I thank you all for taking time to visit with me. I’m hoping to share with you my amazing journey through the beautiful and awe-inspiring landscapes of the Western United States. Each time I gaze through my viewfinder, I am touched on a deep and personal level by the world I see. I hope you get to experience those very same emotions as you follow along with me. I also hope you find some usefulness in the tips I share with you. They were hard learned, but quite handy as I trudged across the many streams and sand dunes. I also want to introduce you to a few absolutely incredible people who are working hard right here in San Diego County to preserve this remarkable ecosystem. Lastly, as an avid runner, I’d like to share a few of the quirky, but awesome scenes I happen to come across on my early morning runs. I’m truly excited to begin this journey with you, and I’m hoping you begin to view the environment around you with the same loving eyes that I do. MOST IMPORTANTLY, I’d love to hear and see YOUR journeys – so please share!
Check out my photography which is decorating the walls at 2GOOD2B in both downtown San Diego and Encinitas! Here are some photos from the installations. While you're there, you have to try a few dishes from their delicious gluten, corn and soy free menu!
TWO TYPES OF AMBIENT LIGHT
When we go out to see holiday lights, it is usually already very dark. This isn't a problem for our eyes but the camera sensor has limitations in these situations. The best time to go out and shoot holiday lights is dusk - that small window of time after the sun has set and before total darkness has set in. The 2 types of ambience that we are trying to balance are the holiday lights and the slowly disappearing evening light. During this time, it is possible to expose for both, and, if you set your camera’s white balance to Tungsten, you will make the already blue sky even bluer. Keeping this in mind, it will take some scouting to find a good composition. Once you have found your place and subject to shoot, you can maximize your time getting the shot right. This could be a fun way to get out of the house and stroll around the neighborhood during the Christmas season. Here is a link to some of San Diego’s hotspots for Christmas lights.
3. LONG EXPOSURE (MOVEMENT, LIGHT TRAILS)
To keep this very basic and simple, follow these steps. Your camera should allow you to control at least the shutter speed. Then find moving lights or an object that is moving while illuminated. Try to visualize how it all plays out in the final image. A street scene with holiday decorations during dusk and some moving lights (like cars) could produce an interesting scene. Think about how the trails will interact with the rest of your composition. I just recently saw a great shot of a spinning Christmas tree. It caught my attention because I really liked the look, and I also knew that it took some effort to spin the tree with all the lights attached to it :-)
To shoot a long exposure set your camera on a tripod or a steady surface, use an aperture of at least f/8 keep the ISO low and then determine the shutter speed the longer the better! Try to have at least 10-20 sec. but keep experimenting with different intervals. Shorter exposures will produce shorter trails. Longer exposures will give you smooth continuous trails. Use your histogram to check that the highlights are not totally blown out. Shoot RAW if you can, this will give you more options in post processing, you can also use your camera’s BULB mode and a remote control to utilize shutter speeds that go past 30sec. but in an urban setting you can get by without that extra exposure time.
4. CLOSE UP OF HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
5. ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM YOUR LENS !
This can be really fun and create some interesting and unique photographs! Find lights in an interesting setting - a street scene, a lit up Christmas tree, or any sort of light involving Christmas decoration. Then set your camera on a tripod and use a zoom lens. Now get your exposure figured out and, during the exposure, you will zoom in and out. This will create streaks of light that can be super fun and produce unique photographs. This is very experimental, so keep on trying with different subjects and surroundings!
Standing at the Grand Canyon's South Rim on this cold and cloudy December day was an awe inspiring experience!
With the constantly changing cloud formations, I was treated to a light show extraordinaire.
“We all are bundles of electric waves or streams of particles – proton, neutron, and electrons. If a piece of metal can be transformed into electric or magnetic waves, so can a string of sound, a thought, and a desire.”
- Girdhar Joshi, Some Mistakes Have No Pardon.
"The past is like an anchor holding us back.
You have to let go of who you are to become who you will be."
Since it is officially fall (my favorite season to go out and shoot all the beautiful color nature is creating), I thought I would make a blog post about photographing the colors of autumn. I would like to share a few tricks that I have learned.
Admittedly, we are not living in the prime locations for foliage photography like the Northeast, or the Southeast, or the Midwest. Those are the regions that produce the most striking and vibrant colors. Locally, though, there is still a lot of beautiful color that will happen a little later in the season -- especially up in the Laguna Mountains you will see bracken fern which turns golden brown and creates a nice contrast against the green forest and in the Cuyamaca State Park you will mostly see black oak trees.
During the autumn months from September to November, the trees start to change in color. The green leaves turn into vibrant yellows, oranges, reds, and rich browns. Each type of tree has its own special color, and it can vary from year to year for each individual tree. When the leaves change color, the chlorophyll -- which gives leaves their green color -- begins to break down, allowing for the masked pigments to show up. Every leaf color derives from a unique pigmentation process and its color change varies wildly depending on the right conditions of light and temperature.The colors usually flow from North to South and in colder higher altitude regions, it starts sooner.The colors usually arrive at the coastlines toward the end of fall.
1. Shoot in Daylight white balance so the colors will not be neutralized as with AWB.
2. Use your RGB histogram instead of the luminosity histogram so you can see if specific channels are clipped and correct as necessary. Find complimentary colors such as reds and greens for example.
3. Good color isn’t enough. Try to find compositions that help the photograph. Look for dominant elements such as one colorful tree, on a plain or some sort of field, vegetation, or a single leaf isolated against a contrasting blue sky.
4.Experiment with a shallow depth of field.
5. Try more unusual and different angles. Go down low or climb up high.
6. Use a zoom or a longer lens and crop in tighter.
7. I especially love the morning light, just before the sun appears and a little while after it has risen, but the late afternoon and evening light is gorgeous as well. An overcast day will bring out the colors even more. These are probably the best times for me, but you can experiment with other types of light as in the middle of the day, or try to backlight your scene and create sunbursts with a small aperture while shooting directly into the sun. This can also add a lot of atmosphere to the shot especially when some sort of mist or haze is present.
8. Don’t let bad weather hold you back from photographing. Often times in autumn it will rain, storm, or even snow. Rain will bring out the colors even more in the foliage and clouds will add to the images. Take advantage of the atmospheric conditions of fall, such as the morning mists that can add mood and atmosphere to the photographs. In windy conditions, try to experiment with motion blur by putting your camera on a tripod and focus on something static such as a tree trunk. Then use a longer shutter speed and have the surrounding vegetation start to create a soft blurry veil around the focal point such as the static tree stumps. This is perfect for creating more impressionistic photographs.
I have given you some tips that hopefully will help you to go out there and capture some fall colors!
Most important for me, as always is to be present and connect fully with nature. Take a walk through the forest, notice the smell of the foliage, touch the fallen leaves, feel the the different textures of the vegetation, notice the array of colors…Or just sit still and observe for a moment, let the wind blow through your hair, let your eyes gaze softly and see where this takes you. Sometimes one of these moments captures me and that is the one I feel compelled to photograph. I think those are the moments that I connect on a deeper level with what is.
One of my photographs was selected for the APA San Diego "Untitled" show. The event takes place on October 25th from 7-10 pm at 3RDSPACE. It is a one night only exhibit including a print auction.
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