Morning Drive on Skyline Boulevard (SR 35)

Click the image for an interactive 360.

Click the image for an interactive 360.

The NorCal86 and 86 Drive car club had a private tour of the amazing Canepa classic and collector car showroom, museum, and workshop today. A few drivers met up for a morning drive beforehand at the Upper Crystal Spring Vista Point, at the intersection fo Highway 92 and Skyline Blvd. (SR35).

A large Audi club had filled the parking lot with eight Audi R8 coupes, and a variety of other cool cars. Our group had 2 Subaru BRZs, a Ford Focus RS, a Porsche 911, and a VW Golf Mk5.

Click the image above for an interactive 360 view of the parking lot, right before everyone headed out for some early morning twisty road fun.

Technical Details:

  • Nikon D810 with a Samyang 12mm fisheye lens.

  • Nodal Ninja R1 panoramic tripod head on a carbon fiber pole.

  • 6 shots around tilted up at 5º and rolled at a 33º angle.

  • Processed in Lightroom, stitched in PTGUI Pro, and virtual tour created using krpano.


Best Books of the First Half of 2019

The best 27 books that I’ve read so far in 2019 organized by genre. I’ve given all of these books at least a 4 star rating out of 5 on goodreads. Clicking on the images will take you to Amazon for reference, but I encourage you to support your local bookstore if possible. I checked out more than half of these books from the library.


Special Mention: Soft X-Ray/Mindhunters is the most unique, weird, and entertaining graphic novel that I’ve read in a long time. 5 stars.


Special Mention: I re-read Dan Olsen’s Lean Product Playbook and highly recommend this book to anyone who’s interested understanding how to build great products.


Special Mention: The Lincoln in the Bardo audiobook is insane. 166 different narrators, many of them famous actors. Sublime performances by Nick Offerman and David Sedaris. Sets a new bar for audiobooks.


Special Mention: Barret Baumgart’s China Lake is a great desert book that uses gonzo journalism to explore conspiracy theories around military weather control.


Special Mention: I’ve been fortunate enough to explore a few airplane boneyards with the legendary Troy Paiva. His wild light painted night photos of these lonely hulking wrecks are not to be missed.


360 Panorama: Fins, Vines, & Stars at the Big M

Plymouths, Chryslers, and other classics under the stars in this 360 night panorama of Big M Automotive.

Technical Details:

  • Nikon D810 with a Samyang 12mm fisheye lens.

  • Nodal Ninja R1 panoramic tripod head.

  • 6 shots around tilted up at 5º and rolled at a 33º angle.

  • Exposures were 90 seconds at f/9, ISO 800.

  • Processed in Lightroom, stitched in PTGUI Pro, and virtual tour created using krpano.


Mare Island Night Photography: Revisiting an Old Haunt

The Nocturnes hosted a bi-annual night photography meetup last weekend on Mare Island. These events include a daytime tour of the historic architecture, followed by sharing portfolios in the museum, eating pizza, and then night photography.

The 5 images I shot are below with brief commentary and technical info:

I was walking around at sunset, and saw the tic-tac-toe game painted on the window. After a few framing experiments to play with the reflections, I found a composition that worked.

Nikon D810 with 14-24mm lens at 19mm, 5 seconds at f/9.0, ISO 200.

The plant growing on the side of the building caught my eye. The texture of the rollup door, interplay between red/green/orange, American flag, and smokestack in the background were all factored into the composition. I was hoping for a car to drive through the image, but no luck on a quiet Saturday night.

Nikon D810 with 14-24mm lens at 19mm, 5 shots stacked for star trails, each was 2 minutes at f/11, ISO 200.

The steel cables with vines growing on them led me to this area with the intense cactus plant. I typically don’t shoot verticals but this image really benefits from the layers of ground, plants, building, and sky.

Nikon D810 with 14-24mm lens at 14mm, 5 shots stacked for star trails, each was 3 minutes at f/11, ISO 100.

This area is where the aliens repair their spacecraft.

Actually, this is a paint drying area next to Jeffco Painting & Coating. I will likely do more post-processing on this image to remove the tripod shadow and perhaps bring up more detail in the sky. Although I do like how the dark sky makes the drying area pop.

Nikon D810 with 14-24mm lens at 21mm, 9 shots stacked for star trails, each was 2 minutes at f/11, ISO 100.

A lonely break area next to the Mare Island dry docks where 2 ships were actively being worked on. I was questioned by security when making this image, who were concerned about surveillance of Federal property. After hearing I was part of a Nocturnes event, they left me alone.

Nikon D810 with 14-24mm lens at 14mm, 40 seconds at f/11, ISO 200.


Abandoned Nevada Drive-In Movie Theater 360 Night Panoramas

Stand under the movie screen and gaze at the stars at the abandoned Sage Crest drive-in theater in Yerington, Nevada. These 360 night panoramas were shot in 2013.

Technical Details:


Road Runner's Retreat: Abandoned Route 66 Full Moon 360 Panoramas

These 360 night panoramas of the Road Runner’s Retreat were shot back in 2015. This abandoned Route 66 restaurant and gas station was apparently built in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, and is located just west of the Mojave Desert ghost town of Chambless. The vintage neon sign and roadrunner mural are fantastic. A recommended visit if you’re exploring this part of the desert along 66. Right down the road from Roy’s in Amboy, which is another great photography location.

Technical Details:


3 Portraits of Mark Pauline, Founder of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL)

I recently photographed Mark Pauline, the founder and director of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), for Hi-Fructose Magazine. Check out issue 48 of Hi-Fructose for a brief and fascinating history of industrial art pioneers SRL written by John Law. I've been a big fan of SRL since reading about their crazy machines and performances in the 1980's, so this assignment was very special for me. 

Below are 3 portraits from the shoot.

1. After I arrived at SRL headquarters in Petaluma, CA, I spent some time walking around and looking at all of the amazing machines. Mark was working on a project near the table pictured above, and I set up the general framing without interrupting him.

Existing lighting was a mix of daylight and fluorescent. I turned off the fluorescent lighting to control color temperature. I set my exposure to have the room be a little bit dark.

Next, I set up a single Nikon SB-910 Speedlight on a stand to camera right, aimed at the ceiling. The ceiling was wood, which gave the light a warm tone. The Speedlight was used to light both Mark and the background.

I asked Mark to pose for a few minutes once everything was ready. I did a few quick lighting and exposure adjustments, made sure I had a few options by reviewing on the back of the camera, and then let Mark get back to work.

I really like the orange against green color palette of this shot, the hotspot on the screen in the background, and some of the supporting details like the calipers and WD-40.

Technical Details
Nikon D750 with 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens at 82mm
1/100, f/3.5, ISO 400
Nikon SB-910 Speedlight fired with a Pocket Wizard

2. Mark was working in his office inside the warehouse, which was made of salvaged glass. I set up the camera on a tripod outside, and took a few test shots. I liked the angle, and started experimenting with overlaying the out of focus wires in the foreground. 

Again there were fluorescent lights in the room which I switched off. This image is lit only by a mix of low level ambient daylight and the light from the computer. 

Sometimes you can find a portrait by just observing and keeping things simple. 

Technical Details
Nikon D750 with 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens at 135mm
1/60, f/3.2, ISO 800

3. I'd been photographing the machines at SRL for a couple of hours, and kept coming back to the idea of using this spot for a portrait. The device that Mark is leaning on is a flame thrower.

I set up the camera on a tripod and played with the framing. A monolight was set up on a C-stand to camera right. I used a 22" beauty dish for a crisp look. The 130º beam spread allowed me to light Mark and the surrounding area with one light. The overhead fluorescents were turned off, and the exposure was set to have the ambient background light trail off into darkness. 

I used a stand-in to get the positioning pretty close before asking Mark to pose. Some slight adjustments were made to the framing, lighting angle, and exposure. Once everything was set, Mark stepped in and took the natural stance that you see above. With just a little bit of direction to optimize the positioning relative to the machines, I knew this image would be a winner.

The portrait ran full page in Hi-Fructose Volume 48, and I'm really pleased with the way this one turned out!

Technical Details
Nikon D750 with 35mm f/1.8G lens
1/125, f/8, ISO 160
Einstein Flash Unit with 22" beauty dish and diffusion sock

Many thanks to Mark Pauline for his time, John Law for the great article, and Attaboy for the fun assignment!