Artistic Windy Hill

I find that I think of my hiking photos two ways, both when I am taking them and when I am deciding what to edit and post. The first is the obvious desire to document a beautiful place. The second is making artistic compositions. Of course, I do the second while taking the first.

The second kind of photo may not show off the beauty of the place, but rather captures, usually small, details or interesting light that catch my eye. I think of the second type of photos as the more artistic, but I like looking at both. Yesterday’s post was the first type of photo. Today’s is the second.


Windy Hill Open Space Preserve

It’s been some time since I’ve been to Windy Hill, a couple years or more. Last time I went I had not yet entered DSLR photography land. Why didn’t I go back here sooner? I’m not sure. It’s easy to access, it’s pretty, it has a lot of loop options. But it never left a huge impression on me before.

In preparation for going there today, I was reading some other peoples’ descriptions of the hike and I came across a post about it on Redwood Hikes. This is a great site, by the way. I own many of the maps sold there- they are large and detailed and excellent if you like that kind of thing. The post about Windy Hill, describes it thusly:

Windy Hill is a popular and very enjoyable preserve that stretches from Portola Valley, at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, to Skyline Boulevard, at the crest. In between is some of the most attractive woodland on the bay side of the ridge, including a few pretty impressive old-growth Douglas-Fir trees, plus the distinctively bald ridge that rises up to Windy Hill itself.

“Some of the most attractive woodland this side of the ridge”? Why don’t I remember that, I wondered. Surely Wunderlich Park is the actual winner of this prize. However, after my visit today, I have to concede. Windy Hill IS indeed pretty amazing.

I think that in the past I visited it during the drought, so the lovely fog was missing and it was dry. It is also probably that I hadn’t yet discovered that early mornings are without a doubt the most beautiful hiking time. Well, today I had one of those magical experiences that involved the perfect amount of fog, hiking up above it, some fall colors, and really great sounds. There were so many different birdcalls, and even a very amusing frog near the little pond. I saw a great blue heron flying in the forest (didn’t get a picture, but it was incredible to see) and well basically, ok I’m sold on Windy Hill. That fog though!


Purisima Creek First Rain

Finally, after 5 months of dry, it rained this week. Here where I live, in Burlingame, it poured for about an hour on Thursday night. The first rain is an exciting thing for a hiker, it means everything is about to spring into life. At the same time, it is fall and leaves are turning yellow and crunching on the trail. I made it to the trail at 7:15, just before sunrise, so it was lovely and dark. Everything smelled fantastic. I had a strong desire to hug a tree.


Land’s End, SF

Perhaps the last weekend of the year before the first rain, which they tell us could come as soon as Thursday. I hope it is true for the sake of the victims of the fires, as well as for all of us breathing the smoke that has been blown down here on the wind.

There’s a thin coating of ash on everything, from plants to cars. I am amazed at how far the smoke and ash can travel. There has been plenty where I live, a good 60 miles away. The wind turned and we had good air again this weekend. But it does make you think about what the world would be like if we allowed as much pollution as can be spewed into the atmosphere unchecked. I read that the air quality here was on par with Beijing. I can’t imagine having to live with it all the time.

I also can’t imagine why anybody would oppose steps to stop us from destroying the earth. It seems like such a basic thing to me. Without air to breathe, what is the point of anything? Even those who don’t claim to care about nature, animals- what about themselves? Surely everyone is selfish enough to want air to breathe.

I recently finished a book, Death’s End, the third in Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem trilogy, and one of the passages described the symbiotic relationship between life (plants, animals, etc) and atmosphere and water on planets. Without an atmosphere, the water evaporates or freezes. Without water, no life (as we understand it). But without life (plants balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide) there can be no atmosphere. So it is like a closed circle- no life without atmosphere, no atmosphere without life.

Everywhere else we have looked in space, there is nothing. Only dark cold death. So what the heck people? Are we really this short sighted?

Hurricanes, flooding, fires, there will only be more and more as the ocean and air temperatures rise.

I guess I went off on a tangent. It’s just really nice to be able to walk around outside, you know? I didn’t like being trapped inside because the air is deemed unhealthy to breathe. Of course this is nothing compared to actually being in the fire itself and losing one’s life or property.

Anyway, pictures.


Morning Fall Forest

A few more pictures from yesterday’s hike in Wunderlich park. That fall morning light is just so nice. For these photos I decided not to edit them aside from a tiny bit of cropping. Usually I do edit my photos in Camera Raw, just adjusting the contrast, color correction, etc. Sometimes they look so nice straight out of the camera, I don’t feel it’s needed.



A little more than a year ago I posted photos from a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern art. I took a completely different approach to photographing the museum this time, with an eye toward my current obsession with black and white photo-editing. Last year I took only a 100 mm lens, meaning I took a lot of close shots. Today, I brought only my 10-18 mm ultra wide lens, resulting in expansive shots. I brought a similar philosophy about taking photos at a museum however- rather than taking pictures of artwork, I try to compose shots that are interesting on their own, which may contain artwork but are also about the building itself, or a compelling juxtaposition between multiple elements. Or the crazy color of the completely red bathrooms. Couldn’t resist.


October Leaf and Web

I may have gone a bit overboard this morning taking closeup photos of fall ephemera in the woods. And then, I went a bit overboard in editing. I try to narrow down what I am going to post, really I do. But since I love the feeling of these as a group as much as apart, I’m posting them all. I am still being drawn to black and white in my editing, but a few colors made it through this time.