Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hotel Del

The Hotel Del Coronado sits on Coronado Island just off the coast from downtown San Diego. It was built way back in 1888 and is designated a "National Historic Landmark." I was lucky enough to attend a meeting there last week and decided to take my camera along so I could wander around the outside of the hotel and take some pics. I would categorize it as a "must see" if you plan on spending any time in the San Diego area!

View from the beach at night... empty chairs and beach umbrellas, looking back toward the hotel. I used a small flashlight to light up the umbrellas.

What do you get when you are taking a 30 second exposure and a helicopter flies overhead?? (see below)
What do you get when you point your camera towards the ocean on a dark night and take a 30 second exposure??  Well, not much, but I like the way the waves blur and pick up the moonlight.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed the nighttime tour around the beautiful "Hotel Del". Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Traveling Through Camp Pendleton Marine Base

There's a stretch of the 5 Freeway in Southern California that cuts right through the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. The Base is more than 120,000 acres of prime pacific coast land and dates back to 1942, long before the CA real estate boom. I can't even imagine what all this beach-front property would be worth today, but it boggles the mind. Most people traveling between Orange County to the north and San Diego to the south are in a big hurry and trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. But if you travel that stretch, it's well worth a little sight seeing.  I was heading south for a business meeting last week and I exited Las Pulgas Road in the heart of Camp Pendleton. The Marines where doing some kind of major maneuver. There were tents, Humvees, helicopters, and guns everywhere!

A fun photo op, and all those people whizzing by on the 5 were missing out! An hour or so later, I was down on Coronado Island for my meeting (I'll post those photos in a couple days). Hope your week is going well, and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Full Moon Rising

Getting shots of a full moon seems to be a popular pastime with us hobbyist photographers. Turns out it's harder than you think, and can be pretty darn frustrating! The dilemma is you can either expose for the moon, which is so bright that everything else in the photo will be black. Option two is to expose for the foreground, but then you lose all detail of the moon. Here's an example of last weekend's full moon where I exposed for the foreground. See how the moon has no detail? It was actually a really beautiful moon between the tree branches, but I've lost all that detail because of my exposure settings.
Shots where you focus precisely on the moon (spot focus mode) give you great moon definition, but nothing else!! The foreground totally disappears into blackness.
Of course, one solution is photo editing. You can try to lighten the foreground and darken the moon. Even better is layering two photos on top of each other, one exposed for the moon and the second exposed for the foreground. Since the camera is on a tripod, the layers should line up perfectly. Still another option is, instead of layering, just "copy and paste" the moon from your photo that has the proper moon exposure to the photo with the foreground exposure. I used this technique for the two photos below. This young couple strolled out of the Summit House Restaurant in Fullerton to admire the full moon rising on the horizon. I was in the process of taking a moon shot, so I left my camera in place and made multiple exposures.
Ditto for this shot using my new fisheye lens. You can see the detail of both the fountain and the beautiful full moon, which is pretty much what your eye is seeing when you take the photo!
So when you see shots with both good moon detail and foreground detail, you know there must have been some post-processing magic going on! Linking up with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out really great skies from around the world!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sand Drifts

Highway 62 is the main artery that connects the high desert towns of Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and 29 Palms with Palm Springs and the other low desert towns east of Palm Springs in Southern California. It's got a personality all its own, and even though I've driven it many times, I'm always spotting new and interesting things.
Many of the roads branching off 62 are unpaved, and rare desert storms wash sand over the highway. It's not unusual to see plows scraping the sand off the road after a storm, identical to the process of snow plows in cold country. Here's our desert version of a "snow drift."
Just strikes me as ironic... after one of the coldest winters on record, with record snowfalls, the deserts deal with drifts of their own!

We're also starting to see some blooms following the rains of a few weeks ago.  Not a lot, just some here and there, and mostly prickly pear.

Hope your week is going well. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Desert Rainbow

These photos are from a few weeks ago when we had the wonderful desert rains. So rare to get rain in the desert, but even more rare to see a rainbow! The nice part is that there are very few trees or buildings to block the view. The thing I love about this photo is where the rainbow starts (or ends??). See that old trailer and homestead cabin? That's the place we are rebuilding. We bought it about a year ago and have been working on it ever since! If you believe in rainbows and good luck, then this has to be a good sign!!
I can't remember ever seeing a rainbow end to end like this... only just pieces, so this was a real treat!
Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Training 'em Young

My granddaughter, at the ripe old age of 18 months, has already been out to the California desert 10 - 15 times, and has been into Joshua Tree National Park at least a few times. I've trained her to keep an eye on the beautiful desert skies, and by now she is used to seeing me with my camera pointed up in the air! Here's a shot of her skywatching.
She also enjoys Jeep rides and collecting desert rocks. I wonder, as she gets older, if she will always love the desert??
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Desert Rain

There's nothing quite like rain in the desert! We had some nice soaking rains in S. CA this weekend, including the desert. I had a chance to hike into Indian Cove (north end of Joshua Tree National Park). Here's what the drive in looks like. The clouds were still heavy with moisture.
I could hear water flowing as I hiked up the canyon on the east side of Indian Cove. There is a waterfall in a slot canyon that flows after a rain, and it was going like crazy this weekend! Unfortunately, it's very hard to photograph because it is recessed into the rocks and you can't get up close (unless you are willing to swim!).
Hiking around the area of the waterfall is great, with lots of water in the stream. It's very scenic, with the granite stone worn smooth by water and steep rock formations on either side.
It's interesting how water shows up in unlikely spots after a desert rain, such as forming little pools in the granite rocks. Here's a shot taken up above the waterfall (a tough hike... my legs still ache!). I like it because of the great rock formations. You can see the road leading in to the canyon if you look carefully in the background.
After the sun set and things were getting dark, I got some good shots of water flowing. The trick is to get the longest exposure possible so you can get that foggy water effect. For these shots, I set the ISO at 50 and the aperture at 32, which allowed for a 10 second exposure (don't forget your tripod!).

Hope you had a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by!