Sunday, March 29, 2009

Capitola and beyond on Highway 1

Ventured out south on Highway 17 yesterday morning, my plan was to check out the Northern California beach town of Capitola. It was just dawn when I headed south over Santa Cruz mountains and the serenity of the morning was a welcome change. I badly needed a break from my daily grind and had brought my beach chair and laptop along (well for some writing) just in case I was up to it after a morning of photography, I figure may be I will enjoy some sun on the beach.

"Capitola Fishing Pier - my tourist shot..just couldn't seem to get the right angle whether from the south side or north end"

Soon I was in the heart of Capitola. As it was early, I had no trouble finding a parking spot on a side street near the beach. A charming beach town, Capitola has a rather arty and upscale mediterranean feel to it, a little Tuscany by the sea if you will while the brightly colored Capitola fishing pier is very reminiscent of the Malibu Fishing Pier. The annual Capitola Art and Wine Festival in September is not far mind is twirling with plans

Colorful adobe mud huts line the beach by the pier - one of the many attractions in town. A nice holiday beach pad for the entire family to chill and have some beach volleyball fun. Book early though, as the town can be packed with tourists during the peak summer months.

"Colorful adobe style mudhut - vacation rental"

After an hour of photography around the pier and the beach, I decided to finally sit down for some breakfast at the Fog Bank Bar and Grill. I ordered a lovely Spanish omelette with fruits and wheat toasts and a nice large OJ. Sitting at the bench on the balcony facing the ocean I had a perfect view. It is a good morning. I said to myself. Seagulls were frolicking, bathing in the water, the bright colors of the mud huts reflecting in the creek - a nice water show of its own.

"She was happy to be photographed in the picture perfect creek"

Ah, then there is the "Margaritaville". It did not look like it is quite ready for the bar scene though. I wonder....I took a photo of the facade for a friend of mine who is a Jimmy Buffett fan.

Later I drove around the north end of the city up a small hill to Coral Cliff - a popular surf spot with locals and college kids from UC Santa Cruz. Surfers were out in full force riding the ocean waves below the dramatic cliff drop off. The rugged coastline and the few lone trees reminds me very much of Big Sur.

As you might imagine, I had many grand plans for the day, including staying over a night at some motel 6 so I can shoot sunset. However, that plan never did materialize. By 10am, traffic on Highway 1 had built up to a crawl as families came out to enjoy an unseasonally warm day in March. I headed south on Highway 1 as fast as I could, making pit stops along the way to check out sailboats in the many marinas and caught a quick visit to the Monterey Aquarium and the Wharf waterfront. It was either back on the road joining the bumper to bumper traffic or relax for an hour or two and I chose the later. The entrance fee to the Aquarium was $29.95 for non member and the line to get in was actually long.

"The aquarium ballet....I was forced to shoot the school of fishes going by handheld"

I was a little disappointed I did not see the moon fish I saw my last visit years ago.(or the "Sun" fish as they call it in Bali - I came face to face with them diving off Bali coast many years back)

It was 4pm before I finally make my way back via Salinas on 101 to San Jose.

What was the saying again? you need a holiday to recover from a holiday - playing tourist is exhausting!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Holgas - the cult following

I wanted to shoot medium format film and have been agonizing over whether to get a used medium format camera or a fixed lens Fuji last few weeks. Having heard and read much about Holgas, it has piqued my interests especially after seeing the works of Holga enthusiasts. It was tempting me as a very inexpensive way to work with medium format film. Researching further, I learned that Holga has a rather interesting beginning and has its roots in rural China. For more details on Holga, go to Holga and Camerapedia.Org

With Holga, it is just a "mechanical box with a crude shutter", the film and you the photographer. There is no blaming the camera for having a bad shot, although you might be able to blame the lack of electronics :) for missing a shot (pardon me for describing it that way, but simple is good and less is beautiful has great meaning here). The light leak prevalent in the Holgas is what makes each image unique.

Holga in baby blue if that is your fancy - available at Bhphotovideo

So, I am now a proud owner of a "Made in China" trendy and hip "Holga 120N". Got it at BelAir Camera in Los Angeles when I was down there last week and a certain "David" who works at the processing lab who shoots exclusively Holga showed me his incredibly wonderful Holga images. I asked if he sells his photos, his reply: "like to do a show someday". He helped me pick out the Holga 120N to start. You see, there are many different models and colors (pink! good God, I want to be inconspicious), with hotshoe, with built in flash, the classic (120S), all available for 120 and 35mm film format. In addition, there is Holga pinhole camera. Yours to choose from well under $45!!!

Holga 120CFN Medium Format Fixed Focus Camera

You might be interested in checking out this Reuters blog entry on Holga by Jim Young(and a little story of Crawford, Texas) Remembering the days of black and white film

To buy Holgas, try:
Amazon Holga 120

or Freestylephoto

As for my own Holga photos, I loaded a roll of TriX-320 into the Holga 120F I bought last week and have yet to make it back to Livermore to shoot the old train station and the old house on Highway 84w. I am in the thick of the tax season - and all I can see are thousand of line items of income, expenses and deductions for 10 hours a day (did I mention pages and pages of stock trades clients did in 2008 - oh well, that is the subject for another entry on my other Blog)

Having said all that, I look forward to doing some b&w film development soon at a community darkroom in San Jose as soon as I have my weekends back again.... and I will post the Holga photos to share then.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Highway 84W

Just a word on Topaz before the entry proper. I re-installed Topaz Adjust plug in I had uninstalled due to Topaz software bug, I am still getting the occasional "can't complete due to program error" (it is annoying as I have to re-do my processing all over again). It does not look like it is a bug that will go away....I resigned to that fact and left the plug in on CS2 for now.

Was up in Livermore California last weekend, took Highway 84 from 680N and it was a beautiful magical ride at 7:30am in the morning (I had to pick a daylight saving day and it was really 6:30am that morning since I had moved the clock forward an hour....that explained my sleepy eyes). There were a handful of cattle ranches along 84E to Livermore, still shrouded in the overnight mist as the early morning sun was breaking through. I said to myself if only I had been there before daybreak and waited for the first light to come through the old house.

Livermore is officially now on my "A few more visits" list :) I often visit a place for the first time to scout for photo opps and make notes of locations in my little notepad I carry with me.

I like the old town charm, oh did I mention the many vineyards in Livermore. Ah, that was the bonus. Or was it the reason why I went there in the first place :)

Footnote: I am going back there soon and this time armed with my old style Canon A1 with rolls of Black and White and Velvia slide films .... It makes me happy just thinking of the prospects.