Santa Cruz and Capitola

A day trip captured on CineStill 50

Note: This post was originally published on January 9, 2016 on Exposure. It can be found at

We Took a Day Trip

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.

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The Giant Dipper

The Boardwalk

After a picnic lunch at Natural Bridges and a cruise along the coast, we stopped for a while at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

I didn’t ride any rides, but two out of the four of us rode The Giant Dipper. Then we walked along the beach.

When we walked to the end of the beach, we ended up at the pier.

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.

Close up of underneath the pier
Close up of underneath the pier

We walked along it all the way until the end; from the edge you could get a really great view of the entire Boardwalk.

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.

The pier at Capitola
The pier at 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.

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, looking right
Rio Del Mar State Beach, looking right

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.

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 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.

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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.

Experimenting with Rollei Retro 80s Film

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.

The Lomo LC-A+

I recently got the Lomo LC-A+ (which is a really awesome little camera) and decided to take it for a spin with some different films than those I usually use since I was feeling a little wild. To be honest, though, I just wanted to try everything out, and taking them on a little photo excursion seemed to be the best way to do so. As a kinda of welcome-in-the-new-year post to represent forging ahead and trying new things (and taking another look at old things, too), here are some of my photos from my first attempts with my LC-A+. More details about each set follow.

Double Exposure

This was shot with my LC-A+ and took two exposures on Rollei Superpan 200 which may have snuck ahead of T-MAX as my favorite black and white film for more artsy prints. Scanned in versus photographed and then inverted, which some of my other photos were since the scanner was unavailable later on. My second scanned photo was a single-exposure of my friend Becca, seen below.

Despite the blur (due to my inability to focus the camera, not my shaky hands – bummer) the scanner really worked well on this image I thought, versus the following that weren’t scanned.

Photographed versus Scanned

Later on, the scanner was unavailable for me to use, so my instructor David Arnold advised me on how I might accomplish some film “scanning” on my own. The process was relatively straightforward: place the film negatives on a light source that would illuminate them from the back and then use a macro lens to photograph the image with a regular DSLR, which would produce a positive after inverting the digital image. The hard part was setting everything up to the point where I actually had a smooth system of “scanning” my film in. For the B&W Superpan, it was no problem, and the scans turned out pretty decent (not true scanner quality, but definitely usable) after inverting them.

The color scans, though, were a different story. Since this was new film (and I was relatively inexperienced with shooting it in the LC-A+) it could also be due to those facts, though “photoscanning” it in didn’t yield quite as good of results as I’d hoped. Still interesting, however, and since the whole point of this project was experimentation, I consider it a success. The post-processing definitely helped thanks to my instructor’s advice and the awesome tutorial found on Jeffrey Sward’s website that got me through it.

I plan to scan the rest of my first batch of images in and post those as well as taking some more on some good old T-MAX and seeing how those turn out. Until next time, keep experimenting, and thanks for reading.