Tag Archives: beach

The Watchman


Brian Auer | 09/20/2008 | San Diego, CA | 20mm * f/5.6 * 1/160s * ISO200
[Purchase a Print] [See it at Flickr]

This photo was taken at a location very close to my home, and I’ve shot there many times. It’s a gliderport near Torrey Pines State Park, sitting atop a 300-foot sand cliff overlooking Black’s Beach. Just to the side of the gliderport, there’s an area where you can walk right up to the point of steep decsent. This scary little lifeguard station sits perched right near the edge.

I shot using my wide angle lens to capture the vast openness of the scenery. The lifeguard was unaware that I was taking a photo of him, so his pose is quite natural. The lighting really sucked because it was heavy overcast and the sun was setting, but it worked out just fine.

The Watchman Post-Processing

All of the post-processing on this photo was done with Adobe Camera Raw 5. The intent wasn’t to use extreme processing or fancy tricks to get an interesting outcome — it was only to make small adjustments where necessary to convey a true lifelike scene.

  1. UNPROCESSED RAW
    Being very overcast and slightly dim, the original image doesn’t show much of the detail and color that was present in the scene.
  2. BASIC
    Temperature = 6050; Tint = +3; Exposure = 0; Fill Light = 10; Blacks = 8; Brightness = +24; Contrast = +50; Clarity = 0; Vibrance = +30; Saturation = +10;
    So I basically filled in some of the shadows, deepened the blacks, brightened up the whole image, added some contrast, and boosted the overall colors.
  3. TONE CURVE
    Highlights = 0; Lights = +25; Darks = -10; Shadows = 0;
    Here, I’ve just added some contrast to the mid-tones while maintaining my extremes.
  4. DETAIL
    Amount = 50; Radius = 1.5; Detail = 25; Masking = 0; Luminance = 35; Color = 25;
    These are pretty typical sharpening values that I use with my Sony a700, but I’ve bumped up the Luminance Noise Reduction a bit more than usual because I was seeing some junk up in the clouds and the water (blues suck for noise).
  5. HSL
    Aquas (Hue) = -30; Aquas (Saturation) = +15; Blues (Saturation) = +30; Aquas (Luminance) = +16; Blues (Luminance) = -5;
    This is where a lot of the magic happens with this photo. I love utilizing these controls in colorful scenes to pinpoint the look for each specific color. By lowering the Hue of the Aqua, it turned more green. Bumping up the saturation on Aqua and Blue made them stand out more. Boosting the luminance of the Aqua made it separate better from the rest of the water, as did lowering the luminance of the blues — and it gave the sky a better tone. I would have dropped the blues even further, but the noise really started to kick up.

So that’s it really — no Photoshop or local adjustments. Just a few small changes with the raw processor.

Photowalking Venice Beach 10-25-2008

Longboards

Just a quick shout to anybody in the general vicinity of Southern California — A few of us are hanging out at Venice Beach on Saturday, October 25, 2008. We’ll meet up at 3PM near the “Sausage Kingdom“. We’ll stick around until sunset, then leave before it gets dark (and scary).

Sausage Kingdom

If you’re in the area, come hang out and shoot some photos with us. Nothing formal, just a couple hours of walking around and soaking up the atmosphere. If you’re planning on coming out and you don’t see us (or if you’re late), don’t hesitate to give me a call at 208-659-2901.

Keep Out: Sewage Contaminated Water

Sewage Contaminated Water

I’ve often seen the warning signs around San Diego County beaches that appear immediately after rainfall warning visitors to stay out of the water due to runoff contamination, but this sign was a first for me. The yellow signs on the bottom warn of sewage contaminated water that may cause illness — and it hadn’t rained in many months, so the contamination was coming from another source.

This particular beach is located within the Border Field State Park just south of the Tijuana river outlet and north of the Mexican Border. Where the sewage contamination comes from, I have no idea — possibly from the river? At any rate, it’s a shame that these huge stretches of beach south of Imperial Beach are completely unused except for a few curious visitors to the state park. Not to mention the harm that is likely being done to the animals inhabiting this area.


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This photo is part of an Environmental Awareness Photography Project. The deadline for this project is October 18, and I’d encourage everyone to consider participating.

A Year of Beach Culture Photography

[If you’d like to grab this video, you can get it at YouTube]

Every region has it’s own special culture and atmosphere, just waiting to be experienced. The Southern California beach towns are no exception! It’s been one year since I moved to San Diego, and I’ve been captivated by the beach towns that lie along the Pacific Coastline. As a photographer, I’ve made it a point to explore and document these towns, in hopes that I’ll eventually be able to share something greater than individual photos.

What I’m sharing today isn’t a finished product — it’s still in the making. The video above and the slideshow below are just a sample of what I hope to achieve some day. I’m lucky to be able to live in such a great place, and I don’t know how long I’ll have that ability. Prior to living here, I lived in New Jersey and I got to experience the East Coast culture and New York City culture. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in full swing with my photography and I missed a great opportunity to document an amazing region. I don’t plan on making that mistake again.

And to help me finish this project, I’d like to get your help. For the next year of my existence in Southern California, I’ll be photographing with this project in mind. Based on what you’ve seen here, give me some feedback. What’s working? What’s not? What’s missing? What’s overdone? What places or things can I photograph to better capture the culture? When you think of Southern California beach towns, what comes to mind? I’d love to get some feedback from all of you.

Darkness Creeps In

Darkness Creeps In

Brian Auer | 06/29/2008 | Huntington Beach, CA | 135mm * f/2.8 * 1/?s * ISO50
[Purchase Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This photo was taken while I was hanging out with a few friends one afternoon at Huntington Beach. It was kind of a last minute “whatcha doin this weekend” sort of thing. Bryan Villarin (F/B/T), Arnold (F/T), Jason Stone (F/B/T), John Watson (F/B/T), my son Rex (F), and I (F/B/T) were all there to grab some shots of the beach and pier while we waited for the sunset to see if anything exciting would happen (you can see them all in this Polaroid I took).

The Guys at Huntington Beach

Just as we were finishing up dinner, the sunset was approaching so we zoomed back over to the beach to grab some shots. I only had film cameras with me that day (4 of them), and I had been shooting black and white with my SLR and TLR. I still had about 10 shots on the roll in the SLR, so I finished that one off and quickly loaded a roll of Velvia 50 with the intent of cross processing. I got about half way through the roll before the sun was gone. If I had decided to swap out the roll in my TLR, I probably would have missed it altogether.

I took the Velvia with me solely for the purpose of shooting the sunset and cross processing it. I assumed that the Velvia 50 would turn out the same as the Velvia 100 when cross processed, so I was expecting to get some serious red/magenta shifts on the already red/orange sunset. Instead, I got a blue/green shift similar to what I’ve seen with Ektachrome. I’m not at all disappointed with the results… it’s just not what I had expected.

And on top of all that, I got this really neat photo that ended up with a heavy vignette/underexposure on the right side of the frame. Very cool results all around. This is one of the reasons I’m attracted to film — sometimes the results are completely unpredictable, but better than you had expected.

POST-PROCESSING

  1. Take exposed film out of camera
  2. Give film to camera store and say “Cross process, please. No prints and no cuts.”
  3. Go outside and take photos for 15 minutes
  4. Go back to the store and pick up film
  5. Take film home and scan
  6. Post photo on the Internet

Yup, seriously… no digital post processing other than maybe some dust removal. Sometimes I also adjust the white balance on my cross processed stuff to remove most of the color cast, but I left this one alone.

Field of Yellow

Field of Yellow

Brian Auer | 04/13/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 15mm * f/8.0 * 1/160s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This one was taken along the shores of La Jolla, California. I was out with my wife this weekend and we decided to take a short trip down the Pacific Coast Highway from Carlsbad to La Jolla. The shores of La Jolla are some of the most scenic in the area — lots of small cliffs and sandstone formations, caves, vegetation, tide pools, etc. I shot this scene with my Sigma 10-20mm lens at the widest focal length of 10mm. I’ve been ignoring that lens for a while, so I put it on the camera and left it there all day… well, I had my film camera with me too so I wasn’t completely limited on focal length.

Field of Yellow Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    Here’s what the unprocessed RAW image looked like — pretty dull and a little washed out.
  2. Processed RAW
    I cooled the white balance slightly, increased the contrast, increased the vibrance and saturation, and added a few other minor tweaks to the exposure settings.
  3. LAB Saturation
    I used my LAB Saturation Photoshop Action to bring the colors out a little better. This helped to remove some of the muddy haze in the sky.
  4. Dodge
    Selective dodging around the green of the waves and on the left side of the flowers at the bottom of the frame.
  5. Burn
    Selective burning in the sky and on the right side of the flowers to add more balance.

Enjoy!

Abused and Ignored

Abused and Ignored

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 75mm * f/2.5 * 1/8000s * ISO200
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

I found this beautiful lady in Venice Beach. She didn’t say much, but I think she was into me. Don’t let her distant stare fool you, she had quite the personality. Underneath of her “I’m sexy and I know it” facade, she’s screaming for attention. Because she is, after all… abused and ignored.

Abused and Ignored Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    There you have it, straight out of the camera.
  2. Processed RAW
    Minimal processing for white balance and exposure (using the “Auto” setting in ACR).
  3. Color Curves
    I used the technique from my “Redscale Process” described some weeks ago. After adjusting the curves, the blend mode was set to “color”.
  4. Color Fill
    Again, from the mentioned Photoshop technique. Opacity set to 20% and blend mode to “color”.
  5. Luminosity Curves
    Added some contrast to make it a little more punchy. Blend mode was set to “luminosity” to preserve previous color adjustments.

Now if I could figure out how to create the same effect in ACR I’d be pretty clever.

Laguna Beach Photowalk: March 30

I had such a great time at the last photowalk in La Jolla that some of us decided we should put on another one in Orange County (which is kind of a midway point between Los Angeles and San Diego). Hopefully we can get a decent turnout again, so if you’re in the Southern California area, here are the details:

WHERE: Laguna Beach, California


View Larger Map

WHEN: March 30th, 2PM

I set it up for after lunch so we don’t have to try finding food for under $20 per person. But if you’re into food, you might want to show up early and hit one of the many restaurants down near the water.

WHY?

Because photowalks are where it’s at! If you’ve never been to one, you don’t know what you’re missing. I always meet a ton of great people and I walk away with lots of interesting photos. It’s part social event, part photo shoot. Here’s my write-up for the Upcoming.org event:

Join us in Orange County’s Laguna Beach for an afternoon of photowalking. We’ll begin our walk at the Festival of Arts building on Broadway, walk all the way down Broadway until we hit the Pacific Coast Highway, then we’ll turn our attention to some of the more active streets in Laguna Beach — Ocean Avenue and Forest Avenue. When we’re done with the busy street scene, we’ll head down to the beach and walk along the boardwalk. For those who want to do a little more beach photography, we’ll then head over to the rocky shoreline to see what we can find.

There’s a large parking lot available across the street from our meeting place, and parking will cost $3 for the day. Bring a few extra dollars in case you need to park in a different lot, prices will vary between $3 and $10.

Laguna Beach is fairly simple to reach from the major freeways. Just hop on the Laguna Freeway 133 (also known as Laguna Canyon Road) from the 73, I-405, or I-5. The canyon road will take you all the way down to our meeting spot and into Laguna Beach. Or for those coming from a nearby beach town, you can take the Pacific Coast Highway into Laguna Beach.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate with us that day… but hey, it’s Southern California. There’s a 99% chance it’ll be sunny and warm. And if all of this isn’t enough to persuade you to come hang out for the afternoon, it’s my birthday (on the 31st) so you owe it to me!

Laguna shore
Creative Commons License photo credit: timotale

Sim City
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kevin Labianco

Cue Hilary Duff
Creative Commons License photo credit: shawdm

Feet on the Beach

Feet on the Beach

Brian Auer | 01/19/2008 | San Diego, CA | 300mm * f/6.7 * 1/250s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This one was taken on the Torrey Pines State Beach near my home in San Diego. The feet actually belong to my Mother-in-Law. I spotted her walking along the water near sunset and I couldn’t resist trying to get some “walking on the beach” photos. I shot about 7 or 8 in rapid-fire mode and this one turned out the best from all of them. The reflection turned out better than I had hoped, and the moment in mid-stride made for an interesting photo.

Feet on the Beach Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. Not a lot of color to begin with, so black & white was a natural choice for me.
  2. Black & White Conversion
    Before doing anything, I switched to grayscale. I pushed the red, orange, yellow, green, and aqua to negative compensation while the blues, purples and magentas were pushed in the positive direction.
  3. Basic Adjustments
    I left the white balance set at a temperature of 5100 and a tint of -1. I left the exposure near zero, while I boosted the recovery to 33, fill light to 41, bumped the blacks up to 34, increased the brightness to 76, pushed up the contrast to 19, and I ramped the clarity all the way up to 100.
  4. Tone Curve Adjustment
    Using the parametric tone curve, I set the highlights to +22, lights to +49, darks to -33, and shadows to -47. This gave me the strong contrast I was after, and I actually pushed a few (very few) of the shadows off the histogram. Overall, the image is heavy on the darker tones.
  5. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the lens correction menu, I set the vignette to an amount of -70 with a midpoint of 20 — and this gave me the strong frame around the subject. As a last step, I set the sharpening under the detail menu to an amount of 50 with a radius of 1.5 pixels.

Enjoy!

Wide Open

Wide Open

Brian Auer | 02/23/2008 | San Diego, CA | 15mm * f/6.3 * 1/1000s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

When the wind is just right, the skies above Black’s Beach team with para gliders and hang gliders. This particular shot was taken at a 10mm focal length (15mm full-frame equivalent) as I stood very near the edge of a 300 foot sand cliff above the Pacific Ocean. The gliders ride the updrafts as the wind comes off the ocean and shoots straight up along the face of the cliff. These thrill seekers can ride these winds for extended periods of time and never lose altitude. The Gliderport is located on the Torrey Pines State Reserve, nestled between the beach towns of La Jolla and Del Mar. La Jolla can be seen in the background of this photo as it extends out into the ocean to form a point. And those little dots on the sand below… those are people.

Wide Open Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. Not too shabby, but it needed some work on a few areas. I decided to keep the color on this one because of the sky in the upper portion of the image.
  2. Basic Adjustments
    I set the white balance to a temperature of 5500 and a tint of +8. Then I brought the exposure to -.5, set the recovery to 100, no fill light, blacks at 13, brightness at +14, contrast at +35, clarity at 35, vibrance at +17, and saturation at +7. Do note that a lot of these settings weren’t made in this order — there’s a lot of back-and-forth between these settings and the settings on the other two panels I used.
  3. Tone Curve Adjustment
    I set a “strong contrast” on the point curve, and added some extra contrast on the parametric curve with highlights set to -28, lights at +26, darks at -13, and shadows at -4.
  4. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the detail panel, I set the sharpening to an amount of 50 and a radius of 1.5. In the lens corrections panel, I added some positive vignette. So instead of darkening the corners, I lightened them to even out the image and brighten the foreground. At 10mm, my lens tends to produce a slight amount of vignette, so I punched up the value in ACR to +50 with a midpoint of 0. I lost some contrast in the clouds (which I over-contrasted just for this reason), but I gained a whole lot of brightness in the lower left corner.

Enjoy!