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Last Light on Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Last Light on Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Last Light on Mauna Kea, Hawaii Canon5DMarkii_Canon70-200@100mm_F11_1/4s_ISO100

Mauna Kea, the dormant volcano as seen from the junction of Hw19 and Waikoloa Beach Rd.


Here is a link to a wiki page with more info about the volcano itself, but honestly, those little white dot’s on top of it are the telescopes (part of the space observatory) and they should give you an idea about the gigantic size of this volcano.

I must say that photographing this volcano with the last light was not the original plan. My plan was to be at Anaehoomalu Bay (or A-bay) for sunset. Having read a little bit about A-bay, I found it was known for its amazing sunsets. With paid internet access in almost all of the hotels in Hawaii, I had to rely on this little bit of research I did using my iPhone. As we entered the parking area, I saw a sign that said ‘gates close at 7 PM sharp’ but ignored it and continued to park my car. In hindsight I should have backed out and parked in the adjacent shopping center and walked to the beach,  because sunset was at 7:10PM and nearly always the real color show begins after the sun actually sets. Long story short, I was driving out of the parking area when the sky behind me started to explode with colors.

But, as I drove out towards the highway, I was greeted with this magnificent view of the towering volcano bathed in the last light. Parking the car by the side of the road, frantically unpacking my photo gear and setting up the tripod led to the making of this photo.

Sunset Sky, Hawaii

Sunset Sky, Hawaii

Just to show you how good the colors were, take a look at the photo here. This is a section of the western sky. But may be all of this happened for the good. If not for the parking lot restriction, I may have ended up with ‘one more’ Hawaiian sunset on the beach ‘ shot. Mahalo!!

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Dogwood Tree, Yosemite

Dogwood Tree, Yosemite

Dogwood Tree, Yosemite Canon5DmarkII_Canon70-200@149_F8_1/6s_ISO100

Dogwoods along the trail to Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park, California.

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Dogwoods and the Merced River, Yosemite

Dogwoods and the Merced River, Yosemite

Dogwoods and the Merced River, Yosemite Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@94mm_F11_1/8s_ISO100

Dogwood blooms along the Merced river shoreline.

Highlight warnings or Blinkies as some photographers call it are life savers while photographing Dogwoods. When enabled, this feature tells the photographer if a particular section of the photograph has been overexposed and does not have any details within it. They show up as annoying little red patches blinking as long as you are previwing the image. They are annoying at times and that is a pretty good reason not to anable this feature.

But you see, the naked eye looking at the little 3″ screen for instant feedback, is not that good at identifying overexposure. We see the picture as a whole and not in parts. As a whole the there is a tendency for us to believe that the shadow details and colors ( in this photograph, the green foliage) need to look much more appealing. If we go ahead and compensate our exposure to achieve this goal, then the result will defniteley be an overexposed highlights. This is where the blinkies come into picture.

They help you see individual areas that are lacking in detail. With that information, the photographer can make a concious decision to either leave those blinkies there, knowing fully that the overexposure is not a problem, or compensate the exposure to remove them.

In this photograph, compared to the entire frame, the individual dogwoods are very small and (also very bright compared to the surrounding foliage) hence without the blinkies, its hard to determine if we’ve captured good details in them. Well, you may ask, does it matter if as small section of the frame is overexposed? The answer depends on the presentation method, if we only plan to use it for online posts, then, may be not. But if we do plan to make big prints, then yes, it matters to pay attention to each and every small detail in the frame.

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Tall Grass Sticking out of Water, Folsom, CA

Tall Grass Sticking Out of Water, Folsom, CA - Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@70mm_F8_1/10s_ISO100

This was shot, standing on a bridge, while looking down at the water. The sun was setting behind me and was casting this beautiful light on the top of the grass, but not the water. Initially while looking at it on a screen, I had an impression that this could seem to be busy, so I made a small 6×4 test print and I really liked the result.

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Crazy Oak, Folsom, CA

Crazy Oak , Folsom, CA - Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200mm@70mm_F8_1/60s_ISO100

This is the “crazy” oak tree that I talked about in my earlier post. I had walked by this tree many number of times here in Folsom and it is during the winter months that this tree puts on an amazing show. The bare tree trunks, weirdly shaped, standout very clearly against the sky.

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Light and Shadow on Ice, Yosemite

Light, Shadow and Ice, Yosemite

Light, Shadow and Ice, Yosemite Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200mm@113mm_F11_1/200s_ISO100

Looking into a telephoto lens and pointing it at just snow can reveal interesting shapes and contours. These shapes are created by nothing but light, shadow and the uneven snow surface. I initially stopped my car near the El Capitan meadow to shoot some of the black oaks, with snow lining up on their branches. But then when I looked down at the icy landscape below my feet, these interesting shapes created by the low angled light temped me to create this abstract design.

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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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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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Fall Impressions, Aspens and Camera Motion

Aspens and Camera Motion, Hope Valley, California

Aspens and Camera Motion, Hope Valley, California - Canon-7D-16-35mm-F22-0.5s-ISO100

A collection of impression photographs of Aspens, achieved by controlled camera motion.

This is a very addictive technique that I learnt this fall. There are number of blogs/websites where they discuss this technique and the different ways to get good results, but none can give you the exact recipe for success. This is mainly because the technique itself depends on random camera motion and hence trying this out in the field and failing many number of times is the only way to get some decent results.

There are many names to this technique, “impressions”, “impression of light”, “in camera painting” etc. All of these refer to the end result, an abstract painting like finish to a photo.  I know that something similar may be achieved using Photoshop, but what’s the fun in doing that?

There are two crucial ingredients, I think to a decent looking impression. The subject itself and the type of camera motion (this also involves the choice of shutter speed), either vertical,, horizontal or a simple shake. I have not extensively studied the wide variety of subject that could benefit from this technique, but I found tall aspens respond very well. All of the impressions in this post involve aspens and almost all of them have vertical camera motion.

Let me know which one you like the most.

Aspens and Camera Motion, Hope Valley, California

Aspens and Camera Motion, Hope Valley, California - Canon-7D-16-35mm-F22-0.5s-ISO100

Aspens and Camera Motion, Hope Valley, California

Aspens and Camera Motion, Hope Valley, California - Canon-7D-70-200mm-F20-0.303s-ISO100

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