Cal Poly at Night

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.

Fisher Science

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.

Science North

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.

Baker Science

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.

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.

Staircase
The staircase to the COSAM building

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.

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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 http://cwcapella.exposure.co/santa-cruz-and-capitola

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

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 https://cwcapella.exposure.co/bowman-lake-crossprocessed

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.

IMG_5009
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 https://cwcapella.exposure.co/tahoe-on-film.

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.

Playing Around with Silhouettes

I recently decided to try to experiment with some silhouettes since I’ve never really tried them (and the couple I have done have been a little spotty at best.) Below are the three that turned out the best; I also tried a book against a backdrop of lit-up pages (which sounds a lot cooler in theory than it actually ended up) but the text was a little odd looking, so I decided to leave it out.

The setup for these guys was a little unconventional, so I thought I’d touch on it briefly. I don’t have any studio lighting equipment, nor any kind of backdrops, so I had to improvise a little bit. I made a frame to hold the backdrops up out of two Costco boxes that I cut the bottoms out of and taped together (I had to have an empty frame to hang the backdrops from, or else any kind of holder would show up since the light would shine behind it and make it look like a silhouette itself.) The light comes from a desk lamp that I angled upwards and placed behind the frame with the backdrops in front of it.

For the backdrops, I used what I had on hand to get some different colors (all done in camera save minor adjustments in post-processing.) The first image of the apple actually uses Fuji and Granny Smith apples and oranges as the backdrop with light shining on them, which gave off a kind of orangey glow. The second and third are made using red and silver and blue and green tissue paper, respectively.

All-in-all, I feel the silhouettes turned out pretty decent for a first attempt; I do want to revisit my whole book concept (but I need to nail down a couple of the finer points first.)

Forgotten Buildings

I’ve seen these two buildings many times and have even photographed them before (quite a bit, actually.) I’ve been wanting to do an actual series of them for a while now, so yesterday I loaded up my camera gear and set about photographing them in all of their old rusty and grimy glory.

One of the classrooms still has its old room number on it: G2. The other one’s boarded-up windows and triple-locked door didn’t seem very welcoming. I don’t know the last time either of the rooms was used to house any students, though I think they’re currently used for storage of some kind because I have seen a janitor open them once or twice. It’s one of those things where I’d like to see what’s inside, but also don’t really want to for risk of inhaling a lifetime’s worth of dust and asbestos in just a few seconds. They’re textured and dirty and photogenic from the outside at least.

Around the two old classrooms is a chair graveyard of sorts where they dump all of the broken chairs, lockers, and other bits and pieces that are probably eventually slated to make their way to the dump but have yet to do so. The whole vibe is really cool (if you’re into photographing old, beat-up odds and ends) and despite frozen fingers due to the cold air I was able to get a series of the chairs lying around as well.

Most of the photos from both series were shot on a tripod, all with my 40mm lens and 5D Mark III. Post-processing done in Aperture, Lightroom, and for two of them Silver Efex Pro 2.

I’ll periodically check back and see if there are any new additions to the chair piles (or take some more photos once they really start to rust away.) Until next time.