Tag Archives: San Diego

The Watchman


Brian Auer | 09/20/2008 | San Diego, CA | 20mm * f/5.6 * 1/160s * ISO200
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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.

Feet on the Beach

Feet on the Beach

Brian Auer | 01/19/2008 | San Diego, CA | 300mm * f/6.7 * 1/250s * ISO100
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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
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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!

February Challenge: Day 12 – 22 Lanes

22 Lanes

WEEK 3 = RED

Long exposure of traffic on Interstate 5 where it splits into the 5 and 805. Can you believe that there are 22 lanes at this point and it’s backed up during rush hour every day?

I’ve never done one of these long-exposure traffic shots before. It turns out that the white lights are much brighter than the red ones. Plus there wasn’t much traffic, so it probably could’ve turned out better. Here are a few others from that night as I was messing around with different amounts of focus and shutter speed:

14 Point Star 8 Point Star Octogons Short Exposure Moderate Exposure Long Exposure

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

La Jolla Photowalk Reminder

Remember folks, we’ve got a Southern California photowalk happening on Saturday, February 9th. So if you’re in the greater Los Angeles or San Diego area, stop by for a while and take some photos with us.

It should be a good turnout — Bryan Villarin and I will be there along with John Watson from Photodoto. I’m still working on Ryan Goodman from CameraPorn, and I had Nate Ritter asking me about it earlier today. Looks like it’s going to end up being a blogger convention!

February Challenge: Day 1 – Glass Flower

Glass Flower

WEEK 1 = CLEAR

The February Challenge is all about color – you pick a color each week and document those colors. So my first color will be my favorite color… clear. It’s a great color because it takes on the color from the things around it. So it’s every color and no color all at the same time!

Now I realize that many of you may think that clear is not a color, but ask yourself this… what color are your windows? What color are your glass dishes? What color is water (assuming it’s clean)? How about diamonds? My wife hates the fact that I insist clear be my favorite color, so this week is dedicated to her.

This particular image is an abstract of a CLEAR glass candy dish lid positioned on top of a purple DVD-R with an orange background (a shirt). The DVD served to reflect some nice rainbow colors that you can see in the refraction of the CLEAR glass.

So is anybody else joining in with the February Challenge?

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

Calling All SoCal Photographers: Upcoming Photowalk in La Jolla

My buddy Bryan Villarin got in touch with me about putting together a San Diego Photowalk. After talking over a few ideas, we decided on a date, time, and general plan of attack. Here’s what we came up with:

WHERE: La Jolla, California


View Larger Map

WHEN: February 9th, 1PM

Show up a little early if you want some extra time to browse through the famous Joseph Bellows Gallery and get your fill of photographic inspiration.

WHY?

Why not? Photowalks are a great way to meet other local photographers, get inspired, and take home some great photos. So if you live in the Southern California area (especially you San Diegans), come hang out with us in scenic La Jolla. Here’s my write-up for the Upcoming.org event:

Meet us at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in La Jolla to start off a great afternoon of photowalking. We’ll use the gallery as a gathering place so we can browse the photographic art as we wait for everyone to arrive.

From there, we’ll walk down Girard Avenue for some street photography. At the end of Girard, there’s another gallery that we can optionally visit called Images of Nature by Thomas D. Mangelsen. We’ll then turn our attention to the busy sidewalks of Prospect Street as we make our way down toward the beach. Once near the water, we’ll explore La Jolla’s scenic shoreline and maybe even visit the tide pools if the tides are in our favor.

Seriously, if you live in Southern California and you don’t show up I’m going to be very disappointed. Besides, here’s what you’ll be missing if you don’t show up:

The images shown above are licensed under the Creative Commons.

December Challenge: Day 28 – Elephant Boy

Elephant Boy

Candice and I spent the day at the San Diego Zoo with the kids. We ended up buying season’s passes since the price difference wasn’t that much. Plus I knew we couldn’t cover the entire zoo in one day with the kids, so now we can go back any time. It’s about a 15-20 minute drive for us.

This photo is of my son Rex hanging out by the Elephants. He likes to wander around and climb on the rails, so we had to keep a close eye on him. He really wanted to see the Panda, but the line was outrageous so we told him we’d see them next time. We ended up settling on the Elephants as our last stop for the day, and the kids were fine with that.

To see the rest of my December Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

December Challenge: Day 27 – Bailey and Rex

Bailey and Rex

This photo actually says a lot about how my kids act in front of the camera. Bailey goes into "model mode” and starts posing and batting her eyes. Honestly, I don’t know where she picks up on this stuff. Rex, on the other hand, will do what he can to show off or place himself in some strange configuration while saying “look what I can do.” And if I’m not taking a photo of him (as was the case with this one), he’ll do everything in his power to insert himself into the photo. Usually he puts his face or hands right in front of the lens, so at least this time he had the decency to place himself inside of the focused region.

This was taken in Downtown San Diego. We attempted to get down there in time for the balloon parade, but we showed up just after it had finished. So we walked around the city for a little while then headed back home for lunch.

Sidenote: On the way home, we drove through Little Italy and I scoped out a photography store. I’m going to have to head back down there by myself one day and check it out.

To see the rest of my December Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

December Challenge: Day 22 – Matt

Matt

I was trying to think of an interesting place to get a portrait for the day, and I ended up at the grocery store in the produce section. I figured the colorful fruits and vegetables would make for a nice background. Well, when I got there the place was pretty much dead — not many shoppers, especially in the produce area. There was, however, an employee stocking the bananas.

Matt is an X-Ray Technician student at San Diego Mesa College, and he works over at the local grocery store when he’s not in class. He also spends his free time surfing the local beaches. Interestingly enough, Matt is a native San Diegan — born and raised down here. And after being here for nearly half a year myself, I’m not surprised he’s decided to stick around.

To see the rest of my December Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.