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Thoughts on Photography in California

The first post was actually edited and completed on Saturday, September 22, despite the September 17 date of the original automated “Hello World” message. The lyric that kept crossing my mind was from “Substitute” by the Who: “The simple things you see are all complicated. I look pretty young, but I’m just backdated, yeah.” Well, forget that about looking pretty young….

One of the first questions that crossed my mind, after I decided to blog, was naturally, “What should this blog be?” I formed several conclusions. Firstly, that the blog should contribute something, and not be another waste of bandwidth in cyberspace. Secondly, that the blog should have a positive tone. Some of my friends who shared time with me in high-tech companies in Silicon Valley will read this, and they will probably agree with me that there is already more than enough negativity and whining to go around. The simple things you see *are* all complicated…a point that is sometimes lost on casual observers or middle management. Thirdly, I would like the blog to have a level of maturity. Maturity is not related to age, except that age has given some of us longer to get there. Some of us reach maturity at a young age and some of us *never* do. Fourthly, I hope not to ramble on. The great Marcel Marceau, who passed away at age 84 yesterday, said, “Never get a mime talking. He won’t stop.” And I am not a mime…

California is a great place to visit, to live, and to photograph. I am not a “Native Californian”, but I am “Naturally Californian.” I used to joke with my friends and family in the Mid-West that I could not afford to vacation in California, so I had to move here. The land itself is so varied – mountains, beaches, marshes, estuaries, deserts, and more – and the land hosts species that are native, species that were imported, and migratory species that are just “passing through.” All in all, it is a very diverse and exciting place for someone trained as a biologist and taking photographs.

Temperatures, even here in the Bay Area, can be virtually homogeneous, or can range 30 deg F (sometimes 40 deg F) in the course of a 1-hour drive in the summertime. The weather, though generally wonderful, can still change plans. For example, I had planned to travel to Yosemite’s high country yesterday, go through Tioga Pass (altitude 10,000 feet) and visit Mono Lake. The weather is changing, however, and the traces of rain that we are experiencing in the Bay Area and Central Valley can become ice and heavy snow in the mountains, so I decided to delay my trip. Highway 120, the Tioga Road, gets closed by snow in the winter, rather than snowplowed. Travel on the Tioga Road as early as October can be “iffy”. Even so, the words of the nature photographer, John Shaw, that “bad weather is *good* weather” for photography, keep ringing in my ears. A photographer has to be aware of weather and tides, and perhaps one sign of maturity is the recognition that one is not invincible. :-) Even so, as John Muir said in September of 1897, “When I heard the storm I made haste to join it; for in storms nature has always something extra for us.” His statement is true of life as well.

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