Unprecedented weather along the middle coastline of California just about an hour north of San Francisco brought us to spend a couple of days outside. Car camping, camp food and good company, getting a few camera wielding people to enjoy the outdoors doesn’t take too much “arm-twisting”.
After a shoreline shoot, we get ourselves into position and wait for sunset to appear … it was definitely worth the 1/2 mi. hike to the spot I had envisioned from photos online.
With day ending and the sun breaking the horizon for the day, the fun begins as the golden light develops.
Love this composition of the two bodies of water on each side of the land mass.
Nighttime shoot session until 1am (photo coming soon from camera).
Then, catch early morning light amongst these leaning giants.
Then, head home for the time being … we’ll be back again.
Sitting amongst the crashing waves and settled sand underfoot under the early evening hours waning light, sitting in surrounded circle while being treated to a private and personal piano concert (that’s mic’d up to our wireless headsets, is something I’d not thought I’d find myself ever doing. Actually, I was lost in the surreal sounds of a masterfully played piano while ably wandering aimlessly on the sand in the semi-dark closing of the day.
What a concept to be uplifted through a musical journey where the distractions of external sounds are blocked out. All that can be heard are the delicate notes being played by a lone pianist, hearing even the slightest flawed notes in transition from one rift to the next. It doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of it. Non-perfection. One solid continuous hour, unbroken by anything except your own passing thoughts … I didn’t want it to end.
With all the hype around the unusually wet winter here in Southern California this past season along with (typical) dryer years during the same time, the inter webs have been blooming over wildflowers blanketing the eastern hills with sprays of orange, yellows, purples and green. Viewing with envy, the many posts & pics from the past month, I finally had the chance to venture some 2 hours from where I now live to the eastern slopes of the much talked about Walker Canyon.
From the time you exit the freeway, you get a sense of the zaniness from all of the commotion going on in the movement of cars and people … and this was at 3:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon! I can see why the weekends are an absolute nightmare for an area that’s usually not frequented by the masses and not setup for this type of adoration for wildflowers. Anyhow … upon parking, the mild leisurely stroll up the canyon on nicely carved roads makes for easy navigation throughout the canyon itself.
Is it a love for the flower, outdoors or just a seen and be seen to instagram or facebook that brings out the best and worse in events like this? Bad (human) behavior is shows itself along the roads as pink and yellow plastic tape with closure signs in attempts to ward off folks traipsing through sensitive or overrun areas on the hills themselves. Even with these friendly reminders for good behavior, witnessing several on the other side of the tape proves that … well … people suck! It’s me me me me, I’m an (self-imposed) important ‘grammer that has to go beyond the rules to get whatever pic that they think is different or sic, just to get ‘likes’ on social media. Ugh. From young to older, singles and groups and peeps wearing fancy dresses for photo ops, it’s great that the appreciation from nature is alive and well in the day of video games and the like, but c’mon people – respect the place will ya?
I digress. As we walked further in to the canyon, we began to ask ourselves … where are the huge blooms and pop of color (other than the green hills) that we’ve all seen on social media? Was it too late in the season and they’re withering away? Was it the wrong time of day? Golden Poppies do open and close to grab sunlight and go dormant during the nighttime, so perhaps that was the reason for such little orange coverage on the hills. I’m no horticulturist so I have no idea. Nonetheless, it was well worth the ride out here – if not to walk around outside to get some fresh air!
… It’s been awhile since I shot fast moving things, so it was time to brush up on slightly different camera settings. It took a bit of trial and error, but I think I had it dialed in for what I had (lense-wise). I wanted to rent the Tamron 150-600mm beast of a lens, but my bad planning didn’t allow for its arrival in time, so I just went with my 28-300mm, turned my Nikon D850 into a DX machine, which gave me 450mm at the long end. I could’ve used 150mm more, but I can’t complain. Just to be there was a thrill. Luckily, there was a CVS across the street from where I was shooting as I forgot my earplugs – a highly recommended accessory – these things scream and roar that’ll keep your ears ringing for a couple hours afterwards.
(Click on images above to enlarge them)
It was a perfectly clear day. Blue sky. No wind. Lots of sunshine. And … lots of people! The latter was manageable and didn’t really get in the way as I was pointing skyward most of the time. There single-props, skydivers, Boeing 777, C41, a flight squadron called the Patriots and of course the Blue Angels.
Fleet week is one of those celebrations where you can think what you think about war machines, but in the end, you can’t dispute the raw power of these awesome machines that defy gravity, not to mention human tolerance in the amount of G-force one can sustain without blacking out.
8:15am, August 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan was struck by the first atomic bomb that shook the country and the world testing both human invention and how tragic some of these innovations can be on human life and the human society around the world.
Held virtually every year since then, Japan and the world calls out for world peace with a ceremony of peace to mark remembrance of the over 140,000 irreplaceable human lives lost as a result of human conflict. Along with a solemn moment of silence, lanterns are set afloat along waterway shore where both the Peace Memorial Park and one the last surviving building stands to pay homage to these people and to look forward to a more forgiving future.
Remembrance & Celebration. The Heiwa Taiko drum group led the heart pounding beats. The man in blue is a survivor of the bombing; he was only 14 years old at the time.
A few years ago, the San Francisco Bay Area Peace Lantern Ceremony was started to commemorate this tragic event located at Aquatic Park in Berkeley, CA. This is my first time attending and was quite surprised at the attendance – both in numbers and in diversity. Asian, white, black, latino, young and old et al, all congregating under one common theme: peace. Even in today’s current crazy world political and societal misgivings, people seemingly still crave for this most basic of all things … to live harmoniously with and amongst each other. From all appearances, 2 to 3 thousand were on hand as night fell with the guidance of ceremonial Taiko drum performances, survivor testimony and buddhist prayer led us towards the lantern launching. The glow of the lanterns began to release their messages that were personalized by many in attendance. As the gentle current of the water picked up ever so slightly to give life to the lanterns, somber Japanese themed music could be heard along the shoreline. It was a surreal event designed to touch the soul and (hopeful) in renewing the good in the human spirit.
Here are a few images from the lanterns … amongst all of the lanterns, there were a few that struck a cord with me, you can’t miss them when viewing them individually. Maybe there is hope for humankind … (click on any of the image below to view in full screen)
Gentle nudges by boaters to coax the lanterns through the mouth of the water channel.
The movement of the water giving life to the lit lanterns.
In just one symbol lies a lifetime’s worth of lessons.
After a longer than expected journey to the ever sacred countryside of the California Eastern Sierras due to road closures in the wake of punishing winter rains, we finally reach the valley floor of Yosemite. Arriving, we head straight for the daily campsite and get lucky in securing a site to bed down later tonight – it should get down to the mid 20*F by the time sleepy time rolls around.
The meadow is flooded, so finding ponds is plentiful.
Sunset along side the Merced River where the majestic Half Dome grabs the last bit of light for the day, glowing orange that matches the suns warm before the cool night ahead
Killing a few hours until nighttime, this winter’s snow melt is in full force as the waterfalls are spewing streams of gushing water from the surrounding walls of granite. Settling on a spot beside the shores of the Merced River with tripods setup, all you heard is the water calmly rushing past a fallen branch a few feet from shore. Ommmmm … no humans with just an occasional visit from grazing deer. Peace. As the sun begins to lower itself behind the granite monoliths from behind and all around, the star of the show begins to isolate itself from its competing peaks, reaching for the last bits of sun rays. Temperatures are dropping steadily sitting in the shade and the layers of clothing begin to appear. Not wanting to leave this surrender spot (not to mention missing golden hour), we prepare ourselves a mountain fresh gourmet meal. There’s nothing quite like scraping a 2-sided spoon/spork/knife instrument against the inside of a foil bag of chicken fettuccini alfredo sauce! What a feast I tell ya! It helps to have a portable water boiler to reconstitute your food. Full bellies, we wait for sundown.
For a number of years now, when I first happened upon images online about this area down along the coast of northern California, I’ve been pining year after year to capture this rare event. What event? Well … first off, I’m not a big flower kinda’ person when it comes to making images. I don’t make special efforts to seek and find flowering blooms – it’s just not all that inspiring to me. But, plunk me down into the desert during wintertime where there’s a “Super bloom” happening and I’m already planning to be there, I’m all in!
I digress …
Still looking fresh
Same goes for this little slice of paradise in a deeply covered revine somewhere alone Highway 1 just south of Carmel Valley about 15 or so minutes. Perhaps that’s why it has taken me so long to finally make the effort to scope out this place. So, driving along Hwy 1 like a lost dog, attempting to follow as many bread crumbs folks on internet sites have left behind in their wisdom to help others find this place, affectionately known as Calle Lily Alley. Why? Well, it’s filled with blooming Calle Lily’s – you know, the kind of white fleshy platters with a yellow plumes coming out of the middle during full bloom (otherwise curled like a roll of paper towels) you typically see during Easter Sunday and perhaps at funerals as well. It’s completely different when you see them growing in the wild in all their glory as they shoot skyward to grab a few hours of sunlight. Remember – they’re set in a deep revine. The unique thing about this revine is fresh mountain water makes it way to the ocean as there’s a steady little stream rushing water onto the beach/ocean not but a couple hundred meters westward – where fresh water turns into seawater. The ground is moist and soggy underfoot along with lush green shrubs and plants that flank both sides of the revine – spare the occasional Poison Oak shrubs.
Valley ‘ol the Lily making its way to the Pacific Ocean.
Reaching for the sun
Since I wasn’t in the area to specifically shoot this – more of a “while I’m here” kinda thing. I only brought my walk around camera (Fujifilm x100F), no tripod, filters or anything else to assist me in any attempt to getting creative, so I was fixed to one focal length at 28mm. Having so, it challenged me to work the revine as creatively as possible – not being able to zoom wide or in tight. I actually had to use my feet to zoom in and out – go figure!
I finally found the revine about 5pm’ish and stuck around until about 6pm or so. I really wanted to stay for sunset to grab the Golden Hour, but I had a hungry someone waiting for me in the car. The time I was there, the lighting was still a bit harsh for my liking, but felt it was a good enough first visit. Two last points of notice … shoot with your widest angle lens, work on crafty compositions and definitely wait it out for sunset … until next year as this event starts around mid-March and lasts about a month or less. Many blooms were starting to wither and brown around me.