Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Highway 62 Revisited!

Driving through the town of Joshua Tree last weekend on Highway 62, my wife noticed this old classic car and trailer in the parking lot next to the Joshua Tree Saloon. Well, heck, I know a photo opp when I see one! Someone even put out a "Hwy 62 Revisited" sign, kind of a spoof on the old Dylan "Highway 61 Revisited" song and  album by the same name. Do you remember it? Here's the first verse:
Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”
Three-exposure HDR shot converted to b&w for that 'Wild West' look
Wish I would have paid more attention to the car so I could tell you the make and model. What ever it is, it's a classic!
Now that's a serious grill!!  Linking to 
Our World Tuesday. Click on the link to check out some worldly posts. Hope your week is going well!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Desert Rain Sunset

While I was off taking photos of models a couple weekends ago in the desert, my wife was keeping things organized back at the desert house. It was Saturday night, and I was only a mile or two from the house when I noticed a really spectacular sky. As luck would have it, my wife noticed it too and took some photos with the spare camera. They came out great, so I want to share them for my Skywatch Friday post. Enjoy!!

Same photo, but I added a couple textures to it. Gives it a little more dramatic look.
A short time later, as the sun was just setting over the desert hills, the rain really started coming down off in the distance.
Same photo, but a little sliding in PhotoShop and added a texture. Thanks to my wife for taking these awesome photos, and thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Remembering Vinyl

My nephew and I were talking about different "props" we could use for last weekend's photo shoot with the models out in the desert. He asked me if I had any old harmonicas, and it really got the wheels turning. Yes indeed, I still have a number of my old harmonicas in various keys (and in various states of rust). I even have an old Bob Dylan style harmonica holder. Music was a huge influence on my life, and Dylan was a favorite of mine in the early days. I'm a self-taught guitar player, and I still have a lot of the old chord books you used to be able to buy at the music stores (which are mostly gone now) to learn the chord changes on the vinyl album you just bought! We ended up not using these props, but I had to take a few pictures before packing them up!
"Another Side of Bob Dylan" was release in 1964, and Dylan was very much still in acoustic mode. There are no credits to any other musicians, and if memory serves, this was just Dylan's vocals, his acoustic guitar, and his harmonica worn around his neck. Incredibly simple, yet incredibly powerful. Albums were just beginning to be recorded in stereo, which was a big deal back then. Columbia Records called it "360 Sound", and every family needed to have a "stereo" in the house (followed by every teenager needing to have a stereo in his/her bedroom)!!

The entire back side of the album cover contains Dylan's poetry, and for me personally, the music and song lyrics have absolutely stood the test of time, but not so much the poetry. 
I think I'll continue to hang on to all my old vinyl. I still have my Sansui stereo system from college, although the turntable doesn't work anymore. I'm looking forward to either getting it fixed or finding a used one somewhere. It will be like stepping into a time portal... playing my old vinyl on my 40 year-old stereo system. I may need to find some bell bottoms somewhere to complete the experience!!
Linking to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos.
Have a great week!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's A Tought Job, But....

Yup, somebody's gotta do it. Might as well be me! Last weekend was just amazing. My nephew asked me to photograph some models out in the desert. Shooting models was a first for me (other than supermodel #1, my wife!), and I think I'm spoiled for life. How can I go back to shooting desert homestead cabins after this??
Our project director took this shoot of me photographing our female model at Indian Cove, Joshua Tree National Park, CA.
This was like a total immersion photography class.  We did shoots Friday PM at three locations (railroad tracks, wind generators off Highway 62, and water tank rocks), Saturday AM (Indian Cove), Saturday PM (Sandy dune), and Sunday AM (Coyote Dry Lake). Alarms went off at 4 AM Sat. and Sun. so we could eat, models could have their wardrobe changes organized, camera gear ready, and at location before sunrise. How many photos did I take? I don't know, but I filled up 5 (FIVE) 32-GB memory cards. That's 160 gigabits of photos!!
Shooting in our back yard:  Project director Brian taking the photo, our male model posing, female model's boyfriend helping out holding a light reflector to fill in the shadows, and our female model. This was Saturday afternoon, and I had to take a break. I had been shooting for hours on Friday PM and Sat. AM using my 5D Mark II with the 70-200mm lens. The lens alone is about 4.5 lbs., and with the camera body it probably weighs in at over 6 lbs.  In the desert heat, I finally had to call time out to rest my hands, wrist, arms and shoulders!!

Above is our project director taking a pic of our female model using his iPhone. The location is Coyote Dry Lake Bed. His legs are spread apart so he won't get his feet in the photos. I just happened to have my wide angle lens on and I love the way it exaggerates things out on the dry lake. So cool!! The shadows are great, too.

30 second exposure, F3.2, ISO 1000, 24-70 lens @25mm
The weather last weekend was very unusual... it rained on Friday, and we had great clouds and amazing skies all weekend. Temps were about 10 degrees below average (mid-90's), but very humid. I went outside at about 10 PM on Saturday night, and lightning bursts were going off continuously. As I was grabbing camera and tripod, my wife said "Are you serious? More photos???". Yup. And if somebody asks "can you come out and do it all over again next weekend?", I'll be the first to pack my gear!!
Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on 
the link to check out other great skies 
from around the world. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pink Moon

Not quite a full moon when I took this shot out in 29 Palms two weeks ago, but close. A 30-second exposure, f 7.1, ISO 400. By illuminating the foreground, I greatly overexposed the moon, but I like the effect!
Listen to Pink Moon by Nick Drake
Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to see great skies from all over the world. Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Old Town Irvine

Seems like a lot of S CA towns have tried to develop an "old town" section. I'm a big fan of old architecture and old stuff in general... much more interesting than new. Perhaps the most famous and successful of the old towns is Old Town San Diego. But Old Town Irvine??  Never heard of it, and seems to me Irvine hasn't been around long enough to even have an old town. I was on my way to a meeting earlier this week, and exiting Sand Canyon Ave. off the 5 Freeway I noticed a cool old building. I didn't have my DSLR with me, by my iPhone always serves as a good backup.
You can actually see this from the freeway, and I've wondered what it was. The old, original-looking corrugated iron siding and roof remind me of an old packing house of some kind. As I got a closer look, it became obvious that people went to great pains to maintain much of the original construction detail.
Even an old wood walkway between two parts of the building has been preserved, although it's way too rickety to actually be used. Pretty cool, eh? Probably would have been much cheaper just to tear it down, but someone made the decision to keep it. [After a quick Google search, I learned that this is the old Irvine Bean and Grain Storage Warehouse (1895) - see bottom of this post.]
The entire front of this old warehouse has a covered front porch, and much of the flooring, walls, and even the light fixtures look original.

On close inspection, this old ceiling fan definitely looks original. I used selective coloring (b&w except for the fan) to make it stand out from the background. Here's the part that really intrigues me... I'm no electrician, but all these old electrical panels sure look original to me. Wow!

I wonder what "Big Gravity" is?? As you can tell, I had a lot of fun with these iPhone photos. So there you have it, Old Town Irvine. Old Building Irvine might be a more appropriate name, but either way a fun place to visit and photograph. Hope your weekend was a good one!!

Linking to:

If you're ever in the neighborhood and want to check it out, here's some additional information.
Old Town Irvine stands today as a testament to the rich agricultural past of what has become one of California's most heavily urban counties. Founded in 1887 as the distribution and storage center of the 125,000-acre Irvine ranch, Old Town Irvine was to develop over the years a bean and grain storage warehouse (1895) and granary (1947) known as the Irvine Bean and Grain Grower's Building, a blacksmith's shop (1916), a hotel (1913), a general store (1911), and an employees' bungalow (1915). All of these structures have been rehabilitated for commercial uses and their exteriors have been painstakingly maintained.
Location:  Sand Canyon Ave and Burt Rd, Irvine
Reference:  http://ceres.ca.gov/geo_area/counties/Orange/landmarks.html

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Greetings from Joshua Tree!!

My wife and I went out to JT last weekend to do some "scouting" for a photo shoot. My nephew is starting a new business (high end jewelry) and has asked me to be the photographer. I'm honored, but at the same time a little nervous, given I'm just an amateur. At any rate, we will be heading out to the Joshua Tree area with a couple of models and a director.  We've scouted out what I think will be some great photo shoot sites... and in the process of scouting took a few sunset photos in Joshua Tree National Park. Hopefully I can share some live model photos with you in the next couple weeks.  Wish me luck!

Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from all over the world. Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Hardscrabble Life with a Sad Ending

What were their stories? What were their dreams?  Why did they end up way the heck out here, so far off the grid, in the middle of the desert? I can't even imagine how difficult life must have been out here. Summer temperatures are crushing, and winters are cold and windy. This cabin has no air conditioning, not even a swamp cooler. How would a family survive? If you follow my blog, you know I'm intrigued with the desert homestead cabins east of 29 Palms, and I've photographed quite a few of them.
The sand around this cabin is so scoured by desert winds that it looks almost like concrete.
Linking to Your Sunday Best and Weekly Top Shot
I liked the looks of this place so we stopped for some photography. A very isolated and lonely looking homestead with a little structure build behind it. My wife and I figured the little structure was an outhouse our perhaps a doghouse. Here's another view.
See the little structure in the back? Actually looks like two side-by-side structures, the one on the right is smaller with a flat roof. Big dog / little dog? When we went back to take a look, here's what we found.
In case you can't read it, it says "Born (spelled bron) 2-20-10, Kathryn Dalia, My Wife. Pass away 7-29-76". So this is a small shrine that Mr. Dalia built for his wife when she passed away in 1976. The small attached structure to the right turned out to be a shrine as well.
This one says "In Memory of Dad", June 2, 1982. Evidently Mr. Dalia passed in '82, which would have been 6 years after his wife, and his child or children made this second shrine. These shrines make me think this family was living here full time, trying to make a go of it. Truly a hardscrabble life.

The inside of this desert cabin was unusual as well. Most of these abandoned homesteads are either full of trash or cleaned out. This cabin, although long ago abandoned, had everything left behind and more or less intact... dishes, furniture, even food. People have left it alone, which is great. Perhaps out of respect for the family that lived here??
One is left to imagine what life in the open desert must have been like for the Dalia family.