Pinnacles National Park is in Paicines, California, about 1 1/2 hours south of San Jose.
I just finished making prints of the park as I was there in February. These are just the tip of the iceberg and I hope to go back next winter. As it is a national park it is good to go with a pass, if you have one, as it costs $25 to get in otherwise. Also, try to go during the week when it isn't so crowded. This is a very popular park.
I focused mostly on the trails. I'd just come from several hours of photographing a series called "On the Way to Pinnacles" so was beat by the time I got there. I hiked up a trail maybe a couple of miles, photographing along the way and then came back down.
Note: I hand held the Sony A7R MK III while at Pinnacles, which turned out to be a mistake. I have learned this camera is a sort of hybrid, in that it is small and capable of tremendous results but that it is all too easy to screw up sharpness. Follow this twisted logic of mine, proven to be wrong. Small camera means you can use it like a point and shoot, popping frames off without much regard to settings, particularly shutter speed. I've learned that this does not work well. This is because it makes a huge file and therefore deserves great respect. I would most definitely shoot these next time with the camera on a tripod. I blew about 40% of my pictures at Pinnacles that day.
Pinnacles is just a jumble of rocks but on a very large scale. It is a fascinating place and reminds me of constructions I would make in the field behind our house in Connecticut as a kid where I grew up. In those I dug in the dirt, making ramps and roads for my trucks and loaders, moving earth and rocks.
Pinnacles National Park, California. Highly Recommended.
Greetings. I have just loaded the final and edited images from the Mannequin shoot I did in Oakland, CA in February 2018.
As always, I welcome your comments: Neal's email
Take a look: here
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
Since my last notice on this show coming up at the New England School of Photography in its new digs in Waltham in January the content of the exhibition has changed somewhat. The show is now called Neal Rantoul: Iceland and is work from this past summer's time teaching.
After a one week workshop in Iceland at the Baer Art Center finished in early August we left Hofsos in a rented car and drove the Ring Road for most of its route east and then south back to Reykjavik. I made photographs along the way. Those, with several from the cliff face at The Cape comprise the show. This is an exhibition of my landscape photographs.
Here are a few from the show:
I am so excited to be able to bring this work to you. We are staying with a mostly consistent size for the photographs shown: framed at 46 by 34 inches.
Here are the details:
New England School of Photography
Neal Rantoul: Iceland
The Garner Center for Photographic Exhibitions
274 Moody Street Waltham, MA 02453
Call for open hours: 617-438-1897
January 8-February 9, 2018
Reception Tuesday, January 16, 6-7:30 pm
Artist Talk Friday, January 19, 1:30 pm
Please come to the reception January 16. I look forward to seeing you there.
I have a new camera. If you've read the blog before you know it isn't very often that I discuss equipment. Mostly it seems not so significant to me what kind of camera is used. But there are shifts occurring once again in the industry and this new camera, a Nikon D850, is one of the new tools in digital photography that is moving us ahead.
Although it is difficult to show how good images are online, this 300% crop shows little noise and is quite detailed:
My previous camera, a Nikon D810, had been my primary picture maker for several years. A very good camera, it made files that I could count on: for quality, for color, for tonality, dynamic range and for sharpness, even at quite big sizes. It wasn't perfect but it never failed me and got the job done, really all I could ask for in a camera in which to make my art.
Since I've only had the new camera a week and made just a few prints, I can't speak to its inherent goodness yet. But it feels right and its MP size is significantly larger, which should allow bigger prints at higher fidelity. Odd that we are so very dependent on a tool to make our pictures, but that's photography. In my analog days, I was dependent on three tools to make my pictures. Early on the Rollei SL66 was front and center in the 70's, then the Superwide Hasselblad. Then I was wedded to the Toyo Field 8 x 10 for 25 years, connected at the hip to a large, cumbersome and very heavy camera and the three lenses I used ( and the tripod to mount it on!). Now I can get virtually as high a quality image with a camera I can hold in my hand and sling over my shoulder. Dreams do come true sometimes.
Current thought seems to be that large chip DSLR days are numbered and I can believe that. The D850 is too large and heavy. I also use a full chip mirrorless Sony camera (A7r MK ll) and find it very nice to travel with. It is not as refined as the Nikons but nevertheless capable of wonderful files.
Simply enough, the bar is now very high in terms of the equipment we can use. We are at a high level of maturity in digital imaging and the devices are increasingly sophisticated and impressive in the quality of the results. Is the hype we are barraged with everytime a new camera is announced a true guide of its significance? No, but this one, the Nikon, and the new Sony A7r MK lll are genuine steps forward, I believe.
I have already learned, for instance, that in order to capture everything at the highest of quality you must make sure this new Nikon is held steady. Bring your A game to this tool for it requires it. Marginal quality lenses will not cut it either.
So, my apologies for coming down to earth to speak about equipment in this blog. I assume most of the photographs I'll make for a while will be from this new camera. I am looking forward to sharing new work made from the D850 Nikon with you.
BTW: I'll have prints of these images and others at the Allston Open Studios coming up in December. Hope to see you there.