Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Drake's Estero Blahness

I went to Point Reyes on Saturday to try to take pictures of elk at Tomales Point, except it was super foggy, I was getting hungry, and I nearly rear-ended a ridiculous government vehicle who decided to stop in the middle of the road without telling anyone.  The fog through me off.  I hurriedly stopped by McClure beach, but I didn't like what I saw.  It was drizzling, water was getting on the lens, I dressed too warmly, I felt a time crunch because it was getting dark, and there were a lot of people there.  A surprising amount of people.  I had never seen it so crowded.  It was very uncomfortable.  So I left for Drake's Estero and ate when I got there.

Unfortunately, there were people there, too.  And they were photographers.  I did not like that.  I wanted to be alone because I wanted to experiment, and I felt like I had people looking over my shoulder, which they kinda were.

I only stopped by Home Bay.  I was concerned that it would get too dark, and I wanted to explore one particular area.  Plus, I was hoping that the other photographers would move on past it (which they didn't...).  I was trying to feel the scene, but it was hard with other photographers occupying too much emotional space in my head.  I still hadn't expelled all the stress and frustration of Tomales Point, and I didn't quite reach that feeling of oneness with my surroundings.  I did notice that I liked the pattern of the water in the marshy area.  I liked the way the fog was creeping into the bay, and I thought perhaps it would add some depth.  The other photographers were where I really wanted to go (and I didn't dare interrupt them), so I decided to just shoot away from them.

Tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm, f/8.0, ISO 200, 20 sec exposure

That's with the black glass.  It adds a color cast that I need to do homework on to determine whether it varies per white balance setting.  The fog was actually rolling in, so I thought a longer exposure would smooth out the motion of the fog.  It might have.  This picture really sucks.  I was not in a good spot at all.   There's nothing going on in the top 1/3 of the picture, though that doesn't bother me.  It just makes the actual bay look not-very-interesting.  I don't like that dry grass thing before the water/marsh.  I think the trees on the right side would have been kinda interesting (that's where the other photographers were).  I was feeling blah about the situation, and it shows.

Tokina 11-16mm @ 11mm, f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/125 sec exposure

That's a little further along the hike and higher up.  I like it just a little better.  The fog got too thick and the hill is barely visible in the distance.  This is cropped significantly.  I should have realized this out there.  There's too much blahness in the bottom-left quadrant, and the path on the right doesn't add to the image.  I like the flow of the water in the marsh and the angle of the trees and the reddish brush is okay.  I wish the fog wasn't as thick.  I could probably bring that distant hill out in post, but I'm too lazy.  The other photographers were off in the distance somewhere, to the left of those trees.  But they're not visible in this picture.

At that point I just got tired.  It was getting too late to venture on and I really did not like the people-interference, so I gave up and headed home.  The other thing I didn't get as much of a chance to do as I would have liked was test out the Tokina more.  I feel like it should be sharper, but I'm also focusing on relatively far objects, so it could just be a distance thing.  It is irking me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I went to Coyote Lake near Gilroy to see the meteor shower.  I brought my camera along but it was mostly a secondary consideration; I chose the spot based off of a recommendation from an astronomers' website.  It was super dark, but I didn't like the landscape for framing possibilities.  I wanted to stare at stars, so I just pointed the camera up and shot continuously while I was there.  This was the best meteor I caught.

24-70mm @ 24mm, f/2.8, ISO 800, 30 second exposure
I believe the camera was facing directly north at the time.  I should try to map out the constellations at some point.  The reddish hue on the left side is light pollution from Gilroy (assuming I'm right that this is north), and the blueish hue on the right side is light from the moon.

I didn't have a cable release so I couldn't reliable shoot longer than 30-second exposures (max on my D90).  I boosted up the ISO to 800 and shot wide open, but in retrospect, I should have experimented with boosting up the ISO even more.  A few of the meteor pictures I saw on the internet actually had higher ISOs than what I was using.  I guess since there isn't any shadow detail, concern about noise in the black isn't a big deal.

The reason I now feel that I ought to boost up the ISO is that the meteors I saw weren't much brighter than the stars around them, but were only exposed on the camera for a fraction of a second, compared to the 30 seconds that the stars got.  So I think a higher ISO would result in a brighter meteor.  Oh well, maybe next time.