Giant Hunting in the Southern Central Valley

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I returned home after spending a couple of days in the Southern San Joaquin Valley on a Giants Hunt. A “Giants Hunt” is what we call it when we go out looking for Giants to photograph. Giants are those items we see everyday, but we never notice the size of these object. They Are Big. It could a large donut, a can of soda or even a very large tooth. These are the subjects of my latest photo project. You can view the Giants on my web site, http://www.djnphoto.com/land-of-giants.html

Using the resources of the Web, I found and researched few Giants that I could photograph for my project. Knowing that there were Giants lurking so close to home, I just had to go and photograph them. We packed our bags, both cameras and clothes, then loaded the car and left to hunt for Giants.

Part of the fun of going on these photo safaris is that you have a goal in mind, but it is often all the other subjects you find along the way. Besides the “Giants” project, I am also working projects with subjects as Arrows (old, new, on signs, etc.), old Neon signs and a few other projects. Having more than projects makes the trips more enjoyable because if the main item turns out not to be the subject you expected, there is probably many other subjects for other projects around.

We left from home at 10 A.M. to head up to Bakersfield for the rest of the day and the next 2 nights and days. The two main Giants that I was hunting for where centered around Bakersfield. In Bakersfield there is a giant shoe that is a shoe repair shop and a short distance to the West is a Giant steer. These 2 subjects were my main targets but I knew of a few other “Giants” in the area and I was also sure I would find other targets.

We left the LA area a little late that morning to avoid the morning rush hour stall because we had to pretty much go through downtown LA on our way up north. As we were nearing the small town of Gorman near the summit of the pass between the LA Basin and the Central Valley, I spotted and old sign that had an Arrow. We needed to get of Interstate 10 and go back to the sign.

OldArrowNear-GormanCA-20150211-004

Getting of the Interstate to get back to the sign, we ended up getting of at the wrong exit. While it didn’t happen this time, we don’t look at slight detour as a problem because it often leads to discovery of new subject for my projects. This time we were in an area where there was little else around, but this lonely old sign was worth the effort. A few yards from the sign we found this Octopus on the hillside. It was funny to us because just last month when we were in the Desert near Palm Springs, we found a stuffed octopus, a toy, lying in the desert. It now occupies a spot in the rafters of the garage. Are octopi the new fad?

OldArrowNear-GormanCA-20150211-005

As we were nearing Bakersfield, we got of the highway in Mettler to see what they may have. We found an old Garage sign. While the lighting wasn’t good, I took a couple of shots for my records. That way I know it’s there and if I’m ever near the location and there is better lighting, I can revisit it.

OldGarageSign-MettlerCA-20150211-004

After arriving in Bakersfield, we checked into Motel and headed out to recon the 2 main giants I was interested in. We first visited the shoe first to see if it would be a better subject for Morning or Evening light. Since it is on west side of street, morning light would be best. I had already figured this from looking at it on Google Street View. After looking at the shoe, we explored around Bakersfield a little. We found what I call an Arrow Sign on a church. These signs are extremely prevalent in the Central and Southern States in the US. I’ve been capturing a few in California, but I really hope to get to Southern US to photograph them there. After the church we found an old motel with an interesting sign.

ChurchArrowSign-BakersfieldCA-20150211-003

OldMotelSignArrow-BakersfieldCA-20150211-001

It was now later in the afternoon and was time to find the large steer near Buttonwillow. It took about 40 minutes drive there from Central Bakersfield because of the traffic. Driving out Highway 58, aka, Blue Star Memorial Highway, traffic had thinned when we could see the outline of a steer in the distance. It was the steer. We did some photography when a local farmer stopped by to talk to us about the steer. We got some good shots but decide to comeback for a morning shoot in c couple of days.

SteerButtonwillowLand&Supply-20150211-007

The next morning we arouse early and headed to the large shoe. The sun was now on the good side of the shoe. I spent about 30 minutes exploring different angles and perspectives of the shoe. It takes more time for this now that I have to us a scooter to get around. As I was about to finish with the shoe, I heard my wife yell at me. She had explored a little down the street the shoe was on had had found another Giant. About 5 houses down from the Shoe, was a house that had a set of Giant cooking pots in the front yard. WOW! It’s not often you find 2 Giants at the same location.

GiantShoe-ShoeRepair-BakersfieldCA-20150212-019

GiantPots-Bakersfield-20150212-005

We next hunted down another Giant that was located to the north of Bakersfield. It an Indian Warrior that was made from a Muffler Man. Muffler Men were originally designed and built to attract customers to muffler shops. Man have been re-purposed to other uses. I’ve a few of these Muffler Men in my portfolio.

GiantIndianWarrior-BakersfieldCA-20150212-013

GiantIndianWarrior-BakersfieldCA-20150212-005

In Lindsey I shot a giant olive. It wasn’t in a very picturesque location and the light stunk, but I did get a shot for future reference.

GiantOlive-LindsayCA-20150212-001

We headed to Kaweah and the Kaweah General Store to shoot another Giant Steer. When we got there we found that the steer had been moved from the front of the store to a storage are next to the store. It was also place with its head facing a fence and its rump facing traffic. We got a shot again for reference in case we get this way again and the steer is in a better position.

GiantSteer-KaweahCA-20150212-010

Returning we got lucky in Lemon Cove. We stopped a produce stand that had a Giant Orange. We also bought a couple of oranges to eat that day and boy were the sweet. We also photographed an old Richfield Gas Station. The station will make a great subject for my project photographing old building by full moon light. We’’ definitely have to head back here at full moon.

GiantOrange-LemonCoveCA-20150212-005

OldGasStations-LemonCoveCA-20150212-011

We were only now about halfway through our hunt and already we’ve discovered many subjects that we hadn’t planned on. I’ll continue the trip in the next blog post in a couple of days.

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