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Diablo Spring #1 - Lafayette, California

I was not planning on doing any photography this afternoon, but the clouds and light *forced* me to do it. I had NO choice! No HDR.


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See the 1200 pixel version!



Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 24-105L @55

1/5-second exposure @F8 (Over F10 is almost unuseable on this lens with the mkII)

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.75 (5 1/2 stops total)

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

No polarizer.

ISO 50

Small Slik tripod with Manfrotto pistol grip ball head

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop



The Story



Yes, you don't need to always have a golden sunset for good light.


In the hills behind my house, billowing cumulus clouds build up on a spring afternoon following a storm . It is rare to see such depth to the sky in the San Francisco Bay Area (or in SoCal) because clouds either are thick and rainy, or there are no clouds at all. As the sun set, the lift created by the warming ground eased and the clouds evaporated into blue sky. 2 hours later, and it is now clear. When I took this shot, it was clear over the ocean because there are no mountains and updrafts of warm air to create the clouds.


In a few weeks the clouds will be mostly gone until November, the grass will turn golden brown, and we will be eyeing the sky closely for any possibilities. They will come every few weeks and I'll be ready.


This was at 4pm with the sun still high in the sky. So I had to wait for clouds to pass overhead to allow the kind of filtered light that looks best on a landscape like this. The nice thing about traditional landscape photography vs. seascape is that you can find a good composition and then just sit back and wait for the good light instead of always worrying about your camera or even your life being swept away! Ah yes, the easy life of a 'landscape' photographer was mine for a while...






Google Earth


Simply the best way to scout out locations that there is. You can see sun angles and pre-visualize light under lots of different conditions. Sometimes you can actually pre-compose your shots! This has saved me many thousands of vertical feet of climbing by avoiding spots with blocked views etc.


Satellite imagery (choose 'National' for a local US region or use your fave website)


Tide charting and preditions: (chose your area in US, other countries have similar websites)


Wave Heights (I choose 'North Pacific from Global')

Or Here:


Photos of every inch of the California coastline from a small plane. Excellent for close in detailed views.


The map shows exactly where this is. It is an easy 1/2 mile hike from a small parking lot at the top of the hill.


See my Flickr profile for a link to my newly designed website.



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Taken on April 1, 2010