Repost on Fireworks

Sorry for the long absence.  Some of you know I’ve had some “issues” with various joints, especially my legs, since my play time with the Army in the late 1960s. Over the least couple of years one shoulder and a wrist have been attended to but the elephant in the room has always been my knees.  Finally, one of them simply failed completely.  Spring semester saw me go from painful walking to painful walking with a walking stick to…walking in deep pain while looking like Walter Brennan on a bad leg day.  There was no position I could be in that did not hurt… standing, sitting, lying down, life quality was diminishing fast so it was time to do something.  So last week I had the worst of the knees totally replaced .

I can tell you categorically we are not — NOT — having fun yet!  But with the Bristlecone Pines workshop coming up in August I was rapidly running way short on maneuvering room.  Among the things falling through the cracks were this blog.  I have several posts almost written but have been unable to shoot the illustrations and photos   I was also able to complete the mandated Online Certification Course and in Fall 2016 will begin some online offerings at City.  These are not “tutorials” or what we used to call “correspondence” classes which are largely asynchronous presentations like enhanced versions of the “How-to” and demo presentations or “canned” lectures.  The State mandates that if we are to give credit bearing courses they must, as closely as possible, provide student-teacher interactions and feedback simulating the classroom environment.

Meantime the 4th of July is coming up with grilling out, fireworks, parties, etc. so here is the link to a previous post on shooting fireworks that should make sure you get some good images after the BBQs… which I WILL MISS!!!!!

https://ndktravels.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/photographing-fireworks/

I’m assured by many that these first 2 weeks are the hard ones then it begins to accelerate getting better.  I am SOOOO ready for that next phase I can hardly tell you.  There is much to do to get ready for Fall semester with new presentations, etc. So hopefully in a week or so I’ll be back on schedule with this blog.  Thanks for your patience.

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TWO OLD CAMERAS… Painted with Light

This past Tuesday I did a demo for the lighting class at City College involving Painting With Light.  There are several photo techniques that go by that name but the one used by product shooters and photo illustrators involves taking a (relatively) small light and carefully “painting” the subject/object with light from various angles, mostly the sides and back then combining those separate shots into a single one.

Light may spill over onto the front surfaces but it almost always comes from the side, raking across the front surface.  this allows for the texture and surface detail to really stand out and not risk flattening it as would happen with normal lighting and a fill.  The result is a unique look with loads of detail and contrast and often, lighting that could have only been accomplished with normal studio lights if there was actually a light in the shot.

By taking multiple shots, stacking them as layers, and only using the parts of each shot/layer needed, lights in the shot (and occasionally the photographer in the shot) can easily be eliminated.  Over the past few years you’ve seen several examples I’ve posted here of both still life and even landscape images created and lit in this fashion.  This time I used a small table top still life composed of two old Kodak cameras and an old Weston meter.  It was set up in a studio.  The composition is a little loose but I wanted to leave space so that during the demo I could show various ways of moving the light around to pick out specific areas

This first shot below is of the arrangement simply shot with the overhead lights.  This lets you see what will be the item(s) to be rendered.  To make sure the camera didn’t move it is mounted on a heavy camera stand.  If you are using a normal tripod you must take special care to avoid moving the camera AT ALL or it will be an incredible pain to line up.  Photoshops “Auto-Align” feature will be of little help when the visible parts of each file are in different places with very little overlap.

Basic studio set up for demo.  this is simply seen with the overhead fluorescents.

Basic studio set up for demo. this is simply seen with the overhead fluorescents.

I used a small Cree-powered flashlight as the only light source.  The shot is against a black backdrop.  Moving around the set-up and taking exposures with the light covering individual spots on the cameras, I worked my way starting on camera left and ending on camera right.  The shots were all taken with a Canon 5DSr and a 24mm Tilt Shift lens.  Each frame was at f11 @ 5 seconds.  I prefer to work with longer exposures to give me more time with the light but the flashlight was simply too bright.

I had intended to bring a normal AA cell flashlight from home but forgot and had to use the light I carry in my school briefcase.  In the light plot below, the lights are there just to indicate the arc around the set up I generally followed in lighting it.  I also took a couple of shots with the light spilling over from the top.  In all I took about 24 separate frames.

Light plot for demo.  The light, a flashlight, was moved all around the composition.  In all, 24 shots were taken.

Light plot for demo. The light, a flashlight, was moved all around the composition. In all, 24 shots were taken.

I tend to over shoot when I’m doing this.  I’d rather have frames I do not need instead of discovering a “hole” in the lighting after it is all broken down.  And since this was a demo done in front of students I really did not want to risk not having every possibility covered.  I shot a number of very small angle changes just to be sure.  And because I was talking to them while shooting I lost track and ended up re-shooting some lighting positions I had already taken.

Of the 24 shots I took, I actually only needed 10 of them to assemble the final shot.  The assembly procedure is easy: start with a shot and then layer each successive frame using the “lighten” layer blend mode and a layer mask to delete things undesired such as lights in the shot, light flare, etc.  They almost build themselves.  The issue with this particular shot was too much light, i.e. the width of the beam and the incredible brightness of the Cree LEDs actually worked against me.  Even though I opened up the composition for some room, I could not get in tight without blowing out the exposure; I would have needed to shoot with a neutral density filter…  Oh well, it was the technique I was demo-ing.

Here are a couple examples of the individual shots that were used in the final assembly.

One sample frame with the light coming from the left side.  This is 1 of 24

One sample frame with the light coming from the left side. This is 1 of 24

Here is a sample file with the light coming from the right side. This is frame 12 of 24

Here is a sample file with the light coming from the right side. This is frame 12 of 24

However because of the beam of the flashlight and the small stage, there was a lot of light spill, especially on the wood I used as a base (an old, beat up bottom to an “apple box”) so once the frames were all assembled, I added a curves adjustment for a little more contrast and then took the flattened file and vignetted it to eliminate the too bright light on the base and simulate more of a pool of light.  That resulted in this image…

Final assembly and edit.  Almost done...

Final assembly and edit. Almost done…

But… it was clearly lacking something… and to me it was that boring black background.  So I found a texture shot of an old wall to drop in behind the cameras to create some atmosphere. I blurred it a little to simulate depth of field since the back of the apple box top is starting to go out of focus and a sharp background would have been visually inexplicable.  Here then is the final image with a new background…

Final shot with wall texture.

Final shot with old wall background.  Zoom in (click and click again on the image) to see the fine texture in the leather, bellows, metal, even the wood that is brought out with the strong sidelighting from the PWL technique.. 

In the old days, shooting film, there was no way to stack files as we now do digitally.  So Painting With Light could be done but it was a chore.  You had to plan it out and get it with one long exposure.  You could meter for exposure but you had no way of knowing if your aim and timing was good until you saw the final and then it was too late to fix it.  A device with the improbable name of “Hose Master” was often used for small product work.  It was a fiber optic light source.  Very cool… very frustrating at times though it would have been perfect for this shot and set up.  Now, with digital editing making it practical, this technique is used for all manner of work.  Here are some photographers to research/Google to see Painting with Light at its finest:

  • Harold Ross:  Beautiful still life and landscape work.
  • Eric Curry: Incredible tableaus including a B24 Bomber!
  • Nick Nacca:  A San Diego pro shooter whose work is stunning, as is his website.

Have fun!!!

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Meantime… A Little News…

Yes, yes, I know it has been a long dry spell since the last post.  But things have been a bit chaotic as the District seems to have launched a full-on assault on all non-academic programs with new rules and requirements seemingly designed knowing we could not meet them.  It has been beyond frustrating and taken a major toll on Dave’s and my time and energy… and general outlook.

The interesting news is that in order to try to deal with enrollment mandates we are now seriously planning on gong on-line with some classes.  A Photo 105 this summer as sort of a “proof of concept” and practice run, then next fall we’ll expand a little and grow our way into more and more starting with Photo 143 Beginning Digital.  For me the delightful idea is that if it all actually works (and some of you know we fought this for years) it means we could teach from anywhere we had internet access… ANYWHERE.  Hmmm, for a photographer with a Motorhome that has some real appeal…

The major news is that the data is in on this summer’s workshop to the Ancient Bristlecone Pines forest in the White Mountains of California.  We’ll spend all but the first night in the high altitude research station which is beyond cool.  To see the specifics on it including dates, fees, itinerary, etc., click on the link in the banner at the top of this page.

I’m also working on several new posts — a couple including some lens tests and lighting demo for this blog and a continuation of the “knife” series on my other blog.  But it has been so busy I’ve not had a chance to finish them or do the photos for them either.  Bummer.

Oh well, I wanted to let you all know I was still alive and kicking.  Now back to the battle…

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Boot Demo for Lighting Class 

This week’s assignment for the lighting class was to create a catalog cover shot of something solid and textured. It could be anything but had to be larger than a watch and smaller than a suitcase — basically something that could be shot on a tabletop.  The students were also allowed to add “props” to their composition and would be given extra credit for producing a complete sample layout.  This is an advanced class so they were allowed — and expected — to show their editing skills as well.

For the demonstration, I picked a pair of fancy dress boots, tossed in some western-y props including some spurs, a hat, and a belt, all sitting on a saddle blanket for “flavor.”  A black seamless was used behind the setup.  Based on the items I used, I decided to make this a fantasy cover for a Sheplers™ (a real company specializing in western clothing and gear) special catalog.

The shot was done in the studios at City College during a class demo using our Photogenic grid-mounted mono-lights. It was shot in RAW format with a Canon 5DSr and a Canon 85mm f1.8 lens.  The conversion was in Adobe Camera RAW and editing was done in Photoshop CC 2014 on the computer at my teacher’s station in the classroom.

The light plot contained a KEY LIGHT in a 7” reflector positioned behind and to screen right to create some highlights and shadows from the light raking across the boot’s toe bringing out the texture of the leather.   FILL was provided by a 3’x4’ softbox from front left. A RIM LIGHT and ACCENT LIGHT were added from the back and side screen left.  Specular HIGHLIGHTS to make the leather shine were created from a light placed screen right in front.  Using some flags and other modifiers to more tightly control the lighting would have been called for normally but this demo was not intended to overwhelm students on their first studio product shot so I tried to keep it simple, explaining what each light was to accomplish as it was placed.  Though not as dramatic as is my normal style this is a far easier concept to grasp.  As the class progresses and students gain proficiency and confidence with the lights we’ll play more but for assignment number 1, this will do.

Lighting plot for Boot Demo courtesy of LightingDiagrams.com

Lighting plot for Boot Demo courtesy of LightingDiagrams.com

The first shot below is the conversion directly from Adobe Camera Raw with no editing. The histogram was skewed to the right with specular highlights on or just over the edge.  That allowed more shadow detail and mid-range tonalities to be captured minimizing noise.  It is better to darken selected areas in post as needed than to risk enhancing signal noise if you need to lighten dark noise-filled areas in post.  I would rather have a fairly flat file that captured all of the potential detail.  I can always darken selected areas if I need in post.

This is the shot as it came out of the camera.

This is the shot as it came out of the camera.

That shot was then cropped to the cover dimensions/ratio of 8.5″ x 11″

Step One in the editing process

Step One in the editing process: cropping to layout.

By darkening the items behind the foreground boot, and adding some warm tone. they become less distracting.

Step 3 in the editing process

Step 2 in the editing process, dropping the luminosity around the main boot and warming the surrounding areas a little.

The shot is then tweaked a little to further vignette the foreground, soften the surrounding items to create the effect of a more shallow depth of field so they fight less with the main boot for attention, eliminate some small tonal problems, and then made ready for the text.

Step 3, soften the supporting elements.

Step 3, soften and tweak the supporting elements.

Shepler’s logo is added along with some fantasy text to make the final layout.

Version with Text

Version with Text and layout

The problem for me was that the black background was B O R I N G !!!!!.  So I dragged a texture into it to give it some ‘life.’  I thought I had a good barn wood texture file but it is apparently on another disk at home so this leather-ish look will work for the demo.

Final version with some texture added to the background.

Final version with some texture added to the background.

The difference is subtle but has a major effect on the “feel” of the final piece.

And now it will be time to start planning the next demo…

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Sand Scars and Sunsets

There was only time for one last run out to make some photos before the Spring Semester lands on me with both feet.  I really needed just a breath of fresh air and to see someplace I had not been for quite a while so it was out to the Imperial Sand Dunes near Glamis.  I really did not want to go alone so my shooting partner, Cynthia, agreed to come along.

Unfortunately every dune buggy/ATV driver in this quadrant of the galaxy had the same idea and there was almost no escaping them.  I know the wind will quickly erase the scars of their passing but while we were there the once smooth dunes looked more like the back of some poor wretch being scourged for some awful crime.  The backs of the dunes were slashed open in some places so deep that if they had had any bones they would have been laid bare.  I kept telling myself it doesn’t matter as they will heal themselves quickly.  Indeed by later in the day as we were leaving some of them were already softening as the evening breezes filled them in.  Still…

Additionally the light was mostly from overcast skies and was F L A T !!!!  That light would have worked in some places but it is not all that good for sand dunes.

I took advantage of that to drag out a 35mm film camera I had brought along to shoot a roll of B&W of patterns and details of cracked mud, etc. to give me something to demo for the Photo 100 class the Dean has me teaching.  I’ll process them this week but for the moment I’ve nothing really to show from that.

However,  as the sun was setting a couple of shots called out for attention.  The clouds began to break up over the western horizon and a bit of that golden light streaked through an opening to rim light a bush against an abstract background of dunes and mountains.

As the sun sets it painst shapes and forms on the dunes and desert bushes

As the sun sets it paints shapes and forms on the dunes and desert bushes

Looking the other direction revealed a very unexpected scene.   This sunset was very beautiful.  Not breath-taking-spectacular but soft, pastel, peaceful, and very, very soothing to my spirit, fried by the inanity of school administration seemingly dedicated to killing all non-academic programs including the one Dave and I have worked so hard to create. The breeze was cool as the night temperatures started to fall.  If you stood very, very still you could hear the rustling of the sand pebbles as they scurried like blood cells to repair the wounds in their skin.  The desert can be all things from frightening to incomparably peaceful.  Tonight was one of those peaceful times.  I needed that.  I needed the lesson from that self healing sand.  But while was soaking in that peace, something else caught my eye.

Now usually I watch the riders racing around madly and assume they are oblivious to their surroundings.  But to my surprise a number of riders stopped their vehicles on high spots, shut down the engines, and just drank in the beauty of the scenery.

ATV riders find high dunes to watch the sunset from the Imperial Dunes near Glamis, CA

ATV riders find high spots on the dunes to watch the sunset from the Imperial Dunes near Glamis, CA.  In the foreground you can clearly see their tracks in the sand.

Riders and photographers, sharing a moment and a sense of awe.  Very cool!

One 3-wheeler in mid ground (you have to look close to see him since he is in shadow) and several skylighted on a far dune, all sat and watched almost reverently until the sun had fully set and then fired up their machines and headed back to their camps in the twilight.

And that meant it was time for us to head back to town as well.

Bummer!

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Big Waves II

NOTE:  You can click on some of these photos to see them enlarged.

A few weeks ago I posted some photos of some large surf along Sunset Cliffs.  Yesterday I was at the Ocean Beach Pier with Cynthia Sinclair and Mike Uriel at high tide.  The tide was 6.3 ft above normal and weather conditions out to sea, spawned by El Nino, had further assaulted that water to create very high waves.  Lee Peterson was going to join us but he got waylaid shooting the big water coming on over the Casa Sea Wall in La Jolla and never made it.  You can see his photos on http://www.photographyinparadise.com.  Too bad, it was pretty exciting to see these (for San Diego) giant waves pound this famous pier.

To give you non-Californians an idea of the scene, here is a shot of most of the pier showing its famous “swayback” and a wave scraping along the bottom of the structure.  This was shot with a Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens.  All of my other shots were taken with my Sigma 50-500mm so-called “Bigma” lens.

The Ocean Beach Pier shot with Canon 24mm Tilt Shift lens.

The Ocean Beach Pier shot with Canon 24mm Tilt Shift lens.  As another waves forms the water is drawn back from the shore but it was coming all the way in to where it was splashing against the sea wall.  I had almost gone down onto the beach to shoot but if I had, as the tide continued to rise I would have been knee deep in water.

The original design called for the pier to slightly angle down from the cliff face, where it actually starts out, to the “T” at the end.  But apparently the engineering was not up to the task.  Various stories abound as to the actual cause ranging from a screw up in the initial angle to a construction screw up vis-a-vis the size and positioning of the pilings.  My favorite, however, was that in order to avoid penalties the company that built it tried to convince the city that it was actually an optical illusion…  Now c’mon, admit it, THAT is creative.

I have to be honest here, this is not my first love of topics and subjects.  I came to realize that during this shoot.  Yes, I found the event interesting to watch but visually and emotionally for me it is just splashing water.  Lee has been around and in the ocean pretty much his whole life.  He served on fishing boats and then used and made surfboards, not to mention years as an underwater photographer.  He “gets it” and also the stories behind the scenes; it resonates deep down inside him.  He is able to anticipate the wave action and time his shots accordingly.  I, on the other hand, have no clue and it is largely “candid” event shooting for me which I claim zero skill at doing.

It is the mountains and forests that resonate with me.  Now when I was in New England in the ’60s, the north Atlantic off the coasts of New England, especially Massachusetts and Maine, was like a living, breathing somewhat malevolent behemoth that ceaselessly prowled the area just looking for hapless adventurers to lure into its clutches.  But except for special conditions, the Pacific along the southern California coast is, by comparison, just the shore of a gigantic lake that just happens to go all the way to Japan.

At special times, I admit, it can produce stunning sunset shots that I am drawn to and I love the mists and fogs of the dramatic interface of sea and land along the mid and northern California and Oregon coasts.  But even in those cases, to me, the water is just an interesting supportive visual element in a shot that is actually about something else that DOES speak to me.  Sadly, given the opportunities here in San Diego, as far as a connection with the ocean itself, I am still such a land lubber that once out of sight of land, in those all too brief moments when I’m not leaning over the side feeding the little fishies, the endless expanses of water become alternating moments of unbelievable boredom and stark terror, neither of which I would seek out voluntarily.   I guess I’ve never had the need or motivation (or teacher) before.  But I digress…

Back at the OB pier, meanwhile, I admit that if the waves were topping the pier (as they sometimes do) and washing fishermen and tourists over the pier into the water THAT would have been exciting.  But really, to go out there if waves are crashing over it is just evidence that we need more chlorine in the gene pool.  Besides they close the pier in those conditions… weenies…

However, this was sufficiently interesting so that an army of photographers, including some news photographers, were on hand to catch the scene.

One surfer I watched tried to shoot through the pier on a ferocious wave and missed kissing a piling by inches.  I know, I know, in a miss situation an inch is as good as a mile.  But for me, the only reasonable response was… “more Chlorine please…”  Oh well…  As Mama Gump used to say, “Stupid is as stupid does!”  There is a huge difference between being brave and being foolhardy.

So, even if “splashing water” is all it is for me, then since I was there and had a camera, the question was, what could I do with it photographically?  Since school will be starting in a week or so it occurred to me I could perhaps do some examples for a motion assignment.  And since the close ups were basically blue and white (sky, grey concrete, water, and foam) this might be a good time to play with monochrome (for a digital class) and black and white conversions to show a B&W film class about tonalities.

The water was high enough to touch the bottom of the pier.  It sprayed up on the walkway but a wave never actually went over it while I was there.  However, here is the spray coming out as the huge volume of water in a wave is squeezed under the pier.

As the huge volumes of water in a wave is forced under the pier it squirts out in a powerful spray.

As the huge volumes of water in a wave is forced under the pier it squirts out in a powerful spray. That Cafe out on the pier, by the way, has some GREAT pancakes for breakfasts!

Here are some more details of the cauldron created by the interaction of water, ground, rocks, and pier.

Another tighter shot of the water as it is quezzed under the pier.

Another tighter shot of the water as it is squeezed under the pier.

Looking down through the pilings you can see that "tunnel" is filled with churning water. It was through that maelstrom that the surfer tried to shoot the pier. Brilliant... Not...

Looking down through the pilings you can see that “tunnel” is filled with churning water. It was through that maelstrom that the surfer tried to shoot the pier. Brilliant… Not…

Detail shot of a small wave, most of its energy spent further out, breaking against one of the pilings close to shore.

Detail shot of a small wave, most of its energy spent further out, breaking against one of the pilings close to shore.

Meantime, while I was playing around in Black and White from the sea wall, Cynthia went out on the pier itself to shot from the higher vantage point.  Here is a shot of her out on the pier shooting the surfers (she is in the red sweater in the center of the shot.)  She is in a pretty good position to photograph them from a lot of angles.

As the water shoots and sprays under the pier, Cynthia is photographing surfers trying to ride the foam. She is in the red sweater with the camera more or less in the top center of the shot.

As the water shoots and sprays under the pier, Cynthia is photographing surfers trying to ride the foam. She is in the red sweater with the camera more or less in the top center of the shot.  To understand the situation you need to see this pier under normal conditions where it is standing very high out of the water.

She was also, it turned out, in a great position to capture not only some stunning surfer shots (with some cool wipe outs) but also had a birds eye view of the cauldron at her feet.  With her kind permission, here are a few of her shots.  She, like Lee, really “gets” the ocean and in fact is one of the best ocean sailboat racing photographers out there.  I think these shots illustrate what I was saying by showing the work of someone to whom this environment really speaks.  They tell of the power and violence of these waves as well as any I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot of shots of and from this pier over the last 16 years.

lots of water gaining ground on this surfer about to see if he can surf the foam. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

lots of water gaining ground on this surfer about to see if he can surf the foam. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

I discovered while white water rafting that you can't swim in the foam but the surfer is trying it anyway. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

I discovered while white water rafting years ago that you can’t swim in the foam but the surfer is trying it anyway. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

Poor guy was not quite fast enough. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

Poor guy was not quite fast enough. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

And from another angle, the action is repeated... (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

And from another angle, the action is repeated… (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

... and again... (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

… and again…  Ocean: 20, Surfers: 0 at that point,  (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

 

If the light is just right a vibrant rainbow can form in the spray. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

If the light is just right a vibrant rainbow can form in the spray. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

To get a sense of the power of this water action, from her high viewing angle, you can sense the tons and tons of water crashing on on itself. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

To get a sense of the power of this water action, from her high viewing angle, you can sense the tons and tons of water crashing on on itself. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

The only problem with some of those shots is that they are not mine! But I wanted to use this forum to show some of her work.

I also caught the waves crashing against the sea wall to the south of the pier.  The waves here WERE often going over this wall and soaking the little courtyard area.

Just to the south of the pier is a courtyard surrounded by a sea wall. The waves were easily breaching the wall.

Just to the south of the pier is a courtyard surrounded by a sea wall. The waves were easily breaching the wall.

From her vantage point up on the pier, Cynthia could also see the waves attacking Sunset Cliffs to the south.

Looking south the high waves are again attacking the cliffs to the south, eroding them and inching ever closer to the megabuck homes along the cliffs. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

Looking south the high waves are again attacking the cliffs to the south, eroding them and inching ever closer to the megabuck homes along the cliffs. (c) Cynthia Sinclair 2016, used by permission

So, that was my Tuesday morning at OB. I really want to thank Cynthia for allowing me to show some of her photos from the morning’s shoot.

Now back to more Spring semester prep.  Oh for joy…!!!

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Sunday on the Sunrise Highway

Friday was the last day of the Fall semester.  On Saturday I wrapped presents then had lunch with the photo group in Solana Beach at Chiefs (a GREAT place for lunch and burgers by the way).  Then on Sunday, I went to the local idea of mountains with Cynthia Sinclair.  Mostly I just wanted to get out of town and into some fresh air and wide vistas and did not expect much in the way of images leaping out in front of my cameras.  Just being there would be enough.

But there were some images that must have missed me.  We went along the Sunrise Highway and very soon a nice little overlook to the southeast opened up through the trees and shouted for my attention.

Vista from Sunrise Highway

A view to the southeast from the southern end of the Sunrise Highway in the Cleveland National Forest.  The sunlight through a broken sky picked out various areas to highlight.  The clouds were moving along but quickly the highlights seemed to work for me.

I will be teaching a basic Black and White Film class next semester so also wanted to practice “seeing” in monochrome.   I also wanted to work with duotone and tritone versions of the monochrome images.  I like color, but to be effective the color has to make a major contribution to the “story” of the shot.  If it does not then the color is simply superfluous and possibly even distracting.

And literally straight across the road from the vista above was an embankment where erosion had exposed the ancient boulders revealing an interesting textural pattern.  It was all in earth tones; no color component stood out or contributed to the story.

Rockwall Sunrise Highway

Rocky embankment along the Sunrise Highway in the Cleveland National Forest, California provided a tonal palet, perfect for monochrome and a tritone treatment.

Also laying alongside the roadway was this coyote skeleton, another natural for a monochrome image.

Coyote Bones

The remains of a coyote alongside the Sunrise Highway in the Cleveland National Forest, CA

So I assumed monochrome was going to now be the approach du jour. Those sneaky images, however, have a way of making their own demands on a photographer.  Some backlit leaves, bravely hanging on against winter’s icy blasts jumped out at me.  But the color seemed important.  I tried a B&W version but it did not really work like the warm leaves against the background snowy hillside.

Persistence

Despite cold winds, a few leaves refuse to succumb to the winter’s assault such as these Oaks along the Sunrise Highway, in the Cleveland National Forest, California

And then we stopped at a little side road ostensibly to photograph some burned out trees. But what captured my attention most was on the forest floor.  The wind was blowing the ice off of the trees and here small ice crystals and some snow formed a powdered sugar-like frosting on the thick layers of fallen leaves.  Alas for best made plans, this image was OK in monochrome but to me worked best in color.

Leaves and Ice

Ice blown from the trees puts a frosting on the leaves on the forest floor. Taken along the Sunrise Highway in Cleveland National Forest, California

And then it was time to head back to the city.  But as soon as I get all my grades in and Christmas has mercifully melted back into the calendar for another year, I have almost a month available to… to… prep for next semester… oh boy.  Maybe at least one photo trip will be possible…

 

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