Oh my! 2018 has been slippery as silk for me. I just can't get a good grip on things. I started the year with the dreaded flu/cold/bug thing. Then my laptop was stolen. There's been tumult at the office. And just like that, it's already March.
Whenever life gets noisy and my head fills with too many things, I head out to the Point Reyes National Seashore. If I ever have to leave California, it's the place I'd miss the most. Beautiful. Historic. Quiet. Point Reyes is where desolate meets remote.
So on the first Sunday of March, I had two options. Crack open the new MacBook and try and get a head start on the work week--the professionally healthy thing to do. Or, toss some snacks, camera and film in the car and go wander around Point Reyes--the mentally healthy thing to do. My survival instincts kicked in and soon the car was pointed down the Pacific Coast Highway.
The Parks Department is beginning the good and long process of handing the Seashore back to the Earth. Since the mid 1800s, the grassy plateaus have been home to tenant dairy farmers who have made good money sending milk down to San Francisco and crafting some of the world's finest cheeses. But herds of cows and the machinery of farming has taken its toll on the land and beginning last year, as the leases on the farms expire, they're being closed down. Eventually, all of the cows will be gone and the buildings torn down. The rains will come, whipped up by a strong blow from the Pacific and the grass will grow tall and strong again on Point Reyes. Some day, not in my lifetime for sure, the forest line might creep back to the rocky cliffs. In a generation or two, this will be a far different place than it is today. A better place I think.
During the winter months, to alleviate the crush of traffic out to the lighthouse (whale watching) and Chimney Rock (to see the elephant seals) the Park Service runs shuttle buses out of Drake's Beach. It makes the experience a little more touristy than I'd like, but once the buses deposit you at your destination, you're free to wander and the rewards are plenty.
I selected my Pentax K2 for this day of photography because it's just been recently CLA'd and also offers up aperture-priority auto exposure for carefree shooting - exactly the medicine I needed. Mounted out front was my least expensive Pentax lens, the 50mm f/1.7 SMC-M--small, light and perfect to carry around all day. I found an aftermarket Leica-style vented hood to use on this 50 and it works well. Film was Kodak's ProImage 100, purchased from a friend who brings it in from Mexico. I'm still learning my way around this film and don't really know what it is, but it has a nice, warm color palette. Here's the lighthouse, down 300 steps from where I was standing. Unlike many east coast lighthouses, this one was built low to be below the fog line.
There were a lot of people at the lighthouse that day hoping to see a whale breach. I had a hard time getting shots without people in them and soon headed for the bus to Chimney Rock.
The historic lifeboat station at Chimney Rock is one of my favorite places. While the crowds all flock to the elephant seal overlook, I make my way over to the lifeboat house. On my way there, I was rewarded by seeing two seals napping on the beach.
The lifeboat station on Point Reyes opened pre-Coast Guard and was operational from 1927 to about 1969, when new rescue technologies made the station obsolete. The Park Service preserved the place and maintains it today.
I've photographed the exterior of the building countless times, but I was excited that on this day, it was open to visitors. I was concerned that my 100 speed film might not be up to the task, but even if I couldn't get any images, it would be fun to go in and look around. The interior was pretty dark, but the sun streaming in through the windows made for some interesting shots. The downstairs area smelled like the inside of an old service station.
Upstairs, sleeping and bathing quarters for the crew. The station was manned 24/7 all year long.
Through one of the upstairs windows, I snapped more elephant seals napping on the beach below.
On my way back to the shuttle stop, I noticed the two seals I photographed earlier still hadn't moved.
I didn't make any award winning photographs this Sunday, but it was nice...damn nice to be out taking pictures in the fresh air and sunshine again. Good to get some exercise and clear my head a bit. The work week that followed this day wasn't any easier than the weeks that preceded it. Indeed, it was the hardest one yet. But this day softened the re-entry.
The Pentax K2 is becoming one of my favorite SLRs, especially after the Eric Hendrickson CLA. That inexpensive little Pentax 50 stuns me with performance per dollar. As for Kodak ProImage 100 film...I kinda like it. It makes sunlit shots really warm and glowing. There's a blue cast to the shadows that I could finesse away if I wanted to post process some and if there was a shot on this roll I really loved, I probably would.