Wednesday, March 31, 2010


rain, originally uploaded by mhall209.

It has been a long winter around here. We are just a little above normal in terms of rainfall, but we have many more snow storms than usuall. Last weekend was an awesome sunny weekend, and we found our way to the nursery. My wife picked out this plant, and it has since been planted in the front garden.

Fast forward a few days and it is raining again. (Of course, I am on spring break!) I was able to get this shot from the front porch, where I didn't even get rained on!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Nestle, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Today was a really rainy day. In fact, it is supposed to start snowing any time now. What a great way to spend spring break! Yuch. During a break in the rain, I headed outside to see if I could get any good shots. Apparently, Nestle wanted to come along as well. She doesn't like to be locked up in the house all day, but she doesn't like to be locked in the house either. So she followed me around while I looked for shots. While I was composing a shot of one of our chickens I saw Nestle out of the corner of my eye watching, maybe a little perturbed that she was not getting all of the attention. Well now she can get lots of attention!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I love these old relics of buildings. Their are many of them in the area I live in. This one is just a little bit off of my commute route, and I drive by it twice a day. I have stopped to photograph it in the past, but today the combination of spring green grass and the cloudy sky made for a good photo op.

I would love to know the story behind this house. I image it most recently could have been a meth lab, or some sort of flop house. But at some point it was someones dream home. I can just imagine some young cowboy bringing his bride home to this house. With lots of grazing land around, and plenty of water in the form of streams and rivers, this would have been an ideal homestead. But now, not so much.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Deer family

Deer family, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Driving down the road I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I stopped and backed up. (When you live out in the middle of nowhere like I do you get to do that.) I looked, but wasn't sure what I was looking for. I had a digital camera, so what the heck, I took a shot. It doesn't look like much, but if you click through and view the shot in Flickr you can see where I have posted a note, showing what it was I was looking at. I thought it was pretty cool!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


53, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I went for a drive this evening up a long country road behind our house. It doesn't really go anywhere. After about 8 miles it turns to a dirt road, and 8 or 9 miles it runs into another dirt road that is closed in the winter as it is not maintained. The last time I was on that road the ruts in it were about 24 inches deep, really. My little Toyota Corrola is not too fond of that road, so I just drove to the intersection and turned around. It takes about 2 hours to drive that 30 or so miles, but it is a really nice drive.

I didn't see a lot of wildlife this time up the road. Just a few turkeys, some squirrels and small birds. There were lots of cows though. Happy California cows. Like this one, number 53. He was not too happy that I disturbed his grass dinner.

Sorry number 53.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Main Street Tractor

Main Street Tractor, originally uploaded by mhall209.

While I work in an inner city urban school, I get to drive through some beautiful agricultural areas on my way to and from work. This image was taken just outside of Stockton, California. I am really amazed at the old looking tractors that some of these farms still use. This tractor looks like it has been sitting there in that same spot rusting forever. But in reality, this is an actual production machine in a small family farm. It is a vital piece of production equipment. How they keep it running is beyond me, but they do. In another week or two the family will start it up and plow all this wonderful green grass under, and then plant a new crop. The tractor will get parked right where it is when they are done with it. It will stay there till they need it again.

I think its pretty cool.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where is the form

Where is the form, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I was in Sacramento poking around the Capitol building when I came across the reprographics room. I used to work in reprographics, so it peaked my interest. Turns out this is where the California Legislators go to get all of their bills and such printed. We will set aside the discussion of why, in this day and age, it is necessary to print anything in the Capitol Building. I mean it is the year 2010 after all.

So lets talk about all the signs. Fill out a form! I am guessing compliance is an issue here. Wouldn't you think that in the place where they write all the laws for the State of California the law makers could follow the silly rules?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Home, originally uploaded by mhall209.

It is not my home, and in fact, at this moment it is nobodys home. This is a vacant house that I drive by almost everyday. Well everyday that I go to town. You cannot get to town (a 15 mile drive) without driving by this house. It has been empty for a few months now. I walked through it one day and I can see why it is empty! Mold, slanted floors, and in real estate terms, it is rather dated.

But at some point it was somebodys home. In fact, it was probably someones dream home. I know that at one point in time a stage coach drove right by here, and there is was an overnight stage stop about a half mile up the road from here. I really do not know if this house is that old, but I can imagine!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Sunset, originally uploaded by mhall209.

So someone invited me to a group to take a photo at sunset today. I thought, hey I am gonna have time this evening, I can do that. So I signed up.
Well I forgot that my son "borrowed" my good camera and has it at school in San Francisco. The film camera was out of the question as it takes a good week and a half to get the film back. That leaves the crummy little camera from work.
Well I had a couple ideas to make it work, and get a really unique shot. The time had come, and just as I was shooting the sunset my wife called "dinner is ready!" Without even thinking there was a remote possibility I didn't get the shot I thought I got, I packed it up, came in and had dinner.
And an awesome dinner it was!
But I didn't get the shot I wanted. The shots I got were garbage. Pure junk. Now what to do, I promised a sunset shot! Back outside I went, and this is what was left of the sunset. Not much, but it was today, and it was sunset. Oh well.
But the dinner was awesome, really!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Taylor Store

Taylor Store, originally uploaded by mhall209.

There is a wide spot up the road from where we live that looks like it could have been a small town at one time. I never noticed it before but the side of one building in this shot sports the sign "Taylor Store." A little bit up the road is the "Tom Taylor Memorial Bridge" which crosses the Middle Fork of the Mokelumne River. Tom Taylor was a local politician, being on the Board of Supervisors from 1980-1996. I assume the Taylor Store would be related to the Supervisor. But it seems in a rather advanced state of decay. Just something to wonder about. Maybe someone will see the tags on the photo and clue me in!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

D-D ranch

D-D ranch, originally uploaded by mhall209.

This is an image of a scene that I have posted before. In fact it is taken at the same time as this one, but it is a different camera, this one was taken with film. I think it is a tremendous difference. I really prefer the film version. The sky is not as dramatic. Perhaps that is because I do not have a graduated neutral density filter for the film camera. I don't know how that would work on this Yashica camera as there are two lenses; one for the viewfinder and one for the actual shutter.

I felt kind of wierd standing there with two different cameras takinf pictures, but what the heck, I can really see a difference.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Buffalo, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We live in an area with a lot of livestock. Mostly beef and sheep, but there are a number of herds of goats, and an occasional poultry farm. But just east of our home is an interesting ranch. They raise Christmas trees and buffalo! It is a pretty big ranch, so sometimes you can see the buffalo, and other times you can't. The herd was pretty close to the road this afternoon so I was able to get this shot.

A while back one of the buffalo got out of the fenced area and was wandering around the town. It ended up in someones front yard eating apples off of the apple tree. Well the lady who lived in the house wasn't going to stand for some buffalo eating all of her apples, so she went out in the yard to shoo the buffalo away. This probably was not the smartest thing this lady did that week! The buffalo tore her open, literally! At the time I was an EMT with the local fire dept. and was one of the first to arrive to help the lady. Our first question? Not "are you all right." Not "where does it hurt." Not "what happened." We asked "Where is the buffalo!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Canon

My Canon, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I need a new avitar. I have been using the same old same old for a while now. I wanted something unique, that really said something about me. So while I was wandering around a river looking for good shots with a couple cameras in tow I thought, why not take a shot of my camera for an avitar! I thought this one works. Now I need to resize it to work as an avitar.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

White House

White House, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Another run down property in a ag area. There seem to be lots and lots of these around here. Some of them, not this one, are still occupied and I am constantly amazed by the conditions in which some people live. Makes me feel a little better about the mess that I often make. It'snot so bad after all!

This daylight shift is really taking a toll on my photo taking ability. It is too dark to shoot on my way to work. On the way home it is bright and sunny- not real good for photography. The light is just so harsh. By the time the light improves, around 7:00 or so I am just too tired to get out and shoot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

dental chair

dental chair, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Not much really to say about this shot. I was wandering around and noticed the dental chair on the porch. I thought to myself, now theres something you don't see everyday! The chipped paint and moss on the steps were an added bonus.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Town Hall Tickets

Town Hall Tickets, originally uploaded by mhall209.

When My oldest son was in high school he and a couple friends got together and formed a three piece band. My son Daniel played guitar, Rigny played drums, and Thomas was on bass. They were the Hydrophobic Fish, and I was the roadie being the only one with a car big enough for all the equipment. Many Friday nights the three of them would be playing for tips at local restaurants. They played instrumental covers of jazz and rock classics, and I was the proudest pop in town. One particular night the owner of the restaurant commented "Hey, that song your playing, the guy who wrote it comes in here all the time!" The song was "Take Five" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Turns out the guy who wrote it doesn't come in at all, but Dave Bruubeck does! And no, Daniel never got the chance to meet Mr. Brubeck.

Well flash forward a couple years. On my way home from work one day I was listening to an interview of Dave Bruebeck because of the upcoming Brubeck Institute. Mr. Brubeck was recounting his youth, some 70 years ago. He talked about on Friday nights playing the Mokelumne Hill Town Hall. He had fantastic stories of playing there all night long as a teenager.

Well, this is the ticket booth of the Mokelumne Hill Town Hall. Seventy years ago you could have stood in line and payed a nickle or two to watch a kid named Dave play the piano all night long.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rusty Tractor

Rusty Tractor, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I was so pleased when I came across this tractor today. It is really an awesome pile of rust and little green growing stuff. Imagine my disappointment when I realized my wife had taken my good camera for her little jaunt to Yosemite. Ugh. All I had with me was this little piece of junk DSLR from school with a tiny focal length. No way to blur out the background with this micro lens, especially with that sun. Oh, that sun. How am I going to complain about that sun after all the rain we have had. It is really nice to have a truly sunny day. But that harsh light really messes up the photograph!

Oh well, I took the shot and posted it. Maybe having it posted will remind me to stop by sometime with better light. Later in the evening maybe. Or if we get more rain, like its a good thing!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Back Yard

The Back Yard, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Well I guess I am on a falling apart building roll lately. I thought this back yard was interesting, the ladder was of particular interest. I was worried about the sky, both because I didn't want to get wet, and I was using the Yashica, for which I have no graduated ND filters. But as it came out, the sky wasn't too bad. And I didn't get wet!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

phone booth

phone booth, originally uploaded by mhall209.

You just don't see these around anymore. It doesn't seem that long ago that we really relied on these phone booths in our daily lives. One could get a little privacy to make ones phone call while standing on a street corner. Now no one seems to worry about privacy for a phone call, people just walk down the street shouting at their cell phones, and we all get to listen to it!

I wonder if my students even know what a phone booth is?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Black Truck

Black Truck, originally uploaded by mhall209.

No parking for everyone but this guy! When you have a cool old work truck that you actually use for real work you get to ignore the rules! Actually, the truck is in a parking lot next to what was the town firehouse. The firehouse moved several years ago, but the paint job on the building, including the no parking signs, have remained.

Found this truck while on a walk with my wife after work one day, and came back the next morning with the camera when the light was better.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gas Station

Gas Station, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I drove by this place every day for a long time. It is on the way to a former employer. I never noticed it untill the day I got this shot. HOW i missed it all that time I will never know. It seems to be an abandoned gas station. Situated right on a highway (highway by our rural standards anyway) you would think the red paint would stand right out. But somehow I missed it.

This is another shot taken with an old Yashica film camera. I am loving it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dodge truck

Dodge truck, originally uploaded by mhall209.

They just dont make them like they used to. I found this old truck behind an equally old but more falling apart building while on a walk with my wife. A number of things stand out to me. I didn't notice the blue logo on the truck till I got the film back from the lab. Great contrast. And speaking of contrast, how about the falling apart building and rusting truck, and the new green palnts coming up in spring to take over the truck!

I shot the same shot with my Canon Digital SLR, but there is just no comparison. I am getting addicted to film!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Laundry Room

Laundry Room, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I call this image Laundry Room because behind that broken window, through the doorway which no longer supports a door is a washer and dryer. They look like they are just beyond the end of their lives. But not too long ago this room appears to have been used as a laundry room. I didnt get it. Out there in the middle of nowhere is a laundry room. Go figure.
I am really liking this film stuff. Sure it is a pain with this whole image a day thing. It is impossible to post an image the day I shoot it. Buying film is done online and I have to wait for the film to come. Then I have to take it to the only local lab I can find that will process it. The lab is not exactly on my way to anywhere. And it takes a week or 10 days for them to process the film and burn it to a CD. I don't get prints, because thats just more expense and more paper. So all told, it is a two week process start to finish, and about two dollars each time I click the shutter.
But I love the results. I can't describe the look. It is clear, and sharp. Exactly what I remember. It seems so much more real than the images I take with my digital camera.

Monday, March 8, 2010

VW Bus

VW Bus, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Does anybody not love these things? This van is falling apart on the side of the road not too far from home. Id really like to buy something like this and restore it. That would be really cool. But I really feel like I have accomplished something in the automotive department if I successfully change the battery in a car, restoring something like this would be way beyond my abilities. But it would still be cool!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

patriotic hydrant

patriotic hydrant, originally uploaded by mhall209.

This hydrant really takes me back. I was a freshman in high school in 1976 when the country went through its bicentennial celebration. Everything was painted a stars and stripes theme. I don't know that this hydrant paint job is 30 years old, but it sure could be! When I saw it, just for a moment, I was 15 again!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Explosives, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Continuing with the history of the area theme I seem to be on is this powder shed. After the easy pickings of gold from the streams and riverswas exhausted, miners in the California gold rush turned to bigger, faster, and more productive ways to find the gold. This shed seems to date back to those days when hard rock mining was practiced with little attention given to the safety of things like we would today.

A friend of ours in his 50's tells stories of his father's exploits as a gold miner. Not too long ago it was common practice around here that when you needed a little extra money, you went and found some gold. His dad did that alot. He remembers as a child his dad always kept a box of dynamite on the floor of his pickup truck. Next to an old salami that rolled around ("in case dad got hungry." The blasting caps were kept in the glove compartment. Our friend talks about riding around in his dads pickup truck with his feet on the case of dynamite!

Times have changed, and we do not store explosives like this. But every now and then an old timer will pass on, and when the family goes through the belongings, the county bomb squad will have to be called in because of some old explosives! In my days on the volunteer fire department we were called in because someone had found a container of 100 year old nitro glyceryn. It went boom! (Under controlled circumstances, of course!)

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Vet Shack

The Vet Shack, originally uploaded by mhall209.

This old miners shack is along the highway in front of out vet's office. We drive by it regularly, and have for years. I didn't notice it until someone placed a geocache there and now the shack seems right out in the middle of everything. I never found the geocache. Even when the owner gave me a hint, telling me exactly where it is. I know the spot within inches, but cant find it. The woman who put it there makes some purely evil geocaches!

This is one of many many old miners shacks in the area that date back to the late 1800's. Some, like this one, are rather anonymous. Others have a known history, like Mark Twains cabin over on Jack Ass Hill. He stayed there when he wrote the short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

I really like the way the old shacks appear in the medium format camera I used here, and I think I will make a concerted effort to capture more of these shacks while they are still standing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Morning Tree

Morning Tree, originally uploaded by mhall209.

The morning commute after a rain storm means one of two things; a beautiful ride to work, or horrific fog. We had a pretty good rainstorm last night, and we were a bit worried about the commute this morning. Fortunately there was no fog, just a really beautiful sun rise.
I saw a jillion good shots on the way into work- lots and lots of standing water with really cool reflections. Most of these shots thou were in places with no safe place to pull over, so I was rather limited. OK, I did get out the door a little late so I was a little worried about time as well. I did manage to pull over for this shot. Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gold Rush Building

Gold Rush Building, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I am not sure, but it looks like this building was built around 1863. For California, that's a pretty old building. I love these old buildings. We come across them often as we walk around the old gold rush towns here in northern California. This one is in Jackson, California where my wife and I frequently stroll.

For this shot I used a borrowed Yashica medium format film camera. On the up side, using this camera really makes you slow down and look at the photo you are taking. Looking through the viewfinder means you are looking through a mirror, so everything is backwards. There are two zoom tools; your left foot and your right foot. These features mean it is a lot of work framing your shot. Which means you slow down and really think about it. Ditto for the aperture and shutter speed.

On the down side, I figure it costs about two dollars each time I click the shutter, between film and processing costs. That makes me really think about the shot in the viewfinder. Do I like this shot $2 worth? I notice that when the film comes back from the lab (A whole other issue) I am happy with a much higher percentage of shots than when I use the digital camera.

So I think I will keep using the Yashica as long as I can afford it. Or until my brother takes it back!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Girl, originally uploaded by mhall209.

The area I live is famous for the gold rush that occured beginning with James Marshall's gold discovery in 1848. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children rushed to California in search of gold. Some people became rich, though most of them did so not by mining but by selling goods and services to the miners. The 49rs, as they are now known, did not get all of the gold. There is still plenty of gold free for the taking in the many rivers and streams in the area. We have a gold bearing creek in the backyard. But it is WAYYYYYYto much work to pull the gold out.
But I digress. The miners left many other signs of there presence. Besides the physical scars on the land- hydro mining cliffs, tailing piles, and mine shafts, there are many cool buildings and cemeteries. This statue of a little girl is in a local catholic graveyard that is often neglected. Many of the statues like this one were placed here 150 years ago.

I like going into these areas to read the names, look at the dates, and just wonder what the people were like.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Red Tractor

Red Tractor, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I caught this tractor out of the corner of my eye on my to to work this morning. It was still too dark to get a shot so I made a mental note to see if it was still there on the way home. Sure enough, there it was in the middle of what I remember as a strawberry firld. It obviously isn't going to be strawberries this year.

The yellow flowers are mustard. Mustard is commonly grown in the area in the springtime as a cover crop. It grows quickly, and then is plowed under to act as a fertilizer. This little old tractor that seems to be about to be overtaken by the mustard will soon come to life and turn all these beautiful yellow flowers into the soil to become worm food.