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My Mood of the Ocean

My Mood of the Ocean

It is Friday again and with that comes the promise of a weekend. Maybe some photography…

I was asked why all my pictures here are in black and white. I am not against color and I may post color pictures here at some point. However, I like the freedom from reality that black and white gives me. In color, there is often the expectation that a scene has some resemblance with reality, and when it does not, it looks strange, because in our minds we compare it with the real world. In black and white, by contrast, there is no such expectation because there is no real world in black and white to use as a reference.  

I took the picture above on the 09/Jan/2021 when I drove with my son and friends to the coast. The day was beautiful, the breeze was light, and the sky was blue. A perfect day, calm, soothing day by the sea. This picture, however, is dark and contrasty, emphasizing the movements and mood of the ocean: a personal interpretation.  

Location: Sonoma County along Highway 1, CA, USA

Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G ED, tripod, lee filters (polarizer, 6 stops Neutral Density filter,  1 stop N.D. graduated filter). 

Settings: 70 mm, f/22, 2”, ISO 320

Tips: get there early, particularly in the summertime, bring a jacket. No cell phone reception on the coast. Use a remote trigger with the filters mentioned above, experiment with different exposures. To darken the sky and bring out contrast in the ocean water, play with the blue and aqua color sliders in Photoshop. 

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Branching patterns

I am fascinated by the branching patterns in nature. Our circulatory system, our lungs, the tops and roots of trees, the rivers flowing to the ocean, and the evolution of life itself can be recovered as a branching pattern.

I took this photograph on 17 January, in the local arboretum. The leaf is large, green, glossy. I converted the photograph into black and white to enhance the patterns and shapes. I have also added grain in post-processing to enhance the texture.

Location: UC Davis Arboretum, CA, USA

Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 105mm F2.8, tripod, tripod, speedlight.

Settings: f/18, 1/15s, ISO 220

Tips: to highlight the shape of the leaf and the veins, and avoid glow, illuminate from behind. I used an off-camera speed light going through a diffuser placed behind the leaf.

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Beyond Fort Ross

Beyond Fort Ross

I took this photo last weekend on a trip to the coast with my son and friends. It was a beautiful sunny day with no fog, and we went all the way north to Fort Ross. I used to go the the California coast a lot back in 2018-2019 for photoraphy and I took quite a few pictures that I still like, but in 2020 I stopped going because of the pandemics and lockdowns. Last weekend we decided to go anyway. We took the usual covid-19 precautions and it was an almost perfect day, only lacking a stop by a café or restaurant on the way back, to warm the soul.

I like the mood of this picture and want to create a few more to complete my series. One thing I have been trying to decide is how am I going to deal with black areas in this type of photograph henceforward. In the California coast, the rocks are often dark, covered with mussels, and for that reason they may appear partly to completely black, even under soft light. Black areas without detail are often frowned upon by photographers and may look funky in print . In this photo, instead of trying to recover the details in the shadows, I used a non-destructive burning method to darken the rocky ridge in the background. Although I like this result better than the more usual alternative of dodging it, how much burn to apply, and where, remains open to investigation.

Location: Fort Ross, Sonoma County, CA, USA

Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G ED, tripod, lee filters (polarizer, 6 stops Neutral Density filter,  1 stop N.D. graduated filter). 

Settings: 50 mm, f/22, 3”, ISO 100

Tips: get there early, particularly in the summertime. Bring a jacket. No cell phone reception on the coast. Use a remote trigger with the filters mentioned above, experiment with different exposures. In post, dodge and burn to bring out your vision. 

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UFO at the Arroyo Park

UFO in the Fog

The fog is minimalist, it only reveals what is essential.

A while ago someone brought to my attention the fact that I rarely show a portrait image, and that I should remember to explore that orientation as well. With that in mind, I have started a small, solo project taking portraits of the winter versions of the trees in the Sacramento area. 

Even though this winter’s fog has been perfect to hide the visual clutter typical of city parks, I was not able to leave, out of the frame, this UFO, which, I have been told, crashed at the Arroyo park a long time ago…  But I think that it complements the frame very well.

Location: Arroyo Park, Davis, CA, USA

Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G ED, tripod

Settings: 24 mm, f/8 1/8s ISO 100

Tips: for this kind of photograph, use a wide angle, get close, use spot metering to calculate the exposure and expose for the tree (this will overexpose the fog and make it brighter).

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Foggy morning by the lake

Foggy Morning

Although fog is one of my favorite weather conditions for photography, I find it extremely difficult to successfully post-process a picture taken in thick fog. The light is flat, homogenous, the contrast is low, and conveying a tri-dimensional perspective can be very challenging.  But since I find the misty, damp, surreal, dream-like atmosphere that fog creates to be very pleasant, I keep coming back for one more challenge. Last Sunday, the fog covered the park for quite some time in the morning, and I got the chance to photograph a few misty landscapes. 

Location: Lagoon Valley park, Vacaville, CA, USA

Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8G ED, tripod

Settings: 103 mm, f/18 0.3s ISO 100

Tips: Bring an extra pair of shoes to get back in the car. Overexpose from 0.3 up to 1 stop to get a brighter fog.

Dragon dreams

Dragon Dreams

There was some unexpected fog this morning sitting over the UC Davis riparian preserve.  I sometimes go to this place looking for a photograph and leave with several frames to delete: dead plants, debris, benches, tables, people, trash, dogs, all conspire to ruin my pictures. The fog, however, is forgiving, it hides a lot of things we do not want to see.  This morning, I was lucky, I found a dragon.  

Location: UC Davis riparian preserve, Davis, CA, USA

Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G ED, tripod

Settings: f/14 1/15s ISO 50

Light, Shadow, Reflection

My first post is a memory from a while ago, more precisely, December 2018. I had been on a photography outing taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and going inside Fort Point was a reward for having accomplished a task. 

No weight was left behind, however. If you have been to San Francisco, you know this: never leave your photography equipment inside the car, or you may never see it again. As I entered the fort, camera in hand, and saw the inside of the building for the first time, the sun peeped from within the clouds just at the right angle to produce these beautiful shadows. It all happened very fast.

The printed photograph is on display  and is for sale at Gallery 625 in Woodland, as part of the exhibit, Light Shadow, Reflection. Together with the work of other Yolo County photographers, it can be viewed remotely here  https://yoloarts.org/online-galleries/#current.

Location: Fort Point, San Francisco, CA, USA

Equipment: Nikon D700, AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G

Settings: f/8 1/100s ISO 400

Tunnel Vision