As the sunsets on on 2009 I look backwards through my camera at the the events and the photographs from the last twelve months. As far as 2009 goes I'll say this much overall it has been somewhat of a challenging year. Some "ups" some "downs", but through it all my motto has remained the same. Take a photo today, because it might be gone tomorrow! So before we call '09 a wrap I invite you to take a look at the way I saw things....and to cap it all off, I'm gonna end with a quote from one of my favorites.
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr Seuss
January started out with a bang!!! Just a few days after the new year rooled around I hopped a flight to the "Big Island" of Hawaii. Being my first visit to this tropical paradise, boy was I in for a surprize. The surprize came not only from the the beauty of the land, but from the quality of life that I sensed during my visit. To refrane from dragging this on and on I'll say that when I returned to California my eyes where open a lot wider then they had been in the past. This image depicts a small beach just outside of Kona. Full Moon, middle of the night, plams, ocean, stillness...Could one ask for much more?
Late in January the call came out that Market Street Railway (SF MUNI's non-profit partner) was looking for streetcar related images for it's 2010 calender. This was something that I had wanted to get involved with for a few years now, so I figured what the hell. After a number of weeks spent hitting the streets, a few lessons learned the work paid off. A numder of local photographers, myself included where selected to be featured in 2010 edition of "Museums in Motion". The featured image is one of my picks, and it goes to show that no matter how hard one tries, timing is still everything. On this perticular day I spent most of the afternoon set up at the same location wondering will two cars end up passing within a few blocks of my location? As I watched Brussels 737 depart inbound from the ferry plaza, I knew in the back of my mind that 496 a former resident of Melbourne Australia had to be getting close. I turned around, and there was 496 outbound from Fisherman's Wharf. Like I said I hoped the two would pass each other within a few blocks of me, instead it all unfolded right before my eyes, almost as if dispatch set the whole thing up....Timing
During the last few years the month of March has always included a night photography trip to Mare Island Navel Shipyard. This event is organized by a group based in the San Fracisco Bay Area called "The Nocturnes". Mare Island is located near Vallejo CA, the Napa seperates this man made island from the city of Vallejo. It's beginings date back to 1853, between then and 1996 when it was decommissioned Mare Island built 89 sea going vessels. Now owned by the city of Vallejo, much of the island remains a ghost town, as evident in the attached image of the "Turnstiles to Nowhere".
April makred one of the major events of 2009. The return of mainline steam to Northern California! Union Pacific Railroad's western heritage tour brought with it FEF-3 #844 (build by Alco in 1944). This turned out to be one of the O'dark Thirty events, but seeing Big Steam on the high iron will get me out of bed early on any occasion. Here 844 is pictured at Verdi NV, ready to cross into California and do battle with the Sierra Nevada Mountian Range. Union Pacific is proud of it's heritage, and lucky for the ones who missed it isn't shy about rolling out it's Steam Locomotives to give the curious onlooker a first hand view.
After Union Pacific 844 left town, the steam hype hadden't quite blown over. Long time Bay Area resident Southern Pacific P-8 Pacific #2472 rolled out of it's Niles Canyon home for a night photo shoot in late May. 2472 was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1921, the first part of her life was spent on the "Overland" route, operating between Oakland CA and Ogden UT. Later 2472 ended up captive on the San Francisco commute, halling passengers between San Francisco and San Jose. This all came to an end in 1957, and for the next twenty plus years 2472 sat at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds waiting for her second phase of life to begin. In 1989 that very thing happened, '72 hit the main line running. A fixture of the Bay Area excursion scene in the 1990s, 2472 is currently entertaining visitors on the Niles Canyon Railway near Sunol CA.
After a absense of almost a decade, June of 2009 brought railroading back into my own back yard! Little by little restoration of 60 miles of the North Western Pacific railroad began. Work trains started to roll, ties where replaced, ballast was dumped. Towards the end of the summer the weeds where gone, and people where saying "My god, I never knew there was a railroad under all that brush". To put it lightly rail service in the northern reagions of San Francisco bay has been sporadic for the past 15 or so years. So a trian roling through the beautiful Marin/Sonoma country side is a sight for a die hard NWP fan's sore eyes...
Dead in the middle of the summer the top finally blew off all my photography efforts. My local county fair holds a pretty decent (not to mention competitive) photography contest. I've entered in years past, but had shyed away the previous year. I decided to give it another go around in '09, hoping just to get an image hung in the show. Usually the competition draws around 1000 entires, and there is wall space for 250 or so images. So I figured, if one of my images gets selected and displayed during the fair I'll be doing pretty good. Well not only did this image get selected for display, it took home Best of Show B&W....Sometimes it just all comes together.
High a-top Wolf Ridge in the Marin Headlands sits what remains of Integrated Fire Control facility SF-88C. Otherwise known as "Hill 88". During the Cold War era the US military set up Nike Missile sites around many parts of the United States. These surface-to-air missiles where intended to protect against attacks by enemy bombers. The Marin Headlands was graced with two of these instalations, and the conntrol site was located on Wolf Ridge. There isn't much left today, but the view (on a clear night) is second to none, so it's worth the almost 4 mile hike.
Over the Labor Day 2009 weekend Caltrans closed down the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The closure was part of the continuing construction of the replacement eastern span. The Bay Bridge's eastern span was deemed unsafe following the Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck the Bay Area in 1989. Now mind you this magnitude 7.1 earthquake occured over 20 years ago, and the state of California is just now getting around to building the replacement bridge....Tax Dollars at work if I don't say so myself. Anyways on to the image at hand! Some smooth talking, and some fast walking got myself and a friend across the the bridge's western span and onto Treasure Island. Here we look west towards the San Francisco skyline, with an enpty bridge in the foreground. A bridge that carries 280,000 vehicles per day! Not a car to be seen, not an engine to be heard, conplete silence!
160 MPH plus down the front stratght, down through the gears, push as hard as humanly possible on the brake pedal. "Hit your marks, Hit your marks" keeps coming over the radio. Set it up just right for the corner, and stab the gas on the way out! Thats the scence from the bluff over looking the brake zone at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's Turn #2 in Monterey CA. The sun has dipped below the horizon and as the light fads the glowing brake rotors begin to show. Temps in excess of 1000 degrees cause these brakes to light up the night, as the Rahal-Letterman Racing BMW M3 makes another run into the famed Andretti Hairpin.
Miles away from any city lights the town of Inverness sits on Tomales Bay in western Marin County. A sail boat beached on the shore, a launch that you can "Hire", still water and not a sound to be heard. This is country living at it's finest! A setting full moon illuminates the sky as the clouds begin to roll in. A passing automible momentarily breaks the silence, then it's quiet again. The camera's shutter clicks closed, and now it's just pixels on a flash card. But one of the beauties of country living is that this scene repeats itself nightly.