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Friday Slide Show: The SkyStar Wheel Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

9 October 2020

Stopped for a red light near Golden Gate Park, we looked into the distance and saw a big white wheel looming over the trees. That shouldn't be there, we thought. What's going on?

Then we remembered. To mark the 150th anniversary of the park, a 150-foot observation wheel was being installed. The SkyStar is a "traveling" observation wheel that arrived from Cincinnati in 14 trailers on March 15.

Great timing.

It was supposed to be spinning visitors up to incredible views of the park on April 4 but the shelter-in-place order put a stop to that.

You may be wondering why it's called an observation wheel instead of a ferris wheel. That's because you don't sit on open-air benches to ride it. You go around in an enclosed gondola with both heating and air conditioning that seats six for the ride 150 feet into the air.

It was an overcast day, which didn't help our shots of the white wheel against a bright gray sky.

The 36 gondolas are still waiting to be installed. While we were there, we saw two guys working on the hub about 75 feet in the air and one guy giving an impromptu tour to a curious couple.

That's down from the 10 guys who took six days to get this far with the thing. It takes seven people to man the thing, which will run day and night once it gets going.

It won't be cheap to go up in a gondola. The 12-minute ride is $18 with a $12 discounted ticket for seniors and children under 13.

We rather liked looking up at it than down at the park from it anyway.

It was an overcast day, which didn't help our shots of the white wheel against a bright gray sky. So we resorted to the Dehaze slider to provide a little more contrast.

We also had to color balance these shots, moving them from a cool blue to a neutral sky, which is what we really saw.

Otherwise our usual settings were sufficient. The fun part of this show was actually composing the images of that big wheel.

We shot with an 18-200mm Nikkor with no filter on the front of the lens. And as we went around the wheel we noticed it seemed to tilt when we looked at it from the east side. It wasn't actually tilting, but it looked like it was.

It did help that thing wasn't moving, although we imagine it doesn't move very fast when it is moving.

We'll have to return when the gondolas are installed.

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