Saturday, January 30, 2010


This Saturday, I decided to take a couple hours drive out east towards the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is a very interesting place to visit. It's not a tourist hotbed or vacation resort. Let's just say, it has it's little quirks.

During the winter months, the hunters are out in full force, as the birds flocks to Salton Sea. In this photo, this guy is not going out fishing, but hunting. He is taking the boat out to wherever his blind is. Most likely going to hunt for ducks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Usually when I go to the zoo, these guys are sleeping. So, it was nice to see them up and moving around for a change. These are Striped Hyenas, at the San Diego Zoo..

In this photo, I used a 300mm f2.8 telephoto lens. These hyenas are really impressive in person and I think they look beautiful. I really love their ears. In this photo, I just got lucky and I really like how they are staggered and basically in sync with each other. Kind of cool and different, especially when you are talking zoo photography.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yun Zi

Here is the latest panda cub, 5-month old, Yun Zi, at the world famous San Diego Zoo.

For most of the morning, he was sleeping away, even during rainfalls, curled up in the trees. On my third check right before it was time for Yun Zi to come off exhibit, Yun Zi finally awakened and was practicing his tree climbing skills.

For this shot, I used a 300mm with a 2X extender attached. It was cloudy all morning until Yun Zi awakened and the sun came out, making exposure control difficult, which is why I put the 2X extender on, to minimize the area that might get blown out. It turns out, I liked how Yun Zi filled the frame here. The eyes of a panda cub are captivating and are much easier to get the whites of their eyes when they are a cub, vice when they are a full-grown adult.

Yun Zi is on exhibit at the zoo from 9AM till noon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


During a downpour on my visit to the San Diego Zoo, I took brief refuge under the shelter provided by the reptile house. On a rainy day, the reptiles get a little more attention than they usually do.

Once again, what better is there to do on a rainy, cool day? Well, one was to sleep. For these Caiman Lizards, they had cuddling on their minds. Who would have thought lizards to be so cute. Look! They both even have big smiles on their faces. 

For this shot, I had a 300mm lens on. I only brought that lens with me and did not have taking photos of reptiles on my mind. Therefore, I had to back up as far as I could so the lens could acquire focus. Not bad results, for not exactly having the right lens for the right subject.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Head Rest

Here's another from the world famous San Diego Zoo. This is a Golden-Bellied Mangabey. It was a cool, showery day and many animals at the zoo had the same idea as this monkey. It was a good day to just lay your head down and rest.

For this shot, I used a 300mm telephoto lens at f2.8 aperture. You have to use a big telephoto with the aperture opened up wide, to shoot through the fence. At this time, the sky was overcast, which is another key to be able to defeat the fence. If the sun hits the fence, the pattern will show up in the photo.

I took a lot of shots of this guy. Such a cute pose. I also made sure to choose a solid background, without any bright spots. The orange of this monkey contrasts well against the lush green backdrop and makes the monkey stand out in the photo, with no other distractions.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Allen's Swamp Monkey

We have been stuck in a week of stormy weather, here in Southern California. We are in an El Nino year and the strong El Nino type storms have been hitting us every day since Monday. Friday was more scattered showers and I decided that it might be a great time to visit the San Diego Zoo.

I have a year membership to the zoo. I definitely get my money's worth, since it is only 5-10 minutes away from where I live. I figured that the cool, wet, weather would drive the visitors away and also make the animals more active. Well, it did keep the visitors away, but the animals weren't all that active, to my surprise.

One of the few animals out and active were the Allen's Swamp Monkeys. The little ones especially are very active and are very fast, especially when playing. This appears to be a juvenile Allen's Swamp Monkey. I did take some action type of shots, but I really liked this shot for a few reasons.

In this shot, the greenery and yellow bamboo in the background was very nice and creamy. There were no bright spots to take away your attention from the monkey. I also like how the monkey seems to be contemplating his/her next move. The overcast conditions really made the colors stands out, as well. I always like their orange-reddish eyes. It's cool they are in the same exhibit as the otters and I love when they interact with each other.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Taking A Break

This surfer is taking a break and enjoying the day before the wave of expected storms hits Southern California, all week long. El Nino is back and it is going to be a very wet week. So this past Saturday, many folks were at the beach, even though it wasn't all that warm. Plenty of surfers getting in their last sets, before probably a week off from surfing, due to the expected storms.

I thought this was a different type of surf shot. This was taken at La Jolla Shores, with the Scripps Pier in the background. I really liked how he was posed and basically taking in the scenery and just chilling. I thought the surfer coming out of the water added a very nice touch to the photo. The pier is just basically a reference point. If you are familiar with Scripps Pier, then you then understand where this was taken.

I converted this in black-and-white. The clouds were in and out all day long. At this point, it was mostly overcast. The shot was basically void of any color to begin with. So it was a pretty obvious photo to convert to black-and-white.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunset Bikini Shoot

Here's a definite change of pace from what I have been shooting. It's been a long time since I have done some photography at the beach. This was taken this past Saturday, at Torrey Pines State Beach, located in San Diego, California.

I do not have all the fancy lighting gear to do a very professional photo shoot. Therefore, I have to wait till conditions are just right and optimum. That time happens during the last hour of sunlight and just after sunset. Photographers call this period of time, "The golden hour." During this golden hour, the sun is low to the horizon and the light coming off it is softer, warmer, and much more pleasing of a look, in general, on people especially.

The model in this pic is not a professional or even have any modeling experience. One thing I can't stand about photography in the modeling industry is photos which have been touched up or "photoshopped" way beyond belief. I call these "overcooked" images or photos. The other thing I can't stand is poses which are like a pretzel or just plain not natural looking at all. I like to keep it simple and make the model feel comfortable, not contorted in some weird position. I find it more pleasing to look at.

In this photo, the sun has just set, and you have some wonderful colors, from deep blues to warm yellows and oranges. I love low tide and I placed the model on the wet sand, which would reflect the gorgeous sky onto the sand. During this time, the contrast is not as extreme, as it was an hour prior to this. Therefore, it is much easier to use fill flash, without high-powered studio strobes. I used one Canon 580 EX Speedlight flash, on camera, with a 1/4 CTO gel taped over the flash, just to splash a little warmth onto the skin. The results are not bad at all, considering what limitations I had, as far as lighting goes.

Oh, it sure is fun to live in San Diego. Especially when January here looks like this.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bus Ride in Yosemite

I took this as I was heading back to the car, on my latest trip to Yosemite. I was shooting in the Leidig Meadow and mainly along the Merced River. As I was heading back, I spotted this Yosemite bus, traveling down Southside Drive.

Earlier at Tunnel View, I was messing around with these buses and just trying something a little different. I think at a place like Yosemite, you need to really try for something a little different. Since it is so photographed, it can be a challenge, at times. So why take a pic of a bus?

Well, I liked how it says Yosemite on the side. That gives the viewer a place of reference. I really liked what I saw behind the bus. The cliffs and all the greenery overlooking the snowy flat meadow. Without the bus though, I think the shot would not be worth taking.

By the way, I have never taken the Yosemite bus, yet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Getty Guide

Here is a photo I took on my last visit to the Getty Center, in Los Angeles, California. This was taken about a month ago, right before Christmas.

This is just a cute play on the repeating theme of the squares found throughout this scene. You had the play of the square window frames, the the sun creating more of a rectangular play on the shades, then you had the same amount of squares on the Getty Guide monitor.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

Here is probably the most classic shot of Yosemite. This is a view of Yosemite Valley from a location called Tunnel View. Obviously, you can probably guess where this location is right next to.

On this last trip to Yosemite, I decided not to spend much time here, unless there was something interesting happening. Well, I did not have a shot with the fog blanketing the valley. As I was heading out of Yosemite for the day, I decided to stop here and check it out. It was already well after sunset, when I took this shot.

For this shot, I definitely had to have this on a tripod. To give you an idea how dark it was, I exposed this for 30 seconds, at ISO200. I did not have a stopwatch with me to do bulb exposure. That would have been ideal. But, this came out okay. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Big O!

Here's another photo from my walk around downtown, mainly in the Little Italy district of San Diego, California. I kind of had a little fun with this photo.

There is a building that is right by the trolley station and train tracks, which is up for lease, by the way. It is very colorful and it says "Ciao!" on this side. Obviously because I am in the Little Italy district.

I decided to focus a little closer and I liked how this neat square window was right in the path of the round "O." Almost like trying to make the square fit in the hole, sort of feel. Then, I also thought that the exclamation mark "!" emphasized the "O," which could be taken in a different context.

Well, that was my attempt at a little humor.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Skyline Reflection

What's this? Not a photo from Yosemite? I know. I have been uploading one Yosemite photo after another and then some. So, here's a quick break from all the nice shots I got from Yosemite.

This is a photo taken in downtown San Diego. I took this from the condo you see reflecting in the windows. Remember the Cingular commercial for "Raising the bars?" Well, this sort of has that same feel and flow to it. You have the repeating inclining step formation. Then you have the stairs themselves. You also have the squares or rectangle figures throughout the image.

In post processing, I had to correct a little for perspective distortion. It's not perfect, but there is nothing that stands out as alarmingly slanted, crooked, or distorted, well, besides the distortion of the reflection itself. The rest was very straight-forward simple processing for levels and curves. That's about it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Relaxing Spa at Yosemite

Now talk about a photo which really fools some people. This was taken on my latest trip to Yosemite National Park. Now, are you asking yourself, "Where is there a natural spa in Yosemite?" Well, the answer is Bridalveil Creek. Ok, ok... It is not actually a spa or hot spring, of course. Let me explain.

I was walking along the Bridalveil Creek, from Bridalveil Falls. A large part of this was because the asphalt path to and from the falls was very icy and slippery. Easier to walk off the path. I was actually trying to find some leftover fall leaves frozen or mixed with snow. I ventured past the stone bridge and low and behold, I found this. Doesn't it look like it was man-made? I was amazed how perfect the circular shape was in this section of the creek. The dusting of snow surrounding the pool really reinforced the circular shape. I could actually imagine seeing a person, sitting in this pool, his or her back leaning up against the big rock, and soaking it all in. Well, maybe if the water temp wasn't around 36 degrees or so.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Arctic Yosemite

Here's another recent photo of Yosemite, which was taken just a little over a week ago. This photo can fool some people. Looking at it, it looks very blustery, cold, and a scene from the arctic.

This photo was actually taken during midday. When the sun comes out and hits the snow, it starts to melt and vaporize the snow, which creates these low-lying fog layers, that you actually see in this photo. So, another reason to chase the sunlight.

Now, I took many shots of these scene. I had a area of young pine trees (more off to the left, just out of frame) and I chose different number of them to included in the scene. I eventually chose the scene with the fewest pine trees. I did this, because I really liked the fog and the atmospheric feel that it gave to the shot.

I tried composing Cathedral Rock (the large pointed rock) in different spots in the photo, as well. I ended up liking it on the left side, because I liked the space off to the right side, which helped include more of the snowy foreground and fog layer, more clouds in the sky in the upper right-hand corner, and the trees in the very background, on the very right side. I always like to trail trees at varying distances from the foreground into the background, especially in a foggy scene. It is a great way to gauge how thick or thin the fog is.

I processed this in both color and black-and-white. I kind of liked the black-and-white just a bit more. When I convert into black-and-white, I love to include grain. Most of the time, if a digital photo is converted to black-and-white, it looks too clean. That is why I add some film-like grain into the photo.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Few Autumn Leftovers

Here's yet another from my most recent trip to Yosemite. Looking at the weather forecasts right now, I was lucky to have gone to Yosemite when I did. Right now, it is warm at Yosemite, with Temps in the 50's. I think most of the snow in the valley has disappeared. Only snow I think you will find right now is in the high country and you are going to have to hike to get to that.

I shot this photo, late in the day, just before sunset. We stopped here for the fog that was rolling in. There is just something much more magical about Yosemite, when the fog rolls in.

In this photo, I like a lot of things. I like the fog in the background, for one. That sets up the rest of the shot, by giving it a great atmospheric mood. I also like the curvature on the branch. Then, you have the group of 3 trees in the backdrop, and the rest of the trees disappearing into the fog, as you work your eyes back. Lastly, I like how the few remaining fall leaves are still on the tree and show up well. It is like the only color in the photo, that is prominent.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Southern Yosemite Highway (State Rte. 41)

Here is what it was like to drive into Yosemite National Park, last Wednesday, December 30th, 2009. A Winter Wonderland was spectacular. But, within an hour or so, most of the wet snow had fallen off the trees.

This photo was taken right next to the Post Office in Fish Camp, California. Fish Camp is only 2 miles or so from the southern Yosemite National Park entrance. It is on state route 41. This is also known as the Southern Yosemite Highway.

When it snows, it seems that Fish Camp certainly gets a lot more snow than areas only a few miles away. I am not sure why that is. But, it is certainly very beautiful.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Quote the Raven

Ok. Ok. So the caption for this blog entry is a little lame. But, to quote the raven, Yosemite is an awesome place to visit again, and again, and again. It is a very addicting place to keep coming back to. I mean, when you have conditions such as what you see, Yosemite certainly isn't just for the birds. It's a photographer's paradise.

In this photo, which is an iconic shot, you have to try new things to make your photo stand out against the others. There were these 2 ravens, that were certainly friendly and very use to humans. I think they have had a good dosage of human food from people, in the past. This made it possible to get up close to them.

At first, I just sat in the car while my friend was taking up-close shots of these ravens. But, as I watched the fog roll in across the Merced River, I decided to get out of the car and see how cooperative and close I could get to these birds. Then, my thought was, why not try to include them in a landscape shot.

This shot is mainly tricky for two reasons. Exposure is critical here. It was barely within the dynamic range of the camera's limitations. Also, controlling depth-of-field, was a big challenge. I think I would of liked to have gotten even closer. But, the raven isn't just going to sit where you want it forever. I was fortunate he flopped over to this snow mound, which was where I wanted the raven to go. I wanted the raven right in the opening between the mountains. The fog and clouds in the sky, plus the raven, really added an Edgar Allen Poe or Alfred Hitchcock mood to the shot.

This bird certainly earned it's wings. Ok. Is that enough lame puns? That's what I thought. Never more, quote the raven.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Yosemite Powdered Sugar

This is another photo taken from my recent trip to Yosemite, the last week of 2009.

I really like images in the winter, where the snow sort of just dusts the landscape. You get the mixture of the normal landscape and snow intermixing. This was taken just behind the toilets in the parking lot for Bridalveil Falls. What grabbed my attention was the log, with all the swirls in it, being accented by the snow lightly covering it. When I walked further back to this log, I like not only the log, but the landscape in this area of woods. It sort of looks like someone threw down some fresh mulch around the tree trunks, It also looks like someone from up above sprinkled some powdered sugar on this landscape. Pretty neat looking, if you ask me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Brrrrr-ridalveil Falls

One of the cool things about shooting waterfalls in the Winter is you get all the frozen ice that coats the rocks. This really adds some nice texture to what is already there.

This is Bridalveil Falls, at Yosemite National Park. There is some flow to this waterfall, this time of year, but nothing like it is, during the Spring. Still, it is not a bad flow.

I decided on a landscape composition for this photo, instead of the common portrait or vertical composition, which is typical, for long and thin waterfalls, like this one is. I know. I can hear it now. "You cut the waterfall off!" what! You do not always have to show the waterfall from the top or show where it lands. I did neither in this case. It creates an illusion that the waterfall is even longer.

By composing this way, I was able to zoom in closer, to concentrate on what is important. In this photo, it is the white icy rocks that surround the waterfall. The landscape composition also gives me a better immediate foreground. If you have been to these falls before, you know how cluttered the foreground can be here. One solution would be to walk the rocks some and get closer to the falls. In this case, it was very icy and a struggle just to walk to this spot, on the asphalt path. No way was I going to navigate the icy rocks. I also think this composition is a fresh look at the falls, which is not so common. I like that. Lastly, by really seeing the icy rocks closer around the falls, you can get a good sense of how cold it was, which is important to convey the seasons of Yosemite. Brrrrrrrr!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cathedral Rock From Foggy El Capitan Meadow

When the fog rolls into Yosemite Valley, it instantly makes everything even that much more photogenic. When it happens around sunset, it makes Yosemite magical.

I was about to give up on the day and head back to Oakhurst, where I was staying on my trip. On the way out, I spotted El Capitan meadow inundated with fog. Not having experienced fog before at Yosemite, until this trip, I was uncertain how the fog rolls in and how it rolls out. This has a similar mindset as to knowing what spots are in good light and when, during the day. Once you figure this out, you can chase the fog just like chasing the light. In my mind, fog equals moody.

For this shot, this is a pretty straight forward post-process of the digital file. There was no special filters applied to this shot. When Yosemite is this magical, you do not have to do much in post-processing.

When composing this shot, I made sure the photo had plenty of depth to the shot. I think depth, when it is foggy, is extremely important. By having objects at varying depths in the photo, you can really translate how thick the fog is. In this shot, I made sure I had trees up close and pretty clear, then as you move farther back into the image, you had trees becoming more obscured by the fog, and then back to Cathedral Rock, which is behind the fog layer.

I also like the patterns of these foreground trees very much. That was another reason why I chose them as the foreground trees. I also made sure to leave room for the sky, since it was sunset and had some nice pastel tones to it. I thought the clouds in the sky also helped with the whole foggy cloudy concept of the shot.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Half-Dome and Misty Cook's Meadow - (Black-N-White)

One thing about shooting in Yosemite during the Winter, is that not only is it just a lot of fun to shoot, but it is a great time of year to do many great black-and-white photos, as well.

In this shot, I gave it a little bit of a Holga look to it, but keeping the highlights within tolerance and not overexposing them. The mist you see is not painted in or exaggerated. This is not the same exact shot from the color version, but it was taken right after the color photo.

One thing about Yosemite this time of year is that you get a great chance to get many moody shots. this is just one of them I got, which has a great moody feel to it. 

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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