Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunset at the Delevan National Wildlife Refuge

On this day, I wasn't having much luck getting close to the waterfowl, but I did find a wonderful location at the edge of the Delevan National Wildlife Refuge to watch the sunset. I also had a good view of the Sutter Buttes in the distance to watch the colors change as the sun approached the horizon.

Panorama of the Sutter Buttes (click to enlarge).
The Sutter Buttes from Delevan as the sun begins to set.
This sunset had none of the drama of the sunset in my previous post. Instead, a gentle pink glow settled over the landscape. Within a matter of minutes, it was gone.
Ducks make there way across a pond at sunset.
Dusk settles over the Delevan Wildlife Refuge.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Snow Geese

It's that wonderful time of year again when literally millions of ducks and geese make their way to the Sacramento Valley from Alaska and Canada via the Pacific Flyway.

I unexpectedly came upon this huge flock of snow geese serenely feeding in a rice field near Grimes, west of the Sacramento River. I estimate that about 6,000 birds are visible in this photo.
Snow geese feeding in a rice field (click to enlarge)
I stayed in my car and was able to get very close to the birds until something scared them and they suddenly took off with an enormous roar - thousands of birds at once. I had a few seconds to capture them before they had lifted into a great cloud.

They circled the rice field for 10 or 15 minutes before settling down once again to feed.

I hope to make a number of more trips into the valley this winter to capture the beauty of wildlife that make the valley their winter home.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunset over the Rice Fields

Winter is perhaps my favorite time in the Sacramento Valley. Not only do we have millions of waterfowl populating the valley floor, but there are also some of the most amazing sunsets to be seen. The flooded rice fields double the intensity of any sunset by creating perfect reflections (click on images to enlarge).

Sunset reflected in rice fields west of Gridley (click to enlarge)
On this day, a storm was coming ashore well to our north in Oregon and a knew that the southern edge of the storm would bring perfect clouds to catch the sunset. So I headed out in search of the perfect location.

I initially drove down to Live Oak and around the north side of the Sutter Buttes to see how flooded Butte Slough was. And though I found a good location, it was clearly posted, so I turned around and headed back toward Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and north toward the rice fields.

The Colusa Highway was still flooded from the storms of the previous week, but right at the end of the road I found a wonderful complex of rice fields right by the highway

Even before the sun set, clouds and the colors in the sky were very dramatic. And the still waters of the fields  made for stunning reflections.

I also has a great view of the Sutter Buttes to the south, which made for several beautiful images.

But the most amazing part of the sunset was where the sun went down. Incredible colors that changed minute by minute. The colors lasted for nearly 20 minutes before finally fading away.

Days like this are what make photographing the Sacramento Valley worth it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Toyota Prius Interior

My wife just bought a new Prius, so I thought I'd get a few images of it.

I particularly liked the dashboard/console of the Prius, so I focused on that. I wanted to communicate the modern look of the console, as well as a sense of depth and richness, even though the Prius is not a luxury car.

The lighting was simple, two speedlites sitting in the seats aimed at the roof of the car gave a soft non-directional lighting that worked really well with the curves of the steering wheel and console. I set the exposure so that no ambient light (it was an overcast day) would appear in the image, giving the image an even greater sense of depth in the dark shadows.

The only post-processing these images got was a bit of cloning in Photoshop to remove a few tiny specks of dust off the instruments. Even a brand new car  has a bit of dust in it!