Just to let you know...  
 
Like most websites, we use cookies to provide an interactive website so you can have the best online experience and to allow us to see how our website is being used.
 
By pressing "Accept Cookies", you allow Alex Wright Photography to set cookies on your device, in adherance with our Cookie Policy. If you ignore this message, you'll see this message on every page you visit. You can change your cookies settings from the Cookie Settings page or the website footer.
 
ACCEPT COOKIES
IGNORE
VIEW COOKIE POLICY & SETTINGS
 
 
Just to let you know...  
 
Like most websites, we use cookies to provide an interactive website so you can have the best online experience and to allow us to see how our website is being used.
 
By pressing "Accept Cookies", you allow Alex Wright Photography to set cookies on your device, in adherance with our Cookie Policy. If you ignore this message, you'll see this message on every page you visit. You can change your cookies settings from the Cookie Settings page or the website footer.
 
ACCEPT COOKIES
IGNORE
 
VIEW COOKIE POLICY & SETTINGS
 
California 2017
STORY LOADING... PLEASE WAIT
California 2017
STORY LOADING... PLEASE WAIT
HOME     STORIES
California 2017
  By Alexander Wright | 20th July 2018
California 2017
  By Alexander Wright | 20th July 2018
California 2017
  By Alexander Wright | 20th July 2018
          In August 2017, my family and I embarked on a 2-week road trip down the Pacific Coast of California. We drove from San Francisco to San Diego down the iconic California Highway 1, via the stunning Yosemite National Park, taking over 2,600 photos along the way! In this post I’ll be highlighting some of my favourite photos from the trip, as well as exploring the history behind the places I visited.
SAN FRANCISCO
          We started off in the City by the Bay, San Francisco. Day 1 was Alcatraz Island, the former Military Prison and now tourist attraction. Walking around the abandoned facilities you hear the stories of those who once stayed in these cold, damp cells and the tales of the numerous escape attempts. The main attraction of the island is the Main Cell Block, where the majority of the tour takes place. This 3 storey building which was constructed in 1912 and housed some 1,576 of the USA’s most ruthless criminals, including Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the "Birdman of Alcatraz") and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Below you can see some images of the cells within the Main Cell Block.
          On the 21st March 1963, the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary officially closed with prisoners being moved into new mainland facilities. This marked the end of an era for the island, whose buildings were left to decay. Just under a year later, on the 8th March 1964, Native American activists began to occupy the abandoned island, and were joined a year later by a group called the United Indians of All Tribes. These groups protested federal policies that saw the assimilation of Native Americans into mainstream American society. After President Nixon rescinded the Indian Termination Policy and many months without electricity, telephone lines (both cut by the government) and a lack of fresh water, the number of Native American inhabitants of the island dwindled. On the 11th June 1971, 19 months and 9 days after the occupation began, the last 15 occupants of the island were removed by government forces.
          The signs of the Native American occupation are still present on the island. Several buildings on Alcatraz Island were damaged and destroyed by fires that occurred during the occupation, and have since been demolished, and graffiti is still present on many buildings. "Welcome Indian Land", "Peace and Freedom" & "Home of the Free" are such examples of graffiti left by the Native Americans on the islands water tower, as seen in the image below.
          Upon returning to the docks, we began to explore the city of San Francisco. Walking around gave myself the chance to enjoy the architecture of the city, especially the few modern skyscrapers. The Transamerica Pyramid, one of the more well-known additions to the San Francisco skyline, was designed in 1969 by William Pereira for the Transamerica Corporation. Standing 48 stories high, the tower held the record for the tallest building in the city until it was overtaken by the new Salesforce Tower in 2017 (still under construction). Next on the list for interesting structures is the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, more commonly known as the Coit Tower. Designed by architects Arthur Brown Jr. and Henry Howard, the tower remembers Lillian Colt, a patroness and honorary firefighter of the San Francisco’s Volunteer Firefighters, and stands on Telegraph Hill, the site of her first fire encounter. The third image in this section has no real history to it, but it’s a nice example of minimal architecture. So enjoy!
          When I was editing the photos, I decided I wanted to focus just on the minimal structures themselves, so I removed the surrounding buildings and replaced the sky. This gives the photos a nice uniform, minimal look across the set.
          After a day spent around the Giant Redwood Trees at Muir Woods National Park, we decided to stop and walk along the infamous Golden Gate Bridge. Spanning the Golden Gate strait, the 1.7-mile-long bridge was the longest and tallest of its kind when opened in May 1937. We started at the public observation park in Presidio, where there was a stunning view of the bridge and the surrounding bay area!
          The typical San Franciscan mist removed the majority of the bridge’s colour, so I painstakingly traced all the bridge in Photoshop to selectively boost the colour. Overall, it took me over a week of editing, but I think it was totally worth it!
          We then walked along from Presidio to the South Tower of the bridge, which inspired some of my favourite shots of the trip. Each of these features the iconic ’International Orange’ colour which the bridge is painted in and gives the structure its golden appearance.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
          Our next stop was to the stunning Yosemite National Park. With over 1,000 square meters of World Heritage Site, the park is home to the recognisable Half Dome peak and El Capitan rock formation. Unfortunately, there were historic and ongoing forest fires nearby when we visited, meaning some of the park and surrounding areas was off limits to visitors and there was some visible smoke around the peaks.
           In this photo of the Half Dome, the dome was partially blocked by smoke. I decided to remove the majority of this in post-processing.
          Mirror Lake was one part of Yosemite I was most looking forward to visiting. Online there are hundreds of photos of a pristine reflection and amazing background. Unfortunately, not all members of the public appreciate the mirror, and decided to go swimming whist we were there. Nevertheless, I’m still happy with the shots I took.
          I also used a tripod and Gobe ND1000 10-stop ND filter to take some long exposures to remove people (looking at you on the left!) to smoothen out the water. I kept the editing of these to a minimal, only really applying basic corrections and removing the ND filter tint.
          On our way out of the park, we stopped near the Yosemite Chapel to take in the sites. The 1879 New England style chapel is the oldest structure currently in the park, and it’s design sits beautifully in with the natural surroundings.
MONTEREY BAY
          After a packed day in the Yosemite National Park, we moved on to Monterey Bay. Our first day was spent on a whale watching trip in the bay. The trip was full of the usual sightings of blowhole spouts, the occasional back popping out the water and of course myself sitting inside as I felt horrible sea sick! However, our trip was lucky to see a Humpback whale breach from the water in the distance. Luckily, my camera was in the perfect position to capture the Humpback Whale mid-breach!
          Our next stop was the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Opened in 1984, the aquarium is known for its regional focus on the marine habitats found in Monterey Bay. It’s organisation is regarded as the first to successfully create and maintain an artificial kelp forest within it’s walls. The organisation is also has played a large role in influencing sustainable fishing and ocean conservation over the years, with ongoing research and conservation efforts into wildlife and habitats of the oceans, including tuna and sea otters.
BIG SUR & PISMO BEACH
          Our next leg of the trip was to Pismo Beach via the Big Sur costal route. Along the journey, we stopped of at the Bixby Creek Bridge to enjoy the natural beauty of the coast and the architecture of the bridge. This bridge holds the record of one of the most photographed bridges in California, and I can certainly see why! Unfortunately, a portion of Highway 1 was not passable during out visit, due to a landslide which had damaged a bridge further down the route. Therefore, after we stopped at the Bixby Creek Bridge, we headed back towards Monterey and took an inland route to Pismo Beach.
          Here is a panoramic shot I took of the Bixby Creek Bridge and Big Sur Costal Route!
          On our second day at Pismo Beach, we visited the local historic landmark of Hearst Castle. Designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947, it was home to the newspaper magnate William Hearst. During its heyday, invitations to the castle were highly coveted and its guests included Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo.
          My two favourite shots from the day were of the Roman Pools (on the left), which are located under tennis courts, and the Neptune Pool (on the right), which unfortunately were undergoing repairs and so was missing its tiled floor. Both were taken as Panorama photos due to the massive scale of both the structures, and I used the Microsoft Image Composite Editor to stitch them both together.
          After our short stay at Pismo beach, we continued towards LA. For the final leg of the trip, we spent most of our time exploring the touristic spots of the city, so my camera didn’t get much use for the last days of the trip.
          So that’s a wrap of my 2017 Californian adventure. Let me know what you thought of my first ’Story’ in the comments below.
BY ALEXANDER WRIGHT
Alexander Wright is a London and Southampton based photographer focusing on architectural and minimalist photography. In his spare time, he enjoys roaming around the streets of London looking for new photo opportunities with his friends. Alexander frequently presents photography lectures and runs workshops at the University of Southampton.
More about Alexander
BY ALEXANDER WRIGHT
Alexander Wright is a London and Southampton based photographer focusing on architectural and minimalist photography. In his spare time, he enjoys roaming around the streets of London looking for new photo opportunities with his friends. Alexander frequently presents photography lectures and runs workshops at the University of Southampton.
More about Alexander
VIEW LATEST STORY
Exploring London: Part 1
VIEW NEXT STORY
Berlin 2018
VIEW LATEST STORY
Exploring London: Part 1
VIEW NEXT STORY
Berlin 2018
Published: Friday 20th July 2018 at 12:00
View Cover Photo
ALEX WRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
Instagram Facebook Twitter
CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 2014 - 2019  ALEXANDER WRIGHT / ALEX WRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | COOKIE SETTINGS | EVENTS PORTFOLIO
ALEX WRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
Instagram Facebook Twitter
CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 2014 - 2019
ALEXANDER WRIGHT / ALEX WRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. | COOKIE SETTINGS | EVENTS PORTFOLIO
HOME STORIES