Frisco Grain Elevator Project

Lighted Grain Elevators

Lighted Grain Elevators

I’ve had this ‘vision’ for over a year to light Frisco’s Old Town grain elevators and photograph them.  I even went out at 3am one night last year during a full moon to see if a Moonscape approach would do them justice.  While it yielded interesting results, it just was not the effect I had in mind.

So I set about to put together everything (and everyone) I would need to yield the results I had seen in my mind’s eye.  A quick call to Mayor Maso at The City to explain my idea and to make sure there would be no problem having a couple of suspicious adults scurrying around the site like overgrown squirrels yielded the required OK and we were off!

I knew I would need flood lights and I realized I’d need to shield the bulbs from view, partially to contain the light and minimize the “beam spread” – but also to eliminate the glare an exposed bulb generates on the final image.

To achieve this, I located new, unused paint cans, which I combined with standard bulb sockets (for the 3 lights that would have to go on top of the building) and swivel floodlight sockets with Ground Stakes to anchor 3 more flood lights into the earth at the base of the elevators.

To eliminate the inconvenience of lugging a large generator around, I purchased a large inverter that, when connected to a car battery, will power 500 watt worth of lights.  The next trick was to figure out how to get six floodlights with enough output that would add up to less than 500 watts…

We switched over to CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) floodlights in our home a couple of years ago for ecological reasons and found them to be incredibly bright, so I picked up a wad of these incredibly efficient floodlights that draw only 23 watts each.  For a total of under 150 watts of power consumption, it looked reasonable we would be able to achieve the desired effect.

One Tuesday night in late July, my fried Jose Artiles and I got together with all the right components, a bit of good old American (and Cuban) ingenuity and we did it.  Jose’s 18 foot ladder gave us just enough height to get me on top of the 20 foot-high roof of the building for purposes of setting 3 of the floodlights.  Getting down, however, proved to be a real challenge, as the top rung of the ladder would up recessed about a foot less that the 90 degree point relative to the edge of the roof, so finding that first rung with one foot while hanging on for dear life reminded me how much I dislike ladders…

Once down from the roof, we set the other 3 floodlights and strung the balance of at least 250 feet of extension cords to tie everything together.  After connecting the inverter to the engine of my 2008 Dodge Caliber and firing up the engine, we applied power, and damned if it didn’t look exactly like I had envisioned.  It’s so cool when something looks the way you thought it would…

The first shot was actually exactly what I wanted, but we tried various exposures and vantage points just because it would be silly not to after all the prep work.  As we were collecting and re-packing all the equipment, Jose pointed out a great shot looking straight up the towers into the clouds, which resulted in a few more remarkable shots.  (Thanks, Jose)

The series of 3 images can be seen both on the Architecture page of my site as well as the Frisco page of my site (along with the results of many of my other Nocturnal Excursions.)

Hopefully, the City of Frisco will elect to light this classic landmark permanently one day.

Photos on my Nocturnal Visions website, but I’ve attached them here for you so see.

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