Panoramas and the Geography Field Class

(October 24, 2007)

It is hard to imagine that I could travel thousands of miles through spectacularly beautiful and interesting country and not take any panoramas. How could that be?

Every fall semester for the last eight years I have taught a field class in the Geography Department at the University of California Berkeley (as part of my real job - Virtual Guidebooks is a sideline). It is a great experience, both for the students and for me, but it leaves me little time for photography. As the instructor I have a lot on my mind, and just cannot muster the unique combination of creative thought and technical concentration necessary for shooting panoramas. Also we move very fast on these trips, driving as much as a thousand miles in a long weekend, plus hikes, talks, making and breaking camp, meals and campfires (sleep is optional).

Last fall semester (September 2006) I just had to take a pano on a field trip, because it was the window for the World Wide Panorama and my last chance. So for the theme "Transportation" I shot a quickie of the group setting up camp in the deep woods of northeastern California. It is entitled simply Field Trip! The next day, at Mossbrae Falls, the last stop of that same trip, I shot another with a very different mood.

On the second trip in 2006 I shot a partial panorama of our empty camp at the base of the dunes in Eureka Valley. Camp is empty because all the students were off trudging up the 700-foot high "sand mountain" at the time.

On the third trip that year I shot a series of panos on the hike to the summit of Cone Peak in the Santa Lucia Mountains above Big Sur.

This year I missed lots of great panorama subjects on the first trip to Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta, and also on the second trip up the Redwood Highway. Not a single panorama! But I was determined to get something on the third and final trip, east of the Sierra.

The very first morning I shot next to a Joshua tree at sunrise in Red Rock Canyon. You can see the field class moving around our vehicles, drinking coffee and packing up to hit the road.

The next day in the Alabama Hills I arranged the students around me in a big circle and shot another pano. The opening view shows Genki and our big truck (the Beast). Pan it around right to Devin, then to Ryan being leaned on by big Dan (my co-leader), Heather is off in the distance, twice, then Katie K, myself, followed by Katie R. One of my favorite field trip groups. Several other students were elsewhere with Professor Cuffey at the time.

Only two panos for all that traveling - next year I shall have to do better!

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