Winter Redwoods

Location: Humboldt County, CA - Prairie Creek Redwoods and Avenue of the Giants

Here we are in the freezing Redwoods of the Northernmost coastal areas of California. A place that looks like time was forgotten and Giants remain. Indeed, these trees have been on Earth for around 240 million years.

My personal (probably incorrect) theory is that this was once a part of Pangea hundreds of millions of years ago and most of it broke apart and collapsed into the ocean on part of the Juan De Fuca Plate leaving a tiny portion that remains on the coast of the North American tectonic plate. 

It's fun to think of Dinosaurs once roaming between these trees, but it's another thing to draw them doing it frame by frame in 34 degree weather with a Night-Writer (+ yellow-tip) in the dark.

I sketched this animation frame by frame (below) to make sure the movement was accurate, a triceratops light-fossil is a complicated character, here it is simplified:

sketchy at best

The first thing you have to know about this area is that it's fairly remote and a bit difficult to get to (especially if coming from Los Angeles like us!), be prepared for many hours of windy roads on the 101 past San Francisco, CA.

During this time of year it typically gets cold at night and can be rainy, watch out for black ice on the curvy roads deep in the forest, we tried not to drive on these roads too late into the night.

Our stops along the way up were: Santa Rosa, Willits, Trinidad, Klamath, then we came down the coast visiting Fort Bragg, Tomales Bay, and lastly Big Sur.

 Most light-painting sessions occurred just after sunset and until 9pm, after that it got a bit frosty.

ice cold

Welcome to Winter!

I drew a 'Lost Rudolph' with his nose so bright on an old bridge off the 101 in an area called 'Lost Man Creek'. I like how he looks a little confused here.. This area was pitch black at night, a bit spooky also.

Looks like we've got a hairy situation on our hands here, 'Bigfoot'!

For this image (above) I experimented with a new homemade Night-Writer tip made of cut, sanded, and glued plastic pieces.

I like the texture it added to my bigfoot:

I can't stress the importance enough of scouting a location first before it becomes too dark in the forest.

At night it's difficult to see anything more than 20 feet ahead of you. For the image below I was reaching around in the dark a bit.

Here are some of my 'light-skeletons' hanging around this fallen giant in the night, we'll call them the 'Forest Spirits'.

Looking further into the forest, I had an idea to topographically map the depth of the trees with a high-powered laser, the result is almost exactly as I envisioned, pretty wild!

Here is what 'Laser Vision' looks like.

That will sum up our adventure for now, here's a smiley face for you - Happy Holidays! 

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smiley

Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Ventura

Location: Davenport ~ 6 miles North of Santa Cruz, CA

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The road South from San Francisco is riddled with interesting seascapes due to erosion in the sandstone cliffs with rough waters and wind constantly crashing into the California shoreline.

Carried in from the vast Pacific Ocean environmental forces create caves and formations like Shark Fin Cove here in Davenport, CA. 

This place is popular for night-photographers due to it's proximity from city lights, you can see the Milky Way Galaxy well from this location. Unfortunately, it was extremely foggy when I visited. I did notice interesting lights from boats in the distance, so I tried to take advantage of the eerie mood for my Rainbow Shark.

To get up-close and personal with the shark fin, be prepared to make the steep trek down to the beach. Once there you'll see a rotten looking drainage cave to your right and a natural sea cave to your left with the shark fin formation dead center.

This color run was the last image I shot during the course of the night, I made a really long drive from Los Angeles, earlier in the day and all I wanted to do was sleep after this session, I like the way the light captures the amount of moisture in the air here. What is terrible for cameras is somehow great for pictures.

Just South of Davenport at Santa Cruz, CA I made a little trek around Natural Bridges State Beach. Besides the obvious rock formation this beach is known for, there's an area you can access North of it as long as the tide isn't too high and you'll see some interesting tide pools like these ones below where I drew my Pinchy-finger Dukes crab fellow below.

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I've done a similar illustration before in San Diego, CA of a Lobster character. I think the two seafood friends go together nicely. 

This image was taken earlier that day when I stopped by Santa Cruz, this was on a bridge that links the east-side of town to the boardwalk downtown. If you've seen the 1987 film 'The Lost Boys' you might recognize this bridge.

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The road from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo takes about two and a half hours, I passed by this rusted truck along the way and had to take a picture of it. It would be cool to find out it's back-story.. Or take pictures of it every season for the next year and see how the moss develops on the back of it.

A place I've been wanting to visit for a while is a spot in SLO called Montana de Oro state park. It's a coastal beach that has some interesting caves and rock formations with bluffs along the side and a really distant view of Morro Bay. It takes a while to get to because the 1 hwy does not connect South of it, the road out merely projects in a peninsula shape that you have to double-back on when you exit the area. 

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I took a short walk around the bluffs and decided to try a weird looking bug I've been wanting to illustrate for my Insect Series, shortly after blue hour I was able to capture a green Praying Mantis with Morro Bay in the background.

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Down on the beach, there's a slanted and enchanted cave where the waves crash below your feet as you slip around on it's smooth-worn rock. This is where I found the Neighborhood Troll.

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Further South on the 101 highway I stopped by Rincon Beach in Ventura, CA and tried to light paint a Mermaid on the rocks.

I was fairly delirious from staying up so late at this point but knew I had a few hours of driving left to get back to Los Angeles. So naturally, I bought some sunflower seeds from the next gas station I found and chomped on those for the rest of the drive, it certainly helps me stay awake and mentally active. That's all for now, stay bright!

Atmos Spheres

Location: Malibu, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light beings at F5.6, ISO 100, 143 seconds. Spheres at F5.6, ISO 1600, 4 seconds. Environment at F2.8, ISO 3200, 17 seconds.

Gear used: Canon 6D24-70mm LensManfrotto TripodWireless Remote, and Night-Writer prototype. Eric used a clear plastic tube with flashlights clipped to the end for his spheres.

Not content with only one meet-up, Astro Bandit and I decided to hang out with Eric and Kim for another night before our friends caught a flight back to their home town of Montreal the next morning.

For this image, we took to the cliffs of Malibu at Leo Carrillo State Beach once high tide came in. You can see orange lights on the beach in the distance - there was a film crew capturing underwater footage. 

For this shot, I wanted to add another alien image to my growing collection, I thought Eric's circles would be a great futuristic addition for my colorful characters - how else would they breathe?

Wizard Tree

Location: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, CA / Settings: F22, ISO 100, 500 seconds

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release and Proto Night-Writer.

This place is something else. The journey there is an adventure in itself, and just as we arrived, the rain rolled in - on cue!

I mean, what can you do?! It starts pouring rain in the middle of this shot (above), I'd say right after the green character. Those rain-bones on the right: teal, blue, purple and pink were the quickest skeletons I've ever drawn.  Camera was not happy, wiped it off best I could and let it soak in the silica packets that I collect anytime I get new shoes - I throw those in my camera bag whenever I get the chance - You should too!

walk w ancients

Here's Astrobandit walking with an ancient tree we found along the way.

One more of just the tree - I thought that branch toward the end looked like a demon's claw. 

PSA: Don't Play with Fire

Location: Salton Sea, CA / Settings: F9, ISO 100, 214 seconds

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6D, 24-70mm Lens, Manfrotto Tripod, and Remote Shutter-release.

I wanted to create a smoking effect along with a bit of fire coming from a skeleton holding a match - so I used white el wire for the smoke, a red sparkler for the fire, and whitered, and orange LEDs for my character and match. 

Some insight on the image:

This is a more serious topic than usual - it's June now and the fire season in Southern California is about to kick off shortly. In light of the 2007 fires in San Diego and 2009 fires in Los Angeles, please try and be extra careful out there with cigarettes, campfires, and fireworks. Here's some images if you need a reason:

harris fire over mount miguel

Harris Fire in San Diego, CA - October 2007 (not shot by me - found on wikipedia)

station fire 2009

Station Fire in Los Angeles, CA - August 2009 - I shot this image from a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles of a mushroom cloud rising North East over the San Gabriel mountains. Note the 747 airplane to the bottom left of the cloud for scale!