Monthly Archives: February 2017

123 Images-Carquinez Bridge at Sunset

There are more images in the 123 series, but this is the last one I am going to talk about here.

San Pablo Avenue pretty much ends where the Freeway entrance to the Carquinez Bridge crosses the Sacramento River. The road itself continues past the Freeway, but the street name is changed as it becomes part of the City of Crockett.

I couldn’t figure out how to take an interesting picture of this bridge. When crossing it, there is something I have always liked the C&H Sugar building, and this caused me to want to include that building in my photo, so I started looking for a vantage point. Just before this bridge/Freeway junction, there is a “scenic view” turnout overlooking the river for at least 180° East and West. This offered possibilities, but in order to get my desired point of view, I had to climb over the parking lot guardrail and then the heavy brush obscured a clear view.

Shortly after, I was reading the user manual for my camera, and the page on shooting panoramic images used a bridge as an example.



I like panoramic images. Because there is so much accumulated information, a lot of detail is brought out, and because the lens position changes during the exposures, there is a perspective shift that can visual interest to even a mundane picture of a bridge. I have attempted a numberof panoramics, with various successes stitching them together.

I drove back out there, and just to the East of that Vista Point is the Dead Fish Seafood Restaurant. As I pulled into their parking lot, I found a small private road that dipped down practically to the riverbank.

I grabbed my tripod, walked down, and started scouting for a good vantage point. I came to a flat spot that presented me with the viewpoint I wanted, and the setting Sun was low enough to light up the C&H building, but rapidly heading towards the horizon. I didn’t have time to think about setting up a tripod or all of the “best practices” for shooting panoramic images. I just started shooting.

I took about 50 images, thinned them down to 35, and loaded them into the stitching software.


Frankly, I didn’t expect much, there was just so many lines and angles to fit together.

Stitching images together accumulates a lot of information (the finished file is 131MB and the final image is 4½ feet long)



so it took a long time for the software to do its thing, but it did it well-surprisingly well. Because the Sun was setting so rapidly, the individual photos got progressively darker by the time I got to the far side of the river, so we had to use some gradient lightening in order to even up the final image from left to right. This too, worked very well. Except for a bit of cropping, there was no other editing done to this image.

I was so pleased with the results, that I kept the jagged image edges created by the stitching software.


Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

My position that this image is a partnership between the software and me, and the hand of the software needs to be recognized as much as my own.



LA LA Land

Not the movie, but I will address that at the end of this post.

I’m talking about the real LA LA Land-EL AY, The City of Angels, and of course, the city for which L.A. (as well as the movie) is a symbol-



Los Angeles itself is really just like every other big metropolitan city-busy, hectic, and in many places, kind of grimy. But, when you push so many people into such tight space, you also get Art, Beauty, Creativity, and human progress.

I was in LA to both visit my daughter, and attend the opening reception for the street photography show at the Los Angeles Center of Photography.  LACP is located in Hollywood, so I spent some time there for the first time ever. A great deal of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards are devoted to celebrity culture- more than one wall had pictures of Charles Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis, and a room in one low budget Hotel is famous as the last place Jim Morrison lived before moving to Paris.

The Hollywood/celebrity thing is fascinating. Only in LA would a hardware store have autographed movie star pictures on their walls, inscribed with something like, “For my pal Harry. You have the best selection of wall fasteners in town”.

It seems that everybody you meet is one step away from stardom. Once, I was staying with a friend who made us a nice dinner, along with her roommate and her boyfriend. He was a carpenter/handyman, but during the meal he said, “I have this great screenplay that I know would be perfect for DiNiro. If I can just figure out how to get it to him”.

But there is more to LA than Tinseltown.

There are some great museums, and I got to visit one that I have been wanting to see for more than 50 years, the La BreaTar Pits. This may be a simplistic description, but the Tar Pits are an area where natural  asphalt springs ooze up and pool on the Earth’s surface.


When these areas collected rainwater, thirsty animals would wade in, and get trapped by the tar, and over thousands of years, the Tar Pits collected, preserved and fossilized millions of biological and botanical specimens-from insects and ferns to Mastodons and Saber Tooth Tigers. The Tar Pits and the Page Museum are located in a the middle of the city, a great place to see and learn more about this fascinating chapter of Natural History.

The Tar Pit animal that has held my interest for all of these years is the


As powerful and ferocious as our modern big cats are, this critter was a bit larger, and it had those teeth-what a killing machine! I couldn’t wait to stand before one.

Fortunately, the Saber Tooth is one of the most common animals found at the Tar Pits, and I was not disappointed-the skeletons are beautiful to behold, and the exhibit information was fascinating.



We learned that, like other mammals, those saber teeth start out as baby teeth,



and are followed by permanent teeth as the cub matures.





Another interesting thing we learned was how a cat’s claw retracts into the bony toe.




Apparently, the Saber Tooth Tiger is such a common favorite, it has been named the Official California State Fossil (awarded posthumously).

The most visually interesting animals have to be the Mastodons. I love Elephants but these guys are in the Elephant Hall of Fame.

There are two Mastodons here. One appears to be about the size of our modern elephants. This display shows a mother with a developing cub-





But this guy takes the prize, look at those tusks




The tusks are so amazing, we tend to overlook the teeth, which look like big molars






Here are some other animals





Giant Sloth





If you like natural history, paleontology, fossils, etc., this museum has something for everyone, young and old.


Oh yeah, the other LA LA Land

My wife really wanted to see it, so last night, against my better judgement, I agreed to go.

It was a waste of time.

I think Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling did a good job in “Crazy, Stupid Love”, but even their talent couldn’t save this movie.

The cinematography was good, and in two scenes, Emma Stone did a good job, but otherwise it was a big marshmallow- fluffy and sweet, but no substance. Not that much is expected from a movie musical, but I recently heard the director being interviewed, and he said that ever since he was a kid, “Singin’ in the Rain” was one of his favorite movies. “Singin’ in the Rain” is another a behind the scenes movie about Hollywood moviemaking, but it also had real musical performers and the amazing Gene Kelly choreographed and co-directed it.

Watching Donald O’ Connor perform “Make ‘em Laugh” is a musical comedy masterpiece.

I’m sure this director meant well when he invoked “Singin’ in the Rain”, but it is  a disservice to that classic motion picture to mention “LA LA Land” in the same sentence.