Mike Dillon's view of the urban landscape
Whether in San Francisco or far away, in your hometown or the town that feels like home, relaxing indoors or out on an adventure, may your holidays be filled with the joy of family, old friends, new friends, or people you haven’t even met yet. I hope everyone finds a bit of joy of your own and a way to share that joy with someone else.
Merry Christmas, and happy holidays, no matter what you prefer to celebrate. 🙂
(Shot on Tri-X 35mm, pushed to 1600 and stand developed. Who says film can’t keep up at night?)
A ghost of the past, the eloquently named Communications Control Link Station stands as the only shelter on a foggy, rainy night, high above the Haʻikū Valley on Oahu. Technically illegal to reach, and accessed by a strenuous pre-dawn climb up a series of ship ladders bolted to the valley walls, the hike to the top is not for everyone, but if you dare to climb, you’ll be rewarded in the end.
Having started at 2am to avoid any complications reaching the site, I was left with quite a bit of time to hang out in the CCL station, waiting for sunrise with a crew of compatriots from all ages and walks of life. From the travelers like myself who didn’t want to miss this on our visit, to the local who claimed to enjoy a morning run up the stairs several times a week, carrying bags to haul down any trash she might find on her way out, everyone I met at the top was cheerful, appreciative, and respectful of the site.
Years after my visit, and over a decade since the stairs were intended to be opened to the public, this amazing hike remains officially off limits, threatened by government bureaucracy and NIMBY neighbors preventing development of legal access routes. There has been talk for years of opening up access for a fee or else tearing the stairs down entirely at great cost, but little seems to have changed. For now, there remain two options to access this treasure: hike the legal back way from the Moanalua Valley, or take your chances at finding a route to the bottom of the stairs and getting there before the guard shows up for duty. I will refrain from making any specific recommendations here, but if you do make it to the stairs, climb carefully, and be sure to enjoy the moment; It’s truly something special.
I hope someday to hear that the access issues have been resolved and a legal means of visiting these public lands initiated, but given the pace of things so far, I won’t hold my breath.
The ghosts of old San Francisco are out there. If you keep your eyes open, you might just catch a glimpse. Happy Halloween!
Day 260: September 17, 2014: Twin Peaks
I suspect that this expired roll of Velvia probably spent a good portion of its life in a hot car in the Washington desert. While that’s not usually the best way to treat your film, it has resulted in some interesting purple tones in this particular roll. It doesn’t work for everything, but I do like the way it accentuates the weirdness in these unusual low clouds. Overall, good for sunrise and sunset, not as good for most else… Unfortunately, this was also the only roll I had, so I can’t use this information doesn’t do me much good for the future. However, if you happen to have an abused roll of Fuji Velvia 50 laying around, maybe you’ll find some use in my random experiment. 🙂
For reference, this was taken at sunset, so it’s pretty far off from the reds and oranges that you would expect at that time.
(Expired Fujifilm Velvia 5o slide film, exposed 1.3 seconds at sunset in a Canon EOS 3)
Day 249: September 6, 2014: Lombard Street
Late night on Lombard Street in San Francisco, shot on Fuji Provia 400x slide film using a little Olympus point and shoot. I must say I’m pretty impressed how well these worked out, considering the darkness and the general sensitivity of slides to getting the exposure just perfect. It’s just too bad that Fuji killed off this film, the last most sensitive lower light slide film around, shortly after I picked up this roll. 🙁
Day 239: August 27, 2014: Market Street
Midweek, mid-afternoon, mid-Market, many months ago. I certainly do hope I looked good in that guy’s shot.
Kodak TMAX 100 with a Canon EOS 650 from Urban Ore
Despite what our warm, dry, climate changified summer might lead you to believe, the fog is still here. Don’t call it a comeback.
Somewhere near the Tourist Club, some time ago, with some super expired Kodak Max 400 that was donated to me by someone.
6th Street, San Francisco. Mid-Market at mid-afternoon. Cop cars and graffiti artists. Dead end.
(Canon Sureshot A1 and Kodak Ektar 100 film)
One hundred and some miles past the last open gas station, 20 miles past the last closed gas station, 10 miles past the end of the pavement, and hours since seeing much but an occasional ranch house and sagebrush extending to the horizon, I rounded a bend just before sunset to come upon this unique and oh so welcome scene.
The Alvord Desert, middle of nowhere Oregon. Here, you’ll find abundant free camping under the stars, miles from anyone, assuming you choose a trail that your vehicle can make it down safely. The trails and desert conditions vary by season, becoming more muddy with runoff from Steens Mountain in the spring and gradually drying out over the summer. It’s generally best to stay south of the hot springs, where the northern “lake” portion started to get muddy even during this trip in late June. Should you be driving something without high ground clearance, take a moment to find one of the smoother trails down. Many miles from any cell service is not the best place to find yourself in need of a rescue.
Once you make it onto the lake bed, choose your favorite spot amongst the miles of sprawling desert, and the rest is up to you. As the sun receded over the mountain in the distance, the buzzing of racing motorcycles faded away in the distance and a few camp fires emerged miles across the lake to far to hear a sound. The desert gradually faded to absolute peaceful silence, lit brightly by the waxing moon, which itself eventually settled behind the horizon, clearing the sky for the Milky Way, Venus, Jupiter, and an abundance of meteors to stage an impressive show above the desert floor.
It goes to show, if you just take the time to go around enough corners, there will eventually be something exciting waiting just around the next bend. 🙂