Saturday, June 9, 2012

Westwood, California

Corner Burger Stand
Young's Super Market

While staying with family at Lake Almanor, we decided to have breakfast in Westwood.  Westwood is a former wood mill town, the mill closed many years ago.  There isn't much to do in a town like this.

To be honet, the breakfast place had good food, but the service left a lot to be desired.  Other than the cooks in the kitchen, the staff consisted of one waitress and one person cleaning up the tables (and the person doing the cleaning was an older woman).

Going back to lack of things to do, the waitress and the older lady started to talk after our food had been delivered to our table.  The main topic of converstation was about the local High School Football coach telling the community that he was retiring.  Both of the women seem rather upset about his decision.  To further their dispair, the assistant coach of the team was also leaving.

At this point, I'm starting to wonder a number of things.  I suspect that High School Football is a big deal in this town since it is the only way a young man is going to be able to get out of there.  I also got the impression that the waitress had sons, close to the age of which she wanted more for them outside of Westwood.  She struck me as a true local who probably married her High School sweetheart, and I'm willing to bet that he was a local football star too.  At this point, it dawns on me, is there no other man in town that is capable of being the new coach??  And if anyone was interested in the job, would the town support him?  I suspect that the answer would be no.

In the meantime, I'm looking out the window, watching the world of Westwood go by.  Diagonal to the breakfast place, someone was setting up a burger stand.  This seemed to be small town escapism at its best.  I mean, what better place to hang out on a warm summer night to forget your small town woes?  Across the street is the local super market.  In a world of big name super markets, it was nice to see a local place still open.  I believe that the folks who work there know who is a local and who is just rolling through town.

Westwood reminds me of all that is good about small town America.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Road Trip

After a year in Iraq, I finally was able to start my vacation to California. Instead of taking the easy way and flying, I opted to drive with a friend of mine.

Our journey started on Saturday the 18th of December and ended on Tuesday the 21st of December. We started in Fort Stewart, Georgia and ended in Sacramento, California.

I was amazed and saddened at what I saw along the way. I was amazed because there was so many places that I had not seen in person before. Some places, like Memphis, were a bit of a disappointment. Other places, like Amarillo, were amazing. I was sad because there were so many places along the way that were abandoned or falling apart. Houses, businesses, you name it, it was out there. I often thought; how many dreams had been lost over the years? Did people lose their homes or business because they had no money? How come the places that had fallen apart were never demolished and were allowed to stand there?

It was nice to connect with places I'd only heard of or read about. I wish I'd been able to take more photos along the way. I was pretty happy with some of the shots I got with my 4th generation iTouch. Overall, I think there is something to be said about driving across the country.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rediscovering my pictures

I recently discovered that I had packed away a small external hard drive that had some pics from the 2007 and 2008 Monterey Historics. So, I plugged it into my laptop (MacBook by the way) and went through the pictures. I had put the pictures on the hard drive so that I could post them to my other website, the one featuring pics from the races I'd gone to.

I am often amazed at some of the pictures I've taken, especially at the races. I came upon this picture of a 1973 Chevron B23. I won't bore you with details of the car. It was the simple fact that I hadn't really looked at a lot of the pics from the 2008 Monterey Histroics (which is when this pic was taken), other than when selecting a new desktop background for my laptop.

The lesson is (or was): Sometimes we don't know how decent of a photographer we really are until we look at some of the things we did in the past with our camera(s). Sure, friends and family are going to tell you that you have a gift. Lets face it, we don't always believe it. This was a nice lesson to learn, and I thought I would share it with you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Art, Architecture & Photography

Before I go full-on into this blog, let me take a moment to thank all of the visitors to my blog as well as the folks who are my friends on Blogspot (all 7 of them). Thank you for your support!

Recently, someone asked me about my sudden interest in art (or words to that effect). Truth be told, I've always liked art. My earliest memory (which really happened when I was in High School) about art was when I bought a copy of a book called Nagel: The Art of Patrick Nagel. This stemmed from his artwork being used on Duran Duran's "Rio" album cover. His artwork seemed to fit in the image of the 1980's, especially since that was part of the "Miam Vice" era, with its use of pastel colors balanced against the Miami nights.

At the same time, I also became aware of architecture, taking 2 classes in drafting in High School. I had hopes of being an architect, but math was never my best subject. I've always been interested in the design of things; homes, buildings, motorcycles (the classic Interceptor/VFR 750 by Honda remains my favorite), bridges, cars (especially later on in life when I got bit by the "racing bug" and would pour over details about a race car design, trying to guess just what the aerodynamics group was thinking), spacecraft (the Apollo/Saturn V rockets that took man to the moon and the Space Shuttle) , airplanes (I used to build model planes and would read books about all sorts of military aircraft to understand what the plane was being used for) and rapid transit systems (be it the Bay Area Rapid Transit trains in the San Francisco Bay Area or the Monorail used in Disneyland/Disney World). To me, all of those things are works of art in their own unique way.

And now photography. Photography for me is almost a borderline obsession. It didn't use to be that way, honestly. Early on, I was content to walk around and just take pictures, just for the sake of the memory of the place or the moment. The technical side of it, proper lighting, the right f/stop or shutter speed, making sure you had the ISO set correctly on the film cameras that didn't read the ISO off the film canister, a lot of that stuff never came into my mind. Even after taking one class in B&W photography at a local community college (where we had to spend time in the library looking for inspiration, go out and shoot, then process the film and make prints in the dark room), the technical side still did not make a bit of difference to me. I took a break from photography (sort of) in the mid-1990s until 2003. 2003 was when I really caught the "racing bug" after I attended my first race at Laguna Seca to watch the ChampCar series (I watch racing on TV, but actually being at the races is something else). I finally went digital in 2004, spurred on by 30 rolls of ruined film from my first trip to the 12 Hours of Sebring (which was an expensive bullet to bite). And this is where the obsession took hold. I went to a lot of races, always with my camera in tow, spending most of my time at Laguna Seca, with some trips to Infineon Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point) in Sonoma, a street race in downtown San Jose, CA for the ChampCar race, two trips to Sebring, one trip to Indy (for the ill-fated USGP F1 race), and now two trips to Roebling Road (a tidy little track about an hour from me).

Oddly enough, it was at that last visit to Roebling Road where I felt that the "racing bug" had just about run its course through my veins. Or maybe it was more of the need to take a break taking pictures at races and find something new to shoot. I found what I was looking for in downtown Savannah, especially the historic district, Charleston (in South Carolina) and Tybee Island. Everytime I've gone to Savannah, I've found something new to see and take pictures of. The hard part is that, well, everyone has taken pictures here, so it's a matter of trying to see things in a different way, or to shoot them in a different way (B&W versus color or an angle that maybe hasn't been tried before, but even that line of thinking doesn't always work). Originally, when I first arrived in the Savannah area in October of 2008, I resisted buying any kind of artwork from local artists, mostly because their photography or paintings served as a reminder to me of what had already been seen and done, and that sort of took the wind out of my creative sails. But I've changed my mind about that when I bought a nice 8x10 replica painting while in Charleston. For me that painting reminds me of what can be achieved, be it in a painting or a photograph. I also had a pleasant conversation with a watercolor artist at his gallery located in the City Market area of Savannah. We talked about how people see different things in paintings, especially in the early part of the creative process. He was working on a new watercolor painting in his studio, and a woman had said she had seen the face of a child on the canvas, but I had seen the sun coming through spanish moss hanging off of branches of a yet undefined tree branch.

What stands out to me now in this Low Country (or Coastal Empire, take your pick) is the history of the area, and the efforts to keep that history alive as long as possible. It is no surprise to me that one day a lightbulb went off in my head and I decided to do a couple of things. 1) I decided to plant my roots in the Savannah area. 2) I decided to go after a double major with the Savannah College of Art and Design, one in photography and the other in historical preservation. To me, the two go hand in hand. I want to document the restortation and preservation of the area. Consider it a calling if you will, because that's what it feels like to me. I look forward to taking up the challenge of that double major since I know that I want to be a part of something bigger than me, and I've found it here in Savannah.

BTW, the "racing bug" still is part of me, but it will return in full-force when the time is right.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tybee Island

My first trip to Tybee Island. Very nice area with beautiful beaches. Did climb 176 steps to the top of a lighthouse. Managed to snap some pics from up there before my fear of heights got the better of me.