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Thread: John Muir Historic Site

  1. #1
    Drew Wiley
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    John Muir Historic Site

    This is one of those smaller Natl Parks - friendly, uncrowded, and well maintained. I was just out there and the orchards are in fall color. It is best noted for its splendid Victorian mansion where Muir lived. It's in Martinez near the Carquinez Strait, and should not be confused with either Muir Woods in Marin County or John Muir Wilderness in the high Sierra. You can't escape freeway noise around the mansion itself, but if you hike uphill either direction you can. The urban section is connected to much larger open space sections, including the John Muir Land Trust. By the time all these various patches are put together, as they nearly are, it should amount to over 10,000 acres. If you combine that with protected water district holdings, Regional Park properties, and what is set aside for the Carquinez Loop Trail, the land amount is more than double that. A bit too unhealthily smokey today to want to hike around much; but the smaller park inside town itself is a nice little jewel for locals. A couple of non-tripod photographers also showed up about the time I left.

  2. #2

    Re: John Muir Historic Site

    Very cool--before moving out to Cali, Muir actually travelled through my neck of the woods on his "thousand mile walk" through Kentucky to Florida. A bit of an odd choice of itinerary IMO, coming as it did a couple of years after Appomattox Courthouse, but he managed to avoid bushwackers and blood feuds, and came away impressed by the Hiwassee river valley and the Unakas that he crossed on the way to Murphy, NC.

  3. #3
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: John Muir Historic Site

    You can photograph inside the mansion with a tripod. A few years back I took the big Pentax with the Gitzo G1341 and photographed the interior of the house and the grounds. Pick a time when the tourists will be minimal as asking them to move out of your way would be unacceptable.

    Thomas

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: John Muir Historic Site

    Thanks Thomas. I chatted with the friendly young ranger at the desk and he didn't think so. I should have asked the lady at the mansion itself when she was sweeping the front porch. My smaller Ries tripod, suitable for up to 4x5, has reversible legs with spikes at one end but rubber feet on the other end. But I was mainly interested in outdoor shots yesterday since I was just taking a break from work at home, and needed to allow some drywall compound to dry before sanding again. The sky was blue through that little corridor along the river, but rather smokey any place it could settle it. I needed blue sky in order to get efficiency from a deep green contrast filter with respect to the white paint, red roofing, etc. My strategy indoors would simply be to go in there scouting with either a Nikon or handheld Fuji 6x9RF with fast film (TMY400), then return on a rainy day when the indoor/outdoor lighting ratio is softer, and visitors minimal. There were in fact none going indoors yesterday, and just a few people outdoors, none at all any direction I pointed a lens.

  5. #5
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: John Muir Historic Site

    I guess it depends on who's on duty and their mood. I walked in with the Lowepro 450 Pro Trekker on my back carrying the camera and lenses with the tripod attached to the side and asked the ranger if it was ok to take photo's. He said "sure" and I dropped the pack in a corner, mounted the camera and proceeded to photograph. The house in the back was locked.

    Thomas

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: John Muir Historic Site

    The abode building behind the orchards is now for Park personnel use and not open to the public, though it can obviously be photographed from outside. There was a big squiggly crack in the whitewashed adobe from the last earthquake I found interesting and wanted a shot of before it gets caulked. Things in general are very well kept up. But they've tried to keep it all period-authentic, which I'm grateful for. The big walnut trees are especially appealing in fall color, just like the almond tree bloom is in spring; but I was more interested in the interactions of architecture, foliage, and afternoon light. If I wanted to shoot the interior of the main mansion I would probably bring along a CF tripod switched out to rubber feet, rather than a big Ries, and carry the 8x10 with minimal supplies in a shoulder case instead of its usual big backpack, based on pre-scouting with a handheld camera. I once did a number of shoots for architect and contractor portfolios of expensive historical renovations, and know the ropes pretty well.

  7. #7
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: John Muir Historic Site

    Rules about when photography with tripods is now allowed are subject to interpretation - this can be a good thing, and a bad thing depending on the mood of the person you ask.

    Years ago, I visited Fort Knox in Maine, and as we were entering the site, I asked the woman collecting parking fees if photography with a tripod was allowable. Boy, was that a mistake - turns out she was a photographer, and wanted to chatter about gear. I thought I would never get away from her!

    Her answer was 'yes', by the way.

    FWIW, I used a 4x5 in Alcatraz a few years ago, and no one seemed to mind.

    Thomas made a very good point - when we use large format cameras and tripods in public places, we need to remember that we don't own the space, and can't direct what other people are doing around us. I suspect that if there is any negative feeling toward photographers, it is because they try to control the space they are photographing.

    My wife made a snapshot of me with my LF camera photographing a rock on a beach, when a 'professional photographer' came up with a model in a swimsuit that he posed on the rock. He didn't ask - he just assumed that he had the right to interfere with what I was doing because he was a 'professional' and had a model. It was a cold day and I had a jacket - the model was freezing, so that situation didn't last very long, but it illustrates the point. A little bit of courtesy and common sense go a long way.

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