Thursday, January 31, 2013

Huntington Beach Pier

We hadn't been to the beach in a while, but I've been following the tides with a goal of finding a good low tide right around sunset. Why?  When the tides out, the Huntington Beach pier area becomes very flat with just a thin sheet of water, great for reflections. On Monday of this week everything lined up... -0.5' low tide around 4:30 PM. Packed up the camera and tripod, and off we went!
30 Second exposure, f /22, ISO 100, 35mm focal length
The above shot was taken well before sunset, but I used a Neutral Density filter which gives it a darker look. I like the way the water goes "soft", almost smokey (the clouds do the same) with the long exposure time.
I wasn't alone... lots of photographers out for the spectacle!
The thin sheet of water was like a mirror, reflecting everything!
Looks good even in b&w!

Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link 
to check out great skies from around the world!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Long Exposure Skywatching!

My newest photo equipment purchase is a neutral density filter (I've also seen it called "black glass", which is a perfect description). A very simple concept... you put dark glass in front of your lens, and it reduces the light getting in to your camera, so you require longer exposures. I got some good advice on which one to buy from Wayne Woodruff Photography (thanks!) and took it out for a spin today to try to capture some of the nice skies we are enjoying.
Hard to believe this is a 30 second exposure!  F/14, ISO 100, 16mm

30 second exposure, f/14, ISO 100, 16mm focal length
With a 30 second exposure, goes without saying you need a tripod. It also makes it easy to walk in front of the camera and get in the shot. Another cool effect... things that are moving tend to disappear! Here's an example... a busy street scene without the ND filter on the camera.
1/40 sec exposure, f/16, ISO 100, 16mm (ND filter removed)
Identical shot (used a tripod, so camera is unmoved) but with the ND filter in front of the lens... look how the cars magically disappear!
With ND Filter:  30 sec exposure, f/16, ISO 100, 16mm 
If you look closely, the sky looks a little different... over 30 seconds, there's some cloud movement so they look "softer" and less defined. I think I'm going to have fun with the filter... there's a lot you can do with it!
Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to 
see great skies from around the world!
Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Night Sky

As is often the case with photography, you go out looking for one thing, and you come back with something else! Sometimes the something else is even better than what you went looking for in the first place. Then again, sometimes not. I went looking for a great sunset shot to post to Skywatch Friday a few nights ago, but the skies weren't cooperating. On the way back to my car, I set up my tripod along the road to capture some of those streaky lights you get from cars during long exposures (corner of Bastanchury and State College in Fullerton). The night sky is kind of ho-hum, but overall, not a bad shot.
Original:  30 second exposure, f/14, ISO 200, 50mm
Pretty easy to make out the headlights in the far lane and the taillights in the near lane. What if we spice things up a little by adding a texture?
Version 1
This particular texture adds some nice blues and "grunge" to the otherwise ho-hum sky, but we lose some cloud detail. What about adding a moon shot I took a while ago?
Version 2
Kind of nice, but (to my eye) the moon is too big and therefore a little fake looking. Also, I think the sky is too light, so let's add another texture and darken things up a bit. I'm also adding some grain and reducing the clarity and contrast for a "moody" look.
Version 3
OK, nice. This is my favorite. I loose some detail but I prefer this version overall. Last version... what about b&w?
Version 4
Hmmm, almost a toss-up for me, because I love b&w, but I still prefer version 3. Do you have a preference??

Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link
to check out great skies from around the world!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Snow in Joshua Tree??

OK, let me get straight to the point. I drove into Joshua Tree National Park late in the day yesterday looking for snow, but it was a bust. I went all the way up to Keys View, at over 5000' in elevation, but no snow. Not even patches on the ground. My blogger friend Cheryl Ann over at Deserts and Beyond posted some great photos on the 9th showing snow in the park, but it had melted by yesterday. But if you know Joshua Tree, you know it's almost impossible not to get some good photos! By the time I was driving out of the Park, it was dark and the moon was just rising over the hills and the Joshua Trees... perfect for some night photography!




Linking with 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Death Valley Sunset

Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world! Have a great weekend.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rice, CA

Wow, talk about posting about nothing... if you type "Rice, CA" into Google maps, you will see Rice is truly in the middle of nowhere... roughly the halfway point between Joshua Tree and the Colorado River, it used to be a town, or more accurately, a gas station. Now it's nothing... just a couple cement slabs, a railroad track, and a skeleton of the old gas station. Some entrepreneur has taken the opportunity to climb up and post a sign that says "Fresh Jerky 36 Miles". I never did see any fresh jerky. There are also a few pair of hanging shoes, which for some reason is popular in the desert.
F/14, 1/60sec, ISO 200, 16mm wide angle
Here's an iPhone shot of the same thing... I really like the Instamatic feel, like a photo you might find that a family member took 40 years ago.

Rice, CA... not much here except huge open vistas and roads that go on forever!

But wait, there's more to Rice than meets the eye. Heading due south there's a sandy road that looks like it goes for miles and is well traveled. When I explored it on Google maps, it leads to a ghost town!! Perfect for a Jeep trip. The name of the town is Midland, and it was a company town owned by the U.S. Gypsum Company, manufacturer of gypsum sheetrock. The town existed from the 1920's to the 1960's and had about 1000 people living there! Isn't that amazing??! Here's a great website developed by a lady who grew up in Midland: http://www.designbycandy.com/stories/midland_ca.htm. Check out the section on Midland Through My Father's Camera Lens. Really interesting. Below is a shot from the internet of what it used to look like, including the school and baseball field!

Not much left of Midland today, mostly slabs and some old mines, but I also learned that Midland is a boondocking location. What's boondocking? Also called dry camping or coyote camping, it's isolated BLM land where people park their trailers or RVs to spend extended periods of time for free (or a small BLM permit fee). Isn't that amazing?? If you're interested, check out this web site... it lists boondocking locations in S CA and AZ (also referred to as Long Term Visitor Areas, LTVAs): http://telusplanet.net/public/waters/index.htm. So keep your eye out for a future post from Midland, CA. Hoping to make the trip with my sister and her husband over at Lap Dog Knits and their very cool little trailer and red Jeep!
Dedicated to Huell Howser, who loved the offbeat and unusual corners of California!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Neon Boneyard

Traveling to Las Vegas? Carve out a couple hours to check out the "Neon Boneyard" Museum, where cool old neon signs go to die (or more correctly, be viewed by the public). It's interesting to me that there is so much interest in "vintage" Las Vegas, with its rough edges, smokey casinos, and Rat Pack images. Present day Las Vegas seems downright tame by comparison!
I remember thinking when I took this photo (about 5 weeks ago) that it might be suitable for Skywatch Friday... under bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds! Click on the link to check out beautiful skies from all over the world! Keep reading to see some of the signs contained in the Boneyard.

The lobby of the Neon Museum is the old La Concha Motel, which was cut into pieces and moved to this location. I like the wild architecture, which looks like a throwback to the '50s or early '60s.  Cool, eh?





Walking through the Boneyard is pretty amazing. This is a one-hour outdoor tour with a guide, which was great in December, but probably a little on the toasty side in the summer months! It's a great photo opportunity, so make sure you bring your camera!