Monthly Archives: December 2006

Naming the Wilderness

Certain names come up over and over again in the wilderness. In my experience, there are numerous Inspiration Points and Inpiration Point Trails besides the one in Yosemite Valley. (Nicky is shown in this story on the Inspiration Point trail near Tilden Park’s Inspiration Point.)

Other names that I’ve seen repeated in parks and wilderness are Mirror Lake, Bear Valley, and (oddly) Horse Heaven.

Of course, some names are absolutely unique like Hell For Sure Pass in the High Sierras near Goddard Canyon and Evolution Valley on the Mount Henry topo.

Whether a wilderness name is common or unusual, the entire process of giving a topographic feature an English identifier is as artificial as the image above from the Inspiration Point trail. In other words, the mountains were there before us, will likely be there after us, and are not altered by our conceits, just as adding curvature to the boundaries of Yosemite Valley does not actually change the spaces of the valley.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Yosemite Dreams

A wet and rainy Pacific storm front has hit the Bay area. As the storm moves east, it will snow on the Sierras and in Yosemite Valley. At this time of year I enjoy my family and am cozy in front of our fireplace–but I also dream of photographing Yosemite in its new coat of snow.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Kids, Hiking, and a Warm Fire

It’s great that my kids love hiking. Nicky, shown above, is at the start of the Inspiration Point trail in Tilden Park near where we live. Julian, below, is shown on the Pine Mountain trail.

Julian on the Pine Mountain Trail

Of course, it’s also nice to come home to a warm fire. I photographed our family together on a low kids-height sofa using my self-timer and a low kids-height tripod. I used the ambient light from the room and fireplace, and a fairly long exposure (1/6 of a second). From left to right: Nicky (age 5), Phyllis, Mathew (he’s two), Harold, Julian (9). Perhaps it is but a reflection of reality that the kids look relaxed in front of the fire, and Phyllis and I look crazed and tired.

By the Fire

Posted in Hiking, Kids, Photography

Time Keeps on Slipping

Photography is remarkable in its ability to freeze a moment of time. But when the exposure gets really long, like in this image of a San Francisco Bay ferry passing in front of a working barge near Port Oakland, time is no longer frozen. Instead, the moment of time kind of slips by, with the time slice of the ferry beginning its transit in front of the barge and the time slice of the ferry ending its transit both in the image. At the same time, the fully solid ferry as we know it isn’t really in the photo at all. A temporal shift has occurred.

Posted in Bemusements, Digital Night, Photography, San Francisco Area

Line in the Sand

It’s not often you see red parallel lines in the sand. These lines are the reflection of one of the Golden Gate Bridge towers in the intertidal zone at Baker Beach.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, San Francisco Area


This image shows the lights of Emeryville, San Francisco, and both spans of the Bay Bridge at night. If you look closely at the image in the larger size, you can even see the construction on the replacement bridge span, due to be finished around the time my kids start college.

Like some of the images of Point Reyes that I posted recently, this one is a thirty second time exposure (view the Exif data here).

Long exposures of the city night lack the subtle pleasures of night time in the country, but as their own reward show the many different color temperatures of different lighting sources, turn light-in-motion into lines and patterns (in the photo check out car headlights, helicopters, and so on), and give the eye much detail to get lost in.

Posted in Digital Night, Photography, San Francisco Area

Subtle Pleasures

The patterns in this image of the forest in snow don’t make for a grand statement. The pleasures, particularly when viewed in a larger size, are more subtle.

Posted in Landscape, Patterns, Photography

Flowers on Black

Inverting the versions of these flowers on white, here are an alstromeria (Peruvian lily) and a crassula argentea (Jade plant flower) on black for your viewing pleasure.

Crassula argentea 1

View this image larger.

Posted in Flowers, Photograms, Photography

Golden Gate Bridge Reflections

Between a cloud in a reflection and the panorama of the Golden Gate, and opposite Fort Point, lies this refelection of the tower of the Golden Gate.

Posted in Photography, San Francisco Area

Window on the Golden Gate

Fort Point stands beneath the southern (San Francisco) end of the Golden Gate bridge. There was a fort built by the Spanish on the spot which Kit Carson liberated from Mexico in the war for California’s independence in the 1840s. The present fortification was constructed starting in 1853, and garisoned during the civil war, but not since. Joseph Straus, the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge, altered the plans for the Golden Gate Bridge to spare Fort Point as a historic structure.

You may also recognize Fort Point as a location in the famous Hitchcock film Vertigo.

The dirty glass shown in this image covers a cannon embrasure on the second floor of Fort Point. It’s probably particularly dirty due to ongoing construction (earthquake retrofitting) on the bridge. I have no idea how anyone could have scaled the outside of this place to draw the smiley face. Perhaps it was done by a construction worker with access to ladders and scaffolding.

When I saw the embrasure, I snapped a few handheld photos. But they didn’t really work for me, even in the camera’s LCD. So I bit the bullet, did a bit of tripod manuevering and ballet, and was able to stop the camera down for maximum depth of field.

I like the different view of the Golden Gate, and the way the dirty glass becomes almost abstract. The glass could be a textile, or rear projection in a a theater.

Posted in Photography, San Francisco Area

Wave Toss

I was on Baker Beach to photograph the Golden Gate as night fell. My plan was to wait until it was pretty dark and the lights of the bridge came on. Then I was going to open the shutter wide for a good long time exposure, let the white of the waves form a ghostly solid, and digitally turn night to day. In some cases, this turned out like I planned, and I’ll post more images from the series as I process them.

My plan of action turned out to be surprisingly physical. To get the perspective of the bridge I wanted with the rollers in front meant going pretty far down towards the water, planting my tripod, exposing, and the rushing back up the beach before the next wave. I was running down, planting the tripod, getting off the exposure, grabbing my tripod and running back up.

As the light grew dimmer, and the exposures longer, this activity began to seem dubious to the point of being positively unwise. A thirty second exposure gives one (and one’s camera) plenty of time to be drenched by subsequent waves.

In this exposure, I was caught by a wave before the exposure was finished. As the water poured over my shoes and legs I grabbed the tripod mid-exposure, rushed upwards, and planted it on the beach. Somehow both images of the Golden Gate Bridge registered (from where the wave hit, and from where I planted the tripod on dry sand). Along with random camera-toss light lines, the shadow of the beach, and ghosts of the waves.

Posted in Bemusements, Digital Night, Photography

Flowers on White

Here are two new flowers on white, created with my photogram capture and cross-processed digitally. Above: Alstromeria (Peruvian lily); Below: Crassula argentea (Jade plant flower).

Crassula argentea 2

View this image larger.

Posted in Flowers, Photograms, Photography

Julian in Yosemite

Going through my digital archives, I came across these photos of Julian in Yosemite from March 2006. He seems so happy in the snow that I can’t resist posting them.

I’ve my Nikon dSLRs set to capture both RAW and JPEG for each image. Mostly I use the JPEG as an aid to reviewing photos, and work to post-process the RAW to get the image I’d like. I find that the JPEG usually gives me a better idea of an image’s potential than the RAW, but of course the JPEG is much less desirable for working with in Photoshop.

With these images, basically snapshots of my oldest son, I decided for once to take the lazy path. I think the JPEG version (the camera’s automated idea of how to render the RAW) is just fine for these!

Julian in Snow

Posted in Kids, Photography

Homeward Trail

The sun has set not long ago, rain clouds hover, and the moon lights the trail towards home.

Another long time exposure, digitally turning night to day.

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes