Topic: Digital (115 posts) Page 2 of 23

Salt Evaporation Ponds

Above is the title page for the new portfolio of the same name. I had seen these ponds from the air on a commercial flight landing at the San Francisco Aiport several years ago and thought it would be wonderful if I could photograph them. It is a little tricky as the ponds often are in the landing path for jets coming in to land. I found that if we stayed below 1500 feet or so we were okay. So that's just what we did, flying under the big jets flight path in their approach to land.


It was dead calm, and the flight itself was smooth so the files from this shoot are exceptional. The Cargill Co. owns and works these ponds to make sea salt, the minerals in the water making different varieties. 

The full portfolio is now on the site: here.

Consistent offer. Want to see the prints? Email here

Topics: Color,Digital,Northwest,Aerial

Permalink | Posted March 17, 2018

On The Road to Pinnacles

While in Northern California in February 2018 my sister suggested I make a visit to Pinnacles National Park near Soledad.

So I packed up my gear and drove down from San Jose early one morning, about an hour and a half away. Little did I know.

The story about photographing at Pinnacles itself will have to come another time. What I wanted to show you was what I found on the road to Pinnacles that blew me away.

I know: not spectacular, no flash, no super saturated colors here. California hills in mid-winter: just a little green starting to show under the trees, a few cows here and there, some gray sky. Perfect, at least for me.

I know, "single trees on the hillside" is over the top cliche', right? So what! This was gorgeous.

I have worked to represent this stretch of road heading east to Pinnacles in its natural state, not with color sliders, saturation and sharpness cranked to the max conveying a falsely romantic syrupy-sweet utopian version of a place.

This certainly didn't need that, this rather pure and elemental landscape that morning on Hwy 146 to Pinnacles.

Finally, let's take a look at cause and effect. I had just driven up from the Ventura area where I'd spent days photographing fire and mudslide damage, both on the ground and from the air. I was also frequently driving two hours up to Santa Rosa from San Jose to photograph the extensive fire damage and destruction there. Take a look at the blogs  Disaster and Catastrophe if you haven't.  Some beauty and serenity was a good thing for me at that point. My heart swelled up in my chest as I was making these pictures (and is doing so now as I write this). Let's not forget why we do this, this making art (sounds pretentious, I know). We express ourselves through a heartfelt desire to share what we believe are perceptions that others may sympathize with. Can I bring a little peace and some form of slight joy to your day or world as you look at these? I hope so. Because this is what I do: make pictures to share.

Comments? Always welcome. Go here

Topics: Color,New Work,Northwest,Digital

Permalink | Posted March 14, 2018

Shooting Square in San Jose

If you are a photographer from a certain age you probably know just what this means. Otherwise, not so much.

Shooting square refers to the film size used, 120mm and 220mm film. Think Hasselblad, Rollei, Yashica and even Plaubel (although this one used the same film, it framed a rectangle). It was also larger format in that it inherently rendered in higher quality due to its negative size: 2 1/4 inches wide. This allowed bigger prints but also a broader tonal range and better sharpness when enlarged. Less grain too. The cameras tended to be bigger and bulkier, so not as fast as 35mm. But people did use them out and about, as well as in the studio. I was one of those that used them almost exclusively outdoors. 

Made zillions of pictures this way. Go to Nantucket, Yountville, Solothurn,  Portland, Westwood Village, Oakesdale, Bluff, Boston, Fences and Walls, Mountain Work, Bermuda Portfolio, Southshore, Nelson and on and on. Scroll to the bottom of the Gallery page on the site and you'll see them there, all in squares.

Slip up to present day, last week, actually, to our now highly evolved way of making pictures digitally, to the Nikon D850 where, for the first time in my knowledge, Nikon has provided a camera with an image area called "1:1". So, when gearing up to shoot in downtown San Jose, CA I set the camera for an image area of 1:1 and then converted the shot files to black and white in Lightroom and made a series that looks like I did in 1982. In fact, I just printed them.The first series of pictures from a month-long shoot in California.

Next, I will put them on the Gallery page of the site.

Quite simply they are of such astoundingly high image quality that they certainly blow away anything I ever did in 120mm with an analog camera and they most likely are a distinct improvement over anything I ever did in 4 x 5, let alone 8 x 10. I made the prints 14 inches square.

I can hear you asking, if you are a photographer, "What lens, Neal?" The Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8, a lens of now legendary quality and certainly the peer of the famous Carl Zeiss 38mm Biogon mounted to the Superwide Hasselblad that first surfacing in 1956.

Here I am, making pictures now that look very much like ones I made in my darkroom in 1979. But in a whole different world: digital and inkjet. With   quality unimagined, holding the camera in my hands, no tripod, no lightmeter hanging around my neck, no changing film every twelve exposures. No film agitating, drying, snipping and cutting, dusting off, placing in the enlarger, focusing, making an exposure, slipping the paper into the developer, the stop bath, the fixer, toning, then washing and squeegeeing, placing on a drying rack to dry overnight.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

Topics: Black and White,Digital,Series,Northwest

Permalink | Posted March 9, 2018

CATASTROPHE

The Northern California Firestorm

DISASTER, CATASTROPHE: 8400 STRUCTURES, 42 DEAD 

We flew out of the airport at Santa Rosa a couple of days ago, about an hour north of San Francisco, in late February, from an airstrip on an old military base. I figure a Cessna 172 needs about 10% of the length of this old runway designed for transport planes. ZIP, we were up and almost right away flying over unspeakable misery, loss, pain, and death.

See all those yellow patches back there? That was a large development of several hundred homes. Gone.

From Santa Rosa, across the 101, and east to the ridge,  a cottage I rented 4 years ago, now burnt to dust the photograph at about 1000 feet above it, going about 85 mph in the Cessna, window hinged on the top is open, staying up due to wind pressure. 

Lived there for about a month, the one on the right. The foundation on the left is where the owners lived.

Trying to keep the camera steady as the plane is jumpy due to turbulence. The spinning gyro clamped to the camera helps. Gorgeous day, 2 pm perfect, not a cloud.

Now we're over some of the worst. A whole housing development of hundreds of homes now completely gone, only dust and scorched trees remain. 

Up the valley again, this time following the road.  Now there are single family high-end homes with pools, gone, left to dust. Trees are still there, skeletons, most to be felled by a chain saw, for they 're already dead. 

180 degrees back towards town and more devastation. Shooting shooting shooting, picture after picture while fighting back tears. Earlier in the day I had talked with a family standing in their now empty plot. The dad spoke of 70 mph wind,  horizontal flames, embers high in the air only to land and start a new fire someplace else. Across the road? Across the highway? From a neighbor? Of being woken up by firemen hammering on the front door, saying get out and you replying, "20 minutes" and them yelling back, "No, right now!" As you run out of your house that is now in flames behind you and look around you are in the middle of a war zone. Firetrucks hosing down roofs nearby, EMT's and police everywhere, rescue workers, teams trying to save lives and get people out. Chaos, and as you drive away looking back to see your house now fully engulfed in flame. That front hedge you trimmed last weekend? The new plantings around the pool? The baby's room, ready for the new arrival next month. That picture in the hallway of the four of you that weekend in the Sierras in 1997 when you realized you were in love? All gone to dust.

We're getting close to being done. I know I could make more but it seems somehow disrespectful to keep pointing at it. So much misery, so much loss.

We land and I am almost giddy, relieved to be free from looking at it all from above. A look at destruction on a massive scale.

Topics: Color,Digital

Permalink | Posted February 27, 2018

Disaster

Drove up early yesterday morning from  Malibu where I am staying to Santa Barbara to charter a flight over the fire damage in the towns around Ventura where the forest fires were last fall. We also flew over Montecito where the mudslides were.

Think scorched earth and devastation with pockets of homes completely preserved. Odd.

The fires progressed from above in the hills back behind where the population centers are, but also threatened orchards, vineyards and horse farms, as well as homes.

In places, fire came right over Highway101 to the sea

(the darker areas here were caused by the fire as it jumped over the highway).

The mudslides in Montecito happened because the vegetation burned above the town, allowing the rain to flow down the valleys like a river, scouring and loosening the dirt.

(the lighter line of trees show the path of the mud)

some homes flooded and appearing submerged by the mud. Two story homes with just the roof left.

I found pockets of land untouched, whether from firefighters working to protect or land owners out for hours with hoses and digging fire breaks. 

The fire damage looking as if from a blast zone. How terrible to know this was coming towards you and powerless to stop it. All your worldly possessions and the small things: pictures, momentos from an earlier time, an anniversary, a wedding, a funeral. Gone in an instant. Watching your home catching fire and running to escape with your life and little else.

I wonder how many negatives or digital files went up in smoke, how many prints?

My heart goes out to those that lost so much. These two disasters serving as reminders that life and all that we hold dear is fleeting and can be gone in an instant.

Topics: Color,Domestic,Digital,Aerial

Permalink | Posted February 10, 2018