Christmas Trip – Part Three: Review

San Diego — So, it is time for the trip debriefing and the question, what was learned on this trip?  Actually some very practical things, especially about using the motorhome for both personal trips and for workshop base camps.

I’ll try to make this worth while reading by inserting some of the finished shots from the trip.  As I mentioned in the last entry, it seems that my vision for my imagery is undergoing some evolution.  Over the last year I have experimented with the look of old lenses, old photo technologies, and with the look of canvas.  The work is evolving back into my fine art beginnings and it pleases me when a first glance does not confirm with certainty just how the image was made; is it an old time photo process or equipment, a painting, an ink drawing, a print, a new “straight” photograph… or what?  And the positive (and unexpected) response to the older non-photographic work I included in the Visual Arts Faculty show last semester re-awakened an old but still viable notion:  The image itself ought, in my opinion, transcend the specifics of how it was wrought.  And I’m being drawn back to my earliest landscape idols, the painters Bierstadt, Moran, and Turner.

You already saw one application of that thinking in the old barn shot that ended the last post.   Here is one of a fallen log shot along the Avenue of the Giants among the great coastal redwoods. A different look but the same thinking.

OK, on to lessons learned… The basic statistics for Rocinante are that she has a roughly 50 gallon engine fuel tank and gets roughly 8 miles per gallon.  That means, depending on driving conditions that effect mileage good and bad, she has a roughly 350-425 miles range per tank of gas.  At $4.00 per gallon, that is $200.00 per tank refill.

On the other hand, good RV parks will full hookups run in the $30 – $35 per night range and State and Federal Parks campgrounds run $20 – $30 per night with no hookups.  And there are all of the places one can “boondock” or dry camp for no nightly fee such as on the BLM lands in Alabama Hills.  Eating out on the road is not cheap; breakfasts are from $10-$15 per person, lunches about the same, dinners $20-$30 and snacks another $5, so on average it copmes out to $40-$65 per day per person.  From a purely economic standpoint I’ll leave off the intangible value of flexibility and trip convenience of a motorhome in general but I have to tell that you being able to pull over or send your navigator back for some coffee or a sandwich, or if team driving, being able to relax in a real bed, has some serious value.

That seems to work out to the idea that if one travels roughly a tank of gas or less per segment of trip and then spends two-to-four days in and around that locale, cooking in the motorhome rather than eating out, then the motorhome is the clear economic winner.  More miles per segment, or fewer days at a spot, starts to tip the scales toward using a normal vehicle and staying in motels.

OK, Time for another shot, this time of a moss-covered tree on a hillside along 101 near Crescent City.  if ever there was a composition that cried out to me for an impressionist approach, this was it.

The above calculations get modified when there is someone ride-sharing.  The 8 mpg figure gets multiplied by however many are going along as do food costs.  The coach could comfortably handle three passengers, so four people in all, and that would make the effective mileage per person, 32 mpg.  Now we are starting to get very reasonable.

Speaking of reasonable, it seemed reasonable to let you see a work in progress at this point.  Remember the unedited shot of poor old “Sioux,” the boat up on jacks at the boat repair yard in the first post of this series?  Well when I was standing there looking at it I thought that the proper way to render that rotting wood and rigging would be for me to do a color pen and ink rendering or maybe even a mixed media with drawing  and some dry-brush watercolor.  So with that in mind I set about creating this image:

OK, back to lessons learned…   Of course I also RE-learned that I cannot hand-hold a 180mm macro lens at 1/60 second especially with only one good arm.  But hey, I had to try…

I Iearned too that I love – LOVE – doing trips like this only I do need to plan them a little better than this one, especially if we are going to be going off the main highways for very far.  That ordeal of a drive would have been fun if we had not been in a time crunch (and my arm was not killing me), but without proper planning we got off into something that was a real surprise.

You can see in the photo on the left taken at one of our stops early on that road while we were still going up, that it too had its share of incredible areas to stop and photograph.  For two or three of us out on a lark just seeing and photographing whatever comes along, that side trip would not be a huge deal; but for a workshop where things are supposed to go more or less as the erstwhile leader plans for and predicts, it could have resulted in some very, very unhappy participants.  I know from other workshops that there are a lot of drivers that would be VERY put out having to follow me over that road and would have been consumed with assumptions that we were all going to fall off and die among the elves in the forest.

And the trip experience reinforced for me that although I am quite OK doing these trips alone, it really is not only more fun to have someone else along, if that someone else is a photographer or artist of some type, there is a creative symbiosis that happens, at least for me, that leads to trying new things, seeing in new ways, and it certainly makes the long drives go faster.

And finally, you may remember the coastal storm shot from the first post in this series.  It was pretty close to what I wanted even in that unedited state, but here it is again as an ending punctuation to this post after a little bit of work to make it come closer to the way I “felt” about the scene standing there looking at it.

So now I need to get busy planning the next trips and workshops.  If you want to come along make sure I have your name on my list.

About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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2 Responses to Christmas Trip – Part Three: Review

  1. Love the fallen logs and the coastal storm, really like the dry brush effect you applied to Ol’ Sioux.

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