With my upcoming trip to Sydney and the subsequent holiday madness I decided to make a quick run down to the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course I have captured the city on many occasions over the years but there has been one vantage point I have always wanted to capture. I just could never find the time to plan this excursion and I didn’t have the right equipment until several years ago.
To capture the city from the Berkeley hills, here’s what you will need.
- Time – to research and explore the Grizzly Peak area and roads around the campus and hills. There are many great vantage points to choose from.
- Weather – you will need clear skies and good visibility. The bay area is usually hazy or foggy and not ideal for this long of a distance.
- A long lens – you will need a fairly long lens. In this case I used the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L lens. 200mm probably won’t cut it as your subject is just too far.
- Tripod – you will need a very sturdy, heavy duty tripod. I used a full size manfrotto with a gimbal mount. Even with that, I still had to contend with wind shake. Keep the tripod as low to the ground as possible.
- Patience – take your time. Something is bound to test your resolve or patience.
Overall it was a good outing. I got some good shots and will likely be going back again before year end to retake a couple of the shots.
Have you captured the city? What’s your favorite vantage point?
Teaser shot from Dinah’s first time under water
About once a year, I organize an underwater photo shoot to bring together some of the awesome creative passionate people in my world. It is an honor to share in such energy and creative collaboration.
Our first shoot was on Saturday July 28th and went from about 5pm-11pm. We did a smaller shoot this past Friday August 10th, to re-shoot some of the scenes we couldn’t quite get right on the first go around.
We had a great team this year. I would like to extend special thanks and gratitude to the entire 2018 team.
- Nick (model) – Nick is a professional associate of mine and Sgt. with the US Army reserve. We focused on US Army themed shots featuring some great concepts I’m very excited about and look forward to sharing with you later this fall.
- Dinah (model) – Dinah is a globetrotting, Ducati Monster riding, passionate, creative girl originally from Turkey. She has a great sense of style, fashion and serious work ethic.
- Charis (model) – Charis is an awesome model, beautiful person, and cool spirit. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with her on several creative shoots. This was definitely not her first under water shoot.
- April (model & production) – April has a background in video and media production. Her sense of humor and great energy is infectious. She instrumental in helping the production go as smooth as possible. She was my hands, eyes and ears above while I was underwater.
- Sophie (makeup artist) – Sophie is a very creative soul with lots of awesome work in CosPlay and costume design. She brought a great energy to the project and I look forward to working with her on future projects.
- Jason and Chrissy (hosts) – These two have been good friends for as long as I can remember. On our last shoot this weekend, we convinced Chrissy to put on her old wedding dress and go for a swim. What ensued was some unexpected magic I look forward to sharing with you.
For me one of the biggest rewards for all the hard work, time and effort that goes into these projects is the chance to give some amazing people an experience they have never had before. I love sharing the magic. Here are a few behind the scenes shots.
This past weekend, I happened to have a free Saturday afternoon/evening. I’ve been wanting to get out and photograph an interesting subject for a while. Something a little unusual. One that came to mind was the Lake Berryessa dam spillway, otherwise known as the “Glory Hole”. Trust me, even I couldn’t come up with such a misplaced name…LOL.
The Glory Hole
Thanks to a recent break in our record drought here in California, most of our reservoirs are overflowing. Lake Berryessa is one of them. However what makes it a point of interest is the overflow spillway just behind the dam. It is the most unusual of designs. It makes for an interesting illusion. This has been in the news and all over social media since the beginning of the year. The rains have stopped and the weather is getting warmer so I thought I should hurry out there and capture it. The lake levels have not reached the spillway in over a decade from my understanding. The level was about 6 inches above the spillway. It must have been quite a sight at it’s peak earlier this year. The drive from Sacramento was pleasant and short. I should have done this sooner. Check the lake levels, and definitely plan a day trip if it is still above the spillway.
It just hit me that almost exactly two years ago today, I was exploring the Folsom lake bed, and I wasn’t in scuba gear. The water levels were so low, what was once a vast lake was reduced to a large puddle. It was at that moment that I truly appreciated how dire the water supply situation had gotten here in California. It was one thing to read and hear about it and another thing to see it in person. I often contemplated through the following year, if we did not get some serious rain for another year, we would experience a catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen before.
Fortunately for us the drought finally started to let up that year. This year we are seeing record rains, but more importantly, corresponding snow packs. The chart to the left is courtesy of the fine folks at the California Department of Water Resources Data Exchange Center. It has been raining heavily all day today and most of this week, yet most folks now just seem to be very grateful overall, myself included. It is yet another one of the many journeys my photography has taken me on.
Folsom Lake at one of it’s lowest levels.
For several years now California has been experiencing a severe drought. So severe that earlier this year the Governor as well as state agencies implemented various water conservation measures. The citizens also stepped forward to help alleviate the grave water shortage. I like many just stopped watering my landscape and let it die out. I eventually removed the lawn on my quarter acre property because honestly it did not make any sense whatsoever. It also slashed my water bill in half which means more resources for photography! Yay! …LOL.
Like many, I didn’t fully grasp the gravity of the water shortage we are facing until I took a hike to the bottom of the Folsom lake reservoir with my good friend and fellow photo geek, Sasha January of this year. It was a eye opening excursion. I was blown away by the fact that I could take a leisurely stroll on the lake bed where several years ago I was boating with friends and enjoying summer on the lake. The water level dropped so low we were able to explore old gold mining settlements and ponder a piece of this great state’s history.
Finally this winter we have been getting rain most days of the week with little sunny breaks on the weekends. We are still far from where we need to be (as far as rainfall) to get out of the drought, but we are most grateful. I thought now would be a great time to look back in retrospect and post about it. See the California Drought page for updates. I also found this Insightful NASA Report. Below are some choice shots from that excursion.