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Tree, Rocks and Water Level Marks, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

Tree Stump, Rocks and Water Level Marks, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

Tree Stump, Rocks and Water Level Marks, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

I was camping in Yosemite this summer and decided to head up to Tenaya Lake for the early sunrise. Once I reached there, I realized there wasn’t going to be any spectacular sunrise, since there were no clouds. So I decided to explore the shores of the lake to see if I could find any interesting details in the landscape. I stumbled upon (as many should have) a group of trees and boulders with circular bands, probably created by the receding water levels.

I test fired some shots with the sun still behind the peaks, but realized that I needed direct light to have a decent picture. I scouted out multiple subjects and compositions. Once the warm sunlight reached the scene, I was ready and made many exposures, one of them is here in this post and the rest, I will be sharing soon.

The strong contrast between the lighter bands on the tree, rocks and the surrounding shadows was something that I wanted to capture in this photo.

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Fall, Trees and Reflection, Yosemite National Park, CA

Fall, Trees and Reflection, Yosemite National Park. CA

Fall, Trees and Reflection, Yosemite National Park. CA

I was out in search of some colorful dogwood trees along the Merced, which I remembered from my spring visit. Having photographed the colorful leaves, I was attracted to this quaint little scene along the river banks. A bright overcast day allowed for some good fall foliage shooting conditions.  Light breeze, sometimes disturbed the water surface removing the clear reflections, but there was lots of time for me to capture this scene once the water surface settled down.

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Light and Shadow on Water, Yosemite National Park, CA

Light and Shadow on Water, Yosemite National Park, CA

Light and Shadow on Water, Yosemite National Park, CA

I spent 2 beautiful days in Yosemite this past weekend and got to photograph water in the park.Water is by far the most prominent feature in the park this time of the year. Or I should say, especially this year, since the amount of water run-off from the snow melt is one of the largest in recent times

This one was shot along the Bridalveil Creek, just downstream from the thundering waterfall. Just prior to this, I had walked up to the viewing area without my camera, just to get soaked in the spray of water from the falls. I must say, on this summer day, it was extremely refreshing.

I spent a good amount of time here, getting the shutter speed right to have some texture in the water. With such fast flowing water, any slow shutter speed is not good enough to get the right details. It requires some experimentation in the field to get it right. In this very well written article by Michael Frye, he talks about an interesting aspect of photographing moving water, photographing many number of frames (possibly with different or even same settings), from the same spot and using the same composition, could lead to strikingly different results, just because of the very random nature of moving water.

Talking about this photograph, When I was looking for some interesting patterns along the stream, I found a particular section, where there was a sudden dip and then an immediate obstacle for the moving water. That should explain the curving shape in this frame. Sunlight was filtering down from the trees above and had partially lit the scene, with some very bright spots and some very intriguing shadows. Waiting for the right combination of the two should explain the rest of the photograph.

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Beach Patterns, Kona, Hi

Beach Patterns, Kona, Hi

Beach Patterns, Kona, Hi

I made a series of photographs on a beach near the city of Kona in Hawaii, mainly concentrating on the abstract designs that I could find.

What attracted me first to this scene was the bright green sea plants (that’s the best I can describe them as, do let me know if you have a better name). The way their shapes changed with every wave, creating new and exciting patterns against the bright white sands was incredible.

Initially, I tried not getting wet, but that meant that, I would miss a lot of different perspectives, so in I went. Fortunately, the water there in Hawaii is not that cold and it was mildly pleasant to just hang out with my camera glued to my eyes, pointing it down at the sand.

This particular shot was taken right at the boundary of a transition, a phase on the beach where, the wave that just crashed in is receding. Majority of the water flow had already passed, leaving behind a fresh new design made using the sea plants. But right around the edges of this little island, there was a trickle of water that just hung around for a bit more, reflecting the sunlight in various shapes. A little while later all the water would have flown back getting rid of the sparkle that was once there.

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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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Dispersed Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park

Dispersed Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park

Dispersed Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@200_F8_1/20s_ISO100

In my last post, I talked about how the dogwoods shine against the background forest when the light is just right. This shot is one such case. Bright diffused sunlight shining through clouds gives some even lighting to the scene. Even with this even lighting, I used a polarizer to removed some distracting reflections off of the dark foliage surrounding the dogwoods.

Scenes like this are abound during the peak dogwood blooming season, but isolating them from the surrounding forest and finding a spot to place my tripod was sometimes easy, but sometimes required good amount of bush whacking :)

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Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park

Dogwoods , Yosemite National Park

Dogwoods , Yosemite National Park, Canon5DmarkII_Canon70-200@140_F18_0.6s_ISO100

Dogwoods standout against the flowing Merced river.

I was in the Yosemite valley couple of weekends back. Although I had initially thought that the dogwood season was way past the peak bloom, I was surprised to find out that there still were lots of trees with full blooming dogwoods. Areas around curry village in particular had lots of trees fully draped with dogwoods. It looked like a fresh snow storm had dusted those trees.

The weather during my two days there was more than perfect for photographing dogwoods. It was part cloudy part sunny with periods in between which cast beautiful diffused light onto the dogwoods. In bright sunlight the dogwoods and the surrounding forest are to contrasty and it looks like a huge white mess. In the shade and when the sun  is blocked by clouds, the dogwoods now have a chance to shine against the darker foliage.

In the shot above, the dogwoods are sort of backlit and they stand out against the blurred flowing river. With the shutter speed a little too fast, the background looks a little too messy and the dogwoods are lost in the mess. With an extreme slow shutter speed, the background is too smooth and lacks texture. I had to experiment with different shutter speeds to get the right balance.

This shot looks good both in color in BW and I have a color version with a little different composition which I will share at a later date. For now do enjoy this BW.

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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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