Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Swell Memories

California surfer heads for shore after a long board competition in Oceanside, California.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay, in central California, is a wonderful place for photographers and other artists.  There's simply so much "life" here to capture.

Morro Rock, at the mouth of the bay, is a very popular subject and finds its way into most art from the area.  Fishing boats, birds, seals, kayakers and the redwood forest all add to the beauty of the area.

Morro Bay can be shrouded in fog for days on end but the gods smiled on me this day.  I made this image of the "Morning Light" fishing vessel with the assistance of a tripod, polarizer, and shutter release.

You can drive out to the rock and watch the birds diving for breakfast, an impressive thing to say the least.  The back bay area is also worth a look.  It's located across the street from the state park entrance, southeast of the marina.  If you're the camping type, a stay at the state park, with all its redwood trees towering above you, may be just the ticket.  I found it quiet, and somewhat spiritual.

Luminara di Santa Croce

The month of September is a month of festivals in the medival town of Lucca, Italy.  I was there for the Luminara di Santa Croce (luminating of the cross) when thousands of candles are placed on buildings along the parade route and groups of locals, dressed in period clothing, march from one church to another across town.

Each group, or district, displays a banner representing their part in the history of the small town.

This image is of the cross, covered in flowers, finally reaching its destination.  Thousands of people turn out to view this yearly spectical.

Bridge Detail

I had already made several images of this bridge (Ponte Vecchio) in a wide format so I decided to move closer to the bridge in an attempt to show more detail in the structure.  I wanted to show the appendages that had obviously been added after initial construction had finished.

I was also very interested in the detail of the stone that makes up the arches of the bridge.  Spotted with rust and foliage, these arches had character and history.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chalk Masters

As children, most of us recall drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, our masterpiece displayed for all to see until the next rainstorm.

This image was made in the Little Italy section of San Diego during a yearly event where the roads are closed to allow artists to create works of art using chalk.  Like sand sculpture artists, these folks know that their work will be temporary and yet they spend hours creating visually stunning street art.

Shades of Blue

The skyline of San Diego, California is very photogenic and is best photographed from The Landing on Coronado Island.  In this image, I decided to limit my field of view and only include a few key buildings for a less seen vertical landscape shot.  It was dusk and I waited for the blue hue of the sky to match the hue of the water.  After a few test shots, I was ready.  A fairly long exposure time was used to smooth the water of the bay and a tripod was used to prevent camera shake.

I like how the reflections in the water draw the viewer's eye toward the city center in a Wizard of Oz kind of way.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Florence- River Reflections

Walking along the banks of the Arno river in Florence can be a religious awakening.  Senses come alive as the cool morning air clings desperately to the mountains and valleys.  The warm sensation of sun on your face, the smell of fresh bread baking in stone ovens, and the sounds of a vibrant city waking to a new and promising day.  This image is of the Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge").

Venice- Part 3

Venice is built on islands in the middle of a very large bay.  There are few streets, however, canals crisscross the city and are the best way to get around. 

There are more boat owners in Venice (per-capita) than anywhere else on earth.  Everything from construction to trash pickup, restaurant deliveries to police services are conducted on the water.

Some of the greatest cities have been located near water.  Venice is a great example of that.  The location of Venice has made it a natural trading destination for hundreds of years.  With that trading has come culture and sophistication.  Venice has something for everyone.

Venice- Part 2

When people think of Venice they think of gondolas, canals, and singing gondoliers.  This afternoon, however, most boats were tied up and covered as tourists lined the race course and parade route of the Regatta Storico.  The yearly race is held along the Grand Canal and draws thousands of spectators.

Venice- Part 1

I was in Venice for the Regatta Storico (historic race) in September of 2009.  After shooting the race from several different vantage points, I decided to explore the surrounding area while most Venicians and tourists were still watching the festivities.  This image is of a carnivale mask in a boutique window.  I liked the softness and dream-like qualities of the window display.

This image was shot "on the fly" as I walked the narrow pedestrian streets and bridges of the romantic city.  I spent little effort capturing this image and yet it adds a great deal to my memories of my time there.

Venice is another place that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Once will not be enough for me, however.

The Perfect Day

Napa, California is one of my favorite places.  Some of the best vineyards in the world are here and while some are a bit pretentious, most wineries welcome visitors with open arms and open bottles.  An afternoon of winery tours and tastings followed by a great evening meal at one of the fantastic local eateries is a day you'll remember forever.

I shot this image in the late afternoon as evidenced by the long shadows and deep orange tones of the fertile soil.  It was a bit hazy so I employed my Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer.  I also used a 2 Stop Hard Neutral Density filter in front of the lens to balance the very bright sky with the darker landscape.  By moving this filter up and down during the shot, I avoided having a hard edge at the transition point.

This will not be my last trip to this wonderful area and I look forward to exploring this region further.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Environmental Portraits

Environmental portraits don't have to be complicated.  This shot presented itself while I was shooting a surf contest.  The early morning sun warmed this surfer's skin tones and contrasted nicely with the blue seas in the background.  I love morning shoots for this very reason. 

I must say, I don't like getting up early, but every time I do, I'm rewarded.

Get up early and get the shot!

Meercat Mountain

Meercats are terribly photogenic and know how to strike a pose.  They obviously have no personal space issues as they pile up at the drop of a hat.  What more can you ask for in a photo session.

I have to admit that not a lot of thought went into this shot.  I knew that I wanted to fill the frame but include the man-made mountain they sat on.  My only other thought was to use a wide open aperture to blur the background in order to create a 3D-like quality.

I waited for something to attract their attention and as they all showed me their profile, I gently squeezed the shutter button. 

And Away They Go

Is there anything more beautiful than a horse running at full speed, its legs fully extended, muscles stretched?  Yeah, two horses with riders racing for the finish line and the glory to be found there. 

These racers were only warming up for events to take place later in the day, but it's still amazing to watch. 
My goal here was to capture all the detail in focus while maintaining the feeling of speed.  I tried a few panning shots at slower shutter speeds and liked a couple, but the shot that caught my attention the most was this one. 

Del Mar, Ca.

All About the Light

If the key to real estate is location, location, location, then the key to good photography is light, light and light.  O.K., good composition is important, but without quality light it's only half way there.
This image is all about light.  It was mid morning on a very bright, "blown out" day.  So I looked for areas along the lake that were protected from the harsh light by the forest behind me.  Contrast was a problem as the lake and sky were very bright and required a little post-production work in Adobe Lightroom. 

This image was made in the Rocky Mountains National Park.

Lucca- Getting Lost and Lovin' It

During my travels in Italy, one of my favorite places was Lucca.  A small, wall-protected town with old world charm to spare, Lucca can be a bit difficult to navigate due to the narrow streets with buildings that block out your view of landmarks.  The best way to get around Lucca is to walk.  The roads are cobblestone and there are no stop lights and very few cars, mostly cabs dropping off tourists.

I made this image after walking the better part of the morning.  I have to admit to being lost at the time I took this shot, but I thought this spot was indicative of life in Lucca.  A great place to unwind and feel like a local.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Florence- Early Morning Suprise

I arrived in Florence late in the evening after a long train ride from Rome.  It was dark, so I turned in pretty early.  The next morning, I was eager to investigate my home for the next few days.  What I saw as I stepped out of the entryway of my economy hotel, took my breath away.  The cathedral at the end of the street was amazing.  The early morning sun lit the dome covered building with a subtle hue of orange, making it stand out considerably from the shadows of the residential neighborhood. 
I'm sure that my jaw had dropped as I fumbled with my camera to record this moment in time. What a way to start the trip.  Only good things could happen after that...and they did.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Balboa Park- Statue

This image was made in Balboa Park in San Diego and remains one of my favorites from the park.  I wanted something behind the statue to give the horse and rider an anchor to the park.  The tower in the background does this well, I think.
There is so much to see and photograph here and many of us go back time after time and still find new things to shoot and new ways to shoot them.  If you're in the San Diego area, don't miss Balboa Park.  There are museums, fountains, traditional architecture and gardens to spend your time in.

Pinwheel Close-up

I made this image during a San Diego DSLR groupshoot at Seaport Village in San Diego, Ca.  Being a member of a local photo group is a good way to learn about your camera and groupshoots are a great way to meet others with similar interests.  Of course, each of us has specific areas of interest like landscapes, nature, sports, but being a proficient, well rounded photographer has it's advantages.  Join a group today.  You'll be glad you did.

Pelican Point Lighthouse

Pelican Point Lighthouse State Park was under renovation when I stopped in on my trip from San Francisco to San Diego.  There were painters and carpenters scurrying around the impressive tower so, I waited until break time to snap this image.  There were still a couple of workers hoisting lumber up to the top of the tower and if you look closely you'll see what I'm talking about. 

The weather couldn't have been better and the marine layer stayed off the coast offering me a rare view of the point. 

Lighthouses always make good subjects for traveling photographers and this lighthouse was no exception.  I was hoping for a ship to pass by, but no luck.  Oh well, it means I'll have to stop by again.  Maybe, I'll try to be there at sunset next time.  It will be fun to see the lighthouse in its fully renovated condition.  This was my first lighthouse image and it certainly won't be my last.  I think I'll start a collection.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Morning in Florence

Before going to Italy in September of 2009, I had read and heard stories about the quality of light this part of the world receives and how artists have tried to capture that light in their paintings. I didn't fully appreciate the power of light to transform an otherwise simple image into a feast for the eyes. Sure, morning and afternoon is the best time to shoot anywhere you may happen to be, but the hills and valleys of Italy take this concept to a whole other level. The colors at sunrise were incredible. The blues were more vibrant, the yellows and greens brighter and the blush of pink gave life to the countryside.
This image was made in Florence, Italy not far from the city center.  Florence is a city you fall in love with.  I suggest everyone visit at least once in their lifetime and don't forget your camera.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Human Element- Part 3

Sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time.  That was the case when I made this image of a boy and his father.  I had just finished photographing an early morning surfing competition just south of the Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, California and wanted a few shots of spectators.  What I got was one of my favorite images and an image that tells a story without words.  A father and son moment that can't be scripted. 

I watch for moments like these now.  I know that capturing something like this is mostly luck, but I try to be ready for special things to happen.  Remember, chance favors the prepared mind.  Happy shooting.

The Human Element- Part 2

I was doing a little shooting at La Jolla Shores near San Diego, California one afternoon hoping for a great sunset.  After shooting the beach, pier, waves, and surfers it was clear that the marine layer of clouds and fog would obscure any chance I had of a great sunset photo. 

I was walking back to my car when a young boy who had obviously been watching my exploits caught up with me and started asking questions.  I answered all his questions then asked if I could take his picture.  He said yes and after firing off a few rounds I turned the camera screen toward him to let him see the results.  His eyes lit up as he viewed his image on the 3" screen.  This seemed to energize him and he asked to pose for more.  I obliged and after a couple of minutes I handed him my camera, showed him what to do, and let him shoot a few shots.  It was obvious to me that while he may not be the next Ansel Adams, a spark was lit that afternoon. 

Sometimes, it's the story behind the image that makes it special, if only for me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Human Element- Part 1

As photographers, it's easy to have tunnel vision while we shoot.  The subject in this photo was obviously the leopard and many of my photos had the cat filling the frame.  These were nice images and I could have stopped there, but, that would have been a tragedy, because the images of the leopard lacked a story.  They were flat and sterile.  I decided to wait for something or someone to interact with the animal in a personal way.  I didn't have to wait long.  Several people walked thru the exhibit with little or no reaction to the leopard pacing back and forth in the corner and then it happened.  A young girl and her mother stepped up to the enclosure and only inches (and very thick glass) separated them from the beautiful predator.  I couldn't believe my luck.  I couldn't have set this up better.  I took a couple of shots and it was over.  Later at home, I looked thru my images of the day and found this shot to be one of my favorite zoo images.  Sometimes, you have to wait for everything to line up.