Point & Shooting in Point Reyes

I arrive at the Olema Campground on the outskirts of Point Reyes National Seashore, just 40 miles north of San Francisco on the same day as my new Canon G7X camera arrives via FedEx from Canon Service Repair. It’s an eagerly anticipated arrival! I have been without a decent camera for five weeks now. Oh, sure, I had the trustworthy little $99 Canon ELPHie, but the zoom is broken, the LED screen is crushed, and half the time it returns a “lens error,” forcing me to shut it off and back on again.

At long last, after five weeks, it has arrived!

At long last, after five weeks, it has arrived!

Comparing the new G7X to Canon ELPHie. Not as sleek or stealth, but certainly more robust.

Comparing the new G7X to Canon ELPHie. Not as sleek or stealth, but certainly more robust.

Notice an extra quarter inch in width is due to the "flip screen," which I would gladly sacrifice for the slimmer profile.

Notice an extra quarter inch in width is due to the “flip screen,” a feature I would gladly sacrifice for a slimmer profile.

My camera of choice, my Canon S110 died a violent death at the end of April, the day I was to visit the Mission of San Juan Capistrano. It continually displayed the “Charge battery” error no matter which battery or how long it had been on the charger. I sent it in to Canon Repair the first week of May, at which time they estimated the repair to take “7 to 10 days.” Now two years old, the camera was no longer in warranty, so the repair estimate would be $173. Since the S110 is no longer available, I decided to pay the cost of repair.

Main Street Point Reyes Station, population about 800.

Main Street Point Reyes Station, population about 800.

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It's harder to find anything "non-organic" in Point Reyes than it is to find organically grown.

It’s harder to find anything “non-organic” in Point Reyes than it is to find organically grown.

There is a huge push toward "locally grown" in Point Reyes Station.

There is a huge push toward “locally grown” in Point Reyes Station.

Mid-May, I get a call from Canon saying they cannot repair the camera, so they are offering me the G7X as a replacement. After a good bit of research, I realize there is nothing as lightweight and compact as the S110 with the same quality, so I reluctantly accept. “Reluctantly” because the G7X is both bigger and heavier than the S110. Though the G7X is a better camera, I subscribe to the adage that “the best camera is the one you have with you,” and if a camera reaches point of being too heavy, I tend to leave it behind. But I am left with little choice if I want a comparable quality to the S110.

This substitution resets the estimate to another “7 to 10 days.” However, it would be almost a month before they finally shipped the substitute camera. Given that it’s a significantly more expensive camera, I suspect the substitute is a refurbished model, though I can’t tell with my untrained eye.

"Private Cups" are the local's way of reuse.

At the wonderful Bovine Bakery, “Private Cups” are the local’s way of reuse.

The "green factor" takes a minor adjustment, as I figure out what the pasta sticks are for!

The “green factor” takes a minor adjustment, as I figure out what the pasta sticks are for…(recyclable stir sticks!)

I arrive in Point Reyes the day before the season opener of their Farmer’s Market. I figure it’s a perfect venue to try out the new camera, though I have yet to read the manual.

The entire town is so photogenic with so much local influence, “farm to table” foods, and their many shades of “green.” The cool moist climate and rolling grassy hillsides provide ideal conditions for dairy farming, giving the entire landscape a wholesome, home-grown ambiance. The National Seashore is unique in that it was primarily dairy land when it was protected in 1962. There are still 15 working dairy farms within the park boundaries producing milk, ice cream, and locally made cheese delights like Point Reyes Blue, and Cowgirl Creamery.

Toby's Feed Barn is the location of the Saturday Farmers Market.

Toby’s Feed Barn is the location of the Saturday Farmers Market.

Since it's the first day of the season, everybody gets an ice cream cone, compliments of Straus Family Creamery

Since it’s the first day of the season, everybody gets a free ice cream cone, compliments of Straus Family Creamery

Every Saturday Farmer's Market features a cooking demonstration by a local chef.

Every Saturday Farmer’s Market features a cooking demonstration by a local chef.

Not only does he demonstrate how to filet this King Salmon, but he will pan saute it and serve with some quinoa cakes, and mixed greens with Meyer's lemon vinaigrette.

Not only does he demonstrate how to filet this King Salmon, but he will pan saute it and serve everyone a sample along with some quinoa cakes, and mixed greens with Meyer’s lemon vinaigrette.

With a population of > 1,000 people, the Farmer’s Market feels more like a local Saturday morning town meeting. Given that this is the season opener, there is a toast to the local farmers with Wild West Ferment’s plum and berry cider in mason jars, and free ice cream from Straus Family Creamery. The market takes place every Saturday at Toby’s Feed Barn, where (as friend LuAnn pointed out to me,) their website states, “Where else can you listen to a Pulitzer Prize winning author and go home with fresh strawberries, summer bedding plants, the perfect gift for a friend and a bale of hay?”

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I am not sure what instrument these guys are playing, but it looks like an inverted wok. It's lovely music.

I am not sure what instrument these guys are playing, but it’s lovely music. It looks like an inverted wok.

Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk, "a triple cream washed rind fully-flavored cheese made from organic cow's milk.

Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk, “a triple cream washed rind fully-flavored cheese made from organic cow’s milk.”

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As for the camera, the jury is still out. There are as many things that I like about it as not. I think it takes pretty good quality photos. Enlarging in post processing reveals little to no loss of sharpness. And (in my brother Don’s words,) “it has a nice light to shadow dynamic range.” But it irritates me that an extra quarter inch of thickness has been added for the vanity of a flip “selfie screen.” And while I like the sturdy metal casing, if I am to carry it in my pocket, I may need a sturdier belt to keep my pants up! It has a nice feeling little “thumb grip” by the shutter button, but the pronounced “REC” button immediately below it makes it challenging to use the thumb grip without depressing the video button. I accidentally took seven videos during my Farmer’s Market tour!

Still, it’s fun to have a new toy to play with in such a scenic area as Point Reyes!

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Forget me not...

Forget me not…

27 thoughts on “Point & Shooting in Point Reyes

  1. Great shots. I went round and round about cameras last year, and bought a Lumix, much lighter than my DSLR, but still not a pocket camera. I do want a pocket camera, but geez how many cameras do I really need? I realized that with all my years in California, I haven’t been to Point Reyes. Dumb.

  2. We absolutely love Point Reyes—spent a few days there in May last year and hiked as many trails as we could fit in, including the lighthouse (which I’m sure you did). It’s such a spectacularly photogenic place—you got your new camera just in time! Eric and I both hike/bike/kayak with our Canon SX60’s and don’t find them too heavy or awkward. But they’re not pocket cameras, for sure. We need to return for the farmers market—looks great!

    • Laurel, my apologies, as I should have given you credit for the Olema Campground reference. I found it as a result of your blog. They were offering a “stay six nights, get the seventh free” deal. I wondered if I could find enough to do there for an entire week, but instead I wish I had booked two weeks! Between your wonderful post and all of LuAnn’s great tips, it was a heavenly week in Point Reyes! More to follow. 😉 Thanks again for such a beautiful blog with great info!

      • You’re welcome! Glad you find our blog helpful. :-) We could have easily spent at least a week in Point Reyes, too. We’ve been plotting our return ever since our visit last year.

  3. I Love Point Reyes. I live up in Tahoe and try to make it to Point Reyes at least once a year. I like to camp at Samuel P.Taylor state park. Lovely , shady setting . Just up the road from Olema a bit. Lots of nice hikes in Point Reyes. Be sure to do the Bolinas point hike. Lots of elk and you may see lots of babies this time of year.

  4. I have had a couple cameras with pivoting rear screens and have found the screen to be often useful: low angle wildflower shots without sprawling on your belly; holding the camera above your head for a high angle shot of the parade when you are standing five rows back from the curb; an interesting shot straight up the trunk of General Sherman. You may eventually find that extra quarter inch to be worth packing around and the camera’s quality will add to your already great photographs and to our enjoyment of them.

    • Scott — I would agree with you if it were a pivoting screen, but this one will only flip up to stare me in the face! It doesn’t rotate around like some I have seen, but instead is like a smartphone where you just reverse the viewfinder back on yourself. So unless I want myself in the frame, it’s really a waste of space. Thanks for the nice comment, though! 😉

      • Geez, That doesn’t make sense! Why would Canon do that on a rather expensive camera? I sympathize with your disappointment.

        • Scott, they are no doubt catering to the “selfie-takers,” but given that they typically use their smart app phones for that, I don’t see this as a practical feature. It reminds me of the big blue behemoth of a company I used to work for who would come out with some new product catered to the next generation, but they would have missed the target by a few million in marketing.

  5. But… there’s always a but… does it have the super wide angle that the elphie has? You will miss that if it doesn’t… such sharp focus and color concentration. That said, you photos on this post are terrific. I’ve been lugging around my big honking DSLR lately and it is a bother. If you can compare the wide angle of the new GX 7 to the old Elphie and let me know if it is equal to or wider angle, I might be in the market for a new camera :) Carry a full size camera around on a couple of long hikes and that quarter inch won’t seen so bad :).
    Missing you on this summer’s hikes… Get your fill of the “big cities” and the PNW this summer, cause we got some “business” to finish at altitude :)
    Box Canyon

    • BC Mark — Sadly, the wide angle is no where near that of the ELPHie. I noticed it right away when I found myself having to “back up” to take outdoor scenes. I haven’t found a P&S camera yet that can take the wide angle landscapes as good as that one…why must everything be a trade off?

  6. I agree, pocket size is soooo important when hiking and exploring…those cameras that get just a little too big can be a pain if they weigh down your pocket.

    I may have told you this before but there is a wonderful little shop called Spirit Matter in Inverness near Tomales Bay Ecologic Reserve…

    • Well, Lisa, as always, I am running a bit behind on the blog, so I missed Spirit Matters. Pity, as it sounds like just the kind of place I would love. Good incentive to hurry up and get the blog in “real time” so I don’t miss out next time!

  7. Don’t you just wish you could design your own camera from little pieces you select on line and they put it together for you. I have the Canon SX 50 and love love the zoom but it won’t do good panoramas and I sure wish I could put it in my pocket. Your pictures are so good you have convinced me I need to visit Point Reyes again and maybe even check it out as a post RVing possibility given their vibe. Are you ever coming back to the East coast?

    • Hi, Sherry — Yes, I will come back east eventually…there are three National Parks in Florida I have yet to visit! Will you be my tour guide? 😉

  8. Your last picture has some pretty good bokeh. Unusual for a point and shoot. Today I tried to get a good head on shot of a snail on the walking trail and the wretched camera kept focusing way behind it on the grass, wretched wretched camera!

    • “Bokeh?” I had to look that one up. Wherever do you find these words? LOL! Does said wretched camera have a Macro setting? I think I used the Macro setting on that one…

      • It does, but generally shots taken with the macro setting are fuzzy. Sometimes I have better luck with the normal setting and then cropping. I probably need a new camera after all.

  9. It is always challenging getting used to a new camera. I have learned to like the flip screen on my camera and use it to take pictures close to the ground of flowers, rivers or other scenery when you almost had to lay down to get the shot..

  10. I want to go back to Point Reyes!!! I just adore everything about this little community. Isn’t Toby’s fabulous and the Cowgirl Creamery just divine? So glad you got to experience this little jewel. I will be looking forward to hearing more about your new camera. I had toyed with the idea of buying this model to take with us to Europe instead of taking my bridge camera with me.

  11. I looked on the map and it is “kindof” on the way to Sea Ranch, my August vacation spot. Looks like a great place to visit….my kind of picnic goods. Must be the season for new cameras…I just got the Fuji X-T-10…bigger than a pocket, but easy to pack around. Love it.

  12. The Tomales Bay Youth Center (Ice Cream Scoopers) would like to thank Mary Olson with the Point Reyes Station Farmers Market and Straus Family Creamery for the generous donation of 3 tubs of delicious vanilla ice-cream. It was a fun and tasty way to start the season and the four youth who showed up did an awesome job showing up for the Tomales Bay Youth Center.

    • Thanks, Madeline! I would agree on all counts! The ice cream was delicious, and particularly fun having it dished out by the courteous young servers! Thanks so much for the comment.

  13. Looks like the new camera does a good job, along with your eye. Always a learning curve. I carry the giant DSL everywhere. Haven’t been to Point Reyes in 35 years. Thinking a fall PNW trip would be nice.

  14. In pursuit of the most portable and convenient camera, I carried a Rollei 35 on all backpacking and mountaineering trips during the chemical film camera era. Sea kayaking called for a Nikonos. My starter wife carried a Nikon SLR for flower and other macroscopic photography. Now, my camera selection is goverened by optical quality, reliability AND the ability to use the camera without reading glasses. The flip-out view screens are useful, but for use without glasses nothing beats the optical viewfinder of a Canon G12. It might be too fat for your desires, but they are outstanding cameras.

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