Photography in Paradise

peeking from behind the sensor

In an effort to get some mental freedom from the daily grind I joined with fellow photographer David King who is a professor of photography at SD City College and is a good friend and headed north at 3:30am to get a jump on the traffic while going through Los Angeles. Traffic was very light and we arrive at the junction of highways 5 and 166. I headed west on 166 as the first light began to illuminate immense farm land. I too advantage of the light and made some images under the massive high power lines crossing the road and hovering over the farm crops. I could feel the 60 cycle hum in my tripod and on the car door created by the high power lines. Dave and I wondered if they had any effect on the crops.

Then we arrived at Maricopa, a small sort of ghost town that is the door to the oil fields of the central valley of California. We stopped off to photograph the morning light on a retired service building with its cracked paint, broken windows, weather worn lumber and graffiti and the surrounding oil fields. A quick stop in Taft which is a more lively town but not by mush with 30% of the business out of business and for sale signs out numbering the store signage.

A few mile not we turned west on Hwy 58 and observed oil leaking out of the ground. I don’t think they have to drill very deep to find this sticky black stuff. As we rose above the valley on a winding mountain road we encountered a dozen pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) and used our 400mm lenses with 2x extenders to get a few images. They looked like they were about to jump the fence by the road and we waited but they gave up and headed into the hills.

The winding road took us up over the earthquake fault zone San Andrea and down into the Carrizo Plains to Soda Lake where I was hoping to get into the Chumash Indian cave art but it is closed and you have to get a permit for the Indian nation and have a guide to get in. We didn’t have the time to bother with it. We left after making a panorama of the Soda Lake.

The area is very dry and did not get enough rain to bring out the flowers that can blanket the area. about an hour later we arrived in Morro Bay and had lunch at at a bay side restaurant called The Bay Side Cafe. I have one of their wonderful fish tacos and David powered down on their huge plate of fish and chips. The wind was blowing on shore at abut 30 miles per hour and the wind chop waves in the bay made for very textured water surface. We headed for shelter in the Oak Forest in Los Osos (The Bears). We wandered under the trees and heavy moss. There were a lot of small birds dashing around in the branches. The trees were blowing in the wind too much to effectively do a group of HDR exposures.

We took a chance to get closer to the ocean and drove out to Montana De Oro (Mountain of Gold). The waves were all white caps and even with the camera on a tripod I had to set the shutter speed on the camera to 1/1600 of a second to make sure there was not image blur. I attempted long exposures to show wave motion but my success rate was about 10%. David took a photo of me trying to put a dense ND filter on my lens and the wind was trying to knock me over.

By this time we were wind blown, sand blasted, dehydrated and tired. We settled in for the rest of the day in Cayucos, grabbed a quick meal and crashed. The wind was too strong to get any picture of the rising full moon.

The next mooring the wind was down and we retraced our path back to Hwy 58. We passed a vineyard with the sprinklers on and the vines were covered with ice. This made for some interesting images. Then we drove back down passed Soda Lake and on to Hwy 166 on a dirt road. Then picked up Hwy 33 that took us up over the Los Padres mountain range and down to Gorman and Freeway 5 south. The holiday and being Friday the Traffic through Los Angles at 2pm was all stop and go all the way to San Diego.

We made it back for a late dinner. David make it a good trip as we were able to talk photography and teaching most of the time.