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Friday Slide Show: Pt. Reyes Lighthouse Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

29 August 2014

One summer day in 2006, we drove from the East Bay to the Pacific Ocean, far out on the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road to the Point Reyes National Seashore and along Sir Francis Drake all the way out to the lighthouse. Not so much to see the sites as just to take a long ride in the car. To get away from everything.

The Lighthouse. About 300 steps down in 45-mph gusts.

There's something therapeutic about the undulating hills populated with nothing but dairy cows. As we got to the coast, the fog hung over the ocean but held back politely from the shoreline. We could see the lighthouse far below us and the concrete steps leading down the cliff to it. A sign warned us, "There is strenuous effort to climb these stairs which are equivalent to a 30 story building."

But the gate to the stairs had been locked. The wind was ferocious, gusting to 45 mph. It wasn't safe to go down. We were disappointed and about to go when the ranger arrived in a green knit cap and told us to wait a minute.

He went into a small office to check the forecast. The wind was dying down. There was time for one more group to go down the 300 or so steps to the lighthouse. He took a group photo a family visiting from India while we waited and then he opened the gate to let us down.

We had a Nikon D70s with an 18-70mm f3.5-4.5 Nikkor on it. Just shooting tourist JPEGs at ISO 200. The view from above the ocean. The rocks. The interior of the lighthouse. You couldn't miss. Every shot was a postcard.

Last night we dug them up again to tweak them in Lightroom 5. Today's technology massaging eight-year-old captures. And it was eye-opening. They cleaned up so well that if we told you they were shot with a Nikon D810, no one would doubt it. We recovered detail in the shadows of the interior shots we had never seen.

It was nice to go back.

There's an old Italian poem (translated as You Only Go By Once) by Edoardo Firpo in the Genovese dialect that mentions the famous lighthouse in Genoa. He is lamenting losing his youth bit by bit, but keeps a little of it by not losing sight of it.

Like someone who sets sail at night
from Genoa,
as long as he sees the Lighthouse
he can still take comfort.

These old images are like that. They take us back to that day, that sight, that was a balm to troubles that have drifted away even as they may have forced us to change our course.

And help us recover a little the strength of our youth.

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