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clouds over owens valley

Clouds Over Owens Valley, Winter, 1979

Owens valley has always been one of my best-loved places, a jumping-off point to some of my favorite destinations; the eastern Sierras where I have backpacked since the early 70s, on the other side of the valley, the White Mountains

The wrong polarizing filer

This photo was taken back in the fall of 1979 on a car trip. Driving my old 1972 Fiat 128 (the basic design of the more famous Yugo- yes, it was just as bad also), I stopped at Olancha to get gas and saw this cloud formation. I pulled out my trusty Olympus OM-1 35mm camera with one of my most beloved lenses, the Olympus 21mm f3.5. The polarizing filter I was using on the lens was not designed for that wide of an angel lens. The filter had caused all four corners to go black, producing a very noticeable vignette of the image.

I have always liked this photo, but it never entirely made the grade because of that vignette. Now, after scanning the slide and retouching in Photoshop, I was able to correct that issue. I have recently made a new print of the images, and it will go up in my office—a little reminder of a place that brings a smile to my face

It’s a broken starter and a push start.

This spot also reminds me of the time in 1988 when my son Ray and I had stopped for gas. We were returning from a backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park, where we had climbed 13,000+ Joe Devil Peak. Our cars starter (no longer that Fiat 128, but a Honda Accord) had broken on the trip. I had decided that it would be OK for us to go home where I could repair it. It was a manual transmission so that we could push start it by making sure we stopped on a hill. Starting it by letting it roll. That all worked fine until Olancha.

Olancha was in an area of completely flat ground, so I just told myself to keep the car running while I pumped gas. Of course, the force of habit overruled my mind, and I pulled into the pumps and shut the car off. Luckily, guys from the burger joint across the highway saw our plight, came across the road, and pushed started it for us. We made it home just fine, replaced the starter, and all was good.