Descanso Gardens

In honor of Spring & Easter here’s a sample of pictures from a recent trip to Descanso Gardens. We went for the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, but my favorites are the tulips.

Click one of the photos to get a bigger view.

Macro at the Great Park

I attended the second workshop in a series that the Legacy Project is holding at Irvine’s Great Park. The land that is now Great Park was originally farm land, that was appropriated for the El Toro Marine Base, and some of that land is being converted back to farm land.

One of the speakers is a grower that is using some of the land for vegetables & strawberries. I found it interesting when he said the strawberries that were planted next to the runways, harvested earlier than their plants in other areas. He said the theory was the air heats up as it moves across the runway and was therefore providing the strawberries warmer air.

I took these strawberries photos in the Farm & Food Lab exhibit with a Macro Lens that I rented for the weekend. My aperture was at f2.8 which was too shallow. You can tell by how out of focus some parts of the strawberries are.

You may need to click on one to view them at a larger size so you can see what a shallow depth of field f2.8 provides when you get so close.

Abandoned Base

I recently had the opportunity to photograph parts of the old MCAS El Toro base, thanks to the Legacy Project at Great Park. I went to the first of what will be a series of photography workshops based on the work of the Legacy Project whose goal is to document the transition from military base to park.

I thought it would be fun to be able to photograph an old abandoned base. It was a challenge to show the idea of “abandonment” when there are well over a 100 fellow photographers with the same plan 😉

so I focused on the details

and looked up

and found some leftover messages

The photographer who lead the workshop, Douglas McClulloh, who is part of the Legacy Project, said one of their biggest challenges was to document the runway. The runway is after all just a flat surface.

I made my attempts, including trying to get as low a perspective as I could, but a runway just needs an airplane.

How Travel for Photography is Different

Traveling for the sole purpose of photography is not the same as photographing your travels. Let me use my recent trip to Yosemite with a group from So Coast Explorers as an example.

Let’s start with the choice to go in winter. Unless you’re a skier, snow-shoer or just like it cold, is that when the typical traveler will choose to go to Yosemite? A photographer will choose to go for the snow, winter conditions and chance of stormy skies.

For the photographer, choosing February in particular, is for the chance to photograph Horsetail Falls on FIRE. In a small two week period in February, if you have clear skies at sunset and Horsetail Falls has the right amount of water, the falls will look like they are on fire. Photographers by the hundreds will descend on Yosemite for a chance to capture this natural phenomenon. Many come year after year for the chance only to leave empty handed. This year we were one of the hundreds.

Our first attempt starts with a decision to not try and shoot it as it’s looking pretty cloudy from where we were at. Cloudy skies will block the sun from reflecting on the rocks. It’s this reflection that makes the falls look like they are on fire. We decide to catch the clouds at Tunnel View instead. Tunnel ViewThe closer we get to Tunnel View the clearer the skies become. Have we made the right decision? After taking a few photographs from Tunnel View, we decide not. We figure if we hurry we can still try for Horsetail Falls.

The adventure starts with choosing the right location and finding a parking spot. Since we are short on time, we look for something on the Southside road. Finding the right location is a little more challenging when you look up at where you think the falls are, but you’re not sure because there is NO WATER! Yes the falls were dry, but that didn’t stop us photographers from trekking into the snow and pointing our cameras up at where the falls were supposed to be.Horsetail Falls Minus the Falls

As we waited for the sunset, we amused ourselves with taking photos of what was around us and each other.

I thought it looked like an electric guitar

I thought it looked like an electric guitar

As the sun set we could see the band of color move across the rocks. From our vantage point we had a broad view of the light that gets more intense in color before starting to fade.

Supposed to look like a horsetail on fire, looks like a red heart to me

Supposed to look like a horsetail on fire, looks like a red heart to me

We then join the mass exitus leaving the park only to return for SUNRISE.

Coming back for Sunrise means leaving the cabin by 5:45 as it’s an hour drive into Yosemite Valley. A non-photographer is likely still asleep dreaming of a nice warm breakfast. We arrive at Swinging Bridge which has a view of Yosemite Falls as the sun is coming up. View of Yosemite Falls from Swinging BridgeIt’s so cold there is hoar frost on the leaves and ice in the river.On Ice

Once the sun is fully up, it’s time to move on. A decision is made to go to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir as most of the group had not been there. We were expecting some nice reflections from the water. We arrive to the turn-off after about an hour of driving to find a sign that says the road to Hetch Hetchy is closed. Do we stop and turn around? No we continue on, to see how close we can get. We get to where the road is closed and park, as it’s ONLY two miles further, we can hike it. A beautiful walk on a paved road for two miles gets us to the ranger station. The Closed Road to Hetch HetchyTurns out it’s another 7 miles to the Reservoir. We turn back.

Back in the car, on the way back out, we see Birch Lake and stop and take some photographs.Triangle of TreesBirch Lake had some nice reflections, we chalk up the 4 mile hike to some needed exercise. Next up lunch at the Ahwanhnee Dining Room.

The concierge at the Ahwanhnee suggests a hike from the lodge to Yosemite Falls, that will take us up over the tree line and give us a different view of those falls. Haven’t we hiked enough today? NO. What is one more mile? Well the mile did include a brief view above the tree line, although there was no view of the falls until the trail dumps us on the same trail to Yosemite Falls we had been on the day before. Yosemite FallsYes, nothing new here, just another mile walked. So what’s next?

Yes another shot at Horsetail Falls. This time from the North side. We are not alone.

Just a few photographers hanging out for a view of Horsetail Falls on fire

Just a few photographers hanging out for a view of Horsetail Falls on fire

Still no water, but everyone is still ready to get the shot as if God is going to turn on the faucet and there will suddenly be water. Horsetail Falls- NorthsideFrom this side the band of light is much narrower and you can get a better sense of how it should look.

The sun is down and most of the crowd leaves the park. Time for us to leave too? After all no sun, no photography, right? We have been out since before the sun came up. But no, we plan to photograph by the light of the half moon. So it’s off to find dinner while waiting for it to get darker.

It’s about 8:45 PM when we get back to Sentinel Bridge which looks out over Half Dome and the river with the moon behind us. Night photography involves a bit of trial and error to figure out how long to keep your shutter open so that you get enough light to capture the scene but not so long that the stars move. The passing traffic with their headlights and taillights also had an effect.Half Dome by Moonlight Although it is bitterly cold outside, we were having so much fun, it was 10 pm before we left.

We left the cabin at 5:45 AM and returned at 11:00 PM, with 5 miles of hiking and a lot of photos in between. Not your typical vacation getaway, but a lot of fun.

Route 66

When you think of Route 66, what comes to mind?
For me, I think motels,
Motel Room View

Ludlow Cafe
gas stations,
Gas Pump

Before & After
and of course the actual road.
Route 66

So why did I come back with more train pictures than anything else?

(Click on any photo in the gallery to view the captions and camera info)

Turns out there is a major route that parallels Route 66 and Highway 40 that I heard has 100 trains per day.


Knotts Merry Farm

In an unequal exchange, Tustin Toyota gave me a free pass to Knott’s Berry Farm, for some rather expensive auto repairs. I decided to make use of the pass last Sunday during the period of time that Knott’s Berry Farm becomes Knott’s Merry Farm.
Knotts Merry Farm

I was looking to take some photos with a Christmas theme.
Knotts Christmas Tree

My favorite Christmas colors: Blue, Silver & White
Blue Light Special
My favorite part of the day was the Ice Show – “It’s Christmas, Snoopy”
It's Christmas Snoopy
It was a challenge to photograph in the dark theater. I had to use the auto ISO feature of my camera in order to get a faster shutter speed so things don’t look too blurry
Santa Snoopy Kiss
The fast movement of the skaters was a challenge also. Some blur shows movement, too much looks like a mess.
Floating on Ice
I changed the white balance to Tungsten to make this more blue.
Ice Show
Not everthing was about Christmas 🙂 I took a number of photos of the train, but all but this one had rides in the background that spoiled the shot.
I found some back-lit flowers
The Peanuts Holiday Parade closed out the day (almost). The lone ornament on Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree shows a reflection of the tree and Charlie Brown’s backend 😉
Charlie Brown Tree Reflection
It was about this time I discovered my memory card wallet was missing (still missing) and I had only 1 shot left to get the photo I was really after.
Knotts Christmas Tree
It was long after dark when I got back to my car only to have the check engine light come on. Another trip to Tustin Toyota was in store for Monday..but that’s another story. My next photo story may be from the auto show looking for my next car 🙁

Cops and Rodders

Last month, while I was in San Diego to go to the Nighttime Zoo, I spent a morning at the Cops and Rodders car show. Even though the day started out overcast, it was impossible to get good pictures of the cars without getting reflections of everything around them including me. If you look closely, I’m in every photo. They say that photographers are in every photo they take, but it isn’t meant to be so literal. 😉


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2012 OC Fair

Some photos from a Day and Night at the Orange County Fair. I got the fair at 11:00 am and managed to stay until after dark. I went early for the $2 admission, but what I really wanted was to take photos after dark. I like trying to capture the blur in the rides.

Yarn Bombed Pig

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Yarn Bombed Pig