Monday, June 20, 2011

Los Angeles Skyline

One of the places I love to visit is the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The Getty Center is a great place to behold the fantastic art and especially, the architecture of the center itself.

I like to drive up there on days when it might rain. I just feel that a raining day, there are opportunities to catch some unique photos. One of these unique photos is the photo you see here.

This photo was taken from the Getty Center, looking past Westwood with the skyline of downtown Los Angeles in the thin sunlight, that broke between the storm clouds.

Was I lucky? I sure was. But, you have to put yourself in position to have luck pay off for you. If I would have went on a typical, hazy, clear, blue sky., this photo would not have the drama that the storm clouds gave it. You have to be there to be lucky.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Squeezing In

Just got back from a few days trip into Arizona and one of the obvious spots to visit was the Grand Canyon National Park. This was my second visit here.

There is a lot to see here and it might not seem so, if you just visit the south rim. Shooting from just the rim, it is very easy to have one photo look just like another. So you have to find different angles, interesting subjects, etc...

Here, I knew this was going to be one of my better pics from this trip into the Grand Canyon. This photo conveys an emotion.

You would think with all this space, this tree could have grown anywhere. But when it is all hard rock, that is not so. Or maybe this tree wanted one of the best views to stare at each day? Who knows? I always find it interesting how some trees can find the most odd spots to grow.

I took this late in the afternoon. The shadows behind the tree and just in front of the tree really make the tree stand out. Obviously, the rocks split like they are will draw the viewer's eye immediately.

When you visit the Grand Canyon, you will naturally get your grand vista type of photos. But, find the intimate spots to take your photos, as well. You will find these just as grand as the canyon itself.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Up Periscope

I'm still trying to get use to my new Carl Zeiss 35mm f1.4 lens, for my Canon EOS-1D mark III camera. I am still mainly testing it out at f1.4 and trying to nail my focus dead-on. With the new EC-S super precision matte focusing screen installed in my Canon EOS-1D Mark III camera, I am having a lot more success.

A great environment to use a 35mm wide open is inside a submarine, where everything is very close quarters. Trying to isolate your subject from the rest of the background clutter with any other lens and to have this same field of view is basically impossible.

With this lens, I am able to blur out the background, but not totally obliterate it. I still like having a sense of where I am. So this lens, the periscope is certainly spot on in focus, while everything else is out-of-focus, yet, still recognizable.

For composing this image, I liked all the dials and instruments in the background. There are a few different possible variations in this control room. This is just one of them. You can still move this periscope and look thru it. So I turned it this way to get the image you see now.

This was taken aboard the USS Dolphin submarine, which was just decommissioned in 2007. It is now a part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Anyways, I am going to keep practicing using my 35mm lens and getting a good feel for it. It just takes a lot of practice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wine Storage

This past Saturday, I met up with one of the photography groups I am a member of; The San Diego dSLR Group.

Every month, we get together for a group shoot. It's a nice way not to only talk all things photography, but to also snap a few shots, for a few hours, have lunch, and share our shots from the day.

This month, our group shoot was held at the Bernardo Winery, located in the San Diego community of Rancho Bernardo, about 25 miles north of downtown San Diego.

The winery isn't all that big, at all. But, it is very intimate, with lots of odds and ends, crafts, a nice cafe, wine tasting tours (of course), and this wine storage area which has these century old huge containers (barrels) of wine. This is my favorite place to get photos at this winery.

This room has a very good mood. The lighting in here is excellent. The texture on these containers is awesome. Plus, the whole room wreaks pleasantly of fermented wine.

Pretty much, you are going to be photographing nothing but barrels, or containers, whichever you prefer, in this area. So the challenge is to find some interesting compositions to go with the spotty light.

For this shot, I liked the play between the little barrel with the huge container in the background. I did not manipulate the lighting at all.

This was also a good test of my new Carl Zeiss Distagon, 35mm, f1.4, ZE lens for canon mount cameras. This was shot at f1.4 and it is amazing how a lens this wide can blur the immediate background. The sharpness is also amazing at this focal length.

The one challenge is manually focusing the lens. The plane of focus is so razor thin. I think I am going to get another focusing screen to help me obtain precise focus much faster. I was using live view and the zoom buttons to ensure critical sharpness. That process is pretty tedious, to say the least. But, it is another great use of the live view feature on my camera.

Anyways, once I get the hang of this new lens, I think I am going to really love it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lube Oil

It's been a while, since I posted. I just finished up another season of winterguard photography. So now, I have time again to gallivant around, shooting odds and ends. I think lube oil qualifies as an odd-and-end. I took this photo on my most recent visit to the Motor Transport Museum, located in Campo, California (50 miles east of San Diego).

They say that photography is all about light. I think this photo, once again, proves that. A few things I like about this photo, besides the beautiful back-light, is the tones in the photo, as well as the variety of containers that the lube oil is in. But, without the rim light lighting up these containers, I absolutely would have no interest in taking this photo. But with good light, even lube oil can be made beautiful.

I shot this with a medium 135mm telephoto lens, at f2. That knocks out the background and keeps any background distractions from interfering with the subject. Also, this was not a staged photo. I did not arrange the containers or even touch them. There were more containers on this ledge, but I chose this group, which showed a great variety and I liked that yellow one on the right side, with the information. Of course, the 2nd container from the left is a must have. That is the classic lube oil container.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Winter in San Diego

Wait! Snow in San Diego?

Yes! We do get snow in San Diego county.

This was the scene about an hour's drive up into the local San Diego mountains, after this past weekend's storm just dumped a couple of feet or more in some spots.

This is Cuyamaca Lake, which is about 6miles from the town of Julian. It sits at an elevation of around 4,600 feet. As you can see, it was a winter wonderland.

This was the most snow I have ever seen up there. The snow level was consistently up to my knees and it certainly gave my legs a good workout. But it was well worth the effort.

This was shot just before sunset. It certainly changed our perspective of what we usually are accustomed to seeing up that way. It is always fun to shoot a scene you are so use to and when a rare weather event happens, it is like visiting the same place for the first time again.

What's the best part about all of this? In an hour, I was back in 60 degree weather.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Waves of Color

During the months of February thru April, I am the official photographer for the WinterGuard Association of Southern California (WGASC).

What is that? You might say.

Basically winterguard is colorguard shows held indoors, usually in high school gymnasiums, during the winter season. Most of the performers are high school, middle school, and some collegiate. Pretty simple explanation, eh?

What is not simple is photographing these guards. The challenges of photographing these shows are numerous. For one, the action is definitely not predictable. It is also fast and quick. Then you have the challenges of poorly lit high school gymnasiums. I could go on and on. Trying to maintain auto focus, though, is the biggest challenge of all.

So many factors come into play which affects auto focus. Cameras weren't specifically designed to shoot this activity. I have tried many different custom auto focus settings and each has their perks and downfalls. Plus, it really depends your style of composition. That has a lot to do with all of this, as well. Try maintain auto focus when the uniform is all black. Uniforms which are colorful and contrasty are much easier to maintain auto focus and keep it locked on, vice solid black. You also have shiny flag poles, sabers, and bright white rifles being tossed all around and in front, which can throw off the auto focus. Auto focus systems love to lock on those things a lot. Again, I could go on and on. Catch my drift?

While all of this is difficult, this pageantry arts activity is simply a joy to shoot. You have the colorful uniforms, the thrill of performing displayed all over the performer's faces, and of course, the thrill of capturing that special moment in the show.

This was one of my favorite shots from this weekend's performances. This part had great visual effect, especially if you sat up high in the stands. But as you can see, it has a great effect from my point-of-view, as well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Endless Possibilities

On my way back, last Fall, after my trip up the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway, I made a stop in Lone Pine, California and decided to finally see the Alabama Hills (Yes! We are still talking about California here).

Alabama Hills, as you can see, is very scenic and it's no wonder why Hollywood has used this area over 150 times to film movies and TV shows, especially westerns. They even have a road named Movie Road. There is no cost to enter this area. It is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management.

For a photographer, this is a place of just endless possibilities, as far as composition goes. I really enjoyed driving my car along these dirt roads. Talk about a scenic drive! Layers upon layers of rocks.

I really like how this dirt road winds, as well as how it clearly shows the layers of rocks, which is what you will see all over here. The challenge of this area is to not take the same photo as any other photographer.

The curvy road, as it disappears around the rocks, sort of leaves you guessing where it continues to weave through and around the next set of rocks and so forth. This is no photographic trick that fools the viewer. I had this same exact feeling as I was driving, wondering where this dirt road will lead next.

Exploring can be such fun!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Come Inside to the Past

One of the things I like to do, to practice up on my photography, is to visit museums which have a lot of old relics of odds and ends. One of these fine places is the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista, California.

At this museum, you can find a lot more than just engines. You can find old cars, trucks, tractors, lawnmowers, etc... which housed these engines. There is also this neat wooden barn, right as you enter the museum grounds.

As you can see, there looks like there are some neat old goodies inside. Every time, it seems, when I have visited in the past, these barn doors were always closed. It was a nice surprise to finally see the doors open.

There are 3 things I really find appealing about this scene. One is obviously the vintage car. Another thing I find appealing is also the barn itself with all the wood boards framing the car. Lastly, I really like all the old wooden wheel spokes.

For this image, the barn acted as a nice "frame inside a frame." The wheel spokes also further framed the car. Also, with the car being parked just barely inside the barn, you had nice light on the car and I liked how the light just tapers off the further your eyes look into the barn.

Finally, I processed this as a black-and-white image, with a touch of sepia tone. There is another car parked right behind and it had a vibrant green color, which easily had about the only color in the scene, that really jumped out. So naturally, I wanted to neutralize that would-be distraction.

This museum is really a nice place to visit and they offer many events, usually on Saturdays, for both young and old alike. That is also a time when they operate some of the countless relics found on this property. If you are into this kind of thing, then check out there website and perhaps, stop on by and see for yourself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

El Capitan Rockslide

 Another recent blog post, by bay area photographer, Dan Mitchell, captured one of those very rare moments, when you are in the right spot at the right time.

Dan was on his way out of Yosemite, on his most recent trip, when he pulled the car off at a common turnout, and decided to take a few snaps of a Yosemite icon, Half-Dome. The late day sun was displayed brilliantly in his scene. But to his delight, when he got back home and looked at his photos, he discovered a little bonus. In one of those shots, there was a mini avalanche captured in one of the series of shots he took of Half-Dome from the turnout.

If you are a big fan of Yosemite national park, you must check out his photo. It's absolutely gorgeous!

Dan's photo reminded me I was in a similar situation, on my first trip ever, into Yosemite, back in May 2009. It was my last day on the trip and I was in the meadow just below the other Yosemite icon, El Capitan.

I had just finished taking all the photos I wanted and I started walking back to the car, when I heard what I thought was the crackle of thunder. It was clouding up, so I assumed that it was indeed thunder. But while walking back, I saw many tourists heads looking back toward me and looking upwards at El Capitan. When I turned around, I realized it was a rockslide instead.

I hurried a few shots to try and get the plume of smoke or dust. Unfortunately, right as this happened, the sun partially disappeared and left the meadow and most of El Capitan in the shade, yet the sky and right where the rock-slide was occurring, it was still in the sun. It's not like I had time to put on a graduated neutral density filter to balance the exposure out. Rock-slides don't exactly last all that long. Know what I mean?

Anyways, the sun did eventually come back out, but only after the dust dispersed quite a bit. In these 2 photos, I did my best to process these and chose black-and-white conversion for both, as the color versions were pretty drab. Still, it was pretty cool to have a front row seat to one of nature's powerful displays.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

El Prado

When visiting San Diego, one of the city's gems is the historic Balboa Park. Balboa Park is where you will find most of the city's museums, along with some gardens, and next door, the world renown San Diego Zoo.

One of the shots I love to get at Balboa Park is the view from the one end of El Prado, by the fountain. Here, the fountain is still shut off, during the morning hours. I believe it turns on at noon. From here, you can see the natural history museum on the near right, then all the way down to the California Tower.

Now, for this shot, I used my 21mm lens and got quite low to the ground and right at the water's edge. A lot of people like to just get the reflection of the natural history museum, by taking the photo from a spot further left and filling the reflection and frame with just basically the museum itself. I kind of like leading the viewer all the way down the Prado and the California Tower is a nice ending spot. I just think it's a nice "placeholder" in the image. The moon setting is just "icing on the cake."

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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