Saturday, November 14, 2015

Commuting - Part 1: Cummings Valley

Rays of Hope - Stallion Springs, California
This is a view from my driveway.
I'm not a full-time photographer. I'd love to be someday, but at this time I don't earn enough from my photographs to quit my "real" job. I work in a field completely unrelated to photography. And, like most people, I have to commute to work.

What might be different about my commute to work is that I drive about an hour and fifteen minutes each way. Five days a week (and sometimes six) I travel 140 miles round-trip. That's a lot of time in the car!

My commute is through mostly rural areas. I pass farm fields. I cross a couple of mountain passes. I traverse a dusty desert. The scenery is diverse.

And, as I pass through it, I think about all of the photographs that I would capture if my full-time job was photography. I'd spend more time than a quick blink-of-an-eye moment at each spot. I see things frequently that might make good picture subjects, if only I had more time or the lighting was better.

Occasionally I do stop. Sometimes I have a few minutes to spare and I have a camera with me. I get out of the car and capture a photograph. It's not every day that this happens, but, over time, it adds up.

I've been doing this one-hour-and-fifteen-minute commute for about two-and-a-half years now. But it's going to end really soon. No, not because I'm quitting my job, but because I'm transferring to Utah. I'm moving!

Something that I've recently realized is that I've created a large number of images while commuting. I've also captured some images along my commute route while traveling for other reasons (not commuting, but traveling the same route nonetheless). Put it all together and I've got a large photographic series. I call it Commuting. 

The photographs in this series were captured using many different cameras, including a Sigma DP2 Merrill, Nikon D3200, Nikon D3300 and Nokia Lumia 1020, as well as some others. It's not the camera that matters, but the one using the camera.

Cummings Valley In Color
Dusk Fog - Stallion Springs, California
A view from the end of my driveway.
The first segment of my 140 mile long round-trip daily commute to work is from my house in the rural community of Stallion Springs, California through Cummings Valley and up a winding mountain road towards the small mountain town of Tehachapi. This area is quiet and lovely.

After leaving my house behind, I make my way out of the neighborhood with a couple of turns. Pretty soon I'm on Banducci Road heading east, which is a two lane road that travels past some farm fields and ranches. At first it's flat, but soon the pavement rises with sharp twists as it snakes towards a small pass at the foot of Cummings Mountain. The turns ease just a little less once over the summit.

One has to watch out for wildlife on or near the road. It's common to see deer, and sometimes they jump out in front of you unexpectedly. In the winter the roads can become slick. On the curvy mountain section there's usually a driver or two that cross the yellow line. Bicyclists like to traverse this route even though it is sometimes narrow with blind turns. One has to be extra vigilant to avoid being in an accident even though this area is rural.

This first segment of my commute is 10 minutes long, unless you get stuck behind someone who is driving slow. Sometimes a truck or elderly motorist can add five minutes driving time to this section. Unfortunately there are not many opportunities to make up for lost time. So that means that one must plan a buffer to avoid being late for work.

The photographs in this post are sights that I have captured along this section of my commute route. This is what I see when I leave my house and begin my 70 mile journey to work. 
Dusting Snow On Cummings Mountain - Stallion Springs, California
A scene captured from the first street on my commute route.
Summer Country Feeling - Stallion Springs, California
Captured from the first street on my commute route, just around the corner from my house.
Summer Grass - Stallion Springs, California
This was captured across the street from my home.
A September Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
An end-of-the-driveway view.
A Sunset In June - Stallion Springs, California
I captured this from across the street from my home.
Stallion Springs Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
This image was also captured right across the street from my home.
A California Home - Stallion Springs, California
I captured this image around the corner from my house.
Epoch - Stallion Springs, California
This was also captured around the corner from my house.
Red Field, Green Field - Tehachapi, California
I pulled off onto the dirt shoulder of Banducci Road to capture this image.
Farm Sprinkler - Tehachapi, California
This was captured along Banducci Road.
Dirt Disks - Tehachapi, California
Another photograph captured from Banducci Road along the farm fields.
Machine Sunset - Tehachapi, California
This image was captured at the same time and place as the one above.
Chucky - Tehachapi, California
There are three different roadside memorials along Banducci Road that demonstrate just how hazardous this commute can be. 
Sunset From The Pass - Tehachapi, California
This photograph was captured from the summit on Banducci Road.

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