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.

The images haven’t been processed.

 

 

 

“Super Moon” – August, 2014

The summer of 2014 is a good summer to observe the Full Moon when the moon was at the perigee of its orbit around the Earth. Wait, what is perigee? Perigee is when an object orbiting another make it’s closest approach to the object. Apogee is when it’s furthest from the object being orbited. When the Moon is at perigee, it appears larger than at any other time in its orbit while at apogee it appears smallest. On August 10, 2014 the Full Moon is perigee and will appear about 13% larger and 30% brighter than it would at apogee this is why its called a “Super Moon.” For you non-astronomical folks, here’s a link to a good illustration of it on the Huffington Post. If you missed this one, there is another coming on September 9, 2014.

Even in the city, the view of them larger moon can be very rewarding. A pair of binoculars or a small telescope provides a great experience when observing the Moon. If you have camera that has a longer lens, you can silhouette the larger moon rising behind a foreground object. If you have a really long lens, you can get a good close-up of the moon. To get the best exposure for the moon, you need to open up one stop from the basic sunlight exposure, f/16 @ 1/ISO setting. That is if you ISO is set at 250, the normal sun setting is 1/250th of a second at f/16. But even though the Moon is in Bright Sunlight, it’s darker than mid gray, it only appears white because it is in a black sky. So open up on stop 1/250 sec @ f/11 and you’ll have a good exposure.

My reason for going out to photograph when we have a Full Moon is not to photograph the Moon, but to use its light to illuminate terrestrial object. The moon is reflecting sunlight back to the Earth and illuminating it. Since the moon is about 30% bright, I can get slightly shorter exposure. While you use normal sunlight exposures to photograph the moon itself, the moon reflected light is much dimmer than the direct sunlight during the day. Even though the reflected light is dimmer than daylight, once your eyes adjust to the light you’ll be amazed at what you can see. Head out to a dark area with no lights around and be amazed by the beauty of the moonlight on the scenery. My wife and I have hiked and backpacked with just the light of the full moon, a most magical experience.

I wasn’t going to be hiking this time. One of the photo projects I’m working on to photograph old structure using moonlight. The results provide a photo with and interesting effect. Since the structure is illuminated by reflected sunlight, it appears to be illuminated by the sun. But since there isn’t as much light, there isn’t enough to illuminate the sky, so while the structure looks like a daylight exposure, the sky is a very dark blue with stars.

So I set out to photograph a few old building I had seen on recent trips. The location I was heading for was Red Mountain. It’s a small town, if you can call it that, along US 395 in California, about 25 miles north of Kramer Junction and 25 miles south of Ridgecrest. During the last couple of times passing through Red Mountain on or way back from Lone Pine, I had noticed a couple of buildings that looked interesting. We left home in the early afternoon on August 9 and headed to Red Mountain. Since I was also going to be getting up early the next morning to do some more moonlight photography, we got a room in Ridgecrest so we could get a few hours sleep that night.

I returned to Red Mountain just after 8 pm as it was getting dark and set up my equipment. I’ll throw in a little MS related info now. I have a very difficult time walking now and use a cane for support and have balance problems. With it being dark, it only aggravated the problems. My wife, Margaret, works an outstanding assistant. I could find the spot where I wanted to photograph from and she would bring e my camera and tripod.

I found three building I thought would be good subjects. On appeared to an old residence, another appeared to and old store and the other was an old grocery store. It’s kind of hard to identify what they may have been as there is little room in front of them as the road has been widened over the years. I set up the tripod and attached the camera. This type of photography is where the advantages of digital quickly become apparent. It’s hard to get meter reading in such dark light, isn’t that an oxymoron, dark light? I set the ISO at 1600 and took the first exposure at ¼ sec at f/8. Not to bad, but a little dark. After a couple more test shots, I arrived at good exposure of 1/15 sec and f/8. With film, I wouldn’t have been able to see my results until the film was developed. I would have needed to bracket and record the info for future use. Using digital I can always start new each time in case the lighting is a little different and still get the correct exposure. Here are the three buildings.

Old Residence, Red Mountain, CA

Old Residence, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

Old Store, Red Mountain, CA

 

Even though I was out shooting building, I did turn around a shoot a couple of moon shots. I was using my Nikon D800e. I took my Nikkor 500mm f/4 lens and put a Nikkor 2x convertor on it to give me a 1000mm focal length. After all, if your out there, you might as well take the shot.

Supermoon - August, 2014 Shot with Nikon D800E with Nikkor 500mm f/4 with 2x convertor. ISO 1600, 1/800 sec f/16

Supermoon – August, 2014
Shot with Nikon D800E with Nikkor 500mm f/4 with 2x convertor. ISO 1600, 1/800 sec f/16

After shooting in Red Mountain, we slept about 4-5 hour in Ridgecrest and then headed out to my next target. My main project at this time is shooting subject for my “Land of Giants.” In Pearsonville, about 20 mile north from Ridgecrest is a giant statue of a woman. It looks like it may have onetime been used as an attraction for a golf course. I have photographed it in the daylight, but I thought that moonlight would add a little something to the photo. We arrived a little after 4 AM and set about photography. I was nice that I could use my scooter to get around as it made it easier to find the right angle for the photo. Again, my loving loyal assistant would bring me my tools.

Giant Woman Pearsonville, CA

Giant Woman Pearsonville, CA

A few dozen yard north of the statue is the Pearsonville water tank. I couldn’t resist photographing it also.

PearsonVille Water Tank

PearsonVille Water Tank

We got back into Ridgecrest about 5:30 AM and stopped at a McDonalds for something to drink and a quick bite to eat. As we were walking back to the car, I noticed beams coming from the horizon from the full moon that had just set. I’ve seen this from the Sun but this was the first time I had seen this from the Moon.

Moon rays after Full Moon had set.

Moon rays after Full Moon had set.

All in all, I was a very interesting trip. Daytime temps were about 100° F during the day and the low as about 70°. It made shooting at night very comfortable.

I was mentioned in the Chatterbox Newsletter

Today I received the latest newsletter from Chatterbox Enterprises in my e-mail. Louisa Curtis of Chatterbox was one of the reviewers of my portfolio when I attended the Palm Springs Photo Festival at the end of April. In the newsletter, Louisa had a link to activities at the festival on her blog. I went to the blog and read her description of the festival. About 2/3 of the way through her blog post I was surprised to see myself mentioned in her post. I had a great time at the festival and came away with excellent input on how I should proceed. Seeing my name mentioned positively in a blog from one of the reviewers only adds icing on the cake.

Here is the lick to the blog. The mention of me is about 2/3 of the way down, under the picture of the statue of Marilyn Monroe.
http://chatterblog.chatterboxenterprises.com/2013/05/palm-springs-photo-festival-aprilmay-3013/

Here is my “Land of the Giants” photo of Marilyn.

MarilynMonroeStatue-PalmSprings-20121204-074

David Nelson
http://www.djnphoto.com
Blog: http://photoms.djnphoto.com

Opening of my Photo Show

The Opening of my photo show is Friday Evening, April 26, at 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM at the Calumet Photographic Gallery Santa Ana, 1430 Village Way, McFadden Place, Santa Ana, CA 92705

I’m part of a group show along with 2 other photographers. I will be displaying my Land of the Giants series. It features a series of images of these Giants that exist in our world. Are they just large advertising devices, or, are they representatives of another parallel universe where all are large.

If you can make it, there will be a wine and cheese reception.

Invite Card