Thursday, July 30, 2015

There's Such a Thing as Too Good Weather

There's nothing more boring for me when I'm out taking pictures than blue skies and nice weather. Yuck. So on a recent backpacking trip in the Sierras, I had such "great" weather that I had to do something to amuse myself because straight landscapes were real snoozers (light-wise). I was inspired to shoot a bunch of abstracts whenever I sat to rest during the hike or when I was in camp. At least it made me feel like I was artistically accomplishing something. Or maybe not. You decide.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Go Deep

My wife and I are in the process of building a house. Well, actually, we haven't move a single rock yet. The 16-month saga has taken us to the point where we've hurdled most of the preliminary paperwork, soil tests, and all the other blah, blah, blah including some unnecessary and irrational conflicts with a neighbor. So, considering we're in a semi-rural area with no municipal water, we have to supply it ourselves through a well. We hired well expert and driller extraordinaire, Vic, to tap the agua below. It took him a day to bore down 580 feet and get the water we needed. While he and his workers got splattered with mud, I stood back, stayed clean and took advantage of the photo op.

The well site with the Angeles National Forest behind us.
The business end of the drilling operation.

Drilling pipe.

Cutting through the first layer of dirt.

The first few feet.

Well casing that goes down the hole after it's bored and we find water.
Adding drilling pipe to a spindle that holds several pipes at a time where they're in position to attach to the string of pipes going into the hole.

Making repairs.

Mud and debris accumulating under the rig.

Mud-splattered drilling rig controls.

Vic the well driller.

Forced out by compressed air, water gushes from the hole!

Vic's shoes.

Installing the well casing.

Vic, splattered with mud.

Water and mud flowing out from the well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Room With A View

Whenever I'm in an upper floor hotel room, I can't resist slapping on a long lens and seeing what's possible, photographically, from my temporary perspective. This time, it was the Waikiki Marriott in Honolulu. It was amazing how much activity there was for 6:30 in the morning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wild Traffic Jam On the PCT

I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to support this, but judging by all the Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers I saw while backpacking on the PCT from Edison Lake to Florence Lake in the Sierra Mountains, the book, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, has inspired an awful lot of people to take off for five months and walk from Mexico to Canada. For most of the 40 miles I hiked, they streamed up the trail, walking south-to-north while I and a friend, Allan, went north-to-south. Allan has been going on annual John Muir Trail trips, gradually piecing together the entire route a few miles at a time. And in this case, the PCT and JMT followed the same trail. According to him, he usually sees more JMT hikers, but this year, at least, the adventure to be on is the PCT. Of course, if you were just looking at my pictures, you would think we had the mountains all to our own. Trust me, for every picture here, some PCT hiker had just passed by or was about to blast through.

Traditional trailhead picture taken by my wife, Gloria.

Hiking by Edison Lake.
Mono Creek where we camped on the first night.
Climbing Bear Ridge.

Allan coming up the Bear Ridge trail.

The view south (more or less) from Bear Ridge.

A relic of days past: a PCT emblem nailed to a tree. Just don't see those anymore.

Allan crossing a creek that feeds into Bear Creek.
A meadow on the climb from Bear Creek to Marie Lakes.
Our camp at Marie Lakes.

My tent under the stars at Marie Lakes.

Marie Lakes in the morning.

Selden Pass, the highest point on our trip at 10,800'.
Passing Heart Lake which is just below Selden Pass.
Looking down to Sallie Keyes Lakes.

Yours truly hanging out at Sallie Keyes Lake where we spent the third day.

Evening scene at Sallie Keyes Lake.

Allan passing a trail sign.

Meadow scene along the trail that took us from the PCT/JMT to Florence Lake.

South Fork of the San Joaquin River, our last camp.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Never Wait For That Picture!

I'm sure I'm not alone among photographers who pass by a photographic opportunity and blow it off for all sorts of reasons. I've told myself too many times that the opportunity will repeat itself when I return. Ehem. Sure. Rarely does. The light is different, usually, or some other issue. So I was in the front yard of the house where I currently live, and saw how birds were landing on the neighbor's leaky yard faucet for a drink (by the way, I call shame on him for allowing this to continue in a drought; who knows how many gallons are disappearing every day thanks to this steady drip-drip). Instead of telling myself I would get around to setting up a shot, I immediately pulled out my Canon 1Dx, 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4x extender, a Gitzo monopod, and sat on the steps to our house about 20 feet away from the faucet. In the span of maybe 20 minutes, I got these two fellows. Considering that this property will probably be bulldozed in the next few months, my initiative was justified and I can sleep knowing I didn't get lazy.