USS Hornet Museum

I really enjoyed visiting the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California last month. The ship is not usually crowded during the week, and knowledgeable guides are available to take you through the areas that are not available on a self-guided tour. In addition to a mix of aircraft from WWII through the 80's, there is also an Apollo splashdown display. The Hornet was the primary recovery ship for the Apollo 11 moon mission, and also recovered the crew of the Apollo 12.

If you plan to visit to take photos, note that large bags are not allowed because you have to climb up and down some steep, narrow staircases to access parts of the ship. Even a 2-3 hour tour is barely enough to scratch the surface of all the cool things to photograph on board. Enjoy the photos!


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.


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.


Swiss Rock: A 360 Panorama of Madonna Inn Room 135

Madonna Inn Room #135 - Swiss Rock

Madonna Inn Room #135 - Swiss Rock

This 360 panorama shows room #135 at the Madonna Inn, better known as Swiss Rock. Alex Madonna was Swiss, and the Madonna Inn features a few rock rooms with stones gathered from the surrounding farmland. You can also view 3 additional rooms in the 360 tour including Misty Rock, Rock Bottom, and What's Left.

Technical Details: This 360 panorama is composed of 6 shots around and 1 shot down using a Nikon D750 with a Samyang 12mm fisheye lens. I used a Nodal Ninja R1 panoramic head on a Sirui N-2204X carbon tripod. Five shots were taken at each camera position, 2 stops apart. The resulting images were processed in Lightroom, blended in Photomatix Pro, stitched in PTGui Pro, finalized in Photoshop, and output using krpano.


Mendocino Trip and July 4th Parade

During a weekend trip up the coast, I gave my new Fuji X70 a workout by shooting the Mendocino July 4th parade. We also stopped at Fort Ross, scoped out a funky bar in Elk, hiked along the coast and in the woods, got a great tip about a Bart Prince house, went to a health food store in an old church, had dinner at the Ravens, and tried some amazing beers in Fort Bragg.


Tim Baskerville Interview: Photo Tours of Western Ireland

Burrishoole Friary, Newport, County Mayo, Ireland

Tim Baskerville is the founder of The Nocturnes, and has been teaching photography for 25 years. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a variety of night photography workshops with Tim, and highly recommend him as an instructor. 
Tim will be leading a Photo Tour of Western Ireland this year from October 10-20, 2016. Photographing Ireland, both day and night, is the subject of our interview below.

Joe: How long have you been leading photography trips to Ireland?

Tim: This will be my ninth or tenth journey to Ireland - mostly to my home base of Westport, in County Mayo - tho' I've travelled all over Ireland, on occasion. Amazing changes in the "Celtic Tiger" over the last decade or two - and yet, many things, especially in the West, remain much the same. Truly a magical place, where the landscape and history are deeply intertwined. The past is never far away, in Ireland.

Joe: I understand that you have a special connection with Ireland, and were granted dual citizenship a couple of years ago?

Tim: Ireland is a very special place for me - the home of my ancestors. My maternal grandfather was born in Ireland. Through a process known as Foreign Birth Registration, I applied for and was granted Irish Citizenship in 2014, and I now travel with an Irish Passport. 

Timescape, Newport House, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: Do you currently have family in Ireland? When did you first visit?

Tim: I have cousins in Northern County Mayo. I’ve traveled many times to the area, starting in the 1980s - first as a participant in Workshops offered by Ron Rosenstock, the very photographer whose Hillcrest House we will be staying at during our fall 2016 workshop.

Joe: You and Ron Rosenstock have been friends a long time, right? Tell me more about his Hillcrest House.

Tim: Ron is an East Coast photographer who purchased Hillcrest House to host photography groups visiting Ireland. Ron and I go back almost 30 years - to workshops I took with him in the 1980s! Hillcrest House is a former bed & breakfast, registered with the Irish Tourist Board. Ron purchased Hillcrest House exclusively to accommodate photo groups, and its homelike quality adds to the relaxed atmosphere of the trip. 

My favorite feature of the house is the view from the sun-room and library (as well as a few of the bedrooms). You have a view of Croagh Patrick, which is Ireland's sacred mountain that’s named for St. Patrick, and the surrounding hills of Westport.

Joe: I really appreciate the style of travel where I’m integrated with the locals instead of staying in a generic hotel. Hillcrest House sounds fantastic. How is the food?

Tim: Hillcrest's wonderful cook Emmajane is a bit of a foodie, and fixes breakfast every morning. She also cooks a delicious hot dinner each evening. We'll have lunch at local restaurants and pubs along the way, or perhaps stop for a picnic.

The Aughagower Three, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: Sounds fun. Are the Irish generally receptive to small photography tour groups?

Tim: The Irish are very friendly, welcoming people, and our group always enjoys visits to local artists’ studios, galleries, concerts, and the like. My thought on this “integration with the locals” is “to tour like you live there!”

Joe: Perfect. And there’s the pubs. I’m guessing you’ll spend a bit of time there.

Tim: Of course, the pubs! They serve as very efficient, local community centers, known to all. The fact that we enlist local musicians as guides/drivers, guarantees our group front row seats at traditional Irish music sessions. There is a great video on YouTube of Olcan Masterson on flute, and Cormac (Connie) Cullen on guitar. Two of the best Musicians/Drivers/Tour Guides in all of Ireland.

Joe: The scenery, music, food, and pubs all sound wonderful. How much formal photography instruction do you do on this trip?

Tim: This Photo Tour appeals to a broad base of photographers. I've come to the conclusion that the trip is not so much about teaching, tho' I'm certainly there to help in any way I can. These trips are more about experiencing the Irish countryside, history, people, and culture, with a group of like-minded photographers.

BVM sighting on the N59, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: That sounds like a good approach. Focus on the landscape and culture first, and get help with your photos if you need it.

Tim: Yeah, this is a Photo Tour, rather than a Workshop, where my role is more like a tour guide, or interpreter, in a way. And of course, our Irish Guide/Driver is a great asset on the trip. It is really a cultural tour, which just happens to include a LOT of photography. We’ll even do some night photography, for those brave souls who are so inclined!

Joe: What are the logistics of getting to Western Ireland?

Tim: You would fly in to Shannon Airport, which is LOTS better than Dublin – a very civilized, nice pace. There, our Irish guide and I will meet up with the group, load everyone and their gear into our rather large 'Coach' that seats 12! We’ll go for a nice ride thru the countryside of the West of Ireland and up into Westport, County Mayo. We may even take a few "unscheduled f-stops", and have some photographic opportunities on the way!. The first day is largely a decompression day to get over jetlag, adjust to the new pace, note the exquisite light, etc. From then on, we're off and running!

Ballintubber Abbey, door, County Mayo, Ireland

Joe: Are there photos online from previous workshops?

Tim: Sure, for a taste of what awaits you, visually:

•    Work done on a previous trips, The Nocturnes in Ireland 2013 – 2014.
•    Participant Mike Quinn's testimonial and images from an earlier trip.
•    Some additional thoughts on Ireland.

Moher Lough, County Mayo, Ireland, Study 1

Joe: Where do interested photographers get more information about the Ireland tour? Who should they contact about signing up?

Tim: For detailed information about The Light of Ireland – October 10- 20, 2016 - visit Strabo Tours.

Joe: I understand you have a special print offer for early sign ups.

Tim: As an incentive, and a glimpse into the kind of imagery that awaits you in Ireland, we have a print offer. A free 10" x 15" Crystal Archive color print of Moher Lough, County Mayo, Study I (shown above). The print will be signed and window-matted to 16x20, and is a $300 value. Just submit your deposit before June 1, 2016.


360 Panorama of Madonna Inn Room 143: Rock Bottom

The bathroom in Madonna Inn Room 143: Rock Bottom features stones on every surface and a rock waterfall shower.

The bathroom in Madonna Inn Room 143: Rock Bottom features stones on every surface and a rock waterfall shower.

Room #143 at the Madonna Inn is called Rock Bottom, and features rocks on the ceiling, walls, and floor. What a surreal experience. And the Flintstones never had this much luxury - the bathroom in Rock Bottom features a waterfall shower. Step inside this amazing room in the 360 panorama of Rock Bottom. You can also see 360 panoramas of 3 additional rooms.