One Bright, Sunny Morning at Mugu Rock

Although I have lived along the California coast most of my life, I don’t really get out to see it often.  I am not sure why.  However, my friend, The Nikon Hit Man, knows the coast well – he has been fishing it for many years.  We decided to do a photoshoot, but the fact is, it really was more of a time to just hang out together and chat about photography.

Below Mugu Rock 4 - Prelim (1 of 1)

Overall, the day was a bust for pictures as the sun was not with us – getting to the beach in the later morning is not conducive to the best photographic light.  This is when the miracle – or curse – of post-processing comes in.  These were taken around Mugu Rock, which sits on the coastline along the Pacific Coast Highway, north of Malibu, south of Oxnard.  If you have been in the area, you cannot miss it.  The best part of all were the big waves, remnants of a hurricane somewhere in the Pacific.

Below Mugu Rock 3 (1 of 1)

Drab pictures can be made more interesting, naturally, or pushed to extremes for drama and (artistic?) impact.

Below Mugu Rock 4 - Final HDR

I’ll leave you to choose . . .

Metamorphosis of a Photo

Along the Las Llajas Trail (2 of 6)

I just spread out my mosen – planning on some sumi-e – but while it flattens out after dampening, and ironing – I am rummaging through some older pictures from hikes this summer.  One hike which produced dramatic skies was earlier this year – just last month?!?!? – along the Las Llajas trail in Simi Valley.  The picture above is straight out of the camera.  Sky exposure was great; the lower portion is way too dark.

This next one is just lightened up in LR using different techniques.  Not too interesting.

Along the Las Llajas Trail (4 of 6)

This next one is the raw file exported from LR 5.6 to Photomatix Pro – some putzing, not too horrible overall. Still, not quite to my liking.

Along the Las Llajas Trail (3 of 6)

Finally, black and white processing using LR and Silver Efex Pro 2. It works best, in my opinion, but the bottom portion of the picture, in the sand, could still use some help.

Along the Las Llajas Trail (1 of 6)

It never ceases to amaze me how we can manipulate photos on the computer.

What do you think?


Out Walking

Last night was the “super moon,” which I didn’t realize, until I went out to take some pictures with the Df and the Tokina 17mm. This morning, on my weekend perambulation, I took the Nikon V1 and the 6.7-13mm lens. Because I am hitting the Pacific Northwest in the near future, I am checking my cameras and lenses. If it weren’t for these cameras, I don’t think I would be “oot and aboot” as much as I am these days.

Last night, I was checking out the newest lens in the stable: the Tokina 17mm f3.5 AT-X Pro. I want a prime wide angle; research came across this one, and I found one on eBay that is very nice. I took this picture (below) with the Df and 17mm, using iso 1600! Turned out pretty good . . . the colors, though enhanced a bit, really did have this gentle glow.

Sunset Along the Trail

This next one is an HDR done from 5 images using the bracketing on the Df. Same lens. Bracketing is super easy to do – it sort of happened by accident, to tell you the truth. The moon is the little blob coming up over the crest of the hill. I really wish I had brought another lens with me to catch it. The moon was coming up while the sun was still going down.


This morning, a friend and I went to the other side of the mountains, just a few miles from our home town. Weird as it sounds, it was the sound of water that we found most attractive. California is in the middle of a drought at present, and since the first of the year, I think we may have had an inch or two or rain (like 5 cm!). Not much. So, the sight and sound of water in a creek is not the norm! Even the trail had a different smell, a bit more damp and not the herby, resinous smell I love along our local trails.

We leave around 7 in the morning, and head out. With hotter weather, it makes sense. It also adds a lot to the photos to be out so early. Here are pictures I took with the Nikon V1 and the Nikon 6.7-13mm lens, pushed a bit (or two much?) with HDR and other post-processing tricks.

The Sun is Up!

The funny thing about California, and the desert, is the temperature ranges which occur. Night can be chill – it was in the low 60s last night – but then it can easily change to over 90 by midday. As a result, you are cold in the shade, and too warm in the sun. We actually saw our breath as we started out along the trail! We were in a canyon, so the sun took its sweet time to lighten up the landscape.

Oak Trees at Sunrise

The contrast of light and shadow is so delightful in the early morning. And so different than the evening. Because we were along the creek, the scrub was dense, and so was the foliage. The light through the leaves was really beautiful. Eventually, we moved away from the creek, and found ourselves in a more typical (to my way of thinking) California landscape in the back country – grasslands and oak trees between scrubby hills.

The Living and the Fallen

A Spot of ShadeThis last one was a welcome spot on the way home . . .