Pt. Atkinson, West Vancouver, is home to the aptly named Lighthouse Park, which has drawn photographers to the rocky shore of West Beach for many years. Scenery abounds in this location where old-growth Douglas Fir mingle in the salty air with tawny-limbed Arbutus. Paths criss-cross through the seventy plus hectare park and lead visitors through glades and meadow, over craggy hills, and along the rugged shoreline.Of course, the park’s namesake lighthouse is the main attraction; as was witnessed by the people gathered for the sunset on the day I took this photograph.
Situating a lighthouse is done with primarily functional reasoning; craggy rock outcrops are ideal for a sturdy foundation and high visibility. These also tend to be places where hull-splitting shoals like to hide below shifting tides. Necessity often converges with practicality when determining a lighthouse building site. Fortunately, locations like this are also perfect for the rugged, textured, beauty photographers love.
These days, it is not only the beauty of lighthouses that stands out but their purpose as well. Satellite guided shipping, GPS, and other computerized navigational aids have made lighthouses photogenic throwbacks to an analog era of sailing. They stand almost in opposition to our digital age and challenge our reliance on technology with a simple rotating beacon of light. They are not alone in their defiance.
There is a light that shines into the darkness of humanity. It shines regardless of all the digital noise we comfort ourselves with. It shines when our systems fail us. Its simple analog signal pulsing out the same message for thousands of years. The light warns us of what we cannot see and offers a navigational marker for safe passage to a secure harbour.