Chile between 1826 and 1830.

Notable things about the Beagle Channel:
1. It’s got the infernal dog breed in its name.
2. It’s got a lighthouse:

3. There was a Beagle Conflict. This in itself is weirdly amusing, but – and how cool is this? – one of the major incidents in this conflict over a disputed border line occurred in 1958 – and involved three lighthouses.

Named the Snipe Incident after the uninhabitable rock which both sides claimed they owned [rolls eyes], it involved the Chileans building a lighthouse on the rock. The Argentinians quickly destroyed the Chilean lighthouse after it’s completion and replaced it with their own Argentinian lighthouse. This Argentinian lighthouse was removed by Chilean forces and taken to a nearby Chilean naval base. Those Chilean forces also reinstated the original Chilean lighthouse, the remains of which the Argentinians had thrown into the sea. The following day, the Argentines used heavy artillery to destroy that lighthouse (again), before placing some soldiers on the rock to claim sovereignty.

The ensuing military build-up was fortunately curtailed by a truce. The terms of this truce were that there should be no military personnel or lighthouses on the rock. So, exactly as it was before the three lighthouses and the mini invasion then.

Sabre-rattling deluxe.

Since a further treaty in 1984, there have been no disputes over this (now) Chilean territory. There is now a lighthouse (not the one pictured above – that’s the Phare Les Éclaireurs and definitely belongs to Argentina) on the Snipe islet.

Note: This post is about Beagle Lighthouses and has nothing to do with Lighthouse Beagles, who are responsible for promoting and developing the dreaded breed throughout Europe.

Weekend photos

We had some fun in Agulhas this weekend, not least setting up the camera with the remote shutter thingy on it next to the bird table.

This isn’t one of those photos…

…but you can view them here.
Via that link, you’ll also find some photographs of White-breasted Cormorants (Phalacrocorax lucidus) taken by 10-year-old Alex. They’ve required a bit of editing, because I gave him the camera set on Manual mode with the white balance set to Tungsten.

I haven’t learnt anything
, have I?

Brittany Lighthouses

Tagged by London blogger and member of the MEC (Mutual Enjoyment Club), Brian Micklethwait in a lighthouse post? I had better document that.

Brian shares a photo of a poster in a shop window; a poster featuring 12 Brittany Lighthouses, which I love, and which I have half-inched to share here:

brittanylighthouses

Two things I noted about the poster (which I now want for my study wall). Firstly, the second lighthouse from the left is La Jument, a 48m high stone tower built in 1911, and apparently “The most famous lighthouse in the world”. Why the fame? Because of this famous (see?) photo by famous lighthouse photographer, Jean Guichard, which has sold over a million copies.

strength-guichard

But you must ignore that motivational crap about looking fear in the face, because when the photograph was taken, the lighthouse keeper Théodore Malgorn (for it are he in the doorway) had no idea that the wave was coming, as this account testifies:

Malgorn, suddenly realising that a giant wave was about to engulf the structure, rushed back inside just in time to save his life. In an interview he said “If I had been a little further away from the door, I would not have made it back into the tower. And I would be dead today. You cannot play with the sea.”

The photograph – taken on the 21st December 1989 – won second place in the 1991 World Press Photo awards. (The winner was Guichard’s compatriot Georges Mérillon.)

Aaannd the other thing that interested me particularly about the post was the “coffee cup rings” over each of the towers. I don’t think that they are actual coffee cup rings – I’m hoping that they are examples of light characteristics – a representation of the sequence of flashes that differentiate and identify each lighthouse.

My theory is supported by the fact that La Jument (remember that? It’s famous, after all) has a light characteristic of Fl 3 R 15s that’s 3 flashes of a red light every 15 seconds. And look at its coffee cup ring:

brittanylighthouses

Assuming that ring makes up a minute (and ignoring that awkward gap, top right) I can see three flashes 4 times there.

It’s this sort of technical detail which I love about posters like this. It makes it less of a picture and more of a document. And just as I know that my readers needed to know who won the 1991 World Press Photo awards, I know that you’ll want to know the full light characteristic for Cape Agulhas lighthouse. And that is: Fl W 5s 31m 30M – a white light flashing every 5 seconds, 31 metres above sea level and visible for 30 nautical miles. .

Other selected lighthouse light characteristics include (but are not limited to):

Slangkop: Fl 4 W 30s. 4 white flashes every 30 seconds.
Cape Point: Fl 3 W 30s. 3 white flashes every 30 seconds.
Green Point: Fl W 10s. White light flashing every 10 seconds.
Dreswick Point (IOM): Fl 2 W 30s. 2 white flashes every 30 seconds.

Lighthouses, eh? I’m a sucker for them.