Bowman Lake Cross-Processed

Note: This post was originally published a few days ago on Exposure. It can be found at

This is Bowman Lake.

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.

Fujichrome Velvia 6001
The Lake as seen from the rocky hilltop next to our campsite

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.

A panorama of the lake from the hilltop next to our campsite (shot on my iPhone, used for comparison of colors for film)

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.)

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.

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The island we swam out to (plus more out in the distance)

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.

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.

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.

And if you keep going further, you reach a point that you can stand on to look out onto the rest of the valley.

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Looking out from the point (mind the edge)

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.

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.


Tahoe on Film

Note: This post was originally published on Exposure about a month ago. It can be found at

Before I Begin, Let Me Say…

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.

Sugar Pine

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.

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.

That ended my roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 and sent us on our way to our next stop…

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.

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.

Looking back from the car along the road, it’s clearly a popular place, but well worth the struggle for parking.

After hiking back down the trail, it was back to the car and on to our third stop…

Taylor Creek

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.

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.

Exploring Hawaii

A couple weeks ago, my family and I took a trip to Hawaii. We stayed in Mauna Loa on the Big Island for ten days and despite frequent beach going, we also went out on a couple of adventures to different places on the island.

Native to Hawaii

Since I’m from California, seeing all of the different plants in Hawaii was pretty awesome for me. Not to mention the little green geckos which were running all over the place constantly (the little guy above just sat on a wooden post and looked at me taking his picture.)

Pololu Valley Lookout

One of our other day trips was a hike down to a black sand beach at the end of the highway at Pololu Valley Lookout. The hike was a steep one but definitely worth the views you got along the way (and the awesome beach that was waiting at the bottom.) On the way back, we stopped for lunch a little joint called Minnie’s as per the recommendation of a local pineapple stand owner (where we bought the best pineapple we’ve ever had: a white pineapple grown right in his yard.)

Lapakahi State Historical Park

Lapakahi State Historical Park is really fascinating to walk through: it’s the remains of an ancient fishing village as well as the site of some beautiful scenery. There’s a path for you to follow with locations marked on a map, with everything from ancient houses to the games they played there.

Akaka Falls State Park

One of the most beautiful day trips we took was to Akaka Falls, a massive waterfall not too far away from Hilo. The whole park is pretty amazing, as there are a lot of smaller waterfalls and creeks as well, plus some pretty huge trees. There’s a little cement path winding through it (though it was lightly raining when we went, so the stairs were pretty slippery) that you can follow to hike through the park.

Since we were staying in the drier part of the island, the sudden change in scenery from dried lava rock to grassy farmland was made for some pretty awesome landscapes on the way there.

On the way back from Akaka Falls, we also stopped at Kolekole Park, which is pretty close by. They had this really awesome bridge there over a creek, as well as a neat waterfall and coastline as well.


Revisiting Hawaii now that I’m older (since the last time I went was when I was a little kid,) I really enjoyed being able to explore the island more than we previously had done. Until next time Hawaii.

Outdoors with the Petzval Lens

I backed Lomography’s Petzval lens on Kickstarter back when the campaign was running in August last year and a couple months later got the lens in the mail, which I immediately took out and played around with. I’ve used it multiple times since for its artsy effects and swirly bokeh, though it struck me I’ve yet to share my images from it. So, I grabbed my Petzval and my T3-i and headed outside for some nature shots and experimenting.

Exploring the outdoors

The Petzval is known for its swirly bokeh, which – despite being used largely for portraits – I’ve found to be awesome at nature shots.

Above are the final, edited versions from my Petzval excursion, though there are a couple I’d like to offer some more insight into.

A closer look at the bokeh

I’ve mentioned the infamous Petzval bokeh a couple times above, which you can kind of get an idea for by looking at the images of the ground cover and flat leaf Italian parsley (shown both above and below).

You’ll notice the blurring around the edges of the frame and the circular, swirly pattern of the bokeh (the little blurred dots) with a relatively sharp part of the image in the center. Both of these were shot using an ƒ/2.2 aperture, which helped to make the bokeh and blur even more pronounced.

Using the Petzval

The Petzval is pretty easy to use, though there are a couple modern lens features absent from it, and understandably so. The first would be the lack of autofocus and an image stabilizer, though this is to be expected firstly for the sake of its historical accuracy and secondly due to the fact that there are no camera-to-lens electrical connections on the lens mount.

The other caveat is that photos taken with the Petzval are missing aperture information from their metadata, as the camera doesn’t receive any aperture information from the lens (the aperture is set using drop-in plates). This also makes it a little tougher to use certain modes on the camera, though a little tinkering should be able to solve those problems.

Getting close up with the Petzval

I also decided to try using the Petzval for macro, which I was surprised to see turned out pretty good for the most part despite the blur of the lens.

I used the Petzal in conjunction with my set of Hoya close-up filters (I used the 4+ filter; luckily the thread size I had for my set happened to match that of the Petzal, 52mm) and two different apertures: ƒ/2.2 and ƒ/5.6.

While I was shooting using the filter, I noticed that at smaller apertures (like the ƒ/2.2) the images became increasingly fuzzy. You can see what I mean by looking at the two images of the same plant below, the first shot at ƒ/2.2 and the second shot at ƒ/5.6, taken directly as shot in-camera.

Excusing the slight difference in exposure, the difference in clarity is really noticeable. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, since it can easily be overcome by using higher apertures. The blur can be used to create additional artsy effects as well, making for a very versatile lens and filter combo.

In fact, the lens is capable of picking up pretty great detail with the filter, as shown in the leaf below (the first straight from the camera, the second edited in Aperture 3).

Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the Petzval and its performance for macro, which is one of my favorite styles of shooting. If you’d like to pick up a Petzval and try it out for yourself, you can head over to Lomography’s online shop and snag one.