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Grass and Rain Drops, Folsom, California

Grass and Rain Droplets, Folsom, CA

Grass and Rain Droplets, Folsom, CA

Tall green grass blown by strong winds right after a rain storm

Last year, around this time, Folsom had seen quite a lot of rain and the grass around the biking trails had grown very tall. In the photograph above the same tall grass were forced flat on the ground by strong winds. As this was shot just after rains stopped, the freshness of the greens and the rain droplets had attracted me to this scene.

I hope I had put some effort to visualize a square format presentation. If I had, instead of cropping and loosing pixels, I could have combined two frame and have a similar crop as this one, and not loose pixels as well. Well, something to keep in mind the next time I’m out shooting I guess.

It amazes me as to how photography has made me aware of my surroundings. When I returned to this same scene, the very same patch of earth barely has 6 inch long grass. There simply isn’t enough rains this time around. But, I see some rain forecast in the coming weeks, so I hope to get out and enjoy them as I did last year.

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Shoreline, Crater Lake National Park, OR

Shoreline, Crater Lake, Oregon

Shoreline, Crater Lake, Oregon

(Click on the image to view large on black (lightbox))

Early morning warm light hitting the inner slopes of Crater Lake. The partially melted snow along the banks create a pleasing weaving pattern emphasizing the reflective quality of the water

As promised, this is my favorite image from Crater Lake that I have. It takes some time for the rising sun to hit the western slopes and reach the water below. By western slopes I mean ‘The Watchman” right behind the Wizard Island.  It was fun to watch the orange glow hit the Watchman and then progressively reach down and touch the water below. If you don’t know what the Watchman or the Wizard island is, then click the thumbnail.

Since this was summer, sunrise was at 5:15 AM. On most days I would be fast asleep at this time, but I don’t know what got into me on a Friday evening that I decided to drive non-stop all night and reach Crater Lake for the sunrise. 5 – 6 photo shoot, and then I was fast asleep in the parking lot next to the visitor cafe.

This particular scene caught my eyes as the sun started lighting up the slopes. The distinct shoreline is made visible mainly because of the partially melted snow, showing the dark soil. The contrast between the snow, the dark soil and the shimmering reflections creates some beautiful patterns.

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Sunrise, Crater Lake National Park, OR


Sunrise, Crater Lake National Park, OR

Sunrise, Crater Lake National Park, OR

Reviving my blog posting routine after a short break. I thought of doing that by posting images from 2010 which are sitting on my hard drive waiting to be processed first.

The image in this post was shot last summer (first week of June) when there was still lots of snow left in this park. The snow was crumbling under my feet. That part was pretty scary because it was difficult with all the snow to find out where the crater actually starts. I may have been standing on loose snow and a 100 foot drop below my feet :)

It was a fine sunrise, but my favorite image from this trip was shot may be 5 minutes after this. So stay tuned for the full story and my fav image.

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Aspen Grove, Luther Pass Rd, California

Aspen, Black and White, Luther Pass Rd, California

Aspen, Black and White, Luther Pass Rd, California

Color

Plain Desaturate

Both the shots in this post were made along Luther Pass Rd (Hw89 connecting 50E and Hwy88). Visit this place at the right time of the year and you will see gorgeous colors all along this road.

(Click on the thumbnails on this post to view larger without leaving the page)

I wanted to show, the original color shot, a straight BW conversion (desaturate) and a careful BW conversion, meant to highlight the primary object in the frame. As you can see, my primary objective was to showcase the long Aspen limbs. The color version presents us with innumerable distractions that take the attention away from the tree trunks. There are different colors that we see, the clutter on the ground, some odd branches, all seek our attention. BW conversion is one way to emphasise only the thing that we want our viewers to see and feel. If we go about making a simple BW conversion (plain desaturation), along with the tree trunks being bright, the leaves are also comparatively bright, so again, the bright leaves distract us away from the trunk (this is more pronounced in the below example).

In these two frames, the distractions (leaves) are either green or derivatives of red and green(orange, yellow). So a BW conversion which is equivalent to using a Blue filter (block all but the blue component of light), darkens the leaves while emphasising and attracting our attention to the tree trunk.

Aspen Grove, Luther Pass Rd, California

Aspen Grove, Luther Pass Rd, California

Color

Plain Desaturate

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Mist and Trees, Hope Valley, California

Fall Color in Hope Valley, California

Fall Color in Hope Valley, California

“Rain and mist in Hope Valley, filled with beautiful Fall color.”

This was made at the junction of Hwy 89 (Luther Pass) and Hwy 88. The surrounding area is called Hope Valley, and it is one of the popular fall color viewing locations in California. This year (2010), fall colors appeared in 2 phases. In the first week of October there was beautiful color all along this valley. These leaves were blown away by heavy winds in the coming week, but later again there were good colors during the 3rd week of October. This image was made during my second visit on a cloudy and rainy day.

From the Hwy, I could see a patch of colored aspens on the hillside and I wanted to get close to it. Getting closer to those trees was harder than I thought. I had to drive along a dirt road for about a mile and then walk on a deserted field, what looked like a wild cattle feeding ground :) .  It started raining the moment I set my tripod. Few exposures later it started pouring heavily. My wife was holding the umbrella while I made this one last exposure, the trees along the gentle slopes and the foreground brush, I think provided some rythmic pattern that I liked in this frame.

The whole world seems to have moved forward with some exciting winter landscape imges, while I’m still processing my Fall season photographs :) . I should be back in the field in a few weeks after a brief winter hibernation.

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Blade of Grass, Folsom, CA

Blade of Grass, Folsom, California

Blade of Grass, Folsom, California

A blade of grass sticking out of calm water just after some rains in Folsom, California

On the day I made this photo, although the sunset was spectacular, I was not at a location with open space to capture the sky. But instead, I had a little pond reflecting all the colors and these blades of grass sticking out of it, with those little distortions due to surface tension.

Grass and sunset reflections in an un-named pond, Folsom, California

Grass and sunset reflections in an un-named pond, Folsom, California

I made the image on the left, the very same day, may be a few minutes after the sun went down. As you can see, the surface distortions were so prominent and kind of glowing in the evening light. I had to capture and present that glow. To do that, I used my long lens (70-200mm) to isolate just one grass. The rains had subsided, which gave way to the perfect reflection of the grass in the water.

Its surprising how fragile certain things are. I returned to photograph these blades of grass again the next day, but those distortions were nowhere to be found. Sunshine during the day had evaporated some water and had totally altered the scene.

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Pescadero State Beach, California

Pescadero State Beach, Califonia

Pescadero State Beach, California

I pulled this one from the archives. It was shot last May, may be one of the last storms that we saw here. I’ve posted it here because, one phenomenon happens every time I shoot. I end up liking one of the last few shots I click on a photo-shoot.

Does this happen to you?

Have a great week ahead!

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Autumn Morning, Yosemite National Park, California

Autumn Morning - Yosemite National Park, CA

Autumn Morning - Yosemite National Park, CA

Mirror like reflections in the Merced river on a beautiful autumn morning in Yosemite National Park, CA

Walking along the banks of the merced river can be such an exploratory experience. Every turn in the river can provide such excellent opportunities to photograph. Sometimes there could be fast rapids and other locations could provide calm waters reflecting anything thats there on its banks.

This photograph was made during my second visit to the park this fall season. I made it a point to skip the usual locations which I already knew, but instead try to walk a lot and find new and interesting subjects to photograph. I was not disappointed, a short walk from the parking area brought me to this scene with stunning reflections.

There is some clutter in this frame, mostly to the left, but I tried to darken them in in post process, so that they don’t take away from the main subject (reflections). Cropping the frame would create undesired proportions which I was not comfortable with. Getting rid of this clutter while composing would have been tough as I was already at the edge of the river, which means I would have had to get into the water to get a clean composition. In the end, I decided there was some subtle symmetry even in this clutter to add to the overall image.

Let me know what you think!

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Frosted Leaves and the Sun, Yosemite National Park, Ca

Frosted Leaves, Cooks Medow, Yosemite National Park, California

Frosted Leaves, Cooks Medow, Yosemite National Park, California

Early morning warm sunlight on frost covered leaves in Cooks Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

This was made the day after a snow storm cleared last winter. I had reached the valley hoping for some fog action at sunrise, but found none. I then reached Cooks meadow to get the first light on Upper Yosemite falls, but instead spent time with my macro lens and concentrated on these frost covered leaves.

Before the sunlight hit the meadow, the scene was so cold. I made some test exposures, but they had little contrast and looked dull. Then I realized that the sunlight takes about an hour after sunrise to reach the valley floor, so I decided to wait it out until there was light in the meadow. The moment there was light the scene changed so drastically, with the morning rays spreading warmth throughout the meadow. The frosted leaves and the warm light created the much needed contrast that I was looking for.

Since it was late in Feb. whe I made this, I was fortunate enough to find some new growth alongside the old dead leaves, creating another contrasting element in the frame.

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Clearing Storm and Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Clearing Snow Storm, Yosemite National Park, CA

Clearing Snow Storm, Yosemite National Park, CA

Clearing snow storm at sunset casting beautiful light on Yosemite National Park’s landmarks, El Capitan and Half Dome

Wishing every one Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year ahead. Hope we all get to see nature’s brilliant, spectacular shows in the future. May the light gods continue to cast beautiful light on the landscape in the coming years as well.

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