I shot this out in Shell Beach a few days before the move. I was trying to get in as much beach time as possible before I found myself stuck in the city again. I actually got too much sun at the beach on friday and ended up with a nice sunburn on my back. Just what you want when you’re going to be moving the next day.
So far, the hardest part about being in Santa Clara is the painfully slow internet at my grandma’s house. It definitely has to be upgraded if I’m going to keep my sanity. The second hardest part is living with someone who is losing their memory. She keeps telling people I’m only here for a few days (I’m not) and each morning she gets startled when I join her in the kitchen because she forgets I’m here.
Another thing I’m not loving is all of the people and the pace of life. I’m definitely a small town guy that appreciates nature and open spaces after 9 years of living in small towns. I’m having a bit of culture shock again, just like I did when I first left the city. Fun stuff…
Last night I went for a nice walk on the beach with a new friend. She wanted to hang out because it looks like I’ll be moving next week. I thought a walk on the beach would be nice because I won’t be able to visit as often as I do now.
I was asked to move in with my grandma in the bay area because her health is declining. I never wanted to move back there, but never say never, I guess. She has dementia or possibly Alzheimer’s. Nobody wants to give a diagnosis for some reason. The doctor did say she shouldn’t be living alone, so I’m going to suck it up so she can still live at home.
I don’t know how this will affect my photography. It’s probably going to be harder to find the landscapes I love. In the meantime, I’ll be doing some real estate photography for work, as well as the usual portraiture, weddings, and anything you can think of. If you know anyone around the Santa Clara/San Jose area that needs photos, spread the word that I’m available
Shot with TrueHDR. Edited wtih Snapseed.
In the town of Huasna, there are a few dinosaurs out in the hills. There’s not much else out there besides horses and cows. We did find a couple of cool things out on a dirt road. There was a burned down house and a very old car that a field had started to swallow up.
These photos were taken with Perfect B&W. I’m going to write up a review of the app soon. Don’t buy it yet. There are some issues and, at this point, I can’t recommend it. I used the Ansel filter on the first photo. Apparently Ansel turns the sky completely black in all photos. The 2nd and 3rd photos were edited with some of the other b&w filters in the app. They really aren’t my style at all, but thought I would share anyways.
This one is from my Nikon D7000. There were lots of these dust devils out on Soda Lake when we were there. It was surreal.
I used the new Topaz Clarity plugin on this one. I was really amazed at the clarity in the hills in the background compared to the original. I can see myself using this plugin quite a bit now. Go download the free trial here.
I went out on an adventure to the eastern part of the county a couple of days ago. I’ve never been out that way before, so I didn’t know what to expect. First, we drove to a wildflower hotspot in Santa Margarita where there was no trace of any wildflowers being there this year. I know the peak was a month or two ago, but I thought there might at least be a few flowers and some grass. Not this time. It was all brown. All I found was a couple of tiny flowers in a dry creek bed.
After that disappointing find, we headed to Soda Lake. Before we left, I googled the lake and saw some cool pictures. When we pulled up, we were greeted by a massive salt crust in the shape of a lake. It was cool, but not what I had envisioned. The white lake bed was so bright that the camera’s sensor couldn’t handle the dynamic range of the scene. The sky ended up being very dark.
We walked out on the dried up lake because we drove all that way. Some of it was powdery and some was crunchy. I felt like I was walking on the moon. If you stood still, you sank into the ground another inch or two. It was a funny feeling.
I got some cool shots with my Nikon too. Hopefully, I’ll find some time to share those soon. I was able to capture one of the white dust devils (twisters) out on the lake.
This image was shot with camera+ and edited with Snapseed. I included the before image below so you can see what I started with. I had to brighten it up and straighten the horizon. I chose to use the tilt shift filter on this one to bring the focus more to the dead bush in the foreground.
I went to on of the more hidden beaches around here recently. I’ve been here a few times before, but never remember seeing this stop sign in the surf. There’s a whole section of beach closed for some dang birds, the snowy plover. There were ropes and other trespassing signs, but this stop sign seemed out of place.
Shot with camera+. Edited with XnSketch.
I finally was able to catch a sunset at the beach last night. We’re getting our June gloom foggy weather already, which means sunsets are usually ruined. Lucky for me, last night the fog stayed off the coast just far enough.
This particular sunset wasn’t anything too amazing. I felt like I should use a few apps to make it look more beautiful in my eyes. First, I shot with TrueHDR. If you’re new to my blog, I use TrueHDR a lot because often times it makes for a more realistic image by combining two exposures. Next, I used Snapseed to brighten a little, add contrast, and bump up the saturation slightly. Then, I used TangledFX for the painterly/fibrous look. Finally, I used Snapseed again because I felt like the image needed more contrast and saturation.
This was a challenging sunset shoot for me for a couple of reasons. #1 It was very, very windy. #2 I forgot to charge my batteries before this trip and by the time we made it to Joshua Tree, they were both flashing at me because they were nearly dead. I had to set up a shot ahead of time, turn the camera on, take the photo, and turn it off immediately, just to conserve the battery.
Lesson learned. Always double check the batteries before leaving on a trip and bring the charger even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
I really didn’t expect much of a sunset because of the mountains to the west. I’m used to wide open ocean for the sunset, so anticipating what the scene would look like in the dessert was a challenge. I didn’t think there would be any color in the sky. I was totally wrong. Not only did the sky behind me in this shot turn pink, but the land had a salmon colored glow to it. It was cool to see even if I didn’t get any incredible photos of it. I still have to edit a few of those and see if I like them.
Shot with my Nikon D7000 on a tripod. Edited with Photoshop CS6, Topaz Software, and Nik Software.
So I downloaded a free app the other day called MasterFX. Its an app that allows you to add a lot of special effects to your image. I don’t think its an app I would use too often, but its very easy to use and does a very clean job of blending in different elements. There are a lot of freebies in the app, but also a lot of paid stuff. The stuff I used was all free.
I like all of the tools in the app that allow for greater control and creativity. You can resize elements, copy them, mask them, mirror/flip them, distort them, and you can even adjust the opacity.
In this image I added the sunburst and rays on the left, the white bokeh effect around the base of the palms, the hot air balloon, and the stars. It really only took a few minutes to complete the image. I have to admit it was fun to be creative again.
I finally have some time to post again! I’ve been really busy editing photos from the recent engagement shoot. Here are a few good ones that I gave a more artistic edit. There are more on my facebook page too. Also, if you or anyone you know is getting married, I not only do engagement sessions, but weddings too. I’m willing to travel to you, so contact me!
After working on people photos for over a week, I’m dying to work on some landscapes
These were all shot with my Nikon D7000.
I’m back from being on the road again. The engagement shoot was fun and effortless. The couple was awesome to work with and amazing in front of the camera. Unfortunately, I totally forgot to snap a few shots with my iPhone, so I can’t share any of those until I edit the Nikon images.
In the meantime, I found this one from Joshua Tree on my camera+ camera roll. Sometimes I totally forget about photos on that roll. I shot and edited with that app. With the lighting the way it was, I had black and white in mind from the moment I set up the shot. I was going for the same effect as this one from a while back.
Bixby Bridge is a spot that almost everyone stops to take a picture of when they go to Big Sur. Shooting popular spots can be a challenge these days because so many people have already been there with their phone or digital camera and shared the image online. I think after we’ve all seen the same shot a number of times it gets ingrained in our brain and we end up recreating it without even realizing it.
There are also times where there are only one or two vantage points to shoot something from. How are we supposed to be creative with so few options??? Try shooting at night
This was shot with my Nikon D7000 on a tripod. I only took 3 photos because it was cold and we were tired. The first shot was very out of focus. Its a challenge to compose and focus at night, so I was very surprised to get this photo so quickly. I used plugins from Topaz and Nik to clean the image up in PS CS6.
In a funny coincidence, I have a photo featured on photobotos today. The one featured was actually shot up on top of the rock in this photo here.
This cave/arch thing is just a short drive from where I live. I didn’t even know about it until I saw another photographer post a photo of it recently. All I had to do was walk down a mountain of stairs to get to it. Maybe thats why I didn’t find it sooner.
The great thing about this beach is its at a hotel, so the crowds don’t know about it. I had the beach to myself most of the time until a couple came down to watch the sunset. I’m happy to have found another secret beach that the tourists don’t know about
This time out, I was mostly just scouting the location and observing the light at sunset. I don’t think the sun will ever rise or set through the arch, which is too bad. I’m still trying to figure out what time of day will give me the best lighting. I guess I’ll just have to do sunrise, sunset, and stormy. My guess is storm clouds will make the best scene.
Shot with ProHDR because TrueHDR was making the sky grey. Edited with Snapseed.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to take a photo with your iPhone after the sun has gone down, but it’s a challenge to get a shot like this. You absolutely have to use an HDR app that takes multiple exposures and merges them. If you try to use a regular camera app, you’ll end up with either a nicely exposed sky and a very dark foreground, or a white sky and a properly exposed foreground. Sadly, neither one is like what you were seeing in person.
For this shot, I used TrueHDR. Ideally, you’d set your phone up on a tripod for HDR, especially at this time of day. It’s very important to keep the camera as still as possible so the HDR app can merge the images more cleanly. If you click on the image to view it larger, you’ll notice the the trees in the middle of the image are slightly off, as well as the hill on the right. Luckily, its not too noticeable if you’re just sharing a smaller version with your friends. You may not have even noticed it if I hadn’t pointed it out.
I edited this one with Snapseed. The image straight from TrueHDR was very flat, meaning it needed more contrast and some pop.
Sometimes you have to get dirty for the shot you want. Sometimes you’re not dressed appropriately to get the shot you want and you have to make a note to return soon.
I was hiking in the woods near my house a week or two ago and saw lots of these little mushrooms around. At the time, I didn’t want to get the clothes I was wearing all dirty, so I told myself I would just come back soon in something I didn’t mind getting filthy.
I think getting on my hands and knees on some damp soil that was covered in dead leaves was worth it for this perspective.
Shot with camera+. Edited with Snapseed and ShockMyPic