Category Archives: Travel

Franklin Point, California Coast, in 3 visits

Staring out the window of my Dad’s old Ford pickup when I was a kid, there was always this one bit of scenery that commanded my attention. There were dunes – row upon row of them – between the highway and the ocean. Those dunes marched along the shore silently in their majestic, unwavering ranks.

I imagined getting lost in those dunes. Playing hide and seek, discovering a cache of hidden treasure left by pirates (that was exposed by the wind just as I walked past), being a soldier taking part in the invasion of Normandy.

The dunes along this section of road are covered with long, wavy grass that billows and flows in the wind in mesmerizing patterns. The largest of these grass-covered dunes resembled a sleeping cat to me. I mentally called it ‘Shorty’ after Dad’s rotund feline housemate.

I realized not too long ago that I never once stopped there to explore, play hide and seek, look for buried treasure.

A month or two ago I decided to make this place a destination. I was happy to learn that those dunes hide a stretch of beach roughly a mile long. The beach ends abruptly at the rocky point. South of the rocky promontory there lies a rugged stretch of coastline, a protected cove or two and some wonderfully beautiful and sparsely traveled country. Between the highway and the shore are those dunes I mentioned at the outset. They look much less imposing from the safety of a speeding car. Once you’re out on the trail, though, their size, breadth and the forces required to build them becomes apparent very quickly.

Over the past several weeks I’ve made 3 hiking/photography trips out to the area: One from the north along the beach starting at Gazos Creek, one from the south, parking on the west side of Highway 1 across from Rossi Road, and one sort of in between at an unmarked dirt turnout alongside the highway.

I hope you enjoy the result. No buried treasure so far, but I’m going to keep looking.

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Point Reyes and Drakes Beach

Finally!  A blog entry!

I spent last Sunday on a solo trek out to Point Reyes and visited Drakes Beach for the first time.  The weather was incredible for ‘Winter’ at what felt like 70+ degrees.  Then again, Winter means very little here to those of us in the Golden State.

I arrived in the late afternoon to get the lay of the land and scout out where I might want to shoot as the sun set and the light grew softer.  Once the show starts (i.e. the light softens), there’s precious little time to work, particularly in contrast to how long it seemed to take for the darned sun to get low enough in the sky for things to start getting interesting.

I came away from this day alone refreshed and almost satisfied with the images I’d made.  I hope you enjoy them. Drakes Beach Last Light split stripes rush Drakes Estero

Road Trip to Bodie and Mono Lake with XE-1, X Pro 1 and that Magical 14mm

We took a lonnnng road trip yesterday – left SF at 7:00 a.m., returned (and promptly fell into bed) after midnight.

Bodie was fantastic. The road once the pavement ends is, well, not fantastic, but well worth the dust and bumps to get where you’re going. The amount of ‘stuff’ around is just astounding. We had a nice, thin layer of high clouds that cut the light enough to soften some of the shadows and made for nice shooting conditions during our visit.

We left Bodie with enough time to get to Mono Lake to catch the sunset. The last time I was there was October of last year during the fall color season (the Aspens are almost entirely bare now across Highway 108 and down 395) and there were hordes of people all traveling the same route and descending on Mono Lake’s South Tufa area for the sunset. I am not exaggerating when I say there must have been 75 people piled up at one spot to shoot the sunset (and I was one of them, albeit peripherally).

This time it was maybe 15 people total, ourselves included.

The sun dipped behind the mountains just after we got down to the beach – so much for our timing – but the after-sunset light show was otherworldly.

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A Return Trip

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Long, long, LONG ago, my Dad gave me a brand new Pentax K1000 with a 50mm lens and some film for my 16th birthday. Little did he know what he’d done.  It’s nearly 30 years (well, I have a few left before we get to 30) later and I’m still in love with photography.

Thank you, Dad.

I loved (indeed I still love) that camera.  It went with me everywhere for several years.  Now it has entered semi-retirement and sits on a shelf behind my desk at home, waiting.  Every once in awhile I’ll feel the urge and will put a roll of film through it.  It still makes great images.

One particular late afternoon, my friends Dennis and Charlene and I walked out to Pillar Point Harbor’s north jetty.  It was a beautiful afternoon, so we turned north and walked up to the end of the beach. It was the late 80s and we lived in Half Moon Bay – what can I say, there wasn’t much to do.  Dennis and Charlene, now married for twenty-plus years and still some of my favorite people, stood around with me on the beach and then the rocks, joking and laughing, watching as the sun set.  Dennis mugged it up for the camera as he usually did whenever I took a photo of him, even taking the opportunity to chase some gulls down the beach, flapping his arms as he ran.

I ran across the photos from that day a few weeks ago and they brought me back to that day and made me chuckle.  I remember the light and the sound of the surf and the feel of the salty breeze on my face as we walked up the beach.  They are just a few photographs stowed in a box under another box, but they brought back many happy memories.  Memories of that time in my life when I lived on the coast with my Dad and brother and when things were simpler and slower paced.  Before my Dad died and everything changed.  It was a good stretch of years.

Since then I’ve grown up.  Lost my parents.  Moved away.  Got married, had two great kids, got divorced.  Moved back to the Bay Area and started over.   I still love my hometown and, although it has changed a great deal since I left, I love visiting and seeing the familiar places where things happened when I was a younger man.

This week I took the drive over to the coast after work.  I made the same walk from the same parking lot where Den, Char and I parked  (probably in her blue Chevy stepside pickup).  This time, I had a different camera.  I had different reasons for being there.  It was a different sunset.  This time, I was alone, but even so they were with me.   I smiled when I looked over at the rock where Den had stood with his hands in his back pockets, looking out to sea as the sun set on that afternoon long ago.

That’s why photography is important to me. It’s tangible evidence that I was there. That I saw. That I felt. That I mattered.

Mono Lake Day Trip, Autumn Colors

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Anybody remember that span of a couple of weeks when the US Federal Government was shut down?  Headlines, talking heads accusing and blaming one another, politics as usual, venom, etc. etc.  Ring a bell?
The positive spin on things after planning out a day trip to shoot at Mono Lake?  That’s right, there was no $20.00 fee to drive through Yosemite National Park!  Slightly less important but no less awesome was the suspicion (that would soon prove correct) that there’d be very little tourist traffic on the highway since the Yosemite valley was closed to traffic.
I loaded up and checked all of my gear the night before.  Since I shoot with two little dinky Fuji cameras – the excellent X100 and the fantastic XE-1 – loading my gear took about 4 minutes.  ‘All’ of the gear with the exception of my tripod fit into a medium sized Timbuk2 messenger bag.  I made good use of the remaining hours of the night before the drive finalizing the route and creating conservative estimates of drive time from Oakland to the South Tufa Grove parking lot.
Rather than take Highway 120 both ways (the road that goes across the Sierra through Yosemite National Park and down Tioga Pass pretty much directly to Mono Lake), I chose to drive east on Highway 108 and then take US395 south through Bridgeport to the lake.  Glad I did, it made for a beautiful trip up through the foothills and into the mountains, then up and over Sonora Pass.   There was snow.  There were golden- and red-leafed Aspens.  I even spotted a few Bristlecone Pines on the peaks high above the highway.  I stopped frequently to gawk at all of the beauty around me and really enjoyed the flow of the day.  The journey was indeed the destination.  Almost.
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So, there I was, stopped on the side of Highway 395 between Bridgeport and the Bodie turnoff, looking west out over a panorama of beautiful Aspen shimmering in their multi-hued glory.  Snow was blowing off of the peaks in the distance behind them.  The photographs I took don’t do the scene justice.
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A half-dozen white vans, each with a number on the back door, rolled up and stopped in the same area where I was parked.  6 or 7 tourists/photographers piled out of each van, most setting up their tripods to jockeying for position along the highway.  Bear in mind that the stretch where I was parked was on a straight line of road that was perhaps half a mile long.  Even so, there were many sidelong looks between these folks as they all snapped away at the same things as their neighbor.  At that point, I saw the handwriting on the wall – these folks were headed to shoot the sunset at Mono Lake.  And there were a LOT of them. At that moment I began to rethink my languid, stop-every-few minutes pace.
Maybe it’s the city boy in me.  Perhaps I’m slightly OCD (it’s this).  Maybe it’s the punctuality hammered into me by my Dad and by one of my first bosses.  Whatever it was, I suddenly felt that little pang of anxiety that told me I was going to be late unless I got my ass in gear.  I hate being late.  Late, in this instance, means arriving at the location I drove half a day to shoot after a great number of people.  I’m sure they were fine people, but I didn’t want to be last to the party and looking for a ‘this is good enough’ location.
I jumped in the car to get where I was going and choose a spot.
After about 6 hours in the car, I had seen almost enough of the Sierra and the high desert country and was ready for a glimpse of Mono Lake.  I was soon rewarded as, on a descent that rounds a hillside on a downhill, I got my first glance of the lake and the surrounding country.  The place looked like it belonged on another planet.  Upthrust rock formations in the near distance broke the drab green of the brush.  The deep blue of the lake stood out in stark contrast to the surrounding desert.  And even at this distance I could see Tufa formations along the north and west shores of the lake.  This was going to be fun.
 
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So, with the posse of inbound photographers hot on my heels…okay, not really, but it makes for a good storytelling device…I found and parked in the South Tufa parking lot after only a couple more stops:
The first:
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The second:
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Afternoon was leaking into the golden hour that golden hue that we all love so well and that mob of photographers was no doubt closing in, so it was time to get down to the shore.  I packed up my gear (i.e. slung my little messenger bag over my shoulder and grabbed the tripod) and strode past the pay station where you’re supposed to pay the $3.00 parking fee.  That’s right, I did NOT pay my $3.00 parking fee.  The government was shut down, so I guess they were out of luck.  No $3.00 for you.
I’d never seen the Tufa in person before, but have wanted to make this trip for several years now.  These limestone formations stand out as such otherworldly features that it is difficult not to stare at them as you’re walking along.  At this point I noticed the effect of the altitude on my lungs.  I was a bit out of breath despite the fact that I was walking along at my usual clip on level ground.
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Along the shore of the South Tufa Grove I chatted with a Ranger who was there keeping an eye on the people passing through.  He said it was pretty quiet and lightly travelled, his eyes were busy flicking from one person to the next as they walked up and down the beach behind me.  Eventually he excused himself to retrieve a signpost someone had thoughtfully deposited on the rock:
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No idea why it was up there to begin with.  Perhaps it belonged to the Ranger and, being a man of duty, he would never dream of abandoning…his…post.
I found a nice spot and set up to shoot the sunset.  I spoke with a guy who was out there shooting infrared film on a Hasselblad, took a photo of some Spaniards and chatted with them in Spanish for a few minutes, then the posse showed up in force.
There were perhaps 35 or 40 of them.  Prior to their arrival there were perhaps 5 or 6 people spaced along the shore facing east and the vibe was very mellow and calm.  These guys descended in a scurrying wave and the area immediately became a weird human circus.  People climbed on the Tufa (there are signs everywhere that say ‘KEEP OFF’ in both pictograms and verbiage), they shouldered and barked at one another and one latecomer even started to set up right in front of my camera.  I politely informed him that that wasn’t going to work and he grunted and mumbled something that might have been an apology as he moved off.

The weird scene developing all around me felt like a red carpet press event where the photographers were all competing for that one shot of a starlet and would step on, kick or gouge their neighbor to get it.  This was serious business, apparently.
Of course, in this case the starlet was immobile rock with light bouncing off of it.  I sat still and tried to ignore them.  I got several snooty looks from the Canon and Nikon users in this crowd with my little bitty cameras.  Then again, I chuckled inwardly at a couple of the guys wearing their photographers’ vests, so I suppose it evened out.
So, with the press corps in place, the sun finally started doing its thing, bathing the rocks in golden light, then painting everything in a azure glow as moonlight supplanted the sun’s rays in illuminating the tufa and the surface of the lake.
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Within ten minutes of the sunset, the mob departed in a cacaphony of clanking carbon fiber tripods, ripping velcro and zipping zippers.  Once again it was just me and perhaps a half dozen photographers out to shoot the evening.
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It was absolutely worth the drive there.  And the drive back through Yosemite via Tioga Pass in absolute pitch darkness and no other cars on the road.  I did see a coyote come bounding up out of the rocks west of the park entrance.  He regarded me with a disdainful look on his face as I drove past.  Not sure what I did to deserve that.  I wish I’d had the camera out, but it was full dark by this time and I was antsy to get home.
I still need to see Bodie.  And another sunset or two here would be fantastic.  And if I can catch those two dilapidated houses on 395 in just the right light, it might make for a great print.  And…

From the Eastern California Desert

From the Eastern California Desert

Nobody’s home.

Pardon the absence! I’ve been playing with my new toy:  redcentphotography.com.  The name of the website is derived from my last name (Lincoln) and the figure who appears on the US penny (some other guy named Lincoln).  Catchy, no?

Right!  FINALLY I’ve got a proper website.  I’ll be consolidating some of the content from this blog and incorporating this blog into a spot on the webpage over time.

Please feel free to visit and see some bigger chunks of my work.

On Driving, Renewing family tradition and Photography

My dad loved to drive. He came from a family of drivers.  His parents would pile all of the kids (he has 3 siblings) into whatever car they owned at the time and would take off in some direction for a weekend drive, a Sunday drive…you get the idea. Many of the family stories I grew up hearing involved being in the car, Uncle Pat falling out of the car (again), following the ‘Indian’ (the chrome figurehead on the front of their Pontiac sedan) to wherever it wanted to go, driving to the Idaho desert and bringing home a 40-pound rock (Bring your Mother-in-Law home a rock!, the roadside billboard in the desert had said) that would trade resting places between my grandparents’ home and that of their in-laws for several months or years afterward.

How did the rock get from Rainier to Portland? Why, the family all got into the car and drove it there, of course. It was an event.

My grandfather, Rusty Lincoln, was the town auto mechanic in the 1940s through the late 50s in Rainier, Oregon. The car was a key part of their lives as it was with much of the rest of the country after World War Two. From a source of income to family travel, the Lincolns loved the road.  My dad and his brother later got involved in autocross and amateur auto racing at Sears Point and elsewhere. Uncle Pat continued his amateur racing career into the 70s at the now defunct Baylands Raceway in Fremont and at the San Jose Fairgrounds.

This is a long way around to the point of the story, which is that occasionally I feel the pull to get in the car and just go somewhere other than to or from work or to the city to hang out.

When my brother and I were kids, we’d all jump into the car on weekends when ‘it was time’ and we’d go wherever it was Dad decided we were going. Many times it was a trip over to the ocean from the peninsula to Half Moon Bay via Kings Mountain/Tunitas Creek or Highway 92 to Skyline, then down Highway 84, THEN to Half Moon Bay. Sometimes we would stop at the little market at Skyline and 84, across from Alice’s Restaurant, to get a molten hot piroshki with which to burn our mouths and tongues into oblivion. Still other times we’d throw in a ‘fishing’ venture (fishing was comprised of cutting up smelly anchovies, baiting hooks, then sacrificing the tackle my dad had just tied to the bottom of the ocean where it would snag immediately and break the line as we attempted to retrieve it) at the Pillar Point breakwater. My dad loved to buy, tie and dispose of tackle with us, apparently. We never, EVER caught a fish.

The drive was the thing.

Regardless of the destination or the other activities , the drive was the thing. Whether in Dad’s ’74 Ford Courier pickup (which he called Sergeant) or later in his ’84 BMW 318i (which he called Kurzweg, or shortcut, in German), he instilled the love of driving and of cars into both my brother Greg and into me.

So, yesterday I got in the car with the camera and drove over to the peninsula, up 92, south on Skyline and down Tunitas Creek Road to the coast. There were a total of 3 vehicles I saw from the time I turned off of Skyline and onto Tunitas Creek until I reached the coast. Two of them were the same plumbing van as it first went uphill, then back down, perhaps looking for an elusive roadside address.

In keeping with Dad’s tradition, I left the engine running and coasted along the downslope of the mountain road with the windows down, enjoying the aromas of the forest and stopping where a photo presented itself and where it was safe to do so. Dad had a massive appreciation for the forest and its flora (he kept an Audubon Guide to Plants under his driver’s seat) but only late in his life did he decide to pick up a camera. For this drive, I wanted to stop to record some of the spots that we had seen so many times together but that none of us had ever photographed.

The fog was waiting at the coast as it usually is during the summer. I spent just a little while walking along Pescadero Beach before I’d had enough of the cold, fog and wind and retreated to the car to head to town for dinner at Tres Amigos.

My dad moved to Half Moon Bay in 1982. He used to posit to us kids (we were a captive audience and he had tons of material) that the summer weekend hordes who clogged the roads should all go home to tell their friends that Half Moon Bay is ALWAYS cold and foggy, hoping that somehow it’d keep them away so he could drive on open roads that beckoned to be enjoyed rather than just travelled. I miss him.

The drive is the thing.


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Who’s a sucker for filtered, dappled sunlight? This guy.

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In the spotlight


Fern Forest

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New growth and a little visitor

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Sheep Shower and old roadway posts


More Sheep Shower in its little slice of heaven

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No kiddin’?

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Ah. Good. It’s the fog.

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Highway One bridge above Pescadero Beach. And fog.

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Mist stands on the Pescadero Marsh. Plus fog.