In mid-January 2012, my friend Doug Kaye and I were shooting on the San Mateo County coast. We started at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, then headed to Half Moon Bay’s Princeton Harbor and, finally, down the coast a bit further to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
The light on this early afternoon was quite special – as light in January can be – coming in from a low angle. This particular shot is an abstract closeup of one of the windows in the lighthouse – showing the beautiful gradient of light around the circumference and the gorgeous blue sky behind.
Shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens – handheld. Post-processed tonight using Lightroom 5 and VSCO Film.
I guess I’m still on Eastern time – from my trip to Cuba last week. I was up early this morning and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to go out on my own personal “dawn patrol”.
Heading over to Half Moon Bay, I went south to Pigeon Point just as the sun was coming up and shot this image of Pigeon Point Lighthouse with my Nikon D600. The sky was great and the waves were amazing!
My photo adventure yesterday over to the coast was one of those rare ones – I captured so many great images very quickly in the beautiful light and cloudy skies. It truly was a photographer’s winter delight!
I enjoy exploring a wide range of post-processing techniques with my images. Realism is fine – and many (most?) of my images are exactly that – realistic as shot in the field.
But, sometimes, you find a special image that you just want to “push” – off into a different, more artistic direction. Yesterday’s lighthouse shots at Pigeon Point are just the latest example.
I processed this image as a single image HDR from the original RAW file shot handheld with my Canon D600. I used Photomatix Pro for that initial HDR conversion and then imported the image into Photoshop CS6. After a few tweaks in Adobe Camera Raw, I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4’s Brilliance/Warmth filter in two passes to shift the color of the sun. There’s something about the warmth of this kind of processing that adds to our appreciation of an image – and it seemed to work in this case.
Finally, I used a few Content Aware fills in Photoshop on various chunks of the sky to smooth things out a bit and remove some potentially distracting artifacts. And I was done.
This morning I had one of my regular holiday reactions – a sort of cabin fever – and headed out of the house to points unknown for a photography adventure. I packed my cameras in the trunk of the car, grabbed a couple of bottles of water, plugged my iPhone into the car stereo and headed up towards 280.
I thought I’d probably head for San Francisco. For the last few years, I’ve had this thing about shooting the Golden Gate Bridge at this time of year – especially if we’ve got clouds in the sky or a breaking storm moving east. We had both today. But my usual Golden Gate day was January 1st. I was a bit early for that.
As it turned out, as I was heading to 280, I was pulled west – over to the coast. I crossed 280 and headed through Woodside to Hwy 84 and up the hill to Skyline. I continued on down through La Honda, San Gregorio and over to Hwy 1. It was a beautiful drive – cloudy light overhead, a podcast on the radio, and nobody else around.
At Hwy 1, I turned left – heading south along the coast. I made a quick stop at Pomponio State Beach – and chatted a bit with another Nikon shooter about how great it was to just be out above the beach enjoying the late December light. The low sun angle this time of year makes it very special – my favorite time of year for great light. I loved the patterns the waves were making – such as the “S curves” below.
After Pomponio, I continued south on Hwy 1 – passing up the other state beaches along the way as I headed to Santa Cruz. My rough plan was to make a big loop over to Hwy 1, south to Santa Cruz, then up on Hwy 17/85/280 to get back home.
But, of course, there’s Pigeon Point on the way – one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the Pacific coast. I pulled off and had a great time walking along the cliff above the ocean leading south to the lighthouse itself. Here’s a shot taken with my iPhone 5 and post-processed using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.
The clouds in the sky and the angle of the light today made for some very special shots – and, on purpose, I was traveling light. No tripod, no serious HDR kind of shooting, just handheld with my Nikon D600 and, when the mood caught me, with my iPhone 5 – such as the shot above. The light and clouds at Pigeon Point were beautiful and I made a number of handheld shots just walking around.
After a great time at Pigeon Point, I headed south – made a detour to try to find the old Bonny Doon Winery tasting room (it’s now in Santa Cruz!) before arriving at Santa Cruz’s Lighthouse Point Park. There’s a surfing museum there in a building that looks like a small lighthouse – but I was captured by the light and skies off the coast.
My loop took over to the coast and back took about four hours. It was great therapy for my cabin fever! Special light, lovely clouds in the skies, beautiful venues – it doesn’t get much better than this. I should be so lucky!
This image of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was shot on January 13, 2012, during shoot with my photo buddy Doug Kaye. We started out at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve near Half Moon Bay and then headed south along US 1 to Pigeon Point. The light was very special that day – this image was shot about 1 PM but you can see the sun angle is still not very high.
The new version of Lightroom 4.1 has 32 bit HDR Tiff handling support – so I used Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop CS6 to blend three images together (taken on a tripod using +/-2 EV exposure bracketing with my Canon 5D Mark II). I brought the image back into Lightroom and make a few final tweaks – love how this version turned out! Click on the image to see a larger version!
This morning I met up with Doug Kaye over on the coast – for a morning of shooting – of the photography kind. We started at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and then headed south to Pigeon Point Lighthouse before heading to Pescadero and Duarte’s Tavern (DOO-arts they say!) for a great cracked Dungeness crab lunch.
I’ve really come to appreciate these photo shoots with a friend – especially one who, like Doug, is pushing new frontiers and trying new techniques. As we explore a venue, we see through each other’s eyes – and see things we otherwise wouldn’t see. Try it sometime. It’s great fun!
This image is of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse on the San Mateo County coastline south of Pescadero. The light this morning was beautiful – and this black and white treatment features it!
This image was shot as a 3 image handheld HDR with my Canon 5D Mark II. I post-processed it first with Photomatix Pro (using undeveloped JPEGs exported from Lightroom 3 and Photomatix alignment by features), and then opened in Photoshop CS5. In Photoshop, I first adjusted with Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 – specifically, tonal contrast and detail extractor. Then I brought the image into Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 before finally bringing back into Lightroom for final tweaking, noise reduction, and uploading.
I’ll always remember this day and our time coasting the San Mateo coast! Beautiful!