Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pinnacles, 2007

Pinnacles - Pinnacles National Monument  2007

Grass, Moss & Lichen - Pinnacles  2012

This year's photography in Pinnacles National Monument was affected by rain, heavy at times.

Here are two non-rain pix from Mike's 2007 trip taken with the Olympus C-8080.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Way of the Geezer: Rain

Rain on Camper Window - Pinnacles  2012

At his Pinnacles campsite Mike awoke early in the morning to the sound of rain on the camper shell. He cancelled his planned large-scale dayhike in favor of a less ambitious one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pinnacle Flowers

Lupin, Poppies - Pinnacles  2012

Lupin - Pinnacles  2012

Nice display of poppies and lupin down near the campground.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Condor Blogging

Condor & Turkey Vultures - Pinnacles  2012

Condor Watching - Pinnacles  2012

They've set up a condor viewing area near the campground at Pinnacles National Monument. Condors are born and raised in zoos, then released at various sites, among them Pinnacles.

The group shown here managed to spot two condors, one perched high up in a Digger Pine, the other one soaring with some turkey vultures, discernible only by his larger size.

Condor article here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Way of the Geezer: Camping Trips

Camp - Pinnacles  2012

Camp - El Portal  2012

Mike took two short camping trips recently. a) One at Pinnacles National Monument (he slept in the truck) and b) one at Yosemite at a campground in El Portal, just outside the park entrance on the banks of the Merced River. (Alas, campsite #2, not the coveted site #4.) This time he decided to set up his smallish Coleman tent.

The Pinnacles site had a raccoon storage unit; the El Portal site had a genuine bear box. (No bear showed up, alas again, so no additional bear story.)


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shave Ice

Making Shave Ice - Hawaii  2012

Shave Ice - Hawaii  2012

Had to have some shave ice.

In Kona.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Palm Trees in Wind

Palms in Wind - Hawaii  2012

Palms and Volleyball Net - Hawaii  2012

Luckily for us the dreaded vog was kept at bay during our time on the Kona Coast by the wind.

The wind not only dispersed the vog, but also bent the palm trees into picturesque and elegant shapes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Vog, Kona - Hawaii  2012

Very bad in the Kona area. Someone said that there are two active vents now, thus creating even more vog. This photo taken from the rental car lot at the Kona airport.

Vog article.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mamiya C220 - Shooting a Roll of Film

Maple, Fence, Nandina - Marin County  2012

Large Pot - Marin County  2012

Wanting to see if my Mamiya C220 twin-lens reflex was still in operating order I stopped by Marin Film Works in San Rafael and bought a roll of Fujifilm Provia color transparency film for six bucks. Based on old habit I was able to load the film without any difficulty.

I affixed the camera to a tripod and took it into the backyard. Luckily that day there was a high overcast giving bright even light. Looking down through the hood I composed the shot on the camera's groundglass screen, then focused using the built-in magnifying glass. (By the way - any digital camera's LCD screen is brighter.) For a light meter I used  my Canon G12 set to ISO 100 and aperture priority. Since the Canon  will only go up to f8 I had to take that reading and make adjustments for the Mamiya's higher f-stops (up to f45.)

Part of the process that was giving me a little trepidation was the switching of lenses. Would the light-proof interior flap remain light-proof? I did the switch to telephoto, took some shots, then switched back to  the normal lens and kept shooting.

After taking the roll's 12 exposures I took it back to Marin Film Works to be developed. I picked up the 12 transparencies, nicely trimmed and placed in glassine envelopes, the next day.

They all came out!   Holding them up to the light you could see nice rich tonalities and lots of detail.

I took them home, got out my Epson V700's 120 film holder and scanned a few of the positives. I saved the scans as TIF files, then opened the files and tweaked using Adobe Camera Raw. I've posted two of the results above.  Top photo taken with the camera's normal lens, bottom with the telephoto.

I imagine that using a truly high-res scan, together with Photoshop, awesome results could be achieved.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mamiya C220

Mamiya C220 with Telephoto Lens - Marin County  2012

I've had this camera since sometime in the 1980's. Sorry, I can't be more precise! I know that it's been in the Cascades, the Sierra Nevada and Acoma Pueblo, among other places.. (The Pueblo tribe at Acoma wouldn't let it be used on a tripod . . . for a long time the camera sported a little green sticker  proving the Acoma fee had been paid. And by a long time I mean from 1986 to 2012. )

The Mamiya C220 is a "medium format" film camera, it uses 120 roll film and takes 12 square 2-1/4x2-1/4 inch exposures per roll. I'm not sure how many varieties of film are currently available - I used Fuji transparency film for a recent test roll. Also: it's a "twin lens reflex" camera (TLR, for short) with a viewing lens directly over the "taking" lens. Thus the photographer must allow for parallex issues, meaning that what the photographer sees in the ground glass of the viewfinder (from the top lens), is not exactly the same view as what the film is recording (using the bottom lens.) For most subjects this doesn't seem to be that big of a deal.

This is a totally manual camera: focusing and exposure are all photographer-controlled. So some kind of light meter is essential. For a recent roll I used my Canon G12 set to aperture priority to get exposure readings with excellent results. (The Canon's highest f-stop is f8, so some interpolation was required to go up to f45.)

Another interesting feature, unique (I think) to the Mamiya twin-lens system is the ability to switch lenses. Mounted on the camera in the image above is the 80mm lens (50mm 35mm equiv.) Seen to the right of the camera is the 180mm (135mm equiv., I think) telephoto lens. In order to switch, a dial is turned to the "unlock" position and the wire spring is flipped down and out. Lenses are switched, then the spring is pushed back in.

Some photos taken with this camera:

Melrose Avenue, 1988

Kiva Ladder, 1986

Also, "Shooting A Roll of Film."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Pualu Blogging

Pualu - Hawaii  2012

We went for a very informative tour of the Mauna Lani ponds, overseen by Pi'i Laeha, the loko i'a (fishpond) manager at the resort.

This particular fish . . . this pualu (identification provided by Pi'i) was slowly doing a series of posing maneuvers, so had to take some pix.

Pi'i (Mauna Lani) - Hawaii  2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Church, Kona - Hawaii  2012

Church (Nicasio) - Marin County  2012

Churches found in Kona, Hawaii, and Nicasio in Marin County.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Marin Sightems

Shoe Store - Marin County  2012

Blue Bus - Marin County  2012

. . . and self-portraits.

Top: shoe store next to Joe's Tacos in Mill Valley. May remind the discerning viewer of Magritte.

Bottom: Blue bus behind chainlink fence in San Rafael.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Costco - Marin County  2012

Carts (Costco) - Marin County  2012

If Mike were truly ambitious he would produce an entire Costco-related body of work, complete with a limited edition contained in a clamshell portfolio box with letterpress text printed on Arches paper and a heavy-duty intellectual essay on how Costco is actually an extremely large conceptual art piece subverting the traditional notion of . . . of . . .

Oh well.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hawaii Plants

Leaves, Bougainvillea - Hawaii  2012

Leaves (Mauna Lani) - Hawaii  2012

Earlier I had posted plant shots taken in the botanical garden.

These photos were taken on the Kona side of the island . . . plants that were being watered and trimmed: landscaping of course. But nice.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mauna Lani: Ocean

Rocky Beach - Hawaii  2012

Ocean, Transparent - Hawaii  2012

The Kona Coast is naturally rocky and lava-encrusted. Here and there are found some natural beaches and some man-made beaches. The transparency of the water is incredible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Views From The Boat

Fishing Boat - Hawaii  2012

Ocean - Hawaii  2012

Two non-whale views.

Top: a fishing boat leaving the harbor at the same time as us, hitting the choppy water as it enters the open sea.

Bottom: So there weren't that many whales, but the sight of the vast illimitable Pacific was mesmerizing. When the sun was behind a cloud the water took on a strange metallic sheen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Whale Blogging

Pilot Whale - Hawaii  2012

Whale in Front - Hawaii  2012

Hali and Mike got up early in the morning and headed south to a small harbor just outside of Hilo for a whale-watching excursion. Along with several other people they clambered aboard Cap'n Dan's trusty vessel.

As the boat left the harbor, it immediately met the waves of the open sea. After a moment of unease, Mike realized that he was going to be OK and settled in to wait for pix opportunities (also, he had thoughtfully taken a Bonine upon rising.)

It was getting towards the end of the humpback whale season, and in fact no humpback whales were sighted. But they did come across several pilot whales! Very difficult to frame the photos using the EPL-1's LCD screen, but Mike did his best. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mauna Lani: Sunset

Kona Ale, Sunset - Hawaii  2012

Sunset - Hawaii  2012

At the little bar area down by the beach: Mike's Kona ale backlit by the approaching sunset. Whoa.

And then, of course, the actual sunset.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


2 AM Club - Marin County  2012

Joe's Tacos - Marin County  2012

Mike thought that he was eating in the 2 AM Club, whereas he was actually eating at Joe's Tacos.

Too difficult and tedious to explain.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mauna Lani: Balcony View

Balcony View, Mauna Lani - Hawaii  2012

The remainder of our time in Hawaii was spent on the Kona Coast, the non-rainy side of the Big Island, at the Mauna Lani resort. A very posh place, we had been here before in 2007 for Shawna's wedding. As a kind of antidote to our somewhat traumatic last vacation we decided to not only stay at the Mauna Lani, but also to get one of the view rooms. Above, the early morning view from our balcony.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

. . . from the archives #71: Kiva Ladder, New Mexico 1986

Kiva Ladder, Acoma Pueblo - New Mexico  1986

On our way back from Santa Fe we stopped at Acoma Pueblo, a short distance off Interstate 40. This is a small community living on top of a mesa in the New Mexico desert.

The Hopi Acoma Pueblo tribe didn't allow tripods to be used, but they had no problem with my twin-lens Mamiya. While Hali and Shawna wandered around looking at pottery stands, I took some quick pictures. I've heard that kiva ladders are somehow not supposed to be photographed, but I don't know if that's true. This is one of the few times that I was successfully able to get the whole weathered-wood-dark-sky-Ansel-Adams look.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan - Harris Ranch  2012

1985 Task Force (scan)

Speaking of Berkeley in the 70s . . .

Not everybody knows that Ronald Reagan was governor of California during the 1970s! (I had to give a quick history lesson to a Berkeley student during one of my East Bay shows.) In fact he was governor. Per Wikipedia:

In an address before the California Council of Growers on 7 April 1970, almost a year after "Bloody Thursday" and the death of James Rector, Governor Reagan defended his decision to use the California National Guard to quell Berkeley protests: "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement." Just a few weeks later, on 4 May 1970, the Ohio National Guard fired on protestors at Kent State University, killing four students and seriously wounding nine.

Since then I've always been intrigued by Reagan admirers. During my last drive down to LA via highway 5 I stopped, as is my wont, at Harris Ranch. I like to check out their fountains, landscaping and of course their opulent Mens' Room. On my way out I noticed a Ronald Reagan framed tribute hung prominently near the entrance and snapped a quick photo. 

Interestingly enough, in 1985 I received an elaborate invitation to participate in a Ronald Reagan Task Force.  Why I would have gotten this I don't know, since Marin County is not exactly a hotbed of conservatism. But although I didn't respond to the brochure's seductive come-on, I did keep it as a cherished souvenir.

You know, looking it over now, maybe I should have become a Task Force Member. If I had, my name would have been "inscribed on the President's Honor Roll and kept forever with his permanent Presidential Papers." The brochure goes on to speculate that "Perhaps someday your grandchildren or great-grandchildren will see your name linked historically with President Reagan himself on this rare document." Alas, I guess that it's too late now.

Reagan Country - San Benito County  2012

Juan Cole article on Reagan.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Horse Blogging

Saddle (Tuffy) - Marin County  2012

Tuffy's saddle, on Tuffy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Camellia in Rain

Camellia in Rain - Marin County  2012

Very heavy rain earlier last month . . . drenched the camellias in our courtyard. I got as close as I could using the Olympus E-PL1.

April, 2010 camellia post.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lava Flow

Lava Flow - Hawaii  2012

Leaving the Mauna Kea area I had to stop to take at least one photo of an unobstructed lava flow, all crinkly and gnarly.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Ahinahina (Silversword) - Hawaii  2012

Sign - Hawaii  2012

Putting on our protective gear that we had thoughtfully brought for this high altitude excursion we ventured into the ahinahina enclosure. The ahinahina is a very handsome plant - the silversword; there were several nice specimens to be seen.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mauna Kea

View from Mauna Kea Road - Hawaii  2012

We practically had to get out and push the rental Nissan Versa up the road to Mauna Kea; it kept dropping down into first gear, complaining the whole way. We didn't go all the way to the top, just to the visitors center, but that was quite far enough.

Blustery weather, rain splatters and wind, cold.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sights Along the Saddle Road

Kaumana Trail - Hawaii  2012

Saddle Road Plants - Hawaii  2012

Plant life obviously adapted to growing in lava. An unusual combination of desert-like scrub plants with tropical overtones.

The Kaumana Trail "is a remnant portion of the old Hilo-Puu O`o Horse Trail. Until the U.S. Army built the Saddle Road in 1942, it was the only direct route from Hilo to the Humuula Saddle."

Also: "Other trails or roads that branch off from the public features may be on private property, and are not managed for any public recreational use. Access is subject to adjacent landowner approval, and if used without authorization, you will be trespassing and possibly putting yourself at risk." (Emphasis added.)


Source: Hawaii Trails