Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spring in the Foothills

I'm still catching up on posts after our burglary, so these photos were actually taken about a month ago.

One of the most beautiful - and ignored - parts of California are the foothills on the western edge of the Sacramento Valley. I try to make at least one trip to the foothills every spring to capture the green rolling hills.

This year was no different, and we were rewarded with not only beautiful scenery, but an amazing sunset as well (which I'll put in my next post).

Rolling hills of winter wheat
Snow covered peaks of the Coast Range behind rolling hills
The Crumrine Hills

Lenticular clouds begin forming just before sunset

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Annular Eclipse

On Sunday, May 20th, an annular eclipse passed over northern California. Like many other photographers I was out there shooting the eclipse.

But while others may have been happy with capturing a single image taken at the point of maximum eclipse, I wanted to try something a bit different.

So I drove to a flooded rice field in the middle of the Sacramento Valley well before the eclipse began and set up a couple of tripods and cameras in order to capture the entire eclipse in a series of time lapse images.

Solar Eclipse time lapse image
I took about 30 images - one every 5 minutes - over a two and a half hour period. The alarm on my cellphone came in very handy for this, since the default snooze is 5 minutes long.

The eclipse was a fascinating event. You really don't start to notice anything until the sun is about half covered. By that point, you get the feeling that it must be getting close to sunset because the light feels a bit dim. But it never got anything like dark. Even at the maximum point in the eclipse, when 94% of the sun was covered by the moon, it was still clearly daylight, although a bit dim. Six percent of the sun's light is still a lot of light. It did get noticeably cooler as the eclipse progressed, and it got warmer again as the sun reemerged.

Solar eclipse time lapse - May 20, 2012
In the end, the images came out great, though processing 30 images into a single image in Photoshop takes a while.

Same a first image, but with a normal exposure added at the end of the eclipse.
Of course, I couldn't resist that shot of the sun at the maximum point of the eclipse. :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Poppies

OK, I know I did this last year, but I just love shooting our spring California poppies under strobes. It gives an amazing effect when you underexpose the ambient environment by one or two stops and set the flashes to give a normal exposure. Since the flashes only light a small area, you get brightly lit poppies against a deep blue sky (below).

It's an effect I never get tired of.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Watermelon - Tomato Soup

I apologize for the lack of posts recently. About a month ago, we were burglarized and my computer was taken (along with a lot of other things). It's been quite an ordeal, and I've just now gotten the computer and monitor replaced. Hopefully, I'll get back on track soon!

To celebrate the coming of warmer weather, I did a shoot of a watermelon-tomato soup my wife made. Sounds strange, but it's actually quite refreshing and delicious. We got the amazingly simple recipe here. If you want to punch it up a bit, add a bit of Sriracha Sauce - seriously, it's pretty darn good.

Watermelon-Tomato Soup
Another plating of the Watermelon-Tomato Soup