After my visit to see the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo, I was heading back up the coast towards Half Moon Bay. I was in a bit of a hurry as I needed to get back, get ready and check out with Nancy who had been having a slightly more leisurely start to the day. I had driven south in the dark so hadn’t really been too aware of what I was passing. However, the run back up showed the scenery in the lovely morning light. This included Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
I saw it from a distance as I drove north and thought how good it looked. However, with time ticking, I figured I would not have time to turn around and go back to find a good point off the road. Then, ahead of me appeared a pull off that was perfect. I parked the car, got a couple of shots that were okay, then decided a quick run down towards the cliff would not take more than a couple of minutes. The location was definitely better. The lighthouse looked a lot nicer than last time I had seen it when the weather had been a lot duller.
A trip across the hills from Napa and we made our way to Point Reyes. This is a place we have visited before and I find it very appealing. The shoreline is quite rugged and the sea pounded the cliffs or rolling in on the beaches is very nice. The lighthouse on the headland is a great place to visit. What we didn’t realize when heading over is that we were arriving when the visitor numbers are high. Apparently, gray whales migrate north at this time and, since the parking lot at the lighthouse normally only has to cope with less than 20 cars and can’t handle many more, they close off access and run a shuttle up. This upset our timings a little but we went with the flow.
Our expectations of seeing the whales was limited. We have not always had good luck seeing whales. However, low expectations seem to help as we saw several making their way around the headland. We also got to enjoy the rest of the scenery. Getting a photo of the whales is tricky. I didn’t have a very long lens but the first sign is when they spout upon surfacing before they dive back under. The spouting is the shot that you really need to make it clear what is happening and you can’t usually get the camera on them until they have already blown. However, this wasn’t the reason for the visit so I took the whale sightings as a happy bonus.
One part of Yosemite that I have not previously explored is the Tioga Pass Road. It has either been out of my way or closed for the winter during previous visits but this time I decided to take the drive across to end up at Mono Lake. The route takes you to Olmsted Point. This is only a couple of miles from my starting point in Yosemite Valley but the direct route is not available to cars so an hour’s drive is the alternative.
Olmsted Point itself is a pretty bleak and exposed place. The view across to Yosemite Valley is good (and would probably be a lot better at a different time of day to my visit)and you can see a lot from the parking lot. It is only a short walk to a better spot but most people don’t bother walking down. The rocky outcrop is very bright and on a sunny day the light is quite harsh. However, you do get a view of everything around you which makes it worth doing.
One of my goals while in Yosemite was to go to Glacier Point later in the day and watch the sunset casting its warm light over Half Dome. Half Dome is always an impressive sight to behold. Taking pictures of it never allows you to experience the scale and impressiveness of it but you do the best you can. I got up there about an hour before the sun was due to set in order to get a few other shots. I had intended to hike up to Sentinel Dome but I was running out of time so that part of the trip got scrubbed and saved for another day.
Shooting sunset type shots is a funny thing. The view looks great and you take a few shots. Then, as the sun dips lower, the light gets better and you shoot some more. This continues until suddenly it stops getting better and it is all over. You have to shoot a bunch of stuff since you never know whether it is at its peak or not. Consequently, you end up with a lot of shots that you will never use again.
The other odd aspect about this shoot was the discrepancy between the view and the atmosphere. Sunset at Glacier Point is a popular thing as you might expect. Plenty of people are there. Lots of them are families and families often include small kids. Small kids are not so enthusiastic about sitting around for an hour waiting for the sun to set. Consequently, the scenery looks great but all you can here is crying kids and desperate parents trying to buy off a tired and grouchy kid. Not quite what you had in mind. I just hope the parents still enjoyed the beautiful view since the rest of it looked painful for them.
I had a plan to meet up with my friend Joel to catch up recently. We were looking for a place to meet and went with the Holiday Inn by the Merchandize Mart. It has a bar that is a comfortable place to talk and has the added benefit of a great view over the city. I wasn’t there to shoot anything but, knowing the view was good, I took along some gear just in case.
Joel and I chatted for ages and didn’t get around to taking pictures for a while. As the sun was setting, the sky was getting very interesting and I finally had to apologize and grab the camera. I got a few shots and then set it up by the window next to me to shoot a time lapse.
This required no input from me so we could continue to talk without interruption but it should provide something interesting to check out later. However, I hadn’t planned as well as I hoped. As the light dropped, the shutter speeds were getting perilously close to the delay between each shot as I had set the ISO a little lower than I thought. Changing it is not a problem but I was using a lighter tripod which was not as well locked off as I thought. I managed to move the head a little. I corrected but knew the alignment would be off a bit.
Fortunately, while I couldn’t completely remove the effect, when I processed the time lapse using Lightroom and LRTimelapse, I was able to find the frames where the jump takes place, set them as keyframes, adjust the cropping of the second of those two frames to almost perfectly align and the resulting video is a lot better than it would have been.
Thanks Joel for a fun time. It was good to catch up and I appreciate the stuff you gave me. Here is the video that resulted!