Friday, December 30, 2016

Supermoon over Los Angeles

The supermoon gathering of the year pretty much and everyone had the same idea to shoot from here as the rise lined up perfectly. I loved how the moon look as it came out from behind the San Gabriels and started firing off a bunch as it crept out. A helicopter flew directly in front of the moon, which I captured in this frame and this frame alone. I don’t shoot all that many moon events but this shot is by far my favorite so far. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fall spens with sheep - Mammoth Lakes CA

I’ve seen these sheep in previous years, but these trees are never peaking. Not the case this trip so we pulled over on the 395 on our way home to catch this. I took multiple variations, but the landscape voice in my head wanted the quintessential shot with the sheep, the backlit fall aspens, and the early morning clouds. Kind of a landscape trifecta. Some great shots to end the trip, and another favorite for the year to add to my portfolio.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hot Creek Milky Way - Mammoth lakes

First time visiting this spot, definitely not the last. I knew this vantage lined up perfectly so it was a must stop this year. We came here with almost no light left which is why my foreground exposure is so long. We thought the cloud cover this night would screw up our MW plans but the sky pretty much cleared except for the horizon which gave this shot a cool effect with the light pollution. It also magnified some of the stars giving a dreamier type feel to this shot. I do want to return with clear skies but this one’s still up there for me this year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

That 395 house - Eastern Sierras

My favorite version of this house yet using bushes as leading lines and showing some of the snow capped peaks. The separate foreground exposure was key for that. I probably don’t need to revisit this location for future trips unless I’m bringing someone with me who wants to see it…unless I can catch it all white in winter. Weird to say that as I’ve stopped here every trip for the past 4-5 years. Definitely an iconic house for that region, and glad to have captured this one this year.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Fall milky way - eastern sierras

I’ve wanted a fall aspen Milky Way shot ever since I started shooting astro I just never found a comp that would work well….until I spotted this line up in the loop. The aspen grove lined up perfectly in front of the peak which all faced SW towards the Milky Way. The recent storm dumped a bit of snow on the peak which was perfect. To really compress the scene, I used the 50mm which I’ve never done with stars before but after processing this it turned out to be one of my favorite Milky Way images I’ve ever shot. As a note always keep in mind the rule of 500, so if you are using a longer focal length you must reduce your shutter speed to avoid stars trailing due to the rotation of the earth, unless you are using a tracking device. I’ll be looking to try this again next year when I return.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Eastern Sierras Fall Aspen Lookup

I always search for a good lookup shot every year when I head up here. We were a bit late this year tho, and a lot of the grand scenes were past peak so we had to do our part to search out individual groves to shoot. We spotted this one way up on the hillside in the loop and made the hike up to it. Wasn’t an easy task getting into the thick of it but after getting here and looking up at this shot, it was worth it. We took some time to just relax here and eat our lunch, enjoying the breeze rustling through the aspens. You know I had to add the burst in for good measure.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Petroglyphs and milky way - Eastern Sierras

The same location as the last shot but faced the other way towards the MW. Isn’t that the coolest thing that you can face one way towards Polaris and the other towards the MW all while having some great Petroglyphs as a foreground element? I shot a version of this last year but felt I made a few errors and used this year as redemption for these shots. Thousands of year old rock art with some of the oldest stars in the galaxy dating back a billion years makes you appreciate a scene such as this.

Friday, December 23, 2016

eastern sierra petroglyphs and startrails

The absolute coolest location in this region in my opinion. A bit of history mixed with a bit of astronomy. I had this one envisioned for a while but this was the first year I was able to pull it off due to not being here solo and not having clouds roll in blocking the stars. The human element sitting on the petroglyphs tells a story of discovery, as these rock patterns date back thousands of years when a culture inhabited the area. It also helped with adding foreground light to the cluster of petroglyphs. A definite top contender for this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Seattle twilight plus sunset

A creative shot and a first for me, combining a sunset burn with car trails and city lights from twilight. Seattle has an electric vibe to it and this shot portrays my vision of the city perfectly. I love the city vs. nature contrast and how the freeway winds through the greenery. Took a bit of cleanup work to blend the two but I feel it paid off, putting this up there as one of my favorite shots of the year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Golden Hour - Jose Rizal Bridge sunset Seattle

A redemption shot from when I visited here a few years back. I made sure to get out here for sunset as the sky was looking nice and it sure paid off. When I think of golden hour I think of this shot. Just that nice warm light pouring onto the entire scene. I emphasized the sunburst to add that final touch to this shot. While you may not have that fire burn during golden hour, the soft light is a great tradeoff.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Seattle sunrise - Alki Beach

One of the coolest looking sunsets I saw on my trip to Seattle. Almost looked like a hand coming out from the city. I was hesitant about getting up and coming all the way out here but I’m sure glad I didn’t oversleep this one. I always enjoy shooting city skylines over a body of water as we don’t really see that here in LA. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Malibu sun rays at sunset

I shot a version of this a few years ago. The rays that beam through the mountain ridges are amazing given the right conditions. My perfect shot from here would look like this with a layer of low fog below but I’ve never seen the fog get this far down in the valley. This was during the Sand Fires and the sky was crazy smoky. Even the sun had a hard time breaking through the thickness. As it got close to the horizon, the rays started forming and shined some nice light down in the valley. The smoke created some deep yellows and oranges in the sky. Definitely doesn’t look like a scene from Los Angeles County and the uniqueness is why it’s in my top 2016.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

San Francisco bay bridge twilight

As a non-SF resident I’ve seen this shot so many times and always wanted to shoot it. In my mind, it doesn’t matter if it’s an over shot location if I can 1. Have a shot to call my own and 2. Get to experience it for myself and bank that memory forever. The 20mm 1.8 has some real nice starbursts so I went wide with this one, stopped down, and really emphasized the bursts in this version of the shot. This was the shot I came here wanting so I waited until the final stages of twilight to capture this when the sky was a nice deep blue.

Friday, December 16, 2016

fireworks from los angeles - skyspace LA opening

This was a gamble of a shot. We knew there would be fireworks for the grand opening of Skyspace LA, but just weren’t sure where they would fire from. I set this diagonal comp up from this classic location and we waited for the sun to go down. Once the fireworks started shooting from the top of the US bank tower, I couldn’t believe our luck. The show was short but sweet and I came away with this. Who knows if they will ever fire off fireworks from this spot again. If not, I’m definitely glad I was able to capture this and it’s a treasure in my cityscape portfolio. We even joked about not really having any good shots from this location from the handful of time we’ve been here. Glad I no longer have to say that.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Malibu foggy sunset

Another shot I wanted to catch from here was the fog rolling over the mountains at sunset. I came here quite a few times from June-July. The fog was in a good place for this comp and at a good height level as it was kinda stuck in a pocket between the mountains in the back and the hill with the house in front so I zoomed in to compress it. Slowing the shutter down for fog gives the sense of movement and I also caught a car winding down the road. The thin fog trickling down to the road helped give the car trails a bit of glow while the sky seemed to burn well after sunset.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Malibu ridge pano with fog and milky way

Doesn’t matter how many times this place is shot, seeing the fog build up in the canyon is special to see. Not to mention that you can see the Milky Way from here being right next to Santa Monica and not too far from Los Angeles. The “June gloom” months are the best time to see it. This is one of my favorite panoramic images to date which isn’t saying much as I don’t shoot too many of them. This is a 2-row pano consisting of 4-5 shots each row for a total of around 10 shots. I took this one as the fog almost engulfed the valley but the glow from Malibu Canyon Road still shined through. You can see the full shot in the pano section of my website. As a note for stargazers, the stars and MW will never be as bright here compared to places inland or more remote areas. Most of the time the MW is very faint to the naked eye but the camera’s sensor will pick it up with a high ISO.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park startrails

There is something satisfying about thinking up a comp in your head and then coming out and executing it and seeing the final result. That was the case here as we wanted to use these old mill tracks for this shot. The original plan was to have the light up high in the sky, but we figured it would be better painting the tracks instead so it was held low. Having the static subject against the trails really brings a sense of motion to this shot that I love.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

White tank campground - Joshua Tree National Park Milky Way

There’s a lot of interesting rock formations beyond the much photographed Arch Rock. I walked down this path in the dark as the big boulders were like walls on both sides so I thought it would be cool to show this path in the frame. I knew I would need to focus stack but this is also the first time I also started using a smart layer mean stack to really help reduce noise. The leading line of the path really draws your eye out towards the Milky Way and the way this comp worked out is why it is one of my favorites.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lone Juniper and Balanced Rock - Joshua Tree National Park

The illusion of the smaller rock under the juniper tree from this angle is something very cool and I prefer it to having the two subjects side by side. I brought the 14-24 here so I could really get up close to the root system coming out of the rocks to show the details of it. I probably waited a few hours for the Milky Way to align after snapping a foreground shot. At the time I wanted to wait longer until it was clear of the tree, but I ended up liking it this way sort of a play on the tree hunched over carrying the Milky Way. The green airglow was just a bonus to making this shot a favorite of the year.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Anza Borrego dinosaur and milky way

I originally shot this in 2014 with my D7000 and Tokina 11-16. It was a single exposure focused on the dinosaur and the stars were not pinpoint sharp. Advancing my astro techniques over the years I wanted to retake this with my full frame and utilize focus stacking to ensure both the dino and the stars were sharp. The new version portrays the shot I wanted as I have a pet peeve about stars being slightly out of focus. I like this comp and how the dino is right in your face. A very cool structure by a very talented artist.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Anza Borrego startrails - bighorn sheep

It’s definitely a treat if you spot any bighorn sheep around the park. It’s the first thing that pops in my head when you mention Anza Borrego and that’s why I love the sculptures of them. The way they are posing called out for a startrail shot to add that element of star motion to the frozen sheep. In this version I kept the sheep a silhouette to really contrast against the statrails. I also used more star files to really make the trails bright to enhance that contrast. Polaris was lined up between them to keep a symmetrical feel to the shot.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

6th Street Bridge Los Angeles

The death of an iconic structure that has been in so many shows, movies, shoots, etc. There is beauty in everything, even destruction and I wanted to show it in this shot. I contemplated showing more of the freeway from the huge gap in the bridge, but ended up focusing on the rubble instead. More of a historically significant shot as the original structure will only live on through pics and memories but a very important part of this year.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sunset watching couple - Hilltop Park Signal Hill

This was just a right place right time moment. This sunset burned so long that it was still firing as the city lights came on. I love catching pics of people capturing the moment as I feel it tells a different kind of story than just a standard landscape shot. I knew this spot would be a perfect location to get some nice bokeh but the burning sky and sunset watching couple sealed the deal on this one for me.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pink vibes - Los Angeles sunset

This is one of my favorite views of Los Angeles as it combines 2 of my favorite things to shoot; landscapes and cityscapes. You can only get this view after a nice winter storm so the opportunity window each year narrows down to a few months. In addition you need low smog and a nice sunset to color the sky. The sky this night lit up in every direction and you can even see some of the fire reflecting off the buildings. I’ve been here maybe 15 times for both sunrise and sunset looking for this shot and this is the closest to ideal conditions that I’ve been able to see. I’ll still be chasing this shot year after year until I can, in my mind, get that one perfect shot.