Macquarie Lighthouse (Sydney)

I took these images of Macquarie lighthouse in Sydney from 5th to 7th November 1987, months later than images in preceding posts.

Macquarie-lighthouse-and-cliffs-by-day

Macquarie lighthouse and cliffs by day
6 November 1987
Arca-Swiss monorail 5×4″
90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon
Low-res scan from book

The original Macquarie lighthouse, built in 1818, was Australia’s first lighthouse,  although an iron basket had been erected nearby on a tripod in 1794, initially burning wood and then coal from 1797.   The lighthouse was commissioned by Governor Macquarie and designed by convict architect Francis Greenaway, who warned at a very early stage that the sandstone used would soon crumble.  Several large stones fell from arches in 1823 and starting from that year, a succession of iron bands were wrapped around the lighthouse for support.

Macquarie-Loghthouse-and-cottage-by-day

Macquarie lighthouse and cottage by day
6 November 1987
Arca-Swiss monorail 5×4″
Low-res scan from book

When it became necessary to instal a larger optic, they replaced the lighthouse, building a new one beside the old.  This is what you see today, dating from 1881.  The design closely follows the original lighthouse, apart from a larger lantern room at the top.  My guess is that the lighthouse cottage behind it also dates from 1881.

Macquarie-Light-at-Night-2

Macquarie lighthouse at night

The lighthouse at night, as lit by various lights.  The original slide was technically compromised, fogged and with banding in the sky.  Rescuing it produced some strange colours so that a high-contrast black and white was the only feasible option.

The first lighthouse keeper was Robert Watson, who had been a bosun on one of the ships of the First Fleet.

Macquarie-Lighthouse-in-Fog

Macquarie Lighthouse in Fog
5.35am 6 November 1987
Arca Swiss Monorail 5×4″
90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon
f11 30 seconds, Fujichrome 50

Here we can see that when the weather closes in, visibility is low and it is difficult to see the lighthouse.  I wanted this image to go into the book to make that point but was overruled.

In 1857 the sailing ship Dunbar foundered at the base of this cliff, notwithstanding the presence of the earlier lighthouse.  A total of 121 passengers and crew drowned.  There was just one survivor who managed to reach safety at the foot of the cliffs and he was not discovered for two days.

Macquarie-Floor

Brass and marble flag on lighthouse floor with staircase, 12.45pm 6 November 1987
Arca-Swiss monorail 5×4″
f45 6 seconds, 65mm Schneider super Angulon, Fujichrome 50.

The lighthouse contains a few remarkable architectural embellishments.   Here is the New South Wales flag on the floor at the entrance of the lighthouse.

Macquarie-Doorhandle

Macquarie Door handle
6 November 1987
Arca Swiss Monorail 5×4″

This is a brass door handle inside the lantern room.

Macquarie lens

Macquarie lens
Nikon FE, 16mm f3.5 fisheye

Here is the bulb and fresnel lenses inside the optic, which was large enough to stand up inside.  Lots of fisheye distortion here.

Macquarie and Cliffs during night 6 November 1987 Arca Swiss Monorail 5x4" 90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon f6.8 20 minutes, Fujichrome 50

Macquarie and Cliffs during night
6 November 1987
Arca Swiss Monorail 5×4″
90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon
f6.8 20 minutes, Fujichrome 50

The weather had greatly improved during the day and this was an important lighthouse so I stayed to try again for another night.  This was the night of the full moon, which is the source of light for these exposures.

Macquarie and Cliffs during night 6 November 1987 Arca Swiss Monorail 5x4" 90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon f6.8 40 minutes, Fujichrome 50

Macquarie and Cliffs during night
6 November 1987
Arca Swiss Monorail 5×4″
90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon
f6.8 40 minutes, Fujichrome 50

The white lines in the sky are star trails.  In the distance are ships anchored or moving.  The waves are washing in and out during the long exposure.

Macquarie and Cliffs during night 6 November 1987 Arca Swiss Monorail 5x4" 90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon f6.8 30 minutes, Fujichrome 50

Macquarie lighthouse and Cliffs during night
6 November 1987
Arca Swiss Monorail 5×4″
90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon
f6.8 30 minutes, Fujichrome 50

To get to this position, I climbed over the railing and down to a platform where I had been the previous night and where I was not visible from above.  I stayed there the whole night, trying different exposures from time to time.

Macquarie and Cliffs at Dawn 5.20am 7 November 1987 Arca Swiss Monorail 5x4" 90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon f11 1 minute, Fujichrome 100

Macquarie and Cliffs at Dawn
5.20am 7 November 1987
Arca Swiss Monorail 5×4″
90mm Linhof Schneider Angulon
f11 1 minute, Fujichrome 100

So here we are, and it’s half an hour before dawn on the morning of the 7th of November 1987.  This is the image displayed on the front cover of the book.

10 comments on “Macquarie Lighthouse (Sydney)

  1. Very nice, what is the book you refer to?

    Like

  2. Mick Deutsch says:

    Always enjoy your work, Murray.

    Like

  3. Robyn G says:

    Stunning images Murray. It’s a beautiful place and I really enjoyed seeing it all from your point of view. Thanks for sharing and making me aware 😃

    Like

    • Murray Foote says:

      Thanks very much Robyn. Very different world in those days. As you might have noticed above from the image descriptions, I was using a large format camera with 5x4inch film size. My tripod weighed 5kg by itself.

      For the shots of the lighthouse and the cliff, I climbed over the guard rail and found a large platform below the top of the cliff where no-one could see me and stayed there all night. So on the cover of the book, a Government publication, was an “illegal” photograph.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Robyn G says:

        It was a very different world. I did notice your descriptions and understand the quality and dedication that comes with them 😀 Lugging that heavy gear around is not for the faint hearted 😉 My husband and his grandfather used to shoot with the large format cameras (especially his gf). We still use some of his gear now. Also I did have a giggle about climbing the rail – I knew by reading your description that it would have been frowned upon. Love the cover photo! It’s stunning!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Murray Foote says:

        Thanks very much Robyn. You husband may have inherited some interesting images then. I must admit I still have all my large format cameras and lenses including a 6×17 panorama camera but don’t use them.

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