Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Fog #3: Oak Tree

This oak tree is found high on the ridge just off the road heading over to Nicasio. Two different days with correspondingly different conditions.

Photos: Oak & Mist—Marin County, 2010; Oak & Fog—Marin County, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oki Dog #2

Having an Oki Dog once a decade is more than enough for me.

Photo: Oki Dog—Los Angeles, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Winter Fog #2 (Birds)

Top: Solitary hawk perched on solitary tree. Took off just after I took this photo.

Bottom: Phoebe (I think) on tree branch located on the San Geronimo Golf Course.

Photos: Hawk, Fog—Marin County, 2010; Phoebe—Marin County, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Fog #1

A great many foggy days recently. This shot was taken looking towards the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge, invisible in the morning fog.

Photo: Fog, Bay—Marin County, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Story in the Los Angeles Times, here.

My photo, here.

Boats—Monterey Bay

Always of interest is the fact that the best shot of the trip very often is unplanned. (Mike has called this phenomenon "the Zen of Photography.")

Mike had taken photos in Point Lobos the prior afternoon and gotten up early the next morning to check out Pacific Grove and Asilomar Beach. He was nearing Cannery Row when he saw these boats out of the corner of his eye. He quickly pulled over, got out and rejoiced to find that the parking meters hadn't started working yet. He grabbed his camera and headed down to the harbor: this is his pick out of several photos taken.

[Note: it's interesting to realize that located in the hills surrounding the Monterey Bay in the background is the Cal State Monterey Bay campus. But earlier . . . much earlier . . . it was the site of Fort Ord, where Mike had a pleasant time attending U.S. Army basic training in 1964. He remembers standing at the barracks window, staring out at the harbor . . . ]

Photo: Boats (Sunrise)—Monterey, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympus E-620: Final Thoughts

For some reason the E-620 (unlike earlier Olympus models: the E-510, or the wonderful C-8080) never worked for me. It wasn’t as obvious a situation as with the Sony R1 . . . no, but in the end it took about the same time (several months) for me to decide that I wasn’t that thrilled with it.

The technical issues were:

Physical: a) The handgrip is very small and not very usable (even for me, with small hands). Just a little bit uncomfortable when used with the largish 12-60mm lens. Not a major problem, of course. But still . . . b) I almost never used the rotating LCD screen due to the angle at which it rotates. Too bad! I would like to see a usable tilting screen some day.

Exposure issues: Olympus has evidently rewritten the software in their cameras. In order to avoid overexposing the highlights, their cameras significantly underexposure all scenes (at ISO 200 and higher). Some say: no big deal. My take: of course, this creates shadow areas that are much too dark, so the software goes ahead and boosts exposure in those areas, thus creating, alas, obtrusive shadow noise. For me, this is a little too clever: if you want to give me this feature, make it something that I can turn on and off. But it’s built-in and can’t be turned off: in order to compensate you have to use a higher ISO and overexpose. No thanks.


The bottom line is that I took a lot of photographs with the camera, but for some reason I never got images that I really liked. This almost goes into the realm of the mystical, because it’s really impossible to pinpoint why certain cameras work and others don’t.

I was happy enough with my old Olympus E-510, but its mode dial didn’t work even after paying for repairs. Olympus has no obvious upgrade path that would address the exposure issue, since one would necessarily assume that the next model up, the E-30, would have the same (exposure) functionality.

This Christmas I had a bit of a financial windfall! So, as I’ve noted, I’ve now been extensively utilizing the Nikon D90. A report on this will be forthcoming.

Photo: Olympus Gear to Ship—Marin County, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Pelican Blogging

After taking some photos of boats floating in Monterey Bay I got back in the car and drove to Pacific Grove. Early morning near Asilomar Beach: lines of pelicans heading out to sea.

Photo: Pelicans—Monterey County, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Santa Barbara Mission #2

Some nice Sunday morning religious images from the Santa Barbara Mission. (BTW: Pix taken in available light using the Nikon D90.)

Photos: Church Interior—Santa Barbara, 2010; Votive Candles—Santa Barbara, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Melrose Avenue #14

OK, OK. I've created a "Melrose Avenue" label.

Photo: Los Angeles & Hope—Los Angeles, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Disney Hall

Some pigeonless shots taken at the Disney site.

Wikipedia article. (With links to the Wikipedia Frank Gehry article.)
Self-Portraits. (Very interesting . . . the photographer, Ann Althouse, also has a right-wingy political blog.)

Photos: Disney Hall (vertical)—Los Angeles, 2010; Self-Portrait (Disney Hall)—Los Angeles, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

. . . from the archives #57: Digger Pine Cone—Lake County, 1993

In the early 1990's I was looking for images to accompany a passage excerpted from Ursula LeGuin's book Always Coming Home, a short descriptive piece concerning the scrub oak. One of my trips took me through the Napa Valley and over the mountains into Lake County where I pulled off the road to inspect a stand of digger pines. (At the time I didn't know that they were called digger pines or that the name "digger pine" was controversial.) I remember being mightily impressed with the pine cones: very massive and sculptural. I brought one home, set it against a white matboard and took this photo.

Photo: Digger Pine Cone—Lake County, 1993

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ansel Adams Mantel

"In a contrarian touch, the long, west-facing wall with its potentially great view of the ocean held but one window and a huge stone fireplace with a twenty-four-foot-long mantel. At the mantel's center presided Ansel's mammoth Chinese temple drum, nearly six feet in diameter, long since acquired from William Colby."

Mary Alinder, Ansel Adams: A Biography

Photo: Adams Mantel—Carmel, 1984

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Morley Baer

A recent post by Howard Grill on Morley Baer reminded of the time in 1984 when I was taking a Friends of Photography seminar in Monterey. Part of the activities included a visit to Mr. Baer at his house in Carmel Valley. I seem to recall that he gave us some generic inspirational advice ("only take photographs of things you believe in" or somesuch).

Photo: Morley Baer—Carmel, 1984

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Deer Blogging

No telephoto lens required . . . you could walk right up to these creatures. Just sauntering around like they owned the place.

Photo: Deer—Point Lobos, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Santa Barbara Mission #1

Earlier this month Mike found himself driving north out of Los Angeles on highway 101. As he passed through Santa Barbara he decided, on the spur of the moment, to visit the Santa Barbara Mission.

The outside facade was being lit by the early morning sun . . . very contrasty. But in the interior courtyards the light was much more subdued.

Photos: St. Francis—Santa Barbara, 2010; Agave & Adobe Wall—Santa Barbara, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Web Site

A recent bout of coughing and wheezing (and sneezing) meant that I could sit at the computer and fool around with creating a web site (one of my New Year's resolutions).

New site is here, in a formative stage.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Time For A Drink

Yes, not only is it Friday but it's also Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

Scenes from a breakfast visit last month with Pat and Joe to L.A.'s Farmer's Market. That early, the bar wasn't yet open, alas, just starting to stir as we were leaving.

Photos: It's Time For A Drink—Los Angeles, 2010; Bar (Farmers Market)—Los Angeles, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blu Ray: Big Problems

Recently I purchased a Sony Blu Ray player from Costco—with an instant rebate it came to just over $100.00. After using it for a number of weeks I’ve reluctantly decided that the hassles of Blu Ray outweigh the benefits and I’ll be returning the machine and canceling the Blu Ray option in Netflix.

I’ve noticed that in researching Blu Ray on the internet the main disadvantages cited for the format have to do with price (players and discs) and the need for a high-definition television. Alas, there are other serious disadvantages to the format: the problems in my case seem to reside in both the player and the discs themselves.


—Actually this is the second player I got from Costco. The first one was subject to gray horizontal scrolling lines. Since the second one had the same interference pattern I reasoned that it wasn’t the player so I did some research. It seems that the Comcast cable coming into the television was creating the problem: it was interfering with the HDMI cable. Once disconnected the lines vanished. Of course, disconnecting the cable input is not going to work for most people. Don’t know if this is an issue with other players.

—Basic operations are incredibly slow and kludgy. Just ejecting a disc is somehow much longer than on a standard DVD. Trying to get to the feature, especially on Disney Blu Rays, is just outrageous in the delay involved. First there’s an unskippable Blu Ray promo. Then a number of previews. Then, the movie. No, the download of the movie. Finally, the movie.

—Yes, the movie has no resume function. It doesn’t have a resume function! That is, you can’t stop it, turn off the player, then later resume watching at your previous stopping point. This truly is fatal. [Update: David Pogue, the New York Times Technology columnist, says that ". . . ALL Blu-Ray players do that infuriating thing you describe: lose your place if you hit Stop. An appalling step backwards!"]

—The menus combined with the remote are quite opaque. I’ve accidentally totally stopped the movie while trying to navigate with the remote. Then, see "trying to get to the feature" above.

—Finally, the picture is better, yes. But not by a fantastic margin as was the case when going from VHS to DVD. It’s just . . . better. Certainly not perfect . . . my player had issues with certain panning sequences in the movies, particularly of strong horizontal motifs (steps).

I’m actually wondering if some of these issues couldn’t be resolved right now, except for the companies’ need to have improved models in the future. As it is, the total Blu Ray experience, the player combined with the discs, is far worse than watching DVDs using a standard DVD player. How annoying!

For another take on a Disney Blu Ray disc (with much more colorful language), see here.

Point Lobos

Mike spent a recent afternoon at Point Lobos. There were high scattered clouds, which together with the winter sun being rather low in the west resulted in an extreme contrast situation. Which in turn meant a lot of fussing in Photoshop trying to get acceptable results. (The black and white photo is the result of "developing" the RAW image twice—once for highlights and once for shadows—and then combining them.)

(Blog note: this afternoon . . . Mike's take on Blu Ray!)

Photos: Afternoon—Point Lobos, 2010; Rocks & Sky—Point Lobos, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

L.A. Buildings

I took these photos while wandering around downtown L.A. on a Saturday morning . . . in the photorealist tradition, I think. (Empty urban sites.) Perspective isn't 100%, but pretty close.

Photos: Beaudry—Los Angeles, 2010; Buildings—Los Angeles, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


During his most recent trip to L.A. Mike visited the Museum of Contemporary Art, located on Grand Avenue. The featured exhibit was a 30-year retrospective of the museum's collection.

As Mike wandered through the exhibit halls he was slightly disappointed to find that there were no photorealist painters represented, although there were a few representative specimens of Pop Art. Perhaps photorealism doesn't fit into the museum's aesthetic.

There were also a number of photographers in the show, most notably and successfully images from Robert Frank's The Americans. Mike was slightly disappointed to find that there were no West Coast photographers represented (with the sole exception of Lewis Baltz, a number of whose photos were jammed together against one wall with no space between the frames, top or bottom . . . quite impossible to view.) No Edward Westons, Max Yavnos or Minor Whites. Perhaps these kinds of photographs don't fit into the museum's aesthetic.

In honor of the nature of the show, Mike took a blurred self-portrait photo in the vicinity, then messed with it in Photoshop to give it that contemporary look.

Photos: Ticket Office (MOCA)—Los Angeles, 2010; Self-Portrait (Downtown)—Los Angeles, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Pigeon Blogging

Mike was happily surprised to see that some pigeons have found an agreeable roosting spot on top of the pristine Disney Concert Hall.

Photo: Pigeons (Disney Hall)—Los Angeles, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pismo Beach Pier

Stopping by Pismo Beach recently I wandered down towards the pier and found these telescopes. As it so happens they're looking out towards the ocean cliffs where I stood in 1978 pointing my camera towards the sunset.

Photo: Telescopes (Pismo Beach)—Central Coast, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Melrose Avenue #13

Another in my series of Melrose sightems.

This building is getting constantly repainted, looking completely different last November.

I should probably create a Melrose Avenue label.

Photo: Torn Poster (Melrose Avenue)—Los Angeles, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yard Sale

I took this as I was walking in a Hollywood neighborhood. I liked the clouds, the palm tree, and the fact that I could work in a self-portrait. But to then go on and take dozens of photos of other yard sales? Yawn . . . I don't think so.

But the prevailing doctrine is that the photographer needs to be engaged in projects such as that, because . . . well, I don't know exactly why.

Some references:

Projects (see #6.)
Yard Sales.

Photo: Yard Sale—Los Angeles, 2008

Thursday, February 4, 2010

. . . from the archives #56: Cemetery—Pacific Grove, 1987

Taken with a Tachihara 4x5 camera fitted with a roll film adapter. I was constantly accusing the camera of causing light leaks, only to find out (much later) that it was actually the 4x5 sheet film holders that were the culprits. The roll film adapter alleviated the problem considerably.

I think that I was in the Monterey area to attend a photo workshop led by Rod Dresser, but I might have my dates wrong. I know that this was my second attempt at photographing the cemetery. (The first attempt was with a twin-lens reflex.)

Photo: Cemetery—Pacific Grove, 1987

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Flower Store

This store is no longer at the Ferry Building, alas. Hmm . . . I think a Blue Bottle coffee store is located there now.

Photo: Flower Store (Ferry Building)—San Francisco, 2006

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

San Francisco Landmarks

I don't know if its still called the "Transamerica" pyramid.

Photos: Transamerica Pyramid—San Francisco, 2009; Coit Tower—San Francisco, 2009

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Crow Blogging

On the road back from the bristlecone pines; taken during last October's drive up highway 395.

Photo: Crow & Sierra Crest—White Mountains, 2009