Right now, I’m in the last three weeks of my freshman year at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo – if you haven’t heard of it, there’s a little bit more info about it on this website. And it’s been awesome so far; I’m majoring in computer science right now with a photography minor, but that all might change soon too.
Our campus isn’t particularly old – just over a hundred years or so – but it’s got its fair share of older buildings that, while they look totally innocuous during the daytime, take on a whole new, creepier character at night. I shot this first part of my series of the Cal Poly campus at night on Friday at around midnight. So, let’s go building-by-building and start exploring.
I walk by Fisher everyday (there’s a path that’s been beaten into the dirt that takes you from the dorms to the main road that has all of the buildings off of it that goes alongside of it) but I’ve never had a class in there. Actually, I did have a final in there once. That’s irrelevant, though. It’s got this outdoor staircase that winds up the three floors and a set of chairs that look out from the top floor. The hallways honestly kind of look like they could be something out of a horror movie too, totally empty but with those bright fluorescent lights glowing at all hours.
The staircase that takes you up the different floors of the building
Looking at the first and second floors
Looking up from ground level
The hallway (from the outside) on the first floor
Cart outside a classroom
Chairs outside on the balcony
Right next to Fisher is another building I’ve yet to have a class in: Science North. There’s also a little skybridge that connects the two of them. It too has a really great outdoor staircase and some creepy entryways that flicker with always-on lighting that’s just a little too bright.
The front entrance from the right side
The front entrance
Looking through an arch at the staircase
The staircase, looking straight-on
The staircase, looking from the right
Baker is one of the newest (it actually might be the newest) building on campus and this one I actually have had class in. Inside it’s really incredible, and even on the outside it’s less creepy and more angular than the other buildings. This school has a thing for staircases outside, but Baker’s is really, really great; very geometric and repeating and clean. If you walk around to the back side of Baker, make sure you stop and look up at the top windows of the building – you just might see the infamous alien that can be spotted if you look in the right place.
Staircase at ground level
Looking up at the staircase
Looking up underneath the staircase
The back of Baker
College of Science and Math
This building is one I want to come back to, but I couldn’t help stopping to take a picture of its staircase. This is one of the buildings where there are a lot of professor offices (I’ve had office hours for math here several times) and it comes with a pretty impressive entrance to boot.
And that’s it for the first part of this series. More will be on their way later on; if you want to see some more of my work at Cal Poly, check out my last post with my self-portraits, which were actually also taken at night at Poly on top of the Ag Sciences building. Until next time.
There’s this really cool hallway on the top floor of the Ag Sciences building; you take two flights of stairs to the top and walk all the way to the back until you get to a landing. There’s a desk set up with two chairs in the middle of it, and a ladder off to the right. Off to the left is this (kinda spooky) hallway. And when you go up there at night, it’s all lit up and makes for a great photo spot. So I decided to do some self-portraits.
I also took some photos of the desk, chairs, and the emergency shower they had up there too, which I’ll post later on.
Me and a couple of my buddies piled into our Jeep early in the morning on August 14th to embark on our most ambitious photo adventure yet: a day trip from Nevada City to Santa Cruz and Capitola (a near four-hour drive each way) and back again. We made pretty good time getting down there once we got on the road (despite a couple hiccups in the morning, like sleeping in past the alarm) and spent the whole day exploring Santa Cruz and the surrounding area. This is a look back at our trip as captured on CineStill 50 film.
After a picnic lunch at Natural Bridges and a cruise along the coast, we stopped for a while at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Walking along the Boardwalk
Kettle corn stand
Food stands and the Giant Dipper
Food stands and the Giant Dipper
Carousel, part 1
Carousel, part 2
Walking down the Boardwalk, the opposite direction
Pillars along the beach
I didn’t ride any rides, but two out of the four of us rode The Giant Dipper. Then we walked along the beach.
Two trash cans on the beach
Bins in a line
The empty stage at the beach
The beach, its goers, and the pier
“Keep Off” #3
Looking back at the Boardwalk
Red ball rolling along in the water
When we walked to the end of the beach, we ended up at the pier.
We started off by checking out how it looked from underneath. I guess it’s a popular spot for photos, because there was a family there taking portraits underneath it, too.
We walked along it all the way until the end; from the edge you could get a really great view of the entire Boardwalk.
Life Ring along the railing of the Boardwalk
A view of the Boardwalk from the pier
Then, we piled back into the car and took off for our next stop: a small beach town just a little ways away called Capitola.
We parked (after hunting for a spot for a little – it was kinda busy) and walked along the tracks to get down to the beach. There was a surfing class or something going on while we were there, so we stayed and watched for a little while.
Walking along the tracks to get to the beach
Grassy cliffs with the beach below
We walked around downtown for a little bit and did a little more exploring, but we were going to start losing daylight in an hour or two and we still had one more place that we wanted to check out. So back into the car it was and we set out for our last stop.
Rio del Mar State Beach
Our last stop was at Rio Del Mar State Beach, just a little bit farther south than Capitola. We hung out there for a while – it was actually pretty clean and the waves were really fun to walk through.
Rio Del Mar State Beach, looking left
The waves at Rio del Mar State Beach
Then it was back in the car to go to Santa Cruz for dinner (Thai food, which seems to be our default photo adventure cuisine.) And then the near-four hour car ride back home to finish out the day.
Bowman Lake is a pretty decent-sized lake about 40 minutes outside of Nevada City, California; it’s about the size of Lake Spaulding, which you actually drive past along the way. The road up to Bowman is pretty rough. It’s unpaved for the majority of the way once you turn off the highway and in many spots is only wide enough for one to one-and-a-half cars to drive on it, making backing up to let someone pass a frequent occurrence. It’s also riddled with large rocks and deep potholes, so you’ll probably want to be in an SUV or truck with four-wheel-drive that you’re not afraid to get dirty. The lake’s campgrounds aren’t too much more than flat grassy spots, some with fire pits, and apparently one bathroom somewhere along the shoreline (we couldn’t find it). However, despite all of these challenges, it’s one of the most beautiful places to camp – and if you like the outdoors, you’ll never be bored while you’re there.
This is our camping trip.
We spent three days up at Bowman, from August 1st – 3rd, this last summer. We loaded up our Jeep on the morning of the 1st and (despite me losing the car keys twice) eventually made it up to our campsite. The road was pretty sketchy going in, especially because it was my first time doing what was essentially off-roading, but once we got used to it it wasn’t too bad. We didn’t book a campsite going in, as it’s first-come, first-served, but we ended up getting one right off the dirt road leading around the lake. Nothing too fancy, just a flat grassy area with a fire pit (which we couldn’t use as the whole area was no-burn because of the drought). We pulled over and set up camp. Then we started to explore.
These are the photos.
I took photos of the trip with my Canon A2E loaded up with a roll of Fujichrome Velvia 50 color slide film, which I ended up cross-processing in C-41. I attached a panorama I shot with my iPhone below so you can draw a more direct comparison between the true-to-life colors and those altered by cross-processing the film. The only post-processing done on my part was to crop the rough edges off that were left by the scanner. The dust and scratches are natural.
Exploring the first day
After we set up camp, we went out to start exploring. We hiked up this little hill next to the campsite, then took a shortcut down the other side of it to the lake. As it turns out, you can walk across to the far side of the lake on top of the dam at one end. NID maintains the lake, and more than the dam was there to clue us into it – there were other bits and pieces of NID property are all around it, too (like the little shack with an “Authorized Personnel ONLY” sign plastered to its front below.)
Through the tree, looking out at the lake
Looking up. A tree next to our campsite.
View of the water from the middle of the dam
“Authorized Personnel ONLY” in the shack on the side of the lake
What was left of a fallen pine tree
If you walk across the dam and hike along a trail for a little ways, you get to this little rocky beach, where you can swim out to an island a little ways from the edge of the lake. We swam out to the closer island; there were a couple more much farther out in the middle, but we decided not to venture out too far since we had more exploring to do.
After exploring for a while, we went back to camp to make dinner. We tried fishing off the shore (one of my buddies hadn’t been fishing before, while another was an old pro) but we didn’t catch anything despite the flashes of fish jumping out of the water in the evening. Defeated for the time being, we headed back and (luckily, as it turned out) put the rain fly on the tent before calling it a night.
That first night a thunderstorm rolled in, so we were doused with rain and woke up to flashes of lightning throughout most of the night. We were pretty tired though, so it didn’t do much to phase us.
The next morning
The morning greeted us with the smell of damp pine needles and vibrant colors after the rain. We went fishing in the morning again and were once again met with no catch. So, we had cereal instead. One of my buddies had come down with a pretty bad cold during the night, so I drove him back home (one of the benefits of living less than an hour away from where you camp.) When I got back, one out of the three of us left took a nap, while me and my other buddy went hiking.
We hiked along the trail we’d taken earlier, but it didn’t go very far past where we’d stopped last time, so we had to improvise and just kind of work our way along the rocks. Others before us had clearly had the same idea because there were some areas where it looked like a path had been previously.
Looking out at one of the NID roads used to access the lake/water station
Rocks on top of a mountain
At the base of some rock slabs
Almost like a bench… with one of the dams in the distance
More mountains along the hike
If you look out to the left along the hike, you can see the NID buildings at the base of the dam and out in the distance the river that gets created by all of the water they let out of the lake, littered with little buildings along its sides.
The NID buildings along the base of the dam
The river that gets created from the water let out of the lake
Along the hike we came across this flat, gravelly flat area that had a really interesting rock formation in it. I don’t really know if it’s natural, or how it ended up the way it did, but it was definitely one of the coolest bits of the hike. It also ended up with some really cool colors when I cross-processed the photos of it.
The flat area with the really angular rock formation in the middle of it.
Close up on the top of the rock formation
And if you keep going further, you reach a point that you can stand on to look out onto the rest of the valley.
We’d kind of reached the end of that part of the hike, so we backtracked a little ways and went further down to the right to check out the second dam. This one felt a lot more dangerous to get down to, as the only path to cross it involved hiking down a steep rock face in the wind with nothing to guide you except some loose wire (shown below.) I made it about halfway down before I decided that going further probably wasn’t in my best interest, but the view of the dam from there was pretty spectacular.
The semi-treacherous pathway down the side of the mountain to the dam
The full dam from above, to the left of it
The dam, the lake, and the mountains on the other side
It was getting later in the day, so we headed back for swimming and dinner. Luckily, the storm from the previous night had cleared up by the time I’d gotten back from dropping my buddy off back at home and hadn’t returned for our last night at Bowman.
The last day
Our last day was spent fishing for one last time – still no catch, unfortunately – and then packing up our campsite to head back home. We did one last hike to the top of the hill next to our campsite to take it all in before we left. And then we piled back into the car and made our way back over the dirt roads to the highway, back to home. But I can say one thing for certain about this trip: we’ll be back again soon. And hopefully I’ll bring more than one roll of film this time.
A couple photo buddies and I recently went exploring around Lake Tahoe. These photos might look a little different than what most are used to when thinking of Tahoe for two reasons, the first being the drought. For those who are unaware, there is currently a pretty extensive drought gripping California. These photos were taken of and around the lake before the start of summer in the first stages of what has become one of the driest summer seasons in recent years. The second is the fact that these are entirely shot on black and white film; the only post-processing I’ve done beyond scanning them in is cropping them to remove the fuzzy edges from the scanner.
With that, let’s explore.
The opposite side of the lake from the Sugar Pine dock
When we first arrived, we parked and piled out of the car at Sugar Pine Point State Park. Small fee to get in but home to an excellent beach and a couple trails as well. We walked out on the dock first.
Close up on the boards of the dock
View from the shoreline to the right as seen from the dock
And then we explored along the beach. A little ways farther to the left of the dock, there was a creek that flowed into the lake with an old, smooth bleached tree trunk laying next to it. We walked a ways farther along before turning around and heading out on the trail.
Some visitors along the shore
The creek flowing from the park out into the lake
A view of the rocky ground and the creek, with some buildings from the park seen behind it
A top-down view of the fallen tree
Brush and pines standing near the creek
Looking up the trunk of one of the trees along the trail on the way out
That ended my roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 and sent us on our way to our next stop…
Looking out at Emerald Bay
Emerald Bay and Eagle Falls
Our next stop on our drive around the lake was Emerald Bay State Park, with incredible views of Emerald Bay (as seen above) as well as access to the Eagle Falls Trailhead that provides access into Desolation Wilderness. From the road, you can walk down a short ways to get access to some awesome views of the waterfall.
The waterfall coming out from the other side of the road through a tunnel and settling in pools
The waterfall as seen from the side
Walking up from the road, you gain access to the trailhead, which gives you a short mile and a half or so climb to the bridge that leads across the falls and into Desolation Wilderness.
View from the trail hiking up to the bridge
Some of the awesome rock formations along the trail; these ones are near the top
View from the bridge at Upper Eagle Falls before the entrance to Desolation Wilderness
Looking out at the lake from the bridge; the water in the river is flowing from the Upper Falls to the Lower, mentioned earlier
Looking back from the car along the road, it’s clearly a popular place, but well worth the struggle for parking.
View of the road from the car
After hiking back down the trail, it was back to the car and on to our third stop…
One of the fields the trails at Taylor Creek go along on the way to the beach
Taylor Creek gets its popularity because of the fact that people can go and look at massive numbers of salmon during the spawning season in autumn. Even though we were there in the off season, the park still had a beautiful beach and some great views, along with several trails to take you to them.
A view of the lake from the beach
A little statue of sticks found on the beach (pardon the majorly crooked horizon)
A post out in the lake (note how low the water level is compared to the stains on the post)
Off in the distance
All of the rocks on the beach that used to be covered by water before the drought
A bleached piece of driftwood on the shore
A view of the water (those splotches are developing chemicals that didn’t quite get all washed off)
After our visit to Taylor Creek, we stopped for ice cream at Camp Richardson and drove the rest of the way around the lake. Even being locals, there’s just something about Tahoe that is amazing, something surprising or new to be discovered with each visit. And, of course, it’s an awesome place to explore.
Footnotes: All photos in this post were shot on film with my Canon A2e, the first portion being taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 and the second batch being taken on Rollei Superpan 200. Thanks for reading.
I recently bought a two-pack of Rollei’s Retro 80s Film from B&H after reading a little about it and deciding that it would be something I’d like to mess around with myself. I shot a roll of it with my Canon A2e and had a pretty wide range of results; almost all of them had very high contrast, some even to the point of having so much contrast that significant detail was lost (though that was also likely as much if not more so due to operator error on my part). Below are a couple of my favorites from shooting my first roll.
These guys were scanned in shortly after being developed (D-76) and from what I remember had relatively little post-processing done aside from adjusting the contrast on some to bring back some detail.
One thing I did notice about the film is how much detail it did capture on certain frames, like in the shot of the leaf caught between two fence posts below.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much texture came through – here’s a close-up at a 100% crop so you can see what I mean a little more clearly.
I’d like to try shooting the next roll in my LC-A+ to see how the Minitar lens changes the results I get from the film; all-in-all though, I really liked the film and going out on a whim and trying it paid off. For those who want to pick up a roll themselves, you can find it lots of places across the web, though I bought mine through B&H here.
I also recently took some self portraits at a grungy-looking portable classroom. These were inspired in part in subject matter and more in appearance by the work of the famous muckraker Jacob Riis, better known as the author of his famous work documenting the slums of New York at the turn of the twentieth century, How the Other Half Lives. I tried to style myself a little older-looking (hence the hat and coat) and look grungy myself.
I was going for a play on the words How the Other Half Lives because in most cases, I’m the “other half” of the picture as I’m the one who’s usually working the camera. I was excited to finally be doing a series of self-portraits as it was both a different kind of photo challenge for me but also because it was neat to be able to work with photographs of myself (I had to wing it a bit as the self-timer on my camera only gave me ten seconds to get in position each time.) There was a kind of spontaneous vibe about the whole thing that I really liked, plus mimicking the old, grainy film look is a little different than what I usually go for with my photos.
Next up is to try some double-exposure self portraits with my LC-A+; I’ll have to see where that takes me.