Archive for August, 2009

A Sweet Goodbye to La Jolla

Sun Star Pier, La Jolla, California, August 6, 2009

Within days of moving to La Jolla 3 1/2 years ago, I discovered this local landmark – the Scripps Pier, and immediately was drawn to it photographically.  I didn’t have any previous connection to pier’s or other of man’s constructions along the water’s edge, but that would change living in La Jolla – and in large part because of this pier.  I returned every sunset for nearly 3 weeks to get my first successful image of this pier – Time.  That particular photograph really started a new direction for my photography and made my work more personal.  It would be fair to say that that image marked the beginning of working on my own aesthetic and creating my own images, as opposed to looking at others and trying to replicate.  I imagine that most photographers and artists go through similar stages – it begins with trying to make the work you look up to and respect, and once you feel capable and have learned the techniques involved and the process, then you can begin to find your own aesthetic and create a new style that is more unique.  Well, this photograph – Time, and the process of making it and having to be patient and go out night after night before I got everything right, had much to do with getting me on my own path as an artist.

Prior to this time, once I had a successful image of a location, I would generally not return to shoot it further.  Why mess with a good thing?  That too changed in La Jolla, and again, in large part because of this pier.  After several months, I had began to learn much about this tunnel-view composition and what I was drawn to about it.  It hung in the front of the gallery that I spent much time in and had the opportunity to speak with the public about the photo.  This furthered my feelings and understanding of the piece.  A desire to shoot it again arose and within a year, after many visits, I had made a second image that I felt to be a success – Fog.

Through the first 2 years, I made, what I would call – 2 successful images that were “gallery worthy”.  In my third year, I went through a major aesthetic change in my work and went from shooting primarily bright Fuji Velvia color panoramic work to dark and moody black and white squares.  There were a number of reasons behind this – a darker mood and life outlook due to events in my life; a feeling that color was too often distracting the viewer of more clear communication that didn’t seem to be the case with black and white; finding myself more drawn personally on an artistic level to cleaner, simpler works; feeling that the most challenging image to make, yet perhaps most rewarding, is the one that is most simple in it’s elements yet still holds a dynamic with the viewer, this leading to continually eliminating elements which eventually led to eliminating color – to name a few.  In the end, this transition came completely naturally and with ease and my shooting was invigorated like never before.  I began to re-shoot many of the compositions that I had become familiar with in the area, and found many new ones and ways of making images.   At the end of a string of, yet many more visits, I had made my third successful image, and perhaps my best (favorite) yet – Passage.

Through 3 1/2 years in La Jolla, I would say it’s safe to say I have photographed the Scripps Pier over 100 sunsets.  I have certainly thought that it would be cool to capture an image with the sun setting down the center of the corridor, and at one point, I made some conscious pursuit at it, but my timing was off and I never really followed through with it and never got closer than a week of the right time.  I guess it wasn’t so important to me that I find the exact day or two of the year that it’s do-able.  To be honest, I’m really not that much of a planner and it goes against my style completely to turn the art into a science and research as to the exact time and earthly coordinates blah!  That would be one quick way to take the joy out of photographing, for me.

So, you could call it sweet karma, randomness, coincidence, dumb luck, or whatever you’d like, but on my final evening in La Jolla before moving away, I decide to head out one last time to shoot Scripps Pier at sunset.  I’m super-busy packing and cleaning, and generally waiting until the last minute, like I do.  As I arrive at the pier, it’s 5 minutes from sunset and I can see that the sun is lining up better than I have ever seen.  This is pretty cool, I think as I set up the tripod.  Just as I get the camera set and my settings in order, the sun clips the upper right corner of the frame at the end of the corridor.  Sweet! I take about 8-10 exposures, bracketing and trying different f-stops before settling on f/22 to get the more dramatic starburst.  The sun is visible in the frame for about 3 minutes before it moves north out of sight in this composition.

To get this on my last night in La Jolla!  Pretty cool indeed.  Now, I suppose I’m ready to move on outta here and go start over in a new area -

Maui will work…

time1Time, 2006

fogFog, 2007

pier-placewebsitePassage, 2009


Time Running Out on the Mainland

coronadoWith just over a week left in Southern California before being homeless for a month and relocating back to Maui, I find myself revisiting some of the spots around San Diego and La Jolla that I have shot over the past 3 1/2 years.  Not that there is much time!  My sweetheart and I are not only moving, but we’re getting married!  Either one of these events unfolding in a relatively short window would be a lot, but putting them together has made everything quite exciting – to say the least.  Like now, for example – I’m pretty sure there are about 127 things that I should be doing to move forward with all of this, but here I sit, adding a blog entry.  Well, that’s how I roll.  And I’m gonna make more efforts to add blogs along the way – I am really curious what will happen with my shooting and aesthetic returning to beautiful Maui after being away for nearly 5 years.  Will my year long stretch of seeing the landscape in black and white revert back to color?  Will I shoot both?  Who knows?!  We’ll see..

I have been opening up my photographic skill-set to a whole new area – people and off camera lighting.  Talk about feeling like a total and complete rookie again – Wow!  But, it has been fun and feeling green with a camera has been an interesting feeling – and I have managed to put together a number of images that I am quite happy with…but, more of that later.

This image is of Coronado Bridge in San Diego.  Shooting from this location can feel a bit sketchy at times – I remember the first time I came here alone and it was getting dark and there were a bunch of shady characters lurking about, and here I am with 10k of photography equipment on my back!  This is usually the type of scenario that gets me to visualizing full-on Jackie Chan scenes unfolding in my head – 10 bad guys chasing me around while I use my tripod to catapult from this pier to that and otherwise defend myself with dance-like precision and fluidity.  Last night, it was a little earlier in the evening and there were families and kids running around while dad’s were fishing from the end of the pier, so no dramatic action scenes going on – just a quiet observer enjoying the path of life, with a bridge ahead leading from one destination to the next.