Day 1 — June 5, 2023 — Travel Day
I recently returned from photographing California’s amazing central coast with Ken Rockwell and Dave Wyman. It was such an incredible adventure! I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though, so let me give you a little backstory first.
After more than a decade of shooting film, I purchased my first digital camera in 2009. I was one of those “holdouts” who stubbornly refused to go digital, and who would proudly proclaim why analog was preferable. Eventually I gave in; however, the transition wasn’t easy. In many ways it was like learning photography all over again. So in 2010 I began searching the internet for help and advice, and unsurprisingly I stumbled upon Ken Rockwell, who’s website has been one of the most popular photography pages for decades.
Ken is well-known and controversial. People seem to either love or loathe him. I found his website to be helpful; while I didn’t agree with everything he said, I did read a lot of useful information, and Ken’s advice was occasionally critical. In fact, it was an off-hand remark by Ken that convinced me to start blogging in the first place.
Nearly three years ago I published a Film Simulation Recipe called The Rockwell, which was inspired by Ken. I stated that it’s “a Recipe that Ken might use on his X100V if he ever read this article.” Well, to my surprise, a year later Ken did use The Rockwell Recipe and talked a little about it in his Fujifilm X-S10 review! It turned out that Leigh and Raymond Photography (formally known as The SnapChick) tipped Ken off to the Recipe, and then Ken actually emailed me, and we had a brief back-and-forth conversation.
Ken has been conducting photo tours—mostly in California—with Dave Wyman for years. Dave is a super-talented photographer who has published four books: Backroads of Northern California, Backroads of Southern California, Yosemite in Photographs, and Fearless Photographer: Nature. He’s been leading tours—not just photography tours, but various nature tours—since the mid-1970’s. Even though he’s 75, he has more energy than I do. Anyway, I’ve wanted to join in on one of these photo tours for years and years, but the opportunity never came until this year. The timing of Central Coast of California En Plein Air was perfect, so I signed up!
The tour began on the June 7th in the late-afternoon, but I arrived two days early on June 5th. My wife, Amanda, and our four kids came along, too, although they did not take part in the tour (maybe next time). It was a long drive to the Pacific Coast from my home near Phoenix, Arizona; a stop in Bakersfield allowed us to stretch our legs. Once we settled into our accommodations at Pismo Beach, we took a stroll to the ocean. It was overcast, and as daylight began to fade into blue-hour, the weather turned into rain and thunder.
The complete list of photography gear that I brought on this trip can be found in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article, where I go into much more detail. Specific to Day 1, I used a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens, a Ricoh GR III, and the RitchieCam App on my iPhone 11. If I had known it was going to rain, I wouldn’t have taken the X-E4 and GR III out, but thankfully I was able to keep them mostly dry.
For the first day, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) are Kodachrome 64, Kodak Portra 400 v2, Fujicolor 100 Gold, Superia Premium 400, Pacific Blues, and Xpro ’62. On the GR III, I used the Monochrome Film Recipe (which can be found in the Ricoh Recipes App) for the entirety of the trip, treating the camera as a monochrome-only model (something Ricoh should definitely consider releasing). For the iPhone, I used my Color Negative Low filter on RitchieCam.
The photographs below are in order of when they were captured. The picture at the top of this article, No Lifeguard on Duty, fits in-between By-the-Wind Sailor and Josh on a Stump. The second image, Rusty Rail, fits in-between Yellow Ice Flower and Clean Up Your Dog. Otherwise, the order is correct. Although these are mostly snapshots, I hope that you still enjoy them—my photography got a little more serious as the week progressed.
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