Totally Natural ..

The Pacific coastlines of the United states is very beautiful and full of beautiful gems, some lesser known and some very popular destinations. The Natural Bridge Beach park in Santa Cruz is one one the more popular gems. It features a small beach area where people can come camp, play, surf etc. But it also features a Natural bridge which adds to the beauty of the area. Some of you wondering what a Natural Bridge is can find more information here ..
Natural Bridge BeachNatural Bridge Beach

Natural Bridges State Beach

These are some of the shots I got on one of the evenings i was there few months back. I have only been there once, but I know I will be going back because this location promises some great light and gorgeous shots, and I don’t want to miss that ūüôā

San Francisco

San Francisco Skyline

“San Francisco has only one drawback. ”Tis hard to leave” ~¬†Rudyard Kipling

Bay Bridge, SF

Bay Bridge (above and below) as seen from the Yerba Buena Island

Bay Bridge, SF

Bay Bridge, SF

“San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.” ~¬†William Saroyan

Lombard Street, SF

Lombard Street Looking up

Lombard Street, SF

Lombard Street, Looking down the Crookedest Street. You can See Coit Tower and Bay Bridge at a distance.

Cable Car

Cable Car (above and below). Crossing of Market ans Powell where the Cable Car Originates from and Stops at. They spin the Cable car for it to start over. The platform below rotates

Cable Car Spin

“You are fortunate to live here. If I were your President, I would levy a tax on you for living in San Francisco!” ~¬†Mikhail Gorbachev

Coit Tower

Coit Tower

Golden Gae Bridge

San Francisco as seen from the Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands

The Other side of Marin Headlands.

Painted Ladies, SF

Painted Ladies.

The ultimate travel destination for me would be one perfect day in San Francisco. There’s no city like it anywhere.” Larry King

Got Milky Way?

I have recently started to shoot the night sky and I am quite loving it. Having a nice foreground and the milky way over that foreground adds a lot drama to the image. Moreover, your audience gets to experience something unique and different. Its quite fascinating actually for both me and the person looking at that image. Its not your everyday photography subject, and historically human race has always been fascinated by the night sky and the stars.

It is not that difficult to shoot the night sky, just a few details to keep in mind:

a. Make sure obviously its dark/night
b. You are far away from the city, that causes a lot of light pollution and makes it difficult to photograph.
c. Carry a tripod. You will have min of 30 sec exposure. Can be less to depending on the situation
d. use a wide angle lens, rotate the lens till it is set to the “infinity” sign
e. set your ISO to minimum of 1500 and you can go upto around 6000
f. Depending on your ISO you can vary your shutter, its a hit and trial.
g. But how do you know where to aim the camera? There are a lot of apps out there. but if you are like me and don’t want to download, then just aim the camera at different angles to wards the sky till you find it. Generally takes 2-3 tries at the most. In my experience, I am generally able to see a faint white-ish/cloudy line in the sky. But that depends on your location. I made the images below in National Parks, where there is no light pollution, dust or anything to ruin the shot.

All you gotta do know is to press that shutter, Oh! you might need a cable release. ENJOY !!

Milky Way at Sequoia National ParkLonger the Shutter ( lets say 30 sec or more) you will lose the sharp dots/stars.

Milky Way at Sequoia National Park
Milky Way at Sequoia National Park

Quick as a Wink ;-)

To keep it simple the trick is to keep a long exposure. But that would work in low-light conditions so adjust the shutter accordingly. You cannot predict when the next lightning will strike and its so quick that you can’t keep your hand on the shutter and coincide your click with it. But what happens with the long exposure (10-30 sec or even in bulb mode) is that the shutter is open long enough to catch one if it strikes again in that 20-30 seconds. If you are lucky you can get multiple lightning strikes in that 1 exposure.

Lightening, NJ

Lightening, NJ

Lightening, NJ

So go out, take some shots BUT REMEMBER to keep yourself safe, needless to say thunder storms and lightning can be very dangerous. As you can see I kept myself safe by not staying out for too long.. hence not too many of them.

Different Perspective

You see an interesting subject, you take a photo.

Do you take time to explore the subject?
how do you figure you have the best possible composition?
How many photos of the same subject are enough?

Some you can answer accurately some answers are vague. Based on your audience, based on the time you have and many such factors you can answer these questions.

Drift Wood

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

Drift Wood

The above three image are pretty much the same in nature yet have different perspective, they are shot both in landscape and portrait. And the subject are aligned slightly differently in every composition.

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

The above two were shot using a telephoto lens. I zoomed in and out to isolate my subjects. In one I used the beach as the leading line to the tree. In the other I zoomed in to the tree and isolated it from any distractions.

Parliament, Ottawa,CA

Parliament hill, Ottawa, CA

The two above are shot at the Parliament Hill in Ottawa, CA. I used a wide angle lens (Sigma 10-20mm). The lens distortion in itself created these two different images.

 

Telephoto Landscapes

My Ideal choice for ¬†landscape photograph is a wide angle lens like a Sigma 10-20mm or may be even a Nikor 18-50mm. However there is no hard and fast rule that you need to use such lenses all the time for the landscape shots. Sometimes you need to look further, probably because the colors in the sky are changing fast and you can’t run to a good spot fast enough. May be sometimes you want to close in to a composition which would make more sense in a tight crop. Depending on whatever your reasons are don’t be afraid to use a telephoto lens.

Example:-

BadExample

In the Image above you can see I don’t have a great composition. So I decided to switch the lens to a Nikor 70-300mm and composed the shot below taking in to consideration now the curve you see in the center and the tree at the end of the curve line. (marked by a red arrow.)

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

 

And then I walked up to the spot on the right to get another perspective and got the shot below.

Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

 

Give it a try.. and let me know how it went .. ūüôā

Dealing with Harsh Light

The top advise you would get from the pros is to shoot a landscape during the Golden Hours. This makes a lot of sense because during that time you get soft light, deep colors at the horizon, and on a cloudy day you get more dramatic results. One may not always be in a good location during the sunset or the sunrise, and that time the light can really be very harsh, thus resulting in not so exciting images.

Having said that you can still tame the light to a good extent, and make some good images. A few things I do to get the image I want during the day light are:-

a. Use a ND Filter (I use . 6 and have 2 of them, you get .10 as well)
b. I aim to shoot B&W if possible.
c. HDR – this s a very good technique and there are plenty of tools in the market like Photomatix, Oloneo, ¬†etc. I prefer to use HDR efex pro. I like it mainly because it has plenty of presets and I¬†personally don’t like over the top surreal looking images and this tool helps me keep my image as real as possible. Also check out Jay Patel’s iHDR technique.
d. Shoot subjects if they are under shadow of a bigger object.
e. Always shoot with very low exposure, its easy to retrieve image in post processing specially if you shoot in RAW.

Here are a few examples :-

X-9763Yosemite

YosemiteThe Above two shots are from Yosemite NP. It was shot around 1 or 2 pm in the afternoon. I used the HDR software to create these final images.

Savage River,DenaliThis shot is of Savage River trail entrance in Denali NP, Alaska. Shot it around 3-4pm, I envisioned a B&W for this one.

StoneHengeStone Henge, again shot around 3pm. I kept very low exposure, and in Lightroom I recovered the details.

Horse Tail FallsYosemite again, if you have been here you know the waterfall. There was a large overcast on the fall from the side walls, I zoomed in using my Telephoto making sure not to get any part with sunlight falling on it.

Sandy Hook Beach, NJThis I made in Sandy Hook Beach, NJ. I used a ND filter which allowed my to keep a slightly longer shutter speed.

Kaaterskill Fall

The image above is of Katerskill Falls in NY. I waited for the Clouds to cover the Sun, giving me a few seconds to take this shot while there was a small overcast.