Bodie Bottles

Bodie SHP Bottles

Bodie State Historical Park is one of my favorite places to shoot. In north east California, just north of Mono Lake, it was a boom town that was abandoned and left to disappear. The state took over and has kept it in a state of “arrested decay”, meaning that they don’t repair anything, but the also don’t allow it to get worse.

Winters brought snow ten feet deep and summers were hot and dry. The mills of the mines were loud and constant. And the population was a large group of hard living miners who weren’t always law abiding. Life must have been hard during it’s hay-day.

Shooting there is a blast. It has a shot everywhere you turn. They also have a museum where you can look at the artifacts found on site from a past culture. Inside, against a window is this collection of old bottles from the town.

I took this with a Lensbaby and actually did a great job getting the sweet spot in focus. I like the blur on the outside edges of the shot and the clarity of the  center bottle.

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Highway 58 Windmill

Highway 58 Windmill

Before my mom and dad passed away, they lived in Atascadero, along the Central Coast of California. I would visit often and always made a long weekend of it. My favorite time of year was spring because the drive home could be a bonanza of photographic opportunities.

This time, I was driving along highway 58 and saw this windmill. I have driven by it many times and always refer to it as the Highway 58 Windmill.

I stopped and took a lot of images, none of which I was happy with. Being new to photography at the time, I thought I’d try some slow shutter speeds and took some shots. I realized that I was onto something. Finally, I zoomed in on just the vane and got this shot.

I have stopped time after time and tried to get a better shot, but none of them since compare to what I already have. I like it because the actual vane is sharp and in focus, but the “propeller” shows nice movement.

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Water Carved Rocks at Fossil Falls

Water carves the shapes into the lava flow at Fossil Falls

Water is a huge shaper of our world. It influences the coast line, erodes mountains, and shapes rocks. Fossil Falls has a whole field of rock showing the affect of water on the planet.

Fossil Falls is a volcanic lava flow that has been worn by water over the last 20,000 years resulting in beautiful, smooth shapes carved into the rocks.

A photographer can find a shot just about anywhere here by just changing their view point with the camera. The subtle shapes, shades, and textures all lend themselves to interesting subject material.

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Bush Growing in Water Carved Rocks at Fossil Falls

Bush Growing in Fossil Falls

The rocks at Fossil Falls are perfect for capturing subtle patterns of shade and texture. You can wander for hours and as the light changes see new things to shoot.

There aren’t many plants or animals, but the ones that are there are hardy and adapted to live a life in a harsh environmental. Most of the animals are reptile or arthropods and the plant life hangs on to what ever small patch of dirt it can find.

This small plant was growing out of a crack in the rocks, getting it nutrients from a the small amount of dirt that was there.

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Grass and Water Carved Rocks at Fossil Falls

fossil falls-7

Fossil Falls is off highway 395 , just north of Inyokern, in the heart of just about no where. There is a little sign off the highway, but there isn’t any real big notification that there is anything to see there and if you look at the landscape around the area, the only noticiable trait is a red cinder cone just north of the “falls”.

The reason taht you don’t see much as you’re traveling up 395 at 60+ mph is that the falls are below your sightline. You have to climb down to them.

The falls were carved through an old lava flow by flowing water ages ago. What remains is a canyon of smooth, worn rock that presents some great photo opportunites to a creative shooter.

I took this image while climbing down the falls. I liked the contrast between the organic dried grass and the inorganic dark rock. I also like that it shows that life will find a way to survive in a very narrow range of tolerance. There isn’t much water in this area and the grass is growing in a very small amount of dirt.

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Road to Nowhere

Road to Nowhere


Driving southbound down Highway 395 from Lava Bed National Monument, headed west toward Lassen National Park, I was looking for a two lane road that would (maybe) shorten my trip. I found this gem. It did shorten my trip, but it was a road through ranch country and just went straight for what seemed like EVER!

I really don’t mind long mindless trips. It gives me the chance for some interpersonal communication and on this road, I didn’t have to worry about traffic. I got to spend almost two hours with myself.

Somewhere in the middle of this introspective  I realized that the road might make a good shot. So I stopped the car. In the middle of the road. It wasn’t like I was going to hold anyone up or block traffic.

I tried several different compositions, both vertical and horizontal, and this is the one that I like best. I kept thinking that I’d have liked some clouds in the picture, but I realized that the desolation is enhanced by the empty sky. And after driving on it for over an hour and what appeared to be more hours to go, it truly did seem to be a road to nowhere

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Morning Sun Rays in Big Sur

Morning Sun Rays Thru the Trees in Big Sur

I was lucky to get a camp site during the summer in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park campground. Usually, they are sold out and there is a waiting list, but this time I got there early and got in for a few nights as I explored the area. During the day, I did the usual thing, driving up and down the coast looking for sunsets on the water, water falls in the forest, etc., but at night I stayed in the camp ground.

I’m not to big on staying in state/national park campgrounds because they are noisy, crowded, and usually full of people who have a pretty high sense of entitlement, but in this case it’s the only game within a reasonable driving distance. So, that is where I stayed.

In some ways, I got lucky. The sun was streaming in through the trees and the smoke from the other campers fires and cooking allowed to sun rays to form. I looked up and at first thought there was nothing there to shoot, but I grabbed my camera anyway and looked for the shot. I found that if I zoomed in on the rays and left out most of the rest of the scene, I got something I liked.

When I got home, I kept coming back to it, so I played with it and found that the image grew on me. Here it is.

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Bodie Cowboys

Cowboys napping in Bodie State Park

Bodie Cowboys

I wish I could have staged this image, but I didn’t. In 2009, I spent an entire Saturday in Bodie Historical State Park with the sole purpose of photographing the ghost town and documenting the area.

Late in the afternoon, I was walking down the hill to my car to rest and get something to eat and drink. I looked to my left and noticed this two gentlemen dressed in full cowboy clothing sleeping in the shade of one of the small buildings about thirty feet off the main road. They were wearing the whole thing; hats, boots with spurs, Lee jeans, leather belts with big brass buckles, and long sleeve, button down shirts.

They looked just like a scene out of a western movie; laying on the grass, hats over their faces to block out the sun, taking a mid-afternoon nap. I kept looking around for the reason that they were there, expecting to see a movie set or horses or something. I could find nothing, but I was happy with the scene as I shot away trying to get the right composition.

I have several different shots, but I like this one best. The only regret is that the sky is a boring blue. I would have liked to have some dramatic clouds or at least some nice white cumulus clouds, but I haven’t learned how to control the weather yet.

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Mission San Antonio de Padua

Mission San Antonio de Padua

Mission San Antonio de Padua is located north of Paso Robles on the central California coast. To get to it you have to drive through a military base, over a dirt road, and find it in a small valley, but it is worth the trip.

Of all of the California missions I have visited, in my mind it offers the best representation of what life might have been like during it’s day. It isn’t in the middle of a populated area and the small valley that it is in is still fairly natural. Visiting there makes you take a deep breath and slow down.

You are allowed to wander pretty much the whole mission without guidance which allows you to really drink in the ambiance and setting. After a while, you begin to notice the details of the mission.

Mission San Antonio de Padua was established in 1771 by Junipero Serra in the Valley of the Oaks and the mission is still owned and operated by the Diocese of Monterey who hold regular services and sacraments in the chapel and it acts as a current Catholic parish.

I liked the view of the mission and the background of the hills with no view of modern society encroaching into the frame. I like to think that is how the mission looked during it’s prime.

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