Saturday, October 26, 2013

Phoenix Lake

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The early bird gets the sunrise, but there's such a thing as arriving too early.



The funny thing was, even though I arrived at the end of Lagunitas Road in the dark, I did so behind the vehicle in front of me. However, that vehicle only got in front of me because I didn't know where I was, being unable to see much, and had turned at the wrong place. I was actually glad to have some tail lights to follow the rest of the way. When I got to the lake, there were people jogging on the trails already -- in the dark!

I'm not sure when I was last at Phoenix Lake -- I've only been there twice before, and only once before to catch the sunrise: exactly 10 years ago today. The image I shot on Oct. 26, 2003 was made on Fuji Velvia film. It'd be another four years before my favorite local E6 labs closed and I reluctantly switched to digital film.



Now I'd be just as reluctant to go back to analog film. There's nothing like getting 400 shots on a "roll" and not having to spend a dime to get it developed. Nevertheless, I just ordered some film for the first time in years because a friend loaned me one of his 4x5 cameras. I look forward to trying it out in Yosemite next week. Once the rain gets going, I look forward to using it to photograph Cataract Falls. A scene like this one above, with so much detail to be captured, would also be fun to shoot in large format.



In the shot I made at Phoenix Lake ten years ago, the sun was shining on the foreground, and the big-leaf maples really blazed with golden fall color. The trees this year didn't look quite as good, so I didn't stick around to wait for the sun to rise high enough to light up the lake.



I drove back out through Ross and Fairfax to keep going out around Mt. Tam's north side, stopping to capture the morning light in this canyon just west of Azalea Hill, where the Doug fir forest gives way to riparian oak, maple and bay laurel, which in turn give way, on the other side of the drainage, to hard chaparral.



The Oregon ash trees at the head of the canyon have lost all their leaves.



Here's Alpine Lake's "bathtub ring," with a trio of mergansers paddling by.



What's funnier than playing hide-and-seek with a cucumber beetle that tries to hide from an inquisitive photographer.



The dragonflies were more accommodating. Once this individual had looked me in the eye and buzzed a few figure-eights around me, it finally got used to me and settled on this stalk of Mt. Tam thistle, allowing me to approach closer and closer, until its wingspan filled the frame end-to-end (using a 105mm micro).


Meadowhawk on a stalk.



Even with its beautiful, distinctive markings, the buckeye butterfly can be hard to spot on a ground of "nature's chaos."



I had just set the camera trap in a new place when I walked past these manzanita berries. The berries are edible, even to humans, but they're not exactly what you'd call a "choice" edible, at least not right off the bush. Try a nibble sometime. The taste is pleasant, but the chaff is best spit out.



I'd somehow burned up the half the day already, it being about noon when I photographed this California sister butterfly sunning itself on a Doug fir branch. My belly said it was lunch time. My body (on about five hours of sleep) said it was nap time. I finally did get some lunch, but it looks like I'll have to save nap time for later....

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6 comments:

  1. I really like your sister shot. That's a great angle and the lighting is just perfect, almost like stained glass. How did you keep track of your analog photo dates?

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    1. Thanks, Katie. I was pretty happy to see the shot worked with the tricky lighting. Gotta hand it to the fancy camera. I started naming my photos by date right around then, so that photo is named something like 102603-25 (the -25 being the 25th frame shot on that day).

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  2. John,
    My friend Armand works at the Crane Flat Gas Station, say hello if you have the chance, he uses a Mamiya 4x4,...oh..and too if you are on the Valley Floor at dusk, behind the Superintendents House, one can sometimes hear Owl, or better, where the Creek meets the Merced...
    DavidDavid

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    1. Thanks David. We're camping at North Pines. Looking forward to it.

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  3. Have a nice venture to The Valley. I will be looking forward to what you bring home. Phoenix Lake is a gem.

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    1. I just hope I haven't fogged the film. I never could get my bathroom entirely light-tight! I will be shooting digital, too, just in case. :)

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