Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

The Pt. Bonita Lighthouse
Marin Headands, California

The Pt. Bonita Lighthouse is situated at the end of an adventuresome path invloving tunnels and bridges (39K jpg, Canon 24-mm, August 1997).

go to location mapI've had my eye on this lighthouse for some time and have hiked out to its barren point on many occasions.  It is a short, but interesting, walk through hand carved tunnels and across suspension bridges.  The way takes you past the ruins of a life boat station.  Finally you arrive at the very tip of land enclosing the northern side of the Golden Gate Straight.

For two years I've approached different folks at the National Park Service people about arranging permission to photograph Pt. Bonita and Alcatraz Island.  They are a hard bunch to pin down.  On this particular day I just walked out to the lighthouse on a scouting mission.  The wind and light looked mighty nice so I worked on convencing the docent that my kite flying would be innocent and unobtrusive.  The docent said well maybe, ok, sort of, let's see and I sent the kite up for a trial run.  I was able to take a couple of test rolls before I pulled it down.  So these August images are test shots.  After forwarding copies to the NPS  I still haven't secured permission for additional shots.  

The Pigeon Point Lighthouse site provides some information on Pt. Bonita. For instance, it relates that the "first fog signal used on the U.S. West Coast was at Point Bonita: an Army-surplus, eight-foot long, 24-pounder siege gun from the Benicia Arsenal. The 'fog signal' was operated by a new keeper, one Sgt. Maloney, U.S. Army Ret., who fired the gun every half-hour during foggy weather starting August 8, 1856." Now that would be interesting duty.

Not long after I posted this Ryan Young added another piece to the story: "The gun you mention being used as a fog signal at Pt Bonita is now mounted on a carriage at Coast Guard Island here in Alameda. Firing it at regular intervals was far from "interesting duty", there is a pitiful letter extant from the keeper, complaining of a 4 day continuously foggy period that drove his wife half crazy, himself deaf, and completely consumed a year's worth of powder! He begged for relief."

Higher views of the lighthouse from two different perspectives (53K jpg, Canon 24-mm left and 37K jpg, Canon 15-mm right, August 1997).

When I took these images in late summer the wind was blowing from the west.  Since the lighthouse is at the western end of a small peninsula I could not take views of the structure from directly overhead or seaward.   The images on these pages show the lighthouse from a distance and the suspension bridge that serves it.

The lighthouse proper and its associated buildings (43K jpg left and 31K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, August 1997).

It was a clear day with a perfect, steady 12 mph breeze.   The camera was lofted by my current favorite kite, the Sutton Flowform 30.

A view of Fort Barry, situated at the highest point on the Marin Headland shoreline (33K jpg, Canon 15-mm, August 1997).

I thought I would throw in a couple of views of nearby Fort Barry. This is the highest point in the Marin Headlands.  I have flown here on several previous occasions and it has always been difficult to get a rig aloft.  I guess it takes so much effort that I feel compelled to show an image or two. Point Bonita is distant in the upper center of this image.

A view of the Ft. Barry roadway (44K jpg, Canon 24-mm, August 1997).

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