Though it may lack the verticality of Blade Runner’s Los Angeles in 2019, the cloudy skies and slightly sinister oranges put me in mind of the film’s iconic imagery.
Two Spontaneous Alignments in San Diego
With so many tall, vertically oriented structures in a city, it’s probably no surprise that some of them should fall into pleasing alignment with one another. The modest glow of sunrise light through the gap between the clocktower and the adjacent building provides a friendly spark to guide the eye to the center of this image.
In this second case, it’s harsher Sun, rather than palm trees and clock towers, that has found its way into a special alignment through the streets of San Diego. Bright light falls into this canyon that should otherwise be dawn dim.
Los Angeles River When Wet
Muscle Cars at Dawn in San Diego
Dawn makes for this dynamic moment when parts of a scene are thrown into dramatic sunlight while others still benefit from delicate, scattered, indirect light.
I like these shots for how the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger are bathed in relatively gentle, flattering light, but headlights and sunlight make the rest of the scene comparatively high-contrast.
Sunrise in Southern California
A E S T H E T I C Rail
I’ve played with that 90’s vaporwave aesthetic in the past with aggressive color grading; on this particular San Diego dawn, those steps were hardly necessary. Palm trees and magenta hues do most of the hard work for themselves. I can hear the synths already…
Farms Amid the Dark Earth
Waiting for Work
Suburbs Up to the Wall
San Diego Runners
I last traveled to San Diego to present at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society—but while that meeting took place during the day, early morning was unaccounted-for time. I went exploring in the area around the San Diego Convention Center and found that most of my early-morning compatriots were runners.
In this quartet of images, I’ve captured a few of those runners in the dramatic early-morning California sunlight.
Dry Paths and Trails
Rain brings spontaneous desert symmetry breaking: some areas become rivers and streams, while others stay high and dry. La Quinta Cove brings hiking trails into this equation. Looking high over the landscape, those trails and dry streambeds may be hard to distinguish—until the rain comes. In the distance, just above the tan tanks on the left of the image, the Salton Sea serves as a reminder of how water and the desert interact.
Desert Until the Valley Floor
Flying is Easier Than Hiking
The path at right is a fairly treacherous, dusty way up to the top of this hill; it’s the one I took last year to capture images like this one. Flying to the top with my drone is, by comparison, a bit less strenuous.
My trips to this hill last year were constrained by the limitations of gravity; bringing my drone with me this year opened up whole new vistas and geometries. The artificial nature of this water retention area is far more apparent when view from the air.
Where the Houses Stop/Palm Trees and Sprawl
Like a child’s legos, spilled out onto the floor until they reach the wall of the room, the sprawl of Coachella Valley reaches from one mountain range to the other.
Of course, when that sprawl does reach the edge, modern California’s land conservation kicks in and a hard barrier appears between homes and desert.