Saturday, February 28, 2009


Here’s a photo of Tuffy exercising in an outdoor area.

Yes . . . the blurring was deliberate. I wanted that sense of motion.

Photo: Tuffy—Marin County, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Local Color II

The mural on the side of the Good Earth grocery store in Fairfax.

Very Fairfax-y.

Photo: Good Earth Mural—Marin County, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Utah Clouds

Just off of Highway 70. I went through here on my way to Green River (hope I’ve got that right . . . I’m not doing any fact-checking.)

Up to this point in time, this negative was completely unworkable: incredibly contrasty for starters, but the worst things were the innumerable dust specks and scratches marring the surface.

There were black specks caused by dust on the film before being exposed, and there were white specks caused by dust settling on the negative after being developed. In a wet darkroom, white specks can be somewhat ameliorated by "spotting," an incredibly tedious process done by hand. Black specks were even trickier, requiring a sharp knife and a keen eye. And black scratches? Forget about it.

Of course I've now removed all those defects using Photoshop . . . took about 15 minutes.

Photo: Clouds—Utah, 1996

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

At the Stable

I see that we have a theme of exterior wall artwork for at least part of this week.

Photo: Painted Shed—Marin County, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Horse Corral

I stopped the truck at a pullout to admire the scenery, then discovered the horse corrals below.

Photo: Horse Corral—Utah, 1996

Monday, February 23, 2009

Local Color (Little Store)

The Little Store in the San Geronimo Valley.

OK, so I didn’t even bother going in. I must do that someday.

Photo: Little Store—Marin County, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cliffs in Snow

Another 4x5 photo from my Utah snow experience. Somewhat illustrative of the composition issue that I’ve had with view cameras:

—Too much blank sky up at the top.
—Tree sticking into the blank sky area.
—Everything just a little bit jumbled-up.

Don’t know why I might have thought having that much sky in the photo would be a good idea.

I guess that the novelty of photographing in falling snow, plus the challenge of manipulating a heavy view camera on top of an equally heavy tripod, plus having to view the scene through the ground glass back of the camera . . . don’t know.

This is the first time I’ve actually worked on the negative . . . at least in Photoshop I could darken the sky without darkening the tree, and increase the contrast in just the lower part of the pix.

Below is a shot of myself with the Toyo-Field 4x5 taken the prior afternoon. Notice the sunlight and the small cloud in the sky. Cliffs in the background are the same in both pix. And the tree!

Photos: Cliffs in Snow—Utah, 1996; Mike with Toyo-Field 4x5—Utah, 1996

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Before the Rain

As I was picking up some feed for Tuffy in Novato I saw this hill alternating between sunlight and shadow. Someone put that fence there for the benefit of photographers, I’m sure.

Photo: Hill, Fence & Cloud—Marin County, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Highway 50

Highway 50 through Nevada is a great road. A bit stark, but very scenic, if you like your scenery austere.

Leaving Marin County early in the morning, I ended up taking Highway 80 to 50 and travelling though to Ely, Nevada where I spent the night.

I need to drive it again soon. Hopefully, by now there’s a Starbucks near the Austin-Fallon road sign.

Photos: Road Sign—Nevada, 1996; East Ely Train Station—Nevada, 1996

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lagunitas Creek

Lagunitas Creek has at last begun to flow. The fish ladder (on the left hand side of the above photo) at Roy's Pools (near the golf course in the San Geronimo Valley) is open for business, but we will have to wait and see . . . it’s a little late in the season . . .

Photos: Lagunitas Creek—Marin County, 2009; Fish Ladder, Lagunitas Creek—Marin County, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

. . . from the archives #38: Juniper, Snow—Utah, 1996

At least, I think this was taken in Utah. Yes . . . it must have been Utah. Not yet a geezer, I was camping in a very pleasant Forest Service campground, on my way to New Mexico, blue skies all around.

That night I slept in the back of the truck. Early next morning as I groped outside in the dark my hands encountered something wet and icy on the bumper: snow. I got dressed, made coffee and stood around in the falling snow until the morning light gradually brought some clarity.

At that point I realized that I had a unique opportunity: I had to get out the view camera. I lumbered around the campground taking pix, including the one above, then packed up and moved on under a leaden sky. Just before leaving I took a photo of the Dodge using my 35mm.

The interesting thing is that up to now I’ve never been able to make a satisfactory print out of the juniper negative, because I couldn’t boost the contrast sufficiently without overexposing the snow. However, in Photoshop you can do just that!

Photo: Juniper, Snow—Utah, 1996; Dodge Truck in Snow—Utah, 1996

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Limantour #2

Here are two more pix from my Limantour outing.

The first is an early morning shot of dune grass looking north. I took three vertical photos and combined them in Photoshop.

Second one was taken in the town of Point Reyes Station, where the Bovine Bakery (of morning bun fame) is located. After purchasing my coffee and morning bun I drove over to the Point Reyes Visitors Center where I was able to view a Western Bluebird!

Photos: Grass, Limantour Beach—Point Reyes, 2009; Fog—Point Reyes Station, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009


We’ve all heard about the Great Obama Poster Controversy. Big issues concerning copyright, fair use, etc.

The artist involved in the controversy, Shepard Fairey, also does the Obey posters as well. Here's one in L.A. I found on Melrose Avenue.

Photo: Obey—Los Angeles, 2007

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lace Lichen, Crows & Horses

Some more in-the-rain shots. The lichen apparently confers benefits on the tree it inhabits.

Also recently: Mike was out feeding Tuffy in the rain. Again.

Just before the deluge, he noticed these crows fussing about, so he had to quickly retrieve his C-8080 as the horses looked interestedly on.

Photo: Lace Lichen—Marin County, 2009; Crows & Oaks—Marin County, 2009; Horse—Marin County, 2009; White Horse—Marin County, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

. . . from the archives #37: Forest—Yosemite, 1997

OK, so this was taken with the Toyo-Field 4x5.

A close inspection will reveal the limited depth of field. I focused on the trees, and they’re sharp enough, but the far forest is not. It’s interesting, and just a little ironic, that a lot of the commentary on photo blogs today concerns the concept of "bokeh," that is, the out-of-focus areas in a photograph. Its quality, how to get it, and so forth. Ironic because we had to go through hoops in the past in order to get even acceptable depth of field, but now the complaint is that most of the smaller digital cameras have too much depth of field.

Also, there were some sunlit patches that were coming out as completely white—"blown highlights" in today’s lingo. I dealt with this by using the cloning tool in Photoshop, but of course I wouldn’t have been able to effect a similar fix using an enlarger.

Going through my contact sheets, it’s a little dismaying to see how few of my old 4x5’s are satisfactory. I think now that I must have had trouble getting good compositions due to the limitations of viewing the subject through the camera’s glass back—everything was shown upside-down and reversed under an unwieldy black cloth.

Photo: Forest—Yosemite, 1997

Friday, February 13, 2009


I think that this was taken in the elevator where I used to work in San Francisco. 939 Market Street. I see that I was using the Leica Minilux.

Kind of creepy. Good subject for Friday the 13th.

Photo: Mike, Elevator—San Francisco, 2001

Thursday, February 12, 2009

. . . from the archives #36: Hotel Stonewall Jackson—Virginia, 1999

This hotel is located in Staunton, Virginia. I didn’t stay there, I was just passing through on my way to North Carolina to sample some authentic pulled pork.

The hotel's web site has more elegant-looking photos. Apparently it's been renovated since I was there.

And yes, today is the 200th birthday celebration of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. The photo hopefully captures some of that Civil War feeling, displaying as it does the crumbling and fading name of a Confederate general.

Photo: Hotel Stonewall Jackson—Virginia, 1999

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


"Sheep" can be, I think, both singular and plural?

Yes! says . . . yes.

This sheep was found in Connecticut, as I recall. We were driving through the back roads when we saw a sign advertising the "Buttery." Hmmm . . . was that its name?

OK, check the internets. Hah. Google says that it was the "Golden Lamb Buttery."

Anyway, we parked. While the members of the Diners’ Club explored the restaurant, I got out my Sony R1 (no longer in my possession) and snapped a photo of this sheep. Black and white seems to work better than the original color.

Photo: Sheep—Connecticut, 2006

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

San Francisco, Late Afternoon

Walking up from the Embarcadero, turning to see the Bay Bridge looming over lesser buildings.

Then over to Justin Herman Plaza, where the Ferry Building was catching the last rays of the sun streaming down Market Street.

And then to One Market for some vino and vitamin V.

Photo: Bay Bridge & Buildings—San Francisco, 2009; Ferry Building—San Francisco, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009


A short distance down the Embarcadero the Bay Bridge looms overhead, with a lone seagull bobbing below. We’ve seen the lone picturesque seagull before . . . I think that this is the same seagull following me around.

Also found: old abandoned pilings, with seagull sentries, alertly eyeing the solitary passerby. You know, the one with a digital camera sporting an articulated LCD.

Photos: Seagull & Bay Bridge—San Francisco, 2009; Seagulls & Pilings—San Francisco, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Crouching Spider

In San Francisco last week for a Meeting with James (consisting of red wine, on my part, and martinis on James’ part.) I took an early ferry in so I could have a chance to wander along the Embarcadero with my trusty Olympus C-8080.

First sightem was this odd-looking creature . . . I hopped onto a bench to get a higher angle for the pix. Turns out it’s a on-loan sculpture by Louise Bourgeois . . .

Photo: Crouching Spider—San Francisco, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Finally, after a very long dry spell, some rain has finally started to fall in Marin County. I drove over White’s Hill to the San Geronimo Valley, parked the truck, put the camera on the tripod, got out the umbrella and set out for a short hike through the redwoods in the rain.

(Start photo musings.) I wonder . . . the new Nikon SLRs are, supposedly, quite good at higher ISO ratings, meaning that maybe a Nikon D3x user wouldn’t have required a tripod. Don’t know. My own theory is that I will only use a tripod when I have to . . . I’ve found that I have a much greater percentage of "keepers" with hand-held shots than with tripod-based shots. Note to self: expand upon in future entry. (End photo musings.)

But in the gloom and wet of the redwoods, I needed a tripod . . . and an umbrella. For this shot, I used an Olympus E-510, with an ISO rating of 200. Aperture: f20. Shutter speed: 1.20 seconds.

Photo: Redwood Forest—Marin County, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Shadow & Footprints

I finished up my Limantour pix-taking with this shot of my footprints & shadow.

I realized as I left the beach that I was the only person there. But by the time I returned to my car others had arrived: birders and hikers.

Photo: Shadow & Footprints, Limantour Beach—Point Reyes, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Beach, Sunrise

Still at Limantour. Back at the beach, the sun just making an appearance, the camera hand-held. I took this photo at the 12mm (24mm equivalent) position. I must say, the horizon line looks a little strange. Not straight, of course. But not nicely curved either. I think that this is what Wrotniak was referring to in his review of the 12-60 Olympus zoom lens:

Note how the straight edge has been distorted into a snake-like shape; this is a rare case where the first-order (really: quadratic) distortion has been quite well corrected at the expense of higher-order terms. I bet, a result of aspheric lens surfaces.

We may say, then, that at 12 mm the distortion is of mostly barrel type, very soon turning into pincushion; all the time well under control. While a set of prime lenses could deliver better, it would not be so easy in a 5× zoom, starting at a wide angle like this. I consider this a very good performance; for comparison, the Leica Vario-Elmar 14-50 mm F/3.8-5.6 shows about twice as much barrel distortion at 14 mm than this lens at 12 mm.

Got that?

Photo: Limantour Beach—Point Reyes, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dune Grass

The dune grass at Limantour was wet with condensation; as I moved through the grass seeking the best viewpoint my pants picked up quite a bit of moisture.

Uh-oh, I thought. Hyperthermia City, I thought.

I got some nice closeup and panoramic shots before the cold forced me to make a hasty retreat to my car.

Photo: Dune Grass, Limantour Beach—Point Reyes, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I got up quite early last Saturday and left the house while it was still dark in search of early morning pix at Pt. Reyes.

I arrived at the Limantour beach parking lot about a half hour before sunrise; the temperature was in the 30’s. As I got out of the car, the sound of waves sounded through the chilly air. I retrieved the tripod from the trunk, affixed the camera and set off down the trail.

First in view was this scene of a marsh reflecting the coming sunrise.

Photo: Marsh, Limantour Beach—Point Reyes, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

. . . from the archives #35: Rain—San Simeon, 1991

Taken during one of our periodic trips to California’s central coast. At San Simeon State Park you are required to sign up for various tours focusing on one part of Hearst’s San Simeon estate (can’t remember which tour we signed up for).

The weather was wonderfully misty, resulting in gray overcast reflections. In retrospect, I should have worked the scene a little more since this is the only shot that was a keeper.

But there were probably time constraints.

Photo: Rain—San Simeon, 1991

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Taken while on an Amtrak train traveling from Penn Station in New York to Kingston, Rhode Island.

Of course, I didn’t have any idea where I was. However, please note the ad for St. Vincent’s College. Apparently located in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

And, apparently Bridgeport is home to the Bridgeport Bluefish, a minor league baseball team!

Thus, I have a title for the photo:

Photo: Harbor Yard Ballpark—Connecticut, 2006