Mountains draped in clouds

I really enjoy viewing black and white photographs, though I do not employ that technique too often.  I tend to be a big color guy, if there’s such a term, but now and then a monochrome just seems to fit the bill better.  This is one of those cases.  I was walking around at Pike Place Market in Seattle and after snapping a bunch of shots there, I walked around the back side - really more off to the right and sorta behind it - where there is a very small park which offers up a commanding view of these lovely mountains.  I snapped away.  The clouds were just spectacular. 

I’m a big fan of the Nik Software suite, which fits perfectly for me as a plug-in to Aperture, and I used HDR Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Color Efex Pro all on this single exposure.  It’s fun using all these great tools!

By the way, since this image has both ocean and mountains in it, is it called a landscape or a seascape??  hehe I am really not sure how to classify it.

Corpus Christi marina

This is an aerial view of the marina that sits adjacent to downtown Corpus Christi, TX.  I was atop the Omni Hotel at their wonderful 20th floor restaurant - Republic of Texas - and discovered they have a little balcony overlooking the harbor.  After dinner we checked it out and - lucky me - my camera was with me.  It was windy as heck up there, but the view was fabulous!  If you ever make it to Corpus, be sure and eat there and bring your camera!

Twilight at Fisherman's Wharf

I always enjoy seeing photos of boats, though I am not a "boat guy".  I don't own a boat, and really have no desire to.  But, I appreciate their beauty and find them interesting.  Rarely though have I taken photos of a boat or boats, and when I have the shots have been disappointments.  So, I found myself at Fisherman's Wharf along the Embarcadero in San Francisco, and it was nearly sunset.  I had spent the better part of the day behind the camera, which is always great fun (especially in San Fran) but I was tired and in need of food.  I found some place serving fish and chips - image that! - and hunkered down for some refueling.  After a bit though I started to notice the subtle changes in the sky and the color and light, and got itchy feet and headed back out to shoot some more.  I walked around Fisherman's Wharf for a while, but it is crowded with tourists and I was looking for something a little quieter.  I meandered around the backside of the wharf and found this marina, which happens to overlook Alcatraz.  It was peaceful and quiet, the sun was setting over distant hills, the light was just right, and it was just me and the camera.  

A break in the storm

Laguna Beach, CA is gorgeous.  It really is - at least the beach is.  I quickly passed through the town, so I can't speak for it, though I hear it is an artist colony of sorts so it can't be all bad.  Places like that are usually pretty cool in my opinion, like Santa Fe.  I had been out in Orange County on business and luckily found some time to go chase the light.  Unluckily, it was raining like crazy.  Well, the tides turned my direction (no pun intended) and the storm broke for a bit.  I made a mad dash to the public beach there in Laguna Beach and got after it.  It was windy as hell, I was not dressed appropriately, and several times I nearly took a header off these slippery rocks into the drink - but I got some good shots.  So basically, it was awesome.  I love this stuff.  It is so fun to go hunting for photographs, and especially when you are in an unfamiliar place, shooting things you can't see at home (not many beaches in Austin), and having to man up and brave the wind and rain in the pursuit of it all - just plain fun.  If you don't believe me, ask any photographer.

This shot is a 5 exposure HDR shot at f/11 with exposures bracketed from -2 to +2, which is pretty standard for a 5 shot HDR.  I created the HDR in Photomatix, then made adjustments in PSE (Curves, Contrast, Unsharp Mask) and then a few minor adjustments in Aperture.

Fading light

It had been an interesting afternoon for me.  I arrived in Southern California early enough to spend a while hunting for images, only to be greeted by a rainstorm that lasted the entire afternoon.  I went to shoot at a local resort, hoping to capture some great shots, but instead spent 2+ hours in the lobby working and waiting for the storm to pass.  I finally gave up, figuring it wasn't meant to be.  I was driving to my hotel, and passing through Laguna Beach, when the rain finally let up.  I was about to take the road toward the highway, and decided I would try and get a shot or two before the rain started again.  I plugged some quarters in a meter and ran to the public beach there in downtown Laguna Beach.  What a great town, by the way.  The wind was blowing like crazy, and the sun was quickly disappearing, so I literally ran around the beach and tried to thoughtfully compose a few shots before it rained again.  It turns out that it started raining again, about the time I returned to my car, 30 minutes later.  Thought I didn't get all the time I wanted, at least I got to see this place and experience the sunset.  It was beautiful.

This shot is a single exposure, shot at f/5 for 1/200 of a second.  Although I tend to favor HDR, I want to also experiment and test myself with standard shooting techniques in the interest of expanding my range and more importantly my experience and knowledge base.  This shot was sort of a compositional test and I tend to like how it came out.  I liked the big pile of seaweed, and of course the clouds.  I processed this in PSE (curves) and then added a little pop to it in Topaz Adjust, which is a new product for me and one I am pretty satisfied with.

What do you think about this shot, the composition, etc?  Would you have positioned yourself differently for this shot?  Are there things you would change?  Any feedback is appreciated.

Warm and sunny

Since it is nearing Christmas, and folks are bundled up against the cold, I thought I would share a little slice of warmth with you today.  This was taken in Orange County, CA near the end of the Balboa Peninsula.  A misty fog sort of thing had rolled by (you can see it in the distance) and the seas were peaceful and calm.  The temperature was around 70 degrees and the sun was slowly setting.  In other words, it was perfect.

Laguna Beach sunset

As I mentioned previously, I spent the first part of this week in Southern CA on a business trip.  My plan was to arrive early enough to get a few hours of shooting in on Monday afternoon, but the weather had other plans.  The nice thing about storms is that once they clear, you have a good chance of getting some great cloud shots.  This was no exception.  Once the rain let up, I dashed out here and snapped off all I could, assuming the storm would return at any minute.  Fortunately it did not, and more fortunately it was nearing sunset which nearly always produces some excellent light to work with.  If forced to choose between mountains and beaches, I would choose mountains nearly every time.  But after spending some time out here, I can see the hold that this part of the US has on so many people.  It is beautiful, especially when the sun is descending on a stormy sea.


Weather reports indicate that we may receive some snow in Central Texas tomorrow.  That was not a misprint.  We may actually receive snow.  I know many of you are in much colder climates and that is no big deal, but it is strange down here.  So, in honor of the harsh reality of winter, I offer a picture that is its polar opposite.  I think everyone likes the beach in some form or fashion.  Not everyone likes to sit there and suntan themselves but I think somewhere deep inside at the very least they enjoy the refreshing consistency and subtle music of a thousand waves crashing, over and over, again and again.  

Peaceful sea

The Pacific Ocean's name is derived from the Latin words Tepre Pacificum, or "peaceful sea", bestowed upon it by Ferdinand Magellan, and it covers about 30% of the Earth's surface.  It is an ocean of depth and darkness, a seemingly endless sea and it is fascinating.  As a kid I harbored dreams of being a marine biologist, so that I could explore and study all that the seas have to offer.  For whatever reason, life directed me some other way, but it is fun to wonder where that path may have taken me. I enjoy looking at the ocean, as do most people, and it brings up all sorts of thoughts.  In the case of the Pacific, I find it fascinating that you are at the edge of a continent, and your next stop could conceivably be Asia.  Rocks, sand and shells could have traveled thousands of miles to exhaust themselves on this shore.  It is all connected.

Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me.
- Albert Schweitzer

This photo was taken in Orange County, CA and what I like most about it is that the jetty seems to disappear into the encroaching mist...