The Gold in Golden Gate

The Golden Gate at Dusk

The Golden Gate

Yesterday afternoon I had the crazy idea of making a panoramic photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge as dusk was taking over.  It is rare to find the bridge clear of fog, and last evening was just one of those nights.  I pitched the idea to my four assistants and at first they were lukewarm to the idea, as it required a little bit of a hike.  However after a little cajoling and the promise of being able to romp on a beach they have never been to before sealed the deal.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to bring along the distractions that follow them in making sure they stay safe, but nothing is as precious as their company.

I don’t have much more to say right now, other than enjoy this photo.  Here in California, even the man made stuff looks pretty darn nice.


P.S. I also photographed the bridge on three 4x5 transparencies which will be stitched into a panorama as well.  I’ll post it when it becomes available.

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Alone Again – But in Good Company

This is the followup to last night’s moon sighting trip. Only this time no one was with me, well not entirely true as I had two of my usual four assistants with me. It did not take us long to see the moon and as always it was stunning.

No noise, no distractions, not even a breeze rustling the grass. All we heard were the faint screes of red-tailed hawk in the distance. We stayed nearly 45 minutes watching the moon slowly sink in the sky and vanish below the horizon.

We bid farewell to Ramadan, a most blessed time of the year, and hoped that we would live long enough to host it once again in our lives.

To all my Muslim readers I wish all of you a heartfelt Eid Mubarak!

Oh yeah… the moon.

Crescent Moon of Shawwal 1432

Shawwal 1432

Peace to you All.

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New Year Moon – Muharram 1432

The new Islamic Year has commenced. The year 1432 on the Islamic calendar began for me just about 1 hour ago here on the West coast of the United States in the San Francisco Bay Area. The new moon was seen by myself and three of my children, all future moon sighters, God Willing, the youngest being only 4 years old.

Muharram 1432

Muharram Crescent 1432

As usual, my youngest had a hard time seeing it at first, but then finally asked “does it look like a little hair?” To which I replied “yes” and she gleefully said “I see it!”  A moon sighter in the making, I’d say.

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The Last Of Winter

On Wednesday afternoon I decided to take a hike on the very last day of winter. The buzz is that the wildflower bloom this year is early with flowers blooming up and down the state, maybe not as extensive as in years past but definitely blooming. On a good year, Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, the place where photography first took hold in my heart, is THE wildflower location on the San Francisco Peninsula and I wanted to see if anything had started there.

It was a day where you did not know where you ended and the sky began. The air was so soothing that you could not tell that you were actually outdoors. It was perfect. As I hiked along I realized the flowers were nowhere to be found. But nonetheless, the hike was great and the scenery, as always, was comforting.

At about one mile into my hike I detoured and headed to the ancient oak grove that resides on Russian Ridge. As I approached the grove, the sun was getting close to the horizon and I realized that this was the very last day of winter – March 19th, 2009. It was as perfect a sunset as one could hope for.

Winters Last Sunset

Winter's Last Sunset

I then noticed this live oak basking in the last rays of the winter’s sun. It was backlit and was poised against a distant hill that was in the shadows. It immediately caught my eye and I dropped my pack and pulled out the Large Format camera and began to work. Once I finished I also captured this image digitally as this oak was still waiting to leave. Still in its winter slumber, the early warm temperatures and life giving rains were not enough to coax the leaves to come out – but I am sure they will be out to play in the sun very soon.

Waiting To Leave

Waiting To Leave

I then turned to the sun, that golden warm torch in our sky as it sank lower in the western sky I waited until it was just moments away before it bid us, and winter, a farewell and tripped the shutter once more.

Last Moments of Winter

Last Moments of Winter

Then I just stood there and watched the sun slowly vanish beneath the horizon – silently and without any fanfare. And suddenly, the last of winter was gone.

The air, laden with moisture, began to chill as the cold wind off the Pacific raced up the canyons and ravines filling it with a delicate mist that began to enshroud the mountains below me in mystery. Mixed with the final rays of the sun, the mountains blushed as Spring began knocking on the door asking to be let in.

Blushing In Pink

Blushing In Pink

Light has always amazed me. It is everywhere in our world as it surrounds us, but at the same time it is invisible until it interacts with the objects in front of us. Then those objects reveal their many shades, tainted if you will, by the light that showers them. Sometimes they glow while other times they come on harshly and force us to look away as if they are trying to tell us to leave them alone. No matter what however, without light they could not manifest themselves for us to see. Without light we would be in perpetual darkness, lost without direction or the courage to step forward. Blinded and bereft of the beauty that appears due to light’s countenance. As spring is now upon us, the days will soon be vibrant with new life basking in the warm light and calling us to come out and play. Let us join the beams of light as they mingle with the Earth and be happy, we all need that.

Peace – Youssef

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When Photography Doesn’t Happen

I went out today to photograph a seasonal waterfall in one of the lesser known and traveled canyons of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I had discovered this waterfall in the dry early autumn while leading a workshop through that very canyon.  A ravine termineated at this rcocky drop off and it seemed at the time that if there was enough water flowing in that ravine, a nice waterfall could develop.  So after a couple of weeks of pretty consistent rainfall here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I decided to go out and try my luck with that waterfall.

Well I was right on the money with that terminated ravine becoming a waterfall, although only a small ribbon of a falls, not enough rain yet.  As I set up the camera and prepared to focus it, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my focusing loupe!!!  I was using it in my studio this past week to critically check tranperancies for focus on my light table.  And so it was near impossible to focus the large format camera.  I did my best and then stopped down the aperture to f/90!  This required an exposure time of — 8 minutes!

So for the rest of the afternoon, I was an observer.  Unable to record the light that I saw accurately, I let my eyes, mind and heart record the glorious light that filtered into the canyon and danced with the green ferns, tall redwoods and bare red alders.  And later as I drove along the coast, watching the sun play hide and seek between the clouds with rainbows appearing periodically as cloud bursts occured all along the coast.  The sea was tumultuous with small breakers peppering the surface of the Pacific for as far as the eye could see and it glowed with a luminance that was nearly indescribable.  A truly memorable day that has sparked a longing to return very soon to capture that light forever.

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