Grasses, Dew, Backlit

Mono Lake, CA

While searching for more compositions at Mono Lake’s South Tufa area I noticed sections of grass that looked as though it was frosted over.  And it did make sense since it was still in the 30s when we arrived that morning, along with 30 other cars with other photographers also wanting to catch the sunrise.

Upon further examination, I realized it wasn’t frost, but dew on the delicate strands of grass backlit by the warming sun.  It also didn’t help that didn’t anticipate walking around in calf-high dew that morning and ended up with soaked shoes after 15-20 minutes of walking, kneeling, and practically laying in the grass shooting pictures.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted avg metering mode, 55mm, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/8

Grasses, Dew, Backlit.  Mono Lake, California. October 14, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


Dead Trees, Stratified Skies

Ione, CA

So I pass these trees on a daily basis to and from work.  From the car, these dead trees stand starkly against the sky.  Photographing them was a whole other issue.  From the car, the brush seen in front of the trees don’t appear to be in the way, from the ground they are.   I thought I could climb a small hill to the right and have an elevated angle.  Wrong.  What I assume are Manzanita Trees dot this hill.  They appear to be low lying brush, but where you get up to them, they’re 5-6 feet high.  After walking around looking for various angles, I settled for this.  Looking back, I probably could have had a much better composition setting up the tripod and camera on the roof of my car.  Hmm.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 200mm, ISO 200, 1/160 sec, f/8

Dead Trees, Stratified Skies. Hwy 124 Ione, California. May 31, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Storefront Door, Decals, B&W

Locke, CA

One of the more difficult photography habits for me to break is wanting to show as much as possible, which usually means shooting an object in its entirety.  Sometimes it’s much more interesting and potentially a better composition by showing parts of an object or focusing on specific details.  The viewers’ mind will fill in the rest.

This photograph is of the front doors to the Foon Hop grocery store in the Chinese community of Locke, CA in the Sacramento Delta region.  I posted another photo from this store last week in “Signage, Wall Colors“.  Compared to the vivid colors of that post, I decided to give this photo the B&W treatment.

Though the original owners of the stored constructed and opened the store in 1915 and closed in 1935, the Lucky Strike decal on the window indicates another owner ran the store post 1955.  At the bottom of the Lucky Strike box are the letters L.S/M.F.T.  That stood for the slogan “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco” which was used starting in 1955.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 30mm, ISO 200, 1/10 sec, f/8 

Storefront Door, Decals.  Locke, California. May 15, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Self-Critique: Richmond Bridge, Bay Bridge

Peacock Gap, Marin, CA

Here’s one of those fun photographs that I hope to go back and re-shoot in the future.  Less than 30 minutes north on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge is a location where the Richmond Bridge (foreground) and Bay Bridge line up almost perfectly.  It’s located near China Camp State Park in San Rafael and is in an area called Peacock Gap. >>>Google Map<<<

So let’s talk about some issues with the photograph.

Reflections: I’m rather sure I didn’t think about this specific location when checking the tide charts for the day.  If I checked at all, it was to find out for the “Pier, Starfish, Morning Light” photograph.  What would have been much better here is higher tide.  In the foreground are the light reflections from the Richmond Bridge, but it’s broken up partially by the exposed mud flats due to the low tide.  I’m not sure I necessarily needed high tide, but I’m sure I’ll find out next time.

Color Temperature/White Balance: There’s a distinct orange cast in this photograph.  First, much of the obvious orange light is from the sodium vapor lamps.  Second is the orange tint in the sky.  Once again, I’m a little late at arriving in this location.  I was driving down from the north and had elected to drive through China Camp State Park instead of a much quicker freeway exit a bit more than a mile further down.  That cost me at least 20 minutes and I could slowly see the sunrise coloring the clouds as I was taking this photograph.  Then again, here’s the advantage of processing photos through Adobe Lightroom (or a similar application like Apple’s Aperture) – I can adjust the color temperature via slider settings.  So in the end, if I decide to go process another version of this photograph, I have the added bonus of the sunrise lighting up the clouds, and yet still be able to remove the predominant orange color cast.  Ok, to demonstrate what I’m talking about, I just went into Lightroom, pulled up this photograph and made only one adjustment.  I changed the color temperature from 6200K to 4069K.  I initially tinkered with a temp of 3609, but it was a bit too cold/blue.  Here’s the result:

Peacock Gap, San Rafael, CA - Color Temp Adj

Miscellaneous Critiques: The wind was a bit strong in this location and at a 30 second exposure, I probably should have used the hook on my tripod to hang my camera bag on and weigh the tripod down a bit to reduce the inevitable camera shake a little more.

Overall, I liked the composition but the execution was slightly flawed.  It’s one of these photographs that’s exciting because I was excited when I drove to this location and saw that the bridges did line up, and now it’s captured on camera.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 165mm, ISO 200, 30 sec, f/8

Richmond Bridge, Bay Bridge.  Peacock Gap, San Rafael, California. May 16, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Color Patio Chairs, Black Table

Sacramento Convention Center

A little different photograph for today.  No trees.  No landscapes.

I was in Sacramento earlier this year to meet my friend and his wife for dinner and I took the opportunity to spend the day away from landscapes, trees, and rivers.  I had wanted to schedule an evening photoshoot in San Francisco focusing on night photography and architecture.  For some reason or another, I have yet to do it.  Anyhow, this would at least be a start to the process.

I started at the Sacramento Convention Center, looking for compositions inside and then moving outside to one of the terraces.  Nothing too interesting.  After walking to the other side of the convention center I spotted a slew of colorful metal patio chairs outside and started snapping away.  And yes, I was getting the occasional strange looks for passersby as to why I was moving around and looking intently at the chairs.  Every once in a while I’d hear something along the lines of “He’s taking pictures.” or “He’s a photographer.” and with that everyone nods in agreement and walks on.  I’m really not sure if that is to be taken as “It’s ok, photographers are insane.  Let him be.”  Maybe there’s some truth in that.  We go out in the cold, get out either very early or very late, and look at the scene in front of us as if it’s the only thing that matters.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 34mm, ISO 200, 1/30 sec, f/4.5

Color Patio Chairs, Black Table.  Sacramento, California. January 08, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Dogwood Flower, Leaves

Sutter Creek, CA

Alright, photographing Dogwood flowers isn’t much like photographing wildflowers or flowers in your garden.  On any given Dogwood tree there can be hundreds of flowers.  The task of isolating one or a few few is difficult enough, but to find the flowers you’ve isolated and have a suitable background produces another challenge.  Often, there’s patches of sunlight or lighter open space to deal with also.

Maybe it’s only this difficult in the area I was looking in where the trees were scarce and bunched together.  Let me know if your experience has been easier than mine.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 50mm, ISO 200, 1/10 sec, f/5.6

Dogwood Flower, Leaves.  Sutter Creek, California. April 26, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Wind Turbines, Ridge, Clouds

Altamont Pass, CA

A bit late on the post today as I’m settling back in after arriving back home after 8 days away for the Thanksgiving holidays.  Yesterday (Thursday), was a very windy day all throughout California.  Reports of winds hitting 101 mph, schools being closed in some Southern California cities and even power outages.  In fact, I was stuck in traffic as all the traffic signals in Alhambra were off.

Anyhow, in deference to the mighty wind gods, I’ll post another photograph from the Altamont Pass that connects the cities of Tracy and Livermore.  This was taken towards the end of the shooting day but before the “Wind Turbines, Sunset Clouds” photograph.  Besides my penchants for taking sunset photos with silhouettes, this one has the added bonus the dark clouds mirroring the shape of the ridge but having a gap between the two elements to provide backlit sunlight for the wind turbines.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 55mm, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, f/11

Wind Turbines, Ridge, Clouds. Altamont Pass, California. February 05, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.