Shadow on Door 4

Posted on 13 April 2014 | 2 comments

Shadow on Door 4

Shadow on Door 4

Shadow on Door 4. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. April 5, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A night scene from the historic Mare Island Naval Ship Yard

This is another night photograph from the historic Mare Island Naval Shipyard near Vallejo, California. It is hard to explain what attracted me to this specific subject, though the photograph is one of a small series I shot of this wall and the white building. (A “series” of night photographs often comprises a small number of photographs, since it often takes many minutes to complete a single exposure.)

I began by photographing from a position far to the right, where there was a large puddle of reflecting water between my position and the two buildings, and then I worked my way around the scene to finally shoot it straight on. In addition to the water, I was intrigued by the color contrast between the salmon colored wall and the stark white shack in front of it. (Though, to be honest, in the near darkness I had to make some assumptions about what the colors might actually be!) This photograph contains a number of elements that are common at Mare Island, especially at night. The architecture itself is typical—mostly quite utilitarian, with many very large buildings that were constructed for ship-building industry. There are often exposed pipes and wires and other elements. It is common to see weathered paint and rust. Windows are everywhere, often comprising surprisingly extensive portions of the exterior walls. I’ve never asked anyone, but my assumption is that it was less expensive to “light” the interior naturally than to use artificial light to illuminate such large spaces. The photo also illustrates a much more modern feature. Not long ago, when I first photographed here, the lights were often quite colorful, including sodium vapor, tungsten, fluorescent, mercury, and more. This often produces wildly colorful images at night. But today, for energy efficiency reasons, neutral colored LED lighting is being installed everywhere, and the color balance is more like that of daylight.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Making the visible visible

Posted on 12 April 2014 | 3 comments

I just heard someone say that “photography makes the invisible visible.” It occurred to me that good photography can often do something even more special, namely make the visible visible.

Think about it.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

No POV Parking

Posted on 12 April 2014 | Comment

No POV Parking

No POV Parking

No POV Parking. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. April 5, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Glowing lights inside a shop building at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, reflected in a pool of rainwater

I have now been doing night photography at the historic Mare Island Naval Ship Yard near Vallejo, California for perhaps a decade. Back when I visited for the first time I would not have expected that night photography or this particular location would still occupy me today, but they do. In many ways, photographing this location at night is an almost meditative experience. I’m long past the initial surprise to find such a place exists—with its long history and old structures in varied states of decay—and I now regard it as a familiar place. The photography itself is part of the attraction. I continue to find new subjects and to see old subjects in new ways and to watch how the place changes over time. But it is also about the slow, quiet, and methodical work of photographing at night. In many places I can barely see my subjects, and I have to wander around slowly and carefully, taking time to look in places that might initially not seem to offer anything of interest. When I think of this photography, the damp air near the waterfront and the deep quiet form as great a part of the experience as anything else.

This visit followed a week when several rain storms had passed over the Bay Area. (I had missed the actual storms, as I was away photographing in Death Valley.) As soon as I arrived at Mare Island I noticed that there were puddles everywhere, so I was on the lookout for reflections. This building is absolutely huge, but in other ways not all that exciting in daylight—but at night, with interior lights glowing, it can become a bit mysterious.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Rhyolite, Amargosa Valley, Telescope Peak

Posted on 11 April 2014 | Comment

Rhyolite, Amargosa Valley, Telescope Peak

Rhyolite, Amargosa Valley, Telescope Peak

Rhyolite, Amargosa Valley, Telescope Peak. Near Death Valley National Park. April 1, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Telescope Peak, the Amargosa Mountains, and the Amargosa Valley seen beyond the ghost town of Rhyolite Nevada

I first visited the fabled ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada perhaps a decade ago. I lies outside of Death Valley National Park, not too far from Beatty, Nevada. The place has existed in a state of mostly natural decay in the decades since it was abandoned. The story is that it was once a very successful and busy mining town, but as happens to virtually all such places, the mines played out and the town died. Not a lot is left at this point, though there are a few very interesting structures. Their size gives evidence of what the town must have been: a railroad station, a crumbling bank building, the remains of a large schoolhouse, and more.

When I first visited Rhyolite the place was pretty much what it was, and you could go just about anywhere you wanted to go. Within a few years fencing began to appear around some of the more dangerous structures—tall ruins of stone walls that are eventually going to fall. As time passed more and more fences were erected, and today many of the old buildings are off-limits. In a way this disappoints me, but given the increasing number of visitors and the increasingly fragile state of the town and its structures, I’m will to accept these limitations as a way to slow the eventual decay of the place. I’ve photographed at various times of day and in a range of conditions, but I still like dawn the best here. When the conditions are right, the sun comes up over a low ridge to the east and its light strikes the old bank building and other structures in the town just after it reaches the Amargosa Range and the summit of distant Telescope Peak, the highest point in Death Valley National Park.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

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