/| Oak | \

At this point, I going to admit that I’m procrastinating.  I have more or less 6 hours (shooting time) of photos to sort through and process between now and the end of the upcoming weekend.  I’m really not feeling up to it.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t get that definitive “wow” feeling from any of the photos while I was out in the field.

In the meantime, I do get to post one of my favorite oak tree photographs.  As you’ve noticed, there seems to be an inordinate amount of oaks in my portfolio.  It’s both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing in that oaks are beautiful to me because of that perfect tree shape.  Maybe that’s why the film production company “The Ladd Company” of Blade Runner and The Right Stuff fame uses the oak tree as their logo (video link here).  Anyway, it’s also a curse in that I’m somewhat addicted to photographing them when all else fails.  One day I might move away from this area and be glad I’ve taken as many photos of these trees as I have.

Thus far I’ve blogged quite a few photos from this location and from this day in particular.  This was back in the day when I was starting out and knew far less than I do now.  A hand-held, no circular polarizer, and shot in ISO 800 for some unknown reason.  For me, the composition of the fence with the oak is almost exactly how I wanted it.  The cows have grazed the bottom of the oak tree foliage to almost a perfect line.  The only problem is the tree to the right that almost looks like a rock formation, which doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.

I pass this location everyday to and from work and try and think of some way to shot this exact composition, but without the intruding tree.  From a lower vantage point, the intruding tree might go away, but the fence posts then poke into the sky area.  I think I’m “stuck” with this photo the way it is.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, pattern metering mode, 55mm, ISO 800, 1/6 sec, f/9

/| Oak |   \.  Near Ione, California. April 20, 2010. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


Three Trees, Sunset, Clouds

Sutter-Ione Rd, Ione, CA

Another in the series of photographs taken in the time period between when I leave work and when the skies get dark.  I usually have an area, building, or composition in mind and just have to find a day to go out and execute it.

The building I had in mind was the remnant of an old stone building with parts of the four walls and the chimney still standing off a sparsely used local road.  I had used an online app to figure out the exact time of sunset.  After snapping away during the 15 or so minutes of this locations golden hour at sunset, I swung around and looked up the hill to notice the brilliantly orange sunset clouds and the silhouette of oak trees.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 145mm, ISO 200, 1/160 sec, f/16

Vineyard, Pattern.  Sutter-Ione Road, Ione, California. August 10, 2010. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Vineyard, Pattern

Plymouth, CA

Well, this is an instance of where post processing (in Adobe Lightroom, in my case) has somewhat failed me.  It is not the fault of the software, but rather my inability to apply the scene as I remember it in my mind to the RAW format photograph on the computer screen…in less than 5 minutes.  Even though I’m learning more and more about Lightroom, I still have a ways to go.  It is also the same reason I have Photoshop, but never really use it, since it is that much more complex.

Anyhow, a local winery is hosting a photo contest and the stipulation is that all entries have to be shot at the winery.  And yes, in addition to having Yosemite and the Sierra about 3 hours away, living amongst rolling hills of oak, I’m only about 20 minutes away from the Amador County wineries.  So over the course of 2 days, I’ve taken about 100 photos that I have not even gone through yet, except for this one, which needs some work and may not even make my final cut.

The reason I made two trips for this shoot was simple.  Friday was mostly cloudy and eventual rain.  I had hope for storm clouds and the occasional sun to poke through.  The didn’t really happen.  Of the 3 hours on the first day, I shot the last hour under light rain.  I came back the next day knowing the forecast called for partly cloudy skies.  This meant the colors of the vineyard, especially the reds and oranges, would be glowing and I could setup a few backlit leaf shots.

Honestly, spending a total of 6 hours walking along the rolling rows of a vineyard in near isolation except for birds and an occasional jackrabbit is a great way to decompress from the hustle and bustle of a normal workweek.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted avg metering mode, 135mm, ISO 100, 1/6 sec, f/11

Vineyard, Pattern.  Plymouth, California. November 13, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Dragonfly, Branch, Blue Skies

Dragonfly, Branch, Blue Skies.  Ione, California. July 22, 2010. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

I picked out a non-landscape photograph for today.  This one taken last summer in my backyard.  With the nearby ponds and grazing land, the dragon and damselflies are in abundance.

This guy was a regular visitor last summer.  Always resting on this Eastern Redbud tree and usually on this specific branch that gives it a high vantage point over my backyard.

In the week or so this dragonfly was a visitor, it would allow me to get closer and closer until I was just a bit too close, then it was hover in the air for a few seconds and land back on the branch.  It would then track my movements with little robotic tilts of its head.  Taking a closer look at the dragonfly reveals almost a slight smile on its face.  Yep, I kind of miss this dragonfly.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 55mm, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, f/8

Maple Leaf, Suspended

Napa, CA

Maple Leaf, Suspended.  Beazley House, Napa, California. December 11, 2010. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

An interesting sight one morning while coming back from breakfast at Beazley House in Napa.  It wasn’t the crisp morning air or the beautiful colors in the maple trees.  It was this single leaf twirling in midair, moving a bit to the left and a bit to the right and just about all around but down.

Maybe this single maple leaf was being suspended by a strand of spiderweb?  Actually, that’s the only physical explanation I could think of.  Anything other reason would be outside of physics.

With a cup of coffee in one hand and a camera in the other, we waited for a lull in the air currents until the leaf was as close to motionless as we’d allowed our patience to endure.

Looking at the photograph now, I can only smile and still wonder how that leaf ended up the way it did.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 50mm, ISO 200, 1/40 sec, f/5.6

Road, Fence, Oaks

Tonzi Road, Ione, CA

Road, Fence, Oaks.  Tonzi Road, Ione, California. January 23, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Not all photo excursions result in majestic landscapes, but sometimes it’s useful to pick up the camera and start shooting.  Whether that mean shooting flowers and insects in the yard or taking a quick drive after work.  Fortunately for me, I’m surrounded by hills of rolling scrub oak.

On this particular afternoon, I started driving along a little used road in the area dotted with occasional ranches.  The relatively cloudless sky didn’t provide the best landscape lighting, but at least there were some clouds near the horizon to provide some texture to this photograph.

Given the general lack of colors in this scene with mainly greens and browns, I elected to desaturize the green, leaving only the browns in the photo.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 48mm, ISO 200, 1/10 sec, f/18

Egret, Wetlands, Pond

Ione, CA

Egret, Wetlands, Pond.  Ione, California. May 09, 2010. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

A little change up from the usual landscape photos today.  It’s been my habit since I’ve started this photoblog over a month ago to go through my growing catalog of photos once an evening to select something I can talk about for the next day’s post.  Sometimes it’s a photograph I just like, or one that I wish I had taken just a little differently, or some (like this one) I thought were pretty good back when I took it, but now I think are just average.

So, I’m not going to set the birding community on fire with this photograph, but I did think this picture of an egret was pretty darn good back in the day (last year!) mostly because the bird was in flight and it didn’t come out blurry.  Yep, that’s about it!

I had taken a back road near my town during an spring storm with hopes of capturing storm clouds with scrub oak or grazing land.  I did achieve that, but not too many of the photographs stood out, but that’s ok.  At least I was out and shooting.

EXIF data: Nikon D50, pattern metering mode, 200mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec, f/5.6