Tag Archives: Photography

Breaking the Nocturnal Running Cycle

MapMyRun 3-28-15, 8.1 Miles
My apologies, I say in advance to some of you. To those of you who thought that, after a burst of three or four running themed blog posts in short succession, you had finally escaped the sometimes excessively descriptive glimpses into this aspect of my life—my addiction to this particular fitness regimen… your assumed reprieve at best.
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I typically run this loop at night. During the week I make an effort to run three days (nights) per week with the goal of simply maintaining a relatively consistent distance level and pace. This practice is the most feasible way for me to put in mileage with my work schedule, and it has been working for me quite well for the past three years. The cover of darkness has its advantages. There is less auto traffic to deal with when crossing heavily traveled downtown intersections. Fewer gawking onlookers staring, mouths agape with bright-eyed wonderment at this gray-haired old man—pores wide open like the air intake valves protruding from the hood of a top fuel dragster as it leaves the starting line—sweating out the four cups of coffee that he consumed during the work day, and his less than sufficient H2O intake glaring from his white, but mostly red face.
001 003  005While maintaining this regimental nocturnal running cycle for all those nights—for weeks, months, years, under the intermittent glow of the moon and the dim radiance of the sparsely lit Sacramento skyline, does have its rewards, look what I’ve been missing!

On this particular occasion, mysteriously, I woke up early. Seeking to not let this beautiful new spring morning go to waste, I threw on my running gear and bolted out the door and into the Downtown Sacramento radiance. No breakfast. No shower. No running music pumping through my Bose ear-buds. Just a double shot of C4 and out the door. My pace suffered (evident in the reported pace) as I had to slow down to take each of these photos, but I think it was well worth it.
004 012 You can take the runner out of the photographer, but, taking the photographer out of the runner… well, that’s a little more challenging. Perhaps this is why—subconsciously—I run at night. At least at night, I do less sightseeing and actually put in work.


May your momentum be perpetual, and your integrity held high, my friends!

J. L. Johnston

The Birds of Cosumnes River Preserve

I tend to find my photography subjects everywhere.  I am never without my camera and I will photograph whatever i find interesting from the dilapidated abandoned buildings of downtown Sacramento with their resident bats, rodents and homeless to the ornate architectural elements of the turn of the century buildings that pepper the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley.

Lately, though, I have had really good luck finding cooperative subjects among the wildlife at Cosumnes River Preserve.  Located just off of I-5 and Twin Cities Road in the town of Galt, Cosumnes Preserve encompasses several hundred acres of wetlands with walking trails that meander through wooded areas and meadows where one may encounter a beaver busy putting together its hut, muskrats scurrying along the banks of the river on a quest for food or even the occasional mountain lion coming down to the water’s edge to check meal prospects that may include the aforementioned river inhabitants.  

The variety of water birds and raptors is also pretty phenomenal.  Here is a slide-show that I put together of some of the wildlife that I have encountered within two days of shooting last month.

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If you’re ever traveling in the area on I-5 on your way north or south between Lodi and Sacramento, Cosumnes Preserve is a worthwhile side trip.

I do NOT wear a pocket protector

Alright, I have been known to be, how you say, less than a fashion conscious person over the years.  In jr. high school my wardrobe consisted of giant bell bottom jeans and tee shirts with iron-on decals depicting motocross bikes, trucks, or that infamous green monster flipping the bird.  Yes, I actually wore that to school.  What can I say?  My dad was frugal and he let my brother and I wear pretty much whatever we wanted, and, my brother was better at this than I was, but I would even get a hair cut every couple of years.

Now, I’d like to think that my fashion sense has, for the most part, anyway, improved somewhat over the years and when it comes to work, there is as certain standard that is required of me.  Business, or business casual is the norm for most employees in my office, but I will be the first to admit that I exhibit some slight geek tendencies in that I typically carry a 4″X6″ note pad in my shirt pocket along with a pen.  I also, as many of my peers with which I share the first digit of my age will attest, now find it necessary to use reading glasses in order to focus on small print, and because of this, I keep a pair of readers in my shirt pocket along with my aforementioned essentials.

A couple of co-workers (who will remain nameless, but you know who you are) have been getting on my case about the conglomeration of stuff that I pack into my shirt pocket at work and have dubbed my eyeglass case as a pocket protector.  I deny this misinterpretation with fervor and I attest that I do NOT wear a pocket protector.  It is an eyeglass case that is occupying the same space as my writing tablet and pen; items that one might place into a pocket protector if they were so inclined to wear one, which, I am not.

One day, one of these two co-workers, who claims that he is only looking out for my best interests, stopped by my workstation under the guise of speaking to me on some work related topic or another and, unbeknownst to me, he snapped a photo of me and my overloaded pocket reflecting in the mirror by my desk.

I was oblivious to this assault, as this particular co-worker is never without his phone.  He can be seen throughout the day with his I-Phone grasped in a death grip in his hand, his head craned at a near perfect 30 degree angle as he traverses the corridors of our office blindly, guided through doorways and stairwells apparently by some hidden eye or video GPS device affixed to the top of his head.  Ya got an app for that? 

So, anyway, I thought nothing of it when he was standing at my workstation addressing his concerns about the malfunctioning copier upstairs with his phone in his hand. 

The efforts by this employee to get me to abandon my practice of cramming all this stuff in my shirt pocket has not been in vain.  I have now limited my use of my reading glasses.  I have since realized that I just don’t need them nearly as much as I previously thought.  The battle over my notepad and pen, however, goes on.  I will continue to keep a notepad and pen in my pocket because I use it for various personal and professional purposes.  I write.  I take notes on writing prompts or other subject matter that I deem valuable to a future story idea.  I am also a photographer.  When I see spy an intesting subject that I would like to photograph within the 40 square blocks of Downtown Sacramento, the area that I typically walk going to and from the bus, and my daily errands, Ill jot it down and revisit it later.

Maybe I’ll adopt the suggestion of this concerned citizen, who proclaims to only have my best interests in mind, and carry these items in my pants pocket instead, keeping my geeky note-taking habits hidden from the world at large.  But then, what would I do with all the junk I keep in those pockets? 

Whatever the final result of this issue that has recently been brought to my attention, I stand my ground in saying:  That is NOT a pocket protector.

Full Lunar Eclipse 2010

Did you see it?  I did, and let me tell you, it was pretty cool!  I have wanted to capture a lunar eclipse since I bought my first DSLR and tonight I was not disappointed.  Granted, I did only document the penumbra state through when the last of the moon entered the umbra at the point that the total eclipse began at around midnight.  By that time it was 47 degrees in my backyard and I had been craning my neck peering through my tripod mounted camera and 500mm lens at nearly a vertical angle for an hour and a half on a work night. 

It was a wonder that the clouds parted for this event as the skies for most of the day were dark with much of the day fully engulfed in scattered rain showers.  I figured that the clouds parted for a reason and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to document the only full lunar eclipse to occur on the winter solstice in my lifetime.  The last one to occur on this date was on December 21, 1638.  The next one is not due until December 21, 2094 according to NASA.

Alright, enough suspense.  Here is a slide-show with 8 of the 112 photos that I took between 10:33 and 12:00 midnight on December 20, 2010.  Post a comment and let me know your experience with this or a past eclipse event or just give me some feedback.

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Ghosts in a Stockton Cemetery (do you see what I see?)

Do you believe in ghosts?  Well, who doesn’t, to a certain degree, right?  OK, maybe not everybody has had an otherworldly “experience”, and you’re probably thinking; “hey, this guy is nuts.  I thought his blogs were about photography and junk like that”. Well, they are, and before you get your panties in a bunch, just let me explain.  I, for one, have never really had a strong belief in ghosts, goblins goulies, or whatever, or, for that matter, nor have I ever had an experience that I could, or would remotely call a “ghostly” experience.  That is, until one day in 2004 when I bought my first digital SLR camera and decided to field test it in a cemetery near my home.  “ooohhwiiiooo”  (that’s my feeble attempt at phonetically typing out the eerie spaceship sound that we have all heard in cheesy black and white movies, you know, like on that one episode of The Brady Bunch where Peter plays a trick on his siblings by projecting a space ship onto a sheet strung between two trees in his back yard and makes that eerie sound by blowing into that phony whistle contraption)  Or was it Greg.  I know, I know , Who gives a flyin poo, poo, right? 

Anyway, back to why I sat down and began pounding away on my laptop so late on a work night.  Back in 2004 I was testing my new camera in the Stockton Rural Cemetery and fired off a couple hundred photos before heading home to download them to my computer.  They all came out pretty good and I didn’t think much of them again until about a year later when my wife’s cousin’s daughter (does that make her my neice-in-law?)  I know, your right; WTF, who gives a crap!  Get back to the story, would ya!  I promise there are gonna be some photos, OK?  Keep your pants on. 

So, anyway, Julie (Sup, Julie!  Holla, Whoop, Whoop!) tells me about this Web site called ghoststudy.com.  Ghoststudy is a site where people can upload photos that they have taken of everyday stuff which at the time the photos were taken, they saw nothing out of the ordinary in them, but upon closer inspection, people noticed weird shit that they didn’t see before like faces peering through doorways, or transparent figures walking around, you know, ghostly stuff.  If the powers-that-be at Ghoststudy deem the photos authentic and creepy enough, they will post them on theire site for all to see.  So, I got the idea to take a closer look at all those cemetery pictures I took, and since they were high-resolution digital images I was able to zoom into each one really close to inspect every inch of them.  It took hours to go through them all, but when I was done, I had a couple of them that TOTALLY gave me the creeps.  Now, I promised photos, and they are coming up, but first let me explain that I am not going to point out what I think that I see in these images so that I do not taint this little project or prompt anyone to see what Ithought that I saw.  Although I confess to being quite proficiant in PhotoShop, all kidding aside, I did NOT alter these images in any way what-so-ever, nor did I fabricate anything in the photos.  With that said, take a look for yourself and if you see something wierd in either of these two sets of pictures, please leave me a comment on my blog and let me know what you think you see. 

The first image is the one that took my breath away once I zoomed into it.  It’s an overgrown family plot that caught my attention because it was old, very overgrown and kind of sad that no one was around to keep the weeds down and maintain the plot.  I am going to post the original image and then the second image where I zoomed in to an area behind the plot.  You can click on the images to make them larger, but I don’t think that you’ll need to before you notice something a little freaky.  Do you see anything in the zoomed in image?


The next images are of an old Victorian mansion located near that same cemetery and is at the site where the old Stockton Insane Asylum once stood in the 1800’s.  (Now the site of the U.C. Stanislaus Campus)  This site has been in the news not once but twice when construction workers who were digging on the property doing renovations, unearthed a mass unmarked grave, each time yeilding about thrity sets of human remains.  The thought is that these were patients of the old asylum that had no family so when they died, they were taken out behind the buildings and just burried.  one of those mass graves was discovered only a couple of years after I took these photos.  The Victorian house is where the superintendent of the asylum lived.  The day that I took these photos I spoke at length to the head of security at this UC Stanislaus campus who had many ghost stories to tell, and even stated that she refused to go into some of the buildings on her patrol after reports of her staff experienceing cold spots, lights turning on and off on their own and even one guard who said that he was pushed after walking through a doorway that lead to the old mourgue.

The first photo is a wide shot of the house and in the second one I zoomed in on one of the windows.  It was said that the superintendent of the asylum, and as was the style of many of the men living in the mid 1800’s, had a thick black mustashe.  It must also be understood that at the time that these photos were taken, and even to this day, this house is empty.  It is not now, nor was it then occupied by anyone and while it was being restored around this time, no workers were inside the house when I took these photos.  I’m just sayin…  Look at the second photo and tell me… do you see what I see?

So, the next time that you are out taking photographs of historic buildings, cemeteries, ghost towns or other places that may have a tragic history, take a closer look at your photos.  You just might discover something in them that you did not see before.  Now,  back to my photos, I ask you; do you see what I see?  and if you do, then WHAT THE #@&*^! IS THAT!

Why you takin my pichur man?


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Working in downtown Sacramento over the past four years I’ve seen just about every oddity one can imagine.  Yesterday after running to EDD to drop off some documents I took my afternoon break and walked back to the office through the Downtown Plaza shopping mall.   Anyone who is familiar with Downtown Sac  knows about the infamous K Street Mall and the ever vanishing storefronts in the Downtown Plaza.  So, as I am walking through the mall I spy a cool shot of the Renaissance Tower building at 801 K Street, better known by the locals as the “Darth Vader” building for it’s inposing fasade of black glass, kind of peeking through a skylight of the mall, like Vader is looming over the mall wondering how fun it would be to take a giant step forward and squash all those crazy people who still find some value in shopping downtown. 

  Anyway, I pulled out my camera (yes, I always carry a camera) and snapped a photo.  No sooner did I put the camera away and start to walk away a not-so-soothing voice blurts out “Hey, why to takin my pichur man?”  “What?”, I said.  “Why you takin peoples pichur man, you undecover cop or sumpthin”  Clearly I had agitated this woman and she wasn’t going to let me go with out some explination.  “No, I’m not taking pictures of people”, I assured her.  “I’m photographing that black building over there.”  “I done see no black buildin, look like you takin my pichur,  I aint on no wanted list.”  “Well, you can’t see the building from where you’re sitting ma am.  Look.” and I took my camera out and showed her the photo that I had just taken, but she was not impressed, even though it clearly showed the building and not her or any other people for that matter because the angle of the shot was upward.  I then put my camera back in my pocket and as I got a few feet away I heard her mutter under her breath “shudn auta be takin pichurs of people”.

 If you are ever in downtown Sacramento, whether on a break from work, having lunch or just visiting, stay off of K street and steer clear of the Downtown Plaza shopping center.  A lot of  freaks hang out there.