Twinkling Reflection!

Location: Treasure Island, CA
Time: Twilight
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM | 28mm | f/16 | 79s | ISO 100

Last year when we went to Treasure Island, we basically stood in the parking lot for a couple of hours to shoot the SF Skyline. Even though one of our friends gave specific details for 4 or 5 other locations, we really didn’t experiment. One of the guys had to go back to work so we weren’t planning on trying to find different locations. Moreover, we have heard stories after stories about Photographers getting robbed at Treasure Island. So, we definitely didn’t want to go to places that required a lot of walking or to any sketchy looking spots.

After we came back from that trip, the friend that didn’t make it asked why we didn’t shoot the Bay Bridge reflection. We didn’t know where that location was. Apparently, that location was right across the street from the parking lot 🙂

We decided that we needed to make a trip back to Treasure Island and hit as many spots as we can. We’ve been planning for a while but things didn’t quite line up. Since this was primarily SF Skyline and Bay Bridge, we really didn’t worry about waiting for the perfect weather conditions. We decided to go before Sunrise and shoot during Twilight and Blue Hour. We were hoping that we wouldn’t get mugged during the wee hours of the morning 🙂

So, around 3:15, one of my friend picked me up and we went to another friend’s office so we can all carpool from one location. We got there around 4:15 when it was still pitch black. The first spot we stopped this time was to shoot the Bay Bridge reflection. It was literally right across the street from the parking lot.

I took maybe 3 or 4 shots from this location. I really wish we stayed in this location and not worry about other locations. But, that’s not what we went there for. The goal was to hit as many spots as we could so we can scout what would work in what situations. The first couple of shots, I tried to shoot in Aperture Priority but that required me to stay around f/11 where I couldn’t be able to get crisp starburst. I am a sucker for starburst so I plugged my remote trigger and went to f/16 so I can get starburst.
In terms of post processing, it was pretty straight forward. Other than my normal workflow in Lightroom, all I did in Photoshop was to remove some distracting elements in the foreground.
Hindsight is 20/20! We should have stayed to shoot the reflection in blue hour as well as Sunrise. The other locations didn’t work as well as we hoped.
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Week 18 – Urbanscape

The Challenge for Week 18 of my 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Urbanscape/Cityscape. Over the course of last year, I have done some cityscapes. I definitely enjoy shooting cityscapes. Somehow the city lights portrays the hustle and bustle of the city life. Even though I have tired shooting SF Cityscape a couple of times, I’d say I have not been very successful. I did get one shot during a sunrise visit to Embarcedero but my trip to Treasure Island wasn’t very successful.

When I thought about this challenge, the first thought that came to mind was to head to SF to shoot the beautiful skyline. Another thought was to shoot the Boston Skyline.  The challenge was Urbanscape so I decided to do a bit of research on what is a definition of an Urbanscape. What I have realized is that Urbanscape; at least Urbansacpe Photography is a bit difficult to define as it sits between a number of different genres of photography – cityscapes, architecture, street photography, etc.

So, I was looking for a creative way to take on this week’s challenge. When I wen to Sierra Open Preserve in San Jose, I knew that the city lights will come on right after golden hour. I knew I wanted to take a shot of the hustle & bustle of Silicon Valley from the top of the hill. Although, I didn’t know what my comp would be.

For the majority of the time while at Sierra Open Preserve, my goal was to find a good comp for Sunset. After the Sun set behind the horizon, I started looking for comp ideas for the Urbanscape challenge.

I saw this scene where the sky was burning on one side and beautiful colors were happening on the others. The foregound was beautiful greenery and middle-ground was the Silicon Valley citylights. Not a ‘textbook’ definition of Urbanscape but to me, this definitely fits the bill. The busyness of the city can be seen from the hill top, where it was so peaceful and serene. It not only shows the city life but also that calm and serenity is just minutes away. I liked the yin/yang relationship here.

 

Midnight Reflections!

Location: Cambridge,  MA
Time: Midnight
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/16 | 120s | ISO 100

I have shot from this location before. Last November, I was in Cambridge for a couple of days for work and decided to take my camera. I have always thought about taking my camera with me when I travel but never did. When I was in Cambridge last November, I went out to the Charles River, which is literally less than 5 minutes walk from my hotel. I took several shots from this location but nothing turned out well. It was all either blurry or only parts of the photo turned out sharp.

I used a tripod that wasn’t quite sturdy so I attribute a lot of the not so sharp photos to bad equipment. To be honest, I don’t think it was all on the tripod. I don’t think I spent time to focus on the areas I wanted to be tack sharp. I didn’t know how to do focus stacking. I used auto focus and let the camera do it’s thing hoping it would get some sharp photos. Didn’t work out.

This time, I decided to take my go-to tripod. It is a full-sized tripod but folds pretty compactly. I wasn’t sure if I’d have any issues taking it on my carry on. Luckily, I didn’t have any issues. When I got to Cambridge, I was pretty tired. After spending some time at the bar, I debated going to the room to sleep or go out a take a few shots. I decided to go out and take a few shots.

I went to this spot where I knew I can get the skyline as well the boats docked in the Charlesgate Yacht Club. I tried a couple of shots trying to see what shutter speed and aperture would work out well. I was trying to stay within 30 seconds for the first few shots. It didn’t come out well. I then remembered that I had the remote trigger with me. So, I decided to do a 2 minute exposure at f/16. I took several shots manually focusing on key areas – one for the boats up front, one for the buildings on the left, and one for the buildings on the right.

The shots looked good on the camera LCD. But I never trust that as it can be deceiving. I wanted to go for a sunrise shoot but didn’t have time. I took a couple of shots from my window and headed to work.

When I came back home, I blended the shots in PS and the result turned out well. I think some areas can be sharper but overall, I like how this turned out.