Friday, December 31, 2010


I took a trip during a soggy, rainy day in Southern California, up to the Getty Center, in Los Angeles, California. I couldn't believe how many people were there that day. I guess it was the many out-of-town visitors here for the college bowl games.

At the Getty Center, there are a few themes found throughout the museum grounds. Some of them that I can think of are clean, white, pure, squares, stone, shapes, texture, curves, and not the least, precision. Everything seems to have a very precise purpose in design at the Getty Center.

Even the garden and the landscape here takes on the theme of precision, such as this row of pepper trees in this photo. They are trimmed to make one tree look just about as identical as possible as the other trees in the row. I believe they also keep the trees cut flat as to not obscure the views of the architecture of the Getty Center.

It was gray most of the day and it was a natural idea to convert it to a black-and-white photo. I processed this with some high contrast and exposed it just a tad on the bright side, as to knock out the clouds and most of the background, as to make the trees pop out all by themselves.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Rising Into the Heavens

On my trips up to the Pacific Northwest, one of my favorite places to go, if I have time, is to Mt. Rainier National Park. Unfortunately, there has been little or no free time to make a drive out that way, the last few trips I have made. It was pretty much going to be that way, yet again, on this last trip.

I was on my flight back to San Diego. We had just taken off from cloudy SeaTac airport. Just as we rose above the clouds, I saw my baby, Mt. Rainier, smiling at me, as if the mountain knew I had been far too deprived of her for far too long.

Luckily for me, I had my small camera bag with me on this trip and therefore was able to stow it under the seat in front of me. Of course, having a window seat on the left side of the plane helped, also.

When I saw this, I scrambled for my camera bag, grab my camera, popped my 24-70 lens on and took a few hurried shots before the plane passed on by or the clouds once again obscured her. The plane was still in it's take-off posture. I didn't care. I was pulling out my electronic device and taking this beauty. Nobody ever said a word. Cool!

Not only did I get a clear shot of Rainier, but I got some very nice atmospheric conditions, with the clouds in the foreground. Wow! Did those help or what?

I was able to take a few different compositions. One which I really want to show, but I have to fix it first. There was a noticeable scratch on the other window and there was nothing I could do to avoid it. I will have to remove the scratch in post-processing.

Later during the flight, I whipped out my camera, yet again, when we flew by Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra mountain range.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spanish Allure

One of the famous landmarks in San Diego, California, is found just outside downtown, at Balboa Park.

Balboa Park was created in time for the 1915 Panama Exposition, as San Diego was the host city that year for the exposition. The park was named in honor of Spanish-born Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the first European to spot the Pacific Ocean while on exploration in Panama. Hence, the park is dominated with beautiful Spanish architecture, almost everywhere you look.

In this photo, this was taken inside the courtyard of the Prado. The Prado is very popular for it's restaurant, as well as for it's wedding receptions.

I wanted to capture many features of the Spanish architecture found in Balboa Park. Easily the most dominating and repeating feature found throughout the park are the arches.

In this courtyard, not only do you have the arches, but you have these flowerpots on the rails, which look like geraniums, surrounding the courtyard. They survived all the rain and wind San Diego got battered with the last week. I decided to selective focus on one of the pots and throw everything else out of focus, but still easily making out other striking features.

This image also demonstrates that if you just walk a few steps further, you can get a fresh perspective of a common place. Most people walk into the courtyard, take their pics by the water fountain (statue in the bottom right-hand corner), maybe go into the restaurant and eat, and then leave.

If you are a fan of Spanish style architecture, there is plenty of allure here for you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Other Falls From Sol Duc

I think from the photos I took of these "other" Sol Duc Falls, this is my favorite one or two. Right now, it is my wallpaper on my new 25" wide-screen monitor. It definitely looks very impressive on a screen that size.

I think shooting these falls looking slightly down is better than the vantage point from just a little downstream. I like seeing the water dammed up between the two logs and seeing the full cascade effect. The downstream vantage, the top log sort of gets hidden and the cascade effect does not have as strong of an impact.

I really like again, how the green moss on the log frames the path of the cascade. Also, when composing this shot, I tried to make sure to place some ferns in the shot, as they are as much of a staple of the rainforest, as the water, green moss, and lichen are.

I am more proud of the photos I got from this spot along the Sol Duc Trail, then I am from the Sol Duc Falls themselves. These "other" Sol Duc Falls are quite a gem.

Again, you can find all of this in Olympic National Park, in western Washington state.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sol Duc Falls

Here is a place I had wanted to get to for quite some time. As promised in an earlier blog post, here are the Sol Duc Falls.

Now, the Sol Duc Falls might not be the most spectacular falls, the largest, tallest, etc... But, these falls certainly have an originally look. They empty out into what basically is a slot canyon, at this point in the river.

Conditions were prime for shooting these falls that day. Overcast and even some mist in the air made the colors come alive. I also shot this from the opposite side of where most people take this shot, which is the walking bridge.

I always try and take at least a slightly different shot of a famous landmark. In this case, I got right up at the edge of the river, with my lightweight carbon tripod, and shot this in landscape composition. I shot this with my Canon 24-70mm lens, as I did not bring my Zeiss 21mm lens with me on this trip. At the time, I was really wishing I had it, as that little bit of wider view would have helped shoot these falls the way I exactly wanted to. Nevertheless, I think the photos came out okay.

The Sol Duc Falls are located in Olympic National Park, in Washington state.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Rock

Anyone who has been to Torrey Pines State Beach, in San Diego, knows of this very familiar site. It was like this rock was put here as a viewing platform to watch the sunsets or just a popular place to have your photo taken. When the tide is low, this rock is easily accessible.

I took this photo on "Black Friday." Me and my friend went and walked around the Torrey Pines State Reserve, which has a trail which leads you right down the cliffs to the beach at this spot. I thought with the chilly weather and it being the biggest shopping day of the year, there wouldn't be too many people here. Well, I was certainly wrong. The parking lots were jammed pack. I guess perhaps the shoppers had seen enough of marked down prices inside a Walmart or Target store and wanted to see something with a little more visual appeal.

I took this photo about a half-hour before sunset, when the golden sun brilliantly makes the bluffs glow in the rich golden light. I had composed this photo with the foreground rocks in mind. But, what made this shot was the group of people on the rock. It's funny how they were aligned from shortest to tallest, with the tallest person waving their hands. I don't believe this rock has any name, but it is certainly a scenic magnet, in the San Diego landscape.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Autumn Along Soleduck

Autumn in most places in the world, you associate leaves turning into vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. In the Pacific Northwest, this does happen, but what also happens is the rain returns and the rain forests become wet and lush green.

I finally had a few hours to make a trip out and check out the Sol Duc Falls. The Sol Duc Falls are located in Olympic National Park, in Washington state.

Now in this photo, these are not the Sol Duc Falls. This though was found along the trail, heading to the Sol Duc Falls, along the Soleduck Trail. I know. I know. Is it Sol Duc or Soleduck? It is both. The trailhead says "Soleduck." Since these are not the Sol Duc Falls, I will go along with Soleduck, since it is right off the Soleduck Trail. Had enough Soleduck?

Anyways, this is just a part of a small little stream cascading down and through green mossy rocks. You will see these as you cross a small, wooden, walking bridge (~10 feet long). Now from the bridge, these falls look pretty, but you really just need to gallivant a bit up these falls and find some nice pockets, like I did here.

What I really love about this photo is how the 2 logs which fell created a very spectacular, makeshift waterfall. Usually logs falling into a waterfall scene can really obscure and really sometimes ruin the photo. In this case, they are not obscuring the falls, but rather creating a waterfall.

It was a perfect time to photograph this scene, as the clouds moved in and it was even a bit misty around, which is typical of rain forests, of course. Everything was lush green, damp, and beautiful.

The Soleduck Trail is about a .8 mile hike from the parking lot. It is a pretty easy hike and not much hills at all. Be sure to check out my blog again soon, as I will show the actual Sol Duc Falls.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bottles Of Fun At Bodie

Here is another photo from my recent trip to the Eastern Sierras. This one is from Bodie Historic State Park.

This was my first visit ever to Bodie. I heard and seen images from this place, but they were generally the same image, over and over. When I arrived here and started walking around, I could not believe the abundance of photo ops here and wondered at the same time why there wasn't a much larger variety of photos available to view, on the internet. There are the wide angle scenes and the plentiful amount of details, as well. In the photo, I used my 135mm lens to focus on the details.

The bottles on the window sill caught my attention. What I like was the wide variety of bottles. A secondary subject in this photo is the rickety, wooden picket fence. If you walk around Bodie, you see this wooden texture everywhere. Therefore, when composing this image, I included the fence, but still didn't blatantly give away the place. I left some intrigued. At the same time, if you have been to Bodie before, you might be able to recognize this.

Now, I could have just composed the bottles in the window and that might have worked just fine. But, I felt like a little more context might be needed and make the image, once again, more intriguing. The context being perhaps a worn, old, vintage, abandoned place, etc... A place perhaps that once was bustling with activity. I also just liked how this fence was and the tones of it really pop out and the missing pickets in the fence, really work well. When we see a fence, of course our curiosity makes our eyes want to look past the fence. Here, you eyes see the fence, and then walk right through the fence, where the opening is, due to the missing pickets. Your eyes then scan and examine the long row of bottles on the window sill. Even in an image like this, where I have used a medium telephoto to isolate on some details, there are many photos within this photo, as well.

Bodie is truly a photographer's paradise and there are plenty of bottles of fun to be had here. My recommendation is if you visit here, you do it during the weekday and right as it opens. It does tend to have many tourists around and once noon hits, you are really dodging them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Olmsted Point

If you have ever been to Yosemite National Park, you certainly recognize one of the iconic features of the park, called Half Dome. There are many places in the park which present you a view of Half Dome. In this image, I took this shot of Half Dome from Olmsted Point, along the higher elevation of Yosemite, on the Tioga Pass (Rte. 120).

Now, the challenge of photographing Half Dome is trying to find a different view of it. In this case, I went the opposite direction. Instead of being predictable and heading down to the overlook, I instead walked across the street from the parking lot and up the granite hill. I put my 135mm telephoto prime lens on, walked around the granite a few minutes and then saw this view.

Now, anyone who has been to Olmsted Point, will certainly recognize yet another iconic feature in this photo. In this case, it is the pine tree that grows right out of the granite, very close to the parking lot. It is a magnet for point-and-shoot amateur photographers and tourists. The challenge with that icon is just taking a pic of it without tourists all around it, posing all weird, and whatever else.

I shot this photo late in the afternoon. I really like the sun backlighting, slightly from the right side, the pine tree. The huge granite slope in the shade behind it really makes the pine tree stand out. Lurking behind that granite hill, is of course, Half Dome.

I took this approach, after the clouds started dispersing, leaving a blank sky. Therefore, I needed to find a way to fill the frame up well. I think I have accomplished that. I can't recall anyone else using this perspective of the 2 icons, at Olmsted Point.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tioga Pass Autumn Splendor

Here is a photo taken just as the storm was moving in. I again took this just a few miles outside the entrance to Yosemite National Park, on CA Rte. 120, otherwise known as the Tioga Pass. This is along a turn-out. I stopped here when I saw the aspens back and side lit by the sunshine. That light disappeared within 2 minutes after this photo was taken.

The peaks of these mountains really caught my attention as well, and were vital in how I was going to compose this shot. I like how the peaks from left to right kept ascending. I also liked the little blue sky opening above the tallest peak, in this photo.

There was a lot of dynamics happening in this image. You had the brilliant foliage of the aspens, the recent snow on the mountains, and the storm clouds moving in. A definite sense that the seasons are changing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Aspen Surprise

This week, I am off Monday for the Columbus Day holiday and this week is my scheduled off Friday. Therefore, I decided to take the entire week off. I decided to take a drive up US Rte. 395 along the Eastern Sierras for my first visit this far north, along the 395.

Now, after seeing all the aspen photos on the photo forums this autumn and years past, I finally decided to join the fun and see it for myself, and of course, take a "few' and there. So why is this blog entry an "Aspen Surprise?"

Well, I hadn't really began my hunt for the aspens quite yet. That's why. I saw that the color was pretty much late in many areas this fall and the few areas that did have color, were overrun with photographers. Therefore, I was putting off the "aspen hunt" for a few days, to give the aspen leaves a few more days to become more yellow. Right now, I have seen a lot of green aspen leaves mixed with some yellow. But, I had hardly seen much of the yellow-vivid orange aspens. Only sparse amounts, which weren't worth the effort.

So, on my first full day up here, I decided to do Mono Lake for sunrise and then head over to Bodie State Historic Park and spend the day there and then head into Yosemite National Park, and perhaps do sunset at Olmsted Point. Well, that was the plan and I was able to do most of it, except Olmsted Point.

The day started out clear, of course, for our sunrise, no clouds in sight and no pastel hues right before sunrise. So it was just an average sunrise at Mono Lake this morning. Of course, after that, the clouds started appearing. Now, it made for a great day of photography. Puffy white clouds sprinkling the sky and giving spotty sun lights and some diffuse light, as well. The sky was not boring. So I figured that sunset was going to be great and with the clouds, I thought, Olmsted Point would be a great place to be for it, with the dynamic sky.

So, I started driving up Tioga Pass (rte 120 heading into Yosemite). As I am driving, I am about 5 miles from the entrance booth, when I spot this brilliant aspen grove off to my side and pulled the car off the side of the road abruptly. The aspens were backlit and really popping. Not 5 minutes there, the gray clouds moved in and the rains came shortly after that. But, what it did do was diffuse the entire scene and the colors were vibrant, since the sun was not washing them out.

Therefore, the surprise was of all the places where the aspen color was still green, the one hot spot was heading into Yosemite, which is definitely not known for it's fall aspen foliage. An aspen surprise, to say the least.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heading Back to San Diego

Yesterday, we had a very warm, humid, and tropical day in San Diego. We had these sort of tropical high clouds all throughout the day. Therefore, after work, I decided to head over to Coronado Island and take late day and sunset pics of San Diego, from there.

When I got there, the light was gorgeous and with the clouds, I was sure we would have a gorgeous sunset. That was until this one patch of clouds decided to follow the sun and obscure it rays from lighting up the rest of the sky. Ahhhhh! What could have been.

Regardless, I still came away with a few photos which I thought turned out just fine. I was really lacking some foreground subjects, as the bay was unusually very quiet. Finally, I got the ferry heading back over to San Diego and that was a foreground object I sorely needed. As you can see, the sky was set for the sun. It just never happened. Next time, I guess.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Remembering 9/11

This past week, I was on a business up in Oxnard, CA. After fighting through the typical Los Angeles traffic, I like to take the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH or Highway 1) the last 40-50 miles to get to Oxnard. You get nice vistas of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the rugged coastline, and the mansions in Malibu.

On my way up, I noticed all these flags (not all are USA flags). All these flags were posted on the grounds of Pepperdine University, in Malibu, CA. I didn't have time to stop on my way up and I hoped that they would be still there, when I was traveling back down to San Diego, later in the week.

After some research online, I found out that Pepperdine University puts on this display every year, in memory of all the fallen victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This year, it is on display from 9/11 till 9/19. It is a very striking scene, when you pass by on the PCH. You will see some foreign flags amongst the American flags, as it is about all the victims of the 9/11 attack, not just Americans who lost their lives. I think that is very nice they did that.

Well, you have this weekend to check out this site. Otherwise, you will have to wait till next year's 9/11 remembrance.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shelves & Layers

One thing that I really like about living in San Diego is how quickly you can be surrounded by the tall buildings of downtown and then in about 15 minutes, be at a place like you see in this photo. Quite the contrast between the two settings.

This was taken at the tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument, in Point Loma. At Cabrillo, you can get your money's worth. It is only $5 per car. You get 7 days visit from the time you pay the $5 entrance fee. Definitely one of the better bargains.

The tide pools are one of the most popular attractions at Cabrillo. The kids really love it there and the views are just spectacular. You can really see the power that water has, when you look at the cliffs along here. What I love looking at are these shelves that extend out from the cliff walls and all the layers these shelves have. I also find the round boulders, that seem totally out of place, laying in the most peculiar spots, very interesting.

If you ever find yourself taking where you live for granted, then spend a few hours at a place like this. I am sure you will feel rejuvenated and great about this great place you call home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


The last two nights, I have been going through old photos, as far as 5-10 years back. Most I was pretty horrified at what I was taking photos of. I certainly have assembled quite a collection of photographic garbage. But then, I came across the gem.

I took this photo around 5 1/2 years ago. I cropped it from it's original landscape composition. To me, this could almost be a sort of movie poster.

Now, I reprocessed this and applied some cross-processing to it. I really wanted a bluish tint to this photo, to accent the water.

I took this shot from the Ocean beach pier, which is quite a long pier and a great spot to get a good vantage of the surfers, when there are good swells. You really don't need that much zoom, unlike if you were shooting from the beach.

The elements that I really like are the kid's expression. I also like how he is flailing his arms. The surfboard is really powerful here. Finally, I really like the water action surrounding the bottom of the surfboard. Almost makes it look like I was in the water with my camera.

Well, I  am going to continue to look through more old photos and see if there are forgotten gems, besides this one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rising Above the Old

All around downtown in recent years, there has been a steady diet of condo high-rises being built. One of the places that certainly has seen high-rises pop up has been along the Pacific Highway, next to the historic Santa Fe Depot, in downtown San Diego, California.

I am not sure if folks are familiar with Andrew Hudson. But, he is the author and contributing photographer for his series of books, called Photo Secrets. In his series of books, he has a book titled, Photo Secrets San Diego. It was published I believe in 1999. But still, it is a great book or resource for photographers not only visiting San Diego, but photographers, such as myself, who live here in "America's Finest City."

One of the photos you will find in this book is of one of the signature Santa Fe domes. Now, back in 1999, these condo high-rises filling up the background were obviously not there. But, the shot that Andrew took years ago was shot facing downtown San Diego and using one of the downtown glass-window buildings as a background. The building had a very interesting pattern and worked perfectly to contrast against the dome.

I decided, since there has been a lot of new buildings rising up, why not take another look and a try a similar, but different take on the one that Andrew took. Now, it might be similar, but sort of has a different mindset than Andrew's photo.

For this photo, I wanted to portray the feeling that the old is being squeezed out and being dwarfed. The new is bigger, modern, better, etc... I really like how the condo high-rises in the background not only rise above the Santa Fe Depot dome, but fill in the background. Your guess is left to wonder how much higher these high-rises rise above the old Santa Fe Depot. Of course, it is a classic example of the contrast of old versus new.

This is a great reason why it is a good idea to not only take a wide-angle lens with you around the city, but also take a telephoto lens. This was shot with a 135mm lens.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lines and Lines of Windows in Windows

The last 2 weeks, I have signed up for the special Horton Plaza photowalk, in downtown San Diego, CA. As I was waiting at the main entrance to the Horton Plaza, I looked back and saw the Westin Hotel reflecting in the windows of the NBC building.

This shot interested me because it certainly had a strong theme of lines. Then you have the column or line of windows from the Westin in perfect harmony with the line of windows in the NBC building. I added in the foreground, this bus shelter (I think that is it's purpose). The lines of it had the same flow as the lines in the NBC building.

I think you get the idea. Lines, windows, more lines, more windows, etc...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Crazy Carnival Rides

I went with a friend this past Saturday to the Orange County Fair, in Costa Mesa, CA. This was like my first time to a fair since I was a kid. So in essence, this was my first time photographing subjects, such as carnival rides at a fair.

One of the key ideas with these rides, when photographing them, is to bring them to life in still photography. That is easier said than done.

One of my favorite and most intriguing rides at this fair was one called "DiskO." This ride had a couple of different motions occurring simultaneously. Not only did it go back-n-forth, higher and higher, and at faster rates, it also rotated while doing this. Therefore, I wanted to capture this ride at it's peak time of all this action. That meant to capture it at the highest point on the track. But, it also meant to capture the rotating motion of this ride.

Anyways, my friend wanted to know how I was able to capture the "DiskO" sign almost perfectly in focus, while it seems that the rest of the ride platform is blurred, due to the motion.

So how was I able to do this? First, I didn't have a tripod with me and I also didn't have neutral density filter. That meant, I had to adjust the camera aperture way down to f20, to maintain 1/10sec on the shutter speed (I took a few test shots to figure out what a good shutter speed would be). I was at ISO 50 on my camera. I used an advertising sign to lean up against and to provide better stability. I set the camera to AI Servo focusing mode, on my Canon EOS-1D Mark III body.

Ok. I know some of you probably understand that. But, how did the sign more or less stay in relative focus? Well, when shooting action, there are always those peak moments in action, where there are slight pauses that occur when there is about to be a change in direction. Here, the ride has reached it's peak height and is about to come back down the track. The focus point was tracking on the sign. Now the luck is having the sign facing you so you can read it, when this happens. Now, I did take many shots of this ride. It wasn't like I nailed this shot in a minute or two.

For composition, I used another ride in the background, called the Mega Drop, which is a free-fall ride, to add interest and fill in the frame much better. My goal was pretty tricky. Trying to time these 2 rides up to where I had the riders at or near the top of the Mega Drop, while capturing the DiskO ride as such. In my opinion, the riders at the top of the Mega Drop are important. Again, to add more life to the shot. It also kind of sums up the craziness of carnival rides. Here, you have riders being dropped, turned, pushed, and pulled in all sorts of directions. Quite the craze!

For post processing, my tower wasn't tact sharp. Therefore, I decided to give these rides, which are very colorful, some old school film look, with some of my own frames and crud to overlay onto them. For me, the various colors at a carnival lends themselves perfectly for alternative post-processing options.Gives them that vintage film look of distortions, color shifts, and aging. Hope you like the final product.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Park It Anywhere

This past Saturday, I went with a friend up to Manhattan Beach, California to check out the 2010 International Surf Festival. We got there right before 8:30 in the morning. Needless to say, we got there when you could find plenty of parking spots. Later in the day, even finding a parking spot for your bike was quite the challenge.

For this annual event, it drew around an estimated 60,000 beach-goers. So many folks who live near this area rode their bikes, probably figuring it would be much easier to park a bike, instead of having to wake up hours earlier to park their car and pay the parking fees. As you can see, there was additional parking set aside for the bikes. You can barely make out the bike racks in the photo. After a while, it seems the "park it anywhere you could" philosophy set in. You can see bikes atop of other parked bikes in this photo.

For composing this photo, I wanted the utter confusion and sense of clutter. Not really hard to do, in this case. But, I also decided to leave a bit of open sand and also let the end of Manhattan Beach pier poke through, to just give a hint and sense of where you were at. People who are familiar will recognize the aquarium and cafe structure that is at the end of the pier and is shown in this photo. Finally, yes! There is a beach under all these bikes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Waving the Red Flags

I had another opportunity this past weekend to shoot some more drum corps. There was a drum corps show in Corona, CA on Friday night and another, on Saturday night, at Paramount High School.

For both nights, I decided to shoot with the sun backlighting my subjects, rather than trying to go the typical route of shooting with the sun to my back. For one reason, at both stadiums, the stadium was running mainly east to west. So the sun was going to set on the endzone side of the stadium. This makes for extreme contrast situations. In both cases, the sun did set off to the side, but a little behind (not exactly behind the endzone. Another reason why I shot with the sun backlighting the subjects is because I find the results a lit more dramatic.

In this case, I finally was able to fit the guy in the frame entirely. You can see how the light paints just the edges off him, almost like a highlight maker.

Stay tuned, as I have a lot more examples coming of the benefits of shooting with the sun backlighting the subject.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Eye of the Cymbal

One of my favorite activities to photograph is pageantry arts. I love taking photos of marching bands , colorguards, and in this photo, drum corps. There are endless photo possibilities. It is so expressive, emotional, and action-packed. You can throw many adjectives at these kinds of photos. Anyways, every summer, drum corps across the world comes alive.

Drum corps is a marching activity that takes place on a football field during the summer months. It is an advanced marching activity, in which performers must audition for, to just make it to the corps of their choice. When they make it, they have to pay their own way. For a chance to make the top corps, the price can be steep, since the top corps travel across the country performing for die-hard drum corps fans from every corner of the USA. But these performers have such determination and drive that they find ways to fund their summer of drum corps every summer. It truly shows the passion and devotion they have towards this activity and they leave it all on the field, when they perform.

Drum corps is slightly different from your average marching band. The most glaring difference is that there are no woodwinds instruments in drum corps. Drum corps is made up only of brass and percussion, on the musical side, with colorguard supporting the visual side.

Design of a drum corps show is much more demanding, as well, and very sophisticated. As soon as one summer of drum corps is over, the wheels are already turning on the design on next summer's production. Unlike many marching bands, which have more than one show design during the course of the year, a drum corps spends the entire year working on only one show and perfecting that show to the best of their abilities.

One reason, besides entertaining fans, to work on perfecting their show is because it is judged. There are different classes of drum corps, depending mainly on the size of the drum corps. The best corps will usually reap the benefits of getting the "cream of the crop" talent, during the audition phase. But, regardless of the level of the drum corps and the scores, these performers truly just love performing for the fans and the experience of a lifetime, that they gain from it.

If you want to find out more about what drum corps is all about and to find a show near you, check out the Drum Corps International website, DCI. They have all sorts of goodies for your enjoyment, such as videos, information on all the participating corps, show schedules, scores, and general news and announcements. Check it out!

You can also find thousands of drum corps fans at Drum Corps Planet (DCP). DCP has forums there for fans to discuss all there is to talk about, in the drum corps world. You will also find articles and photos. In fact, I am one of the contributing photographers at DCP.

For this photo, it was taken at a recent drum corps show in Riverside, CA, on July 5th, 2010. This is the Velvet Knights drum corps from Pasadena, CA. This year, their cymbal line is one of the most photogenic parts of their show. As you can see by their hair, they are not shy to show off their skills.

Now, photographing cymbals is not easy. Trying to get their face to show is challenging. First, the cymbals are usually in front of their faces a lot. Secondly, keeping the auto focus on the face is difficult. The auto focus sees the shiny contrasty cymbal and just wants to "grab" it. The focal plane is so narrow that if it acquires focus on the cymbal, then the face will be out of focus.

In this shot, I was fortunate I had great light, as it was near sunset. I was also able to get the cymbals apart and see their face between the plates. Anyways, I think the photo speaks for itself.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sails and Steel

I went back to this spot I have been checking out lately, since in San Diego, during June, we have what is called "June Gloom." Which is, we get a lot of marine layer, the "gloom," during this month.

Now, what I really like is what you see in this photo. I really like when the marine layer is coming into the bay, but it is only half-way in. Therefore, you get a hazy, cloudy background, yet, the sunshine is still apparent where I am at. If you look closely, you can see Pt. Loma in the background. This type of conditions really creates some interesting lighting conditions, which I like a lot.

Now, if you didn't read my previous post on this similar shot, during the late afternoon-early evening, this light reflects nicely up onto the bow of the USS Midway. This condition last around 45 minutes, in optimum condition. But, the marine layer, where it is at, is what makes it extra special. I like that it basically hides the background land strip. It gives it a nice atmospheric mood, as well.

Now, I have been scoping this spot and looking for unique or interesting subjects to compliment the carrier. This time, I found that the sails worked nicely here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tomcat and Her Sidewinder

Of all the expensive pieces of glass I have (lenses), for this shot, I used sort of a toy piece of glass, called a Lensbaby. Now why would I put such a cheap piece of glass on such a professional camera? Well, hopefully this image shows why.

I went with a group of people to the USS Midway museum last Saturday. This is the decommisioned USS Midway aircraft carrier and her flight deck.

For this shot, since there was a lot of clutter in the shot, I thought it would be ideal to use the Lensbaby and focus the attention better on the F-14 Tomcat and her Sidewinder weapon. Now, I could have used a regular lens and chose a very wide aperture, which would have blurred out the background also. But, here, the blur would have been linear. What I mean is, everything would be the same blur. By putting the Lensbaby on, I am able to direct you attention to where I exactly what you to, by drawing you over to that spot, not just blurring everything else out. I hope that makes sense.

The trick with the Lensbaby is not overdoing it. That is so much easier said than done. For scenese like this, you have to be very subtle with it. For this shot, I used the f5.6 aperture disc and the Lensbaby double optic insert.

You can check out the Lensbaby itself at their website, and see if this might work well in your arsenal, as well. It can be very frustrating, many times in fact, but can be very rewarding when you get a couple really great shots. It takes plenty of time and practice to master.

I hope you like how this turned out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Massive USS Midway

So, this is my 100th blog post. And to mark history, what better way than to do this than to have a shot of the historic aircraft carrier, the USS Midway. Ok! I know I am not famous. But, the USS midway has certainly gotten around, in her almost 50 years of service in the fleet.

The USS Midway decommissioned for the last time in 1992. For about 10 years, she sat up "mothballed" in Bremerton, WA, until finally making her way to San Diego, in early 2004, to become a permanent museum which not only shows off the carrier itself, but also a lot of the vintage aircraft that once flew off her flight deck.

For this shot, I did what is usually not the best idea. Shoot straight towards the bright sunshine. Now this wasn't sunset time, yet. It was about 1 1/2 hours or so away. But, what attracted me to this shot was how the light was reflecting off the water and onto the bow of the ship, by the anchor.

I sat for a while and waited for a perfect foreground object to make the shot even better. I waited probably around 20 minutes. I actually lost a little of the light reflected on the ship, but when these 2 couples appeared and they both simultaneously pointed at the ship, I knew that was going to be the best shot of this today.

This shot was going to be nothing but a black-n-white shot. Even the original color version of the photo is very hard to see any color. What I like is the scale between the ship and the people. Also, the marine layer was coming in, yet the sun was still above it. I did not mind at all that the sky is a bit overexposed. i didn't care. In fact, it made the shot clean.

The components, besides the people in this shot and the carrier itself, that I liked in this shot were the little sailboats off in the distance.  I thought it was a nice touch without cluttering the shot at all.

I have another idea for this shot. It just needs the right foreground subject. Stay tuned if i am lucky to get that shot.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Majestic Maintenance

One of the things any photographer should try and do is capture something when it is not in it's usual form or normal self. In this case, this would apply to the San Diego California temple, situated just off the I-5 freeway, in La Jolla. The temple is undergoing some preservation type of maintenance.

What drew me to the photo was the intricate scaffolding surrounding the temple. I have had this on my "radar" for the past few weeks and I figured I have better get this shot, before the work is complete and the scaffolding disappears and the temple returns to it's normal look.

I had stopped here on my way back during the early afternoon last weekend and took some shots. Immediately, I knew that I would need a shot of this at dusk. Now, if the temple was in it's normal state, then an afternoon shot would be ideal, as well. But, in this instance, the scaffolding sort of hides the pristine white. Therefore, I needed the lights inside and outside the church, at dusk, to really bring out the magic in this shot.

I think the scaffolding is blocking some of light rays and therefore is not quite as bright as it usually is. But, the scaffolding really shows up, due to the same lights. At dusk, the deep blue sky contrasts nicely with the warm yellow tungsten color inside the temple. The incoming marine layer just barely held off long enough for this shot, to get those nice deep blues in the sky.

I took this shot from the other side of I-5, in a strip mall parking lot. I met another photographer, who had the same idea. She was kind enough to let me borrow her tripod for a quick few minutes, as I need to find a new tripod. She also let me use her little step ladder to shoot over the chain-link fence, to make it easier than to use the live-view mode on my camera. You have to like a photographer who really comes prepared. She was nice company and I hope to see her photos of this, as well.

This is a famous San Diego landmark. With or without scaffolding, it is a beauty no matter what.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Now, for all the photos that there have been taken of the USS Midway, I would venture to say, that this isn't the most popular of them. In fact, I am quite positive I am the only one who has a pic like this of the Midway.

The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier museum, that sits docked in San Diego. You can tour the carrier, seeing not only the carrier itself, but also vintage aircraft parked on the flight deck and also in the hangar bay.

For this shot, I was walking along her starboard side (right side) late in the evening sun. The marine layer had started to diffuse the sun and roll into San Diego Bay. I was actually trying to compose shots of the USS Midway's bow with the aircraft carriers at North Island in the background. As I was looking around for better angles to photograph that, I notice this ducting up high on the side of the ship.

The thing that caught me first was that there was ducting on the outside of the skin of the ship, in the first place. It's kind of unusual to see. But, the sort of rate maze design of it, with the interesting shadow play, really made it stand out.I really like how the shadows fall right on the "Y" shape part of the ducting.

I just think that this ducting takes you on an interesting journey inside and out of the USS Midway. But, just like that rat, confused and wondering where it might lead out or end.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SS Moonlight & SS Encinitas

One of the more peculiar icons, on a lesser scale, in San Diego county are these 2 boat-houses that sit in a residential area of Encinitas, California. These are apartment complexes that were built to look like boats. Therefore, these were never boats on the high seas during any portion of their existence.

Anyways, for this shot, since the boat-houses, are identical, I decided to get closer to one boat and then use the other boat to "fill in the blanks." It also fills the frame better.

I like this composition, because it is like the boats have literally crashed the neighborhood during the last high tide and ran aground. I decided to leave just enough off to the left side for the next buildings along the street, to give the shot some needed context. I also find the tiny palm tree interesting as well as the palms that are framing right around the "SS Moonlight" sign. In my opinion, it is what you would expect, if a ship ran aground in a lush tropical scene . The first thing you would see is the bow of the boat busting out of the greenery.

Anyways, I wonder what these boat-houses contribute to the neighborhood property value?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sailing Out

The Portuguese tall ship sails out of San Diego, California, after her week-long visit to "America's Finest City."

This ship is a training vessel for the Portuguese navy. It is on a current around-the-globe voyage and her next stop will be Hawaii. They pulled into San Diego last Monday and I was able to go aboard her and take some pics of her. They offered free tours to the public. It was parked next to the San Diego Maritime Museum.

For this shot, I headed out to Shelter Island, in Pt. Loma. My goal was to get the ship sailing out of the bay, with the skyline in the background. I wanted a part of the skyline, in which people who are familiar with San Diego, would recognize. One of these buildings is the One America Plaza building. It is the building off to the right which slants inward slightly and has a pointed top. If you look closely, you'll also see the Sante Fe train depot, with the "Sante Fe" sign visible.

There were a few challenges with the shot. To get this angle, one of the unknowns is the public boat traffic also in the bay. Finding a good angle on the ship, where the public boats add just enough, yet don't impair the vision too much of the vessel was one of them. The other challenge was the marine layer coming in right at this time and causing the sun to appear/disappear a few times.

The idea was to really showcase the splendor and size of the ship. I could have chosen a high vantage point to look down, but I wasn't sure if the ship would really "pop" out in that composition. Therefore, I chose a water-level shot instead. I wanted to also get the ship on an angle sort of coming at the viewer, which gives it a 3-D view of the ship. I also wanted it to soar high above the skyline, to really showcase it's size.

I used a 300mm lens on my Canon Mark III (1.3X crop), at f8, to take this shot. There will be more photos of this fabulous ship to come.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pole Positions and Electric Boxes

I have been doing my usual downtown San Diego strolls, once again. This time, I decided to head into the less scenic part of downtown. Then, I found this gem. A gem, in that it's kind of funny and makes you think.

For one, the first thing that caught my eyes was the unusual electric box, with the rooftop-like covers on them. Then, there were the metal poles protecting these boxes. I guess, obviously, we see why. I guess commercial drivers cannot park or drive.

The unusual really makes for great photos. The unusual electric boxes just happen to have a complimentary color behind them, as well. Also, for each box, a pole gets knocked down even more, almost looking like dominoes falling. I left the 20 minute yellow commercial parking lane, as yet another protection device for these electric boxes.

What really is surprising is that there is no tagging anywhere in this image. Again, odd, concerning how much attention this spot got for everything else.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Totally Rad in San Francisco

I had to get away for a few days and since I had 4 days off for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I took a quick venture up north to San Francisco. The weather was not the typical San Francisco weather. It was very warm and blue skies. Therefore, many folks went to the beach.

Now, taking photos of the Golden Gate bridge is certainly an iconic shot and nothing original. Therefore, with people around and probably going to get in your way anyways, why not use them? This dude I think was the perfect candidate. You have to take a different approach when shooting iconic shots, such as the Golden Gate bridge.

I really love how this guy was standing. His posture couldn't have been any better. I love the light coming in from the side and really spotlighting his face (black wetsuit helps emphasize that). I love how he is gazing out and the position of his board. Lastly, I had a perfect trail of folks along the beach surf that carried you to-and-from the bridge.

So many folks tend to try and keep folks out. I like including them in shots of the bridge. I like the life that it provides in the shot and makes it much more interesting, rather then just another typical empty shot of the Golden Gate bridge.

This was taken from Baker Beach, in the Golden Gate Recreational park.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Perfect Match

I went again for a stroll around downtown San Diego. I am really trying to improve my urban lifestyle type of photography. So I have been doing this type of shooting often, of late. I am finding some cool shots, but I think the number of quality shots is where I need to improve.

Anyways, this old Volkswagon van happened to be in the perfect spot, parked along the side of the street, with the perfect various paint along it's side, and the perfect building and tree to go with it. I'd say that's a perfect match.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Scooting By

I was once again at Balboa Park, in San Diego. I kind of use this place as my personal practice grounds, especially during the work week. Therefore, trying to find some new and original shots is the challenge. That is why I go there.

I pretty much know all the classic shots of Balboa park and I try and look for something that is quite different and unique. I think this little boy who was on his scooter, is quite original.

Now, the fountain area is definitely a great area to shoot some candid shots. It certainly has that magnetic pull towards children. I had been in this area, for about 10 minutes, trying to actually line up this guy with his son on his shoulders. That shot didn't pan out. But then along came the boy and his scooter.

Now, the composition between the fountain and the California Tower (in the backdrop) is what I had lined up. Trying to find someone or something to fill in the immediate foreground was my goal.

For the exposure and overall look, obviously, this shot is backlit. So I had a black-n-white, silhouette type of shot in mind. I decided to purposely overexpose this shot,. I wanted to see just hints of detail on the boy, while still being silhouetted.

The other reason why I overexposed this shot was to eliminate a lot of other potential distractions. There might be a chance of seeing something through the water or other distractions in the sky. This leaves me with 3 distinct elements of the photo, the water spray, the California Tower, and the boy on his scooter. I really love the separation this gave me.

Lastly, I did some 2-3 burst shots as he scooted by. I chose the shots where his legs were really pushing off and supplying that man-made propulsion.

It's really nice finding new shots at a place where I have shot countless times. This made my evening of photography at Balboa Park wonderful.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oh No! Billabong

I decided to head out to Balboa Park last night. My objective was to photograph the Jacaranda trees. Unfortunately, the Jacarandas at Balboa Park are past their peak and there wasn't really any shots to be made with them there.

As I was walking past the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA), these couple of young ladies encouraged me to come inside and check out the clock displays. I replied, "Clocks?" They said yes. What it was, was children who had made these clocks carved out of wood, to be ladies, in various poses, with the clocks somewhere on their bodies. Hey! It was free. So, I came inside.

As I was checking out the clocks and seeing what photos could be had from that, I saw this skateboarder next to this photograph on display. Immediately, I saw this interaction between the little girl in the photo and the skateboarder. Of course, I thought in terms of humor. It was like she was saying, "Oh No! I was put on display and look at the kind of people who are looking at me!"

In all seriousness, this kind of candid photo, taken in a museum, of a person looking at a piece of art has certainly run it's course. But, this skateboarder was not your typical looking visitor that you would find for this type of shot. His attire I found to be very intriguing and with him in the museum, he was sort of out of place.

I loved what he was wearing and how he was posed. From the hat, to that eye-catching Billabong tee-shirt, to the skateboard along the side, and the sneakers, it was a very cool outfit for this photo. It was different, which made this sort of generic shot, something I think would make people pause and take a second look at.

Finally, are you thinking what I am thinking? What is he looking at? It seems to me he is staring at the white wall and not the picture itself. Maybe that is what the girl's expression implies.

This is a photo that has many various interpretations, that one can come up with.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Surprise Figurehead

Located along the waterfront in San Diego, we have the Maritime Museum, which has a good variety of ships that you can board and check out. The most famous one that San Diegans are familiar with is the Star of India. But next to her, moored perpendicular to her is the HMS Surprise (the ship that the museum purchased after it was used in the Hollywood film, "Master and Commander," starring Russell Crowe).

One of the more popular features of these old ships are the artistic figureheads at the bow of the ships. The most common way to photograph these are usually head on or at a slight angle. Well, one obstacle you run into is a lot of clutter, due to the lines that tie the ship up. This is very true of the Surprise.

As I was walking off the the floating dock that takes you to the HMS Surprise, I thought of a good way to finally compose this shot. I decided to use the Star of India to fill in the background and to make it appear that the female figurehead of the HMS Surprise was watching over and guarding the Star of India. I composed the shot, as to ensure that the frame was filled with just these 2 shots.

If I composed this with the camera leveled, then the figurehead and the Star of India have some separation and more distractions enter the frame. If you look between the figurehead and the Star of India, you will see a structure, which is a restaurant in the distant background. Of course, I wanted to squeeze this out as much as possible. Then, by tilting the camera, I brought in some good features of the Star of India, such as the sails, which I definitely wanted to get as much into the shot as possible. I also paid close attention to the "Star of India San Diego" and wanted to ensure you could read this. The last thing I wanted to ensure is the lines would be the least intrusive.

I was fortunate, as it seems they did some maintenance on the figurehead, as she did not have the usual green discoloration and instead was bright and shiny.

Anyways, this was a surprise find, as I am usually looking at this figurehead,...well...head on, of course.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Save" the Jacarandas!

During our "May Gray" & "June Gloom" months along the coastline of San Diego, one of the events that occurs to help counter the marine layer gloom, is the annual bloom of the Jacaranda trees.

One of the prime areas to find plenty of these trees is along Ash Street, in downtown San Diego. This is the best display of these blooms in the downtown area.

The challenge of photographing these trees is composition. Trying to find compositions which translate well into photographs is not that easy. Trying to find shots in which really shows the fullness and color of the bloom. I also like to show just enough downtown elements, to give it that urban beauty aspect, as well.

In this shot, there was a recent demolition of an old school and the vacant lot gave me access to check get this shot. A bonus was how the "save" spray-painted on the wall lined up with the Jacaranda tree. The "save" was for the demolition team, so they would not knock this wall down. Finally, I love how the fallen flowers filled up the area right next to the wall.

I am glad the demolition tree "saved" this Jacaranda tree.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Anza Borrego Desert Vista

On my way to take photos again of the wildflowers along Sunrise Highway, I got sidetracked and decided to check out this one road (maybe a 1/4 mile strip) that adjoins Sunrise Highway, just as you enter the Anza Borrego portion of Sunrise Highway. Now many folks are familiar with the turn-out miles before, which even has a nice viewing platform. BBut, in my mind, this scene here offers a much better view and I am glad I found it.

This road I mention dead-ends. I guess for obvious reasons. At the dead-end, you will notice that the road use to come to this edge, with the view you see. I am guessing years ago, the constant unstable rockslides made it to dangerous and they brought this portion of the road further inland from the cliffs.

Anyways, the view you see is of the Anza Borrego Desert floor below. This was taken just maybe 30-60 minutes after sunrise and the sun is still breaking through openings in the mountains. This light really gives good definition to the mountains and hills (and I guess bumps) down below.

The challenge was finding the composition I liked best. Choosing the best foreground rocks, which would still give me a great view of the desert floor and beyond. I think this is one of the better ones I came up with.

There are a number of reasons why I like this photo. One, the foreground rocks are pretty impressive, yet, you can see how fragile they are, as well. It's as almost you can see where the portions of these rocks has fallen (right below along that crevasse). Secondly, the crevasse (maybe it's a stream) is a very nice leading curves and lines to lead your eye further onto the desert floor below. Lastly, I love how the sun is just lighting the top edges of the hills on the very right side.

I think this is a pretty impressive vista, that maybe not as many folks, even local, know about here, an hour from downtown San Diego.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

California's Gold

If anyone has ever seen Huell Howser's show on PBS, you will know it is called "California's Gold." Here's a view which fits that description perfectly.

I took a trip up again to Sunrise Highway, which is up in the mountains, east of San Diego. I decided to leave a little before sunrise, so I can get better light and have a better blue in the sky. Well, I got sidetracked along Sunrise Highway. So this photo was taken 2-2 1/2 hours after sunrise. Still early enough to get some nice shots of the wildflowers.

The wildflower you see dominating the landscape in this photo is called Blennosperma, which is Greek for "slimy seed." But, this is more commonly known as Stickyseeds. I went up last week, as well. But, this week, I noticed this wildflower move more across the landscape. I also started noticing the other dominate wildflower, which we should really start seeing in the next few weeks, the Tidy Tips, starting to sprout up. There will also be some nice lavender, reddish, and purple flowers popping up shortly. So the stickyseeds will have some company soon enough.

I plan on taking another drive up this way next weekend and to check out the progression of the other wildflowers I saw breaking through all this yellow and gold tones.  Along Cuyamaca Lake, I started seeing patches here and there. That should really start popping up by next weekend and be fuller. I think this will be pretty good throughout most of this month.  If you are local, take a drive up this way, preferably early in the morning.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Heavens Shine Down

One of the most popular places in San Diego, to have a wedding, or a wedding reception, or after wedding photos taken is the historic Presidio, in Old Town.

One of the area you might miss, when you drive up that way is this statue of Father Junipero Serra. (Father Serra was a famous for the California missions. I am not here to give a history lesson, There is Wikipedia for you all to read up on him. Gotta love Wiki!) Anyways, you probably will notice the brick cross on your drive up to the Presidio, but as you see, you will not notice the statue of Father Serra, unless you walk back that way from the parking lot.

Now, I sought out to capture a different perspective on the cross, initially. Then, I started thinking of lining up Father Serra and juxtaposition the cross. Then, I have my Zeiss 21mm ZE lens on and knew it handles flare really well and can just about shoot start at the sun, with minimum flare. I also know this lens gives great starbursts, when you have the aperture at f8 or smaller.

So, the feel I gave this photo should be very clear. A beam of light shining down from the heavens is a common theme, when dealing with religious figures. I didn't care about blowing out the background. Again, bright, white, glaring light from the heavens fits that feel. Also, the background would possibly show interstate 8. I am sure that would not work with this photo.

I took this photo a the right time. I tried switching to landscape feel, but the sun had just moved enough to where the starburst wasn't lining up right anymore.

Anyways, it's a Monday and I hope someone is looking down upon you, from up above.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rocks and Mountains

Well, for the first time in almost 3 months, I had the weekend all to myself. I finished up another great year of winterguard photography. It actually felt strange, to have the weekend all to myself. After shooting weeks of thousands of performers, I thought getting out and doing some landscape photography was a great way to decompress. Not to mention, I got this nice Carl Zeiss 21mm f2.8 ZE lens for my Canon camera. I had not used it really since I bought it a few months ago. Today was a great day for it.

I must say, I love my new Zeiss lens! The color and details from it are great. It also really controls flare great and seems to give me better dynamic range, for whatever reason. Anyways, if you want to know more about this lens, leave me a comment or send me an email.

Now, for this photo, this was taken along the Pacific Crest trail, along Sunrise Highway, in east San Diego county. It's less than 10 miles from the town of Julian, which is known for their great homemade appliepies. But, enough about food.

There was pretty good visibility today and that mountain in the backdrop, in the upper right, really popped. Then I saw all these rocks, which looked like oversized arrowheads, stuck in the ground, at an angle. You can see these slanted rocks in the middle of the image, in the far background, off to the right, and of course, in the very foreground. I believe this is actually a part of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The desert floor would be below those mountains in the background.

Anyways, i just thought it was neat how this relatively plain ground had these interesting slanted rocks. that's about it. I know. Rocks can be sooooo exciting!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Aspens in Ahwahnee Meadow

Now, anyone who has been to Yosemite or has just casually looked at photos from Yosemite National Park, are very familiar with these aspens, which are located in the Ahwahnee Meadow, in Yosemite Valley. Now, most people who take photos of this take them with perhaps Half-Dome in the background or just the cliffs in that direction. I thought I would try something different.

I decided to shoot towards Yosemite Falls. I was aiming for a sort of juxtaposition here. I like that the falls are in the shade. Everything pretty much is, besides the meadow and in particular, these aspens. I think many avoid this photo, because the houses and the road are in the background. Take a look? You can barely see them in the shade. I chose a black-n-white conversion, even though this was taken on November 1st. The aspens just really popped in the black-n-white. True, the aspens popped in the color version, as well. I believe though that the black-n-white conversion really minimizes the distractions in the background and really make you look at the aspens and trail back to Yosemite Falls. Your eyes never really want to go anywhere else. That was my objective.

Hope you enjoy this slightly different perspective of a smaller Yosemite icon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Busting out

Another Saturday and another day of photographing the pageantry art known as winterguard (indoor colorguard).

This is the start of this winterguard's show. It has an amazon feel and they are breaking out from their cage. Now this might seem like an easy photo to take. Looks can be deceiving. The key is to sit where I can get decent depth of field as well as proper composition.

Now, I saw this show like a week earlier. So I had an idea of how the show starts. That helps quite a bit. Still, it's a challenge on my memory, when I photograph over 300 guards during only a couple months. Knowing between which bars she would come out is vital. A smaller detail is they start lifting another girl in the background up. I did not want her getting chopped off.

Anyways, I got fortunate because the performer busting out has the perfect look. I can only do so much making the photo. The performer has to do their part, as well. This photo certainly draws an emotional response. I think this is a photo that would be perfect for a program cover or poster.

Well, next weekend is championships and that will conclude my weekends of winterguard photography until next February. It's always fun, but at the same time, I am ready for the rest. So are my cameras. I certainly wear them out, as well. But photos like these and seeing the kids loving them makes it all the worthwhile.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Well, another winterguard season is just about over. 2 more weekends to go and the season is over with.

Here is a photo from a very fun and entertaining show, performed this past weekend in Riverside county. They start off the show in this formation and this is like a few seconds after the show starts. I really like the facial expression, where the mask is at this point, and I really like all the arms over to the right side. When the performers have as much fun as the show portrays, it makes for some really great images. This was one of my favorites from the weekend.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creative Poppy

I decided to head out towards Lake Elsinore, in search of poppies. Needless to say, it was a very disappointing result. There were only a few good patches of poppies. I hiked up the hills to try and find more, but all that did was rip apart one of my boots.

Oh well! Can't always hit the jackpot. Right? Well, it had been some time since I have put my Lensbaby Composer to use. For this shot, I used one of my creative aperture discs.  Lensbaby has a package of 10 blank discs, which you can cut out shapes in the disc, to give some very interesting results. Yes! It is an artistic effect, but I really like it for flower shots. I mean, how many of the same flower shots has one seen. Don't you think it's time for a different approach? I certainly do. I thought this came out well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who Needs Professional Lighting?

I recently met up with a local fashion model after work to go over some ideas for a photoshoot. While going over some ideas, I couldn't help but notice the incredible fill light bouncing off all the downtown San Diego buildings. It was everywhere. So after our discussion, I took a few quick shots of her. This is what she wore to work. I wanted to take advantage of this lighting, while I had a model with me, looking absolutely stunning.

I am a big time lover of backlight. I also was using the light bouncing off the buildings like I would use a fill-light reflector. That was great. I didn't need to have an assistant with me, holding a reflector and I was able to snap off some quick shots.

As I was taking shots of her, I saw the San Diego Trolley pull into the One America Plaza station. Instantly, I knew the train would make a great backdrop. The red and black of the train complimented her red sweater and black purse and skirt. The red just pulls you into the image, as the other colors are basically hardly in existence here.

Who needs professional lighting? Right? Well, in this instance, the photo gods were very kind.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Colorguard Fun

Colorguard is a pageantry art, which many times is performed, with a serious manner to it. So what's wrong with having fun in pageantry? Well, this colorguard certainly does not have any problems with having fun. Their show is all about it and it was quite entertaining to watch and photograph.

This was one of my better "peak action" shots of the weekend. I tried a few new custom function settings (recommended) by Canon for these type of conditions (low light, low contrast, fast action, etc...). I found out that these settings had a side effect, which was they seemed to slow down the auto focus or tracking. I am not sure how. But it seemed to always be a hair behind and many "peak action" shots weren't crisp enough. Therefore, back to my settings I have been using for years.

What I really like about this shot is how the flags are suspended in air and they are in sync. Of course, I like how the performers are staggered. I also really like how the balloons form a triangle. Lastly, of course, I love the contrast of colors here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Iconic Revelation

So here is a shot that sort of breaks a rule of photography. One of the things that photographers try not to do is to place a tower, tree, etc straight in the middle of the shot. Why? Well, it tends to split the image into two halves. But, why did I break this rule? Well, I hope you can see why and agree when you see this photo.

This is a photo actually taking on the banks of the Merced River, in Yosemite Valley, facing Yosemite Falls. I was strolling along this river this morning, because I was chasing the fog and seeing what things it would reveal and hide. Layers of fog can always make the usual scene appear much different. Definitely adds an element of mood to the photo. So while it may be yet another photo of the iconic Yosemite Falls, there is more to it than just the falls. In fact, the focus is on the fog and clouds.

If I had composed this shot, basically framing the Yosemite Falls still, but with the middle tree now on the left side of the frame, I feel it would have really hurt the impact that the fog gives the shot. In my opinion, the tree in the middle actually makes you look at both sides and to me, the fog then grabs the viewer and guides you behind the trees on the right and reveals itself much more on the left. You can see how the fog is traveling. For this shot, you can see how the fog layer has revealed the iconic Yosemite Falls.

After you have spent a few days in Yosemite, and you get to see the fog a few times, you learn and understand where the fog starts and how it rolls in and also out in the morning. That is when you can really anticipate great photo opportunities and capture the usual scenes in the not so normally viewed context.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How It's Spun

Another Saturday and another full day of shooting winterguard. Again, winterguard is all about the colorguard and it is done indoors.

Once again, one of my favorite images of this past weekend was a rifle shot. This time, this performer was spinning the rifle, which creates a nice visual effect, when viewed from up in the stands.

When I shoot winterguard, this is a type of shot I love to capture. I call it the hand-eye coordination shot. You can really see the concentration while she spins this rifle.

When I compose colorguard photos, I tend to shoot most of them at an angle. I do this for a few reasons. One of them is that the depth-of-field is razor thin and if you shoot straight on them, there is a good chance the camera's auto focus will lock onto the bright white object in front. If that happens, the face will be slightly out of focus. By shooting at an angle, the rifle and performer are almost in the same focus plane. Thus, even if the auto focus locks onto the rifle, the performer should be well enough into acceptable focus.

Another reason why I shoot at an angle is that it fills up the frame better. It also reduces limbs from being chopped off at bad spots and it also makes the shot more 3D-ish and more dynamic. By dynamic, I am referring to motion and not dynamic range.

Lastly, I decided to use a different method of noise reduction. I left the contrast noise in tact and only concentrated on the color noise. The color noise is what bothers me. The grain type of noise doesn't. I have come to the conclusion that no matter how great the noise removal software is, it will noticeable soften your image and you will also lose that subtle detail and make your image look a little plastic. That is why I only remove color noise from now on.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wawona Covered Bridge Crossing The South Fork Merced River

I decided to go back and look at some of the photos I have not processed from my last trip to Yosemite, the last week of 2009. This was the last place I visited on this trip to Yosemite, before heading back south to San Diego.

In this area, it's an area of Yosemite that not many photographers take many photos of, to my surprise. This is in Wawona, in Yosemite National Park. The famous Wawona Hotel is right close by to this location. Which, makes it all the more surprising. Not to mention, it has the best outdoor toilet of anywhere I have found in Yosemite, thus far.

In this photo, you see the Wawona covered bridge crossing over the south fork of the Merced River. There is also the Wawona stables (not seen) off to the left in this image. This is where you can make reservations, during the Summer months mainly, to take a half-day horseback ride to picturesque Chilnualna Falls. But, don't overlook what is right in this immediate area.

I found the sparse snow mixed with the green moss on the rocks interesting. Then I was fortunate enough to get a bit of diffused sunlight splashed on the covered bridge. I tried to get out as far as I could into the river, so I could lead the river to the bridge and place the bridge appropriately in the shot.

I didn't quite get to where I wanted, but I think the log cabin off to the upper right really was a crucial element in the photo and really tied things together in this shot. I believe that, because it gives the viewer some info as to what is across the bridge, but without telling too much at all. It leaves the viewer asking, "What is over there?" Many interpretations can be made about what purpose the bridge actually serves, which leaves intrigue in the shot.

On your next visit to Yosemite, check out this little area.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Right Outside My Window

I really went far for this photo. Ok. I just clicked the sarcasm off. This was taken at one of the entrances to my apartment complex.

There were obvious things that attracted me to this photo. One of them is the circular shape when you walk through the gate, as you look up. I then use the shape of the shadow, as well as the path that leads back into the complex, to create a lead-in line. Kind of almost looks like a keyhole shape. The other things that obviously stands out is the orange stucco against the blue sky.

Anyways, sometimes it is very easy to walk out in our immediate neighborhood and forget that it can be photogenic, as well. That great photo can literally be right outside your window.

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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