Food, Rocks, and Fall Foliage

To borrow from Spock (the Vulcan not the Doctor), it had been an “interesting” week.  The good news was that on Monday and Wednesday I shot food with Cynthia.  Then I capped it off when I left Friday with the Landscape class to shoot in Alabama Hills.  The less than good news… well I’ll just ignore it…

Monday’s shoot was for the Cheese Steak Grill in Oceanside.  The owner could not have been more gracious and helpful and he made sandwiches that were beautiful to look at.  Our task, as usual, was to shoot a cover shot for a restaurant guide plus close up shots for inside advertisements.  The general approach was that Cynthia would style the shot, I would light it, then for this shoot, I did the cover shot from a tripod and she did the details handheld.  It worked out quite well.  Cynthia’s details are really very good and perfectly round out the shoot!

The final shots for the cover required some compositing.  One version used a photo of Philadelphia from the 30s as a background plus their logo and the other just used their logo against a gradient background I created from black to dark red (the red of their logo but much darker).  Although I liked the concept of the shot with the food against the old photo, the problem is that the guide’s cover layouts are always incredibly busy and almost chaotic looking.  Adding all of the elements of the photo of the food, the old picture, and the logo would, I think, get lost in all of the stuff their designers seem determined to cram on the page.  So I’ll be interested to see which they select. here is my choice.

r

Restaurant Guide Cover shot for the Cheese Steak Grill in Oceanside.  Styling by Cynthia Sinclair.

Wednesday we shot at a place called “I Pho” that is sort of a buffet for Vietnamese and Chinese food.  There were so many different items available we created a couple of plates and then the owner made a some Sushi rolls for us.  We pushed one of their metallic speckled tables against a wall and matched the pointed end against the corner of a wall to create a geometric design in the background then played with several variations.  This time we wanted to try to keep the background simple since the food contained so many complex textures and colors.

Here is the shot we chose; it was from the middle of the shoot.

Cover shot for I-Pho Chinese/Vietnamese Restaurant.  Styling by Cynthia Sinclair

Cover shot for I-Pho Chinese/Vietnamese Restaurant. Styling by Cynthia Sinclair

To give an idea of timing, both shots needed to be edited and turned in the day they were shot to meet the guide’s printing deadline.

Then on Friday it was up early, load the car and head north to Lone Pine and Alabama Hills.  Instead of food for the stomach I was headed to photograph nourishment for the soul… my soul.  I needed it.

395 was blocked of at Kramer Jct so traffic had to go west 40 miles to Mojave then back on I-14 to 395. It was not a auspicious start but it did let me see an area I’ve never seen before: Red Rock Canyon.  Hmmmm… I’ll definitely be back!

We did the usual tour of the area Friday afternoon then I caught some evening shots through the autumn leaves but nothing to write home about.  Maybe it was going to be a long dry weekend.  Oh well… It would fit my mood.

But although my alarm did not go off for our planned dawn shot Saturday morning, the class took the initiative to go ahead. The room getting lighter woke me up with a start. After a momentary panic at the time, I managed to throw on some clothes, drive like a maniac into Alabama Hills proper, see a likely spot  and run for the rocks.  The light was just hitting the peaks and it was gorgeous.  There was barely time to catch a shot of the incredible salmon colored light on the Sierras since it was literally leap out of the car, grab the camera, run around a boulder pile to find the shot… and shoot… and then it was gone, replaced by the normal morning warm light as the rest of the rocks were lit up.

Red Dawn for blog

I was out of breath and hand holding so it is not quite as sharp as I would like.

Then I did several shots with the Wista “Digicam.”  At first it was a nightmare; the %#@&%$@ thing fought me at very turn.  But I was not going to get beatup by my own camera… I refuse!  That is where I drew the line.  I may be fair game in other areas but not with my own equipment.  So after a minor tantrum (where I think I scared it after graphically describing what it might look like after I heaved it into the rocks) things suddenly started to work the way they were supposed to.  Maybe I just needed to get it out of my system.  Hopefully no one was close by to hear me…

I wandered around to calm down a bit and found a shot of the Sierras leading up to Mt. Whitney in morning light.  The terrain was so rugged I felt it needed to be done as a monochrome and here it is.

A Black and White shot of the early morning light on Mt. Whitney from Alabama Hills.  Shot with the Wista-mounted 5D Mk II and 270mm Schneider.

A Black and White shot of the early morning light on Mt. Whitney from Alabama Hills. Shot with the Wista-mounted 5D Mk II and 210mm Linhoff Select Schneider.

Then after a more or less abstract of some weathering rock against the blue sky (meh).  I then went back to town for breakfast.   My favorite breakfast haunt is the Alabama Hills Cafe.  That is where the post on the old couple was ins paired a year ago. The plate came with enough food for my entire class piled on it so after breakfast I waddled out and rendezvoused with the class to go up to Whitney Portal.

There is a great waterfall at the west end of the parking lot but if you have followed this blog you know I have lots of shots of it.  In any case, my spirit needed something quieter so I was drawn to several small spill-overs into the creek below the falls and decided to do them with the Wista Rig so they could be enlarged quite a bit.  Here is one of them.

A quiet section of the creek just below the falls.  Shot with the Wista Mounted 5D Mk II and a 270mm Linhof Select Schneider.

A quiet section of the creek just below the falls. Shot with the Wista Mounted 5D Mk II and a 270mm Linhof Select Schneider at 1/4 second for each of the 8 shots comprising this final image.  THe shot used both front standard swings and tilts.  THe native size of this file is over 30″ by 40″.

I was putting the Wista away when I happened to glance back behind where I had just been shooting as the sun came out from behind some clouds and it was as if the leaves in the trees were lightbulbs and had just turned on.

A streak of sunlight illuminated this tree against the dark hillside and waited for me to shoot it, then the sun went behind a cloud.  Wow.

A streak of sunlight illuminated this tree against the dark hillside and waited for me to shoot it, then the sun went behind a cloud. Wow.

A glance at the sky told me there was no time to reset up the technical camera so I grabbed a lens and went for it.  I took several quick compositions and the sun went back behind a cloud.

I gave the afternoon to the class to explore on their own and I did the same.  I was surprised by the remaining Fall fall colors along Movie Road.  And as the sun got lower in the sky a quiet pastel color settled into place.

Fall color along the Moffat Ranch Road.  Canon 5D Mk II with Canon 24mm TS/E lens.

Fall color along the Moffat Ranch Road. Canon 5D Mk II with Canon 24mm TS/E lens.

The evening light was nearly as spectacular as the dawn, this time yielding a pale pastel color as it backlit some of the fall color.  Canon 5D MkII with Canon 70-200 f4L

The evening light was nearly as spectacular as the dawn, this time yielding a pale pastel color as it backlit some of the fall color. Canon 5D MkII with Canon 70-200 f4L  (BTW the halo is an artifact of resizing/resampling to post here and is not actually in the original shot.)

Then some unexpected blooming windflowers caught my attention on a little side road I explored so I stopped to see what I could do with them.

A photo collage of some late blooming wildflowers on the flanks of Mt. Lone Pines.  All are shot with the Canon 5D <k II and a Tamron 180 macro lens.

A photo collage of some late blooming wildflowers on the flanks of Mt. Lone Pines. All are shot with the Canon 5D Mk II and a Tamron 180mm Macro.  

I finally went back to the hotel to catch a short nap to prepare for some night sky shooting.  I got up at 10 pm to see what might be available in the night sky. In town the sky was obscured by haze and I almost did not venture out, but several of the students came out, ready to try this so I said we would go out of town to be along Movie Road and see if it was better.

Oh yes, it was a lot better.  Even though the sky was streaked with high hazy clouds, the stars were out in their glory.  The Milky Way went across the sky almost in the middle and even with the  haze, the star light was enough to almost light up the ground.  So most definitely a shot was in order.

Milky Way from Alabama Hills.  Canon 5D Mk II with ISO on H2, 17-40mm f4L at f5.6 amd 30 seconds exposure.

Milky Way from Alabama Hills. Along the bottom you can see the silhouette of the Sierras.  This shot is looking somewhat West North West.  Canon 5D Mk II with ISO on H2, 17-40mm f4L at f5.6 amd 30 seconds exposure.  The streaks near the horizon to the lower right are from the high hazy clouds.

Looking up at those countless stars, each with its own planetary system, I cannot help but think that at least on one of them, another creature is looking up at their night sky and wondering if anyone else is out there.

Sunday arrived early enough but I was done with it all.  I just wanted to be home. So I loaded up the car and headed back so I could prepare this blog and get it online perhaps by Sunday evening, at least that is the plan.

About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s