Buckeyes – Fall Series

To be tethered
Taken at Helen Putnam Regional Park

I took my daughter out for a break from the rest of the family to take some pictures. It had been a hard day and she likes taking pictures, so I made her come with me. It was great just be outside, looking around for whatever caught our eye. I looked for Fall themed shots to add to the series and saw these trees. The sky was a deep blue and made a nice background for the tree branches with no leaves. Buckeye trees are the first to change colors and loose their leaves, at least in this area.

Today my trial of Lightroom expired, so I’m back to using Digital Photo Professional. It’s a fine program, just not as elegant as Lightroom and nowhere near as flexible. But, as Shelton Muller always says
on the Shutters Inc podcast, “get it right in camera”, so that’s what I try to do. The processing on this shot was minimal, so I did get it right when I shot it.

This photo is hosted on Zooomr with a geotag. (changed to Flickr)

Shot Details

Zooomr doesn’t read the EXIF data from Digital Photo Professional, so here’s the shot info:
Shooting Date/Time:10/28/2007 12:29:55
Shutter Speed: 1/250Sec.
Aperture Value: F5.6
Metering Modes: Evaluative metering
Exposure Compensation: 0
ISO Speed: 200
Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length: 18.0 mm

Edited 2/9/2015 to change photo to Flickr since Zooomr doesn’t exist.

Morning Light

Morning Light
Fence with steam rising – Fall Series

I actually took this the morning we headed out for Yosemite, but it got lost in all pictures of Half Dome and El Capitan. I was putting the bike rack on the car and saw the steam rising from the fence, filtering the the sunlight. I ran inside and grabbed by camera to take some pictures. It was actually a really wet morning. There had been a heavy dew that night, so everything was really wet, and cold. The sun had only been up a little while, but was warming the fence. The steam didn’t last long and it was really cool to watch. I just wanted to capture that moment. One of those things that make you stop and savor the moment.


Big Leaf Maple

Another Leaf
We just don’t colors like this where I live, so to me the color of this leaf is impressive. Our maple trees turn sort of yellow-brown, then the leaves fall off. At higher elevations, like Yosemite where this was taken, it gets much colder much faster so the colors get more vibrant. I can’t image what the Fall colors must look like in New England.

When it’s 82 degrees F, it’s hard to imagine it’s really Fall.

Hanging On

Hanging On
Well, Fall may have come but it seems Summer is trying to hang on a little longer. Today was beautiful – clear, sunny and warm. It could not have been a more perfect day in mid October. With the recent rains grasses have started growing, so in addition to the changing color we have new growth. That refreshing after a long, dry summer. The leaves on the trees are still turning and dropping, but this week will be warm so I expect Fall will drag out a little longer. We have yet to get our first frost, but the nights are getting downright cold.

This is one of two ash trees in my backyard. They both have a range of color from green to red, but are mostly red. In a couple of weeks the leaves will probably be gone, especially if we get a frost.

Until, I’m going to enjoy the warm weather. This shot is part of the Fall Series.

Don’t Waste This Chance

Don't waste this chance
Big Leaf Maple turning colors. Taken in Yosemite, October 2007

Yosemite isn’t really known for its Fall colors, but I thought they added some contrast to the landscapes. Yosemite has a lot of conifers that don’t change colors, but there are enough Black Oaks, Maples and Pacific Dogwood’s to mix in a splash of yellow and red. The colors make up for the lack of water at this time of year. The meadows with Black Oaks are really beautiful.

Another thing that makes up for the lack of water is the bears. We saw bears in broad daylight foraging for food to fatten up for the winter. Fortunately they are pretty tame and if you don’t bother them, they don’t bother you. But it’s good to keep your distance. I tried to get a picture, but wasn’t fast enough.

Half Dome

Half Dome

Last weekend we went to Yosemite for a quick weekend trip. It had been six years since our family had been there, and our youngest had never been, so it was time. As expected, we had a great time and I got to take a lot of pictures. It’s hard not to take pictures because there are so many striking rock formations and Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Half Dome is probably the most photographed formation in the park, and for good reason. It dominates the landscape in much of Yosemite valley. It’s hard not to
take pictures of it because it is so incredible. This shot was taken near Curry Village, along the road. I’m sure millions of people have taken pictures from this location. I geotagged in on Zooomr so you can see about where I was when I took the picture.

I found the lighting to be a little tricky, probably because of the time of year and angle of the Sun. Because the mountains around the valley are so high and the Sun is so low in the southern sky, the south side of the valley is in shade most of the day. With a clear sky you can get a wide range of contrast between bright sunlight and dark shadows. You really have to make decisions about what you want to highlight – the trees and meadows or the rocks towering above. Of course, if you time things really well you can get both. As you can see, for this shot I opted to expose for the rocks, not the trees.

For anyone planning a Fall or early Winter trip, here are a few pointers:

  • El Capitan is best shot in the morning. The light from sunrise hits it perfectly. Ask a park ranger when sunrise actually happens and get there early. The sun doesn’t hit the valley floor until long after it hits the rocks.
  • The meadows near El Capitan have really cool ground fog in the morning.
  • Half Dome is best shot late in the day, when the sun hits its face. There’s a great spot along the river near the Ahwahnee Hotel.
  • There’s not a lot of water in the falls. None in Yosemite Falls, very little in Vernal, Nevada, and Bridal Veil.
  • Take some time to stake out locations the first day, then come back to shoot. There are dozens of photographers with tripods set up early for sunrise and sunset shots, so plan ahead for a good locations.
  • Bring lots of memory cards or a laptop to download photos. I shot with a 4 gig card and downloaded every night.
  • The sun hits the North side of the valley near Yosemite Village early, so you can get some good shots of trees, meadows, the river, and possibly bears before you start your day.
  • You can get great shots from the road, but if you walk a little you can get better shots. Please stay on the paths and respect the plants.
  • Don’t forget to look for the details. Sure, the rocks are spectacular, but so are the leaves and grasses and rivers and countless other little things.

If you look at the satellite or hybrid view of Yosemite on Google maps, you can see the shadows on the south side of the valley to get an idea of how the lighting will be. Take into account the time of year, shorter days, and angle of the sun as Winter Solstice approaches.

I have roughly 500 pictures to go through, so this will likely be the first of many from the trip. I uploaded 13 to Zooomr last night and created a set so you can view them all in one place. As I upload more, I’ll add them to the set.

The Coming Storm

It's gonna rain - Fall Series

Vineyard photos in Sonoma County, California are a little cliché, but they do make for great landscapes. I took this yesterday at lunch. A storm was heading in, creating some dramatic cloudscapes. I used a graduated filter to help bring out the clouds and keep the vineyard visible. I did some tweaking in Lightroom to add more contrast to the clouds and bring out the blue in the sky. Lightroom makes it very easy to adjust colors and contrast in subtle ways. The flexibility of that program is astounding. When my trial runs out I’m going to be sad. Hopefully in the next few months I can buy it.

The sun was just out of the frame, at the top of the picture, making the exposure a little tricky. I used manual exposure and according to the meter, overexposed the shot. I think it worked better because you can still see some detail in the vineyard and the sky is not blown out. Since I started this blog, I learned to read the light of a given shot much better than I used to. I know when the meter isn’t getting the exposure I want. I’ve taken many shots that if I had used Program mode would not have come out the way I wanted. If the light is even the meter is right on, but sometimes you have make adjustments based on what you see. I do need to experiment more with metering modes in my camera to see how the different modes impact a picture. Some test shots may be in order.

This photo is part of the Fall Series I started this week. I specifically drove to this vineyard to take some photos of the vines changing colors. The clouds ended up being the focal point of my images because they looked so amazing. This photo is on Zooomr with a geotag if you want to see the location and EXIF information. Here’s another shot I took yesterday:
Fall Vineyard - Fall Series

I copied the settings from the main shot and applied them to this image as well. I also used the “Heal” tool to remove a bird from this photo. It looked like a black speck in the sky. I don’t normally retouch images in that way, but this bird just bugged me, so I had to remove it.

Also, I won’t be posting anything for a few days. This weekend is a busy one for my family, and with all the activities and commitments, I know I won’t have time to blog anything. I’ll still take some pictures, but won’t have time until early next week to post anything to the blog, or even to Zooomr.

Fall Series

Fall Photography Series 3

The first real rain of the season came last night, the days are getting short, and the leaves are changing, so I guess I can say Fall has come. Northern California doesn’t get the dramatic colors like other parts of the country during the Fall, but there are enough non-native trees and plants to give some bright colors. I’ve been thinking of doing a series of photos on a particular subject, and decided today to do a Fall Series. It’s not the most original idea, but it gives me something to focus on.

I’ve struggled lately with finding good subjects and thought a series would help inspire me. I’ve been running through ideas, but nothing has really jumped out at me. Fall colors don’t last long, which means my first series will have a definite end, and soon. It will sort of force me outside to take pictures, and force me to try to be a little creative with the limited subject matter.

This wall is on a street I don’t normally drive on, but construction forced me onto side streets. The colors and textures jumped out at me so I stopped and took a bunch pictures. Most days I have to struggle to find a good picture to post, but today I took several that I liked for various reasons. The vines growing on the wall had such a variety of colors and were growing in such cool patterns that I couldn’t pass it by. In a couple of days it will look different. This series will be a little challenging because I will pretty much have to take pictures as I see things. If I try to come back the colors may look very different, even the next day as temperatures drop.

Here are the others I posted on Zooomr:
Fall Photography Series 5

Fall Photography Series 4

Fall Photography Series 2

Fall Photography Series 1

The Climber

The Climber
Yesterday when I went out to my car after work, I saw the fire department next door practicing with their big ladder truck. Fortunately I had my camera, so I took a few quick pictures. Also, fortunately, there was no fire. I’ve thought about walking over to the fire station at lunch sometime and taking pictures, but never have. I took this one from the parking lot at work, so got a little lucky with the timing. I don’t the name of the fireman, but the photo was taken at the Petaluma Fire Station. The geotag is on Zooomr.

I have to give a bit of public thanks to the Petaluma Fire Department. About 10 years ago my daughter fell off a slide and was knocked unconscious. The fire department responded quickly and rushed her to the hospital. She was fine, but they really treated her great and even gave her a little stuffed animal bear. Most importantly they knew how to handle two frantic parents. A long belated thanks.

I took this with my 70-300 IS zoom lens. It’s great to have a lens that lets me get up close from far away. All the shot info is on Zooomr. You can view the large version of this photo as well.