Words provided by: Joseph Lopez
Ever since the new trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens released on Thanksgiving I've had my mind set on doing a Star Wars inspired shoot. The first location that hit my mind was somewhere in the forest or woods north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I also have two master replica Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader lightsabers that would make great props to reenact fight scenes. With the mysterious ways of the force, Michael Casatico and Sasan Sayyar were planning on heading out to the woods the same day I was, December 23rd, 2014. It was only necessary that we meet up and all mob out there together. I hopped on BART at about 6:00 AM that morning to meet them at the Martinez station. Keep in mind, I am sitting on BART with two life size lightsabers while everyone else is making their morning commute to work. I got a lot of stares by other passengers but it was obvious they were too intimidated by my Jedi ways to say anything to me.
I met up with the guys and we made our way out to the woods. Upon arrival, we were approached by a couple park rangers very concerned with what we had planned for the lightsabers. To our surprise, we had stumbled upon one of the actual set locations for The Forest Moon of Endor, The home of the Ewoks in Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi. The rangers informed us that they get about 5- 6,000 guests a day, so they had a lot of worries about the safety of the guests when it came to bringing in two lightsabers. Unfortunately, we agreed to there terms and returned ONE to the car. Fortunately, Mike made his switch to the dark side and hid the Darth Vader replica behind his back and uncomfortably walked in unnoticed.
Walking into the woods amongst the towering trees and dark shaded areas, we were all very anxious to light up the Sith weapon! After passing up all the touristy guests, we ran into numerous places to unleash the lightsaber. The way the red from the saber brightly lit up around the surrounding trees looked epic! A couple guests even offered to pay us to take a picture with it. We knew we couldn't stay in one spot for long, so we kept it moving before we attracted to much traffic. We had to go deep into the forest and find a place away form other guests. After walking a good distance, we came across an area with massive trees that have fallen, and one was even made into a bridge to cross over a river. We spent a while there, taking really awesome shots of each other alternating with the lightsaber. As we were about to make our way back to the trail, the sun started to peek behind the trees shooting beams of sun rays throughout the forest creating great photo opportunities, especially with the lightsaber in hand.
After we were satisfied with the shots we had, we decided it was time to head out. We left at about 3:00 PM and made a great decision to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Sutro Baths just in time for the sunset, this time bringing out both lightsabers! The sun was just starting to set as we arrived and we trekked down the cliff to get the shots we needed. Shortly after, we busted out both lightsabers and made our way towards the cave. The way both sabers lit up in the cave was nothing short of awesome! The mixture of the red and blue lights along with the golden sunset peeking into the end of the cave was epic! We spent a good amount of time shooting in the cave before fans of the lightsabers started pouring in. We made our way outside to get some sick reflection shots from the baths of Mike and Sas dueling it out for the last time just as the sun was disappearing.
A full twelve hours of exploring, lightsabers, and good company is a great day in my opinion! I definitely recommend giving it a try. It was my first time adventuring out in the woods and for sure wont be my last. As for the Sutro Baths, I have been there before, but never during the golden hour, and it's without a doubt, something worth seeing for your own eyes! Here are some of the photos we managed to get throughout the day.