Tag Archives: California

Being pleased with my own work

Is a foreign concept.

With that in mind, imagine my surprise at the smile that crept over my face upon seeing the results of this roll of film as the scanner finished its work.

This roll is Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO1600, exposed at ISO800. In this bright light on a sun-drenched California afternoon, there wasn’t much opportunity to control depth of field as aperture was made small and shutter speeds at 1/500 or 1/1000. Even so, I’m extremely happy with the tonality and range of this film.

 

 

The Bluffs above Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

I spend a lot of time at this cypress grove above the beach at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

I’ve walked here with Jen, with the kids, all 4 of us together, by myself.  It is both a destination and a waypoint on our treks down the coast for the day or for brunch to our hometown of Half Moon Bay.  For some reason I never knew of this place until Jen showed it to me a few years ago.  She called it one of her favorite haunts from when, as she puts it, she was an angst-filled teenager.

A few weeks ago on a different visit, I lost and subsequently found my keys about 150 feet from the spot where this photo was taken.  I only found them after retracing my steps around the quarter mile or so loop I’d walked around the grove.  When I did ‘find’ them, it was as much by accident as was losing them in the first place:  I stepped directly on the keys while framing a shot after having given up my search and was forlornly waiting for Jennifer to arrive with the spare.

The light here is always different and is often breathtaking. Some features have disappeared – the ring of fallen trees shaped into a corral has been taken down. Several trees are marked for felling. The foliage ebbs and flows with the seasons.

It feels like home.

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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.
aspen sonora pass valley
 
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.
fall colors 
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.
 
first look 
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.
 sunset into bluecloudscape     sunset
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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stillness
skeleton
by moonlight
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.

Bay Bridge spans and sunrise 12/08

 

 

Had to make a run over to Oakland on Sunday morning after waking up before dawn.  Lucky me, the tripod was in the trunk for once and I was able to snag these two photos in the predawn light. 

I was pretty lucky with the shot of the east span as, ordinarily, there is a cyclone fence that blocks the view of the bridges from the roadway.  The gate was open this morning, so I parked on the road and walked into the construction driveway, set up, got what I needed and left without anyone hassling me.  Granted, I was only 20 feet inside the fence, but rules are rules.  I felt like I was getting away with something.  

I guess that’s a commentary on my comfort zone and level of adventurousness as much as anything else!

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