Cape Nelson lighthouse is on a headland in south-west Victoria only 50 kilometres from the South Australian border and about 20 kilometres west of Portland. I was there around the 13th to 14th of May 1987.
This is a four hour exposure by the light of the full moon. I had set up the camera while there was still light, on a small platform over the edge of the cliff, and went away to have dinner.
One advantage of photographing lighthouses at night is the light from the lighthouse gives you something to focus on. Long exposures with film are quite different to digital because as well as some colour shifts, reciprocity comes into play. This means that the film no longer reacts in a linear manner to light and you have to give extra exposure to compensate.
This image is from a slide that the Department loaned out some years ago and is now missing but I was able to scan a print that I had made on Cibachrome in 1988.
The long streaks you see in the sky are star trails, including many fine ones. On the horizon are both anchored ships and ships moving along the horizon. Portland is not far away and the ships are probably loading aluminium from the aluminium smelter. The air brush effect you see in the sea is not just the waves; it’s also the tide going in or out.
This is the next morning, a few minutes before dawn.
From a similar position, just a bit later.
Cape Nelson lighthouse was commissioned in 1884 and the cottages had been built two years earlier. The delay was because they ran out of stone and had to find a different local source. The lighthouse is 24 metres high and 75 metres above the sea. Though building it was recommended much earlier, this only came about due to lobbying by Peter Lalor, former leader of the Eureka rebellion, who had become a prominent Victorian parliamentarian.
Here is the path leading to the lighthouse and the adjacent wall, giving protection from wind in stormy conditions.
A bit further away, a shed (original by the look of the stonework) and the lighthouse.
The telescope hut on top of the cliff beside the lighthouse, where keepers could keep a lookout for ships in trouble without being distracted by the light.