The shadow in this photo is probably aimed at cities like Stockton and Tracy.
Related story: Cloud Bow.
The shadow in this photo is probably aimed at cities like Stockton and Tracy.
Related story: Cloud Bow.
But for Maserati of America and their badly misguided promotion I never would have taken this photo.
Here’s the story. I got a mailing from Maserati suggesting that if I test drove one of their cars I would get a $100 gift certificate. What marketing list did they get me from? I mean, with a love for wild and rugged places, and three kids with car seats, bikes, trikes, scooters, friends and fellow travelers, do I look like a viable candidate for a $150,000 sports car described as an “affordable” Ferrari that compromises between race track and road? 450 horse power under the hood is a great rush, but inquiring minds think, “Nyet!”
Something was terribly off-track with this marketing campaign, but Nicky, our five-year old has watched the movie Cars an infinite number of times and is sports car mad. If Maserati wanted to pay me $100 to take Nicky sports car driving, who was I to say no?
So I called Maserati of San Francisco in Mill Valley (now there’s an oxymoron!) and made an appointment. And a couple of days later picked Nicky up at his pre-school and showed up at Maserati Nicky and car seat in tow, where “Alessandro” was snooty as all get out and basically told me to forget it.
So I went next door to the Ferrari showroom (it turns out that Maserati and Ferrari are both owned by Fiat) and Nicky got to jump in and out of Ferraris, and a nice salesman named Evan, with three kids of his own, took us for our test drive in the Maserati. For a minute there I felt like a power stud sports car king gunning those 450 horses on the short on-ramp to 101 at the Sausalito entrance under the shadow of the Golden Gate, and Nicky had a great time.
Nicky had such a great time, in fact, that I figured we should do it again, even without the gift certificate. So I tried to think about what kind of vehicle might actually sort of qualify as a sports car and that I might realistically take into the back of beyond. Anyway, Nicky and I ended up driving a red Porsche Cayenne at a dealer in Walnut Creek. (Nicky’s verdict: “Good, but not as good as the Maserati.”)
Since we were already out in Walnut Creek, after we had driven the car I took Nicky to the Jungle and then for dinner to an Elephant Restaurant. My not so devious photographer’s plan was to end the day at sunset on top of nearby Mt Diablo.
What I didn’t know then that I know now was that Nicky was coming down with an intestinal virus that would knock out 15 of the 24 kids in his pre-school class, reduce the teachers to wiping all surfaces down with bleach, roll through my family, and present me with another sick child vomiting in another restaurant a few days later.
All this doesn’t really come into the story of the image of Mt Tamalpais from Mt Diablo, nor does the fact that Nicky took a couple of bites of his Mac-and-cheese, said, “Daddy, my tummy doesn’t feel too good,” and proceeded to vomit. More vomit than I could image coming out of the body of this small five year old, filling bowls, plates, and the entire banquette seat of the booth we were sitting in.
We paid a belated cleanup visit to the bathroom, I scooped out my loose bills to partly pay for the damage, and you can imagine we got out of there fast.
Nicky said he felt better, and I didn’t really know what was to come, so I suppose as a parent I don’t need to feel too bad that I took Nicky at his word and headed up nearby Mount Diablo to photograph sunset. It’s a pretty quick, although winding, road from the Elephant Restaurant to the top of Diablo, and it is a sign of how unwell Nicky was feeling that he didn’t even take much interest in the little bit of snow at the top. In fact, Nicky’s contribution to the top of Diablo was a little more vomit.
I took a look at the view reversing my normal view of Mt Tamalpais and Mt Diablo, saw how sick Nicky was, snapped this photo, and headed home.
And that, in somewhat the same spirit as Arlo Guthrie’s conflation of his ticket for littering with avoiding the military draft in his song Alice’s Restaurant, is the story of why I owe this photo to Maserati.
On Christmas Day 2006 the coastal range was bathed in clouds that made the scene look like Chinese ink brush landscape paintings. I took a picture looking west at San Francisco from the top of the ridge, and the image above of Mount Diablo looking east.
Julian and I took a hike in Tilden Park yesterday morning. Julian surprised me by hiking five miles or so without complaint.
Here’s one of the photos from the walk looking towards Mount Diablo–with a little help from my friend Photoshop.
The drive between Nicky’s pre-school drop-off and Julian’s second grade drop-off goes along the crest of the coastal range. (In this metropolitan area, the creat of the coastal range also means the Berkeley and Oakland Hills.)
The whole Bay area is part of a great Pacifdic weather system that waters the inland valley, California’s “bread basket”.
This weather system is like a bellows, pushing a giant fog bank out and in. Some days the fog bank hovers out at sea, beyond the Golden Gate, at the edge of the horizon and of sight.
More often, at this time of year, the fog bank rushes in after sunset, and is pushed back out in the morning by the warming sun.
Depending on where in the cycle things are, the ride between pre-school and grade school can be fogged in with no visibility, completely clear, or anywhere in between. I’ve begun to bring my camera on the ride because some of the views are so special.
This one is from the road looking east towards Mount Diablo.
I drove to Inspiration Point in Tilden Park this morning after dropping Nicky off at pre-school. Here’s a photo from Inspiration Point of Mount Diablo with a trace remaining of fog…
The Danse Macabre a/k/a “The Dance of Death” is an allegorical artistic genre of the late middle ages. The point is that no matter what our station in life, we all die. Danse Macabre images are a kind of momento mori, to remind folks of the vanity and ephemeral nature of all earthly things.
This image is a Photoshop composite of five photos: two in-camera exposures of a model (each containing a number of exposures), a background canvas used as a texture, a skull from the Paris catacombs—and, of course, the Tree of Life from the slopes of Mount Diablo.
I spent a wonderful sunny afternoon photographing with my friend Jim on the slopes of Mt Diablo. The sky was blue with high-flying clouds, the slopes were green and alive with flowers. On the trail, the California Oak trees towered above. Some scenes just call for a fisheye lens.
It’s often not realized that an iPhone transfer can be used bidirectionally if you want to use one of the creative iPhone apps on an image made with a “big boy” camera.
To make the “for fun” variations below, I copied the color fisheye image (shot with my Nikon D850 and the 8-15mm Nikkor fisheye at 8mm for the circular effect) onto my iPhone. The effects were generated using the Fancy Filters category of the Photo Lab app.
Here are two recent iPhone images. I photographed the tree in the Walnut Creek area in the foothills below Mt Diablo. This was originally two iPhone captures, one exposed for the bright sun coming through the tree, and the other for the darker foreground.
I photographed the tulips (shown below) the other day at our local Trader Joe’s store. I processed the image in Waterlogue to create the watercolor effect with borders, then reprocessed the Waterlogue version with the original (using ImageBlender) to walk the Waterlogue effect back a bit.
I’m often asked how iPhoneography compares to “real” photography with my “Big Boy” cameras. It’s worth saying again that there is no right or wrong. Photography is about vision and seeing, not about gear. The craft of photography is always a craft of trade-offs, and there are things I can do with my iPhone camera and related apps that I cannot do with my Nikon D850 (and of course vice versa as well).
Speaking of golf courses in the desert, this is the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley. Slightly to the north of Badwater—the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level—the Devil’s Golf Course is a formation of seemingly endless crystalized salt spires arranged, well, like a diabolical golf course. I say that you probably shouldn’t build golf courses in a National Park in the desert, but if you do, please make them like this one out of sympathy for El Diablo.
To make this image, I pulled up in the van along side the Devil’s Golf Course after dark. With the north-facing door of the van open, I plugged my camera into my big battery, and shot 77 exposures at four minutes each using my 10.5mm digital fisheye. The lens was wide open (f/2.8), and I shot at ISO 400. Using my intervalometer, I programmed four minute intervals between the exposures—so the total elaspsed time for this image was about ten hours.
During this time, I mostly slept in the van. From time to time the noise of the mirror clunking up or down every four minutes woke me, but there wasn’t much else to do but sleep. Turning on a light would have ruined the image.
I think the lighting in the foreground comes from the small sliver of the moon that was up by the time I finished. You can also see the road over to the west side of Death Valley in the distance if you look carefully.
Processing a stacked composite of 77 images is definitely go-eat-dinner-while-the-computer-chugs time. To create the image, I read all 77 files in RAW format into the Statistics action available in the extended versions of Photoshop, and combined them using the Maximum mode.
It rained most of the night, and towards morning got cold enough to snow at the crest of the coastal hills. Snow is rare indeed around here. In the morning, Phyllis got the kids to school and I headed for the hills above Oakland. As the sun burnt the fog and snow away I made this image facing towards Mt Diablo. You can see the clump of trees on the upper left in this wider view from 2007.
Below, the city was quiet on New Year’s Day, recovering from celebrations and wrapped in dense, dank, cold clouds. On the wooded slopes of Mt Tamalpais, the sun flirted with clouds and fog. Above the clouds, it’s good to know that the sun will shine.
The other direction: Tamalpais from Diablo.
[600mm in 35mm equivalent terms, 1/20 of a second and f/32 at ISO 100, tripod mounted.]
Past the Golden Gate Bridge, Black Sands Beach lies along the straits between Point Diablo and Point Bonita. The beach faces the open Pacific towards the southwest. On a sullen, cloudy, windswept day I hiked down to the beach. My camera and tripod were on my back. It was bright, but drizzling slightly.
The dark beach was empty of people, and it was hard to believe that a great metropolitan area was hard by. A great flock of seagulls huddled togather at the western end of the beach.
Hard by where the trail ended on the beach there were great piles of bird feathers, caught and held by the wind. These were no fancy feathers. I placed my tripod legs in the mud, and began to photograph with my macro lens stopped all the way down.
View this image larger.
Initially, I was most attracted to the contrast in textures between the feathers and the green grass (above). As I spent more time looking at the feathers, I became interested in the filagree and transparency of the feathers up close (below).
As I took these photos, the waves crashed on the dark beach and the spray mingled with the moisture in the wind. I hovered, protecting my camera as best I could, and wiping it dry from time-to-time with my shirt.
[105mm f/2.8 macro, 157.5mm equivalent focal length if 35mm, 1/6 of a second (top exposure), 1/5 of a second (bottom), both at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]
Related story: Feathers.
We’ve been living under a cloud cover in the San Francisco Bay area for the last week, sometimes high clouds, sometimes low fog, sometimes bright, sometimes not, but always grey. Since the weather around here is generally wonderful, I’ve no right to complain. But it does make night photography kind of questionable.
Yesterday Mark was over in East Bay on business, and I thought it would be nice to show him Wildcat Peak in Tilden Park, since we’ve done so much walking around the Marin Headlands in his “back yard.”
After dinner, we set off from Inspiration Point. Normally, there’s a panoramic view from Wildcat of the Golden Gate, San Pablo Bay, Mount Diablo, Tamalpais, and more. But last night everything was socked in with a thick wall of fog. It was chilly, in the low forties, and a stiff wind blew. We didn’t linger on the summit.
Coming down from Wildcat Peak past the Memorial Grove, I stopped along Nimitz Way in the Eucalyptus grove. The trees were creaking and groaning in the wind. In the background, there was a bright white light, possibly the moon coming through the clouds.
Using my 12-24mm wide-angle lens, I placed my camera on my tripod and exposed this image for 80 seconds. Long enough to capture the trees in the dim light, and to let the moving branches turn kind of “liquid” as they moved in the foggy time exposure.
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