Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Nothing describes my trip from Washington State to Texas last December better… My wife had just retired from the US Navy at Yokosuka, Japan in December and had flown back to the naval base at Silverdale, Washington to begin out processing from the Navy. The rest of us remained in Japan so the kids could finish up with school, we later caught up with her in Silverdale, east of Seattle. We were hoping to be at our nieces birthday party on December 19th in El Paso. However, the airlines informed before leaving Japan that the kennel for our dog was too small according to new airline guidelines, so we were forced to buy a new and much bigger kennel. A few days after, the same airlines told us that while this behemoth of a kennel would fit on the airplane, it wouldn’t fit through the aircraft’s door. Hmmm…. to me that sounds like it won’t fit on the airplane but that’s just my opinion. Once in Washington we decided that we’d rent a vehicle and I’d drive with our dog, Lupe to El Paso from Silverdale, about 1,800 miles. However, my wife and kids would fly so they could definitely make the party. I’d make it if I could but wasn’t going to do anything stupid, just travel safely taking it easy, no worries. The weather wasn’t looking good and my wife and I decided I needed to get out in the morning if there were any hopes of making the party. By heading south in the morning from the Seattle area it looked like I could avoid most of the winter storms in the area.

Leaving Silverdale early on December 15th and heading south meant there was an extremely limited choice of routes needed to avoid storms. I had to drive I-5 South through the one open route called Snoqualmie Pass. I was up against the clock to get though the pass before the storms came, then chains and four wheel drive would be required to enter the pass and I’d be stuck. As I drove, the weather got worse heading south. By the time I was passing Ashland, Oregon and after driving almost a full day, a sign lit up a few hundred feet up the road saying, “Chains required in 20 miles.” Yes, this was Snoqualmie Pass. I immediately pulled over, called to get a hotel room in Ashland, then drove to the new hotel cancelling my previously booked stay in Bakersfield, CA along the way, I kind of knew it anyway because of the time lost during the storms. Making it to the hotel parking lot, which was empty except for a few cars, but that changed by the time I got to my room and looked out the window. The evening was spent watching the news and weather channel, this storm wasn’t going anywhere but it seemed that the weather improved considerably west toward the ocean. I decided to drive west in the morning and hug the coast south till I was safe from the storms, then hopefully get back on the original route.

On December 16th I woke early and got on the road driving west to Crescent City, California and south down the coast. At this point I didn’t realize I was actually on US 101, also known as The Redwood Highway. Suddenly, I was driving on one of the most beautiful coastal roads that America has to offer, literally breathtaking! I arrived in Klamath Falls and simply couldn’t believe my eyes at the natural beauty of the Northern California coast! I stopped to take a quick couple of photos, and before I knew it I was in the Redwood Forest, again unbelievable! One more time, a few quick photos and back on the road. Looking back, if there was one part of this trip I want to do again, and soon, it’s the Redwood Highway. Frankly, at this point in time, the detour was amazing. However, by the time I got to Fortuna, CA the GPS asked if I wanted save some time with a new route. Why not? I felt I was far enough south to avoid snow and was in the middle of some of the best scenery. I decided to go with new route, curving through the more Redwoods and then mountains, AGAIN absolutely gorgeous. Things looked so incredibly promising… until it started snowing again. Then another sign appeared, literally in the middle of nowhere, or snowhere, California, “Chains required beyond this point.” CRAP! I made a u-turn and headed back, in the opposite direction, down the winding road I had just traveled. I came around a curve previously passed only minutes before and suddenly, in front of me, stones slid across the road and I swerved trying to miss them. I didn’t and felt a large bump, then quickly lost traction going downhill so I immediately pulled over. DOUBLE CRAP!! Now the back right tire had a large hole and I was on a curve, I got back in the car and drove on the rim for about half a mile till I was in a safe place, near a farm house. No problem, just change the tire and get back on the road right? I began looking for the spare tire, I’ve owned a couple of minivans over the years so I checked the obvious places, nada. I got the manual and it stated the spare was located externally, outside and on the bottom, between the driver and passenger seats. Great, it stated a special tool was located in the rear to access and lower the tire. I found the location of the tool in the van, but no tool, TRIPLE CRAP!!! Now I needed to call my insurance company, no signal, QUADRUPLE CR… you get the point. I couldn’t get a signal, was sitting in a snow storm in a rented minivan, just wondering about my next move.

Just then, a man who I’ll just call Mr. Oblivious or Johnny Helpful, came out of the farm house. “You picked a hell of a place to break down” he said. I replied, “I didn’t exactly pick it.” This guy literally stood at his driveway gate saying things like, “wow, you’re screwed,” “you should change that tire,” and “man, you’re really broke down huh?” but never once offered any help whatsoever. While he was yappin’, my BS filter began to flow over, so I got in the minivan and drove another half mile on the rim, not recommended but worth getting away from my new friend. I parked next to the Dinsmore Airport which is to aviation like my driveway is to the Daytona 500; nada, nothing, just a simple airstrip but I also created distance from myself and California’s most obnoxious Good Samaritan. It was now about 1PM, I had no cell signal and was next to a field full of goats and sheep but also had a three quarter plus tank of gas. Lupe and I would be warm till I got help, well I was about 85% sure. Still no signal and it was still snowing. After about an hour, the sun came out and I finally had a signal, two bars. However, I still couldn’t make calls but once I opened the USAA app was able to send a message to them and they were able to ping my location; they said help was on the way within 60-90 minutes. As quick as the sun broke through the clouds, it went and more snow came.

By 4PM the tow truck hadn’t arrived and the sun was going down. Now I received a call from the towing company telling me there had been an issue but the driver was on the way, coming from Fortuna, the city I passed through hours before. If he just left, it would be a while before he arrived, but at least help was definitely on the way. By 6:30 the tow truck arrived and we were headed back to Fortuna, oh and the tire place closed at 6PM, now I needed a hotel. I struck up a conversation with the driver, he was helpful but informed me that company policy allowed him to take me only as far as the tire shop. I’d be on my own from there, and I still had no signal. Once in Fortuna at the tire shop, the car was dropped off and I had a cell signal so I began calling hotels. Finding a hotel was a very good thing, it meant not sleeping in my car for the night; but have you ever tried finding a cab at 8:15PM willing to take a passenger and an 80 pound labradoodle? That didn’t go well. So I packed exactly one t-shirt, a clean pair of underwear and socks in a plastic bag, putting it in my camera bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and deodorant; I had everything I needed and began the two mile walk in the dark with Lupe, hoping nobody would rob me with thousands of dollars worth of camera gear. I safely arrived, got some sleep, then walked back to the tire place in the morning only to find out that not only was the rental missing the spare tire tool, there was NO spare tire. The Budge Car dealer in Silverdale, WA sent me on my way with no spare tire. I made my way back to El Paso only to fight with Budget numerous times on the phone trying to get them to pay for the hotel room and the tire. Don’t even get me started on call centers in India. It took a few weeks but they finally agreed to cover the costs. The rest of the trip, fortunately, was uneventful.

Lesson learned? Well… too numerous to mention. Honestly, had I checked for a spare tire upon accepting the rental, this trip would have turned out much differently. If it hadn’t been for USAA I don’t know what would have happened. Did I make it back in time for my nieces birthday party, no. But nobody was hurt, Lupe and I safely made it home to El Paso and below are photos from the adventure in chronological order. Then after that, my daughter and I got Covid, so there’s that… So in a game of “Would You Rather..” I would chose Covid-19 over California’s most obnoxious Good Samaritan, seriously I would, well maybe not but he did make an impact. Thanks for humoring me with the writing therapy.

About this…

Photo:  Windsor in Coronado

Location:  Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, CA

Date:  January 6, 2016

Camera & Lens:  Canon 6D and 70-300 DO lens

About This Photo: ¬†As a history nut, I love when movies like The King’s Speach refresh memories regarding events like King Edward VIII abdicating the throne to marry a divorced American lady named Wallace Simpson. Rumor has it they met at a magical ball in Coronado, California but there’s a little more to that story. While some believe Wallace Simpson and Edward met at Coronado’s famous Hotel Del Coronado, it simply didn’t happen that way… ¬†Ouch. ¬†My apologies to Coronado and the Hotel Del, but it’s¬†been “documented that the Coronado socialite was, in fact, on a trip to San Francisco when the prince visited Coronado.” So Simpson wasn’t anywhere near the San Diego area when Edward visited Coronado. ¬†DOUBLE OUCH! ¬†The two actually met in the English countryside sometime in 1931 after which time she became his mistress.(1) ¬†Yes, the romantic notion of the twice divorced socialite meeting her prince at a fairy tale ball on the golden shores of Coronado has been reduced to simply meeting in the countryside when “she became his mistress.” Simplified, no ball, they hooked up. Yes, as stated, Simpson had been married before, and that was the sticky part for the Crown. Wallace’s first husband was Earl Winfield Spencer Jr., a Naval Aviator, who was sent with his wife in 1917 to Coronado, CA to report as the first Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station North Island until 1921.(2) ¬†That marriage didn’t last and Wallace would marry one more time before ‘hooking up’ with Edward. Earl Spencer Jr., not to be outdone, was married Not once, not twice, but five times and both possibly believed that old adage of, at first if you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. ¬†So that’s how Wallace Simpson ended up in Coronado, but what does that have to do with my photo at the top of this page? ¬†Hold on kt0s2030dm-FILEID-1.111.38sparky, I’m getting there… When Wallace and Earl arrived in San Diego, they¬†lived for a couple of months near Balboa Park but in January 1918, they moved to Coronado, first roughing it in a suite at the Hotel del Coronado but eventually renting three houses in Coronado.(3) ¬†It’s the house they rented at 1115 Flora Avenue that we’re talking about here, in the photo to the left. ¬†This house was moved from Flora Avenue to the Hotel Del Coronado in 1999 and is now “the social hub” of the “Club at The Del, an exclusive venue for members and Beach Village owners and guests.”(4) ¬†What does that even mean? Simply, it means you ain’t gettin’ in, ever.

The photo at the top of this page, Windsor in Coronado, is that house now standing at the Hotel Del. ¬†I was trying to capture this semi-historic house, or part of it, in a different way that could also show it’s place relative to the Hotel Del Coronado which by the way is the real gem. ¬†I’m not sure what the connection of this house to the Hotel Del Coronado could possibly be beyond perpetuating the myth that these two met at the Hotel Del. Maybe Coronado is just proud of one of their own who became famous? Nope, Wallace was from Baltimore. ¬†Anyway, the truth is that Wallace Simpson briefly lived in this house while married to someone also not from Coronado, who was not the King of England but has a place in US Naval history. ¬†Meanwhile, the City of Coronado can proudly claim that the first Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station North Island is buried nearby at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery with his fifth wife and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, is buried in a nearby continent at the Royal Burial Ground near Frogmore House in England. This is also where Meghan and Harry will soon live, which also has nothing to do with Coronado. ¬†TRIPLE OUCH and get a band aid for that cut!

 

 

Works Cited
1.  Zuniga, Janine. Memories of Windsor. San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, [ 2009 ]. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-memories-windsor-2009oct15-htmlstory.html (accessed April 13, 2019).

2.  King, Greg. The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson. London: Aurum Press, 2000. 79-85.

3.  Larsen, Sharon. The woman who changed royal history. San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, 2012. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/books/sdut-the-woman-who-changed-royal-history-2012feb25-htmlstory.html (accessed April 13, 2019).

4.  Club at the Del. Coronado: Hotel Del Coronado.  https://www.clubatthedel.com/windsor-cottage (accessed April 13, 2019).

 

Patriotic Homes of Coronado

Flags 1Selling stock photos has been going well this year. ¬†However, while most photos for my website make it to the stock sites with logos and trademarks removed, the reverse isn’t true as many stock photos don’t make it to BillChizekPhotography.com. ¬†These can range from the texture of a wall, grass with morning dew, or a piece of wood; subjects that allow copy space for advertisers to insert text, nothing appealing for a photography website. ¬†That said, I try to post a variety of photos about five days a week to my website and all the stock photos taken that week. ¬†Posting one photo daily ensures website traffic, if I posted thirty photos most visitors would just look at them one time and move on. ¬†Posting as many stock photos weekly as possible is important because they don’t make money sitting on a hard drive. ¬†However, this year I decided to post nothing but patriotic stock photos for the long Fourth of July weekend. ¬†For this, I used stock photos of flags flying in the yards near where we live in Coronado, California. ¬†Not surprising to anyone living in Coronado, but many homes here fly the flag year round. In fact, only the photo at the top of this post was taken on the actual Fourth of July weekend (click HERE for original photo). ¬†Yes, you’d be hard pressed to find a more patriotic community west of the Mississippi!

This is largely due Coronado having a unique military history, a good portion of Coronado’s land is occupied by Naval Air Station North Island. ¬†Almost since the beginning of Naval Aviation, many Naval Aviators have relocated to Coronado at various points in their careers.Flags 6¬† Many homes proudly display blue yard signs reading “Home of a Naval Aviator” and these are everywhere. ¬†To say this little town is kind of proud of the US Navy is like saying that little town back in Wisconsin is kind of proud of their Packers. ¬†That’s why most of these photos were shot months ago in anticipation that advertisers would be looking for patriotic photos for their Independence Day deadlines. ¬†Coronado was the perfect location for this because with flags flying year round, my patriotic stock photo search was mostly complete last May. ¬†This photo to the left may look like it’s been set up for an upcoming holiday, but this street looks like this practically for 365 days of the year! ¬†Yes, even with the white picket fences.

Flags 2

Coronado is home to many active duty and retired military, plus it’s the home of the US Navy SEAL’s who train here. ¬†Since 2007, Coronado has been home to our family for about seven years. ¬†It’s where I, like many others, retired from the military. ¬†It’s probably because Coronado is just one of those places that’s comfortable to military people because being retired military here isn’t a novelty. ¬†This is probably another the reason that flags fly year round here. ¬†Shooting stock photography here couldn’t have been easier, if I liked a particular photo but felt it was missing something, I didn’t have to spend hours in Photoshop doctoring the pic to get it right nor did I need to seek new locations. ¬†All that was needed was to return to the same location at a different time of day! ¬†The differences between morning and evening lighting, seasons, and weather all ensured a variety of photo settings.

Flags 3The photo location for this shot at left didn’t work the few times I tried, it was always lacking something. ¬†However, returning one morning and catching the sun behind the flag seemed to make it click. ¬†As a photographer, that’s one of the nice things about living somewhere that others travel to for vacation, if you don’t get a photo the way you want it you can just return later. ¬†While I’ve loved living here, my wife a service member and it’s our time to roll to the next place to call home for a while. ¬†Fortunately we’re moving to another incredible place that should prove interesting not only for photography but for our family as well, Virginia. ¬†As a former adjunct history professor and lifelong history buff/nerd/geek, I can’t think of another place I’d rather be located other than at my own house in Texas. ¬†Coronado has been a great place to raise our daughters, who have loved the beaches and learning to swim at the rec center, leaving friends and Coronado will be tough. ¬†While moving an entire house every three years or so can be draining, once settled at the new location this nomadic lifestyle can be rewarding. ¬†Since taking up photography, military transfers seem to recharge the creative batteries. ¬†In Coronado, even the below photo of springtime and blooming flowers came out patriotic, ya… it’s just that kind of place.

Nado Spring

 

 

Coronado, CA

I had the good fortune of living in the coastal city of Coronado, California from 2007-2011, courtesy of the US Navy. ¬†Photography was reentering my life as I had not taken many photos in over 25 years. ¬†I found myself in the land of sunsets, beaches, ocean views, and I loved it. ¬†When I found out in 2014 that I would be returning to Coronado, I was a happy camper! ¬†I began searching online for photos of Coronado to see what other photographers were shooting, something I often do to get ideas. ¬†I found sunset photos, the Hotel Del Coronado, sunsets, the beach, the bridge, the boathouse, and even sunsets! ¬†I made a decision right then and there to take photos of Coronado, the city; sure I’d shoot the San Diego skyline, the bridge, boathouse, and yes, the legendary Pacific coast sunsets; but I hoped to capture¬†something different. ¬†Let me say upfront, there are many amazing photographers in Coronado who I respect, they shoot everything including the incredible sunsets, and I love checking out their amazing photos! ¬†However, I hoped¬†to do something else and wanted¬†to catch another side of Coronado while I was here. ¬†The photo at the top of the page was taken¬†at the Fiddler’s Cove Marina when the¬†sun was just starting to burn through the morning fog.

Super Moon    Fog

The main marina in Coronado makes for an excellent photo subject just about 24/7 (above left). ¬†I hoped to show that there is life in this marina, even at night, because¬†many people live aboard their boats. ¬†This was the night of the “super moon” and while this isn’t a spectacular super moon photo compared to others, I think it captures the vibe of this marina at night with the calm waters and reflection of the moon. ¬†Since sailing and boating are a major activities in Coronado, it’s not difficult finding sailboats virtually everywhere. ¬†The above right photo was taken from Tidelands Park which is a great location to shoot sunrises as well. ¬†You might be able to¬†tell by this photo, and the one at the top of this page, I LOVE fog! ¬†When it comes to photography, I find that while blue skies are amazing to the naked eye, they just do nothing for me with my camera. ¬†I’ve found the trick to shooting fog in Coronado is to have the camera bag ready to go at all times, the fog can appear and disappear quickly here. ¬†Unlike the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin where I grew up, the sun can literally burn off solid fog in minutes, and in both of these photos the fog was gone within 10 minutes¬†after snapping these.

Chillaxin'    Spreckels Christmas

Capturing everyday scenes in Coronado has been interesting because common events¬†we do daily are set in front of an incredible backdrop. ¬†In the above left photo, a bird dives in to the water for a fish while a guy is relaxing with¬†his hands behind head checking out the view. ¬†Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up, Coronado is¬†really like this at times! ¬†The above right photo was taken at the Spreckel’s Park gazebo after my daughters had their Girl Scout meeting there. ¬†The below middle sunrise photo was also taken at Spreckel’s Park, if there is a hub for Coronado, in my opinion it is this park because concerts, flower shows, playtime with the kids, and even craft shows on Sunday mornings happen at this park. ¬†Below left are two VW vans that I drive by practically every day, and for over a year I meant to shoot them. ¬†There’s nothing fancy here, I just thought it looked cool as a typical street scene with these classic vans. ¬†Finally, the shot below on the right is a front yard swing, it could be Anywhere USA, which was the point of this photo; there are many times when¬†Coronado feels like any other small town I’ve visited, I mean that in the best possible way!

V-Dubs  Spreckles  Swingin'

Coronado has a rich military history as both the US Army and US Navy maintained a presence here until the late 1930’s. ¬†However, it has been the Navy that remained and Coronado has been the major training location for the US Navy SEAL’s for decades. ¬†In 2016, Coronado erected a statue honoring all maritime commandos called the “Naked Warrior” sculpted by artist J. Seward Johnson Jr. (below). ¬†These ‘naked warriors’ would later evolve in to the Navy SEAL’s of today. ¬†For a great book on this, check out¬†The Naked Warriors: The Elite Fighting Force that became the Navy SEAL’s by CDR Francis Fane. ¬†While I was shooting this photo, a young man actually slowly passed by the statue on his beach cruiser bike, fist bumped his heart and flashed a peace sign to the statue in respect, this is Coronado. ¬†While I love the ocean, beaches, and sunsets, I think there is more to Coronado. ¬†While it’s a place of seaside mansions and a major travel desination, if you peel back it’s layers you’ll find a simple coastal village and military town rich in history. ¬†Look past the streets filled with tourists and you’ll see¬†swings hanging from trees, VW’s parked on the¬†streets in front of simple cottages, and quiet neighborhoods like most other little towns. ¬†Oh, and if you wait till the evening, you might even experience¬†an incredible sunset.

Naked Warrior 2

My pic made the list!

I think someone at Gurushots.com likes me… ¬†I made their¬†list of “34 Vertigo Inducing Shots Of The Some Of The Tallest Skyscrapers In The World” with¬†mine, Summer Night, at 20! ¬†The photo was taken at the 2015 Miramar Airshow. ¬†This photo of the San Diego skyline was taken on August 20, 2015 at Centennial Park in Coronado, CA.

Original photo is at:

http://www.billchizekphotography.com/Archive/i-Pngnh2z

Summer Night
A summer view of San Diego at night from Coronado, CA.

Number 14!

Gurushots.com’s list of the¬†“30 Photographs Of Motion That Will Get Your Heart Pumping And Your Face Smiling” has my photo, Chutes, is¬†at number 14! ¬†The photo was taken at the 2015 Miramar Airshow.

Original photo is at:

http://www.billchizekphotography.com/Archive/i-Vgzt5Ks/A

 

Chutes
Shockwave, the world’s fastest truch deploys it’s parachutes to stop after hitting over 340 mph at the 2015 Miramar Air Show. http://flashfirejettrucks.com

Japanese Friendship Garden

Balboa Park, just off I-5 in San Diego is a great place to take the family or just hang out, with or without a camera. ¬†There are museums, gardens, fountains, and plenty of places for the kids to run around. ¬†Within Balboa Park is the Japanese Friendship Garden, an incredible place to shoot with a camera or to just walk around! ¬†It has been open since 1991 and if you weren’t looking for it you might walk right by. ¬†The Garden is located in a semi-secluded little canyon within Balboa Park and is marked by a Japanese style gate at the entrance. ¬†The above photo,¬†Friendship,¬†was taken with a¬†Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/10, 1/80 sec, focal length 65mm, and ISO 200. ¬†This is a pretty typcial view of the garden during the spring.

Garden Door

The cool thing about this garden is that there is so much to shoot once inside.  Because the Japanese Friendship Garden sits below Balboa Park, you really feel like your somewhere else and not sitting in the middle of San Diego.  In and around the gardens are one little subject after another.  In the photo at right, I shot the door knob but there was also the opportunity to shoot more.  I could have captured this beautiful door itself or the items in the background like the lilac trees, the pavillion, and the flowers growing on the pavillion.  In this photo, called Garden Door, I wanted to capture the door knob without losing sight of where I was shooting.  I needed to keep that door knob tied to the garden in the background or this was just another fancy door knob.

Lilac Pond

To make the most of getting great photos, get¬†to the garden when they open at 10am, or going on any cloudy day, seems to work best. ¬†There are also waterfalls, rocks, and little ponds¬†that contain¬†what I believe are Koi fish, they are also amazing and worth capturing. ¬†These little nooks and cranies don’t photograph well in bright sun. ¬†This photo on the left is called Lilac Pond, and when I go back I plan to spend more time at this location!

Quiet PleaseThis park is literally filled with traditional Japanese garden structures everywhere, including quite a few lanterns that I also plan to dedicate more¬†time to as well. ¬†In fact, I had NO idea what these things were until I got home and did a little research. ¬†What I did feel¬†from them while in the garden was peace; if there was ever a garden structure that begged you to be quiet, it’s these. ¬†That’s why I called the photo at left Quiet Please. ¬†These really do make for interesting photos! ¬†Throughout the Japanese Garden are plenty of flowers as well on the trails and hills, most are labeled. ¬†Planning a trip in springtime around¬†mid-May seems would be a great time to catch everything in bloom. ¬†The below photo is called Serenity and was taken on the trail that heads from the upper to lower¬†garden.

Serenity

There’s good news and bad news about shooting this Japanese Friendship Garden. ¬†The good news, bring 100mm¬†lens and you can¬†shoot for free. ¬†The images at the top and bottom of this page (Friendship¬†&¬†Friendship 2)¬†were shot without entering the garden itself. ¬†Friendship 2¬†is a recropped version of¬†Friendship. ¬†Yes, there is an admission charge; $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and military, and children under 6 years of age¬†are free. ¬†Now the bad news, if you show up with a decent camera, or a bag that makes it look like you know what you’re doing, they’re going question you about your gear, why you are shooting, and wether or not you’ve got a website. ¬†If you’re honest like I was, they will charge you $35 to shoot inside the Japanese Gardens in addition to¬†the admission fee. ¬†Take it from me, it can be an expensive. ¬† My wife generally doesn’t pay attention to my blogs but I predict I’ll know exactly when she reads this and discovers I spent over $40 just to shoot these pics… ¬†ūüėé

Friendship 2

Point Loma, San Diego

I have a few ‘go-to’¬†places to shoot in the San Diego area, places I can count on to hopefully take¬†a few “keepers” when the weather is right. Point Loma is one of those locations because of the view of San Diego, the altitude (400+ feet above the sea), and the numerous photo subjects readily available there. The history geek in me loves that Point Loma is where¬†the first Europeans landed in California exploring¬†the new world in the sixteenth century.(1) ¬†There are three main locations at Point Loma that are of interest for photography; the old lighthouse, the monument commemorating the Europeans landing in California, and a national cemetery that honors many heroes of our nation. As my friends know, I hate shooting on sunny days, so when I see clouds I usually head to Point Loma or Imperial Beach, my other ‘go-to’ place (see earlier blog entry: Why I Love IB).

The Old Light

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is an amazing way to begin any morning. The lighthouse was first lit on the evening¬†of November 15, 1855 and was functional for approximately 36 years until a new lighthouse was built at a lower elevation and closer to the coast.(2) On the grounds are two buildings; the lighthouse itself which also consisted of living quarters for the lighthouse keepers and their families; the other is the small museum building. These grounds are completely kid friendly and even though I’ve taken my kids here numerous times, climbing to the top of the lighthouse never get old for them! The photo at the top of the page, Distant Lighthouse, is the lighthouse captured¬†through the grass that surrounds the lighthouse. The photo at right, The Old Light, shows the walkway around the light itself. ¬†The lighthouse itself is a great subject close-up or at a distance.

Cabrillo (B&W)

It’s hard to imagine a better view of San Diego and Coronado than that from the Cabrillo National Monument. ¬†Here there are actually two views worth considering; by the monument itself and the patio area at¬†the nearby visitors center. ¬†This monument celebrates the arrival of European explorers¬†commanded by¬†Juan Rodr√≠guez Cabrillo¬†of Portugal. ¬†The Cabrillo National Monument was established in 1913 and¬†features¬†a stone statue of Cabrillo commemorating his arrival¬†on September 28, 1542.(3) ¬†Again, this is another area that my kids can run a little but need to be somewhat careful because of the cliffs near the monument area. Any time I can let my kids run and can shoot pics, it’s a win-win. ¬†The photo at left, Cabrillo (B&W), was shot with an approaching storm in front of the camera while the sun was still out behind me creating a strange lighting effect on the statue.

The Gathering

When you travel to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and Cabrillo Monument, you’ll pass through the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. The cemetery sits on the hills overlooking San Diego Bay and is a beautiful final resting for our fallen service members. There are so many incredible people buried here that, as a retired¬†Navy Musician and former history professor, I could spend an entire day searching the historical people as well as paying my respects to a couple of former bosses. The photo at right, called The Gathering,¬†is the grave of Medal of Honor recipient Michael Monsoor taken a few years ago around the¬†anniversary of his death. It appeared his shipmates gathered for a beer with their friend. Michael Monsoor threw himself on a grenade that landed¬†on a rooftop in¬†ar-Ramadi, Iraq. His actions¬†saved the lives of his fellow SEAL’s; you can read about Monsoon’s action on¬†his Medal of Honor citation. Monsoor is a hero and the very definition of selfless service in my opinion. Another grave, although not a military hero in the same category of Michael Monsoor, is musician¬†Conrad Gozzo.¬† Gozzo is still considered one of the greatest trumpet players-ever, decades¬†after his death. ¬†The photo below, entitled simply Goz, shows his grave not far from that¬†of Monsoor. ¬†During World War Two, many top musicians entered military service to do their part, Gozzo was no different and joined the US Navy. Click this link to here Conrad Gozzo play Torna a Sorrento.

"Goz"

The Meyer

Many times US Navy ships can be seen arriving and departing San Diego and Point Loma offers the perfect view! ¬†The photo at left, called The Meyer, was taken earn¬†the Cabrillo Monument Visitor Center as the USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) departed for the ocean. The below photo, CVN-73, was taken from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery as¬†the USS George Washington departed. ¬†Both of these photos were taken with a Canon¬†EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM lens, while a bit heavy its size allow me carry it daily and it sure comes in handy for moments like these. However, you don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate what Point Loma has to offer but in my case, it’s a plus. ¬†Whenever friends or family come to town, were usually make a trip to Point Loma. ¬†However, Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Cabrillo Monument share the same parking lot so it can get busy, especially in the summer months, and on weekends. If you’ve got the time and don’t like crowds, try going during the week and you won’t be disappointed.

CVN-73

 

  1. Wikipedia, Point Loma, San Diego, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Loma,_San_Diego  (accessed July 6, 2016).
  2. National Park Servvice, The Lighthouses of Point Loma, 2016, https://www.nps.gov/cabr/learn/historyculture/the-lighthouses-of-point-loma.htm  (accessed July 6, 2016)
  3. National Park Servvice, 2016, Cabrillo National Monument California, 2016, https://www.nps.gov/cabr/learn/historyculture/juan-rodriguez-cabrillo.htm  (accessed July 6, 2016)

Why I love IB

Imperial Beach, California¬†is like the pretty girl in high school who didn’t try out to be a cheer leader. ¬†Yes, she’s pretty but not as popular as the cheer leaders. ¬†Imperial Beach is a sort of poor man’s beach in comparison to the more popular locations of¬†Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, and the beach in the nearby tourist haven of¬†Coronado;¬†these beaches are the cheer leaders, the popular ones… ¬†Locals refer to their San Diego beaches by initials, Ocean Beach = OB, Pacific Beach = PB, and my personal favorite Imperial Beach, or IB, is the southern most. Not only do I like IB because it’s close to home, but it also has character with the old wooden pier and lack of a carnival atmosphere that is common at some southern California Beaches. Imperial beach is simple, parking is usually not a problem, and there are places to grab a bite to eat. It is a pretty low key place for now, however, it’s rapidly growing and signs are everywhere that “low key” isn’t going to last.

IB Sunset #3

Shooting sunsets in IB¬†is almost like shooting fish in a barrel. ¬†Unless it’s a completely cloud covered evening you’re practically guaranteed a spectacular sunset. ¬†Even if there is complete cloud cover the wooden pier is an excellent subject! ¬†In fact, on my San Diego photo bucket list is shooting¬†nothing but black and white shots at the pier in a storm.The photo at the top, December Sunset 1, is a prime example of the typical IB sunset! ¬†December¬†Sunset 1 was shot, like all of these photos, with a Canon 6d, EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/8, 1/125 sec, focal length 35mm, and ISO 100. People who know me know that when it comes to taking photos, I HATE sunny days. ¬†Sunny days are just boring, while blue skies can look amazing to the naked eye, for me it doesn’t translate well to the camera. ¬†In a photo, blue skies do nothing for me especially if they occupy a majority of the photo. ¬†On the other hand, clouds add drama and draw your attention. ¬†Sunsets and sunrises, without clouds for the sun to poke through, are not interesting. ¬†Again, this is just my opinion… ¬†The photo at left, IB Sunset #3, was taken from the southern¬†side of the beach. ¬†It was shot with an¬†EF 24-105mm lens at f/4 L IS USM,¬†f/10, 1/160 sec, focal length 28mm, and ISO 100.

Morning Walk

Another thing I like about Imperial Beach is that it’s not crowded for the most part. ¬†Sure you’ll run in to plenty of people in the summer, or when there is a local festival, but it’s still possible to get candid shots like this just about any morning you visit. ¬†Many mornings it’s also easy to shoot the surfers from the pier who line up nearby to catch waves. ¬†While on the pier, there are plenty of birds, people fishing, and the pier itself that can make excellent subjects. This photo, Morning Walk, was shot from above on the IB pier one morning with an¬†EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM lens at f/8, 1/200 sec, focal length 300mm, and ISO 100. ¬†People come here in the mornings to walk the beach like this man, but also to jog or just sit in the sand and listen to the waves. ¬†Everything in this photo just looks peaceful to me, and that’s why I like IB in the mornings, it is just like this photo, peaceful.

Birds of a Feather

Like most piers, pigeons and seagulls are everywhere and sometimes they make great subjects. Because these birds are very accustomed to people you don’t always need a long lens to catch them. ¬†This photo, Birds of a Feather, is kind of a typical IB day but instead of focusing on the people, I chose the birds. ¬†This photo was taken¬†with an EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM lens at f/8, 1/320 sec, focal length 300mm, and ISO 100. This photo is one of the reasons I keep going back to Imperial Beach because it’s not difficult to find an interesting subject. ¬†The below photo, My Kind of Beach, represents a fairly busy day at IB and this is why I like it most, it’s still not too congested on busy days. ¬†My Kind of Beach, was taken with an EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM lens at¬†f/5, 1/500 sec, focal length 110mm, and ISO 100.

Imperial Beach seems like it gets overlooked by tourists but locals obviously get the attraction. As for being the beach that is low key compared to the others, that may change soon. ¬†As for now, I sometimes go to IB with no camera and my kids to just walk in the surf and have a blast. ¬†IB is definitely worth the stop and if you’re looking to capture¬†an easy sunset photo this is the place! ¬†If you just want to chill out, take in the scenes and sounds, this is the place. ¬†Sure, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and Coronado are all amazing places to visit and I do like them. ¬†But for the moment, until the commercialism sets in and ruins IB’s atmosphere, that’s where you’ll find me.

My Kind of Beach