5 of 7 Challenge

#5of7Challenge

ARE YOU UP FOR A CHALLENGE ?

Its a special time of year for photographers, especially the 9-5 working types like myself.   With the time change there is now extra an extra hour of light in the evenings and sunrise happens at a reasonable time as well.  With the air heating up and flowers starting to bloom its a great time to get out and shoot.  So why not go out every day – I was thinking about some of the challenges Ive seen over the years that require a person to simply post photos everyday, etc.  That’s not very challenging at all ! So Ive come up with a challenge of my own – designed to get us outdoors and push our creativity a little.  Here how it works….

If challenged you have 3 days to accept or else ….. nothing will actually happen.  But people may think slightly less of you – you never know.

If accepted you must create a brand new image for 5 out of the next 7 days.  Thats a full week starting the day after you accept.

You can post to the social media platform of your choice – but you should probably be consistent

You get TWO days off to allow for a little wiggle room when planning your shots.  There is no requirements for the type of gear you use, it can be cameraphone, drone, gopro, whatever…just make sure you post it online within 24 hours of taking it.

There are also no formal requirements for the style of subject matter you have to shoot, it can be a picture of your cat, landscape, abstract, whatever.  Just get out there and create something new.

Here is the fun, and challenging part…

CHOOSE UP TO TWO ASSIGNMENTS AND ADD A PERSONAL TWIST TO THE CHALLENGE 

The idea here is to think of the person your challenging- you should probably know them fairly well – and think of something they do not normally photograph, it could be a style or subject matter that they don’t often approach.  The sky is the limit as to what you can add to the challenge but keep it reasonable and obtainable – make it a fun.  This is not supposed to be 5 out of 7 days of perfection – no one expects 5 masterpieces, quite the opposite.  Sometimes we get so focused on a particular goal that tunnel vision sets in. This challenge aims to get you thinking creatively, and outside of your comfort zone. You may just find inspiration with your camera’s phone while at the office using the bathroom, or your neighbors mailbox in the right light.  The real challenge here is to create new work, and see possibilities everywhere- you have to create something every day for a week (almost) so you better keep your eyes open. If anything this is a good excuse to take shot that has been in the back of your mind forever.

Here are some examples of ways you can spice up the challenge:

-Do they only shoot sunsets – have them try sunrise

-Do they only shoot landscapes, have them shoot a portrait- animal or human – from the chest up only ?

-Always in landscape mode- have them tilt the camera vertically.

-Black and White vs Color or vice versa

-Too many shots of the same place – require a location they’ve never been.

-No editing allowed ! – post a completely unaltered image – dust spots and all ! might as well just through it in JPG mode.

-Choose a specific focal length – you could combine any these together – for example: shoot a sunrise in vertical at 200mm

-Maybe they are afraid of getting wet, have them try something that requires

-does your friend visit the same place A LOT – try banning a location

-confine them to a location 2 different takes on the same subject

– you can only shoot within one block of your house, etc.

for the highly skilled individual you could really get technical – just keep it within the realm of “doable” Remember to consider the skill level and safety of the person you choosing and make your additions unique to them. Be nice, but be challenging. I can’t wait to see what kind of creative images and challenges come out of this….

Note: 5 new shots in seven days may be enough for some people- you DO NOT have to add additional criteria- BUT If 5 new shots is not enough of a challenge then try 6, and they must be posted by the midnight on day they were taken to count !

In summary: 

-accept the challenge

-post  FIVE “brand new” images in SEVEN consecutive days – starting the day after you accept

-images must be posted the same say they are taken. use the hashtag #5of7challenge

-challenge at least ONE other person before the 7 days are up

-tweak the challenge to the person your selecting with up to TWO specific requirements(assignments)

-be original, creative and fun.


Winter 2016-2017 - Plans change

Ever changing plans and missed opportunities

As with this past Autumn, and the Spring before it, I had high hopes for this years wet season as it was to be the first winter I would have to put over a years worth of research into action.  My plans to start things off with a tour of coastal locations – mainly sea-caves, from Santa Barbara to San Diego over the extended Christmas weekend had to be put off until New Years, then MLK weekend, and now I’m looking at this coming Presidents day weekend as my last chance till next season but the window of ideal sun and tides is mostly gone.  I may very well end up down south anyway but will probably be catching more waves than photographs, cue the margaritas.

In 2015, after years photographing wine country that I realized my portfolio was sorely lacking in seascapes, so I decided to change that.  Thus began the location scouting; by using all the amazing resources available to us average citizens these days, I methodically scoured the entire california coast, starting with known locations I had yet to visit and/or get a good shot of, then I just went looking for any feature that seemed like it would yield an interesting image. I focused particularly close attention to sea caves and waterfalls (tide-falls).  I was totally blown away by how may caves there are along the California Coast, I dont why it took me this long but it was the search for seascapes that ultimately led me to finally get my ass in gear, and approach photography in this exhaustive and through way -not just shooting locally.  I quickly expanded to Oregon and Washington then the inner mountain northwest, as well as the 4 corner states and even points east of the Mississippi to expand my personal database of locations. Just as in wine country I explored the wondrous joys of overhead and birds eye view  satellite imagery, aerial photos, astronomical/oceanic calendars and 3d topographic mapping engines, such as NASA Worldwind-  better than google earth.  As I complied all this information it was plotted onto a custom google map, which provides real time traffic – super cool ! One thing all these great resources don’t provide is a substitute for seeing a place with your own eyes.  Panorimo can certainly help verify things but its not until you actually get out there and scout a place that you realize what looked like a short 5 foot skip and a leap is actually 25 feet sheer drop.

Once I set out to visit a new location I call it the “Discovery Phase”, this is my favorite part of the landscape photography process.  Getting in the car, driving somewhere far, and then hiking into unfamiliar territory. I loved doing this before I ever picked up a camera and it is during this time when hope and imagination are limitless.  The excitement of discovery is sometimes validated, but more often it is not.  Many places just don’t pan out as desired or are proven to be inaccessible.  With seascape especially, the constant change of sand levels, swell heights, tides, and erosion can wreck havoc on the best laid plans, and this doesn’t even take into count the quality of light on any given opportunity. In early 2016 I started out with a smartphone full of locations on my google maps and used up a couple weekends making initial visits to many locations, mostly caves and waterfalls, from northern Mendocino County down to Santa Cruz. Did I mention how many freaking caves there are on these stretches of coast alone !!!- its mind-boggling!  While many are completely inaccessible by land – even at the lowest negative tides, plenty of them are doable under various conditions.  Ive counted around 65 caves, and a few arches that  I hope to visit on foot – due to shadows on the aerial and satellite imagery – I know I missed some.

Below are a few screenshots of my google maps… so many places, so little time.  I can’t be the only who uses maps this way and it begs the question: why isn’t there an app like this.   There probably is, or will be soon enough and thats a real problem.  Amateur photographers like me are ever increasing in numbers.  The more we visit these fragile beautiful wild places the more we damage them.  Then we share the images and others find their way to these places – the cycle keeps going.  Not everyone has the same ecologically conservative conscience, and eventually groups of kids who saw a cool photo on Instagram want to go party there- leaving graffiti and garbage behind.  The Increased foot traffic, off-trail hiking, overflow parking, crowds, garbage vandalism, angry neighbors, etc all take their toll.  The internet is full of stories about the consequences that photography in the age of social media have on the sensitive landscapes that we love.  Respect the location your visiting, and don’t give away your locations to strangers or people who won’t be discreet, even if the location is already “popular”, more people visiting is never a good thing.  If someone really wants to find a place, they should do it the old fashioned way, by doing some homework and then taking a hike.

 

IMG_1001                   IMG_0999

Not every location in CA by a long shot- just the ones I’m focusing on…..about 175 and counting …..

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 9.06.06 PM

Locations Change  – something I learned first hand on two occasions this year.

Loss of an unknown treasure ? One of the first places I wanted to investigate after compiling my great list was a possible waterfall from a small drainage not too far from the bay area, in an area with some interesting history  see Godons Chute.  As I will explain, I never had the opportunity to get a good shot though I scouted the area twice.  Maybe others have photographed this spot, but i haven’t seen any image of it.  That isn’t saying much though – so if anyone knows of an image I would love to see it.

Here is an aerial shot of the falls

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 8.27.37 PM

From a nice outcropping about 80 yards t0 the south I was hoping to get a lower straight-on telephoto shot, roughly level with the falls itself.  I never had the nerve to scramble down the narrow deep muddy ravine that leads out to this platform – the falls weren’t flowing on this scouting trip and It was far to dangerous as I was alone.  Considering the subsequent collapse of similar nearby terrain – Im glad I didn’t try.  Recently I learned that the ledge I was was considering standing on used to be the top of a large arch – which apparently collapsed during the Loma Prieta Earthquake in ’89.  further reinforcing the nation that these cliffside locations, like sea caves, are inherently dangerous and the absolute last place anyone would want to be when the “Big One” hits.

 

 

 

 

 

here is a cameraphone shot from the top of the cliff showing the waterfall ledge area that collapsed(see below)….it would have been nice to see a glowing ribbon of water flowing off that ledge, from a lower down on the aforementioned outcropping with my 70-200.  oh well.

IMG_6975

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the overhead satellite images “below” you can see the recent collapse on the left and the prior condition on the right. the land has receded so much now that the actually falls would not be visible from my intended location – and I wouldn’t want to be standing above the falls either…

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 8.24.35 PM

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 8.34.57 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my first visit (1/18/2016) visit I took a close up shot from above the falls looking down(below). While setting up my camera I noticed a small chunk of soil had washed away – seemingly recent. Feeling nervous I got just three shots off when the mirror in my camera broke loose, ending the session.  Ive wondered if that broken mirror maybe didn’t just save my life- who knows!   There is no telling when the collapse actually happened but it was sometime between Feb 2017  and Jan 2016.

_MG_7207

 

Above: My one and only image of the falls actually flowing. Getting a good angle here meant leaning over the cliffs edge,  something I just wasn’t about to do.   Its a good 60+ feet down to the surf, which on this day was large and pounding the cliffs, shaking the ground.  There are actually a series of very large caves under these headlands and the waves crashing into them were creating this loud booming sound which again,  shook the ground.

Here is another new-to-me location that has suffered from the forces of nature, fortunate for me that I was able to catch a shot before mother nature decided to run amok. I stumbled upon this arch while actually attempting to access some nearby sea caves back in April 2016. The caves proved inaccessible but this arch- through which you can see another arch was quite the unexpected consolation prize.  Again I can’t imagine other people haven’t photographed this spot, and I assume they have – but I haven’t seen the proof.  Until then Im calling this spot “double- door”.  There are two arches here – looking through one at the other.  The larger arch in the distance is actually one of three opening in the cliffside- in the photo below  you are looking through directly through – but there is a separate opening to the left out of view.  I think that technically makes three doors, at any rate “double-door” has a nice ring to it.

11-14-16 Two images focused stacked f/8 @ 1 second.

_99A1621

 

Between my first two visits in mid November and my next in mid December – a prolonged period of extremely large heavy rain and king tides all conspired to keep any good light from hitting this spot and also ripped a large rock off the cliff face and lay it to rest square in the center of this natural arch.  Here is a video of the large and extremely heavy rock or (boulder) I discovered on  12/12/16 that is now blocking what would be a really cool shot when the beam of light through “triple arch”  is strong.

 

I tried to move the rock, Ha ! I don’t think a team of horses could budge this thing. I also considered taking a wedge and a sledgehammer to break it up – doubt the park service would approve of that though. Originally I pondered if maybe the large surf and high tides had moved the rock and thus- future storms could relocate it once again.  Water is the most powerful force on earth but I still struggle to wrap my mind around how waves could move a boulder like this.  I made several trips here between 11-14-16 and 1-14-17.  After another storm I found another smaller microwave sized rock on the top of the archway. Clearly this one had fallen from above and was extremely heavy for its size as I couldn’t move it either. seeing this second rock likely confirms the theory that it was not the ocean that moved these rocks.  Considering this development, the fact that I spent my first several visits directly up against the base of these cliffs gave me a bit of a chill.  after all there is no cell service here – and no chance anyone would here you scream for help with the noise of waves and wind, not to mention the remote location.  people don’t just wander out here.

From hundreds of shots narrowed down to a dozen,  Here are a few of my favorites from this location.

11/14/16   f16 @ 1/8

_99A1539_2

“The Elephant” – a vertical orientation taken from below the crumbling cliff: 12-27-16  f18 @ .3

_99A2960_2

All the crashing waves disrupt the beam of light – in the shot below I merged two images taken seconds apart for a more solid beam of light:

12/28/16  f8 @1/15

_99A3263_2

After shooting the previous compositions from higher ground for some time and watching the wave behavior, I decided It would be doable to get a great shot of rushing water coming into the cove before I called it a night.  Waiting for a larger set to pass I quickly set up and started shooting the smaller waves, I extended my stay a little bit as the larger sets returned the first wave cresting through the arch sent a wall of whitewash coming my way.  I kept clicking as the wave reach me, ultimately splashing the camera with water and knocking it from it position, I had to lift the camera up above me and the rock I was crouching on, while the water continued to pile on and rise up above my waist.  I was prepared for this scenario but the speed with which it occurred and nearly losing my camera was a bit terrifying.  once the water receded I quickly got out of there.

f8 @ .5

_99A3394

On 12/30/16:

 Conditions were really nice and I came away with a number of shots – it was hard to pick just one from this session:

_99A3584_2

 

_99A3569_2

This next shot was really fun to get.  A summer like fog bank was rolling in, and I barley made it out here as the appalling holiday traffic had closed the tunnel to all but residents of this area.  I “pleaded” my case with the authorities and it was game on. Unable to see the horizon from this spot, I had no idea how close the fog bank was getting and thus – how soon the sun would be obscured, canceling the beam of light, but I knew my time was limited. It has been my ideal scenario to get a good sky over head with a clear horizon so I was pumped when the leading edge of fog was started to appear on the sky while the light beam was still happening . The scattered cloud deck was providing a much welcome element to the sky and over all composition but promising to ultimately kill the beam.  Like someone hitting the light switch it suddenly vanished. I decided to hold out for any break in the clouds and waited, about 10 minutes and was ready to pack it up when suddenly, as quickly as it had disappeared, the beam returned and lasted no more than 2 minutes. While this coincided with a lull in the waves,  I was stoked none the less.  This is the best overall scene I was able to get this time around.

_99A3502

12/31/16:

One last shot for the year, now the 11 month wait starts over.

_99A3751Good ‘ol Rodeo Beach,  home of the three amigos, aka rodeo stacks, aka three large boulders that everyone photographs.  I like to whine and complain about coming here so often – time constraints kind of force it upon me.  It has been really refreshing this season to find other compositions on this familiar stretch of sand.  Some very large swells this year have moved sand around and when the tides are low – I’ve found a couple new spots to focus on,  in other situations, compositions came to me be chance, by simply avoiding the Amigos and going where the water line led me.

12-25-16:

Christmas Day,  our after dinner hike on the beach had a brief window of light…

f22 @.6

_99A2855

 

12/27/16:

Quite a productive night on the coast,  low tides + high surf = good times

f8 .4 iso 200

_99A3171

f8 .4 ISO 100

_99A3137

f14 @ .8 ISO 100

_99A3090

f4 @ .4 ISO 400

_99A3200

1/30/17:

The first of three consecutive nights with great sunsets in the SF Bay Area.

_99A5151.3

_99A5136.3

_99A5196

1/31/17:

Night Two – ridiculous …..

_99A5318

I made it out the beach late and unprepared to get down and dirty in the water.  The sky went completely nuts and I ended up soaked….

_99A5320

I went to work right at the place where my trail reached the beach, the lower tides were exposing some rocks, which recent storms have made more visible than normal.

_99A5298-2

I just stood in the same 10 square foot space of beach – shooting in different directions ….

_99A5288

_99A5273

My 4 stop reverse grad ND is the only one I have and it was a little overkill here …. but ill take it.

_99A5248.2

_99A5339.2

_99A5372.2

By the time I reached these rocks the light had amazing show had mostly faded…

_99A5383

2/1/17:

Third weekday in a row – more Rodeo Beach, where else.

_99A5394

_99A5402dark

I had the best time shooting these rocks, and getting soaked in the process – camera included …

_99A5435

…especially this shot – completely drenched.  The sky over San Francisco Bay was incredible on this night, I had considered Cavallo Point as the tide was right, I kind of regret not staying there, but i figure shooting something new is always better than doing repeats.

_99A5473

12/23/16:

Despite living pretty close to this spot for many many years, and being aware of it, I steered clear for whatever reason.  Seeing so many images lately,  I decided it was time to join the crowed.

intersting clouds but not much water ….

Untitled_Panorama1.2

1/22/17:

lot of water and dramatic skies but turkey gravy light conditions.

Untitled_Panorama5

1/29/17:

Another California Coast waterfall I first visited late 2015 – and I keep coming back hoping for a great sunset as there a lot of sky in the frame while shooting this place.

_99A4926

 A vertical stitch of 5 frames

Untitled_Panorama6

2/10/17:

Finally received some good light here after several visits.  the water wasn’t flowing as much but enough.  What looked to be blazing sky ended up being so-so as the clouds were fizzling.

Untitled_Panorama7.2

I was headed back to the car after sunset when I turned around and decided to go back and taker a couple more. the lingering light was just too beautiful…

f8 10 seconds iso 100

Untitled_Panorama5salt

12/4/16:

Pfeiffer Beach – This years one and only attempt.  Ive had the beam of light here show really strong and some great water action but never had any luck with the sky and overall light conditions.  I made the trek for what promised to be a great sunset, and it was, but the beam ended early as the horizon thickened up.

_99A2128_1

2/12/17:

What started off as a follow up trip to verify tide and sand levels for a number of caves along this stretch of coast ended up being a beautiful evening.  low level clouds formed in the stiff North winds and moved parallel to the coast, filtering the light of the setting sun and making for a some really nice light .

_99A5933

A negative tide left this flat beach just wet enough for some incredible reflections in every direction, Ive never seen sand reflection like this, over a mile of beach with nearly unbroken reflection.

_99A5982

It hasn’t been all seascapes –

12/10/16:

We had some nice low fog at the golden gate… I have been wanting to shot low fog from here for about a year, the sunset wasn’t so great which is too bad since the sun is in an ideal location this time of year for such a shot.

_99A2360_1

 

12/22/16:

Mt Tamalpais –  when the sun reaches its most southern position – the light striking the mountain is really something for a couple weeks.  I made a couple trips up here to capture it.

_99A2551

12/24/16:

I’ve come to realize that San Francisco has too many construction cranes culturally the skyline for my tastes, spoiling a lot of shots I wanted to take this winter. However this one spot, which happens to be my personal favorite, is still crane-free.  Below is my attempt at a blend, I actually ended up recreating this shot myself with a friends car on christmas, eve with better results. But it was watching this cab drop someone off that had given me the idea a few weeks earlier.

_99A1460

 

1/12/17:

A cat and mouse game with some amazing mid level clouds on this evening led me to this wonderful location. An amazing place of visual convergence that I am only aware of thanks to the work of Jerry Dodrill Photopgraphy – his work is truly masterful and you can see it here.  The clouds in this image has just dropped rain on this area before moving out to sea minutes before I arrived.  The resulting light, filtered through a few cloud decks, striking this wet environment was just incredibly rich and warm.

_99A4161

Here is a video showing the amazing light …

1/24/17 The greening hills and valleys of west Marin County, I would love to catch some morning light and low fog from up. The likelihood of getting the right conditions is probably 1 in a million and it’s a decent hike. Totally worth it though, so hopefully Ill have something like that to share eventually.

Untitled_Panorama3 copy

 

1/25/17:

doing my attempt to stomp Michael Ryan Photography’s work.  all the elements were there, just not quite aligned correctly.

wilsonhill

 

Whew ! well there you have it, that was a long one.  Pat yourself on the back for hanging in there. 2017 is starting off the same way 2016 did,  with high hopes crashing down to reality and resulting in a lot of unplanned and unexpected opportunities.  Photography, after all, is about being in the moment and taking whatever nature gives you.  As I finish writing this the largest storm in years is about to slam into Southern California and my girlfriend is sick, so I guess ill be staying put and shooting local this weekend. That’s ok, there is more than enough to point a camera at around here….

 

 


Fall 2016 - Seasons change ...

Things change – and boy do they ever !  This journal will stick to weather transitions and not political ones- Though a case can made those two are closely related…..  Anyhow Meteorological Autumn just ended and along with it my hopes of capturing a number of locations. This was to be the season that I would return to wine country, a place I’ve photographed extensively in years past but have not seen much of in recent fall seasons.  I made a meager total of only two trips up to Sonoma County – specifically Sonoma Valley and Carneros, and was fortunate enough to at least capture some good sunsets- better than nothing. I was also planning to make several trips to the eastern sierra in search of fall color but alas- only one trip was had.  As the days have become shorter and the amount of time to get out during the week and photograph slowly disappears – I have been force to focus locally for inspiration.  Even hoping to catch the fall color locally – which is sparse but no less beautiful- can be a bit of a battle in futility and indeed I failed to capture much this year.  Most of the local color exists within developed areas, such as subdivisions and downtown sidewalks- courtesy of the exotic/non-native species developers like to plant.  Some substantial early season rain has conjured up visions of grandeur and a hopeful twinkle in the eyes of photographers.  Several repeated trips up and down area streams looking for colorful compositions and waterfalls have led much to be desired for me- though I have seen a few great captures shared on social media – glad some have been getting lucky even though I have not.

Aside from fall color – the changing of seasons brings moody skies, big waves, and one of the two annual series of extreme low tides. November and December both have a series of negative tides – in addition to May June and July which is the other series.  There are plenty of low tides throughout the year but, many places – such as sea caves, are safest and most accessible during a negative tide- some are only accessible during these lowest of low tides.

September 30th – Carneros – quite a ridiculous sky over wine country.  This is a panorama made from several vertical shots. I

Untitled_Panorama5.1

October 7th – Sonoma Valley – another nice sky and another panorama made from a few horizontal frames.

Untitled_Panorama3

_99A8223

_99A8274

November 16th  – Marinwood

_99A0536Back in late September I made my way out to fort baker during my lunch break – it was hot and I want to cool off a little.  I randomly drove out to the marina parking and walked to the edge of the cliffs.  I was just looking around when I noticed the rocks below me.  The water was sloshing around in an interesting manner so I noted the tide- took a photo for reference and ate my lunch.   After studying the tide charts later that evening I was happy to see the next similar tide would be happening during sunset just a few days later.  Photography has always been a solitary pursuit for me.  Living in rural Sonoma County for so many years – and living under a rock in terms of photography on social media-  I never really bumped into other people with cameras and I don’t exactly study the work of other people – it can be inspirational, but there is a fine line between being inspired by someones work and being cursed by it.  Originality is the most desirable quality in a landscape photograph (IMO) – even if the subject is a common one such as the Golden Gate Bridge.  If anything, finding a unique way to photograph something like the GGB is impossible.   There are hundreds of extremely talented photographer in the bay area all shooting the same things – nearly every imaginable angle has been covered  many times over.  I can be a bit idealistic and I suppose a little naive when I got my hopes up that no one had shot the bridge from this location.  I had not seen any shots from here- but as someone who doesn’t go out of there way to find images I am often blissfully ignorant to the popularity of any given location- I think its more fun that way and if nothing else preserves the “fresh perspective” you need to be original, again that fine line between inspiration and imitation.

_99A7317-2Conditions were nice and clear though a more interesting sky would be needed.   I enjoyed approaching the location with no idea how I would shoot it.

I made a few more visits in the following weeks

_99A8996

_99A8820-2

on my third or fourth visit another couple photographers showed up – shattering my little bubble of originality.  As always It was nice to meet some friendly people and fellow instagrammers – they had been coming here for a while you can find their work @letsnotgetcocky and @gigglegiver2.   Here is my only decent image from that night – courtesy of some bigger than expected waves from a passing cargo ship.

_99A9159-2

More visits –  finally got a warm sky …

_99A1167

I could stand here in the water – catching water motion all day ..

_99A1161

another couple visits later I bumped into Larry – who you can find on instagram @twixfunsize.  Larry was already down on the rocks when I arrived and could easily have been a jerk about it – thankfully there was no argument necessary and he even snapped a shot of me doing my thing- Ive used the photo as my pages personal profile image on Facebook.  We had a decent sky- most colorful yet for me at this spot- there was even greater action happening slightly further north – just beyond the framing of the bridge.

_99A0483_1

_99A0461

Finally on November 7th things were shaping up to be really good – and we had a really nice long burn in the sky – casting color on the water.

_99A1336-2

_99A1297_2

_99A1357

My personal favorite …..

_99A1382

_99A1410

_99A1418

One last shot – driving back to highway I just had to stop and try to snap the bridge with these boats in the foreground

_99A1424

An absolutely beautiful night – glad to get some great conditions and just as happy not to be shooting sunset at Rodeo Beach or Marshall Beach – its nice to have somewhere else to go in a pinch.

Speaking of Rodeo and Marshall beaches – I still found myself at both of those locations recently …..

– October 29th –

This is a blend of two images combining the wave action on the distant rocks.  Every 5 or 6 minutes a set would slap against those enormous boulders with a thunderous boom

_99A0752

_99A0596

_99A0599

Flocks of bird passing by overhead – traveling south for winter I assume – gave a nice addition to the scene .

_99A0628

_99A0629

It was nice to see a fog high based fog bank roll on shore over the headlands – eventually eclipsing the north tower of the bridge.

_99A0573

– October 30th –

My canon 17-40 creates a lousy sunstar – occasionally it gives me random blades of light as well…

_99A0927

I had spent the afternoon hiking along lagunitas creek – looking for fall color scenes with the streams flowing – nothing was working so I made a last minute dash for the coast

_99A0940

My girlfriend and I ended up getting hosed by the rain cloud in the background below… beautiful way to end the day…

_99A0962
With fall off the agenda Its time to shift gears and start focusing on urban scenes.  The best time to shoot cityscapes and highways is when all the lights are on and the roads are packed. Adding some good light to the equation makes winter the ideal time as the evening rush hour occurs during sunset and more office building lights are on after the sun goes down.  I hope to add a number of city shots to my collection this year- last year was a bust so Im hoping for a departure from my recent experience with fall color. Here is a couple shots taken not far from my house – looking down at highway 101 and san rafael – with Mt Tamalpais and the hills of the GGNRA.  This is one of a number of locations around Marin that I hope to include in a future post focusing on the neighborhoods of Marin County.

November 17th

aquinas_Panorama2

November 29th

Aquinas

 

 

 


Kauai 2016 - In the middle of the pacific ocean - there lies a garden

Hawaii is so far west it might as well be east- just a couple hundred miles form the dateline- its like flying to tomorrow – almost.  Then again- despite the remote location in the middle of the pacific, a short 4-5 hour flight from California is enough to transport me to another world entirely.   A few years back America Samoa moved the date line to the other side of their county to increase tourism from Australia and New Zealand, etc.  Apparently Hawaii is considering something similar- that would be a bummer for us on the mainland.  This year marked the 5th trip my girlfriend and I have made to this amazing place and I was fortunate to do a lot of shooting.  Conditions could have been better – but they could have been much much worse.  All in all who is to complain, I’m not and we had a wonderful time as always- feeling blessed to be able to do such things.  If you live on the west coast and haven’t been – get yourself an Alaska Airlines credit card and go already, its damn cheap.

middle of everywhere

IMG_9628

10-14-2016

Having not slept well for a couple nights prior to getting up extremely early the day of our departure – I found myself in a zombie like state by the time my first golden hour of the trip came around. Determined to play catch-up after years of ignoring this location- so unbelievably close to our apartment, I made the scramble down to the coast with little time to set up.  A fading swell was sending waves over the rocks inly intermittently, the sky was nice but I struggled to control the overall range while maintaining a good shutter speed.  Despite several series of bracketed exposures I ultimately made desperate use of the patch tool to borrow some sky on a single shot with best wave action.

_99A9207

________________________________________________________

10-15-2016

After choosing to sleep in I made a second visit to this same area the following evening- a NNW swell had faded further- waves were fewer and further between with less wash than you would hope for but very once in a while a rouge set would come.  Cloudier skies made for easier control in the highlights, breaks in the clouds were sending shafts of light down into Hanalei Bay lighting up small showers moving across the waters and as usual, people checking out queens bath helped provide a sense of scale.

Two shots with only white balance adjustments to distinguish them.

_99A9328

_99A9327

and a little video of all that water moving around ..

This stretch of coast – with huge black volcanic rocks broken up by large smooth cracks – kind of look like teeth. The enormously powerful waves move impressive amounts of water around in terrifying ways- a dramatic sky can make this place look like something out of a lord of the rings movie .   If Mordor had a coast – I Imagine it to look something like this.  Without much wave action to concern myself with – It was safe to get lower and explore different compositions – These cracks are really interesting to work with.

_99A9366

It was nice to be able to work with different takes in this fascinating area.  The big bold scene one would hope for wasnt going to happen, but that allowed for shots that otherwise would be totally off limits,  When even modest waves wash over this area you don’t want to be anywhere near this lower shelf.  It can’t be overstated how dangerous and ridiculously powerful the wave action is here when its “on”. Kauai is the northern and western most of the big Hawaiian island- deep wave energy just slams into this island and unloads.  People die annually in this area – its no joke, but quite an impressive sight.  The largest swell I had all week was about 5-6 feet at 17seconds – pretty small as far as swells go,  but all that raw energy abruptly erupts along this north stretch of Kauai.  The water in this cove is easily 20 feet deep at normal tides.  When the waves move into it – the water level rises about 10 feet as it sloshes around.  Thats a lot of energy in a confined space !!

_99A9442

Water comes in from different directions here- the larger waves wash over the rocks completely but even the smaller and more consistent waves will move into this “cove” and erupt upwards like a boiling pot and push water up onto the rocks.

Below is a .3 seconds exposure timed to show the water boiling up. There is no “wave” just a massive displacement of water.

_99A9456

Another couple takes from a different position – looking more directly north here with a nice colorful glow in the sky.

_99A9502

_99A9500

One last shot, the fading sky allowed for great long exposure glow, but overall color wasn’t impressive.  On the California coast- this waterfall would probably be subjected to hordes of tourist and photographers alike on a daily basis. Here, on this tropical dreamscape- its a mere footnote. In hindsight I should have paid more attention here, I did consider getting down to the rocks below- which is doable but i just wasn’t feeling it while I was there.

_99A9510

___________________________________________________

10-16-2016

Continuing my focus on playing catch-up, I got out for the first sunrise of my vacation with a return to this location – yet – again. After a particularly dark hike through the slippery “jungle”, with chickens/roosters, and huge frogs/toads the size of my foot absolutely everywhere , I made it out to the rocks.   The temperature is perfect at all times in Hawaii but its interesting how much the humidity increases once you get within a short distance of the water.

The full moon was still above the horizon when I shot this image about 15 minutes before official sunrise.

_99A9521

As the sun rose on the opposite side of the island some nice color started to show in the clouds. With the swell having dwindled, only a fairly strong trade-wind driven windswell was making waves.  Small but enough to give a little something to the foreground.  For this image I attempted to blend a few shots.  Im a complete amateur at blending and basically any Photoshop technique that requires something more than dodging and burning. I chose two frames of wave action for the foreground- taken seconds apart.  One had a little water in that bottom crack that I really liked, wave action was otherwise nearly identical in both.  For everything above the horizon I chose another image from a slightly different position taken a few moments later- when the color began to show up.

_99A9571merged_2

A single raw file – with basic highlight/shadow adjustments.  Without my waves to work with, the focus was once again on this cove with the erupting water. I wanted an “interesting” foreground that maximized the color starting to show up on the mountains in the background. Getting higher up also required being further away and zooming doesn’t always work – here I felt it did not so I stayed low and got as close as I felt was safe.

_99A9588

____________________________________________________

10-17-2016

Yet another sunrise – yet another visit to the same location- I wasn’t kidding about wanting to get a good shot from this place.  This time my pre-dawn tromp through the jungle was especially wet, having rained over night-  the trail was a mess and I nearly fell a few times.  Once again huge frogs were everywhere – one even leaped in front of my foot as I was running/sliding down the trail and the poor little guy got launched off into the jungle- Im sure it landed safely. While making my way across the lava shelf I heard the distinct sound of a baby crying off to my right against the cliffs.  As my heart skipped a beat and the hair on my neck started to lay back down a bird came flying out from the cliffs towards me and relieved itself in the process.  I took a few more steps and then – another crying baby sound, and another bird leaving its nest. This continued as I made my way to location and set up – turns out there is a colony of nesting wedge tailed shearwater birds in the cliffs – and they sound exactly like an infant crying.  totally freaked me out- My initial instinct was that someone left a child on the rocks- there are not many people- if any, hiking with newborns to such a location – before sunrise.

Much more color for this sunrise with scattered showers moving overhead. I watched this glowing shower cell as it approached my location- switching positions as it moved trying to line up compositions in my mind beforehand. There was a lull in waves happening, but this is “too low” on the shelf, exactly a place you don’t want be when a larger wave comes.  I was mostly just in danger of a camera shower – but having watched so many large waves here – It was pretty exciting to get down this far.

_99A9758

_99A9750

_99A9781

Waves were basically non-existent this morning. There have been good waves, good sunrises, and now good light, but never have all three lined up at one time.  This next composition would have been really nice the previous morning, but so it goes. I kept hoping for a good rouge set to come through while the clouds were glowing but it just never happened until Finally- after I was done and packing up – all the color gone and the am golden hour about over- that larger rogue set I was wanting came rolling through – I got my gear back out asap and grabbed a few shots…

_99A9798

Later in the evening we found ourselves at “Tunnels” enjoying the awesomeness that is North Shore Kauai.  Passing showers would sprinkle us with water now and then and the clouds were thickening as the day wore on.  I was kicking myself in the back of my mind for spending the first few sunsets at the same place – which actually looks at this location- If your not familiar with Kauai – look at the image below and then scroll back up and check out the background of any other image.  This beach offers a closer view of the same mountains. Without much wave action in the previous days I was starting to think I had wasted my efforts when I could have capturing the sunsets from here in stead. With the thickening skies I was getting a little nervous that the sunset would be muted.  Trying to find something interesting in the foreground that did not include a bunch of footprints on the otherwise golden sand beach. An outgoing tide was exposing more and more of the reef – I took an early shot and decided this would suffice if indeed the sky ignited later on.

_99A9863

About 30 minutes prior to sunset the heaviest rain of the day came down on us- sending most people scrambling for their cars- we waited it out from our site which had been set up under some trees-based on past experiences : ).   With rain still falling from the sky – the most incredibly intense and luminous glow erupted in the sky as the sun was wdippingbelow the horizon ….

_99A9921

No color or saturation adjustments needed here.  Just plain awesome. In traditional Hawaiian fashion, and in keeping with our experiences here.  the people on the beach in the distance are actually watching a wedding. In fact- we witnessed a wedding each and every day we were here, at least once a day, at different beaches.

_99A9900_1mac

_______________________________________________________________________________

10-18-2016

Kauai has become our “happy place” and this year marked the 5th consecutive visit.   Originally a surprise gift for my 30th birthday, my girlfriend insisted I see one of the islands and I rather randomly chose Kauai.  Months later I found myself laying in bed the first night of our trip wondering what there was to take pictures of besides Waimea Canyon.  I was scrolling around google earth when an wonderful image made by Jerry Dodrill photography popped in my head, I had seen it years ago and it used to hang on the wall where I would have my prints made.  I thought Kauai had been mentioned as the location – so I went looking back at his page – as it turned Kauai was the indeed the island.   A bit of googling further landed me on Patrick Smith Photography where I conveniently found the location – no clues needed.  I was pretty stoked to go from having no clue what I would be photographing, which isn’t a bad position in itself,  but then to realize this amazing feature was only about a 15 minutes drive- stoked!  I headed out the next morning… and  have headed out many mornings since – every year we come here trying to get a decent shot.  Our trips have always been based on work schedules, etc as opposed to optimum conditions for photography. This year at least I made sure there would be a high tide coinciding with sunrise- which would occur on the last day. I decided to pay this spot a visit on each of the last three days at sunrise – with the tide rising closer to sunrise each day.  the first two days there was no ground swell to speak of -but near advisory level tradewind swell approaching 7 feet. As with queens bath I had some luck with waves – then luck with sky color – but never had really great water action happening with the sky. On the last morning a new NNW swell had arrived overnight- larger than forecast.  I read the Buoy report at 5 am and was stoked to see it had arrived bigger than expected. I was anxious to see if it would be enough to wrap into this spot.

My first of three attempts offered an incredible sunrise to witness and a really amazing moment to just take in, watching the sun come up out there on the rocks alone. Water was erupting out of the hole but never enough to really work – and no waves were coming over the rocks  – though the trade wind swell looked impressive – it just never worked. I decided to time my exposures to capture motion of the water boil – or “eruption” from out of the hole.

_99A9985

Late afternoon – decent showers were once again the theme of day – no complaints here.   We watched this light spill onto the waterfalls – lush from the ongoing showers passing by, and I had to swim back to shore and grab my camera.   Panoramas seemed necessary to show to how huge this scene is.

Untitled_PanoramaHanalei1

Untitled_PanoramaHanalei2

_99A0157

Our day ended at Kee’e Beach looking down the Na Pali coastline as the sun set.

_99A0214 copy

One last shot –  photographically this would be been a nice spot to shoot during peak color but people were crowded all over – the nice after glow worked well enough though.

_99A0248

10-19-2016

Decent sky this morning at the Blowhole – but even less wave action than yesterday. We found ourselves once again at Tunnels Beach.  Swim – snorkel – rest- repeat was the order of the day.  I got around to photographing the gorgeous blue waters here – something I’ve really enjoyed in years past but never worked with.

_99A9960

clouds were increasing all day and moving towards the sun – a great set up, but by evening the clouds had thickened so much i wasn’t sure if we would have any light at all.  At the final moments of the day – a little light blessed us for a brief goodbye.

Untitled_Panorama1-1

_99A0148

Untitled_Panorama6edit

Untitled_Panorama2-1.2

Untitled_Panorama3.1

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10-20-2016

My last morning on this amazing rock in the middle of everywhere began once again at 5am- I was stoked to see the Buoy report 6.6feet @ 15seconds – larger than the 3 feet predicted.  I dont know why, but in the all the years I’ve been coming here and reading the AFD’s nothing has ever remained constant. No offense to the NWS, it must be a hard place to predict. Putting on yesterdays damp swimming shorts – water shoes – and microfiber shirt for a brief drive and then walk – down a muddy dirt road with rutted out pits a couple feet deep in places,  with the faint distant glow of a rising sun on the horizon.

the road to ruin.  its worse than it look, and there are rougher spots than this.  Local drive out here to fish and surf and sometimes sleep overnight in the cliffs above the water.  Ive also seen vacationers in their jeeps playing russian roulette with the rental car agreement trying to make it out this road- bad idea, its not a bad walk.

IMG_9742

 I was really thrilled to see so many little clouds over the ocean as the light began to increase. They were moving west- left to right across this southern view at a pretty good clip. After only a couple minutes the blowhole erupted more than I expected – and I got really excited.

_99A0172

Here is a little video of the moment …

 

Just as the sun was coming up. A three frame panorama in portrait.

Untitled_Panorama4.2edited2

another three frame panorama – in landscape

Untitled_Panorama5.2

Untitled_Panorama4 copy

I have a hard time slowing down and doing one thing- I usually want to get as much as possible out of each opportunity. I started packing to leave at this point when the last image came up on my LCD.  It was glorious – staring into a viewfinder pointed towards the sun can zap your vision a bit.  I looked back into the camera and said ” whoa” – it was beautifully brilliant, clear light – with incredible color at the same time.  I knew I couldn’t manage to control the light at the horizon without stacking all my filters and suffering the consequences.  I decided to take one final quick panorama at the low end of the Histogram and hope for the best- bracketing images should have occurred to me but I was focussed on getting a panorama and then getting out of there.  With one more wave washing over – I made a quick haphazard pano, Quickly packed up and ran back to the car – heading on to queens bath. I wanted to see the new swell back at the place I had spent so much time testing compositions. I figured to be able to catch the end of Golden hour there- with the biggest waves of the trip.

Below is a very crude edit of said panorama from three vertical frames.  This should have been my best image of the trip but In my hyper focused haste – I did not realize the glare issues my filter was causing.  Maybe there is a photoshop whiz out there who can salvage this – but after hours of cloning-patching-and spot healing -I just can’t pull it off.  I decided to patch in some clouds to cover up the blown out sun – I also created a whole new cloud on the upper left – to balance the scene.

Untitled_Panorama6

till next time


AM/PM - all day at the bridge

Well its that time of year again.  The beginning of fall is also the beginning of my annual blood pressure increase – due to the (healthy) stress of wanting to be everywhere at the same time.  The leaves are changing color, snow and rain are coming, and god sunsets start happening more regularly.  With so many locations coming into their prime time all at once, it can be really nerve wrecking trying to decide where to go.  This is also the time of year when sunrise occurs at a respectable hour so slumberous people like myself can actually get out of bed and catch some morning light. On the other hand Sunset is getting closer to the time 9-5’ers like me get off work and so battling rush hour traffic to get on location in time becomes a road raged fueled white-knuckle thrill ride though area freeways and back roads.  This past weekend the NWS-AFD was calling for low fog on Sunday morning by mid-day Saturday.  Getting up in time to shoot Low fog at the Golden Gate bridge during the summer months is just not something I’m motivated to do.  After reading the forecast I gladly set my alarm for the following morning….

First – Saturday night – working on another shot I recently discovered, the bridge was glowing beautifully as I packed up my gear, foreshadowing the following mornings conditions.

10-8-16

_99A8420

___________________________________________________

10-9-16

As advertised the fog had arrived at the bridge before dawn – extremely low, but also very thin when I arrived about 45 minutes before sunrise. I shot the bridge from battery Spencer for a few minutes – along with a small crowd of about 10 others people.

 _99A8430-2.2

A close up of the north tower – crystal clear skies make for a gorgeous – glowing horizon

On the lower right you can see Vincent James photography -doing his thing, do yourself a favor and have a look at his wonderful work.

_99A8431-2

 mid-span

_99A8434 _99A8435

Fog was thinning even more as sunrise was approaching – clearing out away from the bridge.  Never one to sit- still, I decided to have a go at another composition further up the road.  This other composition requires fog to be slightly higher than the bridge’s road deck at sunset, something I haven’t seen since 2014.  I was hoping conditions would be favorable to get the shot later in the evening and was curious to see what sunrise would look like.

_99A8478

It’s a short steep and quick little hike down to this spot – but by the time I arrived the fog had really thinned out.  The sun was still not above the east bay mountains  and the light was golden with red-hues on the fog.  I watched this sailboat and others, make their way out of the gate – at one point some birds flew into my frame…_99A8481

Here is a multi-frame vertical panorama of my dream shot. So help me god I will check this off the list one day- next time fog is on the deck at sunset- this is where I’ll be.

Untitled_Panorama4crop

Making the much slower trek back up the mountain – it was very warm and I was sweating- stopping to catch my breath frequently.  Its amazing how quickly you can get out of shape.  One benefit of stopping to keep you heart inside of your chest- you notice things, like these shadows of the bridge..   _99A8502

By early afternoon the coast was clear, fog was no where near the bridge but starting to move into Half moon bay.  Wanting to avoid what I figured would be a parking nightmare with the Blue angels having just concluded their show I decided to leave a little early.  The fog was still nowhere near the bridge but I figured if it did show up late that would still work well for my intended shot- which is more of a blue hour shot anyway.  One last check of the visible Sat Loop and webcams suggest this was the case so I made the short 20 minute drive down to the bridge.

The thing about satellite images is that they are only updated a couple times an hour.  Much to my surprise the fog was back with a vengeance- and moving quick. My intended composition was buried in the white stuff along with much of lower Conzelman road. Despite the fog being below 1000 feet even Hawk hill had flow coming over it – a result of the very strong onshore push.

_99A8515

I scrambled down the hill to get away from the fog and avoid the crowd of cameras – nothing personal I just feel distracted and a bit generic standing tripod to tripod.  At any right getting lower on the hill provided more foreground options.  I made a few quick panoramas

Vertical

Untitled_Panorama3

Horizontal

Untitled_PanoramaGGB

Single Frame w/out ND filter
_99A8544

Single frame with ND filter

_99A8592

Long exposure of the north tower with fog swirling through.  wind was shaking my tripod but I found a large rock to crouch behind. _99A8593

It was a great sunset – interesting could were streaming overhead quickly in different areas- never really filling the while sky but making interesting explosions of color here and there as they changed shape and drifted by.

Here is a quick look back at the crowds atop hawk hill.

                                             _99A8636             _99A8652

 _99A8596

the golden gate torch ….

_99A8656

One last shot – I could see from my location that Battery Spencer was being covered by fog intermittently – allowing for a closer view of the north tower – I thought it would make a great bookend to this mornings session.  The wind was ripping – I had to brace my tripod to keep it from shaking, the fog making my jacket wet and I was concerned the lens was also getting moisture- as the fog moved through in waves the bridge was only visible for brief moments – a constantly changing scene.  after a few freezing minutes of watching the bridge play hide and seek with the fog the small group of people vanished and I was the only one left.  Wary of the recent robberies and attacks on photographers in and around San Francisco, I packed my gear and headed off.

 _99A8674


Fall 2016 - Eastern Sierra

In the last Month I have made 6 trips across the Sierra Nevada to various places along HWY 395, thats about as many as all my prior visits combined.  “The Eastside” is truly a ridiculously awesome area that I am only now becoming comfortably familiar with, driving the same stretch of highway 6 times in a month will do that – though I’ve only scratched the surface.

In Late August my girlfriend joined a group of people raising money and awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy by hiking to Mount Whitney.  I could not make it for the hike but was able to pick her up afterwards, which afforded me the great pleasure of traveling through Tuolumne Meadows at sunset.

8-26-16

The sun was setting as I arrived in the meadows-at the first parking lot I hopped out scrambled up the rocks and made this quick panorama

Untitled_Panorama2

Getting back in my vehicle I couldn’t resist on quick grab of these clouds lighting up over the granite dome I had just descended.

_99A6597

My phone rang as I drove down the road – my brother, whom recently moved to North Carolina from the Bay Area was excited to hear I was in the Tuolumne and asked me to take a photo of Mt. Dana, naturally I tried to…

_99A6604

Above: this is not Mt. Dana but the mountain next to it,   Mt Gibbs.   I did my best.

Below: After picking up my girlfriend in Lone Pine, we camped at June Lake.. sitting by the campfire looking up at the stars.

_99A6637

_____________________________________________________________________

9-24-16:

After making a mad dash out through friday night traffic from the bay area, we made it over Sonora Pass to the Bridgeport area just after midnight and then climbed over the seats and into the back for a few hours of sleep before sunrise.

Conway Summit- not quite what one would hope for- a picture speaks a thousand words..

_99A7376

Arriving at the Sage Hen Summit area mid morning – the place was just past peak as advertised.  After looking around a bit I came across this location that really captured my interest, a good part of the morning was spent exploring this valley.  Its a little early – though some of the brush was already loosing leaves, overall an awesome spot I can’t wait to visit again and again in the seasons ahead- maybe even in early October – we shall see.

This is a panorama made from 4 vertical frames | ISO 200 | f11 @ 1/30 | 28mm

Untitled_PanoramaCrop2

I absolutely love the mix of aspens in the fall with high alpine desert scrub.

Below:  another panorama. three frames oriented horizontal but panning from top to bottom.

Untitled_Panorama8

Originally the plan was to head to Twin Lakes and hike up into the meadows of Upper Robinson Creek …. looking for aspen.   A last minute decision was made to have go at Bishop Canyon Instead.

From Surveyors Meadow:

_99A7529

Last year was my first visit to North lake and I never made it over to South Lake.  The time I headed to South Lake first and then ended the day at North Lake. Photographing foliage and shooting in the early mid and late afternoon hours was a welcome and refreshing change – this area is just beyond gorgeous- the vibrance of the color here, on this day in the bright 4pm sunlight was just incredible.  I scrambled into as many places as I could as time was limited.

Here is another panorama- oriented in landscape with panning from top to bottom.

Untitled_Panorama36-2

One last shot from North Lake before heading back over the mountains…

two frames- oriented horizontally.  Thankfully some high thin clouds were streaming over around this time.

Untitled_Panorama36

My goal was to catch sunset in Tuolumne Meadows, thus shortening the final drive back to San Francisco.   sunset didn’t really pan out from Olmsted Point as planned, but this amazing light hitting the cliffs around the meadows was a gleaming example of just how incredibly beautiful Yosemite – the sierra – can be on any given evening.  I pulled over for all of 60 seconds, just to plop drown the tripod and snap a shot.

_99A7652


I spent a little time on the mountain, spent a little time on the hill...

One way or another… Mt. Tamalpais will always deliver something good, could there be a better located hill in all the world ? for two consecutive days the fog was minding its manners

September 9th

As is often the case, the fun began on the way up.  This spot often offers great rays of light beaming through a frequent gap in the fog- before it fills in completely. I grabbed a quick handheld shot- the rays of light didn’t come out as strong as they were in person, not sure what happened with that.

_99A6944

My girlfriend and I took an easy stroll along the mountainside- the fog wasn’t looking like it would behave for this spot- then it redeveloped just before sundown.  After a couple visits here, tonight had a nice glow in the sky to go along with a stronger marine push.

Grad-ND | iso 100 | f16 @ 6sec | 32mm                                                                                                                                                  Grad-ND  | iso 100 | f8 @ 8sec | 24mm

_99A6993     _99A6997

GradND | iso100 | f16 | 6sec | @60mm

_99A6998

4 vertically oriented shots- merged in PS (pano) -GradND | iso 100 | f11 | 1.3 sec | @45mm

Untitled_Panorama3

___________________________________________________________________________________

September 10th

The fog wasn’t really pushing enough to make it over the ridge, but for several minutes beams of light were shining though a number of different patches of trees along a stretch of the road.  I snapped a couple quick shots then decided to head on down the mountain to check on another spot and see if it was looking better with the sun getting lower on the horizon.

_99A7036

There is a view along pantoll road that is impossible to miss, especially during the drive down the mountain. Im sure photographers and frequent visitors know it well. A while back I was taking some shots here and it occurred to me that with the right sun angle, and a good mix of low fog with mid and high level clouds- a really dramatic scene could come together.  Looking around for a better angle than offered from the road, I scrambled up the hillside and found one, then it occurred to me to try some shots of the road itself.  After 20 minutes of waiting for pulses of traffic to pass by – got lucky with several shots, probably helped that it was astronomy night.

Here is a vertical take, with a 4stopGradND 24mm | f16 | 30sec | iso 100

_99A7088

one final shot of the night- no filters | iso 100 | f8 | 20sec | 24mm

_99A7095


Wine Road

Dropping off my car in Sonoma County for much needed repairs provided the opportunity to take the long road home and visit my beloved wine regions of Sonoma County.  It had been such a long time since I traveled the back roads and visited familiar scenes that I decided to do a full swing of the central and eastern sections of the county. Some great clouds were streaming overhead all day, as rumored a few days earlier- hence the chosen date of car drop off.  If a photographic opportunity can be worked into any situation or circumstance – god help me I will try.

fast moving clouds over the Russian River – Eastside road.

_99A6653_dark

 I found myself up above alexander Valley as afternoon was turning to evening, still unsure where I would ultimately capture what was looking to be a great sunset.  Clouds were vanishing to my north and the visible satellite loop was dimming and not really picking up the clouds too well either as they were constantly evolving over land- the loop is delayed of course.  A couple of known compositions popped into my head – so I scrambled down why 128 to Knights valley, one of my favorite places in the bay area.

A couple of quick handheld shots: the sky was showing color in every direction- more clouds were developing to the west and moving over head..

  _99A6731     _99A6743

_99A6734

Still about a mile from my chosen destination- starting to kick myself for stopping as the sky just blew up to my south. Like an idiot I got out and snapped a few more handheld shots instead of keeping my on the prize.

_99A6753

Rounding the last turn on this potholed farm-rural road- 500 ft till my parking spot.  The light was vanishing from the top of Mt Saint Helena, cursing myself for the the previous shots, my camera was set up as quick as humanly possible to get what I could- the idea was for more direct light on the hills-and vines, I was about a minute too late…

 GradND | iso 800 | f8 | 1/13th |  @45mm

_99A6759_2

Despite the direct light- sunset was amazing in each direction – overtime I looked around a different area was glowing, though the only composition was one I had set up for. After shooting for a few minutes, color faded fast so I started to pack up. Just to keep me on my toes- before I had put my camera in the car – the sky lit up again.  round two:

Grad ND  iso 100 | f16 | 3.2 sec | @32m

_99A6768_2

my four-wheeled ladder…

IMG_9171


the fog cometh...

Spent the last two days up on the mountain- several wildfires burning in California along with easterly and/or southerly winds have sent a good deal of smoke into the bay area – but its much worse elsewhere in the state. The fog was flowing really nice and while the smoke and haze has disturbed our often pristine air quality and light -the afterglow was quite nice, and different as a result.

August 22nd

My first time to stop at this particular spot, popular for good reason.  a bit of a Comp-Stomp here.  going with a similar image to those created by others- namely Michael Ryan Photography, while others have bagged this shot and I’m not sure if he was the first, I only know his shot is great and it was the first I had seen so credit where credit is due.  At any rate the sky was coming out extra pink due to the f-stop, filters, and the smoke of course.

 GradND | iso 100 | f32 | 4sec | @200mm

_99A6212

a tighter shot, with color fading well before sunset.

iso 100 | f32 @ 6 seconds | 135mm

 

     _99A6277

iso 100 | f16 @ 1 second | 135mm

_99A6284

the marine layer was really moving and looked like it would be a safe bet to zip off to another vantage point.  Also my first time to this spot, recently brought to my attention by the work of Mark Lily Photography and Nicholas Steinberg Photography, both of whom posted images of this location on the same day – several weeks earlier.   So a bit of a comp stop here as well, but credit where credit is due. Not sure what other perspectives can be had here as it was already fairly dark when I arrived but the horizon was really glowing well, much better than sunset. Having the place entirely to myself was quite the way to end the day.

iso 100 | f8 @ 10 seconds |  58mm

_99A6303

I probably should have shot a few more frames, with much longer exposures.  It was getting really dark, and i figured the rangers would be locking gates and issuing tickets at any moment, if not already.

iso 100 | f8 @ 15seconds | 105mm

_99A6302

___________________________________________________________________________________

August 23rd

A bit more compressed the following day but flowing just as nice. Smoke was counting to wreck havoc on the light quality.

_99A6329

After briefly stopping at yesterdays vantage point, I moved lower and closer to the fog for a few shots.  The fog was coming in waves, thinning out almost completely then ramping up again.

_99A6354

_99A6405

_99A6425_untouched_edit

My personal favorite shot in a while.  Initially the lone trees on the right were cloned out – but ultimately they remain. I like the simplicity here.

GradND | iso100 | f22 @ 6sec | 131mm

_99A6501_1

_99A6513

With the sky glowing so nice and fog starting to push in strong again, I headed off making one last stop back at my earlier location for another shot- glad I did…

no filters | iso 100 | f16 @ 22sec | 180mm

_99A6522

another quicker take —  no filters | ISO 100 | f8 @ 4 seconds | 135mm (cropped)

_99A6520


Summer Solstice

The sky was setting up for awesomeness early on, I spent the afternoon wasting copious amounts of time at work refreshing webcams and satellites loops – debating where to go after work.  Ideally I wanted to be in a field of golden grass but no good location was close enough.  The bridge is always the all to obvious choice and so Marshall beach came to mind, but the sun angle isn’t ideal this time of year IMO and Ive made too many trips there recently during peak season.  The other side of the bridge at Fort Point holds a popular composition I’ve played with many times but never got a great take of.  The figured the sky would burn for a really long and allow for the lights on the bridge to come on – making longer exposures with deep color possible and likely successful.  Driving across the bridge the light was tremendous as the sun was still above the horizon.  Anxiously I made my way down to the location- hopped out and as started shooting – the sky just keep exploding in every direction. Despite referring to one of my own prior images on my phone, as a reference for composing the shot- I still managed to screw it up- so distracted by the show happening around me.  Here are a few of the images that followed…

_99A5294_2 _99A5327

_99A5333

_99A5311

_99A5361 _99A5365

with some color left in the sky I decided to make another image at a nearby location that I have also attempted several times without satisfying results…

_99A5379

All in all it was an incredible sunset for the whole bay area region.