Friday, April 30, 2010

Window, door, and ladder

Window, door, and ladder, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I am not sure what this business is, but they sure have a lot of doors hanging around. I came across this while on a walk with my wife. We were going out for her birthday dinner. (Happy birthday Bev) Actually I came across this on a similar walk a few weeks ago but did not like the resulting images. The light was too harsh. A little later in the afternoon this time, a different door, and the addition of a ladder made the shot much better.

Oh and the dinner was at the Twisted Fork. Very good.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Road to Summer

road, originally uploaded by mhall209.

The last couple of days around here saw some fierce storms. I don't remember seeing it raining as hard as it was the last couple of days. Fortunately it was relatively short bursts of rain, so it didn't pose a flooding risk, but man it was raining hard! But the ride home tonight was rather sunny. Woo Hoo! And the weather people on TV say we are pretty much done with winter. Clear skies ahead! Just a short little road to summer!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

long barn

long barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Another rainy ride home. It was pouring! And as we got near home the rain was mixing with snow! And its the end of April! Gadzooks! That's OK though, here in Northern California we really need the water.As you can see in this break in the storm, despite a normal year in rainfall, the fields in the valley are turning brown.

I liked the view here. The white metal and rust roof, the big oak tree, the clouds for sure! And to the left of the barn there is a bunch of junk. Well to me its junk, to someone it is their stuff! Well all that stuff got wet today!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jenny Lind barn

Jenny Lind barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Another barn I drive by regularly. When you drive 70 miles each way to work, through agricultural areas, you pass a lot of old barns, shacks, and old houses. Lately I have been shooting a lot of them. Today was no exception. The difference was after a few days of very nice warm weather todays ride home was one wallup of a rainstorm. The kind where you have to pull over because the windshield wipers wont go fast enough. Fortunately as I passed this barn there was a brief break in the rain.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bellota House

Bellota House, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I have shot this house before. (Can you call it a house?) But I had never noticed the roses climbing up over the house. I would love to get a cutting of the rose bush and try to grow it, but it is clearly on private property, and I don't really want to stroll too far onto someone's farm! As it is I had to wade into chest deep oats to set up the tripod. Its not especially fun given the amount of rain we have had recently. With each step you wonder how far into mud you will sink!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


duck, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I had a lot of shots in my mind today, went out and took them all. None of them came out anywhere near what I wanted. All garbage. So I decided I just wouldn't have a shot today, worse things have happened in life. Then I looked out the window and saw a covey of quail out in the yard. I knew I could hide behind a fence and use it as a bird blind and maybe get something cool. So out I went.
Garbage. All garbage. Those quail really move fast, even when they are standing still!
Then I took another look at the shots I took today, and this duck shot stood out. I recropped it, and now I have a shot for the day!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Powder House

Powder House, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We just needed to go grocery shopping this afternoon. For most Americans thats no big deal, but for us the grocery store is a 40 minute drive. On the way my wife decided she wanted a cookie, so we went the extra few minutes and ended up in Sutter Creek. There is a cool little coffee shop there that has really good cookies. So we then went for a little walk and came across this cool little building.

Turns out this old building was the powder house for the old Wildman Mine, which was founded in 1851, right in the middle of California's gold rush. These old powder houses are not uncommon. They were built pretty well, a requirement when you are going to fill them with explosives! So 160 years ago this little building was full of explosives used to expand the mine, which reached down some 1,500 feet below ground.

In 1924 the mine produced $5 million in gold. In 1924 dollars! In just that year! It amazes me when I think of how much gold was pulled out of the ground around here. And some say that most of the gold is still there, those old miners only got the easy stuff!

Friday, April 23, 2010

knights foundry

knights foundry, originally uploaded by mhall209.

When we were first married we came to Sutter Creek many times for vacation. We even visited here on our honeymoon. Now that we live not too far away we come here often to go out to eat; usually brunch on the weekend, but an occasional Friday night dinner finds us here. At the end of the block one of our favorite restaurants (Susies Place, if yo must know) is on is the Knights Foundry. It is a gold rush era foundry. Located along the creek and you can still see how the equipment harnessed power from the stream. I havent found a way in yet, but I am determined. I am sure it is just a matter of talking to enough people. This was the last shot on a roll of film. The next roll has some inside shots I am looking forward to seeing, as soon as they come from the lab.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


lamb, originally uploaded by mhall209.

A lot of sheep are raised around where I live. In the spring we get to see lambs out in the green pastures. They look so sweet and innocent out there eanting grass, keeping the weeds down. You would think that with all of these sheep in the hills you could get a good lamb chop around here. Nope. I don't know aof any grocery stores that carry lamb (except at Easter). Not even a restaurant that serves lamb chops. I don't know why.

But in a few weeks, this guy is going to be, yep, lamb chops. Thats why I don't eat meat anymore.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

3 rides

3 rides, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We went out to dinner and a walk and we came upon an empty lot with these three cars in it. I thought it was odd, or at least different. I was a little frustrated as I did not have an appropriate lens, so I had to make do with what I had at the time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Watermelon, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I love the roadside fruit stands. Any day now the strawberry stands will open, and then the cherry stands. And then it is all out fruit season! WooHoo! This particular stand is, well, not one of the better ones. It hasn't been open in years. It has a twin on the other side of the road, but I really wouldnt stop there if I was looking for fresh fruit, if you know what I mean! But other than this one, I just love roadside fruit stands!

Monday, April 19, 2010

4th crossing

4th crossing, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Driving through Calaveras County, where I live, you drive through a little area known as Fourth Crossing. There is not much there, just some run down buildings, some cows and sheep, and a historical marker. There is a really cool geocache nearby, one of those annoying puzzle caches where you have to figure out the code. But other than that, nothing there.

But it is really a significant marker in the area. If you live south of here, you are said to live in Angels Camp and your kids go to Bret Harte High School. To the north you live in San Andreas and your kids go to Calaveras High School. Mixed loyalties are not allowed.

It turns out this used to be a really important town, with lots of gold pulled out of the ground. After the gold was gone it became an important stage coach stop on the road between Murphys and Stockton. I wonder if this building dates back that far.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Joseys Truck

Joseys Truck, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I wanted to get out in the evening for some shots, but waited a bit too long. It was getting dark fast. I was specifically looking for falling down buildings, and I thought I remembered some old barns in this neighborhood. Seems it had been a while since I was in this particular area as all the old falling down buildings had finally fallen down and were gone. I did come across one barn that had some obvious age to it so I turned around to find a safe place to park. The turning around turned out to be the key. Back behind the barn was this truck.

I set up the tripod; the truck was way off behind a couple barbed wire fences. I needed a telephoto, and it was all but dark, meaning a very long exposure was in order. I took a few shots with different views and different aperature settings, the longest was 30 seconds. When I got home I noticed the saw blade in the back, and the tire in where the seat should be. It was too dark when I took the shot to see those.

When we first moved to this area I bought firewood from Gary, the guy who owns this land. He told me that his grandfather had bought the ranch he lives on back when granps had graduated from high school. Fifty dollars is the number I seem to remember. The ranch is hundreds of acres. It has been in the family ever since. Gary told me that his grandpa ran cattle and sold timber back in the day. I'd bet dollars to donuts that saw balde is from Gary's grandpa's saw mill.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Angels Camp Barn

Angels Camp Barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Another road I rarely take. It is not on the way to or from anywhere I usually go, so when I had the time and wandered down the road, there was a cool looking barn. I think I need to go back in different light conditions. The light was a bit harsh that afternoon, but what am I going to do?
One of the drawbacks to using a film camera is I cannot just change the ISO, or sensitivity level, of the film like you can do with a digital camera. I had film with an ISO of 400, which is great for lower light conditions like early morning or a real cloudy day, but not so good for bright light. Also it is a twin lens camera; you look through one lens, and the film looks through the other. This shoots down the idea of using a graduated filter to knock down the sky. This leaves you with one option for getting a good shot. Skill. I need to go get some of that.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stockton Barn

Stockton Barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I took a left turn on my way home one day, on a street I usually go straight. I had never turned down this road before so it was an adventure. Found this barn right away. The light was rather harsh, and I guess thats the way it is going to be for a while moving into summer. I cant rely on clouds to give me soft light. I guess I will need to change film. This Fuji 400 ISO is not working so nice with the bright light I am going to be dealing with for the summer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Glencoe Barn

Glencoe Barn, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I was looking for run down buildings. Didn't find any, but I found this barn. I almosy went by, but the pond just caught my eye. I guess it is the time of year, but the green grass with the rusty roof really has been working lately for me. The reflection is just a bonus.

It started snowing just after I took this shot.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

West Point Tractor

West Point Tractor, originally uploaded by mhall209.

West Point California is a town just east of where I live. It is in the mountains, and area that historically relied on logging for an economic base. Thats what makes this tractor unusual. Tractors with wheels tend to roll over when they are on a hill, and this is a seriously hilly area. Most tractors in this area use treads which make them more stable.

So this tractor is sitting there on a corner with a for sale sign. I love the red color. The welding jobs that have been done all over it. And especially the little rail road style wheels in the front that are used as counter weights.

Anyone wanny buy a tractor?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

dogtown road panorama

dogtown road panorama, originally uploaded by mhall209.

A drive down Dogtown road outside of Angels Camp just after dawn. A vineyard with low clouds playing with the ground. Typical scene around here this time of year. Thats why I love living here!

My first attempt at a stitched together panorama.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Front Porch

Front Porch, originally uploaded by mhall209.

There are a lot of structures like this around where I live. Some of them are still occupied. Not this one. Some of these miner shacks go back to the days when the area was occupied primarily by gold prospectors. Some of them date back to the "back to the land" movement of the 1970's. People searching for a "simpler life" left the cities, moved to the country, and built simple structures inwhich to live. The idea of raising your own food and providing for yourself was an attractive one for these people. Some of these people came and went. Some are still here. But many of the buildings remain, albeit in various states of repair.

I don't really know the story behind this particular building. Maybe some day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


rosehip, originally uploaded by mhall209.

My last day in San Diego. I feel kind of like this spent rose.Tired. I was here for a conference with students, and they did really well. But now we are all, well spent. Time to go home.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


P1030379, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Still in San Diego. The weather is fantastic! But back at home it is cold and rainy. I decided to not worry about the weather back home, and just really enjoy the moment at hand.

Friday, April 9, 2010


white, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Another day in San Diego. The students were doing really well, leaving me with a lot of time on my hands. So I got to wander around the hotel a lot. Fortunatly there were a lot of plants leaving me with things to shoot. I liked this plant; the colors, the texture, and the light.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


green, originally uploaded by mhall209.

I arrived in San Diego this morning for the SkillsUSA California State Conference. I had to get up at 3:00 A.M. to get kids to the airport to make the flight. Long story, lots of oops, but we made it. All 9 of us. The hotel grounds are nothing short of beautiful. It is ugly stormy at home, but here it is beautiful. Sunny skies, balmy, just wonderful. The hotel obviously spends a lot of money on landscaping. Lots of plants everywhere. This is a close up of a leaf. A pretty big leaf, probably 12 or 15 inches across. I thought it would look nice, so here it is.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Farmington House

Farmington House, originally uploaded by mhall209.

This is not on my usual way home from work, but every now and then I am in the mood to mix it up a little. Farmington is a tiny little town at the edge of San Joaquin County. A baseball player could throw a rock from one end of the town to the other. OK, thats an exageration, but not by much. There is not much there, but there are a number of old buildings like this one. The kind that you are not sure if it is occupied or not. I liked the green here, and the assymmetry of the building.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Bar Stool, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Along Highway 99 in the north part of Stockton, Ca, sat a chicken restaurant/ghost town/tourist trap called Pollardville. It was a different kind of place, sort of an old school poor mans Knotts Berry Farm. By the time it made its way onto our families radar, it was about ready to close. By that time it was not the most appetizing place around, so we never ate there that I remember. But to look at web sites, it seems it was a happening spot for many years. It is slated for demolition any day now.

I stopped by and found a section of fence that someone forgot to, um, fence. An opening in the fence means the same as "Come on in", right? So I wandered in and was quicklly sorry I did. Man, the smell! I was sure something was dead. I didn't stay too long- it was really a scary place to be all alone. I got this shot around back, where what looked like a bar used to be. It sat right there, like you see it. I was not about to walk on those floor boards to go over and move the chair. I was afraid I would fall through the floor and land on something dead!

This place really is ready for the bulldozers. Really.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mokelumne Hill Barn HDR

Mokelumne Hill Barn HDR, originally uploaded by mhall209.

It is my last day of spring break. Bummer. To top it off it was going to snow last night, and my wife had to go to work this morning. She asked my to get up with her this morning and drive her to town so she wouldn't have to drive in the snow. She really does not like to drive in the snow. So what is a husband to do? I got up and drove her to town, where we had left her car last night.

So that out me outside-below the snow line- early on an overcast morning. So I made the best of the situation, bought a latte, and went shooting! This was one of the last shots I took. It was about a quarter mile below the snow line. The light was just right so I took a series of exposures and put them together as an HDR image.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Stevens teapot

Anagama teapot, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Our son Steven came home for spring break. Sort of. He is a student at San Francisco State, majoring in art. I don't know if pottery is his specific major, but that is where he spends much of his time, and he is really really good at it. (Proud dad talking.) So he came home but he had a pit fire during part of the break and an anagama firing during another part of the week. Both of these are old school wood fueled processing for finishing pottery.

First was the pit fire. He came home with these amazing ceramic bottles he had made. Each about 15 inches high, and they looked like they were made out of agate. They are amazing.

Then, yesterday, he came home with these tea pots that were put in an anagama kiln. The pictures don't do them justice. They are incredable. I suggested that all of these pieces would look really good in his parents' house. He said that that may be true, but his professor wants to see them as well. "Well who do you love more" I asked? "Well I do need a grade Dad."

So he went back to school this afternoon, but it seems he forgot the tea pots. Gives me a chance to work on my product photography. I know, I need to do a lot of work on that!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Cadillac, originally uploaded by mhall209.

We went out to dinner tonight in the town of Sonora, a large town (by our standards) about an hour south of our home. My wife and I were early and decided to walk around the town while we waited for our sons to arrive. Thats why I came across this parking lot with not one,, but three old Cadillacs. Each of them were from a decidedly different era. I am not a car guy, but there was no mistaking these three were different. While there was nothing in the lot but the three caddys, this is the only one I could get a good shot of, given the ca,era and lens set up I had at the time. I was encouraged enough by the town that I may just head back just to take photos in the next few days.

I really took this shot because it reminds me of some of the shots my brother takes. You can see his photostream here. He really gets into the car shots. This is my poor attempt at his work.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Time for a haircut

Time for a haircut, originally uploaded by mhall209.

This is Snowball. An angora goat that my youngest son raised. She was born right here on our property during a snowstorm. The local goat breeders say that Angoras typically kid (the birth process in goats) during bad weather. This supposedly protects the kids from preditors, as mountain lions and such do not hunt in the rain. I don't know if that is true or not. All I know is when Steven went out to feed the goats that morning, he thought Snowball was litterally a small pile of snow, untill it moved! Thus the name.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Flag House

flaghouse, originally uploaded by mhall209.

This house is one my way to work. Right on the edge between civilization and cow country. To the east is range land and vineyards. To the west are neighborhoods. I was not sure for a long time if anyone lived here. It is one of those situations where you are not quite sure if that is someones stuff spread out all over, or if someone just walked away in the middle of moving out. I really wanted to get out of the car and walk around, looking for well framed shots. In the end I decided it better to do just a drive by shoot, pulling over and stopping just long enough to get the shot. As I was driving away a guy came out the front door, stood on thr porch and smoked something. I am glad I opted for the drive by!