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.