Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This is Mendocino Hall at Sacramento State. This newer five-story building is home to the school of journalism. The image was shot with a Canon Digital EOS Rebel (300D) and a Sigma Compact Hyperzoom 28-200mm lens. According to the metadata provided by Apple Aperture, it was shot at ISO 400 with a focal length of 90mm. The aperture was set at f/9 and the shutter speed was 1/80 of a second. Actually, since I was shooting in manual mode, I knew what the settings (except for the focal length) were without the help of Aperture. The view here is exactly as it came from the camera, no alterations were made.

This building is white. At least it was earlier in the day. The angle of the sun in the sky combined with the threatening storm clouds produced this eerie effect - and it only existed for a moment. I could not reproduce the shot just one minute later. A cloud moved or the sun dipped just low enough to produce only a light orange tint - but nothing this ominous. I often marvel at how the lighting at this time of day can so profoundly change the appearance of an otherwise ordinary building.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sugar Bowl

This is the newest part of one of the county's oldest ski areas. It was founded by Walt Disney and others and one of the main peaks bears his name. This is the Mount Judah base. My youngest son and I spent the day here Saturday in between storms. The burgundy Burton snowboard (the one with all the snow on it) is mine.

And this is my youngest boy. I put him on skis when he was about five. He's 17 now. We switched to snowboarding within a year or two after he started skiing. He's a pretty good snowboarder, and not old like me!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New and Old

I got a couple of new toys today. The first allowed me to get the shot below. I don't have a macro lens for my Canon Digital Rebel, but I do for the AE-1 Program (pictured below). When Canon changed to the EF lens mount for its EOS cameras, it meant that the older FD style lenses would not be compatible. For a short while, Canon made adapters, but that was a long while ago. However, third party manufacturers still do and I just received mine in the mail. There is no auto anything when using the adapter and there is a loss if one f-stop, but with an FD f 1:1.4 lens, I can afford it. And of course, now I can use the macro, the zoom, the extension tube and all the other FD lenses as well.

The other toy I got was Apple's Aperture. This photo management program does so much more than I have yet learned to, but I am anxious to get on it. The Aperture product manager from Apple gave a free seminar on the main features at Sacramento State yesterday. As a token of Apple's appreciation, all attendees received a free, fully functioning, non-demo and "not for resale" version of Aperture. That's a $150 value - and money I probably would have spent on this package eventually. Below is the same shot with a few tweaks. I was just playing around - I have no idea what I did. The cool thing is that the original "master" has remained unchanged. All of the alterations are saved in a much smaller file and applied when the image is rendered. I think I'm going to like Aperture.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Classical Glass

This is the set up I've been shooting black and white with. Soon, I'll be posting some of the shots taken with this old but very functional equipment. The pictures are all developed, processed and printed by yours truly. Until the print hits the scanner bed, there is not a digital bit to be found. In the darkroom - with all the attendant odors and sounds - it's a creative experience completely different than tweaking histograms with a computer. It's painting with light and no two prints ever come out the same.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Tower Bridge

This draw bridge was built in 1935. I'll not go into its history here as a thorough account of its creation along with old black and whites can be found here. I knew that this was a functional draw bridge, but I had no idea how often it actually got used as such. Although I have lived in the Sacramento area now for about four years and I've driven over it a few times, this is the first time I have actually "visited" the bridge. As luck would have it, the Spirit of Sacramento was chugging upstream while I was shooting. This shot (above) is looking from Sacramento across the river to West Sacramento.

In this shot (above), the center section of the bridge has been raised up high so that the riverboat could pass underneath. Large commercial shipping vessels don't travel this part of the river due the completion of the deep water shipping channel in 1963 and because the location of the Port of Sacramento is downstream from here, on the shipping channel. However, horns, bells and alarms sound occasionally to alert pedestrians and motorists that a larger vessels is approaching and the bridge will be momentarily unavailable.

After allowing the Spirit of Sacramento to pass safely, the bridge re-assembles itself so that cars, bicycles and pedestrians can do the same. The next shot shows the barricades sliding back into the roadbed waiting their next call to action. There is a sign mid-span, above the sidewalk that states:


Next time, I think I'm going to ride it up!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Folsom Bridges

This is the Lake Natoma Crossing, shot from the north side of the Rainbow Bridge. I like the way the bridge's lights reflect off the American River just as it becomes Lake Natoma. The Nimbus Dam (featured in previous posts) is responsible for creating this lake. Both the dam and its reservoir are significantly smaller than is upstream neighbors - Folsom Dam and the reservoir bearing the same name, Folsom Lake.

This shot was taken from the same spot, I just turned about 90 degrees to the left. The southern part of the much older Rainbow Bridge can be seen on the left side of the utility pole (as always, clicking on the image will make it way bigger). Up the road is the old part of Folsom. The Lake Natoma Crossing, completed in 1999, was built to help alleviate the traffic congestion on the almost 90 year-old, two-lane Rainbow Bridge. Both of these shots were taken using entirely manual settings, including the focus.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Eighteen Dollars

Which is $13 more than I left with and $12 less than I started with. Probably the cheapest three hours of entertainment there is!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Pump House

Some of the drinking water for the greater Sacramento area comes from this spot on the American River. The water is drawn out of the river and then processed in a plant just adjacent to California State University, Sacramento. The water comes down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the two forks of the American River, ending up in Folsom Lake. The water continues through the Folsom Dam into Lake Natomas before exiting through the Nimbus Dam. The confluence of the American River and the Sacramento River is not too far downstream from this pump. From there the water enters the Delta before flowing to the Pacific Ocean through San Pablo Bay, San Francisco Bay and finally out through the Golden Gate.

Do you ever wonder about the journy of one drop of water?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why Did This Chicken Cross the Road?

Maybe he escaped.

I live in the Greater Sacramento Metroplex. The town of Fair Oaks isn't a town per se, but rather a community of unincorporated Sacramento County. Some years ago, well before my arrival, it was a rural area. The sprawl had not yet spread this far. Now, there are only rural islands scattered throughout the suburbia. This shot was taken in a supermarket parking lot at the intersection of Hazel and Madison, both four-lane (two in each direction) boulevards that are slated to one day be six lane thoroughfares. Once upon a time they were country roads.

This rooster probably wandered away from one of the larger estates that are still resisting sub-division and development. Although they're getting harder and harder to find, there are still homes in the area with horses and other farm animals like chickens wandering about, but they are not so commonplace as they once were. Indeed, rare enough that this chicken practically stopped traffic.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Chasing the Sun

I captured this shot just a couple of minutes too late. Although part of the sun is still visible just above the horizon, only about five minutes - or less - earlier, is was bright orange orb right on the edge of the sky. By the time I parked and found a site to shoot from, this is all that was left.

This is the same sky a little while later and down the road a few miles. The sun was gone but it left behind a nice sunset over the foothills.

Twilight and sunset provide the most interesting lighting.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Nimbus Dam

Old School/New School

It has been a week and two days since I put anything new up on this blog. Even my last photo wasn’t new - I shot it last November. I could go through my photo archives and find acceptable pictures to put up, but none really speak to me. Maybe some would, but there are so many so-so to bad shots that need weeding out, I just don’t feel much like going through them all. The Number One reason why this space has been neglected for so many days is that my camera is being repaired.

Strike that, it has been repaired. Canon’s web site allows for the tracking of repairs and they indicate that not only has the work been completed - free of charge - but also gave me a FedEx tracking number. My camera is currently, right now, only a few miles from me. It will be here tomorrow! Rest assured, the pictures will be coming shortly thereafter. Canon has joined an exclusive list of preferred corporations that include Apple and Hewlett-Packard who have earned my repeat business.

In the meantime, I have been shooting black and white with a vintage Canon AE-1 Program. Of course, I can’t post those images until I process the film (next week) and scan them. There is an interesting dichotomy regarding the digital/analog paradigms. On the one hand I’m am excited to see the shots I’ve been taking on film and on the other hand, I get (and miss) the instant gratification when shooting digital. Soon I’ll be shooting in both worlds and that will bring a whole new dynamic, I’m sure.

I took photography in high school. Back in the late seventies and very early eighties, there was no digital. My very first serious camera was a Canon AE-1 Program. It seems that I have come full circle - I can’t remember being so keyed up about anything… wondering what that film in my camera will develop into. I can hardly wait.