Pier 24: Secondhand Photography Exhibit Time-Lapse

Pier 24 Photography presents Secondhand, an exhibition featuring artists who build repositories of found images. Amongst the treasures in the 1000 pictures on display, there is a room featuring every photo in Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan's book Evidence. The exhibit also features a large room showcasing work collected by Erik Kessels in the In Almost Every Picture series, including Shooting Gallery, Black Dog, and a slide show of Fred and Valerie.

The exhibition runs through May and is free.
Make your appointment here: http://pier24.org/

The time-lapse was shot with a GoPro Hero 4 Silver on a simple rotary clamp mount, and edited using Lightroom 5, QuickTime 7, and iMovie 10. The music is by Group Doueh.


Desert Road Trip Day Three: Borrego, Salton Sea, and Joshua Tree

Saturday, April 4, 2015

10:30 a.m. - The view out of my window in the morning was lovely. Depart Yucca Valley for Borrego Springs.

12:00 p.m. - We stop at the large gas station in Salton City that stocks items for the OHV crowd.

1:00 p.m. - We eat lunch at Carmelita's with my aunt and uncle, who have been living in Borrego Springs for 30 years. My uncle, a trim and witty octogenerian, eats us all under the table, polishing off a big enchilada plate and an order of banana chimichangas for dessert.

After lunch, we explore some of the local landmarks including Old Borego, the abandoned gas station, and an authentic London Bus. Did I mention that the ocotillo were in bloom? 

If you're in the Borrego area, Ricardo Breceda's sculptures are a must see. Here I am doing some off-roading.

Photo by David Dasinger

Photo by David Dasinger

You can take Highway 78 between Borrego and the Salton Sea, but SR22 is a prettier drive. While discussing the various groups who have an interest in this beautiful area, David quotes the dirt bikers' creed, "you can't break the desert."

We tour the west side of the Salton Sea, starting in Salton City. I've been meaning to get back to the Sidewinder Snowbird Golf Course, and find it after some wandering.

We drive by some of the local landmarks including Capt'n Jim's, and the former site of the Salton City Yacht Club.

We continue up 86 S to Salton Sea Beach and Desert Shores, stumbling across some burned palm trees that have been carved into chainsaw bears. 

We enjoy the sights, and the late afternoon light.

I convince my compadres to eat at Native Foods in Palm Springs, and then we drive back to Yucca Valley to gear up for some night shooting.

Friend and Joshua Tree resident David Dasinger drives us into the park. The full moon is huge, and there's hardly anyone around. There are so many good views of the wild rocks and dense joshua trees. I set up a long shot, and lay down on a smooth rock to enjoy the view.

Even though it's a full moon, the stars and planets seem more intense out here away from the light pollution. And these trees are crazy. What planet am I on again?

We drive over to the Cap Rock area, and enjoy the scenery.

Thanks again to David for taking us out shooting, and to Steve for being up for exploring the side roads. The trip concludes with a 500 mile drive back to Berkeley on Sunday. We eat PB&J's and do the whole haul in just over 8 hours. Wandering around the desert for a few days and nights is a lot of fun. I hope this trip diary inspires you to go on your own adventure soon!


Desert Road Trip Day Two: Doomsday, Dinosaurs, and Abandoned Houses

The Mojave Desert road trip continues, featuring exciting remodeling tips, a doomsday sale, dinosaurs, Thai food, and the abandoned houses of Wonder Valley.

Friday, April 3, 2015

10:00 a.m. - The bathroom door remodel at the Mojave Desert Inn was simple, but effective.

10:30 a.m. - We drove down the alleyway from the motel, and photographed the abandoned Mojave Apartments with their wonderful wooden sign.

11:00 a.m. - Breakfast at Stoken Donuts in Mojave.

Breakfast at Stoken Donuts in Mojave #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

11:30 a.m. - We did some shopping during the 2nd Annual Dooms Day Sale at Bob's Army Navy Store.

12:30 p.m. - The Hilltop House in Apple Valley has a fascinating history. I plan to visit this location the next time I'm in the area.

Hilltop House - Photo by Maynard L. Parker

1:00 p.m. - I've always wanted to visit the concrete dinosaurs in Apple Valley. Cool spot! The neighbors didn't seem bothered with our daytime shooting, but I could see how the lights and dogs could be a problem for night photography. I also shot some 360 pole panoramas that I still need to process.

4:00 p.m. - If you're looking for a place to stay in the Joshua Tree or Yucca Valley area, the Peaceful Cactus House on AirBNB was wonderful. And I'm not just saying that because of the lenticular squirrel wall art.

6:00 p.m. - We met up with our friend and recent Joshua Tree transplant David Dasinger for some thai food at Royal Siam. The $12.95 dinner special is a good deal.

8:00 p.m. - Mr. Dasinger kindly took us on a tour of some abandoned houses out in Wonder Valley. David has been exploring these jackrabbit homesteads since moving to J Tree last fall.

Below are the 3 best images that I shot during our Wonder Valley tour:

Stay tuned for part 3 of this adventure, featuring Borrego Springs, the Salton Sea, and Joshua Tree.


Desert Road Trip Day One: Letting Go and Hitting the Side Roads

I went on a road trip to the desert during the last full moon. In the past, these trips have often been a laser-focused mission to photograph abandoned places at night. My friend was open to exploring the side roads along the way, even if the places that we stopped had nothing to do with night photography. Yes, we took pictures in the daytime. We also read about the history of the locations as we went. I had fun, and learned a lot. Here's what happened on day one:

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

10:00 a.m. - Depart Berkeley.

1:00 p.m. - After 200 miles of driving, we stop in Kettleman City for lunch. Bravo Farms is now open, and looks like Knott's Berry Farm. I wish they had fake gun fights with stunt men falling off buildings.

3:00 p.m. - 111 miles later, we take the exit for the Tehachapi Loop. I've been driving to the Mojave Desert for 10 years, and have never stopped. I like trains, but there's no danger of me turning into a foamer. The 3 mile detour is well worth the side trip. They call it one of the 7 wonders of the railroad world. A long train arrives just as we pull up.

4:00 p.m. - We drive over the pass and have a look at the current state of the S.S. Minnow. The building next to this iconic boat burned, and the ruins have a fence around them.

4:30 p.m. - We backtrack West on Tehachapi Road to view the cement plant at Monolith in the late afternoon light. The structures are impressive, and so is the history.

5:00 p.m. - You have arrived at your destination. The Mojave Desert Inn

6:30 p.m. - Packed up for a night of shooting, it's time for some food. We drive to the north end of Lancaster to eat at Taqueria Pepe El Toro. Worth the trip. The shopping center also houses a liquor store, car insurance agency that specializes in DUIs, a tattoo place, a body jewelry store, smoke shop, and a sketchy looking massage parlor. Welcome to the Mojave.

7:30 p.m. - The moon is up and the twilight is fading. We drive by Fox Field to look at the airplanes. This location is photographer friendly, but the museum is only open limited hours in the daytime.

8:00 p.m. - We drive through the old part of town at Willow Springs. Beyond a cool gravity fed gas pump, everything looks pretty cleaned up and partially inhabited. Here's an article about the history of the town from the November 1951 issue of Desert Magazine.

8:30 p.m. - We drive past the Tropico movie set and stop for a night shot or two to get warmed up. We've photographed this location before, and are not feeling that inspired. As we leave, a security truck rolls past our car but doesn't stop. There is a lot of construction going on nearby. The Cactus Queen Mine has recently been reopened. The eternal boom and bust cycle of the Mojave.

9:00 p.m. - We arrive at the first Got Rocks truck, an old roadside advertisement. The clouds are cooperating nicely tonight. There is a debate as to whether I should retouch out the unnecessary apostrophe.

10:00 p.m. - We drive up the road to the second Got Rocks truck. I've been wanting to shoot this truck for years. I make my favorite image of the trip.

Midnight - We drive up Highway 14 to Red Rock Canyon State Park. The moon is bright. The place is beautiful. The parking lot is technically closed at night, but that's just to prevent camping. We're the only ones there. We enjoy the view, and I shoot a 360 panorama.

1:00 a.m. - We have a lot of miles to cover on this trip and it's only the first night. We drive back to the Mojave Desert Inn for some sleep.


Night Photography: Big M Automotive

During the March full moon, I made a return visit to Big M Automotive with Troy Paiva. The Big M specializes in 50-60's Mercurys and Plymouths. Welcome to fin-land! We've been shooting at this location since 2009, and revisiting these classic cars was a lot of fun. Many thanks to the owner for his hospitality.

The owner's wife told me that the lettering on this car was from an adventure where the owner & a friend parked this classic Cadillac in front of a casino, and hinted that The Big M might be giving away a car. Viral advertising with a sense of humor.

Technical details: Four exposures of 5 minutes at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 20 minute star trails. The light painting was done with a Stinger Streamlight flashlight from camera left. A low angle was used to skim the ground for texture, and emphasize the bulbous shape of the car. 
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 21mm.

I was scouting for interesting cars to shoot in the daylight, and was getting pretty free with my compositions. I took almost this exact same shot before sunset, and really loved the off-kilter compo on the back of the camera. Once the moon was up, I returned to do a light painted version.

Technical details: Four exposures of 4 minutes at f/9.5, ISO 200 were combined for 16 minute star trails. You can see Venus setting between the trees. The lighting was done with a Streamlight Stinger flashlight. The door, floor, and lower dash were done from camera left. Some additional fill and the speedometer cluster were done through the back window.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 16mm.

As a big fan of J.G. Ballard, the Ballard's Mopar Repair stencil on this car amused me greatly. Lining up the tree behind the C-pillar was the key to making the background work. This shot is pure moonlight.

Technical details: 4 shots of 5 minutes at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 20 minute star trails.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 16mm.

I saw the blue Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight next to the trees during my daylight scouting. I was testing my personal comfort zone with composition, and purposefully cropped out the headlight on the left. I also chopped off the right side of the Dodge on the right. But it still works. And it's fun. How much of a car in a picture is enough to get the idea of the car? No light painting here, just pure moonlight.

Technical details: Three shots of 6 minutes 40 seconds at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 20 minute star trails. 
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 16mm.

This shot was purposefully underexposed by a stop to keep the mid-ground dark, and have the sky look like night. I knew the two billboards would blow out, and lined them up in relationship to the car's headlights - almost like an afterimage. The light painting was done with a Stinger Streamlight flashlight from camera right. The lighting plan was just to light the "face" of the car.

Technical details: Four shots of 2 minutes 30 seconds at f/8, ISO 200 were combined for 10 minute star trails. An additional exposure of 6 minutes at f/8, ISO 200 was made to have the option of more moonlit foreground and mid-ground detail, but wasn't used.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 22mm.

The instant I saw this Plymouth next to the field with the lights from town in the background, I knew there was a picture here. At first, I tried shooting from the side at a lower angle, to emphasize the rear fins. After some experimenting with the composition. a 3/4 angle provided the best view of the car, nice light streaks from the road, a good rhythm with the utility wire, and a cool backlit effect on the plants. I stopped down to f/11 on this shot to get the star shaped highlights.

Technical details: Six shots of 5 minutes at f/11, ISO 200 were combined for 30 minute star trails.
Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm f/4L IS lens at 30mm.


iPhone and iPad Night Mode: How to Turn Down Your Brightness Even More

Whether you're looking at photography on your phone late at night, or out making your own photos under the moonlight, sometimes your iPhone or iPad is just too bright. This quick tutorial will show you how to turn your iPhone and iPad brightness down even more than the default settings allow.

This helps save battery life, and prevents eye strain. Night mode doesn't require any apps -- it's just a creative modification of your iPhone or iPad's built-in features.

Note: You need iOS 8 to set up night mode.

  • Go to Settings -- General -- Accessibility -- Zoom and switch Zoom to On.
  • Using 3 fingers, you triple tap on the screen to get the dialog box.
  • Choose Full Screen Zoom, and then make sure the zoom slider is moved all the way to the left.
  • Hit Choose Filter on the menu, and then select Low Light. Your screen will magically get darker. Triple tap again with 3 fingers if you need to get rid of the pop-up menu.

    So now the zoom feature gives you a way to dim your iPhone or iPad screen. But that takes a lot of steps. Let's make it easier by making a shortcut:
  • Use the link at upper left to go back to the Accessibility settings.
  • Scroll to the bottom, and hit Accessibility Shortcut, and select Zoom.

Now you can triple tap on the Home key to enable and disable night mode on your iPhone or iPad. If the screen is too dark in night mode, just use the brightness slider to dial it in.