Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shooting In The Fog

It has been foggy in the mornings and I wanted to see if I could get above the fog by going up Pine Flat Road. I want to shoot the Lyrid Meteor Shower Thursday and I thought that road might get me above the fog where we would have a clear view. But on the way up through the fog I was so taken by the light that I had to stop and shoot. This tree brought me to a stop as the light was almost making it glow.  This was close to the upper limit of the fog and the light was coming through nicely.  You can actually play with the light by going to higher or lower elevations, the fog will lighten or darken.

Aside from the atmosphere fog provides, it also evens out the light so that you do not have to deal with the high contrast between lights and darks. I found these flowers growing around the dead wood with the foggy background intriguing.

When I got to the top of the mountain I was indeed above the fog and in full sunlight. To shoot these poppies I shaded them by spreading my shirt out above them. I normally do not like to shoot flowers from above like this but they were so pretty and arranged so nicely, I couldn’t resist.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Searching For Poppies In Sonoma County

Buddies are priceless. I have a good buddy, Jerry Huffaker. He rides his bike around Sonoma County traversing a innumerable back roads. He is also a budding photographer so he has been noticing certain things on his rides. Like wild flowers. Today he treated me to an excursion with our cameras, to one of the roads on which he has been enjoying wild flowers for the past few years.

Our first stop was this little farm located along the road with a sweet patch of California Poppies in their pasture. We had to shoot through the fence to get some images and wished we had access to get in closer to the flowers. This was taken with a Sony 55-210mm lens at a 114mm 35mm equivalent focal length.

Driving a bit farther down the road we came to wild flowers growing between the road and the vineyards.  This was taken with a wide angle lens at a 35mm equivalent 15mm.

We spent the rest of our time shooting these flowers, experimenting with different apertures, lenses, focal lengths and perspectives.  This image was taken with an aperture of f/10 and a 35mm equivalent focal length of 315mm.

This last image was also taken with the telephoto lens but with an aperture of f/6.3.  It was a fun outing and so satisfying to be reminded once again of the beauty of Sonoma County. 

If you enjoyed these images you might like to visit Bob's fine art landscape photography on his web site by clicking here.clicking here

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Searching for Wildflowers: Paso Roble CA

We were in search of wild flowers and word on the internet was the Paso Robles area was in full bloom. So we loaded up and headed south. You might think that wild flowers would be easy to find, after all they are bright and showy and hopefully right along the road where they cannot be missed. We had seen pictures of them, carpets of yellow and white flowers, blues, orange, white. All lounging next to each other in wonderful arrays of color.

As we discovered on this trip they are not everywhere. As we drove to the area where we heard they were blooming there were no wildflowers in sight. None. It wasn’t until we found our way to the exact spot where Shell Creek Road and Highway 58 meet,  that we final found carpets of color.  This is where the reports of an excellent bloom directed searchers to go.  And it was true, this was the place were the flowers were.   Unfortunately, as pretty as these flowers were, we missed the real bloom. It turns out that this year the flowers were in full bloom for a very short period of time and then 90+ degrees weather and winds dried them out literally overnight.

We were determined to find the blooms we were after and began driving all over the area including a jaunt to the Carissa Plaines where we thought for sure we would find carpets of color.  But 100 miles later we still had not found anything measuring up to Shell Road and Highway 58.  We did come upon some nice patches of Lupines and we were grateful to find them.  They seemed to have been undaunted by the heat wave.

There was a lesson to be learned in this.  If you hear about a wild flower bloom, don't wait until it is convenient to go, leave right away.  There just is no way of knowing how long it will last.  (Can you see the little ground squirrel in this last image?)

If you enjoyed these images you might want to visit Bob's web site to see more of his fine art landscape photography by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bowling Ball Beach

I have been to Bowling Ball Beach three times. The first time I went it must have been high tide because there were no bowling ball to be seen anywhere. The next time I went a buddy and I researched when to be there and discovered it was to be a low tide, preferably a minus tide. So we timed a low tide with sunset and made our way to the beach. The bowling balls were so high up out of the water they were not worth photographing – they are not pretty at all when they are completely dry.

So we did some more research, now having a little more insight into the situation. The best tide level to photograph the bowling balls is between a 1.5 to 3 level tide, preferably receding. Now timing this to happen at just the right time to take advantage of the golden hour and blue hour is no easy fete. And of course it would be best to be a week day so there aren’t so many tourists. And throw in a few clouds for some interest in the sky. Not asking much, just a confluence of about four or five things.

We were in luck. The tide was a receding tide. In fact, when we first arrived you could not see the bowling balls because the tide was too high. But as it receded they began to emerge giving us the opportunity to start working the scene before the light got really good. The sky was really good, not spectacular like we would greedily wish for, but there were clouds and enough light coming through to light up the bowling balls.

Getting There
Bowling Ball Beach is north of Gualala and south of Point Arena. Park on the west side of the road at Schooner Gulch and be especially careful of southbound traffic as it comes over the rise and is on you in seconds. Take the trail that is at the north end of the parking area. It goes to the west and gets you to the bluff overlooking the beach. Go to the right when you reach the bluff and be careful as it is slippery when wet and you are quite close to the edge at one point.

The trail ends in a ravine and it, the trail, is washed out. You will need both hands to hold onto the rope someone installed (thank you whoever you are) which means you need to be able to carry all of your gear in such a way that your hands are free. This part of the journey looks a little tricky but really isn’t that bad. Lots of people have come and gone this way and there are pretty good footholds, and the rope is really good.  But be careful.

Once on the beach, go to your right (north). The bowling balls are on the north end of this first beach. If you come to the rocks in the image above you have gone too far, but the good news is the bowling balls are just 50 to 100 yards south of this point.

Tricky Shooting

Nothing will ruin your camera faster than a good dunk in salt water. If you shoot bowling ball beach you don’t have to get in the water but from my vantage point, that is where most of the good shots are. So if you go into the water be very careful, don’t turn your back on the surf, and keep a watchful eye for the next wave coming. If you are doing shots from a low perspective your camera will be close to the water and if you are doing time exposures that means the camera will be close to the water for a “long” time, remember that next wave just might be bigger than the last one that just cleared your camera, so be ready to lift your camera up out of the way.

There are also some very slippery rocks and since the surf is churning you cannot see where your foot is going to land. As the night wears on, your feet get colder and colder (in other words they get numb), which makes navigation around in the rocks all the more difficult.

My shooting buddy, Will Bakx, had the foresight to bring a spray bottle of distilled water to wash the salt off our filters and the front of our lenses. Water and a cotton cloth do wonders. Lens cleaner and lens cloth don’t seem to help much.

If you decide to go there check the tide tables and weather maps and have a great time! I would love to see your images.

If you enjoyed these images you might like to see more of Bob's fine art landscape photography by clicking here by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Photography In A Kayak: Sonoma County

We were just getting ready to lower the two man kayak into the Estero Americano when I glanced up and saw the color beginning to form on the eastern horizon. Drop everything and grab your camera! The light will be very fleeting and if you are not ready, camera, tripod, settings - all ready to go - chances are you will miss the splendor. This light had just come on and it was gone within five or six minutes at the most. But what a great beginning to our first adventure down the Estero Americano!

Paddling down this narrow waterway you are treated to a unique perspective on the ranches in the area. It of course is very quiet with only the sounds of nature and an occasional cow bleating. 

And then you come across these unusual sights that make you wonder just what was here fifty or a hundred years ago. Like this fence sticking out over the estero, as if it were a fence to nowhere. Yet it must have served a definite purpose back in the day before the water claimed the bank. It was a strange sight that sparked the imagination.

These little fences were all along portions of the estero as if they were intended to keep the fish from swimming out of the channel into shallow water. Who knows? 

All in all this adventure to the ocean was a wonderful experience. My son in law-  and rowing and shooting partner -  Francisco Montes, captured images of birds in flight and of deer jumping into the water and swimming across to, obviously, greener pastures. Wow! Once to the ocean we had time to rest up for the trek back to the car. All in all it was about a nine hours from start to finnish with five hours on the water. And yes we were both quite sore the next day but every ache was totally worth it.

If you enjoyed these images you may want to see more of Bob's fine art landscape photography on his website, by clicking here.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Finding Photos On Memory Lane

It is time to sit down and write my blog. I have been very busy getting ready for some art shows coming up in April. At one of them, Day on the Green, I will have my own booth which means I will be able to have lots of images available. I have shown in galleries and at art shows before but I have never had a booth at an event. It is a completely new experience and getting ready entails a lot of preparation. One of the many things I have been doing is going through the archives of my images looking for ones I had would like to print and share. It seemed at first a daunting task to go through all of my old images, but I have come to enjoy it as it has become a walk down memory lane. Every now and then I find an image I had previously overlooked, like the image above which was taken in 2012 in Acadia National Park. I had climbed down the cliffs (at the far end) and had been shooting along the shore. When I was finished I climbed out on the near end and came upon this vantage point and stopped to shoot.

On the same trip, there was a four masted schooner in the harbor at Barr Harbor. Another image I had forgotten, it was taken first thing in the morning. The light was still on in the little guardhouse but no sign of anyone anywhere. This picture is made up of two images stitched together in order to capture the whole scene and the reason why it has a bit of a panorama feel to it.

A couple of days before shooting the ship, I was in Kennebunkport, Maine, and happened into a gallery. There was a photograph of a little rowboat in the fog, suspended in a peaceful meditative moment. It was an uncomplicated image that oozed calm and serenity. From then on, every time I arrive at a harbor I start looking for little rowboats that might express a similar moment. So far I am still looking as it takes just the right size and shape of boat along with, perhaps, misty foggy weather conditions to enhance the mood.  The image above is almost what I have been looking to find.

Well, it is time to stop daydreaming and get back to my preparations for the show. Hope to see you back here next week.

If you enjoyed these images you may want to visit Bob’s fine art landscape images on his website by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rediscovering Sonoma County, Part I

Silent Witness

Last October I ended a 45 years career in counseling. I closed the door to my office and three days later jumped in an airplane and went to Eastern Utah for two weeks. It was a rush, a total high. When I came back to Santa Rosa, I was only just beginning to get with the new program of being retired. It has some major differences as you might guess. Like on Sunday afternoon you don’t have to be thinking of the week ahead, you can actually relax and coast into Monday.

For the first time ever I do not have obligations first thing in the morning. So I have been spending early morning hours out and about in Sonoma County, rediscovering it’s beauty and charm, and discovering for the first time places I had never seen before, at least not in this early morning light.

First Light

This was taken along Highway One at the beginning of civil twilight twilight. This is an area of farmland. Lots of dairies, green pastures and farm houses. I was captivated by the lights of the solitary ranch house on the hill, imagining it marked the beginning of someone’s day. 

Saint Teresa of Avila

I have seen the Church in Bodega innumerable times but never in the kind of light on this morning. Because it was illuminated almost entirely by the light of the moon, it required a long exposure of 10 seconds, a wide aperture of 4.5 and an ISO setting of 800. This captured the light on the Church and also brought out the color in the clouds and sky which were almost imperceptible to the naked eye.

Sunrise to the East

The sky before sunrise does puts on an amazing color show. This is looking East from a ridge near Dillon Beach.

Sunrise Over Dillon Beach

This is looking West from the same ridge about ten minutes after the previous image. I fell in love with this ranch house with its white fence, pond and green pastures. Tomales Bay, the northern tip of Point Reyes and the Pacific Ocean as backdrop create quite a setting.


The sun is just beginning to wash over the farm as the day begins.

If you enjoyed these images and would like to see more of Bob's fine art landscape photography click here to visit his web site.