• I waited for the cloud shadow to reach this point to highlight the trees vs. the darker grassy foreground.
  • I waited for this spotlight back here to appear so as to mimic the lit oaks in the middle ground
  • I wanted this oak to be lit against a dark background.
  • A bit ominous, but no rain fell.
  • I wanted the top of Mt. Diablo to be darkly silhouetted against the brighter sky for extra drama.
  • As of 7pm on this day, all these clouds are now gone as the sun sets. No more warm currents are lifted by the warm sun.
  • It was good to have these trees be dark against the bright background but I did not plan it because there were too many other things happening. So I lucked out on this part.
  • I walked up and down on the hill where I stood to take this shot, trying to get the most pleasing composition including where to intersect the hills here.
  • I also moved around to get low enough to hide some buildings right behind this hill and the tree to the right. Nobody has to know! And I did not want to clone out anything.
  • perfect time and place to collect some easter eggs - tropicaLiving - Jessy Eykendorp

Diablo Spring #1 - Lafayette, California

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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.

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

See the 1200 pixel version!
www.flickr.com/photos/patrick-smith-photography/448323671...

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Settings etc.:
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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

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The Story
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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...

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Resources:
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Google Earth
earth.google.com/

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)
www.wrh.noaa.gov/satellite/?wfo=mtr

Tide charting and preditions: (chose your area in US, other countries have similar websites)
tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/tide_predictions.shtml?gid=235

Wave Heights (I choose 'North Pacific from Global')
polar.ncep.noaa.gov/waves/main_int.html
Or Here:
www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/RP1bw.gif

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

www.californiacoastline.org/

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.
.

A.HOLE, PhotoguyPhotography, aMMPh, and 356 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. alemeli02 48 months ago | reply

    ah .................

  2. dena_split 48 months ago | reply

    A gorgeous shot, beatifu lscenery ....

  3. Myjestic [deleted] 48 months ago | reply

    I really would like to reach into this picture. Super!

  4. Mercadder 46 months ago | reply

    Hola, soy el administrador de un grupo llamado chuao wallpapers y nos encantaría agregar tu foto al grupo.

  5. MARJOLEINTHIJSE.com 46 months ago | reply

    I love the green in this picture.. so vivid and.. err.. green! lol - I wish we had some landscapes like that around here in flat boring holland.

  6. repl1co 45 months ago | reply

    Ciao, sono amministratore di un gruppo chiamato SFUMATURE . Ci farebbe piacere aggiungere le tuo foto al gruppo.

  7. Jaro 1989 45 months ago | reply

    It's really beautifull

  8. Spangles44 Blinkagain dont like fllickr 45 months ago | reply


    I saw this in the 200+ Faves group and Faved it.

  9. stevoriley 42 months ago | reply

    Stunning light.

  10. LizzieHT 42 months ago | reply

    So beautiful.

  11. scottmccracken 39 months ago | reply

    Incredible light!

  12. Luke-rative 38 months ago | reply

    Blues and Greens should always be seen WITHOUT a colour in between!

  13. Hankye99 36 months ago | reply

    This is really an outstanding work!

    I saw this in the 300+ Faves group and Faved it.

  14. Yahoo Project Weather 31 months ago | reply


       Fantastic shot! Would you like to be featured in an upcoming Yahoo! product? Help us show the weather! Please join our group, Yahoo! Weather, and add this photo.
       Simply add each of the following tags:
       • Geotag
       • One of (clear, cloudy, rain, snow, storm or fog)
       • One of (day or night)
    This photo could probably be tagged as: cloudy day

  15. LamVanThe 30 months ago | reply

    This landscape is interesting

  16. Thpwrthtbe 15 months ago | reply

    Patrick, why do you say smaller than F10 on the 24-105L is unusable. ?

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