Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Workshop at Big Sur and Point Lobos

We've got a day off between workshops, and are spending it at the beachside community of Cayucos, just a few miles south of our next stop, Cambria.

If you ever get the chance to stop in here, make sure to allow enough time for a meal at my favorite place....Schooner's Wharf. It's a classic, rustic, funky- style seafood house. Located right on the beach, at the base of the Cayucos Pier. The view at sunset is amazing.....and their Calamari Steaks are the best I've found, anywhere.

The last few days were spent shooting along the Big Sur area of the California coast. Without doubt, this is some of the most rugged and photogenic areas of the entire west coast.

The shot above was taken just minutes before sunset at Pfeiffer Beach. The low angle of the sun backlights the huge waves. And, there's an enormous rock that acts as the perfect lens shade, to prevent blur. This was shot with Tamron's 200-500 zoom at 1/640th of a second to freeze the action.

One of our day trips was a jaunt up the coast to Point Lobos. This is a State Park, set aside to preserve this unique collection of unreal cliffs, beaches, coves, trees and wildlife.

The 2 images below were taken at the south end of the park.....near Bird Island.
The overcast, and heavy clouds provided perfect light for this type of shooting.

Please click on these small images to see the full size version, with the proper colors.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fresh Snow In Yosemite

Looking out the window and seeing fresh snow isn't always a good thing. However, if you're in Yosemite Valley and have a camera handy, it's pure magic.

And, on a recent excursion to this classic location, our workshop group found ourselves surrounded with snow-covered subject matter....trees, rivers, peaks, and granite cliffs. It was breathtaking.

We had been in the valley for a couple days already. And, even without the fresh snow, it's pretty much a no-brainer, as far as picking out suitable subjects for making large prints. But, waking up to this freshly painted canvas was an experience that's hard to describe.

I've included a few of my favorite images from this trip. Even though this place has been photographed millions of times, it always feels like I'm discovering something new, through the lens.

This late afternoon image was taken from what's referred to as "Tunnel View"....certainly one of the top couple vantage points. And, standing around waiting for good light paid off in this case. Just seconds before the sun dropped behind the hills, we got a final shot of warm light and a good batch of clouds in the distance. Even though Half Dome was obscured, it didn't seem to matter, with all the other great things happening in the scene.

Shot at f/11 at 1/2 second. The white balance was manually shifted to 9,500 degrees to eliminate all the excess blue in the light.

There's a bridge over the Merced River, near the stables. An often overlooked place to shoot.....but, absolutely perfect on this freezing morning.

I was drawn to the mix of colors...warm and cool. The warmer reflections are a result of the early sunlight hitting a huge granite wall in the distance. And, the nice cool tones in the foreground, are a result of the high elevation shade, which was loaded with a ton of UV.

The image at the top was converted to B&W with NIK Silver Efex Pro software. This amazing plug-in allows me to replicate the tonal characteristics of my favorite B&W films, and to top it off, the grain structure and size can also be modified !
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