The Sky of My Dreams

The Sky of My Dreams

Another quick shot. After missing a few good photo opportunities last week because I had left my camera at home, I started taking it with me everyday again. The clouds going to work last Friday were awesome, so I drove to the top of the nearest parking garage and took a few photos of the sky and clouds. The structures in the foreground were intentional. I wanted the pieces of our modern world to show up in the shot to give a feeling of loneliness. The clouds were actually moving through pretty quickly, so the sun didn’t stay hidden behind clouds for long. I got the effect I was looking for, but a few moments later, it was gone.

I did a lot of curves adjusting to bring out the blue and increase the contrast. There is another shot from that day that I might use to experiment with HDR, but I haven’t decided if I want to or not. This shot worked fine without HDR, and I am inclined to be lazy and not do HDR. Besides, I don’t have Photoshop.

You can view this image on Zooomr with a geotag. I’ve taken other shots from this location before.

Shot Details

Shooting Date: 8/31/2007 08:21:06 GMT-8
Shutter Speed: 1/800Sec.
Aperture Value: F5.6
ISO Speed: 100
Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length: 18.0 mm

New Camera

It’s been an unusually slow week for posting this week mainly because I’m getting a new camera. I’ve had a Canon Digital Rebel XT (aka 350D) for over two years and absolutely loved it. It took great pictures and met all my photographic needs. It had the features I needed at a price I could manage. Sometime over the past few months, I noticed spots in some images, mostly in photos of the sky. At first I thought it was on the lens, but then I got a new lens and the spots turned up in exactly the same place in my images. Here’s an example from my new lens:
Trinity Alps

In the sky there are two dark areas, one on the left and one on the right (which is hard to see). You might have to go to Zooomr and view the larger size to really see them, but they are there. I know they aren’t that noticeable on this image, but on others they are more pronounced, and I know they are there. It’s annoying. It’s probably dirt on sensor, or it could be something else. I’m not sure, but I bought the camera at Costco so I returned it today and ordered a Canon 30D. I wanted something compatible with the new lens, and the 30D is the same price now that I paid two years ago for the XT.

I read some comparisons of the XTi and 30D and was concerned over the XTi’s performance using higher ISOs and the quality of the images. I have a friend who has the 30D and takes some great pictures, so I figured it was a safe bet.

So my new camera should be arriving by the end of the week. I’ll post some shots as soon as I can. I’ve got a couple of outings planned for shooting already.

Beneath the Lake

Beneath the Lake
Taken at Trinity Lake, CA
While camping I got a chance to shoot with my new 70-300mm lens. I loved it. It really brings things in, especially compared to the 18-55mm I’ve been using for the past couple of years. I figured after two years, I was due for a lens upgrade. So far I have not been disappointed with the new lens. At full zoom the images look great, although you do need a lot of light, even with image stabilization. I took some great shots of the kids from really far away.

Anyway, about the shot. Trinity Lake is a reservoir in the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area west of Redding, CA. It was farmland and forest once upon a time; the numerous tree stumps bear witness to the forest that once stood there. This year the lake is pretty low, so a lot of what is normally underwater is exposed. There were a few dozen of these stumps a short walk from our campsite.

The soil is a red dirt, so when it’s stirred up by boats or swimmers in the water you can see red clouds floating along the shore. The mud has stained all the stumps, giving them a red hue. Over the years of being submerged, the soil has eroded away from the stumps, leaving the major root structures visible. It’s a pretty cool effect with red tones and the stumps seemingly hanging in the air. Even more so when there are groups of stumps. I’d hate to see what happens to a boat that hits one of these when they’re hidden by the water.

Here’s a macro shot of a stump farther up the shoreline:
Old Knot

Trinity Lake is a wonderful place to camp. We don’t boat, but if you do the lake is great for water sports. It’s big, warm, and the surrounding mountains are spectacular. This year the lake is really low because of the low rainfall in Northern California. The lake was so low that the boat ramp near our campground was closed. The cement ended about 30 yards from the water. Here’s a shot of the walkway that runs along theramp:
Trinity Lake Boat Ramp

The main image is hosted on Zooomr with a geotag. There are some other shots of the trip there as well.

Down the line

Down the line

Work has been pretty busy this week with projects wrapping up and new ones getting started, but I took a few minutes yesterday to get out and do some shooting. The nice thing about Petaluma is that there is a good mix of country and city. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to get out of town and into the country, so depending on my mood I can take urban (suburban, really) or country shots. I tend to drive out into the country more often than not, probably because it offers some solitude and peace. I don’t have to worry about making someone angry by driving slow or pulling over quickly.

You can view the location of this shot on Zooomr. I took a couple of other shots as well:
Chain and barn 2



I took a break at work and went driving around the country side. Again, I stopped to shoot at spot that I’ve driven by before, but that day caught my eye. Funny how one day something looks interesting, but other days it doesn’t. This is one of the shots I liked. I tend to like selective focus shots a lot. It is on Zooomr with a geotag.

After I was done shooting, but still driving, my wife called because a friend of her saw me standing by the side of the road and was wondering what I was doing during the middle of the work day. So I emailed her this shot so she could see what I was up to. The friend lives nearby. My wife knows I drive around and take pictures, the friend was a little surprised.

This was the last week of school and my oldest daughter’s last week in elementary school. She’s been at the school seven years now, so it was a big deal to finish 6th grade and move on. I took hundreds of pictures. Glad I got that external storage drive.

Russian River

Russian RiverRussian River Hosted on Zooomr

Another shot I took before Easter. I’m not taking photos during the week because I just don’t have time. I wish I did, but don’t right now.

Again, for this shot I used the polarizing filter which eliminated the glare off the water. Normally, without the filter, the water would reflect light, but in this shot you can see the rocks on the river bed. I also used a slow shutter speed to give a more fluid look. I’ve always like shots of moving water with long exposures. Sometimes it’s over done, so the water is really a blur, but I think this shot has a nice mix of motion and stasis. I posted it here because it is one of the few moving water shots I’ve taken.

I did not use a tripod, because I don’t have one. I just set the camera on the rocks and tried to hold it still. I wanted a low angle, so it worked out. I’d like to get a Gorilla Pod for situations like this.

See it on Zooomr with GeoTag and exposure settings.

Rocks, Fence, Clouds

Rocks, Fence, CloudsRocks, Fence, Clouds Hosted on Zooomr

I took this the same day as the Farm Clouds shot, but since I missed another day I’m posting two today. This was taken very near the Farm Clouds shot. See the geotag at Zooomr.

The fence runs on both sides of the road with a cattle guard across the road. I stopped to take pictures of the fence on the other side of the road, but when I parked I liked this side better. The far off background with clouds was a better backdrop, at least that day. I might go back and take shots again of the other side.

The lighting changed a bit while I was shooting because the clouds kept moving, which actually made things more interesting. and kept me guessing for exposure.

Farm Clouds

Farm CloudsFarm Clouds Hosted on Zooomr

This really has been a great week for clouds. Everyday I see some clouds that I’d like to take pictures of, but I’m usually driving or don’t have my camera. I took a drive into the hills east of Petaluma a couple of days ago and shot this. I did take it into Photoshop to adjust the contrast, but not much. I did use my graduated filter so the sky and clouds wouldn’t be overexposed.

View on Zooomr with the geotag. The shot is facing south from the geotag.

Two Rock Sky

Two Rock SkyTwo Rock Sky Hosted on Zooomr

This was taken on one of my last days of work at the USCG Training Center. I drove around at lunch at the clouds kept changing. We had thunderstorms over the next couple of days, so the clouds were amazing.

I did have to touch up the exposure in Photoshop a little. Clouds can make a landscape really interesting and dynamic, but I’ve had a hard time with exposure, especially when there is a lot of contrast in the clouds and then the ground is dark. I should have used my gradient filter, but didn’t. It cleaned up nicely in Photoshop. It would have been nice if the fence in the lower right had come out better.

You can see the geotag on Zooomr.

Valley Fog

Valley FogValley Fog Hosted on Zooomr

This post got blasted from the blog. It was orignally posted on February 14. I can’t remember all I wrote, but it was something about enjoying getting out and taking pictures even if they aren’t good. I like this shot, but of course not every shot turns out the way I hoped.

This is posted on Zooomr with a geotag so you can see where it was taken. I think I got lucky with the fog and timing. I was on my way to work, driving on a road I rarely drive on. I’ve been taking alternate routes to and from work looking for things to shoot. When thinking about this shot and the blog post, I realized why I like landscapes. They capture a moment in time that is a unique experience. I will likely drive this road again some morning, but this shot will not be repeated. I captured that moment in time and was there to enjoy the entire view (which a camera can’t quite grab). The downside is that I always have some level of disappointment with the shots, but as time goes on and my memory fades the photo is all I have, and today I like it much more than I did the day I took it.

At any rate, I’m getting outside and enjoying taking pictures.