Well, I went out the evening before the full moon to try and get a shot of the perigee full moon. ‘Perigee’ is when the moon is closest to the earth in it’s elliptical orbit. This happens every so often, but this time it coincided with a full moon. I had a particular shot/location in mind, but after I got to the location I realized that it wasn’t going to work. So I scrambled to find another vantage point.
I ended up driving to a mountain peak that offered a good view east over the Los Angeles area, but saw there was a lot of haze at the horizon. So much in fact that viewing the moon would be impossible. Disheartened, I headed back the the original location just hoping that I was wrong in my assertion that I wasn’t going to get the shot as planned. Unfortunately, I was correct, so I just headed back home. As I drove through Agoura Hills up Kanen Road, I saw these trees up on a hill that looked promising. Swung around, but then saw a cop sitting across the street from where I wanted to park (which was a no parking area). Honestly, I was only going to stop for a minute….
Then it hit me. I’ll go to Cheeseboro Canyon and shoot there. I raced over there and found this shot. Got set up and took a few snaps. Unfortunately, it was too dark by the time I got there, so the dynamic range between the moon and the foreground was just too much for my camera to handle. I ended up exposing for the moon and pumped up the ‘fill’ in LightRoom to get this image. It’s pretty raw, but you get the idea I guess.
What really bums me out about this whole episode is that I did a fair amount of research on the location I was originally going to shoot using Google Earth and The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Everything looked like it was going to line up. In reality though, it didn’t. So, I guess the lesson learnt is that tools like those are only so good, and nothing really beats scouting the location ahead of time. A simple compass reading on location would have told me that the intended shot was impossible. Live and learn….
Sunrise shots have a decidedly different feel to them than sunsets. Sunsets are full of color, vibrant, powerful. Sunrise shots, for the most part, are more subdued and calmer. I like both, but find sunrise shots harder to do simply from the fact that I have to wake up so early.
You can get a little drama in the early morning though. The following two shots illustrate the different moods that can be created by waiting a little bit. The first shot was taken before the sun rose. The soft light generates a very pastel color palette, and it’s also more subdued in contrast. The second shot was taken about 20 minutes later. As you can see, the sun had breached the horizon, and was casting a wonderfully golden light over the scene. The colors are definitely more vibrant, and the contrast produces well defined shadows.
One thing you should remember about morning shots. Once that sun starts to strike your subject directly, the dynamic range might be more than your camera can handle. This could result in blown-out highlights, or featureless shadows. That’s why, given the option, I usually shoot my landscapes before the sun actually rises.
This past week I went up to the Morro Bay area, which is in California’s Central Coast as it’s called. My main objective was to try out two rented lenses for my Mamiya RZ67 camera. I’ll be comparing these lenses in another post.
While I was in the Morro Bay area, I visited two spots. Montaña de Oro State Park and Morro Strand State Beach. Montaña de Oro has a lot to offer as it’s one of the largest state park in California. There’s plenty of coastline to explore, although getting to the waters edge can be a bit precarious as there cliffs tend to be quite tall and steep. I visited two locations in this park. Spooner’s Cove and the area surrounding Coralina Cove. Both of these spots are right next to each other and you could park in one spot to access both, but I was carrying a ton of equipment so I parked as close as I could get.
The first stop was Coralina Cove. Easy to get to, and it gets you down and close to what’s cool. The south end of the cove has some easily accessible rock structures that reach out into the ocean, providing some good leading line shots. This is where I took several shots with the different lenses for my comparison. Here’s a preview:
After that I went back up to the top of the bluff for a few more shots. The waves were really cranking that day, and were easily 15 to 20 feet high! I even saw some surfers out in that mess. No thanks! The bluffs provide some great panoramic views of the coastline. However, since the ocean was so ruff that day, there was a lot of mist in the air and it made for pour viewing conditions unless you were shooting straight out into the ocean. Here’s a shot of the RZ in action.
I know the waves don’t look all that impressive from these shots, but I assure you, there were some BIG waves out there.
I was planning on ending the day in Spooner’s cove, but the tide was high enough that I couldn’t easily get to the rocks to the north of the cove, and the rocks to the south of the cove are in shadow at sunset (something I learned from my first trip here). So, I ended up hiking to the bluffs to the north of Spooner’s Cove. The sky had a lot of interesting clouds that day, so I was hopeful for a good sunset. As it got closer to sunset, it started to get really dark out as a thick layer of clouds was blocking the sun. I saw what appeared to be a narrow band of open sky at the horizon, so I was optimistic that once the sun got down there it would light the entire sky up with color. I wasn’t disappointed, but at the same time, it didn’t really light up the bluffs as I had hoped. All in all, it turned out nice.