• Which way should I go?
  • I lined up the paths to somewhat line up with the ones in the distance.
  • Over the hill is a large river delta in the Central Valley of California. The water provided some nice reflected light under the cloud deck.
  • The rainy season is ending and this grass will be a golden brown in a month. So I'm trying to get in some green-grass shots before it dries up. The golden grass has a nice look so I'll try this exact composition with brown grass.
  • Mt. Diablo, California. Here is a view halfway up the right side, pointing to the right. www.flickr.com/photos/patrick-smith-photography/3260749928/
  • Only a sliver of sky was left as the clouds move towards the sun. But it only takes a sliver!
  • As Jim mentioned, there are forks in the sky too!
  • I left some space to the left of the tree to add a bit of depth over here. I try not to cut off major elements if I can help it!
  • I love this picture! great shot!♥ - owltears*
  • The path least traveled. - marykpics

Fork In The Road - Walnut Creek, California

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American baseball great Yogi Berra once said (when giving directions to his house, See JSA2593's comments below), "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." So when I saw this view, I did! No HDR. And I did not touch the saturation slider. Minimal post-processing.

Free wallpaper for over 100 of my images in 6 different screen sizes is now available!

The 1200 pixel version is definitely worth a look!

Settings etc.:

Canon 5D Mk II
Canon 17-40L @23
0.6-second exposure @F14
LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.75
Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring
ISO 200
RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One
TIFF file processed with Photoshop

This is the view on the hill behind my house. I am always on the lookout for a spectacular sunrise that you rarely see on vacation because you are only there for a few days. I have pre-scouted these hills for good locations where I can get to them quickly. On Monday evening, I noticed on the satellite photos that there was a storm front moving in from the west by sunrise, leaving the eastern sky clear for the sun to come in under the advancing clouds. So I got up early, noticed that the clouds were arriving just as the sky became light. By sunrise, the open sky was reduced to a sliver on the horizon, which is the best situation.

I went to my spot, saw this, and was done in about 10 minutes. I do have some from a few minutes earlier with a sky so red that the photos are unuseable. Here the sky is better lit and so is the land. This looks like a reflected sunrise over the ocean and hills in the distance, but the light is reflecting off of the river deltas in California's Central Valley. It is the most productive agricultural valley on the planet because of the snow melt from the Sierra Nevada and 300 sunny days per year.

The map shows EXACTLY where this is.

Here is a link to the US National Weather Service satellite images that I use.

See my thoughts on the new Canon 5D mk II here:

See my profile for a link to my website where I have limited edition prints and less expensive open edition prints.

Lars Kehrel, and 814 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. rainstormasia 60 months ago | reply

    Beautifully captured this sunrise shot. I love it !

  2. Zphotography! 59 months ago | reply

    Beautiful shot again .

  3. Skechie [deleted] 59 months ago | reply

    Very beautiful shot - the sky couldn't be any more perfect

  4. KathrynApril 59 months ago | reply

    Oh wow is this sooo beautiful!!!

  5. o-boy 59 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Stock Photography - Photo Infos, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  6. life with kaishon 58 months ago | reply

    This picture is absolutely stunning. Wow.

  7. Philip Michael Photo 58 months ago | reply

    So beautiful! Lovely...

  8. Old-Man-George 57 months ago | reply

    Awesome. Perfect exposure. Nice to see colours like this without HDR.

  9. metaz 55 months ago | reply

    NIcely executed. Masterful manipulation of Photomatix or some other tool. But the lighting in the foreground is not consistent with the sub being behind the mountains. ND filters aside.

  10. theenchantedphoto 54 months ago | reply

    I have really enjoyed looking through your work. I grew up in the bay area, and know most of the spots that you have photographed. I miss home even more, now. This one I love because it reminds me of Mission Peak (my backyard 15 years ago). Thank you!

  11. tompost 52 months ago | reply

    Hey Patrick - I was watching a ted.com video today and saw a presenter used this image. I remembered seeing it so I was compelled to find it again. It's at minute 7. Not sure if it was authorized or not: www.ted.com/talks/neil_pasricha_the_3_a_s_of_awesome.html

    Just a heads up.

  12. PatrickSmithPhotography 52 months ago | reply

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the alert. I looked at it and it is definitely mine. I can't remember if I gave him permission so I'll have to go back and look. At least he was not directly making money off it. indirectly yes, but not directly! I do love those TED talks though.


  13. Andrea Rock 51 months ago | reply

    what can I say? another great shot! :)

  14. Emotioned.com 51 months ago | reply

    We are working on a monthly travel and adventure sport competition, all winning entries will be published in an online magazine. Judge panel will selected from Flickr.

    There are 3 parts of the competition, 2 parts are currently under development:

    A Flick group called : www.flickr.com/groups/emotioned/

  15. cha_autumn 45 months ago | reply

    August 15, 2011

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    Hi! How are you? How old are you? I am thirty years old. Awesome orange and yellow sky with a fork in the road! You are an amazing photographer! Thank you! You rock!



  16. Lutan :h 37 months ago | reply

    awesome contrast * *

  17. cowlishaw 23 months ago | reply

    I love this!! :) <3

  18. Arthur Sixtenson 10 months ago | reply

    Great work, it could not been much better than that! Think you maybe like my pictures, so take a look! :)

  19. moisesollero 2 months ago | reply

    The shire 👌

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