The Signs of Willows

Willows, CA is not a city that I can highly recommend.  As far as I can tell, its outstanding feature is its location equidistant from San Diego and Seattle.  Also, they have great locally-produced commercials for Ray’s Liquor.  This is big-sky country.  Not like Montana, I suppose, but still, it’s all flat land and clouds.  And signs.  The kind you can see from the interstate.  From my room at the Travelodge, here is the view:

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Got to have a Denny’s, right?  This isn’t some backwater.

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Oh wait… they have a KFC.  It might be a backwater.

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Have you ever seen the Golden Arches glow more than in the fading light of day?

Wall, Sky, Trees

I posted this a little while ago, and while I do find some of the sculptures in the Seattle Sculpture Park nice to look at and all, I find myself mostly drawn to the things around them rather than the sculptures themselves.  For example, taking a picture of the Eagle is much more interesting to me when done at night with the Space Needle behind it, a train in front, and a plane overhead.

So here I am, back at the Sculpture Park and instead of shooting the sculptures, I’m shooting the wall again.  I really like the lines – what can I say?  I do think the merits of this one are the sky above and the organic shadows of the trees showing you what you can’t see.  Here it is.

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Sky Above, Concrete Below

The Seattle Sculpture Garden is thankfully within walking distance from my work.  A great place to browse, watch the security guards watching you, etc.  They’ve got some good stuff (although it rarely to never changes) but every time I go, I can’t help but look at those walls framing everything.

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I’m always trying to find a way to get a picture of those lines, those shadows.  Usually I try and fill the whole frame with it and it never works.  This one I like better.  Sky!  Who woulda known?

Windmills of South Point

South Point in Hawaii is a pretty barren place.  I’m not gonna say “no man’s land” because it’s gorgeous, pastoral, and picturesque.  But when I posted the boat hoists, I did mention the wind – you’re not gonna miss the wind.  Most of the pictures of my wife involve her cupping her hands around her eyes to keep the blowing dust out.  Clearly, this wasn’t lost on some people:

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On the 12 mile road from belt road to the point, you pass several banks of windmills.  These are some of the older and smaller ones.  The missing blades and patina of rust makes it pretty clear that these aren’t newly installed as some recent jump to green energy.  These have been here.  There are some newer windmills you can’t get as close to.  They’re larger and look more modern.  These had more character.

Interestingly enough, I took a few HDRs of these.  When I was editing the pictures I put them together and really didn’t think they gained much from it.  A good note on HDR is that unless you have really dynamic lighting that has a lot of bright and dark spots in the same photograph, you don’t gain as much from it.  These shots do have some shadows and blown out spots, but I like this effect just as much.

The other important thing to point out is one item you just can’t do without in Hawaii, or anywhere else where you shoot a lot of sky and water – a polarizing filter.  In this modern world of digital cameras and Photoshop, most on-camera filters have fallen by the wayside.  You can do many things after the fact, but polarizing the image isn’t one of them.  A polarizing filter removes reflections from shiny objects, like metal and water.  This means if you want to see the fish in the water, you can.  It also means you can remove reflections of people from building windows.  At the same time, it can turn your blue sky into a much more intense blue.  The downside is that they eat some amount of your light, so I only use them in bright and sunny places.  When I go to Hawaii, the polarizer goes on and rarely comes off.  The blue sky in this picture really pops from the filter, not from what I did after the fact.

Back To Gas Works

When I had all the time in the world, I used to drive around Seattle every day looking for pictures to take.  Just because you have time doesn’t mean you can find them.  No matter how many times I go, however, Gas Works Park always has something.  Yesterday, it was this:

Coal Gas Tower at Gas Works Park

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The rust, the rivets!  I never get tired of it.  Shooting this one up against an overcast but bright sky, it was a bit hard to get the tower to stand out without washing out the sky, so I went back to my pseudo-HDR style to pull things apart.  I’m sure there are other ways to get the same effect, but once you’ve got this one sorted out, it’s really fast and easy.

Sponsorship In Calm Seas

One more for you from the same day as this.  Wide angle lens from the bottom of the mast.  I have a few under sail that had a great swoopy motion to them, but this one… the clouds!


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The Budweiser Select sponsorship on the sail sort of cracks me up.  Not only do you not see it when you’re on the boat, but I don’t even know what Budweiser Select is.  If ever a misnomer there was, this is it.