Driftwood Invitational Festival, 2021

Holdup. Wait. Stop. Lemme back up. For years, my friend Joseph has been talking about this great place he knew, out where his friend, Jack, had a piece of mostly undeveloped land in the delta, which is what locals call the area east of where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers come together. The first time I heard about this was probably two years ago? Everybody liked the idea of throwing a party out there, maybe a small festival, camping, cooking out. Starlight, loud music, good friends, swim in the river during the day, that sort of thing. I think the plan at the time was to make it happen the next summer.

We all know what happened instead, the next summer.

This summer, though, the year of our lord 2021, the stars aligned; everyone was able to get vaccinated, Jack’s place was still standing, and he’d even put in some improvements. Solar, a shower, tomato plants that weren’t quite ripe (but growing like crazy in that heat). The place is about two hours from our house, not including waiting on the car ferry to the island. Jack had also mowed down the field around his little shack/deck arrangement where most of the action was focused, so there were nice spots for all of us to pitch our tents.

We camped, we swam in the delta, we partied. The pictures cover that probably better than I could with a long essay about it, so I’m going to let them.

Edit to add: this was, without doubt, the healing moment I needed after 18 months of pandemic lockdown. Thanks Jack, Joseph, Austin, Benny, Hannah, Carla, Mike, Chris, and of course, Sophie, for coming together and making it happen.

Posted on 2021-07-28 02:49:59Z GMT

a long hike that didn’t go very far

been a while since I did this, things started happening and they didn’t stop this time. The backog, as it stands, is at 450 pictures, maybe 7 months of shooting around. That’s a loose edit, mind; if I post half of those I’ll be surprised.

These are from a trip out to Roy’s Redwoods back in January, to hang out with Damaris and see the camera spike I made her in action. The spike is basically a 12” stainless steel rod, sharpened at one end, and with a 1/4-20 threaded hole at the other. Also, it has a handle for stepping on, to stick it in the ground. It allows a photographer to get very close to the ground very easily, especially when combined with a compact ball head. If anyone else wants one, now that I have my lathe making one is actually super easy. this one involved a really sketch setup in the drill press, and grinding the point.

There’s something about those woods in the winter, when everything is alive and moving, that is really kind of magical. I went there weekend before last with another friend (pictures TK in probably another 6 months at this rate), and it was great? a nice nature hike. Green and cool and everything you want. But during the winter, when it’s still wet, maybe even raining on you while you’re there? Magical.

Of course, part of it is the sort of “not hiking” hiking Damaris does. It’s very slow; you go a few feet, stop, set up your camera, take pictures of something else, rinse, repeat, until you get tired of it or it’s lunchtime or whatever. How to do Nothing vibes. Stopping and noticing what’s under a log. Putting it back carefully, so whoever lives there isn’t too disturbed.

The photos are once again in random order, and I can’t bring myself to care. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Posted on 2021-07-21 05:32:00Z GMT

Sonoma on a Sunday Afternoon

These uploaded in random order, and I’m kind of OK with it. Ordering is hard, and ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, we went to sonoma, got some wine, ate some delicious food. That’s it, that’s the post.

Posted on 2021-05-30 03:47:46Z GMT

Yosemite post-vax trip

El Capitan, just visible through the trees.

A couple weeks ago, to celebrate being fully vaccinated, I took a couple days off of work to do some stuff I haven’t been doing because of the pandemic. A couple of weeks prior, I was idly playing with the map to see what destinations were within a day’s drive, and I realized that yosemite was only three and a half hour’s drive, totally doable in a long day. Get up at 5am, drive in and get there by 10, hike around in the valley during the day, catch sunset from Tunnel View, and drive back. Home by midnight.

The falls, from a distance, before lunch.

This tree photo is a little deceptive; the rock wall in the background is maybe a mile away, and at least a couple thousand feet tall. Watch for devious trees.

The day before, I realized it would be a lot better if I had a travelling companion. I find that when I go places completely alone, I don’t make as much of an effort. Like, nobody will know, right? But with someone there, anyone, it provides a little extra pressure to actually do the thing. There’s a term for this in ADHD circles, ‘body doubling’, which I do not like, but it’s a thing. Anyway, I texted a bunch of folks (ok, 3) and my friend Damaris was available and said yes. Damaris is great. She came with not just with the gentle pressure of her presence, but with her own enthusiasm for the trip, and a boatload of knowledge about the plants and animals in the park. Maybe that enthusiasm is a normal thing on a day trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth, but it was appreciated none the less.

Magnolia, I think? Not used to them being huge trees.

Another image that fails to really capture the scale. All of the trees on that rock are full sized; that's 1000ft of cliff face, roughly.

So, that thursday morning, I got up superfuckingearly, at a time that reasonable people don’t even consider, showered, made a coffee, and grabbed all my kit. I took both my nikon and the leica, a tripod, the 50 summicron and a 300mm nikkor which I shot with basically all day on each camera. I also had the voightlander 15 and the 35 in the bag, for the leica. But first, there was a lot of driving.

Damaris speaks Raven well enough that this guy chittered at her for maybe 10 minutes, while we were walking to the falls.

Lovely fractal patterns in the bark.

First, up to [redacted] to pick up Damaris, then back, 580 over the coast range, getting spit out at Altamont into the central valley, where the course always meanders a bit, briefly touching the 5, then to some other road, then finally to 120, just following the map. Apparently the 120 pass wasn’t open but the entrance to the park there was. There was 1 car in front of ours paying to enter; no line at all really.

Somehow, this is getting closer.

This was as far as I made it last time I was in the park, september 2019. I was re-learning to walk at the time.

We stopped at the first turn off that had a view of the valley. There was a view of Half Dome over the rise, but it was a little too hazy to result in a good photo; I could have turned it black and white and jacked up the contrast, but I decided against it. After the fact, of course; in the moment, I snapped a few photos, hand-held, and we moved on; the real action, so to speak, was further in.

One of the few spots I busted out the 15mm. Rectilinear get rekt.

‘the real action’ was a traffic jam and a stop for facilities; where we stopped, like everywhere else in the valley, was covered up in beautiful views; we walked out to the river, and took photos. There’s not a bad place to stop in the whole park.

Since I had skipped breakfast, and it was getting on towards lunch, our next stop was to eat. Limited concessions were open, but that included a fresh baked pizza for each of us.

Yeah, I know I talked shit about converting to black and white, and I generally avoid it. But this one just worked so nice.

I believe this is Bridal Veil falls? The one you can see from Tunnel view. Speaking of...

Once fed, we hit the gift shop, as it was right there. The best gummy bears in the world are the ones in Yosemite, so I always stop and get some. Then, we drove a little ways back up the valley, to the trail that leads to the base of Yosemite Falls. Calling it a hike and a trail is a little grandiose; a nice stroll, with a little scrambling over wet rocks at one end, if you want. The last time I was in the park, even that was a bit too much; I was just post ankle surgery (remember #anklewatch?). I’ve subtracted surgery recovery but added gouty arthritis, which I’m getting treated but doesn’t go away over night.

Damaris, shooting the valley.

My best photo of the valley, 1s at f/16, with w 6 stop ND filter to make it work.

Anyway, after the falls, I noticed the clouds were building, and there was a chance that they’d cover everything up before sunset, so we decided discretion was the better part of valor, and got in the car and drove up to Tunnel View, with the sun in the right part of the sky (behind us) to get some really spectacular light. The clouds kept shifting and changing, and I climbed up above the tunnel, so I could basically sit there and watch things develop. I say ‘climbed’ but really it was some light scrambling on rock. 5.5 on YDS, I’d say, maybe a 5.6 moment in there.

Real big wall climbers, I think climbing the Nose? Which is, looking it up, a 5.14A free climb (world class climbers, in other words). If you do some aid climbing, free climbing only the required sections, that goes down to a 5.9, approachable by us mere mortals.

The lake here was only visible for about 5 seconds as we came around a bend. I was able to get the camera up, awake, and get two exposures off before it disappeared completely. Oh, and I was driving, too. </brag>

At that point, I’d done all I’d set out to do for the day, and then some. So, we got in the car and headed homeward.I think next time, I’m gonna take a pad and do some bouldering.

Posted on 2021-05-06 08:33:25Z GMT

porch hangs w/Kawan (and the new lens)

First let's take a selfie (I unironically love selfies, sorry not sorry)

So, two weeks ago now, I had a new lens in one hand, and my phone in the other. Sophie hates having her picture taken, and the real reason I got the 50mm f/0.95 was to take pictures of people, and dammit, it was Friday, I wanted to see people. So I texted Kawan, who now lives a very short distance away, to see if he was down for hangs. He was free, we were free, there’s ample outdoor space, so we went.

The lens is for sure soft, but here that's not a bad thing so much.

We came over by bike; I brought some nice scotch to share, and we had had a couple each, on the porch, and were beginning to think about food. Then, we heard a buzzing in the air.

A drone appeared, with no pilot in sight. For a minute, we watched it flying around, and were pretty solidly creeped out (says the guy who carries a camera all the time)

Luckily, it was just the neighbor, blowing off some steam after work.

Sophie plays us some music.

Posted on 2021-04-08 08:13:45Z GMT