I made this image while conducting one of my photography workshops yesterday at Point Reyes National Seashore. Although I had planned a sunset shot sometimes fog on the horizon nixes what can be a great moment. However all is not lost. Instead you can change your concept during the image taking process and envision it as a dramatic black & white. This was a 30 second exposure using a 10 stop ND filter. I used a limited application of contrast adjustment using dodge & burn techniques. A final step was to add a little vignetting. Keeping detail in the rocks with a smooth silky water was my plan.
I’ll file this in the “When nature gives you lemons, then make lemonade!” category….
Be sure to check my workshop listings for updates on this and other opportunities to learn how to make great images. Workshop listings…
Yesterdays “one-on-one” workshop in San Francisco with alumni and friend John S. from New Mexico proved to be yet another stunning photographic experience. While I normally don’t take my “own” photos while doing a workshop, John didn’t mind, so while he was exploring his creativity I had the opportunity to ‘snag’ a couple of my own. Another angle of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Also a sunset with cormorants drying the wings and if you look close, a pair of dolphins to the right of the rock. I elected to go B&W as the sunset was almost boring yet very colorful indeed. Of Note: The Bay Bridge has activated the cable lights! Give me a shout if you’re interesting in coming along for my next SF workshop and I will take you to my “spots” for a view of this mesmerizing light show.
The other day I made the short trip to the Isenberg Crane Preserve near Lodi California. What a wonderful experience. Arriving shortly before dawn the first thing that really hits you when you visit a bird refuge is the noise. Thousands of birds chatting about who knows what…but to my ears simply magic…
I spent the day with the birds, photographing the magnificent Sandhill Crane (standing 4 to 5 feet tall). Like many species of wildlife, the cranes “call” can be heard for surprisingly long distances. When you hear their call you might think it is so close that the bird is hiding from you. Yet when you look up and see them coming, they’re actually hundreds of yards away as they ‘notify’ their friends of their arrival.
The cranes are very social and you’ll see them dance as well as all kinds of other humanistic antics. I love it.
The sheer amount of birds was phenomenal. Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Tundra Swans, and a myriad of raptors and other birds too many for me to name. And I understand it only gets better as the winter progresses. At the end of the day I was blessed with an incredible sunset with Mt Diablo silhouetted in the distance as the suns glow settled on the horizon. It wasn’t until I got home and found two cranes flying into the sunset many miles away. What a wonderful gift!
Yesterday I held a one day photography workshop at Point Reyes National Seashore. The five of us visited several locations and even though the fog was heavy we were able to capture some great images. Along the way we saw elk, deer, elephant seals, raptors and an elusive bobcat.
We started our journey with a brief meeting at the park headquarters then off to our first shoot, the old wreck of the “Point Reyes”, probably the most photographed boat in northern California. The old boat is definitely showing deterioration as compared to my first images from 10 years ago. Still the photographic learning opportunities abound. We took a bunch shots and discussed the various aspects the “Old Girl” has to offer in artistry.
It was then off to the lighthouse. The fog provided almost zero visibility. Although this lighthouse is now automated it stands as tribute to its own history. Inside the apparatus room there are remnants of the machinery needed to “keep the light”. Outside the harsh climate is evident in the rust and lichen growing on the sides of the building. All providing great opportunities for camera work.
Our group then moved on to the old RCA radio station which has an old growth row of cypress trees that have formed a tunnel effect over the driveway leading to the building. There was such a magnificent overcast/fog layer which gave us near perfect lighting conditions and we got some wonderful images. This location is a great place to discuss HDR (high-dynamic range) when it’s a bright sunny day. The hot spots and shadows provide a great range light and challenges on how to capture it.
Next we headed to Pierce Point to see if we could get some images of the elk herd. The fog was getting thicker. While driving, Menno our friend from the Netherlands, spotted a bobcat. He jumped out of the car and ran back a ways and was able to get an image of the elusive cat staring right at him in the fog. Definitely a cool shot.
We poked around the barn area, shot a few trees in the fog, but the light was starting wane and we decided to head back to Drakes beach for some tranquil surf shots on the level beach. Of course right there on the side of the road was a herd of elk. The males “bugling” loudly, rounding up their harems on a Saturday night. We finished on the beach using longer exposures and got some nice images of the low “silky” surf rolling up the beach.
All in all a nice day to shoot. Weather wasn’t perfect but in a way it’s was. The fog gave us some mood to the images, and of course the overcast is natures perfect neutral density filter.
Thank you, Sarah, Menno, Glenn, and Ash for allowing me the opportunity share my thoughts and techniques in a great location with great company!
Next up: Mini Workshop August 18th 3-10pm San Francisco More info…
A nice day with an old friend…
I met Glenn, an old friend and compatriot at the gate. We hadn’t seen each other in years so it was great to catch up and spend the day shooting.
After setting our cameras we were ready to see what we could find.
First stop was the large primate exhibit. The Gorillas were in their yard and they knew the routine. Sometimes posing and at other times acting quite shy and turning their backs in us. The girls were in the “yard” and the kid was running around as kids do. It wasn’t long before the big silverback came out to check over his brood. After his ’rounds’ he went back into the house. Maybe he had the Olympics on or something. I love tying to capture the various expressions the gorillas exhibits. I’m a sucker for applying humanistic attributes to animals and the gorillas didn’t disappoint.
We strolled around leisurely taking a shot here and there. The zoo wasn’t too crowded and with a bit of high fog we had pretty good conditions. After visiting the aviary where Glenn got an eyeful of a rather large Anaconda (he doesn’t like snakes) we finished off at the Lion house.
Before we realized it, the afternoon was upon us and it was time to hit the road and head home.
What a nice day.
Next up: Mini Workshop – August 11th at Point Reyes (click here for more info)
Often I am asked at shows and gatherings how I got a particular photo. Well the answer is a mix of things. I do quite a bit of planning before going to an area to photograph. Checking with various sources on the internet, I find the sunrise and sunset times for areas, check with other photographers for their experience and information as well as checking with locals whom I have befriended while visiting those locales. I will also check for weather conditions for that time of season, anything that may give me a “leg up” on my ability to at least be in the right place at hopefully the right time. Once on location I will be looking for the right composition but most importantly the right light. Light conditions can make or break a good photograph. Preparation is the key. Conditions, equipment and safety, all play a key role. I have to admit though, with everything listed above in place, serendipity plays a big part. You never really know when that opportunity will present the “finger print shot” as I call them. Thus generating the question, “how did you get that shot?” The photo shown here was taken at Oxbow Bend in Grand Tetons National Park. I had done my preparation before the trip from the San Francisco Bay Area and had already gotten some really nice shots. In the afternoon a storm was coming in and I was heading back to Jackson Hole to my hotel when I decided to just stop and “take it all in”. I was the only one there. As I ate the last half of my sandwich and what was left of my coffee, I was listening to the ducks splashing in the water with that muted sound and overall silence as the snow was just moments away from falling. All of a sudden a small pinhole opened in the clouds to the west and a bright, almost flashlight like beam, began shinning on the aspen grove across the pond from me. I grabbed my camera and took ten hand held shots and then it was all over. As fast as it came, the light was gone. Literally 3 minutes worth. I drove back to the hotel in a rather hard snow storm content in just having been to there to see such a wonderful sample of Mother Natures beauty and kindness.
And that’s how I got the shot….
I will be posting more such photos and how they were shot in
future articles. Comments and questions are always welcomed.
…and please don’t forget to check out my workshops
Thanks for visiting!
I’ve added a “Free” Camera Walk and two Mini Workshops to my calendar!
On Friday August 3rd from 10 am to 5pm I will host a free of charge Camera Walk at the San Francisco Zoo. We will spend the day photographing the bears, birds, bugs, and whatever comes in front of our lenses.
On Saturday August 11th from 10 am to 9 pm I will host a 1 Day Mini-Workshop at the Point Reyes National Seashore. Highlights will include the wreck of the Pt Reyes, a fishing boat beached in Inverness; the lighthouse at lands end; various beach scenes and dunes, and last but not least we will visit the resident Elk herd out on Pierce Point.
The following weekend, on Saturday August 18th from 3 pm to 10pm I will host another Mini-Workshop, this time in San Francisco’s famed Presidio. We will photograph beautiful old buildings, canons, the Golden Gate Bridge and if crowds permit, Fort Point. We will then work our way to Baker Beach and catch the sunset on the Golden Gate Bridge from the ocean side view. We’ll then take time for dinner and then head over to the Palace of Fine Arts to photograph its stunning beauty at night.
Check the Workshops link on the right column of this page to get more info
I would love to have you join us – please contact me to reserve your spot as space is limited to 6 people for the workshops and 8 for the Camera Walk.
Until then Cheers!
ps And don’t forget, I have another workshop coming October 17-19 “Falls Colors” In the east Sierras
It starts with giving some thought to what you want ahead of time. Certainly imagination and an having an “eye” helps, but planning and visualization can go a long way.Before going into the field I often will peruse the internet for photos taken in the area I plan on visiting. My goal is to get ideas and vision from those before me, and yet not to copy them. Second, I use many tools such as Google Earth to pick out locations from where to get a perspective of, as an example, a mountain range to shoot. Next I will use other sources to determine sunrise and sunset and how those times will relate to the chosen location. I consider the weather. An overcast condition, Nature’s great ND filter, can yield saturated colors without harsh lighting. Often bad weather, particularly clearing storms or a even break in a storm can add beautiful light and drama to a scene. An added benefit is that most “fair weather” photographers are heading home and you can have the scene pretty much to yourself. On one trip I found myself in late fall in Glacier National Park for three days and never saw another soul….that’s priceless!
- Instead of always standing upright and taking your photos, try getting closer to the ground or conversely get higher if you can in order to get a different perspective. Put something interesting in the foreground. Take your time…
- Go out at an “off” time. The image of the Golden Gate Bridge (the most photographed icon in the world) in this article was taken at 3 am. Just me, all by myself…might be similar images out there but this one is unique!
- After taking a wide angle shot, put a longer “zoom” lens on your camera and “drill down” into the scene. You’ll be amazed at the compositions within the “big picture”. Alternatively put a macro lens on and really get intimate with your subject. I went crazy one day using a macro on some poppies where I was only concerned with shapes and textures. The result was you didn’t readily know it was a photo of a flower! Check out these examples….
- Can you visualize the scene in Black & White? You can develop that talent. It opens yet another whole world of photography.