This was an unusual day when it came to light. There was great distance visibility. But, there was also a good deal of moisture in the unsettled air. The result was a kind of soft-clarity that tended to obscure details and one’s sense of distance. It was as if the very far and the not so far away had been drawn into each other.
With winter on its inevitable approach, this photo reminds me of the kind of light that comes with the cooler and sometimes moisture-laden air of the season. It’s always been a difficult season for me to look forward to, but I’m working on it.
This was taken just beyond the Cobb Estate in the foothills above Altadena, CA.
2010 was the last year before the start of the Great California Drought. That year, heavy downpours drove mud and debris down from the foothills through what are ordinarily dry, or nearly dry, river beds all the way to the Hahamongna basin.
The San Gabrielino Trail above JPL is an odd one, unless you’re from Southern California. Toward the bottom, near where this photo was taken, it’s a strangely disquieting mix of the suburban and natural worlds. There’s an asphalt walkway that gives way to a broken concrete one before direct contact between foot and mother earth finally takes over.
I caught this view through the chain link fence that keeps the locals out of the river bed on the lower part of the trail. I stood there for a quite a while, pointing my humble Panasonic LX3 between the links of the fence. I didn’t think much about the image until days later.
Maybe it’s my envisioning of the massive flow of water that came in the days and weeks before the image was taken. Maybe it is my wonderment at the idea the trees had withstood that muddy onslaught. Maybe it’s the little touch of vibrant green. I’m not sure but I always enjoy this photo when I come upon it.
The Schaeffer Fire had been burning for well over a month by the time I caught this image on the road to US 395 west of the Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns in Inyo County. There were no fewer than three wildfires fires burning in California at the time (mid-August).
When I was a kid I was fixated with the land speed record attempts that took place at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. I was around eleven when I finally got a chance to see the place for myself. Much to my delight my father even took our 1966 Pontiac Bonneville (no kidding) out on the flats for a few high speed passes.
Those, indeed, were the days.
I took this photo with my father’s Argus C3 on that trip way back in the early 1970s. The negative was buried somewhere in a box of over 6,000 images left behind by my parents. Most of the images were out-of-focus castoffs, but there were a few gems among the rubble.
I’ve not been back to the flats. I’ve learned that the salt on the flats is thinning, but no one is quite sure why. It makes me want to go back to that day when the salt was flat and thick and dustless and I sat beside my father, speeding across the horizon.
It never fails to amaze me how often the humble iPhone 5 ends up seeing duty when a better camera would have been more suitable. Just a few minutes earlier the light was even more spectacular and the lenticular clouds were nearly luminous.
Me? I love a good used camera. First of all, they’re cheap. I bought my Nikon D300 for $200. I mean, was there ever a better value in the history of the world? Second, I tend not to worry about used cameras. I always make sure the stuff I bought has seen some actual use. That way any bumps and bruises are easier to regard as marks of character rather than evidence of carelessness on my part.
The sad news is that my Fuji X100 gave up the ghost; very disappointing. Or, to channel our 45th president; sad. If I were given to complain (and I am) I would say that it’s pretty dang disappointing that Fuji is unable to fix what they regard as a professional camera that’s little more than a handful of years old. I ended up in the funny spot. Fuji could either ship back my pretty much useless X100 or I could pony up some cash and they’d sent me a brand-spankin’ new X100T.
Fine, fine, fine…here’s my credit card number.
Thing is, I knew I wasn’t going to keep the X100T. I’m kinda soured on the Fuji thing at least for now. Eventually, I may get myself another small mirrorless camera with a 1″ or m4/3 sensor but for now I’ve decided to simply toggle between my aforementioned D300 and a battle-scared old Panasonic LX3.
Sure, I used to own an LX3 (and later and LX5 and an LX7) but this little camera has me enamored for some reason.
This little camera rocks hard. I picked it up well-used over at Fred Miranda for $55. Nearest I can tell the little fellah has over 100,000 clicks on the odometer and it works perfectly. Heck, I even bought a second Panasonic battery for it; yup, I’m going all out. The neat little Leica lens is quite sharp over its entire range and the focus and metering are spot on. If Panasonic would upsize this exact camera with the same zoom range and a 1″ sensor I’d buy it.
The cool olive & black Road Runner Bags strap was supposed to be for my repaired X100 (sniff, sniff…) but I put it on the LX3 out of spite for Fuji. Like another favorite company of mine, Courier Ware, Road Runner isn’t much on self-promotion. The strap doesn’t even have their name anywhere on it…just a small label that says, Handmade in California. The webbing that Road Runner uses is very smooth on the skin and their form-follows-function-factor is admirably high. Road Runner Bags is a neat little company. All their stuff is made right here in Los Angeles and they certainly did a fine job with their first camera strap. I’m hopeful they’ll continue to work on more bags and straps for all the two-wheeled photographers out there on the streets and trails of Los Angeles.
Check their website out today and buy something.
Anyway, I enjoyed the Fuji because it was so easy to bring along. I disliked the Fuji for the same reason everyone else did. It was rather fussy, sometimes inscrutable, and the focusing was always marginal and then it got worse. How does that even happen? I also found the X100 rather fragile feeling. I don’t know if Fuji got it right with the S or the T or the F. All I know is Fuji’s naming convention for the X100 series is going to be tough for whatever follows the X100F. I’m not off Fuji forever; then again, maybe I am.
I can’t quite get my brain around how some folks are able to get along with an iPhone as their sole camera. Of course, I wear a wrist watch. Still, I do see the appeal to less is more when it comes to cameras. With the departure of the X100 and now the sale of the X100T I’m left with the LX3 and the D300.
Sure, I could moan about the lack of notice from the domain registration company (and that’s exactly what I did when I found out). But the fact is I didn’t notice my site was down for an embarrassingly long time and it makes me wonder why I had it in the first place.
I’m impressed by people who maintain a blog, a website, a Facebook presence and who write (and read) stuff on Twitter. Don’t get me started on Instagram.
I’ve decided to let the domain go for now and maybe forever. Sure, Tom Wolfe needs his own website but the again he’s got more than a dozen novels under his belt. A man’s got to know his limitations.
On a more optimistic note, I’ve done some work on my novel and can faintly see its completion somewhere beyond the horizon. I’ve also snapped a few humble photos so let’s a take a look.
There now; aren’t those a lot more fun than reading about my expired domain?