Monday, November 30, 2009

Cloudy Combination

Here is another from the stormy Saturday we just encountered, here in San Diego county. I was out east and was driving back to get  on the I-8 freeway and head back into San Diego, when I saw the fog rolling in. I had other intuitions of coming over here earlier in the day, because it had snowed a little, as well. Funny enough, the road I took this from is called Sunrise Highway. This was also taken not long before sunset. Talk about the name of the highway not living up to it's name.

The one thing that captured my interest was the lone house sitting on top of the hill. I hurried to find a turn-out on the road, so I could get in position before the fog engulfed this house. The main interest though, was the fog and also the clearing clouds in the sky. That is why I didn't zoom in so close to make it just about the clouds surrounding the house. If it was maybe just the fog down in the valley, then perhaps. But the clouds clearing from the storm and the fog just dominate this photo and so the subject is not necessarily just about the fog or the clouds in the sky, but about the clouds in general. Kind of an interesting combination.

One of the hardest things to post process, in my opinion, is a scene with fog. The reason is, it is so easy to increase the contrast too much. A scene with fog will have low contrast throughout the scene. If you did your levels or curves in Photoshop, you would grossly adjust the contrast, via this method. So many people who post process, use the levels method, will always pull both sliders in till they hit the first pixels on the histogram. That is what so many instructional photoshop books will advise you to do. This is a big error, I feel. There are many times where you will not have pure blacks or whites in a scene. This is one of these cases.

I think this looks good here. I thought about cropping down to a 16:9 ratio. But, I felt it would cram the clouds in the sky too much. I felt room was needed for the clouds to roam in this scene. You can sense the fog rolling in and the clouds dispersing in the sky above the hills.

This was a rare treat to get here in San Diego county. For most of the year, we have the same usual, blank, blue skies. The stormy weather was the reason I went out to do photography this day and I am glad I got some dramatic results.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Southern California Foliage

Today was the first good storm of the rainy/winter season here in Southern California. Since rain happens so infrequently here, I decided to take advantage of the ideal bad, wet, and chilly weather and head out east towards the mountains in San Diego county.

Now, I had a few things in mind, when I headed out the door today, to do some photography. One, the wet weather gives a change of the usual scenery. Two, I was hoping for a little bit of snow, at around the 4,000 ft level. Three, I was hoping that there might be still some fall color out there. Four, I was hoping for some mixture of fall color and perhaps a dusting of snow. Lastly, the wet weather is a nice natural saturation brush from Mother Nature. When it is cloudy and wet, just a tad of light will really make colors pop.

This photo was taken right below a bridge/overpass about 5 miles off I-8, along Buckman Springs Road, heading out towards Campo. There was a nice grouping of fall colors around this bridge area. I remember there use to be a stream along here years ago. But, the lack of rainfall has dried this stream out. Now, it is commonly used as a bridle path (horse path). The good thing is that it makes it much easier to walk down there and find a good composition.

I am guessing the split tree which dominates this photo is some sort of willow tree. There are other trees in the background intertwined in the scene. I composed it not only so the tilted tree would finish in the upper right, but I also made sure that I had some nice background trees filling in the right side, along with the dried-up grass, which when wet, is really golden yellow. This was taken in between some rain showers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sentinel Rock, the Black and White Version

Here is the back and white version of Sentinel Rock, from Cathedral Beach. The Merced River in the foreground. I kind of prefer the black and white version versus the color version I posted yesterday. Not sure why, but I do. I think the detail stands out more in this version.

Another look I like to process with, is more of a tin or ambrotype finish. I like to fool around with all sorts of different looks. But, I try to keep the actual fabric of the photo looking natural, as much as possible. I try to get as much out of the camera as correct as possible. I do not like to post-process an image that long at all. I feel the more time you mess with it, the more damage you start to cause. So I keep my processing time down to usually no more than 15 minutes an image.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sentinel Rock

On my recent trip to Yosemite, one of my aims was to target the area around the Merced River. Then, as I approached these areas, my aim was more targeted to finding spotlit trees in fall foliage on a sand bar. I know. Getting picky, am I?

The area where I took this from was very close to Cathedral Beach. Now, I went past Cathedral Beach many times, and each time I went, it seemed the light wasn't right. Well, that is if I was looking back the opposite way, towards the imposing El Capitan. When we finally pulled in to park the car, myself and my friend found a group of painters on Cathderal Beach (it's a big sand bar), all facing towards El Capitan. So what did I do?

Well, I walked down the opposite way and noticed this sand bar  receiving some nice light. When you check this area out, you will see there are other prominent rock features, which can be photographed from this area. One of them, you see here, is Sentinel Rock.

When you approach this area, make sure you have your graduated filters and polarizers handy. This is a tricky exposure, especially if you do not have any filters. The light on this sand bar was only around for a couple more minutes, until it disappeared into the shade. So I had to move fast to get into position. I think it was well worth the effort. This is also a photo which I think will look great in black-and-white.

During the autumn months, you can get these vantage points along the Merced River, unlike in the spring, when the waters are much higher and much faster flowing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lower Yosemite Falls

This latest Yosemite photo was on my first ever trip there, back around the Memorial Day weekend, when the waters were roaring. This was one of the few angles of the falls, where the tourists weren't flooding the area around the falls.

Now, so many photographers when they see a waterfall instinctively want to try and make the shutter speed as slow as possible, so they can really blur the water and give a sense of motion. But, when you have this much water flowing, I think you get that sense of motion. The mist coming off the falls also helps give you that feeling. When you come here in the Autumn, the water coming down the falls can completely dry up. It's a stark difference.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Autumn in Ahwahnee

For everyone who has visited Yosemite Valley in the Autumn, knows very well about this cluster of aspen trees in the Ahwahnee meadow. It isn't exactly the most elusive photographic shot in the world, to say the least. So why couldn't I resist not taking this photo? Hopefully, the image shows why.

The aspens are cool, but they are past prime color and many of the leaves on the bottom branches have fallen off. But, it is all about the light here. The aspen trees still stand out, as the pine trees behind them are enough in the shade. This helps make the aspens pop. I also like how the sun hits the tops of the pine trees and the cliffs only, while leaving the rest in the shade. Finally, the grass in the meadow is lit at varying intensities throughout the scene.

What is cool about these aspens, even though they are photographed so many times, is that you can put them into so many different scenes. This is just one of several options. Just walk around the meadow and this cluster of aspens and you can be here for a while.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Obvious

Here's another from Yosemite. Once again, a picture can be quite an illusion. Now, the photo is rendered as accurately as possible in my eyes. Very little photoshop was done to the photo. So what do I mean by an illusion?

It looks like I hiked into the back country to find this "hidden gem." Yep. I sure did hike. All of a few hundred feet from the car parked at Yosemite Village.

The way this tree lit up in the late morning, was spectacular. This is right off the main road going out of Yosemite Valley.

Many things appealed to me here. Besides the glorious fall light, the leaves both on the tree, as well as on the ground dominates the image. I also liked all the branches and how they really stood out amongst the vibrant yellow of the maple leaves.

Again, the beauty of Yosemite finds you. You don't have to look hard or far to find it. Some times it's so obvious, you just have to stop the car and grab the camera.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Well, another Saturday is upon us and for me, that means another full day of photographing marching bands, here in Southern California.

This Saturday, I will be out in Riverside, CA, shooting approximately 35 marching bands performing around a 10 minute show each. This day will last around 12 hours. I truly enjoy photographing pageantry arts. There is never an absence of photographic subjects.

This is an image taken at last week's show. I like this image, because usually taking photos of the front pit members, I don't get a complimentary background, without having to wait and time it just right. When I am trying to take photos of as many individual performers, I do not have the luxury to sit and wait for my shots all that long. But, in this shot, I really like how the 3 out-of-focus performers add to the xylophone player in th foreground.

By the way, all the photos I take at these are shot in jpeg format on my camera. If I shot these in RAW, I would never get through all the photos. I can literally shoot somewhere between 5,000-10,000 shutter clicks during one show.

Well, time for me to get ready and head out. Hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh Deer

On this trip to Yosemite, it was basically impossible to avoid the deer, no matter where you were in the park. In this photo, I spotted this deer at Happy Isles.

I really like the leaves and branches that are framing the deer. Of course, the deer looking right at me, with it's ears at full attention makes the shot. I believe I switched over to my 200mm f2.8 lens for this shot. The deer at this time of year are very used to humans and it seems as long as we do not bother them eating, they could care less.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maple Leaves

Here's another fall foliage photo, on my recent trip to Yosemite National Park. In this one, I used what is called a Lensbaby. A Lensbaby is basically a selective focus lens.

I also exposed this shot high key on purpose. The look I was after was a more free-flowing, whimsical, softer image. Kind of gives the feeling that the wind is blowing the leaves.

Once again, I took this photo as I was eating a delicious sandwich at Yosemite Village. That is the great thing about Yosemite. You never have to go very far to get great photos, even when you are stuffing your face.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Magical Moods of Yosemite

On my recent trip to Yosemite, some of the images I wanted to capture were the ones right at the break of dawn. Not to really capture the sunrise or the morning light, per se, but to try and capture some of the early morning fog. Unfortunately, the weather was so nice and warm, that there was hardly any fog to be found in the valley, or clouds for that matter.

In this image, this layer of fog was found very often while driving into the valley from Wawona. This is right across the road from the Wawona Hotel and right next to the 9-hole golf course (which I have yet to see anyone play on).

I liked a few things about this image. One of them was the setting moon. Another element I liked, of course, was the layers of fog. Third, I liked how the evergreens were in a few clumps together. I like how the fog seemed to weave it's way down these hills and around these clumps of trees. The last thing I loved about this scene was just the color of the sky. I just overall liked the mood of this scene.

This is yet again a scene you do not have to hike 5 miles into the back country to find. This was one of those driving into Yosemite and pulling the car off to the side of the road moments. That is one thing you always have to do in Yosemite, is to keep your eyes open and on the lookout, because there always seems to be magical scenes wherever you are in the park.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Passionate About Pageantry

One of the things I love to photograph is pageantry. During the fall, every Saturday, I shoot the marching bands doing their field shows.

A field show is around a 10 minute show, usually made up of about 3-4 songs, which center around a theme or concept. There are many different styles of bands and show concepts. That makes this always entertaining to photograph, because each show is never the same.

In this photo, I show a member of the colorguard. The colorguard usually adds visual impact to the band's performance. It can also add an emotional impact to the performance.

I really like the passion, which is easy to see here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Parking Lot Vista

Sometimes as photographers, especially at well-known, highly photographed, popular places which attracts millions of tourists, we seek out and hike into the back-country for photos that the normal tourist might not see, just to have something different. We figure this view has been captured in about every imaginable way possible. So we do our best to avoid these photos.

I think this is an easy trap photographers fall into. Sometimes, some of the most unique photos can be had at such the most obvious spots. We can't overlook the obvious, as photographers. I think taking a well photographed spot and putting your own twist on it is a great challenge and sometimes a very hard thing for photographers to accomplish.

This is a photo I took of the infamous Bridalveil Falls, at Yosemite National Park, just recently. Let me correct myself. This is a shot which includes Bridalveil Falls. The subject is actually the vibrant oak tree.

See how just how the light hitting the scene can totally change what the subject in the photo is? This is like my Half-Dome ("In the Spotlight") photo I posted yesterday.

This is early November in Yosemite and the peak of the fall colors. I have again sought after the fall colors. When we pulled into the parking lot to hike towards the falls, I immediately saw this oak tree begging for attention. Now, with the falls in the shade and the oak tree being backlit, making it so vibrant, the attention is squarely on the tree, yet with the falls acting as a reference or secondary subject in the background. If this same shot was front lit and the falls were in the sun, then the focus would be totally on the falls, with the trees only framing the falls, and not a subject on their own.

All of this was taken in the middle of the parking lot for Bridalveil Falls. Of all the spots to capture a beautiful image, sometimes there is no better option than the parking lot. Sometimes, it can be that easy and save your legs a few miles of hiking in prospects of finding hidden gems.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the Spotlight

This classic view of Half-Dome, from Sentinel Bridge, in Yosemite National Park, is usually a spot that most photographers shoot in the late day sunshine. This is because Half-Dome and the trees along the Merced River are front lit by the sun.

I was driving across Sentinel Bridge in the morning, when I saw this lone tree spotlit by the early morning rays. I was with a friend and we immediately parked the car and headed over to the bridge to snag this shot. The focus is on the brilliant foliage of the tree, almost like stealing the spotlight from the obvious Half-Dome. I felt very fortunate to be in the right spot at the right time. So a classic Yosemite iconic photo, which is usually always associated with late day sun was a gem in the early morning.

About Me

San Diego, California, United States
Thanks for checking out my photography blog. I am a photographer from America's finest city, San Diego, California. This blog is just a regular update of what I am photographing or what catches my fancy, when I am out and about with my camera. So subscribe and stay up-to-date with my latest photographic adventures.


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