Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Colors of Home

The Colors of Home

The Colors of Home

If you told me you had a great photo opportunity that included a burned out cinder block structure, lots of ambient sodium vapor light, and some very prominent spray-painted graffiti, my response wouldn’t reflect much enthusiasm for the subject.  I’d be thinking to myself, “Too modern.  Sounds ugly and without charm.  Talk about a list of things I try to avoid in my choice of subjects–especially the graffiti.”
Except for the occasional boxcar mural (which was probably painted elsewhere), graffiti in the desert usually appears to be the work of a monkey with a spray can–random lines, scrawled initials, or adolescent mad-libs in the form <person you know> is a <body part>.  But I felt quite differently when I came across this location on a daylight scouting foray.  I thought the graffiti and more modern structure worked together, and I loved the dry wit of the “Home Sweet Home” as a caption for the scene.  When I came back that night, the ambient light remained a problem, but I tried to turn it into a strength by adding red-gelled light to the pink cinder block, and lime-green to the empty windows.  For me, the lighting combination resulted in a lurid, slightly queasy look for the house that contrasts with the dark blue sky and plays well with the sarcasm of the tagging.
Of course, I know you may not agree.  In that case, feel free to complete this mad lib: <photographer’s name> is a <synonym for person who shows poor artistic judgment>.

 

Tech Notes

133 seconds @ f/8; ISO 200; 18mm; red and lime gelled strobe; lots of xenon flashlight

Posted in Uncategorized

Nothing To Declare

abandoned California agricultural inspection station; Yermo, CA

abandoned California agricultural inspection station; Yermo, CA

All of the major highways into California have an agricultural inspection station. “Border Protection Stations” is what the state officially calls them. (Cue the theme to Dragnet.)  Traffic is funneled past uniformed officers who inquire as to whether you have any produce obtained out of state.  The point of these stations is to intercept and prevent insects and other pests (the state’s melodramatic term: “invasive species”) that might damage California crops from entering the state.

When I was a kid and we were returning from our periodic out-of-state camping trips, we passed through these stations.  I didn’t know about agricultural pests then, and had no idea what the point of these stops was.  I only knew that very official-looking uniformed officers were asking my father questions about the contents of our vehicle, and he was expected to answer.  It was easy to imagine we were smugglers moving through customs with our illicit cargo cleverly hidden, never to be detected.  The long road trips were a little more fun with these flights of fancy.

Nowadays, these stops are more of a minor annoyance, breaking my 70+ mph pace down the interstate.  Still, as I inch the truck forward in the line of traffic toward that uniformed officer, I glance down at the Nevada-purchased banana on the seat beside me.  As I eye my bright yellow contraband, a little of that childhood fantasy creeps up on me, and I do what any good smuggler on the verge of detection would do—I eat the evidence.

 

Tech Notes

 76 seconds @ f/8; ISO 200; 21 mm; LOTS of xenon flashlight on structure and foreground

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Sometimes, It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Good

A BNSF freight train headed east into the Mojave from Yermo, CA.

A BNSF freight train headed east into the Mojave from Yermo, CA.

I didn’t get out of the car expecting to take this picture. My intended subject was a billboard on the other side of the railroad berm. (The Duck in It’s All About Timing on 10/23.) I’d walked perhaps 15 yards from the truck to this spot when I saw the train headlight in the distance. It wasn’t moving fast, but it was obviously coming my way, and what with how much bigger it was than me, it seemed a good idea to wait for it to pass before attempting to scramble up the berm, cross two sets of tracks, and then shimmy down the other side with an armload of camera gear in the dark.

When the locomotive turned a minor bend in the tracks I saw the possibility for this shot. There wasn’t much time to compose, and no time at all for a test shot, so I hastily dialed in my default settings, looked quickly through the eyepiece, and opened the shutter, hoping for the best. As the train rumbled by, I stared transfixed at the scale and the power of the big iron beast. When I heard the shutter close, I previewed the results to see what I got–much like a kid looking in his Halloween bag after leaving the first door of the night. And like that kid, when I saw the unexpectedly generous treat in the bag, I vowed to continue my quest all night long. It was another one of those moments when it was better to be lucky than good.

Tech Notes

93 seconds @ f/8; ISO 200; 35mm; moonlight only

 

Posted in Uncategorized

It’s All About Timing

The Duck

 

To take this picture, I set up my tripod on a rutted dirt track that paralleled the railroad berm that rose about 10 yards behind me.  I completed a test shot, studied the result, and paused to consider a change of angle and composition.  My eyes were on the sign, the sky, and the foreground.  My attention was drawn to a mechanical sound approaching from my right.  It seemed out of place.  It wasn’t a train.  Perhaps it was a truck on the rarely used Yermo Road, another 20 yards past the railroad tracks.  As I turned my attention from the visual to the aural, trying to interpret the growing sound, a light suddenly blinded me from the right.  In an instant, a helmeted rider on a quad was racing down on me.

I snatched the tripod and stepped back just as he screamed past.  I gasped involuntarily, and my heart was racing.  He never showed any sign of slowing.  I don’t know if he ever saw me.  I can only hope that beneath that full coverage helmet, his face was pasty white, and his breath was coming in short bursts.  I’d hate to think I was the only one scared out of his wits.  It wasn’t anybody’s fault.  Neither of us had any reason to expect the other to be on that narrow, decrepit track in the dark of night.  Whether the story ended with a hit or a miss came down to split-second timing.  Just like so many things in photography.

Tech Notes

90 seconds @ f/8; ISO 200; 24 mm; xenon flashlight on billboard

Posted in Uncategorized

Hello World!

Hello and welcome!  I’m Ron Pinkerton.  My passion is night photography and light painting in the Mojave Desert, and dejavue.us is where I share some of my better efforts and adventures in that pursuit.  As I write this, I have a to-do list that insures it will be many months before I feel like this site is ready for prime time.  Still, I tell myself, you’ve got to start somewhere.  That somewhere is here, and that time is now.  I hope that unfinished feeling will keep me working on improving the galleries, the writing, and the organization of the site, and doesn’t instead drive me slowly mad until I disappear into the desert one night and forget to return.  We’ll see–it could go either way.  Anyway, enough ranting.  Let’s look at some pictures!  Start by checking out the selections under Mojave Moon.

Posted in Uncategorized