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Archive for May, 2016

Jeff and I are suckers for national parks, so almost immediately after we booked our flights to California, he reserved a campground site in Yosemite National Park. We budgeted only two days and a night for the park, but, accompanied by my brother Matt, we definitely made the most of those 30 hours.

As we drove into the park, the sunshiney day turned to spitting rain, and we barely got our tents up in time. We then immediately started heading toward Glacier Point Road, with a few stops along the way. Pentax 6×7 the entire time, of course — I left my 5DII at Matt and Emily’s house in Fremont:

© 2016. I stood in the rain for almost 10 minutes to wait for the sun to break through the clouds and hit those trees. We didn’t see the sun again that day until sunset. Cathedral Rocks and Spires. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

Then onward and upwards:

© 2016. El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall and Cathedral Rocks and Spires, from Tunnel View. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Bridalveil Fall, from Tunnel View. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

As we continued on Glacier Point Road and gained elevation, the temperature dropped precipitously. While we’d enjoyed low 70s in Yosemite Valley, we suddenly faced upper 20s and snow:

© 2016. Matt and me, off of Glacier Point Road. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

When we arrived at Glacier Point, we found Half Dome and much of the rest of the view obscured by clouds. So we decided to hike the Panorama Trail to Illilouette Falls Bridge, in hopes that the sun would eventually overcome the clouds by the time we returned to Glacier Point.

© 2016. Jeff, Matt and Half Dome, from the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

© 2016. View from the Illilouette Falls Bridge. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

We spent maybe five minutes on the bridge, and then went right back up the Panorama Trail to return to Glacier Point.

© 2016. Moss on the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

As we made our way up the Panorama Trail’s gradual incline, the clouds slowly began giving way, and the quality of light changed before our eyes. Unsure if we’d reach Glacier Point by sunset, we stopped to grab photos of Half Dome as it was bathed in a beautiful glow.

© 2016. Half Dome from the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

Then we hiked for maybe 10 more minutes and realized we were basically back at Glacier Point. So we hurried to the overlook and waited for the sun to finally come out. This frame — my only one of Half Dome lit by the sun — was the last on my roll for the day:

© 2016. Half Dome from Glacier Point. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

The next morning, over breakfast burritos, we decided to hike the Yosemite Falls Trail.

© 2016. Yosemite Falls, as seen from Yosemite Valley. Monday, May 2, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

This trail is notoriously steep, with an elevation gain of 2,700 feet over 3 miles, and it was definitely a challenge for me. Worst of all, by the time Jeff and I got to the top of Yosemite Falls, we found it difficult to enjoy the vista simply because of the time of day — it was just past noon, and half the valley was cast in dark blue haze.

So here’s one more photo of the upper falls, taken on the trail’s downhill section after Columbia Rock:

© 2016. Yosemite Falls, as seen from the Yosemite Falls Trail. Monday, May 2, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

The next day, Jeff and I flew out of San Jose, marking the end of our trip. Despite my occasional misuse, it was an excellent test run for my Sekonic L-508, and I’m excited to use it for future outings!

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Of course, our Bay Area visit last month wouldn’t have been complete if we hadn’t made a Golden Gate Bridge expedition.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

It was at this point in our trip that Jeff actually complained about our having blue skies every day. I knew he wanted that iconic San Francisco fog for photos, but the picture-perfect day combined with Ektar was all I needed to make me happy.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. View from the bridge. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

We’d walked most of the length of the bridge with Matt, Emily and the kids when Emily decided to take the kids back towards San Francisco. Matt, Jeff and I continued on to Battery Spencer for probably the most popular overlook of the bridge:

© 2016. View from Battery Spencer. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

On our way back across the bridge, we saw two couples of gray whales breaching beneath the bridge. While I didn’t attempt to take any photos on film, seeing whales in the bay was definitely a highlight of the day, as you can tell from my tweets.

We reunited with Emily, who provided much-needed pastries, and went on to Baker Beach, but only after Jeff and I paused in a sandy woodland area for quick portraits:

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Then onward to the beach:

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Anyone who knows me knows I strongly dislike beaches. I’m not a fan of hot sand or dirty ocean water or greasy sunscreen or salty, humid breezes. It turns out, however, that I’ve just been on the wrong coast this entire time. Baker Beach, at least when we were there, was delightfully cool and crisp, and even the wet sand didn’t cling to my feet.

Plus, Atlantic beaches don’t get the sunset, nor this view:

© 2016. The Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Coming up next: YOSEMITE!

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I hauled both digital and film cameras on our trip to California last month — digital for my very active niece and nephew, and film for everything else. I did manage to capture the kids on film, though — in Livermore.

Matt and Emily live in Fremont, so Jeff and I never considered going to Napa Valley when Livermore is practically in their backyard. Accompanied by them, as well as their friends who have Livermore wine connections, we went to BoaVentura de Caires Winery, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Page Mill Winery and Wente Vineyards. Here’s some Ektar from BoaVentura, which featured two very friendly dogs and a (fenced) yard of chickens clucking near the wine-tasting room:

© 2016. Henry in the bocce court at BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

Especially in Fremont and Livermore, I noticed beautiful, soaring rosebushes everywhere. Emily said roses are grown in vineyards because the flowers are susceptible to the same diseases as the grapes. While each vineyard we visited featured rosebushes, BoaVentura boasted a wider array of flowers, which I loved.

© 2016. BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

© 2016. Layla at BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

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A number of friends have moved to California (SF, LA and everywhere in-between) over the past few years, which means I’ve heard “west is best” more than once.

I admit, after visiting the Bay Area for the first time last month, I might have to agree.

After my sister-in-law, Jeff, the kids and I visited Muir Woods National Monument, we took the very winding drive up into Mount Tamalpais State Park and then the very winding drive on the Pacific Coast Highway. I’m embarrassed to say the wildly curvy roads gave me an uncomfortable case of motion sickness, which lessened my enjoyment of the scenery, but here are a few frames out of the Pentax 6×7:

© 2016. Mount Tamalpais State Park. Thursday, April 28, 2016, on the Pacific Coast in California. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Mount Tamalpais State Park. Thursday, April 28, 2016, on the Pacific Coast in California. Ektar +2.

Plus, the hazy day didn’t lend itself well to photos of the far-off vistas of San Francisco or the coastline, except when we came to this spot off the Pacific Coast Highway:

© 2016. Pacific Coast Highway. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in California. Ektar +2.

Gotta love Ektar for those ocean blues. We’ll see more Ektar blues in a future blog post, but next up is a wine break in Livermore.

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The first day we walked around San Francisco, I fell in love with the trees. All the trees.

I love what trees do for a place, and for photos. When my parents had to have one of their three large oaks removed because the roots were threatening the house’s foundation, I was pretty upset. Jeff and I got married in an orchard of 100-year-old pecan trees. The first thing I want to do when we get a house, if the yard will allow for it, is plant a tree.

As much as I loved the trees in San Francisco itself, I somehow didn’t take any photos of them. But here are some fabulous trees further out in the Bay Area, all captured on my Pentax 6×7:

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

Yes, Muir Woods is where the forest moon of Endor was filmed in Return of the Jedi. No, we didn’t see any Ewoks.

Later that evening, we met our friend Esten (with whom we roadtripped into the American West in 2009) in Oakland. I had two frames of Ektar in my camera that I wanted to kill, so when Jeff and I emerged from the Jack London Square parking garage and I saw a stand of trees against the fading twilight, I immediately took out my meter and camera.

When Jeff texted Esten to let him know why we were running late, Esten responded back in astonishment that I was still shooting film when a digital exposure at that hour would call for something upwards of ISO 6400.

Well, this is Ektar rated at/pushed to 400, at f/4 and probably 1/8 or 1/4:

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, at Jack London Square in Oakland. Ektar +2.

Coming next on the blog: The coast.

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Jeff and I visited my brother and his family in the Bay Area last month, marking my first entry to California since I was 11 months old. We spent a full week gallivanting, wining, dining and adventuring with various combinations of my brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew and old friends. And, of course, we brought cameras.

I took my 5DII strictly for the kids — Layla is a very active toddler, while Henry is a very active crawler/soon-to-be walker — and my Pentax 6×7 for everything else. Along with 18 rolls of film (12 of which I used), I brought a new-to-me toy: A Sekonic L-508 meter, which I happened to misuse for the entire trip. (One day, I accidentally kept the meter set for spot when I wanted incident, and I looked through the wrong lens/side for spot-metering the entire trip. The good news: Now I know better, and all my mistakes only meant I was overexposing the film, which is not a terrible thing.)

I’ll break up the film blog posts by topic, and will soon share the digital photos of the kids. First off, the city of San Francisco:

© 2016. Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Looking west down Filbert Street from Telegraph Hill. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. The Mission District. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Mission Dolores Park. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Mission Dolores Park. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. The Painted Ladies from Alamo Square. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

Check back for more blog posts over the next few days!

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