Thursday, April 3, 2014

Anza Borrego Camping

So this was the first solo camping trip J and went on. The JJ's couldn't go due to work stuff so we headed out Saturday morning to Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Since we couldn't check in until around 2pm, we headed over to the visitor center to get some general information. They were saying that wildflowers were scarce this year, as they have been for the past few years.

We stopped by Carlee's Bar and Grill for lunch...typical American bar food but it was packed since it was still peak season and there aren't too many places to eat in Borrego Springs. After lunch we headed over to the campsite to unpack and setup. The site itself was nice and came with a shaded bench...just not as secluded as we would have liked.

We spent a few hours driving around looking for the locations of the Ricardo Breceda sculptures. We also drove out to Clark's Dry Lake bed. I'll be back one day to take some landscape pictures of the crack patterns and the mountains. Kinda reminds me of badwater in Death Valley, but the patterns in Anza Borrego are from the dry mud.

We cooked up an early dinner and brought it out to Font's Point. This is a popular sunrise/sunset spot, but only accessible by driving 4 miles out on a sandy/bumpy wash. Most guides recommend 4WD as it can be easy to get stuck in the soft sand, but my high clearance Tacoma had no issues getting out there. When we got to the parking lot it was PACKED so we had to try pulling over on the side of the road. I tried backing up on a sandy incline and ended up getting my wheel stuck. Another passenger saw me stuck, so pulled in front of me so I could attach my strap for him to pull me out of the hole. Out of all the places to get stuck, it was near the parking lot haha.

Font's Point looks out East and most of the clouds didn't light up for sunset that way. I was running around taking pics from various angles.

Jaime taking pics of me...

The patterns and textures of the badlands caused by the rain and wind are pretty cool. Lots of shapes and lots of different colors.

I took one right before the sun dipped behind the mountain.

I also took a panoramic closer to sunset.

I'll have to come back here for sunrise and some milky way shots next time. Kinda sketchy trying to navigate the 4 miles of dirt road in the dark tho. If we came back later in the year, the milky way is best after sunset so maybe I'll go before sunset and hang around until later in the night.

We ended up bringing dinner back to the campsite and eating once we left Font's Point.

Crappy pic of our dinner...Bratwursts, chips, and veggies.

Marshmallows and s'mores for desert!

We headed to bed early, but were woken up by the strong wind that came in overnight. It was pretty much blowing the tent so hard it was knocking us in the basically we only got a few hours of sleep. Since I was up around 3am anyway I checked the sky and the clouds were still pretty thick and the Milky Way wasn't visible so I skipped going out.

The next morning, we had to cook breakfast on the camp chef in the bed of my Tacoma to block the wind as it was still strong. We had to eat in the car too. Everything not being held down or anchored down pretty much blew away. After breakfast, we walked over to the Palm Canyon trail, a 3-mile hike that leads to one of the largest palm oasis in California.

The hike isn't bad...relatively flat, just un-shaded for the most part.

We headed back to camp to eat a quick lunch and headed back out in search of some other sculptures that we didn't get to visit the first time around.

So Jaime had this idea where she wanted to find a statue where I could back my car up to look like it was chasing us. One of the dinosaurs called the Spinosaurus was a good candidate so we waited until the pull out was free and I backed in.

We then did some other random crap. First one was Jaime on by back running away.

Second one was suppose to be us running away, but Jaime ruined the trio. She said she looked over at me and started busting up instead. So there I was running away, while she was just standing there laughing...

We visited a few other sculptures and spotted the one I knew I wanted to come back for Milky Way shots then headed back into town. We stopped off at the ice cream shop. I had some mocha almond ice cream and J had a root beer float

The strong wind blew all the clouds away so I didn't go out for sunset. So we hung around the site a bit. We had to cook dinner and eat in the truck again...hamburgers this time.

Wind seemed to pickup even more so we didn't make a fire. Luckily it wasn't cold and we just relaxed in the car. The wind was so strong it was shaking the car. We moved the tent behind the car to see if it would block the wind but no dice. So we decided to sleep in the car that night...or at least try. I couldn't sleep at all and by the time 3:30am rolled around I was already up. The wind cleared up the sky nicely so I took off to take some Milky Way pics. I posted these already, but these were my favorites:

I'm just glad I was able to get out one of the mornings to take some shots. Still want to come back for more from other locations.

I headed back to camp a bit before sunrise around 6 and got a little bit of sleep. We woke up to pretty much no wind, no clouds, and just a beautiful morning.

We cooked the classic: bagel hashbrown and a fried egg.

We packed up and made our way home. All in all another good camping trip. We'll be in San Francisco next month. I have some spots lined up that I want to take pics from so here's hoping for some nice photo weather.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Anza Borrego light painting

In addition to the silhouette shots I posted yesterday, I also did a round of shots with light painting. I haven't used this technique very much and it's a bit of hit and miss for me. I either end up painting it too long blowing out the exposure, or not enough. I only kept two that I liked and edited them.

One was the serpent, which is really cool as a silhouette as well.

The last one I did was at the location when I was near the Dinosaur statutes. One of them looks really cool and is staring down on you, so I incorporated this solo statue into my shot.

I'll post the rest of the trip soon.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Anza Borrego Silhouette Starscapes

So J and I came back yesterday from a 3-day camping trip to Anza Borrego Desert State Park. We did a bit of hiking and driving around to explore different places since the first time we came last year it was way too hot to do anything.

I'm still in the process of editing everything and I'll post the day to day once I finish. I started editing my astrophotography shots as I was excited to see how they came out.

The Milky Way is best seen pre-dawn in March/April so I knew I was in for a short night. The first night I woke up around 3:30am but the sky was hazy and cloudy so I decided not to go out. The second night however was crystal clear from the strong wind that pretty much blew everything away.

I was out in Borrego Springs around 4am shooting the Milky Way against the man made sculptures made by Ricardo Breceda. These things are scattered all across the park, some right off the road and some further in on dirt roads.

My first instinct was to get a silhouette of the sculptures. I was able to get to three of them before the sun started coming up. The first two are pretty close together and right off the road.

There was another close one of the bighorn sheep but the road they were on was closed and I didn't want to hike to them. So instead I drove south to the dinosaur sculptures that are off a dirt road. Was a bit hard to navigate there in the dark, but managed to find my way ok.

I framed this one to look like the dinosaur was eating the Milky Way.

I also did a round with some light painting with my headlamp, which was a bit of hit or miss as I haven't done too much light painting. I'll probably edit those next so I'll post them when I do.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Britannica Award Winner

The 2013 Witness to Nature winner was announced. Looks like I missed the grand prize, and the chance at $1,000 but was listed as a Britannica Award Winner. I believe these winners get a small prize check plus publication in Encyclopedia Britannica Online. This was the photo chosen, from the Salt Flats at Death Valley.

Badwater salt flats sunset death valley

I guess the award can go towards my yearly site fee. I'll try again next year. Makes me want to go back to Death Valley for some night shots in the dunes. Maybe a detour next time I'm in Mammoth.

In other news I'll be in the next issue of Nikon's N-photo magazine in the "photo story" section. I did a small blurb on panoramic images with 4 past pics from my archives that should be on a full page spread. I'll link it here when it goes out for sale next month.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography

Monday, March 24, 2014

Food and fotos - Los Angeles

Food and fotos...probably what my blog should be called as that's all I post about. Anyway, we headed into LA on Saturday to check out Tsujita from the recommendation of my parents. My dad said it was the best Tsukemen he's had and it was featured on David Chang's The Mind of a Chef.

Got there at 10:45 before they opened, and by 10:50 people started lining up. I got the Tsukemen, and J got the ramen. Ramen was average, we've had better but the Tsukemen was awesome.

There are a few other places on that same block we need to try, PUA and Seoul Sausage so we'll be going back out that way soon. Bachi burger is also opening up down the street, so we'll probably check that out when it opens.

We went to Blockheads after lunch for some shaved ice cream. We split a strawberry/original. Still haven't tried the shave at Boiling Point, and I don't know if we ever will. Last time we went, they said they have been out for a few months. Don't know if I want to sit through that crappy service again either.

In an effort to re-shoot some of my previous photos with better light, I went back into LA for some photos at blue hour. I ended up settling on the 3rd street bridge overlooking the 110 freeway where the on/off ramp leads up towards the city.

Had to get lucky and hoped cars took the ramps as my shutter was open. Got this one around the peak of blue hour, single exposure.
Blue hour downtown Los Angeles from the 3rd street 110 freeway overpass

The blue turns to black pretty quick, so I had to come back Sunday night as I wanted to take others from the 4th street bridge.

When I came back Sunday, there was already someone lined up where I wanted to shoot, but luckily he moved around to different locations so I jumped in and setup for blue hour. I like this perspective through the gap that shows the cars below. I had a light at my back so the shadow was inevitable.

4th street 110 overlook Downtown Los Angeles

Another from across the street looking a bit left of the first location 4th street bridge Downtown Los Angeles

And a final shot showing where I stood for my first shot, which I included the railing I shot over. You can see the sky already lost all of its color by this time, but the streaking clouds still made it a bit interesting.

All single exposures, so hard to manage the dynamic range from the darks to the building lights but they managed to come out pretty good.

We'll be in Anza Borrego this weekend...hopefully get to see some dark skies to add to my Milky Way shot collection.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography

Friday, March 7, 2014

More from Los Angeles

I was out and about again during the recent storm trying to get some good clear shots of Los Angeles. Went back to the Hollywood Hills behind the Griffith Observatory to get some shots of the observatory and the LA skyline. This is not the best location for sunset as I am looking out SE, so unless the sky is bursting with color it's a much better sunrise location. However, I wanted to get a few blue hour shots so I hung around for about 30 mins after sunset to get these:

Griffith Observatory car trails and Los Angeles

Los Angeles blue hour and Griffith Observatory

I also spent some time at Kenneth Hahn park trying to get a view of the San Gabriel's and the skyline. Weather didn't cooperate very much and I never got a clear view. One morning that I went for sunrise, there was some real nice light and I snapped this as soon as the sun came up and beamed over the city.

Still looking for some good vantage points of Los Angeles. I'll probably explore Elysian park next and possibly retake a shot with the 110 freeway leading into downtown.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Foggy Los Angeles

I've been trying to get a few shots of Los Angeles recently. One being from Kenneth Hahn park with the San Gabriel's in the background. I went after a night of light rain for sunrise but the whole city was fogged over. It burned off a little bit after the sun came up to where just the tops of the skyline buildings were showing but never got any better. I took a portrait shot to show the clouds, skyline, and some of the city below for scale.

I'll go back next time we have a storm.

I've also been trying to get one from the Hollywood hills behind the Griffith Observatory. Using a telephoto lens, it gives the perspective that the city skyline is close, which is really a few miles away. I'll have to go back here too on the next storm.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography