These two shots were taken in quick succession, as I lay on my stomach in the windswept golden grass. I liked the both, so was delighted that this weeks photo challenge asks us to focus on focus. It gives me a great excuse for posting both shots, and asking which you prefer.
There is something about lighthouses which captures my imagination, sweeping me off into childhood tales of sea journeys, pirates, shipwrecks and kidnapping. As a child I imagined how wonderfully different it would be to live in one of these icons of the storm filled coast. Cut off from the rest of the world, living in the heart of sea storms, valiantly keeping the light shining what ever the weather seemed impossibly romantic. The reality was perhaps somewhat different, but I hated the idea of automated lighthouses, it killed the whole wild tale in my head. It sucked the romance out of a light tended by hand, to save countless unknown lives at sea.
In Gaelic they are called taigh solais, which translates as house of light, which feels more romantic and less functional than the English equivalent. The original lights were used to guide boats safely into harbour, shining out across the waves, drawing boats in like moths. Later they became warning lights, built on treacherous reef filled coasts, the light kept the boats safely at bay out in deep clear water. I find this sharp shift in use and so symbolism fascinating. The light switched from one of safety and home, to one of danger and distance, and because of this lots of work was done to create lenses which could focus the light more intensely, thus giving it greater reach across the waves.
There was a flurry of lighthouse building in the 19th century, but now having been automated in the middle of the 20th century, lots have recently been decommissioned following a review of provision. This one at Barns Ness in East Lothian, was built by David A Stevenson, a member of Scotland’s famous lighthouse building family. It survived machine gun fire during the second world war only to be darkened on 27th October 2005. Deemed no longer necessary it stopped shining its unique light signature across this stretch of water, and now sadly stands in darkness as night falls, it’s heart and purpose lost, no longer a bright house of light.
Until 1966 its paraffin lamp was manned by two lighthouse keepers, after semi automation this fell to one keeper, and after full automation in 1986 it lost its keeper altogether. Once they are fully automated lighthouses are remotely monitored, and this whole process to me feels like the slow removal of the soul of the light and its tower. Each light had its own pattern, so that sailors could know exactly where the lighthouse was, and orientate themselves even when tossed about in a wild dark night storm. To me this gives the light a personality and a soul, which would be linked to the soul of the keepers who tended the lamps, how sad that this one has been snuffed out.
May the light shine out of your eyes like a bright lamp in a window at night, welcoming strangers into warmth and company. (an old Gaelic blessing)
Scotland is definitely on my bucket list. Awesome blog. You are blessed to live in such lovely place. I teach history so I love, love your blog.
Thanks so much, I mix history and myth fairly liberally 🙂
Wow! This shot is breathtaking!
Oh my gosh. Incredible images and wonderful essay. I love lighthouses and your pictures are stunning. I really like the gaelic blessing at the end.
Thanks so much for your lovely feedback. It’s always great to hear from a fellow lighthouse lover, and I’m glad you like the Celtic blessing….it always conjures up a wonderful image for me of bright shining eyes full of warmth 🙂
just beautiful! greetings from Berlin…
And greetings back from Scotland! You take wonderful and interesting photos, I’m glad to have found you 🙂
thank you! 🙂
Wonderful, wonderful! I love the first and the last photos but perhaps I love the narrative more! I have a rather landlocked life here smack dab in the middle of the USA (Wisconsin) and it’s nice to hear that someone who actually see’s lighthouses more often then me also has “incurably romantic” feelings about them! 🙂
A great post! I am sure you are an old soul, so in tune you seem to be with the stories and histories in which your country is steeped.
Lol, that has been said to me before, and not even in connection with my wrinkles 🙂
I love this post so much it hurts.
Another lighthouse lover and incurable romantic? There seem to be quite a few of us out there 🙂 I’m certain we make the world a better place.
Pingback: WordPress Photo Challenge: Focus (2) | Bastet and Sekhmet
H and me at thesimplesmiles.wordpress.com have nominated you for the Versatile blogger award! Please read this post! 🙂
That’s very kind of you guys to think of me. I will try to get round to doing what needs doing for this award 🙂
The perspective you shot from definitely makes you feel small but such a part of the atmosphere and mood of that day.
Love, equanimity, peace. TimurZ
That’s exactly what I was trying to do, so glad you enjoyed the results 🙂
Great shots. I really loved the last one. The lighthouse acts like a beacon leading the eye up into the light of the sky.
Thanks Suzanne, I love that last shot too, the light was wonderful, and that one single puff of a cloud gives great focus 🙂
your photos are so evocative, I can almost feel the breeze blowing through my hair! I prefer the first lighthouse shot as the second is making my eyes swim (perhaps it has an in-built tired-ometer in it and it’s actually whispering ”go to bed and close your eyes”)
Lol, I love that idea, and I know what you mean. Somehow the eye can’t help being drawn back to the lighthouse, and its lack of focus then confuses the brain 🙂
Love the colors and the perspective. I love the grasses that you brought into your shot.
Thanks Charlie, I wanted to bring it in to somehow ground the lighthouse which otherwise seemed to drift off into the sky. Also I liked the way it brought the winds motion into the photo. Of course as usual for me it required me to lie down among the grasses….I was quite grubby by the time I had caught the shots I wanted.
Just beautiful! The photos and the accompany-ing words. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
My pleasure Nikki, thank you for reading and commenting:-)
So Beautiful! The golden grain reminds me of the wheat fields of the plains. But what would a light house be doing there?
Isn’t that a lovely idea, and I hadn’t thought of the fact that I haven’t got the sea in any of these shots! A landlocked lighthouse in a golden ocean of grass 🙂
Great to meet someone with a like mind, although a little scary.
Thank you for the lovely blessing 🙂 I prefer the first shot where the lighthouse is clearly focused but it so depends on the subject matter, doesn’t it? Lighthouses always make good photo opportunities. 🙂
I love taking photos of lighthouses Jo, there is something so romantic and intriguing about them. Glad you liked the blessing:-)
Really nice, indeed beautiful, homage to the noble houses of light. I too honor and respect them, like you do, as individuals. It is too bad that automation and technology has deemed them no longer of much use. You may find it interesting that even though the lighthouse may be an anachronism there are still folks out there who appreciate them for what they are and what they used to be. Check out this site … http://www.lighthousepreservation.org/. D
Thanks for the link David, very interesting. There is just something wonderful about the way the old paraffin lights were tended and kept burning through wild dark storms. The ingenuity of people in the past creating a way, without electricity, to solve a problem. I am always in awe of human ingenuity, which I think was tested and used more in the past.
Lighthouses on windswept coasts, changing light caused by clouds that play tag, and an old Gaelic blessing.
A mysterious lighthouse keeper, romance and lots of drama 😛
This is a lovely post …
All the best!
Hanna, I think I like your comment better than my post, what a wonderful summary, thank you 🙂
Pingback: Photo Project ’52 Bolivian Sundays’ [week 34, 'Focus']. | 3rdculturechildren
A haunting, allegorical narration with telling images. I can identify with many of those emotions.
What a lovely comment, thank you 🙂
They certainly give you a sense of living beings, the lighthouses. I love the first one best too, but I think the last one is enigmatic. In literature the lighthouse is often used (often as symbols too of course) and that I think because they have a soul and a special meaning to people in general. When my husband turned 50 we went to ( and all the guests too) a lonely island where we stayed the night in a lighthouse.
I think the first one wins hands down on votes 🙂
A love of lighthouses is yet another thing we have in common, and that party in the lighthouse sounds wonderful. I think I would like to do that when I turn 50.
Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Flowers in Focus | What's (in) the picture?
I love the subject you have chosen and your take on it!
Thank you 🙂
These are all wonderful images, I think I like the first best of all. The demise of the lighthouse is so sad, another piece of our history lost.
Indeed, they are such wonderfully enduring and romantic structures, it’s very sad to see them dark at night…..but I am an incurable romantic
Ahhhhhhhhhh……breathing out feelings of peacefulness. Thank you.
You’re very welcome:-)
Lovely photos for this challenge!
Thanks Janaline, as I say it gave me a great excuse for using both photos. I like the feeling of movement in the second shot even though the lighthouse is out of focus 🙂
Beautiful shots! The last one is dramatic. Thank you for sharing the background information!
My pleasure, I’m delighted you enjoyed reading and viewing this wonderful house of light 🙂
I really like the shots in the grass.
It’s a fantastic use of foreground (grass) midlevel (lighthouse) and background (sky)
Very kind Michael, I seem to spend quite a lot of my time on my tummy or on my knees while taking photos 🙂 I end up a bit grubby usually.
Lovely Seonaid, you know I’m a sucker for lighthouses :-). And love the Gaelic blessing! Good job!!
What’s not to love about a lighthouse Tina, and I have always loved the image that blessing conjures up 🙂
I would go with the first of the two ‘focus’ photographs. The fourth image has a wonderful tone to it. Lighthouses are just one of many evocative elements of the sea along with fishing boats, sheltered coves, lobster pots, beached seaweed, rock pools, sandcastles!
Couldn’t agree more about all the evocative elements of the sea, and I can’t get enough of any of them. I adore the wonderful, wonderful emotion filled sea 🙂
I think everyone agrees that photo one is best 🙂
Maybe there’s hope. Our Ponce Inlet lighthouse was dark for a time, but is working again. The locals got it going. Maybe yours could do the same. There is nothing more sad than a darkened lighthouse.
That’s wonderful to hear that local power relit your lighthouse. I couldn’t agree more that a dark lighthouse is a sad sight, and you have got me thinking….
My laptop died but go to my lighthouse song post. There’s a link to Ponce Inlet Lighthouse website. They talk about how they brought it back.
Reblogged this on blogagaini.
I, too, love lighthouses and enjoyed your wonderful shots of this one. Thanks for the commentary as well.
It’s always lovely to meet a fellow lighthouse lover 🙂
I love all the shots, but as you asked us which of the opening two we prefer. I plump for the first one, with the sharp-focus lighthouse. That last image is divine. Very romantic images, all. One can almost imagine Rapunzel letting down her golden hair, into the golden field.
Now that’s a great idea for a new use for the now sadly redundant lighthouse. I’m off to call Rapunzel to let her know 🙂
I think I agree with your choice of photo, but then I get caught by the grass!
hey i jus noticed the Gaelic for ‘house’ is the same as the Welsh; Taigh/Tŷ 🙂
So many shared words….I love how language does this 🙂
Another set of stunning photos!
Thanks Caro, it was a great subject, sitting still for me without complaining 🙂
Thanks so much Caroline, I really enjoyed taking them. I love the way the light bounces around the tower, and the way it seems to swim in the sky.
Lovely shots, the last one looks almost like a painting!
Thanks, I loved taking these shots as I’m an incurable romantic. I started quite firmly grounded on the earth, and ended up swirling in the clouds 🙂