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Friday Slide Show: Crystal Springs Trail Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

26 July 2019

Ten years ago we were reviewing the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS, a 10-megapixel superzoom digicam that looked like a little dSLR. Behind its 20x zoom, it had one of the first Canon CMOS sensors not in the company's EOS cameras. So we took it on a little hike along Crystal Springs Reservoir.

Crystal Springs Reservoir is actually a lot more enchanting than it sounds. It's not an asphalt-topped reservoir but two artificial lakes that fill a valley formed by the San Andreas Fault. On the little bridge between the lakes, there's a plaque to that effect.

We didn't walk that far.

The lakes are really the storage tanks for the Hetch Hetchy irrigation system that flows from the snows in Yosemite to the taps in San Francisco city and county and parts of the peninsula. During drought years you can see the water level drop dramatically.

Crystal Springs Regional Trail has three long segments: the San Andreas, Sawyer Camp and Crystal Springs segments. There's no fishing or hunting, fires or barbecues, dogs or pets, smoking or off-trail wandering. You can't pick wildflowers or pocket any other natural material. Even bikes are only allowed in certain segments.

As we worked on them, we realized these old Canon JPEGs resembled iPhone photos with their blown out highlights but nice color rendering.

But as long as you observe the posted speed limit, you can walk. And we did.

We had an awful lot of trouble with the PowerShot, we remember. Exposure was a mystery, a few shots completely blown out.

So we haven't returned to these images in a long time. But something brought them to mind and we took another look at them to see if we could revive them in Lightroom.

As we worked on them, we realized these old Canon JPEGs resembled iPhone photos with their blown out highlights but nice color rendering. We used the same approach we take to the iPhone images and improved them, although they took a lot more work.

Apart from the lake, the scenery isn't all that glamorous. There's too much brush and ugly barbed wire to keep the poor deer safe from humans. And the "trail" is mainly an old paved road, cracked from baking in the sun.

But here and there we found a gorgeous old madrone glowing red or a family of ducks out for a swim. We even took a break to model for a publicity still for our brother-in-law's business.

At one time we thought we'd do similar publicity stills for him at all the landmarks in San Francisco. We thought that would be hilarious. Gary at the Golden Gate Bridge. Gary at the Transamerica Pyramid. Gary at Candlestick Park. Gary at Alcatraz.

But, we had to wonder, what good would those photos have done him in New York state?

None at all. But hikes are like that. You walk along a little and before you know it you start to see infinite possibilities where before all you could think about was getting the house painted before the winter storms come in.

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