Work takes me to San Franciso once a month. Well, more like Oakland, BART, a glimpse of the Civic Center and lastly, the four walls of a conference room in an old building next to it. Inside the room, I hear debates and arguments, most of the time nuetral but sometimes offensive. So in my perspective, SF can be claustrophobic and this is how I see it.
Here’s the original photo of SF Civic Center.
Last year, I attended a work conference in Asilomar and rented a car for the long drive from Los Angeles. I took the 101 up the coast because I had to get there in a hurry, but on the way back, I drove on Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy the scenery along the California Central Coast.
After taking a few photography tours, I’ve learned that good photographers are well-prepared photographers. You must be at the right place at the right time. So I left Asilomar at 2pm and planned to be at Pfeiffer state beach at sunset.
If you have time, plan to stop at many nondescript rest areas/viewpoint areas along PCH because they offer the most unspoiled vistas. There are narrow paths that will take you down the cliffs and you might get some nice surprises, such as a lonely bench with a spectacular view and a notebook for visitors to jot down their thoughts. Do pay attention when you climb down the cliffs because there are no one around to notice if you have plunged into the ocean.
View from Bixby Bridge
I drove to Bixby Bridge and met Mr. Campbell, who entertained the tourist with his tunes and cute bunnies.
Mr. Campbell with Mama rabbit on top and four baby buns.
I reached Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park with just 15 minutes to spare before sunset. It was the best time to enjoy the spectacular view but the park was almost deserted. Just me and another photographer.
Despite the drought, a trickle of water from the 80-foot waterfall spilled into the ocean.
The fog rolled in and the sky became dark quickly. The sun was nowhere to be seen and mother nature didn’t want to put up a show. I almost left but the other photographer was still around so I decided to stay a little longer and put up with the darkness. Then the sun peeked through at the very last moment and this was one glorious sunset.
One of the easiest projects in the Photographing Flowers class with Harold Davis is to take a picture of a rose straight on. As long as you have a light box, it is quite easy to set up the light box with two lights from both sides. Here’s the original image of the rose straight from the camera. Among hundreds of David Austin roses, Abraham Darby is my favorite. Despite my neglect, the bush is vigorous with heavy flowering in the spring and sporadic flowering throughout the year. The flowers are large, open, very fragrant, and tinted with the most romantic shade of apricot.
Original image of the English rose Abraham Darby.
And here’s the cropped and slightly enhanced photo from Lightroom. Taken on the Nikon D3100 and Tamron 60mm f.2 lens at f/8, 1 second, ISO 200.
The soft contrasts and layers of petals on the English rose Abraham Darby.
I’m a loyal Craftsy customer and when I got a chance to enroll in a free class, I jumped on the class Photographing Flowers by Harold Davis. I have been a fan of Mr. Davis for his gorgeous flower prints. So I spent a large part of today playing with focus stacking (not mentioned in the class) but pretty important for macro photography. When you take pictures of tiny things, some part of the photo will be in focus and the other parts will not because of the shallow depth of field. Focus stacking solves this problem but requires taking several shots of the same scene, same camera setting, but changing the focus at each shot. The rest is post production using a focus stacking software.
There are plenty of videos and write ups about focus stacking, but they require Photoshop (the full $$$ version) that I can’t afford. So I’ve playing with CombineZ and quite happy with the results. The software is free of charge and there is even a Yahoo Group for support.
For this exercise, I look three shots from the entry level Nikon D3100 and the Tamron f/2 60mm macro lens. Setting is at manual f/2.4 1/125s.
Photo 1 of 3. Image is sharpest at lip of orchid.
Photo 2 of 3. Image is sharpest at petal.
Photo 3 of 3. Image is sharpest at inside of orchid.
Final picture after CombineZ and Pyramid Weighted Average. Some methods for stacking are more appropriate than others depending on the image. I used brute force and selected “All Methods” macro and selected the one that looks best. In the case, the entire orchid is in focus and everything else should be soft and blurry.
Final image of orchid after being stacked by CombineZP.
The Disney Concert hall is a spectacular building during this time of day because the building has no color and simply takes on the color of the sky.
Walt Disney Concert hall in the blue hour.
The entrance to the concert hall.
The traffic light on the street reflected on the curve tile layout at the entrance of the Disney Concert hall
If you see a crazy lady chasing pigeons, that would be me.
Pigeons having early an breakfast at downtown LA.
The farmer market is being set up…
Flowers are being set up for sale at the farmers market.
and traffic is trickling in…
Early morning traffic into downtown LA.
My co-workers think I’m a late riser, strolling to work at 8:30am. But my day actually starts at 5:50am at the bus stop to downtown. After I get off, I would make an attempt for a workout at the gym before heading to work. Depending on the time change, I would be in downtown in complete darkness or brilliant day light.
These days, I’m in downtown during the morning blue hour when the city is still half asleep and just a quick 10-minute walk to the gym can provide some photo opportunities. These were taken on my Olympus PEN e-pl1 – the little camera that could.
A homeless man in downtown LA in the early morning.
Next is Grand Park that was just open late last year. I want to capture the soft water and the man’s constant movement.
A cleaning person at the wading pool at Grand Park in downtown LA.
If you’re in downtown LA, stop by the MOCA and check out their modern art collection.
Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown LA.
I found a neat fingerless mitten pattern on Ravelry, CSM Fingerless Glove by Melody Cowan. It has a real gusset and gradually increases to fit the thumb instead of the rectangular increase with an abrupt joint for the hand. But this method requires lifting extra needles to clear the cam when you knit back and forth. Basically, when you knit back and forth on a circular sock machine (when doing heel and toes), you need to raise the needles (at least 1/3) out of work to clear the cam to go the other way. But for a real gusset, as you put more and more needles back in the work, you will be running out of room to clear the cam. The trick is to alternately raise needles (out of work) on one side and lower the needles (in of work) on the other as you knit back and forth.
Here are some pictures of the mitten.
Close up of the gusset
3×1 scallop rib
Mitten and pistachio macaron
Macarons from 100% pistachio flour. Heavenly! If you think almond macarons are good, the pistachio macarons will knock your socks off!