Traveler's Special: Fragments of a Desert and Coast Trip

October Road Trip: 7 days. 1,336 miles.

Berkeley to Fresno to Mojave to Joshua Tree to La Quinta to Borrego Springs to Palomar to Oceanside to Long Beach to Malibu to Ventura to Ojai to Taft to Gustine and home again.


Mare Island Night Photography: Composition Experiments

Last weekend I attended a bi-annual night photography meetup hosted by The Nocturnes on Mare Island. These events are a great way to learn more about the history of Mare Island, meet other night photographers, and go shooting without being hassled by security. There's also pizza.

I was in a headspace where doing something different with my compositions sounded fun. The results are below, with some brief commentary and technical info:

Every time I walk by this alleyway at a Nocturnes event, George Loo and Andy Frazer are there. Instead of shooting from the entrance to the alleyway, I walked a little bit further down. The simple composition still maintains the vanishing point from shooting from the entrance. I was happy with the interplay between the stripes on the pavement and the light from the windows.
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 15mm. 15 seconds at f/11, ISO 200].

The box van and Brazil-esque building vents caught my eye. I was happy with the off-kilter near-far composition, but the shot needed something extra. So I waited for a couple of cars and trucks to drive through. Surprisingly, the orange light on the building was not overwhelming, and a warm yellow vs. cool cyan color balance did not require much adjustment. 
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 20mm. 30 seconds at f/16, ISO 200].

If you've photographed Mare Island before, you'll recognize this building. I shot almost straight down to get this perspective of the parking lot lines layered over the building reflection in a puddle. There was strong light from the building behind me, so the tripod shadows needed to be removed in post. Again, the yellow vs. cyan color palette is integral to the image, as there was no moonlight.
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 18mm. 3 minutes at f/14, ISO 400].

The forklift up on the block amused me, so I walked around the area trying to find an interesting composition. A six shot stack was taken for a 15 minute exposure. The images were processed twice in Lightroom - once for the foreground, and at +2.00 EV for the sky. I'm always amazed at how much detail I can bring up from the shadows with the D750.
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 19mm. 2.5 minutes at f/16, ISO 100].

I pulled the camera off the tripod to see how this reflection shot would look, and noticed some lens flare playing across the water. I shot a few frames of this composition at different focus settings, to make sure everything was sharp. I tried rotating the reflection shots 180º in post, but prefer the way I shot them. Another fun night out at Mare Island!
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 19mm. 2 minutes at f/16, ISO 200]. 


Joshua Tree Cholla Cactus Garden at Night

The Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park is a great place to view a dense grove of cacti. The 1/4 mile hike is right off Pinto Basin Road in the southern end of the park. David and I visited the garden under an almost full moon, and were the only ones there. I setup my tripod to take a panorama next to some cholla that were quite tall. The anthropomorphic cacti swayed in the wind under the moonlight.

Click below to view 3 night panoramas from the Cholla Cactus Garden.

Technical Details: Nikon D750 with Samyang 12mm fisheye lens, Sirui N-2204X carbon fiber tripod, Nodal Ninja R1 panohead. 6 shots around at an angle, and 1 down shot (nadir). Processed in Lightroom, stitched in PTGui Pro, output in krpano.


West Kern Oil Museum, Taft, California

The West Kern Oil Museum is located on Highway 33 in Taft, California. The museum looks small from the roadside, but houses an extensive series of exhibits that trace the history of oil in Kern County from Native Americans’ use to modern day drilling.

I visited the museum last Thursday, and was the only one there in the afternoon. A very friendly and knowledgeable volunteer named Dennis answered my questions, gave me a tour, and even stayed a bit late so I could take some more photos. The images below focus on the exhibits. There is also a small collection of vintage cars, old trucks, and oil rigs from a number of eras on the property. The West Kern Oil Museum is highly recommended for those interested in California history.


SLO Railroad Museum - Central Coast Model Railroad

Prescription-strength cow

Prescription-strength cow

The San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum is building a 1200 square foot Central Coast Model Railroad. If you are visiting SLO on a Saturday, the museum is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., and admission is $3 for adults. I enjoyed seeing the work in progress on the model railroad that depicts actual scenes in the SLO area.


Radwood 2017: Celebrating 80's and 90's Car Culture

The Radwood 2017 car show was held yesterday in Brisbane, along the water just south of San Francisco. Radwood is a celebration of 80's and 90's car culture. Attendees were encouraged to bring period correct cars, and also wear 80's or 90's clothing. The event was low key, the setting was great, and there were some hilarious outfits. My favorite costume was a guy dressed as an 80's business man with a giant cell phone who arrived in a really nice Subaru SVX. He was handing out cans of Tab and Fresca. I hope the Radwood organizers do this show again next year!