Whatever happened to Bill Black?

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Three days since the last blog and I’ve been busy. Well, the second day not so but I had a number of frustrations booking accommodation which consumed far more time than they should have, none of it interesting, so we’ll skip that. The first day however…

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My Sony Nex 6 knows no fear. Me, on the other hand…

My airbnb hostess, Gay, has put a very useful information booklet in the room which includes details of two walks she recommends. Not being one to spurn local knowledge, I took photos of the sheets on my phone and headed off to Avilo beach. The early part of the walk involved a small trek along a dirt path behind some houses. As I was walking along, I heard someone close behind me and turned round to see a woman, clearly out for a jog, walking and adjusting her ipod.
A minute or so later she ran past me and as she did so said;
‘I thought I’d better run ahead of you, otherwise you’ll think you’ve got a stalker.’
I smiled and watched as she carried on and passed me only to stop running and begin walking again about ten feet in front of me.
‘Now you’ll think you’ve got a stalker!’ I called ahead.
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she replied.
Okay…

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Nd filters – 3 of them – allow me to reduce the light reaching the sensor. The shutter can stay open longer than usual, allowing these dramatic water effects to be recorded on the sensor. So that’s how they do that…

It was a boiling hot day and I did a lot of walking and driving. It was a good day, photographically speaking but I barely spoke to a soul. I visited Pismo Beach, albeit briefly, because although the beach itself was lovely, the town itself was somewhat depressing, being very run down with a definite worn-out air. I then spent ages getting to the Guadalupe Dunes. In fact I spent  40 minutes getting there and arrived with only twenty minutes before they closed. I treated it as a sort of dry run (no pun intended) for Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. I didn’t get to the best spots to take photos but it was a good trial run. I had a couple of favourite shots from the day. The first was of a blond boy on a red/pink surfboard taken off the pier at Pismo. If you’re ever shooting water or skies on a sunny day, a polarising filter is your friend. In the shot of the boy, it removes the reflections on the water and allows you to see the shadows beneath the waves. It also deepens the colour of the sea. A polarising filter is circular and you can turn it to increase/decrease the effect as you desire. It works in exactly the same way as your sunglasses do, except with a degree of control.

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One of my other faves from the day is ‘Boat’, shown below. I like it because it does everything you’re told not to do with a camera. I shot directly into the sun, usually a no-no because it burns out a lot of the image but using a narrow aperture diminishes this effect quite successfully. Anyway, for this shot, the brightness is the point. As I sat on a bench watching the boat in the distance, the sky and the sea were the same color, a pale blue-white, divided only by the white light of the horizon. The sky was soft and beautiful, the sea, by contrast, glittered and as I watched the boat it seemed to disappear into the light, occasionally re-emerging like a faint mirage in the water.
I wanted to capture that sensation, take a shot that, when you first looked at it, did not immediately reveal the boat and made you wonder why I’d called what appears to be just a dull horizon shot ‘Boat’ in the first place. The shape of the boat is made of the same ‘fabric’ as the rest of the image, blue and white light but reordered into the shape of a sail and a prow. I also like the fact that it is a basic composition, a textbook rule-of-thirds. Without seeing the boat it looks plain, but when you do see it, it reinforces the idea of the image not as a compositional study but as a painting of light.

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That’s my tuppence worth for today. Hope you like the images. And if you are out there reading this, be so kind as to let me know by filling in the form below. Ta ever so 🙂

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I‘m sure they said this was a nudist beach…

Take a look at more of my work at www.billblack.co.uk

6 thoughts on “Whatever happened to Bill Black?

  1. Hi Bill. Enjoying your travel blog as I once made this trip, though North/South and on a shorter timescale. If you go through San Luis Obispo try to visit the Madonna Inn. You’ll need special filters to cope with the gaudiness, but it’s fun!

    Shaun.

    • I tried to book a room there but one of the days I needed was completely booked out. Stayed in nearby Arroyo Grande instead. Hope you’re well, Shaun, thanks for dropping me a line.

  2. Great pictures and wonderful blog. Rumor has it you were last spotted in Carmel having coffee with a cute redhead..:).

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