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Friday, 12 June 2015


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The sad thing is, the Fuji will let you happily snap away with no card in the camera at all. Other cameras can be set to not allow shooting w/o card. True, there is a warning on the Fuji, but it's easy to miss, especially when shooting through the viewfinder.

Point Reyes can be very photogenic, but the difficulty with vacation photos is always that "you're there when you're there".

For example, check out Austin Granger's album of work at Point Reyes that he compiled while revisiting the location over many years:


No worries, Mike! Here's the cliché pics you could have taken at the Point Reyes Lighthouse with the fab Fuji Fourteen...




I lived in SF for 25 years, Point Reyes was one of my main refuges. I would go there monthly, and I camped there often in my younger years. I walked there several times from SF. Beautiful place. I never took photographs, knew it would never work. I worked in studio in those days.

If you go to Pierce Point area you can see Tule Elk with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Tomales Bay on the other.
French Marin Cheese Factory on the way to Point Reyes is a nice stop as well.
The whole area is beautiful in all kinds of weather.

I dunno, Mike. For web reproduction I doubt your Fuji XT-1 would have produced noticeably superior results than your iPhone 6--especially given the XT-1's lack of a memory card. The photos you uploaded did a good job of illustrating your points. What more do you need?

Mike asked, "Have you ever been an idiot?"

I was born an idiot. I once left a brand new camera on the kitchen table when I left for a four day photography trip.

I work hard not to make the same mistake twice. Or three times.

I got so tired of leaving my cards home by accident that I now have one card dedicated to living in my camera bag as a backup. I end up using it every month or two. (One time I even screwed that up and had to stop into a drug store to buy a cheap SD card.)

One thing that keeps me from regretting those moments when I don't have my camera with me (or any cards!) is that I bought the Moment wide lens for my iPhone, an 18mm equivalent. http://momentlens.co The quality is quite high -- it's relatively rectilinear and adds very little aberration. I really enjoy using it, and now I can leave the house without my camera without that feeling of paranoia that I'm going to stumble across the most amazing photo ever. https://flic.kr/p/sZUb85

Finally - Point Reyes is indeed gorgeous. I love that area.

I'm reminded of the title of a book on golf: A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour. I invert the though somewhat - If I don't get a keeper picture, at least I had a nice walk in an interesting place.

Isn't that a 21st Century version of leaving the lens cap on? And who hasn't done that?

You are definitely not an idiot, but I must admit to surprise that you only have one card. That's like having only one dollar or only one shoe.

I tend to have a couple in reserve. And since I tend to shoot JPG and not to excess, I don't re-use them, I keep them as backup. That way I can also save disk space by only copying those which I like best at the time.

I don't remember ever having been an idiot, by I checked with my wife, and she says I have.

Mike, I feel like an idiot far more often than you, believe me. But in the old days, would you have forgotten to load the camera (or to bring a bunch of film)? My theory is cards are far more forgettable. Almost like, you kind of assume they are an integral part of the camera. BTW, why DON'T cameras have a bunch of in-built memory anyway? (in addition to the removable one)

On to the un-photogenicity (what is the word for this?) of Point Reyes, I have felt the same. It is awe inspiring but how to even start capturing the experience? You're right on the money, it is a massive (pun intended) scale issue. Would an enormous mural be right? Or an Oculus device? Or just forget the f/8, just be there? :-)

Spectacular indeed. I was there a week ago; our day wasn't as clear as yours but I couldn't help snapping away:

Those trees: https://flic.kr/p/thkWez
The lighthouse, all misty: https://flic.kr/p/uecce4

(It's 302 steps to the bottom, btw.)

I really like the picture of the leaning tree. Beautiful! :-)


Oh yes! Many times!

I found it pretty photogenic on a sunny day with the fog at bay in 2006.

But it isn't an easy place to capture. Seeing it through the one eye of the camera, you lose the depth perception that makes standing there so dramatic.

And you can't feel the wind either!

The lighthouse in the second photo, and the outhouse (or whatever it is) in the foggy photo help give some scale to the landscape; that's missing in the other two.

You really should buy some more cards, and remember to swap them out frequently -- eggs in a basket, and all that.

Here are a few photos I took some 10 years ago at Pt Reyes...


You are right. It is very lonely, but it is difficult to render that loneliness in photographs.

At the risk of spamming you, here's a poem I wrote at Pt Reyes:

To a Whale, At Pt. Reyes

The East and the West meet here,
a sliver of gray that
Poseidon pounds and Eurus shears.
Here you alight for a moment,
The wind in your eyes, under a
Film of cold brine, krill,
A spout blows steam over the ancient back
in a fury that belies your calm,
your spine, barnacled, curves up then down,
fleeting, tail fin barely touching
the sky, you dive into the
blue depth.

Silence of rumble and song,
of bubbles rising,
Haunting melodies of
Whistle and lament for the
Warmth of another being,
gently floating towards you.

Share this song with me.

I long to see you balloon over
the rift valley where octopuses squirt
under the cold rock,
Where your shadow floats like a monsoon cloud
Past the jumble of algal forest,
Where a soft light filters through...

Rise, rise through the inky mass,
To the driving rain,
The surf pounds on the rock,
The foghorn sounds its plaintive voice,
A lost soul,
The light searches my horizon in an arc,
Again and again,
Finding nothing but the
Agony of yesterday,
While a fog shrouds the darkening east.

I don't know what it is but photographs looking down almost never seem to work. I've tried and failed many times. Of course I am speaking of landscape pics, not the photos you see in men's magazines, not that I have actually ever seen any. Just been told ;)

I have seen very few landscape photos taken with a downward perspective that actually work. Those that do are usually very abstract. Not sure why.

Oh, and on topic of the question, a couple of years ago I took a three-day photo trip to Duluth and forgot the batteries for both my main and backup camera at home in their chargers. Instant vacation.

Mike -

I don't think you're an idiot; I think you're just a guy who forgot to bring his SD card with him.

In fact, after all the years I've been reading TOP, I'd say you could more accurately be called a glutton for punishment than anything else, and I suspect that S. is working on fixing that.

Great place to visit - I must go back again.
For atmosphere ,here is a sound recording I made a while back of the birds and fog horn echoing around the cliffs ( made right at the point of your second picture ) https://soundcloud.com/frozensounds/point-reyes-fog-horn

After hearing what a truly photogenic place it was- I too came back empty handed and disappointed. "Photogenic" often gets translated into- great place to take a photo of a lighthouse, sunset, flower...

And, oh yes- way too often...

I feel this way about the Grand Canyon. To me, it is unphotographible.

No, never, hahaha... (BTW don't leave equipment on the car roof when you drive away.)

"I'm frustrated by large scale in photographs."

Ever watch Le Tour de France? The fact that those guys are, in fact, sometimes racing UP, not hills, but Mountains (and not just any mountains- but the freakin' Alps!) never really gets visually (nor viscerally) translated on screen.

As a NorCal local, that's one of my favorite places, period.

Too bad about leaving the card in your computer -- been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Cards are so cheap now, buying an extra and tucking it somewhere in your camera bag is practically free...

For the love of heaven .......... a picture of S.
Pleeeeease! Even just a hand, a smile, an eye ... (preferably NOT with a 14mm lens).

Hoping you're both enjoying our marvelous California.

I always carry a few cheap cards (you can get them for pocket change these days) and stuff them in just in case. I have not yet found myself without a card but I do worry about it.

"it's possible Point Reyes isn't actually very photogenic"

Considering every time I've gone I've encountered fog too! Or its heavily overcast, or cold, or ...

It could be sunny and warm in Inverness/Tomales Bay and by the time you arrive at the lighthouse, it will be cold and foggy. I've gone when its like 85-87 degrees, clear skies or maybe a few clouds in Tomales Bay - get to Pt. Reyes LH and its the total opposite. And I think its only a difference of 20-25 minutes.

Timing is everything but you never know when unless you're able to stay there for several days.

Been there, done that. I was out. "No card in the camera!", said the screen.

I knew exactly where the memory card was: At home. On the desk. In the card reader.

I have, of course, been an idiot.

Let's see. I've shot a good chunk of an assignment without film in the camera (despite, I thought, having well-formed habits of tensioning the rewind crank at the beginning and monitoring for it turning when advancing the film). I've done various small-scale idiot things in software development, found and fixed in debugging. I tried putting curry powder in a spaghetti sauce once.

I strongly suspect everybody has, by far earlier than my current age. In fact, I kinda think the useful distinction is between people who noticed they had been an idiot, and those who did not. :-).

Yes - in many ways, including the one you described. I chalk it up to being imperfect.

Have I ever been an idiot? Yes, many times. But, you have no idea how liberating it is for a man to be able to say, "I was an idiot", or "I was mistaken." ;<)

With best regards.


Only two sorts of photographers; those that have done it, and those that are going to!! After my last effort, I bought two 16GB cards; one is in wallet, one is in glovebox of car. Saved my bacon last week on a real estate shoot where I'd left my usual 32GB card in the card reader at home, and didn't have to race home 30km and retrieve the card. .... great last shot, though! love those wind pruned trees.

I wish more camera makers did what I think Leica does on some models, include some built in memory. I've left the card in the computer more than once. You are not alone!

To create a sense of scale in large landscape photos it helps to include a key, a familiar reference object that allows the viewer decode the size of everything else is the frame. Probably the most helpful thing is to add a human form. The earliest photographers of the American West would sometimes strategically place a person in their photographs to communicate the scale of the landscape. It doesn't have to be a person though. Any familiar object will do; a car, house, telephone poles, or in your case, a ship would've worked.

I photographed the Marin Headlands and Point Bonita Lighthoude a couple years ago and took a slightly different approach. By nature, I'm a landscape photographer and I'm always looking for that one perfect photo that expresses the drama of a location, but on the other hand, I'm aware that I'm a blogger living in the digital age, and I know that I'm free to use as many images as I need to get my point across. With those two ideas in mind, I came up with this post about an evening in The Headlands: http://www.photos4u2c.net/2010/11/20/precariously-perched-high-above-the-sea/ You can see that I got the sought after lighthouse and coastline photos, but I also included photos of my tripod's legs resting on the cliff's edge, and another rather ugly photo of ship wreckage shot looking straight down. Those aren't portfolio pics but they do get the story told.

I would like to offer two pictures of Inverness with fog.

These were taken Thanksgiving weekend 2012 at a family gathering.


A good reason to never travel without your laptop.

That pine tree with the shed is WAAAAY KOOL!!! Looks like something from the Hobbit. Make friends with the weather and the light.

John W

One thing that might be useful for situations like this is a microSD card adapter. Then you could use your phone's card in your camera. For carrying cards, I've been very happy with those cheap pieces of plastic from sdcardholder.com (via Amazon).

I think scale like this in photos is one thing that the megapixel wars can actually help. I find that I can't give the sense of scale of something huge without also including something small, but without extra resolution the small thing ends up being a difficult to recognize blob. I took some photos in the Aleutians of seagulls flying in front of mountains, but in the photos it's hard to tell that the birds aren't blobs of snow on the rocks. I seldom use the 12mm lens I got for my OM-D and haven't tried anything wider because the 16MP that works fine for most images seldom makes me happy with wide angle landscapes where I want details setting off my totality.

Yes. Yes I have.

My wife's pet name for me is idiot, but I don't mind as she says it in an endearing way. As a former I.T. tech there were many times that I would put this on the trouble shooting form for the problem "id-10-t".

Makes my photography a lot easier knowing that sometimes being an idiot is not always bad... :-)


Don't feel so bad. Once I took my 4x5, lenses, holders, film, filters, backpack, etc. to Yosemite. Everything but my tripod. I was in the same boat with you.

I love them, phone or not. We lived in SF for two years and that is a beautiful spot.

Oh yes....many times..Lol...

Mike, if you did not already know this, Peter Turnley is also in San Francisco this weekend.

"... it's possible Point Reyes isn't actually very photogenic."

I photograph there quite a bit, living and shooting in the Bay Area. It _is_ photogenic, but it is a tough nut to crack. I mostly lacks the big, striking, iconic subjects. The forests are not the sort that are easily photographed, being made of dense trees with lots of overgrowth. It is frequently foggy, but often not the think, ground-hugging sort — instead it tends to be a bit higher and simply gray.

It takes a while to get in the spirit of the place. It helps to think of like perhaps the moors, a place of big, empty spaces and sparse forms.

'It feels vast, wild, and remote in person, not to mention vertiginous, but none of that seems to come across very well in photographs.'

That principle applies to so much travel and landscape photography. I have hundreds of photos of places (and buildings) that were breathtaking when viewed on the spot, but just don't come across through the lens.

I think the lesson is to stop trying to record the full, first-hand experience, and concentrate on creating photographs instead. You may well come away with more keepers, without even trying to capture the full sense of what is was like to stand on a cliff edge gazing out over the sea, or whatever.

It's very hard to resist the impulse to 'capture' everything that you see. Sometimes things are better viewed directly with the eyes, the ears and the nose, rather than through the viewfinder. A diary entry written on the spot can bring back more memories than an 'ordinary' landscape shot.

Idiot? Oh yes! I will always have in my memory the most amazing mammatus clouds one sunset when my cards were safe at home. It must be a right of passage for any photographer.

Pt. Reyes is a wonderful place. In 2008 I attended a night photography weekend there. Here's one shot that might begin to show the immensity of a small part of Pt. Reyes. The photographers in the photo help give some scale.

Why the past tense Mike?

Why did you feel it was so important to shoot something that has been photographed a zillion times before by other people?
Perhaps forgetting the memory card was not down to idiocy, but the way destiny (or some other mysterious force) acted in order to stop you from getting a cliché. Maybe the Gods of Photography were trying to protect your photographic integrity.
Once I went out shooting while the camera's battery was charging at the mains inlet. How idiotic can that be? As I was using a point and shoot back then, it can only have been a divine intervention to keep me from shooting mediocre pictures.
Nothing happens by chance, you know...

Of course not. It wasn't me that loaded the film backwards in those film holders. Or failed to be sure the 35mm film was advancing properly before shooting 72 frames on what was supposed to be a 36 exposure roll. Or, well, any of that other stuff. Wasn't me. Couldn't be...I'm no idiot.

But I have about a dozen old CF and SD cards bought with my first digital cameras that do back up duty. So far I haven't forgotten a card. But the day is young.

If you start with assumption that photographs are good representations of what things look like then you get to the conclusion that what things look like is not a very good substitute for actual experience of being there.

No, I've never been short of memory cards. Batteries, however,....

Your scenic iPhone images look just fine (although cliché ;-). ). You seem to be having a nice trip!

I did the "leave the card at home" trick once. Since then, I've followed two "cures" faithfully:
1. NEVER EVER close the card door on a camera when there is no card. I also do this with the battery compartment.
2. Always dedicate a spare card to your camera bag. This is a great use for that "antique" card that has become too small and too slow.

Sven, thank you for the link to Austin Granger's work -- he has many beautiful pictures of that magical place.

Pt. Reyes/Tomales Bay is one of the touchstones of my photographic life, such as it is. I spent many, many days photographing there in the early 1990s. I could justify it as work -- I was a recently hired Nikon technical rep then, fairly bristling with every Nikon gadget imaginable and responsible for creating educational slide shows -- but I was really going there for the lonesome, quiet beauty, which Granger's work really captures. (Like Mike's lovely picture of the leaning tree and hut, as well.)

I was in a wildlife phase then. A couple of examples, taken in 1991 at Heart's Desire Beach on Tomales Bay. (Almost certainly with that stone age tool known as Fuji Velvia.) It was possible then, on a weekday, to spend a whole day by yourself in the fields and on the beaches of Pt. Reyes. I hope it still is.

I'm always paranoid about leaving the card out (and have done so at least once). With the X-T1 I try to prevent that by leaving the hinged door open when I've taken the card out to transfer files (since it doesn't spring shut), reminding me that there isn't a card in there.

Now, I should look into getting a couple of spare cards from your links...

By Mandelbrot's Ghost, those fractal landscapes deny my sense of scale!!!!

So, just say, "screw it," put the camera on macro and shoot a rock.

Or, cheat and put a person in the photo, like they do with diagrams of Great Whales.

The Great Salt Lake, Utah, July 21, 2014

The Great Salt Lake, Utah, July 21, 2014 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr

When this happens the next time ... Try using the panorama mode on your iPhone! You will be pleasantly surprised :)

When visiting a friend in Oregon on my way north we went out to the docks where I shot some local color & sampled some of the local fare. Only later, when I was shooting scenery along the coast in Washington did I realize the film winder wasn't rotating. Doh! Too late to head back for a redo.

Now I'm all digital & shoot almost every day. No more worries about making sure the film is loaded and ready to go. I always carry a spare battery and have never ever forgotten to make sure I have a card in the camera. Yet.

As one of your commenters does, I'll have to start carrying a spare card in my wallet.

You did a great job with what you had. That is the mark of a fine photographer.

Don't worry about feeling like an idiot. I'm frequently an idiot myself, and I seem to be getting along just fine. Heck, I've even reproduced!

I just got back from a fishing trip to Minnesota. I've been going annually with the same five friends for 19 years. I remembered my camera and cards, but, like an idiot, I did forget my iPhone. It was the most relaxing trip in years. I forgot how liberating "unconnected" feels. I might have to pull the same idiotic move again next year.

1. Everyone's been an idiot, especially those who think they haven't
2. it's good for you, it gives you something to compare your other behaviors to. Unless you don't have other behaviors, then it gives you something to which to aspire.
3. My daughter carries an extra card on her key ring.
4. I have a camera with 2 card slots and I only ever take one out at a time. Except that one time I took them both out and forgot.
5. what do you call someone who leaves 2 cards home?
6. What ?, they don't have drug stores or gas stations in CA?
7. You write a Photography blog, you can't be excused for this. It's going to go on your Permanent Record. It's out of my hands.

Rarely taking a camera bag myself, may I suggest a spare card in your wallet?

I may be wrong, but I think some of the large chain drugstores sell SD cards. Maybe if it happens again, a Walgreens can bail you out.

Since I'm a cluts as well and an expert in forgetting SD cards....I keep one in my bag at all times.....brand new unused and in prestine state.....until I forget it of course then I use it and replace it with a new one. I have a stack of 14 memorycards on my computer right now, I wonder how that happened?

Greets, Ed.

I took a spare SD card out with me on Sunday though I didn't think I would need it, after reading your post here.

Also, after reading your post, I charged up the batteries for the flashgun and the camera, took a spare battery (comprising four AA cells) for the flash even though I only planned to use it for about ten shots, and checked everything.

Did I use the spare card? Yes, I did. I'm not one for taking lots of pictures, but I still put 110 RAW files on the spare card, after putting about 324 on the first one.

'Tis better to be looking at it than looking for it.

I have a Kata camera strap that has pockets on the ends. In one of those pockets I have a backup card for exactly that situation.

I never use it for regular shooting. It's only there for disaster prevention.

The strap (Reflex E) is quite comfortable, too.

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