Good morning and greetings, warm weather fans. Well, for a stretch last week, Indian summer was on full alert, as October had been hotter than my outside shooting when I was a streetballer at Jade Street Park back in the 80′s.
So like Sponge Bob, I’ve been soaking in every moment of these warm autumn days, as the insulation in my westside abode, like my vertical leap, is almost non-existent when the colder weather hits. What this means is, on a warm day, I’ve got that natural air conditioning going, making me the coolest guy in town. But as soon as the weather changes, I go back to living in what could be only called the land of the frozen tundra, brought to you by Direct TV. Don’t just watch TV, Direct TV.
So it’s all about the weather. Or should I say climate? That’s what brought me to our beloved coldwater paradise, where the redwoods meet the kelp. I believe it was either Timothy Leary or educator Anthony J. D’Angelo who said, “Wherever you go, no matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” And as John Denver once crooned, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” Just make sure to slab on the sunblock.
My journey to the Cruz started back in the Garden State in 1970, when I had to make a very difficult decision about whether to attend Syracuse or Northwestern University. After doing my due diligence, talking with school administrators and consulting my astrologer, it suddenly became crystal clear. I could drive the six hours to Syracuse, or hop on a plane to attend Northwestern. Before you could say, “AAA,” it was off to Syracuse, which is an old Indian name meaning “place where snow goes to sleep.”
It was during my sophomore year, when it went from a winter to summer with no spring, that I decided it was time to move to greener pastures. Too many gray, rainy days. Singer Roger Miller once remarked, “Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet.” I was getting soaked.
English writer John Ruskin had this observation. “There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” Obviously, Johnny boy hadn’t spend much time around the northeast corner of the Finger Lakes region. I was in the New York state of mind and wanted out After all, I was only planning on being an undergraduate for seven years, and was determined to attend an institution of higher learning where the sky was blue.
A friend who was attending Colorado State in Fort Collins sold me on the idea of a Rocky Mountain high experience, so after filling out my transfer application forms (which I have absolutely no memory of), it was off to University of Colorado in Boulder.
It was the first time I had ever flown on an airplane. Before getting on the flight, I remembered the words of American writer Jean Kerr. “I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me they are wonderful things for others to go on.” As I climbed on board, it harkened me back to a scene from the movie classic “Airplane” when as the plane was about to take off, an elderly lady in the seat next to Ted Striker if he was nervous? Ted replied, “Yes.” She then said, “First time?” Replied Ted, “No, I’ve been nervous before.”
I still remember the first moment I got a glimpse of Boulder, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies. Now here’s where the story gets interesting. On my first night on campus, I met a stunning summer school student named Thea Ford, who was from a wealthy family in San Francisco. After telling her my life story, she said these nine words to me. “You should be going to school in Santa Cruz,” followed by “Wow, I’ve never met a runway model.”
My education in Boulder was like Dr. Ruth, short and sweet. Although the sky was bluer than a Red Foxx monologue and the sunsets over the Continental Divide spectacular, the climate was a tad chillier than what I was seeking. And besides, I needed a break from my intensive studies, so after two inglorious semesters it was time to go on sabbatical.
I decided to try and expand my horizons, so I bought myself a U-Rail pass and headed over to Europe. It was a great experience, except for the fact that there were too many Europeans over there. I spent some time doing research in Morocco, where the local culture was at least 100 years back in time. While at the local marketplace in Marrakesh, I bought a necklace made of figs that I proceeded to ingest, which then allowed my digestive system an opportunity to ride the Marakesh express. All aboard the pain.
Meanwhile, my old linebacker pal from Syracuse, Doug MacKinnon, had set up shop on West Cliff Drive, while my brother Paul was up at the dorms at Stevenson College. So in February of 1974, I flew out to the Golden State, where I was met by this dynamic duo at the airport and we headed down the coast.
My memory gets a little hazy from here, but what I do remember were drought conditions that brought on 23 straight days of 70 degree plus weather, which was liveable for an east coast boy in February, I thought, this will work for me, and decided to attend Cabrillo College in the fall. From there it was on to the basketball courts at UCSC, and the rest is meterological history.
So it all began 38 years ago, and that brings us to today. Weather continues to play an important role in my life, as being a photographer, I need more than sunny and blue. As superstar portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz once told me between bites of whitefish at a Bat Mitzvah, “Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy, your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” To this day, I still have no idea of what she was talking about.
So as we move towards baseball’s fall classic, we are getting closer and closer to the prime time season for the world-class sunrises and sunsets, where my light shines brightest.
Today’s photo groupon is from last Sunday night. I started shooting the sunset at Natural Bridges, where there was a wonderful pocket of yellow light in the sky to go along with the surfers, pelicans and big waves. But the intense action came after I got into my car and drove over to the entrance to the Long Marine Laboratory. The horizon was turning different shades of blood orange and red, and I used the bushes to create a silhouette effect that I learned in a class I had never taken. It was an exhilarating way to end a day, especially after watching the New York Giants crush the 49ers in the afternoon.
To check out these photos, click on http://www.SunriseSantaCruz.com/blog