Palmetto sunrise

I'm back....

As some of you may know, I spent last week in the UK - Dublin, Ireland and in the Scottish countryside near Glasgow, to be specific.  It was fabulous.  I saw many sights, and I took many, many pictures.  In fact, I have over 2100 shots to sort through.  I just haven't gotten to them yet.  So, look for some cool stuff coming soon, with some good stories to go with them!

Also, I want to thank everyone for the visits and comments last week.  I have not been too good about returning the favor, and plan to do so this week.  For those of you who do visit but do not comment, that's ok too (but go ahead and say something if you like!).

As far as this shot goes, I grabbed it last summer while in Corpus Christi, TX.  I got up early one morning to get out and shoot the sunrise, which was beautiful.  The color was just inbelievable that morning!

My beautiful reward

I am a big fan of Bruce Springsteen, and though I like his music, I love his writing.  His lyrics are fantastic and if you really listen to them, you can see that he has the soul of a poet.  I like that and it shows through his writing.  I mention that because the title of this photo is also the title of one of his songs.  The song is about love and longing, and hope and searching for that which makes you happy.  At least it is to me.  If you ask Bruce, he will likely have a different interpretation of his lyrics.  I haven't had a chance to ask him yet.

Anyways, I like the title so I borrowed it for this photo.  I was on Laguna Beach down in Orange County, and a big storm that ruined my photo attempts that afternoon had blown through.  I had spent the entire afternoon holed up inside, waiting on the rain to stop.  Finally, after the rain stopped, I drove for a bit and then I parked the rental car on the street, plugged the meter with some quarters (I had 3, so I had 45 minutes - run!) and took off to the beach.  I was searching as well, and it was my first time here so I wasn't sure what I was going to find.  I ended up taking a lot of photos in that short 45 minute span.  I guess time does fly when you are having fun, because that 45 minutes felt like a blink.

After I got back and was able to process my shots, I felt like this was the best one I took that day.  It was my beautiful reward.  

This is a 6 exposure HDR, taken at f/11.  The exposures range from +2 to -3.  There was a lot of wind, due to the storm, and as you can see the waves were smashing about.  I created the HDR in Photomatix, then made some adjustments in PSE (Curves, Contrast, Unsharp Mask) and a final touch in Topaz Adjust.

Quietly making noise

I just noticed that a bunch of my recent shots include water in them.  Am I boring anyone?  I guess I am drawn to all those wonderful qualities that water can bring to a photograph, or maybe I am just not thinking about it.  Probably the latter.  Anyways, I noticed this little pattern and thought I would mention it.  Not even sure why.

This shot comes from Laguna Beach, CA, where I was able to recently spend a couple of hours shooting some fun HDR stuff.  I love HDR, it just totally rocks.  Have I mentioned that before?  I may have.  Anyways, I walked and climbed my way around the beach, getting my shoes wet and trying to find beautiful and interesting things to shoot, which isn't really hard at all there.  At one point I saw this little grotto-ish sort of area and figured I needed to get in there.  It wasn't too hard, though it did involve clambering over slippery wet rocks while wearing inappropriate footwear, but you do what you have to do.  I slipped a bit but I kept the camera safe and dry, which is the primary goal.  Once I got in there, it was like being in a little private spot that is all your own, and all the intruding sounds of the world are eliminated.  I backed up as far as I could against the rear rock wall, and just stood there for a few moments listening to the quiet, repetitive sounds of the waves splashing in front of me.  It was pretty awesome.

This is a 5 exposure HDR taken at f/9 while the sun was setting off to the far right (you can tell that by the color in the sky).  The exposures range from -3 to +1 and were created as an HDR in Photomatix.  That was then adjusted in PSE for Curves, Contrast, and Unsharp Mask.  The final touch was in Topaz Adjust.

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.


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...

If I had a boat...

Boats are cool, and the ocean is amazing in many ways.  I was at West Jetty View Park, at the tip of the Balboa Peninsula, in Orange County, CA when I saw these two boats.  I was immediately drawn in by them, and at first I wasn't sure why.  But now, I think it is for a few reasons.  It could be that I just like boats (though I don't own one), or it could be that these two boats are of not just different makes but different eras, or perhaps because these two represent a real contrast among life's big decisions: enjoy the journey and go where life leads you (sailboat) or just hurry up and get somewhere quickly (speedboat) paying little attention to what is going on around you.  

Lyle Lovett has a great song about a boat, the title of which I borrowed for the title of this photo, and I recommend you listen to it.  It's a great song, and I am not biased just because Lyle is from around Central Texas (where I live).  He rambles on in the song about The Lone Ranger, Tonto and having a pony on his boat, and I am not sure what all he means by it, though I am sure it is deeply meaningful to him.  Anyways, one of my favorites lines in the song is "kiss my ass I bought a boat, I'm going out to sea".  Perhaps that is the lure of boats, especially seafaring ones - that you can sail off and moor yourself on distant shores, leaving all your troubles behind.  I know people that would very much like to do that.

I have a friend whose older brother once worked for little money at a tough job up in New England, and one winter he literally had enough of the cold and snow, and so he packed everything up in his old car, quit his job and left the next morning for a new life in the sunshine.  He ended up in south Florida, working as a deckhand on various boats, gaining experience and knowledge and eventually grew to be Captain on a large luxury yacht owned by a wealthy businessman out of Chicago.  Now he runs the boat back and forth from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Nassau, Bahamas and generally just loves the hell out of it - and makes a great living too.  So, I guess going out to sea can pay big dividends...