Photo: #2, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

A First Time: Visiting Mare Island Naval Shipyard NHL and using a Sony Mirrorless Camera

Last week I had a chance to knock off a few firsts in a matter of hours. A friend wanted to photographically explore around the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California. The invitation to tag along was easily accepted since I’d never actually been there myself. I’ve been past Mare Island many dozens of times. As a teenager, my dad used to take our boat up the mouth of the Napa River past Mare Island. We would sail past the huge cranes and old buildings, a number of naval ships, and most noteworthy were the few submarines docked there, including the nuclear-powered Nautilus, the first submarine to sail under the North Pole in 1958. Over the last decades I’ve passed by Mare Island, glancing from a distance while driving over the Napa River Bridge.

Photo Above: (#01) Number Two, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

In addition to my first time visiting Mare Island, my friend also offered me the chance to test drive my first mirrorless camera system, the 24mp Sony A6300 with a Sony-Zeiss 16-70mm lens. Since I’ve been using the Sony RX100mIII point-n-shoot camera for the last couple years, I was already comfortable with most of the basic menu items. But for ease of use, I just threw the camera into Manual mode and proverbially went to town, or more literally, to the Naval Shipyard. The opportunity to play around with this camera was so attractive that I simply opted to leave my full Nikon D800 system at home. I loved shooting with this camera. It was a perfect in-between system to the RX-100mIII P&S and my D800. The only issue I had which I discovered after the fact was some problems with edge-to-edge corner focus with the lens, that I later found through some google research to likely be caused by the lens OSS stabilization system.

So with the exception of the following image that I shot with my Samsung Galaxy S6 cellphone, all the rest of the images — save one more — were shot with the A6300.

There was one more first. My buddy also let me try my first time shooting Infrared with his converted A6000. I only shot a few frames, but it was interesting to see and get a feel for the unique method of post-processing. One of those frames is also included below.

Thanks for looking, and I’d love to know if you have a favorite image. If you do, please let me know by leaving a comment below. Thanks again. – Gary.

Image: Public access sign, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#02) Public access sign, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: 1085 Nimitz Ave., Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#03) 1085 Nimitz Ave., Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Old doorway, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#04) Old doorway, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Brick and glass, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#05) Brick and glass, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Broken Gun Barrel cross-section, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#06) Broken gun barrel cross-section, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Rusted Anchor Chain, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#07) Rusted Anchor Chain, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: D5 & D6 Industrial Cranes, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#08) D5 & D6 Industrial Cranes, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: D4 Industrial Crane, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#09) D4 Industrial Crane, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Infrared of industrial cranes at Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#10) Infrared of industrial cranes at Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Drydock at Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#11) Drydock at Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Stop PCB Contamination, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#12) Stop PCB Contamination, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: Construction hats hanging in window, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#13) Construction hats hanging in window, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

*** Also, I’d love to know which you like better: the Color or the Black & White version of the following image? ***

Image: The Phyllis, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#14) The Phyllis, Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California

Image: The Phyllis, (B&W) Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California
(#15) The Phyllis, (B&W) Mare Island Naval Shipyard National Historic Landmark, Vallejo, California



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Gary Crabbe is an award-winning commercial and editorial outdoor travel photographer and author based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He has seven published books on California to his credit, including “Photographing California; v1-North”, which won the prestigious 2013 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal award as Best Regional title. His client and publication credits include the National Geographic Society, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, TIME, The North Face, Subaru, L.L. Bean, Victoria’s Secret, Sunset Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, and many more. Gary is also a photography instructor and consultant, offering both public and private photo workshops. He also works occasionally a professional freelance Photo Editor.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Ron Calvert says:

    Great images. I went to school there, went through a refueling there and worked there.

  • Chloe M. says:

    Hey Gary,

    Really nice set! I think my favorites are #4 & #7 – the texture on the door is so beautiful! The infrared is really cool as well.

  • Joe Valenzuela says:

    Hi, Gary I was a young sailor stationed there in the early 70’s and was able to observe the nuclear subs in dry dock. Some of those were as large as destroyers . Had to be alert when those cranes started rolling , the alerted themselves by a constant ringing bell when they moved on their tracks . When I got onboard a ship we had undergone a a month long overhaul there. BTW I like the dock scene in color, adds to the nostalgic feeling for me.

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