Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Murphy Ranch

Recently went on a photo hike with my regular photo wandering friend Julia (great find Julia!), to another hidden Los Angeles area gem, the Murphy Ranch. Built in the canyons just outside L.A. in the 1930's by wealthy Nazi sympathizers. This blog gives a good history on it and has some good photos as well. It's a really interesting story, plus directions on how to get there.

It was a good hike in general, nice steady 30-45 minute walk up the incline on fire roads until you get to the very long steps down.

Clouds and Landscape  Sun Flare Grass
Hasselblad 500C/M • Kodak VPH400

Slow and steady down the 999 steps, with some wonderful views along the way. 

Dark Path Steps
 Hasselblad 500C/M • Kodak VPH400 
The Long Steps Up
 Hasselblad 500C/M • Fuji RDPII
Most of the area is over grown with lots of rusted out parts of former buildings and equipment fill the grounds. Plus a lot of layers of graffiti covering everything.

Some Murphy Ranch Remains  Sun Flare Trees

Murphy Ranch Greens

Murphy Ranch Vanishing Path

Murphy Ranch Power Station
Power Station • Hasselblad 500C/M • Fuji RDPII
I decided to take my Hasselblad out for this adventure. It's a 500C/M with the older C mount 80mm F2.8 Planar and older A12 back. I've had the camera for about 14 years, originally for doing commercial work. I hardly shoot with it anymore, but thought taking this little tank on a nice long hike would be a good change of pace. I also brought my modified Holga (done by Randy at Holga Mods, 2ft min focus, F5.6/8 mod) plus some very expired films. I used 12+ year expired Kodak 160NC Portra for the Holga and 12+ year expired Fuji Provia RDPII chrome film and some super old 22+ year expired Kodak VPH400 color negative film (rated it at 250) for the Hasselblad. Got some interesting results and color shifts with these films. The Fuji film was thin, with a warm/magenta cast, but still had a lot of information and detail. Not sure if rating the film slower or processing differently would change that, I also suspect the development time could have been longer. The really old Kodak film probably should have been rated at 200 and even pushed a tiny bit in processing. They were a bit dark and had a very blue green shift in color. A lot of this can be corrected fairly well, and yet still show that its a aged film.

Murphy Ranch Graffiti Murphy Ranch Graffiti Face

Graffiti Doorway Murphy Ranch Murphy Ranch Power Station

Murphy Ranch Power Station
Back of the Power Station • Holga 120CFN • Portra 160NC
Murphy Ranch Power Station
Power Station • Holga 120CFN • Portra 160NC

 I found that using the Hasselblad out in the field like this was a lot more fun then I had expected. Good padded neck/shoulder strap and carrying in hand at the same time was a good balance for not much wear and tear on my back/shoulders/neck. Also, packing a light backpack was essential. For once, I traveled light and only brought what I needed.

    Murphy Ranch Ruins  Alien Plants

This was a cool photo adventure with such an interesting mix of history and nature. I recommend going in the morning though and taking your time. It's a great hike, with beautiful views. So close yet far away from L.A. There and back with some time to wander, shoot and have a quick lunch break all in about 4 hours. We did miss the old iron gate entrance and water tower. The walk back up of those steps was a thigh burner! Great work out, but tough.


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