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
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
Sophie got an appointment three weeks ago, to get her shot, so we went into the city and did the thing. Quick, efficient, nice. I was pretty much done with work for the day, so went with her to see what the city was like. I’ve worked in and around this area for years at a time, so it was interesting to see it so empty on a Friday afternoon. Not that it was a ghost town, but it was maybe 20% of what I would see there any time between 2013 and 2020 on any given day.
The area around the entrances and exits was a little busier, but nothing compared to the middle of Salesforce or Oracle or one of those events. Just a constant trickle of people coming into the huge building, and another trickle of them leaving. Some SF parking authority people directing traffic, and volunteers outside, directing people. It was really cool how normal and functional it all seemed. Is this something we can expect from government services? shit that just works?
I have to agree with some of the people I’ve seen with takes on twitter, that once people have a sample of free healthcare they’re going to want it all the time. It makes so much sense from so many angles, not least of which is the human angle: more, better care for people that need it the most.
The last post, I forgot to explain: I’d been posting pictures from last fall, but then I imported a bunch more recent things, and ended up working them up instead of continuing. This blog has been fully nonlinear for a while though, and I didn’t think it merited more than a passing remark, and then I forgot to even put that in the text. So here it is.
Tomorrow, I go to get my second shot. I’m pretty happy to be getting it, both because I’m tired of being reasonable and because it provides more coverage for people that can’t get it. Tired of being reasonable like: Sacramento is halfway to a lot of fun things in the Sierras, and since I have to go there anyway to get stabbed, I might as well go on to the mountains, catch the sunset, hang out, and then drive home later at night. But. The reasonable thing is, of course, to come directly home. But.
I think what’s going to happen is I’ll get my shot, come home, maybe go to the fabric store, and save the day trip to the sierras until I’m fully covered in two weeks. a little more planning will net me a lot more trip, anyway. Speaking of net, it’s time I went to sleep. Enjoy the rest of the pix.
Posted on 2021-04-07 08:24:15Z GMT
Last weekend, some friends and I went out to the state park by Mt Diablo (pretty sure it contains the mountain), had a nice picnic, and caught up for the first time in a while. I was playing around with the new lens a bit here; shooting at f/2 I think, because this was before the ND filter came in the mail.
Things about this lens: despite quite a bit of tinkering, the focus may still be off. Focusing a f/0.95 lens wide open is no joke; I think it’s a task best left for through-the-lens viewing. The focus ring turns quite a lot, giving very fine control, but working very close in, like the photo of the dog (Finley, a Good Boy), it’s possible to be off enough that focus is missed entirely. You can try bracketing, but it’s a real crapshoot with this lens. The backlash in the helical is more than the margin of error.
Also, on my sample at least, the color is very strange. A bit flat, which is some of what I’m seeing (and I’ll get to that flatness in a moment), but also with a strong green cast that I don’t understand. The microcontrast is poor, and the sort of global contrast is also poor. It’s a spherical lens when I’ve gotten quite used to molded aspherics in everything. Of course stopped to f/4, it’s fine, because everything looks fine at f/4.
All that said, I think it does have its place in the arsenal. Low light, high contrast situations, like shooting at night in a club, or on the street at night; it does flare badly if it’s exposed to the sun, and the built-in hood is so bad I acutaly cut it off my lens, but/and that can be good sometimes. Using this lens is an aesthetic choice you have to apply judiciously.
I did figure out with this lens that I should have an ND filter for my regular 50, so I can use it wide open in daylight too. I’ve been carrying it around like that for a week now, and it’s been really interesting. I always like shooting wide open, or at least I thing the pictures that come out of it are more interesting. It makes me pick what’s going to be sharp, what the focus of the picture should be. Again, probably an aesthetic choice, use at your own discretion.
Posted on 2021-04-05 08:02:16Z GMT
Still photos from last fall. We arrived in Colorado, where my mother in law lives, and stayed there for the night; an added benefit of going there is we were able to pod up with her and Sophie got to spend some time with her mom. The next day, we moved into the empty house we were watching, and met the dog and cat we were taking care of. The house was nice; spacious, big yard, nice kitchen. There was an amount of smoke, but the park right next to the house was usually tolerable, and really quite nice in terms of a big open space to have easy access to.
I got a new lens this week, the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95. It’s a superspeed lens that has a very large aperture, allowing a lot of light in. I think it’s probably on the level of the first 1.0 noctilux in terms of bokeh and sharpness (having shot not at all with the leica lens, and not much with this one yet). It took me several hours over the last few days to get the lens calibrated; there’s an adjustment for the rangefinder coupling that’s done with shims, and there’s also a somewhat fiddly adjustment to get it to go to infinity; after a lot of messing around, it’s finally dialed in. I might do a video about the adjustment, as much to record it for myself as for, like, the rest of the world. I’m definitely going to do some more thorough review of the lens, because it’s new and shiny and I’ll definitely have opinions after a month with it.
this week has been long and tiring. I need a three day weekend. But no. The work will continue until morale improves.
I don’t know what was said in the moment before this photo was taken, but it’s priceless.
Posted on 2021-03-26 08:28:02Z GMT