Sunrise over the Bay Area
Silicon Valley, CA
As I explore more and more of the beautiful hikes in the Bay Area I keep coming across a number of beautiful rolling hills with oak trees peppered all over them. Most of the time there’s other trees, shrubs, houses, more hills, or other distracting things next to them. But every once in a while you stroll across a lone pine that’s just asking to be photographed.
Willie and I met up at the parking lot and hiked up to this area. You can see the trail crossing through the photo. We had actually planned on photographing a different tree, which we thought had more character and faced more easterly, the direction of sunrise. The tree we were planning on photographing had some clouds behind it, but for whatever reason not all of the clouds caught the beautiful sunrise color.
At one point I happened to turn around and look behind us. The entire sky was glowing orange and virga in the sky was catching the sunrise colors. I suggested to Willie: “dude, I think we should photograph the other tree.” We hesitated a little: it wasn’t as interesting but we knew we had to follow the sky. I’m glad we did turn around because this amazing color in the sky didn’t last long but boy is it awesome. I turned out loving this scene much more than the one we had originally intended to photograph!
Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8:
24mm, f/13, 0.5 sec, ISO 100
Coastal Calla Lilies
Big Sur, California
I’m not the first and I won’t be the last person to visit this particular patch of Calla Lilies along the Big Sur Coast. Calla Lilies grow all along the California coastline but this spot has become increasingly popular amongst photographers: it has beautiful scenery, it has hills the draw the eye in, a beach and water that sneak into the photo, hundreds of beautiful wildflowers, it’s easily accessible, and most importantly, it’s easy to tell a story here. This story is one that makes me smile every time I look at this photo and think of the day I took it.
This has been a strange weather year for the state of California. We were in a drought and the flowers had no clue what was going on. They started blooming early and I feared with the cooky weather that the flowers might both bloom and die early. I asked Sammi if she wanted to take a drive down to Big Sur, stop at Nepenthe for a drink, and then find the flowers. She agreed.
The day couldn’t have been better. It was 70 degree blue-bird day. We arrived at Nepenthe, a local restaurant and bar, just as a group of friends was getting up from the best spot in the entire place. For the next several hours Sammi and I enjoyed a beer, some wine, and margaritas while soaking in the views and trying to get a tan. We were having such a good time, in fact, that we didn’t realize it had gotten so late. 3 hours had passed and we needed to rush if we were going to make it to the lilies in time for sunset. The marine layer retreated as I drove and a few little splashes of clouds appeared in the sky. As we raced down to the flowers those few clouds started to catch the colors of the setting sun.
We ran around like crazy chickens trying to avoid the poison oak and find the best patch of calla lilies. Rushing a photograph is never recommended and I stressed the entire time. I couldn’t find a patch void of dying flowers. I couldn’t get my tripod where I wanted. My lens wouldn’t go wide enough. I fell into a patch of thorns. The entire time Sammi stayed calm. She pulled me up when I fell, helped me get the tripod in the right spot, ignored the foul language uttered under my breath, and reminded me that ultra-wide lens was packed in my bag. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion and partner that day! It was so peaceful that we stayed well after sunset and needed a flashlight to get back. The best part of it: I came home with a photo I’m happy with!
Nikon D800 w/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8:
14mm, f/9, 0.8 sec, ISO 500