Category

San Diego

Stars, A Galaxy and … Wind Turbines?

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, California, San Diego

On a lark one evening in 2014, my buddy Garry McCarthy and I headed out to the desert to do some night photography with only one caveat: try someplace new (in other words, not Joshua Tree again). We headed east and somewhat south with sort of a plan but really it was mostly the blind leading the blind. Eventually we got on spot, broke out the lights and flashed them around while clicking away with the cameras and what followed was one of the most industrial, industrious and unconventional photography sessions I’ve had. Thanks to Garry’s mad lighting skillz acquired on many landscape astrophotography trips, we came away with some creative and fun images. How big are these wind turbines? About 250′ tall at the rotor’s axle, and another 185′ for the blade, for a total reach of 435′ above ground. Pretty damn big! Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Ocotillo Wind Energy Turbines, at night with stars and the Milky Way in the sky above, the moving turbine blades illuminated by a small flashlight

Ocotillo Wind Energy Turbines, at night with stars and the Milky Way in the sky above, the moving turbine blades illuminated by a small flashlight.
Image ID: 30239
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Image ID: 30248
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades
Image ID: 30227
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Image ID: 30246
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Image ID: 30242
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades
Image ID: 30224
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Lunar Eclipse Photo Sequence, October 8 2014

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, California, San Diego

Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014, San Diego, California

Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014.
Image ID: 29412
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

I have made a few photographic sequences of lunar eclipses, including several of the total lunar eclipse of April 15 2014 (version 2, version 3). I wanted to do something similar for the October 8 2014 lunar eclipse, but did not have the freedom to go photograph out in the desert where the air was likely to be clear. On the evening of the eclipse conditions were iffy, and down on the beach the air was heavy and wet so the pier was out — it was on the verge of turning to fog. Up on the mesas above and inland from the beach the air was much clearer and drier but still the shooting looked iffy, I was not sure the eclipse would even be visible. As it turned out I was able to get the images for which I was hoping, although things were not as clear as I probably would have found in the desert.

My planning for the eclipse was something like this: the penumbral phase of eclipse was to begin at 2:15am at 227 degrees on the compass and inclination of 53 degrees. Full eclipse would begin at 3:25 (245 degrees, 41 degree inclination) and end at 4:24am (256 degrees, 30 degree inclination). The penumbral phase would end at 5:34 (266 degrees, 16 degree inclination). This meant the “rectangle” that the path of the eclipse would take through the sky was roughly 40 degrees horizontally (left to right on the compass) and spanned a vertical inclination of about 37 degrees. I figured a lens with about 24mm of focal length, or a little more, held in portrait orientation — which covers approximately 73 degrees vertically and 53 degrees horizontally would work well, since it would allow for some foreground and would cover the entire left-right travel of the moon with room to spare on all sides. Mind you this may sound like some sort of complicated math but in truth a few minutes with The Photographer’s Ephemeris and a few notes on the back of a VISA envelope were all that was required to set up the plan for that night. The “center” of the eclipse would be at a compass angle of about 250 degrees, so I setup my camera in that direction, configured it to shoot periodic bracketed images all night long using an intervalometer, and crossed my fingers the sky would remain clear for the two and a quarter hours that the eclipse would happening.

I also shot individual images of the eclipsing moon with 560mm of focal length — the Canon 200-400 f/4 lens with built-in 1.4x teleconverter turned out to be perfect for this, and I periodically used live focus to ensure the moon was as sharp as possible. That lens, coupled with good focus and a good sensor, can really resolve a lot. I composited these sharp and detailed moon images onto the best single image of the “background” in the location and orientation in which the moon travelled across the sky. They appear about twice as large as the moon actually appeared in the original wide-angle photographs. I was a little surprised to find the path was slightly convex (relative to the ground) as in my previous south-facing sequences the path was strongly concave, but then realized after looking at the star trails of the images from that night that indeed this was the proper path of the stars and moon. I was facing only about 20 degree south of west and Polaris was about 110 degrees to the right. All heavenly objects have an apparent rotation about that one star, leading to the path of the moon you see here. The following image is a huge (12000 x 12000) mosaic of the sequence, with some impressive detail in the moon including some visible lunar mountains when the sun was just skimming the edge of the moon in some of the frames. The frames I found the most interesting, and challenging to expose, are those were there is still direct sunlight case upon the moon while at the same time some of the “blood red moon” coloration is beginning to appear in the shadowed area of the moon. The moon is yellower at the end of the sequence than it is at the beginning — at the beginning it is high in the sky and the optical path passed through relatively little atmosphere, but toward the end of the sequence the moon was nearly setting and the optical path passed through much more atmosphere, affecting the “color temperature” of the moon and rendering it with a yellowish hue. (Hue: does anyone actually use that word in conversation?)

Lunar eclipse sequence. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014

Lunar eclipse sequence. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014.
Image ID: 29411

Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Surfer’s View of Scripps Pier Perfect Sunset, Solar Alignment, La Jolla

San Diego

Twice each year, the sun sets perfectly centered in the long thin window of the Scripps Research Pier pilings. Photographing this event is frankly rather formulaic and straightforward, to the point that people pack the narrow space on the shore between the pier pilings well before the sunset to ensure they have a “spot” when the sun lines up. It’s not a secret photo op nor is it spontaneous, but it is a striking and fleeting sight to see. I met a couple photographer buddies for one of the lineup evenings in 2013 and managed to photograph it reasonably well: Scripps Pier Sunset Perfect Solar Alignment, La Jolla, San Diego, California. This year I gave the matter some thought and realized I just couldn’t bring myself to do the same photo over again, especially with the crowd that forms. How to do it differently and with at least a modicum of spontaneity and physical challenge?

Scripps Pier solstice, surfer's view from among the waves, sunset aligned perfectly with the pier. Research pier at Scripps Institution of Oceanography SIO, sunset, La Jolla, California

Scripps Pier solstice, surfer’s view from among the waves, sunset aligned perfectly with the pier. Research pier at Scripps Institution of Oceanography SIO, sunset.
Image ID: 30150
Location: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA

After pondering it for a while I realized leaving the shore was really the only option. I spent three afternoons recently photographing the pier using one of my water cam setups — a custom-made surf housing for my Canon 5D Mark III — along with a few pieces of simple but secret equipment to make it all possible. Shooting it from the surfline is pretty tough, the pier does not move of course but the water moves and thus so do I. The sun is only centered below the far end of the pier for a short while, perhaps 30 seconds or less, and getting the camera reasonably high up off the water while positioning the pilings where I wanted them and keeping them vertical was tougher than I thought I would be. The nice part was that even though the solar alignment that makes these sunsets special only really occurred one of the three evenings (and was probably not properly aligned had I been shooting from the shore), it was still great to get wet and enjoy the surf and I landed some new views of the pier I have known since 1981 (ok, including the older pier and this new one). This photograph was the image from that effort with which I am happiest; it seems to capture dark shadows that settle under the pier rapidly as the sun disappears, the thin pastel colors in the clouds, and rapidly moving wavelets of water reverberating through the pilings. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Panorama of the Full Moon over San Diego City Skyline

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Panoramas, San Diego

I shoot a lot of images of the San Diego City Skyline, to keep them fresh and because I am always looking for a reason to be down along the San Diego Bay at dawn or dusk — it is such a beautiful city. A few months ago I made some nice photos of the full moon rising over downtown San Diego (and this one too!). This is the one I like the best: an enormous panoramic photograph printing up to 3 feet high by over 28 feet long! Here the full moon is seen just after it has risen above the mountains east of San Diego, above the San Diego County Administration building. Photographed with a very sharp telephoto lens and high resolution camera and consisting of over 20 source images, the detail in the final panorama is quite something, with individual people visible in restaurants along the waterfront. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island
Image ID: 29120
Location: San Diego, California, USA

High Resolution Panorama of San Diego City Skyline and San Diego Bay

California, Panoramas, San Diego

Here is another recent panoramic photo of San Diego, photographed on a beautiful spring afternoon. This one spans nearly the entire width of the bay, and includes the yacht marinas of Shelter Island in the foreground. I photographed this with a top quality 300mm f/2.8 lens and high resolution camera, and the resulting detail seen in the buildings is outstanding. The final panorama was composed from nine source images, and the resulting image will print 3′ tall by 12′ long with no interpolation necessary. If you like this, please check out more of my panoramic photographs, or see more photos of San Diego. Cheers and thanks for looking!

San Diego City Skyline viewed from Point Loma

San Diego City Skyline viewed from Point Loma
Image ID: 29114
Location: San Diego, California, USA

San Diego City Skyline, Full Moon Rising, Sunset

California, San Diego

A new photograph of the full moon, just rising over the mountains behind downtown San Diego, with the San Diego County Administration Building seen lit in the foreground. This is actually just a small portion (about 5%) of a huge panorama stretching the entire length of the San Diego City Skyline which I have just completed and will share in a few days. It is also the second in a series of new images I have made of the San Diego city skyline and rising full moon, including several very large, high resolution panoramas, including yesterday’s post “Full Moon Rising Over San Diego“.

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island
Image ID: 29121
Location: San Diego, California, USA

If you like this, please check out more of my San Diego City Skyline photographs. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Full Moon Rising over Downtown San Diego, Sunset

California, San Diego

A new photograph of the full moon, rising at dusk over a view of downtown San Diego and its beautiful harbor front and city skyline, viewed from Point Loma, California. I have recently made a nice series of new images of the San Diego city skyline, harbor and rising full moon, including several very large, high resolution panoramas, so watch for them to be posted in the coming few days.

Full Moon over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Point Loma

Full Moon over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Point Loma
Image ID: 29118
Location: San Diego, California, USA

If you like this, please check out more of my San Diego City Skyline photographs. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Dawn at the Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego

California, San Diego

I recently sold a beautiful 60″ print of “Dawn at the Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego” for display in a client’s home. I’ve had images presented in quite a few print publications, museums, aquariums, etc. but the most rewarding sale is to a client who wishes to include my photography in their home since it means the image has the same sort of impact on my client that it does on me. I have not kept count but I know that I’ve had at least a few dozen print requests over the years for images of places where couples have become engaged. Each one of my images has an emotional significance for me — I can usually remember the moment I pressed the shutter release for each of my photos as well as the people I was with at the time, even for photographs made underwater 20+ years ago — and I feel successful if my image also has a similar gravity for its viewer.

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.
Image ID: 27389
Location: San Diego, California, USA

The Ocean Beach Pier is one of my favorite piers, with a stark structure and clean geometrical lines. Here are a few images of the Ocean Beach Pier shot within the last few years, all available as large prints should you be interested. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.
Image ID: 27387
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.
Image ID: 27391
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.  Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma extend off to the south, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long. Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma extend off to the south.
Image ID: 22459
Location: San Diego, California, USA

See also my photos of the other four ocean piers in San Diego County:

Scripps Institute of Oceanography Research Pier photos
Crystal Pier photos
Oceanside Pier photos
Imperial Beach Pier photos

Aerial Panoramas of La Jolla and San Diego

Aerial Photography, La Jolla, Panoramas, San Diego

Flying recently while a winter high pressure system hung over Southern California, I was able to take advantage of clear dry air to shoot several aerial panoramic photos of the La Jolla and northern San Diego coastline. These are technically very difficult to realize, both in capturing the source images and in digitally blending them into the final high resolution panoramic image. The plane was moving 100+ mph, so parallax was a significant factor, and holding a 300mm lens steady while buffeted by wind is not easy. Shown below are coastlines along Torrey Pines State Reserve, Point La Jolla south to Bird Rock, and Point La Jolla north to Scripps Institution of Oceanography (including UCSD). Cheers and thanks for looking!

Aerial Panorama of La Jolla, University City, showing (from left) UCSD, University City, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla Shores, Point La Jolla, Mount Soledad, in the background some of the mountains to the east of San Diego.  The highest peak in the center of the panoram is Cuyamaca Peak (6512') while the rocky peak directly in front of it is El Cajon Mountain (3675')

Aerial Panorama of La Jolla, University City, showing (from left) UCSD, University City, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla Shores, Point La Jolla, Mount Soledad, in the background some of the mountains to the east of San Diego. The highest peak in the center of the panoram is Cuyamaca Peak (6512′) while the rocky peak directly in front of it is El Cajon Mountain (3675′).
Image ID: 29098

Aerial panorama of Torrey Pines State Reserve, from Del Mar (left) to La Jolla (right), San Diego, California

Aerial panorama of Torrey Pines State Reserve, from Del Mar (left) to La Jolla (right)
Image ID: 29096
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

Aerial Panoramic Photograph of La Jolla, Mount Soledad, University City

Aerial Panoramic Photograph of La Jolla, Mount Soledad, University City
Image ID: 29097

If you like these, please see more aerial photographs, photos of La Jolla and photos of San Diego.

Torrey Pines Sunrise in San Diego Magazine

San Diego

One of my favorite shots from 2013 was featured as a nice-looking spread in the January issue of San Diego Magazine: Torrey Pines State Reserve’s famous “Broken Hill” at sunrise, with La Jolla and the Pacific in the background. (Here is a link to the full-width pano: Torrey Pines Broken Hill panoramic photo.) I had a cover for San Diego Magazine a couple years ago, but this is the first interior full page image I have had with them. Thanks San Diego Magazine!