Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Goleta Beach

A week ago Friday I went out for another early morning photoshoot, this time out at Goleta Beach. I wanted to actually capture the sunrise this time, so I got up at 5:30am to try and get there a little before 6:00 (the sunrise that morning was at 6:20).

This post has taken me a long time! I've spent a lot of time agonizing over the pictures I took. There were really only one or two that I was excited about and I put a lot of effort into trying to edit the other decent photos into something interesting.

I found it really challenging to take a good landscape shot of the sunrise. I've talked to BurnBlue a couple times through e-mail, and he's given me some good advice on landscapes. In all of his shots, he tries to have something in the foreground, midground, and background. With beach shots, the foreground is typically some interesting rocks, and the background is the sky. I'm less sure of what constitues the midground, but I'm guessing that's the ocean. I think this advice makes a lot of sense--without subjects on these different planes, the picture looks flat and doesn't draw you in.

Thinking back to the shots I took, I'm not sure what I could have used as a good foreground, so perhaps that was part of my problem. I think this was the most interesting landscape shot I took, and that's probably because it has some interesting things up front: the car and the tree's silhouette.

I've probably spent the most time playing with this photo--trying different things with the colors, trying different crops. I think the problem with it is that there's too much going on. In a way there are two photos here. There's a nice photo of a car looking out to sea, and there's a photo of a beatiful tree silhouette. Having both subjects seems like too much.

I did actually take a photo of just the car, but I think it's basically pointed the wrong direction--it's on the right looking into land rather than on the left looking out to sea.

I tried something new on this photo, I used the graduated tint effect in Picasa to punch up the blue in the sky. It took me a few tries to get something nice that I didn't later decide looked overdone.

The photo I was most excited about was this one of a water spigot on the pier. I loved the light and shadows on the rough metal, and I had fun trying to capture the water drop mid-flight.

Check out the detail on that drop!

I think I've learned a valuable lesson from my frustration this past week. My editing skills are limited, and I was taking some shots that weren't that great to begin with and then trying to salvage them by applying techniques that I haven't mastered. Really, I should have just picked the photos that excited me (in this case just the one), and been ok with letting the rest go. It was valuable to try and self-critique these other photos to learn what I could do better next time, but trying to edit them into something good was just discouraging and exhausting.


There were a couple other fun stories from the weekend that I wanted to share.

After taking pictures at Goleta Beach, I went over to a friend's place to go jogging before work. He took me out along the coast to a part of Goleta I haven't really seen before. While we were out, we saw a whale a little ways off shore, blowing water and splashing around. We came across a couple researchers whose job it was to sit out on the bluffs from 9-5 everyday and monitor whale activity in the Santa Barbara Channel. They told us it was actually three grey whales out there mating (apparently it's not uncommon for two males to mate with a female)--I think they said it was around the peak of mating season. Sadly, I'm not in the habit of carrying my camera bag while jogging, so no pictures. Cool way to start the day, though!

The next day (Saturday), we went out to Santa Claus beach (perhaps it's so named to-highlight the irony of being able to go play at the beach on Christmas day?). While we were there, a handful of paragliders and one hangglider landed at the beach.

These crazy guys run off the mountains behind Santa Barbara with their chutes, float around for a while and eventually make their way down to land at the beach. I think the guy in these pictures actually botched his landing--he landed back in the shrubs between the train tracks and the beach. I'm assuming he didn't intend to do that because something about landing within thirty feet of a train with a big chute floating above you doesn't seem very safe.


  1. The Droplet foto is just amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing....Your hard work is seen in this shot..Lovely Colors of the rising sun...Good Work!

  2. I agree with Megha! Though I might have capitalized all the letters in my "AMMMAAAAAAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZing". They are some of my favorite photos ever witnessed! I LOVE the look of the faucet and the drop is perfection! I LOVE THOSE PICS! LOVE THEM!

  3. the droplet of water - fantasic - will have to try my version of that this week. Thanks for the idea and your blog has loads of tips to improve my photography. keep up the good work

  4. Droplet picture is wonderful ! I will try next week ! ;-)