Mentor Series Trek – California

The California trek was full of beautiful subjects to photograph, guided by two excellent mentors in Michael Schwarz and Dave Black, kept on track by Michelle Cast, our group leader and shared with a fun and interesting group of fellow trekkers.

After a morning spent meeting our mentors and learning the technical aspects of light painting, we were off to our first photographic stop, June Lake loop. Our mentors were on hand to answer questions and give tips on how to photograph the kayakers and boats.

Silver Lake - June Lake Loop

Silver Lake – June Lake Loop

The highlight of day one however was the opportunity to photograph Bodie Ghost town at night and having Dave Black teach us how to light paint it. After his tutorial, we were set loose to light paint on our own or in groups.

Outhouse

Outhouse – Yes I light painted the bathroom 🙂

The grand finale was Dave and Michael light painting the stamp mill which is like trying to light paint a big city block full of different sized buildings. We had so much fun we didn’t get back to the hotel until 1:30 am.

Stamp Mill

Stamp Mill

The next morning we took the shuttle down to Devil’s Postpile National Monument and Rainbow Falls. Dave and Michael worked with us trekkers on how to get that smooth silky water that make waterfalls so fun to photograph.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

The afternoon was spent having our photographs critiqued by our mentors. A learning experience all on its own :). We had our second light painting tutorial that night at Mono Lake after photographing a beautiful sunset.

Sunset at Mono Lake

Sunset at Mono Lake

We returned to Mono Lake the next morning for sunrise followed by our second Mentor review of the weekend and ending with a final slide show of everyone’s best 5 images. It’s always fun to see how you can take a group of photographers to the same locations and everyone see things so differently!

After sunrise at Mono Lake

After sunrise at Mono Lake

Link to my SmugMug Gallery

Nuts, Lavender & Alpacas – A Day in Valley Center

Nuts, Lavender & Alpacas. Sounds like a strange combination, doesn’t it. It was one day in the life of a So Cal Explorer. The meetup started at Bates Nut Farm. Turns out they don’t grow their own nuts anymore, but they have a store, petting zoo and fields to explore. They also hold weddings and I loved their lighting choices

I tried some motion blur by setting a slow shutter speed and moving my camera up and down.

My favorite colors

My favorite colors

Then it was on to the Lavender fields. Did you know lavender can be yellow as well as purple?

The final stop of the day was an Alpaca farm. I’ve never been to an Alpaca farm before and had no idea they were such sweet and gentle creatures. The owner turned out the Alpacas in a field of fresh grass. After they got over their initial curosity of us, they weren’t letting anything get in the way of their fresh meal. The Alpacas had been shorn a couple of weeks prior to our visit and were therefore “naked”. The fact that they weren’t all sheared the same way added to their personalities.

Click on any of the gallery to view larger

Photographing The Flower Fields

Photographing The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California is a funny concept to me. A ranch overlooking the Pacific ocean plants 50 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus in every color imaginable then charges an admittance fee to admire and photograph the results:)

Only open for a few weeks a year, it gets a big crowd wanting to have their photos taken with the flowers as a backdrop. The crowd also means it’s hard to photograph the flowers without people in the background.

My strategy has been to get as low to the ground as possible. You’ll find me sitting or even laying on the ground with my camera pointed up. This allows me to just get the flowers and the sky. Also photographing flowers on their level rather than standing over them is a more interesting photograph.

Do you agree?

Click on any photo to view slideshow

Photographing the Planes of Fame Airshow

Heritage Flight

Heritage Flight

The challenge of photographing planes with propellers is that you need a slow enough shutter speed to capture the blur of the propeller, but not so slow that the rest of the plane is a blur.

When photographing the airshow at Planes of Fame, I put my camera in shutter priority mode and selected a shutter speed of 1/80. By choosing shutter priority mode, I’m selecting the shutter speed and the camera selects the aperture or f-stop. On a bright sunny day, the camera is going to select a small aperture like f-22 or f-36, depending on the ability of the attached lens. The problem with this combination is that small aperture along with the clear blue sky will show EVERY spec of dust you have on your sensor.

In order to get rid of all those spots I use Lightroom’s spot removal tool along with the visualize spots setting. The visualize spots setting is key to finding all those little buggers. If my camera sensor is dirty and it usually is, fixing these in post, can take some time.

Check out the rest and I’ll let you decide if the time is worth it 🙂

Photographing the F-22 Raptor

F-22 Raptor

F-22 Raptor

Okay. This photo is example of why airshows need to hire photographers to stage their static displays. 🙁 What could be a better photograph of a static F-22 Raptor then looking straight down it’s nose? So why block the view with light stands and other junk? Not to mention the building in the background. If there has to be a building it should be a hangar.

The side view just doesn’t have the same impact.

F-22 Raptor

F-22 Raptor

Los Angeles Art District

I was invited to a Los Angeles Street Photography meetup in the Los Angeles Art District. I had never been there before and we had fun exploring the neighborhood. I found it interesting that a lot of the buildings had no signage that would tell you how the building was currently being used. The photo at the top of this post, is actually the door to a bar, a fact we only found out when we passed it again later.

Click on an image, to view them all in a slideshow with captions

Tower of the Virgin at Sunrise

Before I went to Zion National Park last November, I read a book called Photographing the Southwest by Laurent Martres to get ideas for the best sunrise and sunset locations. The recommendation for sunrise was Tower of the Virgin.

The best place to photograph it is from the patio area behind the Zion musuem. The book said there would be a lot of photographers lined up, but on this day there were only a couple of other people there when I arrived and who left shortly after I arrived.

I got there about 45 minutes before sunrise, helped by the fact that sunrise was around 7:30. At this hour there was plenty of light to see and photograph by. I knew I needed to wait for the actual sunrise, but I really didn’t know what to expect when the sun came up.
wpid1888-131130_Zion_9633.jpg
Just before sunrise, a photographer came up and asked me “Is this it? What is it supposed to look like?” She took some photographs before apparently deciding not to hang around it find out. Then the sun starting coming up and spreading this golden glow across the top of the mountain. At the same time I hear someone running. The photographer had seen from the parking lot what effect the sun was having and came running back to catch it. She almost missed something pretty spectacular.

Tower of the Virgin at sunrise

Tower of the Virgin at sunrise

You can checkout the rest of my photos from Zion in my SmugMug gallery

Macro at the Mission

While on a meetup detour to the Old Mission Santa Barbara, I decided to only use the 100mm macro lens I’ve rented. Since it is a fixed 100mm that means I need to zoom with my feet. The lens also has a maximum aperture of f2.8 which when used can make for some very shallow depth of field. Even though it’s a macro lens that doesn’t mean all my shots have to be close-ups. Join me on my journey through the mission.

This sign is at the front entrance

Mission Santa Barbara sign

Mission Santa Barbara sign

I was trying to capture the architectural detail of the hallway and decided to keep the legs in the shot.

Legs in the way

Legs in the way

Spent some time focusing on the flowers in the courtyard area and playing with the aperture settings

Focus on the Flower

Focus on the Flower

Christmas Colors

Christmas Colors

Black and White

Black and White

I practiced my portrait photography on these statues

His Face

His Face


Light on His Face

Shining Light

Capturing mission details

Wooden Cross

Wooden Cross

Mission Cross on the rooftop

Mission Cross on the rooftop

Courtyard Fountain

Courtyard Fountain

There is a fountain in front of the mission that I was photographing when I noticed the circles in the design looked like eyes and the water like tears. I recomposed my shot to get this final shot.

Crying Eyes

Crying Eyes

Photographing Surf Dogs

I saw a photograph of a bulldog riding a surf board as an advertisement for a Surf Dog Competition. I thought it would make a fun event to photograph. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought so..

Media Frenzy

Media Frenzy

Turns out it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. While I expected the dogs to be escorted by their owners/trainers, I didn’t expect all the junior lifeguards. I think there were about 5 lifeguards for every dog in the water.

Get Out of My Way, I'm coming through

Get Out of My Way, I’m coming through

Sometimes the human element added to the photograph…

A Moment Between Friends

A Moment Between Friends

..but most of the time I cropped or otherwise removed distractions

Tail in the Air

Tail in the Air


Besides being on the beach, there were photographers in the air and the sea

Photography By Air and by Sea

Photography By Air and by Sea

Like human surfers, the dogs had their own moves. Some liked to go backwards..

Backwards

Backwards

I’m not sure what angle of view this camera is getting 🙂

Just Where is the Video Camera pointed?

Just Where is the Video Camera pointed?

..and some sidways..

Sideways

Sideways


..and some sit..

Sitting Pretty

Sitting Pretty


..and some stand..

Surf Dog

Surf Dog

..and some couldn’t run away fast enough

Get Me Out of Here

Get Me Out of Here

They didn’t mind posing for cameras

Posing for the Cameras

Posing for the Cameras

and a bunch had cameras of their own.

Camera Ready

Camera Ready

Camera Not so Ready

Camera Not so Ready



Check out my SmugMug gallery if you want to see more.