california

Escape Plan Part 3: The Ocean

The 3rd part of this blog series finds us driving along the Pacific coast, stopping frequently to perform the following activities: walk around tiny beaches and coves, collect rocks and drift wood, eat, pee and make out, take a million photos and just as many memories. 

About half of the photos in this post have been taken by Ben. We passed the camera back and forth frequently over the day. Basically if I'm in the photo - he took it. We also managed to acquire a couple of images of us together courtesy of a nice family we met at the lighthouse. All photos were taken with a borrowed 16-35mm camera, mostly shot at 16, except for a few portraits that were shot at 35. I am absolutely in love with this lens, and saving for one of my own soon. 

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I really love the image above. Probably my favorite one in the series. I'd like to say a few words about the editing process. I don't know how others do it, but I get in a 5 hour trance when I start editing. It is now 2am and I have been working on this batch of 20-ish images for the last 5 hours. I feel like it takes me forever to edit out images, narrow down the selection and settle on the final light exposure adjustment. Some days I go for warmer tones and lighter images, other days I am more attracted to darker and higher-contrasty treatments. I feel like the treatment I apply should be dictated by the subject matter and some predefined color correction rules, but I often end up choosing it based on my mood that day. Good or bad? I don't know... 

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Ben is a very talented photographer himself, really good at candid and action shots. We talked about our different styles of shooting: me, being trained on film and having shot a lot of medium format, am more reserved with pressing the shutter, carefully framing first and being a bit stingy with my shots. He, on the other hand, is trigger happy, which enables him to capture spontaneous moments like the one of me above, dancing on the beach. I have to constantly remind myself to be more like that, since with digital you can take as many shots as you want, and pick the best one later. 

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Now here's an example of the opposite side of the spectrum, my carefully composed shot and calculated angle, after I told Ben to sit still, so I can climb on some rocks and get the perspective I wanted. 

That open expanse did something to our minds and bodies. It was like an instant high and a desire to roll around in it, run all over it, scream, jump, lie down and be one with it. 

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Escape Plan Part 2: The Woods

Two weeks ago I started a series of blog posts based on a 4 day trip that Ben and I took up north. (Digression: just thought of how "up north" has a very different and specific implied meaning for anyone using it, depending on their geographic location. For us San Franciscans, "up north" would invoke imagery of towering redwood trees, wine tasting, windy roads and foggy coastal landscapes.) I've been very busy lately, so barely time for editing photos from that trip - which led me to another realization: when, as photographer, you distance yourself in time from the physical subject matter of your photos, editing becomes much clearer. 

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After West Point Inn, we continued our trip to Orr Hot Springs, one of my all-time favorite places in Northern California. At Orr we stayed in a wooden yurt with a round skyline in the middle of the ceiling, right above our bed. It rained non-stop the entire time we were there, which made for an explosion of all senses. The humidity in the air elevated scents from all the greenery surrounding us. The raindrops falling on our roof at night made the soundtrack, and from a tactile standpoint... well, just look at my hand touching that moss-covered tree and you'll understand. 

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One of the yurts at Orr, covered in moss. 

The yurt that we slept in, surrounded by ferns, redwoods and moss. 

The yurt that we slept in, surrounded by ferns, moss and redwood trees. 

In the morning, we found the creek on the property completely swollen and raging, carrying all the water from the overnight rain. The hot spring is located at the bottom of a deep valley, so the hillsides were covered with little streams of water, all eventually flowing into this creek. 

Photo of me by Ben. Since Orr is a clothing-optional place, we did not take too many photos on the property, and left the camera in the room most of the time. One of my favorite moments was soaking in a lukewarm bath (body temperature), while rain was pouring down on us. 

Selfie with a 16mm lens. Also, I love this man. There, I said it publicly. 

The show must go on! The next day, we (reluctantly) left Orr after one last long soaking sesh, and continued for a long hour on the windy and narrow Ukiah-Comptche road until we reached the coast right below Fort Bragg. 

We stopped in the quiet town of Comptche and walked around. This name reminds me of Nepal and Tibet, and the village is full of hippie markings, but the name actually comes from a local native American tribe. The owner of the house above came outside and told us the house has been in his family for four generations, and that his grand grand-father built it. 

Upon reaching the coast, we made another stop at the Little River cemetery. Behind the cemetery there is a blowhole, which fills up with water during high tide. You can hike down to the bottom with the aid of a rope, but we didn't because of the heavy recent rains and all the recently fallen trees. It's a magical place, and definitely a must-stop for everyone driving down the coast.