Landscape: Santa Ynez River. Santa Ynez, California

Santa Ynez river looking west

Santa Ynez (ya-nezz) is a town located north of LA and Santa Barbara. The Santa Ynez river drains the north slope of the Santa Ynez mountains. It travels 75 miles from the Santa Ynez mountains to its end at the Pacific Ocean.

The Santa Ynez river is as photogenic as a Ms. Universe finalist.

1998, the last year of my education at Brooks Institute of Photography I spent a great deal of time dragging my 8×10 camera around with my buddy Christian. He had a 2-year-old son so his Ford Escort wagon had a car seat in the back. That was the perfect place for my 8×10. It fit in the car seat perfectly. I even buckled it in. It was so cute in that car seat.

These are scans of my custom contact prints I made in the color darkroom at Brooks. A contact print is when you take the 8×10 inch negative and lay it on the photographic paper to make a print. There is no enlargement. An enlargement is when you take a negative and project it through an enlarger. The advantage to contact prints are that the details are rich as a dictionary. Many photographers consider this method to be the ultimate way to make fine photographic prints.

I took the top photograph looking west. The river, trees and mountain are lit by the setting sun. I swiveled the camera pointing east next and did the same exposure. Isn’t the difference in the light amazing?

People living in SoCal don’t realize that there is actually an ocean of open space just north of the SoCal boundary (Which is Santa Barbara unofficially). They all claw at each other all day on the freeways and in packed restaurants. They all need to get out of town more often. There’s lots of road raging happening all the time.

When I moved to Orange County in 2006 I came from Boise. People drive slow and lazily in Boise (compared to Orange County where everything is a death race). For the first three months I was flipped off every day. One time I kind of, barely, almost didn’t cut this dude off. He was driving a Mercedes s500 (An outrageously expensive car) He roared up next to me, rolled down his passenger window and screamed at me. I totally ignored him. I could see him with my peripheral vision pointing and cursing. His car was lurching forward and swerving within inches of my Trooper. This happened for a couple hundred yards until we got stopped at a stoplight. I continued to look straight ahead and he jumped out of his car and slammed his door. He was stomping over to “talk” to me. I was in the right lane so I waited just until he was steps away and I casually turned right. I could hear his screams and he punched the back quarter of my Trooper. All of this while I calmly talked to Jack about the virtues balsa wood airplanes. Jack never saw that guy.

That dude was too high strung. He needs to stand in the middle of the Santa Ynez river for a while.

The mountains in this area are beautiful rolling mounds covered with oak trees and grasses that blow in the wind. The Television show M*A*S*H was shot in an area like this one. It’s an incredible place, California.

Santa Ynez river looking east


  1. I can just imagine this guy telling his co-workers about this experience…

    “So this guy cuts me off and I get so pissed, I start yelling and screaming in my car and flipping him off! And he just ignored me! So at the light I got out of my car to yell at him and he took a right just as I got to his car! Can you believe that? He didn’t even respond to my yelling!! Made me so mad!”

    Meanwhile co-workers are thinking, “So who’s the crazy one??”

    I figure it’s better to be a calm driver because you never know if the person in the other car may be a friend of a friend, a future client, or your waiter/ress next time you go out to eat!

  2. The first photo- AH-MAY-ZING. Such texture. Another reason why film dominates digital. And why large format dominates any other format.

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