Pier Reflection

Location: Lake Cunningham, San Jose
Time: Sunrise
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/16 | 1/3s | ISO 100

I have been to Lake Cunningham Regional Park several times and always came up with a couple of good shots. The core group (except one person) decided to go to Lake Cunningham for Sunrise. One of those days where there was a lot of debate the previous night about where we should go for Sunrise. I didn’t feel like going anywhere far. So, I told the group that I am heading to Lake Cunningham as I wanted to execute a particular shot. Basically, I tried this shot last time but didn’t’ quite get it so wanted to try it again.

The group asked about potential shots we could get there and I sent them a few shots I took last time I was there. They were all interested and wanted to join. One of my friends came to my place and we carpooled together. Lake Cunningham is just about 15 minutes from my place. We met with the other two at the park.

When we go there, I realized that the shot I wanted to execute wasn’t possible as the Sun’s azimuth changed. I realized that where I thought the Sun was going to come up is not where it actually will. We did see a lot of clouds and colors already started to pop. All four of us went in different direction to find a comp we liked.

The last few times I was here, I wanted to get the reflection of the Pier. Unfortunately, the lens I had wasn’t wide enough and the Sun didn’t line up. This time around I had an ultra-wide lens that I knew will help me get the entire reflection. I also saw that the Sun was lining up nicely behind the Pier and all the action was happening behind the Pier.

I positioned myself in a place where I thought I’d be able to get full reflection. The place I was standing was a boat dock, which was covered with bird poop. I am not kidding. The entire dock was covered in poop. There was absolutely no way for me to step on the dock without stepping on poop. Of course, I stepped on poop. Anything for a good shot J

Apart from bird poop, there was another problem. The dock was moving for wind, waves, and when anyone walked. I knew that setting up the tripod wasn’t going to work. I waited for my friend to get off the dock, stood still and fired a few shots.

Looking at the Camera LCD, I realized that I got some good shots. I never trust the Camera LCD though. So many times, I have trusted that only to come home and realize the shots were not sharp or out of focus. This time around, I did end up with a good shot. I bracketed the shots so I merged the 3 shots in Lightroom and processed using my normal workflow.

Mirror Mirror!

Location: Carrizo Plains National Monument, California
Time: Midday
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 16mm | f/8 | 1/2000s | ISO 100

After we stopped at a few places on Highway 58, we decided to head to the meeting spot within Carrizo Plains National Monument to meet up with the group. The meeting organizer was already there. We were one of the first people to arrive. There were more than 2 dozen people that signed up for the event. It took a while for everyone to show up. The more time it took, the more irritated the organizer got 🙂

Once everyone showed up, the organizer told us the general direction we’ll be going and took off. We had to scramble to keep up with him. He’s the first car leading about 7 other cars, going pretty fast. With so much dirt from his car, it was very difficult to follow him. But everyone tried their best to keep up. Unlike the fall colors meetup in the Eastern Sierras, no one got lost 🙂

One of the first spots we stopped was this place with yellow flowers everywhere. On the other side of the field of flowers was this beautiful lake. As soon as I saw the lake, I wanted to go there to shoot the reflection. I knew I had a Symmetry Challenge to complete and I love reflections.

When I got to the lake, I saw perfect reflection of the painted hills. I also saw some tumble weed in the foreground that reflected well. I wanted to get closer to the water so I can avoid the lake bank, which had lot of distractions. When I took a couple of steps, I realized that the floor was not quite solid. My shoes started sinking. I thought I can be quick and take a few shots. But, within a matter of seconds, my shoe got completely wet.

I decided to walk to the far end of the lake to see if I could get the entire lake and maximize the reflection. After about 10-15 minutes of walking (and stopping along the way to take photos), I noticed that there was lot of wind on the far end of the lake causing the reflection to be fuzzy.

I walked almost all the way back to where I started and took this shot. It’s actually a 3 shot HDR blend. There was some foreground that cropped out of the frame.

Sunrise Serenity!

Location: Lake Cunningham, San Jose
Time: Sunrise
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/16 | 1/2s | ISO 100

One of those situations where Escaype predicted high numbers for inland areas. Whenever this happens, I scramble to figure out where to go. There are only few inland options that I have found so far. I definitely need to explore a bit more and find a few options in the San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy areas. As usual, I was debating whether to go and more importantly, where to go.

After a bit of back & forth, I decided to head to Lake Cunningham as it was within the area of focus provided by Escaype. I thought even if the sky doesn’t light up, I can get a shot that I messed up last time. Basically, there was a reflection of a boat that took but didn’t realize while shooting that I didn’t frame the entire reflection.

When I got there, it was still a bit dark and I was the only person in the park; at least as far as I could tell. I started exploring to see if there’s any unique comps that I can achieve. I tried getting to the pier to get the reflection but the area was close off. I really didn’t feel like jumping the barricade.

While I was walking around, I suddenly see colors popping up. I ran to this location where I knew I could get some reflection. Most of the colors were happening to the right of this frame. Unfortunately, that’s where the parking lot is. I didn’t want to shoot the parking lot.

I tried to include as much color as I could without including any distracting elements. I have shot from this very location before so I tried to create a slightly different comp. I could see pink colors everywhere. It was a very serene and calm scene. I still was the only person in the park. I enjoyed this Sunrise quite a bit. The sky didn’t burn but the subtle colors were superb.

 

Calm before the Storm!

Location: Almaden Lake Park, San Jose
Time: Sunset
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM| 10mm | f/8 | 1/50s | ISO 100

Another spectacular Sunset from Almaden Lake Park. This is one of my go-to spots near home. For a while, this used to be ‘the’ go-to spot but now I have discovered a few more. I love Almaden Lake Park. It’s scenic, beautiful, and has lot of trails that Sowmya and I love to walk around. They also have picnic areas that Sowmy and I go to often. We pack lunch or dinner and go to the Lake and sit at the picnic tables by the water and enjoy our meal. The Lake also is home to a wide variety of birds. Even though I don’t do that much bird Photography anymore, I always love watching birds.

Anyways, it was Sunday afternoon and Sowmya wanted to finish some errands. I thought I’d go check out a farm about 20 minutes from home as I heard that they have Sunflowers. We finished our errands and I decided to not check out the Farm as I didn’t feel like dragging Sowmya with me.

When I got home, I checked Escaype add San Jose came up with very high potential. I wasn’t sure if the numbers were accurate. I was debating if I should go out or not. Then, I decided I will go but wasn’t sure where to go. I thought I’d checkout Sierra but by the time I decided to head out it was pretty late so I wouldn’t have made it on time.

I was under the impression that Almaden Lake Park was closed so I set my mind on Santa Teresa Park. I thought I’ll hike up the hill on one of the trails to see if I can find a lone tree or some interesting foreground. I asked Sowmya not to come as I didn’t want her to hike a lot. She agreed for a second but changed her mind. So, the two of us headed out. I asked Sowmya to call Alamaden Lake Park to see if it’s open and it actually was so we decided to go there instead.

When I got there, the colors were already starting to show. I had a feeling it’ll be a good Sunset. Sowmya sat on one of the park benches and started taking to her niece. As usual, I walked up and down to find a good comp. I went down to the lake bank and took a few shots. While coming up, I was looking at Sowmya and didn’t pay attention to where I was going. I took a fall! I didn’t get hurt or anything but my camera hit the ground. Sowmya came running to me to make sure I was ok. I was more worried about the camera than anything else. My knees did hurt a bit but I wasn’t bleeding. The camera and lens were just fine. The ND Filter did get a couple of small scratches so I did a couple of test shots. Seems to be ok but time will tell.

Sowmya and I had a good laugh and I went to different side of the lake to take a few shots. I was trying to go down to the lake bank again and as Sowmya was trying to prevent me, I stumbled. I almost fell again but I was able to keep my balance. We laughed out loud for several minutes. We both sat on the bench for a few minutes laughing.

Sowmya then continued her call telling her sister, her niece, and her mom about my fall. I decided to walk around to see if I find any good comp ideas. I saw this drift wood and immediately thought about using it in my comp.

I sat down on the floor in the lake bank, put my tripod as low as it would go and started taking shots. I was waiting for the sky to get lit up. A small portion of the sky in the horizon did light up and it reflected very well on the lake. This is a blend of 3 bracketed shots. After processing the photo, I see a lot of triangles which I think add to the composition.

Literally, minutes after taking this photo, I packed my gear and met up with Sowmya who was sitting in the picnic area. We started walking toward our car and it started raining. Before we could even say it was raining, it started pouring and we got drenched.

Gold Lining!

Location: Lake Cunningham, San Jose
Time: Sunrise
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 18mm | f/16 | 1/4s | ISO 100

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, one of the biggest challenges these days is deciding where to go. Especially, when Escaype forecast comes with high potential to an area that I am not very familiar with.

That was the case Saturday night. The Forecast came up with very high potential but only for inland areas south of where I live. Monterey was out of question as the high potential was only for inland areas. I didn’t know any good areas. I talked to a few friends but we all came up empty handed. We thought we’d check out Alviso Marina but that was outside of the Escaype mapped area.

We thought about checking out CA 152 as we have seen good sunrise while driving. But didn’t know of any spots to park and we didn’t want to take any chances. So, I decided that I’d go somewhere local as it will be known location and I can wake a bit later.

So, when I woke up in the morning, I debated between Santa Teresa Park and Lake Cunningham. I didn’t know if Almaden Lake Park was open so didn’t even consider that. I decided to check out Lake Cunningham. When I went there, I was basically the only person in the park. At least, in the area that I was walking around.

I was walking around to see if there’s any good comp. Nothing jumped out at me so I kept shooting, trying different things. While I was trying to find a good comp, I noticed that the colors started changing. For a few minutes, the entire sky turned pink except the horizon, which had a golden glow. I decided to use the tree’s reflection in my comp. I tried a couple of shots.

This is a 3 shot blended in LR. Processing was pretty straight-forward. All the colors were already there. All I had to do was slightly enhance it.