For this 30 second astro-landscape timelapse created at Green Cape lighthouse, there is quite a lot of story to goes into the making.
The area is teeming with life. Wombats, Bandicoots, Rabbits, Possums and Wallabies were running around everywhere. I remember shining my torch into the bush at one stage to see a dozen or so eyes reflecting back at me!
Conditions were perfect. Totally isolated from any light pollution, clear skies, an awesome subject for the foreground and nothing to do the next day.
Inside the prism of the lighthouse:
I checked The Photographers Ephemeris for the position of the milky way, then from about 10:30 PM on a Wednesday night I set up the shot and let the interval timer do its thing.
What was expected to be a pretty uneventful night quickly changed when I noticed the lighthouse becoming illuminated from the other side (about 9 seconds in).
I looked over the keeper’s cottages of the lighthouse to see multiple flashlights waving around in the night.
I started to panic that the two hours of photos I’d already taken were going to be ruined.
So, I ran over to where the torches were coming from, In pitch black, with my phone screen lighting the way so I didn’t ruin the time lapse myself.
Image: Green Cape light station – The newer, solar powered steel tower took over duties from the 133-year-old concrete tower in 1992.
As I got closer, I realised the people with torches were NSW Police looking at a solar panel array, still totally unaware of my presence.
From about two meters away In my most unconvincing possible tone; I said “hello”. The two police and keeper promptly swung around with flashlights.
I followed this with “I’m trying to do a time lapse, and you’re kind of ruining everything for me. Can you please stop shining your torches on the lighthouse?”.
In one of the worst cases of wrong place at the wrong time ever, the police then proceeded to tell me they were investing the theft of tens of thousands of dollars worth of solar panels.
I was then asked who I am, and why I am at a lighthouse 45KM from the nearest rural town at midnight on a Thursday.
Image: Looking South from the old Green Cape Lighthouse.
After a bit of conversation, identity checks, pleading for the torches to be turned off, and showing the police my Nikon D750 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED setup taking photos automatically, I was able to go back to my business with the result not being too much of an issue in the end.
A couple of hours later while walking back to the car for a new camera battery, I met the Green Cape lighthouse keeper who was sitting on the porch of his cottage.
Image: Keepers Cottages
He apologised for the what had happened. I said to think nothing of it. Let’s face it; It looks pretty suspect if you take the camera out of the equation.
We got to talking about the history of Green Cape lighthouse, which then turned into conversations of the ghosts of shipwreck victims who haunt the Green Cape lighthouse cottages, in particular, a thickly-bearded sailor who has also been reported by guests of the cottages.
Image:My beautiful daughter and little shoot helper, Heidi. Heidi now want’s to live in a lighthouse. I told her it’s a big ask but we’ll find all the other lighthouses to see just in case there is one.
So, I go back to monitor the camera at 2:30 in the morning, slightly shaken from the police encounter, hoping the time lapse isn’t ruined amongst the sounds of all the nearby scurrying animals I can’t see in the dark bushes, while hoping I don’t meet the vengeful ghost of a sailor I’ve just been warned about.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service are appealing to anyone with information in relation to the theft of solar panels from Green Cape Light Station to please contact the NPWS Merimbula Office on (02) 6495 5000 or Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.