Brilliancy of Colors

Location: Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero
Time: Sunset
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/8 | 1/3s | ISO 100

Another shot from my recent trip to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. After I took several shots from the corner to as much of the burn as possible, I decided to move around to try different compositions.

One of the spots that I stopped was where I could use the picket fence as leading line. I have tried this before but not with too much luck as weather didn’t cooperate. This time around, I knew that the weather cooperated; sky was literally on fire. The question was whether I’d be able to include the colorful sky in my comp. One of the challenges when I go to a location is to find interesting comp. Not a unique comp per se but something interesting that I can try. I am going through a 52-week Photography Composition Challenge and my primary goal is to learn different compositional techniques.

There’s  lot of discussion about how you differentiate your photos from others. Everyone wants to get something new; something unique. I guess the feeling is natural. Everyone wants to be different. No one wants to comp-stomp. As far as I am concerned, I am still at a stage where I am learning Photography and one of the best ways for me to learn is to look at photos from other Photographers and try to emulate it. I don’t mean to say that I’ll copy other’s photos but take inspiration from their work. What I’d like to consider as paying homage. To me, there’s nothing wrong with taking someone else’s comp as there’s only so much you can do in a particular location.

To me, one of the best ways to differentiate your works is through post processing. Think about it. When you visit Yosemite National Park and go to the world famous Tunnel View, especially during Golden Hour, you’ll see anywhere 10 to 100 Photographers. Or, think about the Firefall spectacle. You’ll find hundreds of Photographers in one location. How much variation can you really achieve in your comp? However, how you process your photos can produce a completely different result compared to the Photographer who stood right next to you.

Anyways, getting off the soapbox and on to this photo. The sky was still burning and I went to this spot where I thought I’d use the picket fence as leading line and put the Lighthouse on the third. I was able to include the burning sky in my frame. I bracketed 3 shots so I merged the photos in Lightroom and followed my usual workflow.

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.

 

Shining Through!

Location: Garrapata State Beach, CA
Time: Golden Hour
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 | 18mm | f/16 | 1/2s | ISO 400

Another one from the Garrapata series. Sowmya & I had such a good time during this Photo Shoot. The purpose of the shoot was to see (and shoot) the Calla Lilies that is abloom every Spring. When one of my photography buddies mentioned he was going to check out the Calla Lilies, I decided to join him as well. Of course, I dragged Sowmya along with me.

After shooting the Calla Lilies, I decided to go to the beach to shoot the Susnet. I didn’t think I would be able to get a good shot of the Calla Lilies along with the setting Sun in the frame. The hike to the beach wasn’t difficult but it was a bit hard. Especially, the last bit where we had to use a rope to get down to the beach. I was worried about Sowmya but she found a way to get down without risking a fall. Apart from the last bit, what Sowmya read online was that the trails on this park is one of the scariest places to walk on as it is surrounded by ravines and poison ivy.

The moment we got to the beach, we realized that it was high tide and the waves were very unpredictable. Sowmya asked me to stay away from the waves but within just minutes, I got completely wet up to my waist. Once I got wet, I decided to stand where I really wanted to and not worry about waves hitting me. Sowmya comfortably sat on a rock and for the most part, waves didn’t touch that rock. But right before we were about to leave, a big wave hit the rock she was sitting. Luckily, she didn’t get wet; neither did the camera bag she had with her.

Within a few minutes of walking into the beach, we saw the Sun shining through the clouds. The Sun Rays were clearly shining through the clouds. I immediately setup my tripod and tried to capture the shining Sun. This is a 3 shot HDR blend merged in Lightroom. I thought about enhancing the light rays in post processing but didn’t want to make it look fake or forced.

Alviso Glow!

Location: Alviso Marina County Park, San Jose
Time: Golden Hour
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5/6 IS STM | 10mm | f/16 | 2s | ISO 100

After I took some shots with the dead tree stump and the driftwood (see post titled “Golden Ray), I decided to walk back towards the parking lot. I wasn’t ready to head out. I saw a good comp on the way in so wanted to go to that spot to see if I can get some shots.

The sky lit up with beautiful colors and light was changing fast. So, I told Sowmya that I will run to the spot but asked her to take her time and walk slowly. She was on the phone with her mom so she was taking her time slowly walking the trail.

When I got there, the sky was gold and the gold colors reflected beautifully in the water. I went down to the shore so I can get a shot from a low vantage point. I put on my ND filter so I can smooth out the water and maximize the reflection. I was moving quite a bit to get different comps. I didn’t know which one would turn out to be keepers but I knew the potential was there.

Insects were everywhere and I started itching everywhere. So, I decided to head up to where Sowmya was. At this point, she was on video chat with her mom and showing her the beautiful Sunset. I was ready to head home but Sowmya told me to get a couple of shots with wildflowers in the foreground. I tried different ideas but felt that the FG was too dark. I haven’t quite processed those photos so not sure if I’ll post any from that series.

Overall, a good day at Alviso Marina County Park.

Golden Ray!

Location: Alviso Marina County Park, San Jose
Time: Golden Hour
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5/6 IS STM | 18mm | f/16 | 1/6s | ISO 100

The things I do for Photography! More importantly, the things I make Sowmya do for my Photography! Last Sunday, we have a fully packed day. We had a baby shower in the afternoon and a birthday party in the late afternoon. We left home around 11:00 and headed to the Baby Shower. Apart from the couple hosting the event, Sowmya & I didn’t know anyone else at the Baby Shower. We spent an hour or so there, had lunch, and then left for the birthday party. Food at the Baby Shower was ok; nothing really to write home about.

It was a pretty hot day and we were worried about the Birthday Party as it was going to be at a Lake Park. Luckily, the area where they gathered was in shade. We spent several hours socializing at the birthday party. Unlike the Baby Shower, we knew almost everyone at the Birthday Party. They were all Sowmya’s cousins/relatives.

So, after almost the entire day out, primarily standing, I asked Sowmya if she was up for a Photo Shoot. Meaning, I wanted to go shoot Sunset somewhere and I asked if she’s ok with it. I knew very well that she was going to say yes. I decided to head to Alviso Marina County Park as I have not been there for a Photo Shoot especially during Golden Hour. I realized after getting to the park that Sowmya had her high-heels on and it was going to be difficult for her to hike. But she was a trooper and told me she’ll be fine.

We started walking and I started taking some test shots. I was looking for some good comp as well. After walking a bit, I found a dead tree stump on shore. I decided to use it as foreground. The entire place stank quite a bit. When I went close to the dead tree stump, thousands of small insects that were sitting on the seashore floor started flying low to the ground. I hesitated for a bit but decided to go close anyway.

There were insects everywhere and some even got to me. I tried shaking them off but I was more worried about composing and getting a shot. I then saw this small driftwood that I wanted to line up with the sun rays. I really didn’t want to touch the driftwood as it was rotten and had lot of insects. I tried to move it using my foot and I was more or less successful. My shoes got completely dirty and wet.

My first thought was to wait till the Sun goes behind the hill so I can get a starburst. I realized that once the Sun goes behind the hill, I will no longer have the rays. So, I decided to fire away a few shots. This is a 3 shot blend merged in LR. The sky turned even more vibrant after the Sun went behind the horizon. But more on that in the next post.

Walking Together!

Location: Sierra Open Preserve, San Jose
Time: Sunset
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 10mm | f/8 | 1/6s | ISO 100

What a beautiful place! As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, this place is very close to where I live but unfortunately, I haven’t explored it much. When we went here for Sunset, we took the trail to the other side of the parking lot to see what we can find in terms of good composition.

We must have spent an hour or so on the other side hiking and trying different shots. As the Sun started setting behind the mountain, we decided to checkout the trails that have city views. We thought that would make a better comp compared to where we were. So, we started heading that direction. We stopped several times on the way as I was trying to get some starburst of the setting Sun as there were rocks that the Sun hit at the right angle.

I was asked to model for a few shots as the guys tried to shoot Sun through my hands and get a Starburst. As soon as we were done with that, I ran to the other trail so I can get the setting Sun. The colors were spectacular. I was able to get some starburst of the setting Sun.

Once the Sun was done, I was looking for other comp ideas. The colors were still spectacular. I went to this place to shoot the colorful sky with the busy city in my frame. As I was setting up my tripod, I saw this couple walk by. I thought I’d use them in my frame. I waited till they got to the right spot and clicked a few shots. I didn’t spend a lot of time processing this photo. I just did enough to tell a story. After publishing this to 500px, I do see a couple of things I can change to make it even better.

Waves at 38000 Feet!

Location: At 38000 Feet above Boston
Time: Sunset
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Sigma 17-50mm | 50mm | f/8 | 1/50s | ISO 400

Traveling has been a part of my job for the last 12 years or so. Until a few years back, I used to travel extensively; between 100,000 to 150,000 miles every year. The last few years have been significantly less but I still do travel regularly.

For all those years that I traveled and all those great places I went to, I never really took advantage of the Photography opportunities that it presented. I could have gone to exotic locations every weekend instead of coming back to San Jose. I was single then and it would have been the perfect time to do it.

Well, I wasn’t into Landscape Photography back then. I was more into Fashion/Glamour Photography. I did go on a couple of Fashion shoots in the LA area several years back. Other than that, I really didn’t even consider taking my camera with me on my business trips. I changed that end of last year. I went to Boston for a business meeting and decided to take my camera with me. The Charles River is within stone’s throw from the hotel I stay in. I usually get a room with river view anyway and I have always thought about shooting the Boston Skyline reflecting in the river. I got several good shots in that trip.

When I got the opportunity again this month, I decided to take my camera with me. I didn’t have any time for Photography but I thought I’d shoot from my plane window, which I have never done. I usually pick aisle seats but this time, I picked a window seat. The seat was above wing but I knew I can change that to something up front during check-in because of my status. Unfortunately, I missed the window and I couldn’t move up to the front. I was stuck with the window seat above the wing. Going to Boston, I wasn’t able to get a single decent shot.

When I checked-in for the flight back home, I made sure that I got a window seat. The seat I got was towards the front of the plane but above the engine. That was the best I could do. It was one of those jumbo planes. Half of the flight was empty. I decided to still shoot and try to avoid the engine. It was difficult as I wanted more of the clouds than the sky. I moved a bit within my seat to see if I could change the angle.

After a bit of trial and error, I was able to get this shot. This is a 3 shot HDR blend. I usually shoot at 100 iso but decided to bump it up to 400 as I was shooting this handheld. I loved how there were no breaks in the clouds and it felt like waves. Sunset wasn’t spectacular but the colors were still very nice.

Week 10 – Movement

The goal for Week 10 of the 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Movement. Photography, is a all about capturing a moment, which essentially means you are stopping motion and freezing the frame. Even though we freeze the frame with our photos, we have multiple options when doing this. We can freeze a fast moving race car with a 1/1000 of a second or higher. Alternatively, we can keep our shutter open long (or even ultra-long) to let in more light; say to capture the night sky.

When talking about movement in Photography, there are multiple ways to do it – fast shutter speed, slow shutter speed, panning, motion blur, lens blur, etc. Shutter Speed is what determines how you capture the movement of your scene.

I love long-exposure shots. Every time I am near a waterbody, I try to show movement by going with long-exposure as I like the smooth water rather than fast shutter speed. Somehow, the though of elongated time makes the scene look ethereal.

For this challenge, I didn’t want to do a long exposure. Definitely, not an ultra-long exposure. I have seen some photos online where the waves are frozen. Not a fast shutter speed nor a very slow shutter speed. Something that just freezes the wave in the air. When I was in Garrapata State Park, I tried to do this. After a few failed attempts, I got a shot where I froze the wave crashing the sea stack. Since I was shooting at f/22, I was able to capture a starburst of the setting Sun as well.

I thought this was a good example of capturing movement.

Beacon of Hope!

Location: Walton Lighthouse, California
Time: Sunrise
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 | 17mm | f/16 | 10s | ISO 100

This was shot the same day as the other shot (Walton’s Fire!) that I recently wrote about. We had the Lighthouse all to ourselves. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have never seen Walton Lighthouse empty. Somehow Sowmya and I end up in places with no body around us. I remember multiple instances where this has happened – Grand Canyon, Shark Fin Cove, Uvas Canyon, Garrapata, and so many other places. We definitely enjoy when this happens.

Anyways, we went to Walton in the hopes that we’ll catch some nice colors during Sunrise. We were not disappointed. It was an awesome Sunrise. After shooting it from the middle of the pathway and getting reflection of the Lighthouse, I decided to move around a little to try different perspectives and angles. I decided to go o the left of the Lighthouse and Sowmya decided to go right. She asked me to come and check out her comp but I was too busy shooting. She got a great reflection from where she stood. The Lighthouse was not centered in her photo but the reflection was pretty nice.

I went for a long exposure shot to smooth out the water and bring that ethreal feel to the scene. Several of the shots that I took didn’t turn out the way I wanted. So, I kept at it and got this shot. Looking at the LCD, I felt that I had something to work with.

Processing was pretty straight-forward. What I need to learn is how to patiently work in Photoshop to further enhance the photo as well as clean up. I know some pros spend an hour or more on just one photo. Well, I have heard that Ansel Adams worked several hours (and in some cases, days) dodging, burning, and processing in Lightroom. That’s dedication and commitment. I take about 10 minutes per photo. I have a decent handle on Lightroom but Photoshop, I only know the very basic stuff. Lot more to learn.

Sunrise at Lake Cunningham!

Location: Lake Cunningham, San Jose

Time: Sunrise

EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS SM | 10mm | f/8 | 1/50s | ISO 100

One of the biggest challenges within the core Photography group is deciding where to go for Sunrise or Sunset if weather is predicted to be good. We were in one of those debates deciding where to go for Sunrise. Escaype recommended going inland so I decided I’ll try out Lake Cunningham, which is about 15 minutes from home. Almost all (expect one) of the core group decided to join.

I have been to Lake Cunningham for Sunrise before. It was sometime mid last year. I got some decent shots. I was experimenting with a Variable ND Filter but I didn’t like that at all. It has a huge color cast. My goal was to repeat some of the shots and try to execute some new comp ideas,

We got there and we all went to one corner of the Lake to setup our tripods. Even though the colors started appearing, the comp wasn’t quite right. I started moving around and got a couple of different shots but nothing seemed right. A couple of us decided to go into the pier to shoot some boats that were docked. The pier was closed but we decided to jump in. I got a couple of good shots from here but after coming home realized that I didn’t get the complete reflection of boats. I wish I had.

I then moved to a different location and noticed that the clouds and trees were reflecting very well on the lake. So, I decided to setup my tripod and capture this hot. I wasn’t sure if was a keeper but thought it was an interesting comp.

I came back home and processed this multiple ways. I tried to not end up with a really ‘purple’ looking image but the colors were really purplish that day so decided to enhance what was there. Overall, a great morning shooting with the core group. Every time I go out with my Photography friends, I have a lot of fun. We discuss different comp ideas and processing techniques. I wish we took some time to review some of our photos so we can comment & critique. Hopefully, we’ll get to do that soon.