I woke up to the oddest morning I think I have ever woken up to. The sky was a reddish orangey hue. I at first thought why is it so bright so early. So I dismissed it and went back to sleep. I woke up 30 minutes later and realized the time was still relatively early and what should be a blueish morning light as usual it was still this reddish orange glow. I was so confused. When I finally rolled out of bed, got ready and proper for work it was only then as I walked outside that I realized what was happening. A enormous fire that covered the sky above. The smoke so thick that it block all wavelengths of light shorter than RED. Just crazy. The streets and the whole area was cast in a red hue. It felt like red planet or some film with a dystopian future after a fall out. It also did not help the feeling with the streets being completely empty. I only managed to get one shot because I had to make my long commute to work. I really wanted to take time and get high and take a series of photos. As I drove westward the sky and light conditions became more normative. This is something I will not forget, this feeling of something serious off and eerie real when waking up.
The finished product. Not much more to say then what was said in the previous posts. I can not wait to make something else. Thinking of a foot stool from this broken block of wood I have and some 1/4″ piano wire. Who know what will be next though, there is too much I want to do.
What may have felt like years ago, perhaps it was, I made a bench / coffee table for a couple of friends. It took a day to complete and I gave it to them unfinished. No stain, wax, or other protective coating, I left it raw for them to do or not do as they saw fit. Suffice to say it stayed that way and over time with parties, food and drinks it got super dirty and eventually broke. It broke because I wanted the legs on one side to look as if it should not be stable or attached and likely to fall out. eventually they did with all the wear and tear. Eventaully I took the bench back with intention of cleaning it, fixing it and protecting it. The goal was to make it better than new and stronger than ever.
the key issue with the design was that there was no lateral bracing and the leg was mounted and in one direction. The solution was to add steel tabs to the legs and notch out the wood 90 degrees to the legs so that it can resist movement from either side. Tabs were cut and welded. The welds were ground down as low as I could. Next I marked the locations of the tabs on each piece of wood and proceeded to drill and notch out the wood. The goal when doing this was to not make them larger than it needed to be. The tighter the fit that more resistance and stable the legs would be. It took a couple of days to get the job down to satisfaction. Once everything was fitted I disassembled and set them out til I got to protecting them with a finish. The finishes were rather straight forward, the wood was finished with a polyurethane and the metal with a matte clear enamel. A few coats of each and it was set. I ended up also counter sinking the screws so that they would be flush and unseen when looking under. By the end it looked better than before as it got a bit darker and more defined. IT also needed up looking better in my friends place as it was closer in tone to their floors. The tabs worked great. There was no way the legs were coming off. The process it self was in total 4/5 days. but finding time to do this took months…but it all came out and its back where it belongs better than ever.
The very last stop of our little and long day trip was the northern coast of Salton Sea. The spot specifically that we went to was a site a bit further south than the place we had gone to the first time around. By this time it was not nearly as dark and close to sun setting as the first time around. However the sun was low enough that the color of light was spectacular. However I do not like the stark contrast to a certain degree the golden hour coloration compared to the cold blue atmosphere when you shoot north or south of the coast. This was fine for the most part. While here I mostly wanted to photography certain birds that proved more difficult than I would have thought. Typically I feel like you can get close to most birds and shoot fairly easily but here before your even with in 50 yrs of them they start moving away. It made me think that people come here, or in the near by area and shoot them and this is what they learned to do to survive that possibility. Over all I think these photos are my least favorite of the day but I do love the silhouettes of the birds against the golden skies. Even though I mentioned before I didn’t care for the contrast between the cool and warm photographs I must say after posting them and seeing the thumbnails next to eachother I sort of like the patch work quality of the photographs together as a collection.
On the way to Salvation mountain we passed by some defunct buildings that look to be of some interests. So on the way back we pulled off the road and stopped to check them out. there were four houses that were in great disarray and two warehouse buildings, one where the roof looked like it was torn off by a big monster and the other abandoned and littered with portable restrooms. The first building was completely open and torn apart. On its “interior” were a few pieces of graffiti that were pretty nice and vibrant. The color of the existing structure, graffiti and open air sky was pretty pleasant to be in.
Across the way was another building that seemed to be the storage where the first seemed to have been offices. The second building was just creepy. I was on high alert. Felt like at any moment something might sneak up on me or jump out. One of the first things of notice is the message on the door, “but you have to walk through it…” all I could say to that was no. further down was a larged opening where you can see all the portable restrooms. near all of them were closed. The surrounding area was so quite except for this noise. A noise that was being caused by the exterior metal panel hitting the frame of the building in the wind. It made the atmosphere so eerie. There were windows that were quite small and covered. It resulted it a yellowish glow inside. The one real window casts light upon the pile in the middle of the room. It was quite beautiful. I had a certain level of worry though as I walked around inside. I had that thought in the back of my mind that this was a bad horror movie and at any moment something terrible was going to happen. Nothing did of course. Though after investigating these warehouse type buildings we got back into the car and left. We dared not check the houses. We felt as though someone might be living in them. The last thing we wanted to was to stumble upon a meth-head squatter. All in the car we headed to our last stop before the long drive home.
Post Salvation Mountain we headed southwest to the wildlife reserve. It took far longer than anticipated because the road on the gps were not really roads…they were more like over glorified dirt paths for 4×4 trucks and tractors. The reserve was the southern section of the sea with man made wetlands. There was a greater variety of birds in the wetlands but to the north was the coast of the sea and a random dock or two where birds were chilling out. The coloration of the scene was fairly monochromatic and cool in color. This was quite different from the first time we had come here when everything was warm and color varied. I feel like I got some decent shoots of the birds activities but at the same time there was not much to shoot here. I would find a great number of targets to shoot later but it was not any easier shooting. These birds seem adverse to human presence, for which I do not blame them. At least they were cute.
Salvation Mountain was created by a single man over the course of 20+ years. He first constructed his mountain in concrete and after a relatively short amount of time it collapsed. He took this as a sign from god that he should build in a different way. So he used hay bails and adobe. Suffice to say it has stood the test of time and has worked rather well. The mountain is painted colorfully and adorn with positive messages of peace and love. It was truly amazing place. It is currently overseen and maintained by a non-profit. The space within the Mountain are so bright and colorful with such great density of timber and light from the random assortment of windows. It is awe inspiring. What the dedication of one man can do is something that really does inspire me and gives me hope that I need not need anything much more than personal belief and drive to do something.
Getting to the mountain was a car ride that I was glad to take in the back seat. Months ago I drove to north end of the Salton Sea and Joshua Tree which took forever. I was so beat after that drive I did not think that I would ever make the journey back. I was so happy and grateful that our friend drove us. Salvation Mountain is past the southern most tip of the Salton Sea. Its was bigger than expected and far more involved than I had imagined.
Photographing the interiors were a challenge because of the bright exterior light and rather dark interior spaces. It took a bit of work trying to get the levels in a good place. I tried to keep the colors as true and as vibrant I as could. This wonderful place need not any help being any more colorful and bright than it already was.
The surrounding rock and sand was almost of shale consistency and rather loosely packed. The dry warm weather was not too bad but it made being dust free and cool a bit of a challenge. It is crazy to think that I would be in this environment with a scarf and jacket…
I loved the being able to hike up and around the whole site getting various perspectives quite easily which I think gives a better understanding of the site in it’s entirety. Well hiking around the site I spotted water tank in the distance that looked to be adorn with graphics of some sort. We decided make the short hike over and see what it was exactly was over both these sizable tanks.
The first tank was interesting to say the least. It had pictured all these animals of various kinds as well as humanoid figures all par taking in sexual acts. One of the best parts of this was the somewhat creepy eyes that were given to some of the figures, dawning googly eyes or shards of broken glass. Also, i found it quite humorous that some of the characters had speech bubbles and in the bubbles were random alien languages to weird symbols to music notation. Within the take there was a makeshift shack. We would later run into its current resident who happen to be a man back packing. Also in residence were red ants that almost seemed to be everywhere.
The second tank was almost a polar opposite of the first. It seemed to have everything from the table of elements, physics formulas to a graphic and written history of the united states. The colors and illustrations were amazing. I enjoyed it much. In hindsight I wish I would have taken the time to have taken meticulous photos of both tanks and made a continuous looping panorama of each of the tanks. The second tank looked to have an underground bunker of shorts that looked very sketch. Our friend attempted to see inside but it was too tight and dark. A bit unsettling was the amount of empty shotgun cases on the ground.
Post tanks we hiked back to finish our visit of the mountain as well as our photographic documentation. We had lunch in the shade of one of the trucks. The break hit the spot and was nice to relax out of the sun before heading out to explore the south of the Salton Sea coast.
A group of us wanted to do a hike that did not fall into the usual suspects. Mount Baldy is relatively close, or so we thought, and was suppose to be a good place to hike in the non winter non snowy times. There were some options when it came to routes to take but most were very far with not much pay off it seemed. ironically enough the shortest hike/ destination was a water fall. After that it was the lodge from which you can than hike the ridge to the peak. Suffice to say we did not get to the lodge or the peak. There was not enough motivation to keep going post our lunch. which was held on path post the waterfall. Lunch was very enjoyable with the conversations we had. once packed up we did not get much further. We ended up stopping about mid way to the lodge. There was a trail we past that we ended up back tracking to. This path would take us to the lodge parking lot at the base of the mountain. From there we than walked back to the car on the road side.
Besides the waterfall there was not much to see in terms of variation of wildlife and animal life. I usually could find many things to photograph on hikes but this time not much of anything. it was nice and fresh and somewhat a bit cold but otherwise nice. Just not much visual interest.
Post hike and post getting back to the car we decided to grab a snack and some drinks at the local restaurant. It was in the center of this little town, across the street from the local church. The people within the restaurant and bar were somewhat eclectic. There seemed to be everything from the locals watching the game while with friends to Bikers in leather with their bikes out front all bling bling to us which i would say were probably the most out of place there. Not that is a bad thing. I ordered cider with whiskey and some pie, both of which were good. Though I would not say there were anything more than that. The place itself looked as if nothing had changed since 1954 or when ever it was built. Large moose head and other animals adorn the walls and a parquet floor with literally tin can colored lights. Pretty interesting place. Even though I didn’t have any real food some of it looked like it would be pretty good and it could feed a bear.
After spending what I think equated to a year of my life to a project I left it in a state in which I felt like it could not get better than what it was currently and where it has been. I pursued a personal thesis. Suffice to say once leaving I never wanted to go back and I also told myself when the time came and it was going to show and be open to the public I would not make the long journing to the OC. One because I was over the project and the second was that I just never drive to or through the OC because I get tickets when I leave Los Angeles.
After being convinced by a few individuals and not having to drive myself I caved and decided to check out the Solar Decathlon at the Great Park in Orange County. I did not know what to expect really other than the hype the OC Great Park people had stated would be hundreds of thousands of people would be in attendance. This didn’t turn out to be the case, and to a center extent I understand why. It is just so far and out of the way. We even had a hard time getting there because the signage was confusing. I feel like one of the worse things one can do is make something going to far and than making it difficult to find.
Once there we got ourselves a Vietnamese coffee from the farmers market that is usually there before walking over to taxi way where the houses were. At the park entrance there was a “Green” exposition. Here there were green products and technologies. The two most interesting there was an algae system and a aquaponics system that consisted of a fish tank that nitrogenated water for a growing bed above. Pretty cool stuff, but that was pretty much it.
The street of houses was something that I was almost dreading. I knew most of them already and there were not many I was interested in seeing really. I mostly was interested in what USC did as one of the head Professors of the project I had in my first year at SCI-Arc whom I collaborated with briefly on competitions so I had a feeling of what the project was going to be before it was even concieved. There were a few things I knew would be a part of the house and sure enough they were. Colors, Materials and Japanese Bathroom were the things I was looking for and found. Suffice to say I did like their house and it was done fairly well. I was glad I went because I ended up talking to Gary and caught up. It had been a long time and it was really nice catching up and seeing the house they put together and getting his feed back on politics of the world as it were.
The SCI-Arc house has issues to say the least and I wont go into them beyond the fact they used a pair of tongs to hold louvers in place were and actuator was missing. I was good seeing a couple of the old team members and hearing take on the outcome and stories. Though I was dreading it I was a bit glad I saw it.
My favorite house of them all though I would have to say was I think the Czech house. I just really loved the louvered canopy and wall enclosure that sat outside, above and around the house. The steel bracing and structure was just done really well and clean. The interiors were small but simple and nice. Though it was the Exterior space that did it for me.
I can never help myself from not doing any macro shots when shooting nature. I hate to say that I almost feel its hard to take a bad macro shots. My favorite images from this trip has to be the ones n this series and more specifically are the images of the ants on the orchid. It took me a bit of time to get decent enough shots. It was hard getting the ant in focus as a result of the shallow depth of field as well as trying just to be still enough since I did not have a tripod. I could have opened the aperture more but than I would have more problems maintaining a certain amount of clarity because movement would result in blurring. Either way I ended up with a some nice shoots that I am pleased with. I hope others enjoy them as well.