Monday, October 31, 2011

Vineyard Silhouettes

Light - seeing, studying, chasing - its the reason photographers get up at ungodly hours to go make photographs. Early morning light is stunning.  A couple of weeks ago I shared a photo from my early morning shoot at Red Soles Winery (see that post here) but there were a few other photos from that morning that are also worth posting. It has taken me awhile to sort through and edit all of my images from that intense week of photography bliss also known as the California Photo Festival!

I love the contrast of the silhouetted vines against the intense colors of sunrise.

Have a wonderful week and don't forget that Thirty Days of Thanksgiving starts TOMORROW!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


One of the most unique (and unexpectedly enjoyable) photo shoot workshops I attended at the California Photo Festival was the Critters! class with Jennifer Wu and Dennis Sheridan's Critters. In general I'm not a fan of creepy crawly things but I had a blast photographing lizards and frogs! I kept my distance from the spiders and scorpions, though.

Here are a few of my favorites - I loved capturing each critter's personality and the detail in their eyes. It was fascinating!

This guy was my buddy - his eyes followed me around the room. Aren't his colors & details awesome?

Ornate Horned Frog

Sonoran Desert Toad
These frogs were hilarious - so Kermit!

Aren't they fun?!

I was fortunate to be able to borrow a 60mm Macro lens for this shoot. I learned that I'm not really afraid of lizards and frogs. For many of these shots I was in their faces - literally inches away from them. I surprised myself!

Initially I wasn't keen on going to this shoot - between the creepy crawly's and not having a macro lens I didn't think I'd have much fun, but between borrowing a lens and getting to interact with the lizards & froggies, I had a blast!

Finally, don't forget that Thirty Days of Thanksgiving starts in two short days! Get ready to count your blessings!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Learning more about HDR

One of the things I learned the most about at the California Photo Festival was HDR (I talked a bit about HDR in this post last year).  I took classes from Rick Sammon and Hal Schmitt on the subject and came away with new (to me) ideas and techniques for improving my photos. Here are a few that really made a difference for me:
  • Bracketing at -2, 0, +2 isn't usually adequate
  • Manually bracket to get the right amount of frames for the given scene
  • Watch the histogram so that the darkest shot isn't clipping any highlights and the brightest shot isn't clipping any shadows
  • Photomatix Pro is what the pros use to process their HDR shots - and the technology has come a long way!
These photographs were taken at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards. Their old rusty truck was just begging to be an HDR subject! The first photo is also my Photo of the Week (hosted by Jessica Rogers Photo).

HDR is so much fun! I'm really enjoying making more realistic looking images, although the painterly style is fun too, with the right subject. With this old truck I tried to strike a balance between real and surreal and I like the effect. What do you think?

By the way, Kelsey See Canyon has great wine! Their Black Box Zin was my favorite and their apple cider blends are unique.

Finally - don't forget that Thirty Days of Thanksgiving starts on November 1, 2011! I'd love if you'd join me in this challenge.  Click here for more info on how to participate.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Get ready to count your blesssings!

If you've been following my blog for the last couple of years (or longer) you know that I started an annual feature two years ago called 30 Days of Thanksgiving (TDOT) - my way of participating in NaBloPoMo each November. (2010, 2009)

Each day in November I post at least one thing I am thankful for and I want you to join me in this challenge! Here is how it works:
That is it! I hope you will join me in this challenge. It has been a very fulfilling project for me and keeps me focused on how good life is!

Cayucos at Sunset

My first photo shoot during the California Photo Festival was at the Cayucos Pier at sunset with Juan Pons and Rob SheppardI already shared one of my photos from this shoot last week, but I have a few more that I love and thought you might like to see.

Cayucos Pier with the Morro Rock in the distance

Cayucos Pier with the Morro Bay Smoke Stacks in the distance

I had more fun the darker it got - the colors intensified, the silhouettes became more defined, and the slower shutter speeds allowed for a lovely smooth water effect. I could have stayed well past dark, but I had a dinner to get to with Rick Sammon. Shooting with pros, dining with pros, I learned so much and had a blast!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Digital photography presents limitless options in creating art. When I shoot a photo I often have a vision of what I want for the final image.  However, as I move through my post-processing workflow my vision evolves. Sometimes I end up with two, three, or even more versions of a single photo.

This is where I find myself this morning - with two versions of the same photo from my Horses on the Beach shoot at the California Photo Festival. I would like to know what you, my readers, think.

Color or Black & White?

Which do you prefer & why? Cast you vote in the comments or on Facebook!

Horses on the Beach

On of my favorite photo shoots of the California Photo Festival was Horses on the Beach.  Imagine 200+ photographers lined up on the Morro Bay Strand photographing at sunset as horses gallop by. It was stunning!

I was honored to be in a group where I received instruction from Rick Sammon, Hal Schmitt, Parish Kohanim, & Juan Pons - a truly amazing lineup of instructors! Perhaps with such great teachers its no surprise that I had a hard time narrowing down 611 frames and deciding which ones to share here.

So, what do you think? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Morning Light

The California Photo Festival was a fantastic experience! It inspired and encouraged me to do things with my photography that I'd never done get up at four in the morning to hike up a mountain to capture the sunrise.  If you know me you probably know that:
  1. I'm not a morning person
  2. I'm not a hiker
And yet I found myself climbing to the top of Black Hill by flashlight, with my camera backpack loaded up and my tripod in hand. Yes, I even shocked myself!

Here are a couple of my favorites from that morning:

Sleepy Morro Bay

Sunrise on Black Hill
What I learned:
  1. I CAN get up early AND enjoy it
  2. Morning light is SPECTACULAR