May 30, 2009

Minor Adventures

The Salton Sea used to be a dry basin, turned into a lake by the flooding of the Colorado River in 1902. In the 1920's it started developing into a tourist attraction, and by the 50's it was a hopping place. That didn't last. The lake's main source of water inflow is agricultural runoff and the extremely polluted New River. Its salinity level is higher than sea water. Algal blooms, massive fish and bird die-offs spelled the end of the Salton Sea vacation paradise.

There is an excellent and fascinating documentary film, narrated by John Waters, Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea. Ever since I saw it I wanted to see the place for myself. So I did.

It was just a quick, 2-day trip. I took the long and dull Hwy 134-210-10 route to Indio where I got promptly lost. I have no sense of direction. Eventually I got on the right direction. On the first day I drove all around it, but took only a few pictures. On the second day I went back partially and took more pictures at Mecca.

At first look the beach seems idyllic, however the photo doesn't convey the smell that hit me as soon as I got near the shore - a mix of rotten eggs and manure. I discovered the source of manure: industrial scale cow farm on the East shore. Wherever I stopped there were mostly gutted and boarded up buildings. The fancifully named Bombay Beach looked like a third world trailer park. I didn't take pictures there, it felt wrong, vulturish.

I headed home, but instead of the freeway I opted to take the scenic route part of the way. It probably added another two hours to the trip but was well worth it. I took Hwy 74 to the 243 and from there up to the 10. It was a fun drive up and down of windy 2-lane roads through the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains.

I stopped at a view point to take a look at Coachella Valley bellow. It was interesting how the vegetation changed as I was driving along. At first there were sparse anemic grasses clinging to rocks, but then it turned into short brighter green conifers further in the mountains. In the valley there was a sparse forest of tall pine trees, and by the time 74 hit 243 it was a dense forest made up of a wide variety of trees and shrubs. As I got closer to Banning and the 10, it was sparse grasses again.

At the start of 243 I found Idyllwild, an intriguing little town nestled in the forest. Right along the road I saw the most unusual sculpture garden. Apparently it is the outdoor studio of the local artist who carves sculptures from tree trunks of all sizes. There were assorted pieces around at varying states of (in)completion.

May 21, 2009

New Medium

The other day I had a brilliant idea: There should be a photo competition exclusively for iPhone photographs. I turns out it already exists. (Go me.) Then I started thinking about how this is the time of transition when one medium takes over from the other.

In 2008 Polaroid announced that they would stop producing their iconic instant cameras and films.

Polaroid has gone the way of Kinko's, type writer, and carbon paper - its primary cause for existence usurped by the advance of technology. Nowadays you don't even have to have a camera, just a phone to take "instant" photos, and then you can send them to your friends, upload them to the internet, unleash them in the digital alternate universe. The tactile is replaced by the ethereal.

My Polaroid cameras will make nice bookends. One they I'll tell little children that people used to use them to make photographs. They'll be rolling their eyes.

Meanwhile here is the first installment of my iPortfolio. Three categories are presented at this time.

Landscape / Nature



May 13, 2009

Fun with Photos

I love these 60's color photos, but sometimes the color shift in them - usually towards magenta - bothers my photographic sensibilities.

I recall my college days, when it took a color photo around 12 minutes to wind its way through the developing machine. Many hours were spent in the photo lab inhaling chemical fumes. Fortunately it's all Photoshop now.

After adjusting the color I also punched up contrast, saturation and sharpened the image a little. It looks more realistic, but to be honest, I prefer the softer middle image.

Some images are so far beyond repair, that you might as well just go nuts with them.

The main feature of this photo the identical green dresses of the girls, so I made them extra saturated, while desaturating the flesh tones.

Here you have it. The leprechaun family got a new home.

May 4, 2009

The Lonely Childhood of Mr. Spock

These are photos of the young Vulcan with his human adoptive parents, Dr. and Mrs. Spock. Dr. Spock later published a memoir of his experiences of raising a Vulcan child. Unfortunately many readers mistook it for a child care manual.

These photos were taken just days before a fateful trip to visit Grandma Spock at the Naples Land Yacht Harbor and Mobile Home Community in Florida. (More about this at a later date.)

Nanu-nanu... Err... Live long and Prosper.

May 3, 2009

Electric Refrigerator Recipes and Menus

I picked up this beauty for a quarter at the flea market.

"Recipes prepared especially for
the General Electric Refrigerator


Principal of Miss Farmer's School of Cookery,
Cooking Editor of Woman's Home Companion,
Author of: Cooking for Profit, Candy Cook
Book, For Luncheon and Supper Guests"


Is she holding a jello? What is it, strawberry or pickled beets? I wonder.

I always thought that people who had afternoon bridge parties had hired help to take care of the sandwiches and other refreshment.