Lori Carey Photography

Thursday, March 29, 2012

TDS Desert Safari Commemorative Prints

Fireworks over Ocotillo Wells for the 50th anniversary of Tierra del Sol's Desert Safari

In conjunction with the Tierra del Sol jeep club I am pleased to announce the release of a collection of commemorative prints celebrating the 50th anniversary of Desert Safari. These are photos from the fireworks show with the club logos. The collection has special pricing and 50% of all profits from the sales of these prints will be donated to their land closure fight.

You can browse and purchase the commemorative prints in my Tierra del Sol 50th Desert Safari gallery.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stormy Weather

Laguna Beach, California under stormy skies

Wow I have a lot of posting to catch up on! Have been shooting like a mad woman and have so much to share!

Storms can make for great photography with moody dramatic skies and big waves at the beach. The conditions are usually miserable and it's a lot more fun to do it with friends. Funny how I'd always been a solo shooter my entire life, but once I found others who share the same level of passion and dedication (and are great people) I found that I really like spending time shooting with them. The weekend before last I had so much fun with some friends shooting at the beach in Laguna during the storm. We actually got lucky and didn't get rained on until the very end (and then we got soaked), but the sunset made a poor showing despite what initially looked promising. That's okay, we had an awesome time getting soaked together and then wrapping it up with clam chowder and hot coffee to get warm.

Even with a weather sealed camera, when you are shooting in the rain with big waves crashing all around you (especially if you like to get down low to the action like us) it's a good idea to give your camera and lens some extra protection. A fancy expensive rain cover isn't necessary, especially if you don't frequently shoot in harsh conditions. My favorite trick is to put a plastic bag over my camera and lens, lens first, then screw on the lens hood. Screwing on the lens hood usually is enough to cut a hole exactly the size of your lens, and for extra security you can use some gaffers tape to secure the bag to the hood. A plastic grocery store bag will do the trick, a gallon-size ziplock gives heavier protection and is a good size for your camera and wide-angle to moderate length lens. Using the hood gives the front of your lens extra protection from rain drops and splashes. In the past two weeks I can count six photographers I know who had their camera or lens get a soaking while shooting the ocean during a storm so you can never be too careful.

I'm still working on my favorite image from the outing but wanted to share a couple others taken that day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Shooting against a bright sky - 2012 SJC Swallows' Day Parade

Don Diego de la Vega (Zorro) at the Swallows Parade in San Juan Capistrano, CA

Beginning photographers are often cautioned to always keep the sun at their back because shooting into the sun or against a bright sky requires understanding how light works and how your camera meters for exposure. Understanding the limitations of your camera's dynamic range (the ratio between maximum and minimum measurable brightness of light...white and black) is key; while the human eye can see a range of up to 24 f-stops, your digital camera can only see 10-14 f-stops. When a scene encompasses a range of more than 10 f-stops of brightness your camera simply cannot expose properly for both the brightest and darkest values. If you have it set to automatic exposure the brightest whites will show as gray and your subject will be greatly underexposed and look like muddy silhouettes. That's when you need to decide from a creative standpoint if you want to expose the brightest areas properly and let the darker values go black, or expose for the darker values (such as people) and let the brightest value blow out (go pure white).

Saturday was the annual San Juan Capistrano Swallows' Day Parade, part of the Fiesta de las Golondrinas (Festival of the Swallow). After just about any Mardi Gras parade this is the most fun parade I've ever attended. It is the country's largest non-motorized parade and that means lots of beautiful horses. The parade celebrates the legend of the return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano and is a wonderful display of heritage, history and culture with caballeros, vaqueros, wild west outlaws, local Indian tribes, mounted sheriff's posse from around the state, dancing horses, a group of tiny little padres, children dressed as swallows and the beautiful little dancers from Ballet Folklerico in their colorful dresses.

2012 Swallows' Day Parade, part of San Juan Capistrano's annual Fiesta de las Golondrinas (Festival of the Swallow) to celebrate the legend of the return of the swallows to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. The parade is the nation's largest non-motorized parade.

I like to shoot a parade from down low (very low) for two reason; it isolates the main subject against the sky instead of getting lost in the crowd and it makes my photos different from everyone else's. If you see a crazy blonde lying in the street with her camera at a parade, that's me! The route the Swallows' Day Parade runs puts the sun behind the riders and if you don't compensate for this you will be disappointed with your photos. This year we had a heavy overcast sky but right before the start of the parade the sun decided to become strong enough to make the overcast sky and clouds very bright.

2012 Swallows' Day Parade, part of San Juan Capistrano's annual Fiesta de las Golondrinas (Festival of the Swallow) to celebrate the legend of the return of the swallows to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. The parade is the nation's largest non-motorized parade.

There are a few easy ways to properly exposure the foreground when shooting against a bright sky:

- You can use fill flash.

- You can use spot-metering instead of evaluative and meter off your subject. This can be tough to do when shooting a fast moving subject such as birds in flight or horses galloping by.

- You can use exposure compensation, either in-camera compensation or manually. With dark subjects against a very bright sky you need to compensate about 2 full stops give or take. With digital it's usually easy enough to take a few shots and make adjustments until you get the exposure dialed in right where you want it. You can either use evaluative metering and +2 compensation in aperture-priority or shutter-priority modes depending on your subject(or programmed mode if that's where you are in your photography education...it will still give you a much better image than shooting straight program mode without any compensation), or you can set your exposure manually. Using a fairly wide aperture will help separate your subject from the background crowd.

2012 Swallows' Day Parade, part of San Juan Capistrano's annual Fiesta de las Golondrinas (Festival of the Swallow) to celebrate the legend of the return of the swallows to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. The parade is the nation's largest non-motorized parade.

Using this technique does mean that you may suffer some minor problems from light leak around trees, hair and other fine objects at times, but it's a fair trade-off for having a properly exposed subject.

2012 Swallows' Day Parade, part of San Juan Capistrano's annual Fiesta de las Golondrinas (Festival of the Swallow) to celebrate the legend of the return of the swallows to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. The parade is the nation's largest non-motorized parade.

Same as every year, when I looked behind me on Saturday I was drooling over how bright the colorful costumes were in the sun. I wonder if I can convince the parade organizers to run the route in the opposite direction for even prettier photos?

Click to see more photos from SJC Swallows' Day Parade

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Borrego Badlands

The beautiful colors and layers of the Borrego Badlands, viewed from Fonts Point, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

From up on Fonts Point this is my favorite spot in all of the Borrego Badlands. When you look out over the vast rugged terrain it's easy to miss the layers of subtle colors, an artists' palette that shows warm red, pink and gold when the sun is low and cool blues in the shade. If you could see the left slope of the hills on the right in this shot you would see that just the center of them has a cascade of yellow sliding down the center.

I don't think I'll ever tire of photographing this exact spot, but one of these days I need to be down there at the bottom finding my way through the washes that squiggle through the eroded hills to get to this very exact spot.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tierra del Sol's 50th anniversary Desert Safari Fireworks

Fireworks over Ocotillo Wells for the 50th anniversary of Tierra del Sol's Desert Safari

Last weekend in Anza-Borrego was fantastic! Jeff Sullivan is a fantastic landscape photographer who also leads photography workshops. While he was out here in California working on images for his upcoming book he generously invited a few of us to tag along with him on informal photo-walks to Anza-Borrego, Joshua Tree, Valley of Fire, Yosemite, Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra and more. I wish I had planned to follow him and Lori straight to Joshua Tree after Anza-Borrego (especially after seeing that he got some great light out there), and I had so much fun that I'm contemplating joining the Eastern Sierra and Yosemite trips.

I spent Friday-Sunday in Anza-Borrego and made some great new friends, had fun exploring slot canyons and some new trails I had never been on before during the day, then hung out until 2am every night doing night photography and was up before 5am every morning for sunrise. The only disappointment was the boring light at sunrise and sunset every single day...no clouds.

I've always been a solo shooter and this was my first experience shooting with a group. This was the perfect size; eight of us altogether and four of us who spent our nights (and mornings!) doing night photography until the wee hours. Even with such a small group it can be hard to learn to 'share' if you've never shoot with a group before, and sometimes you just have to realize that you're not going to get the shot you had hoped for. Four people just can't do star trails with the same subject in a narrow slot canyon while the moonlight is good. But that small downside is far outweighed by the upside; getting to meet some fantastic local photographers who are a lot of fun, finding some new locations, the camaraderie of others who live and breath the same stuff, having good company when trekking around the desert in the middle of the night, drinking tequila sunrises while doing long exposures...sure is a lot more fun than being out there by myself! Thank you Jeff and Lori Hibbett for your hospitality and putting together such a fun weekend, it was really great to meet both of you. And special thanks to John Moore, Tony Payne (no website Tony??) and J. Rae Chipera for all of the fun under the stars...you guys rock!

It was the same weekend of Tierra del Sol's Desert Safari...tough decision because Bill really wanted to do TDS but since he ended up working all weekend my photography won out. I did get to hang out with some jeepers Saturday morning when I had to head out to get gas but I never found any of my jeep friends. I was there in spirit with you! This was the 50th anniversary of the Desert Safari and Saturday night they celebrated with fireworks. Jeff found us a great overlook to photograph the show.

Fireworks over Ocotillo Wells for the 50th anniversary of Tierra del Sol's Desert Safari

You can see more fireworks images in the gallery here and I'll be posting more photos from this trip soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pelicans' Flight, Salton Sea

Three California Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus flying low over the Salton Sea

This is my favorite image so far this year. I've been feeling the need to stretch in new directions. To be able show not just what you see but how it made you feel is one of the toughest and most agonizing challenges of photography..and then you wonder if anyone will 'get' it.

During my last visit I was mesmerized by the birds flying in formation just mere inches over the Salton Sea, reflections in the water, the mist rising, just a bare hint of the mountains in the background. Time stops for me during moments like that.

I had an idea how I wanted the final image to look and when it finally came together for me in post it was like an epiphany. I shared it on G+ last week and not only did people 'get' it, one man put into words exactly what I hoped to convey with the image - "a wonderful, serene, visually quiet impression about what must have been a sublime, but simple and quiet moment, for photographer and subject...". Thank you my new friend, to have someone be able to put into words what I can't find the words for myself...that connection is what it's all about and means everything to me. (And I hope you don't mind that I quoted your words since you posted them publicly on G+).

Since I like this image so much I decided to offer some special pricing on it for a limited time. I'm offering it in two sizes; 8x8 and 16x16, and three formats; standard lustre and metallic prints and a ready-to-hang float-mounted metal print (printed directly on aluminum with incredible luminescence and detail).

Lustre $15.95
Metallic $19.95
Metal Float $74.95

Lustre $67.95
Metallic $74.95
Metal Float $149.95

You can view a larger size image and purchase a print here.

I'll be heading out to Anza-Borrego tomorrow to meet up with some fantastic photographers I met through G+ and I'm looking forward to sharing some great night photography when I return.