Tag Archives: blue

Blue Alley

Blue Alley
A side alley in San Francisco, illuminated at night by blue lights

Blue Alley. San Francisco, California. July 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A side alley in San Francisco, illuminated at night by blue lights

Sometimes I think about why I am attracted to certain subjects, and I’ve thought a bit about what it is about night photography that draws me. It is actually a bit complicated, so I won’t try to explicate the whole thing here. I can, however, say something about two related issues. First, a lot of night photography is as much about what the camera sees as it is about what I see. Our human vision can work rather well in near darkness, especially once we adapt, but what we see is nothing much like what our cameras see. The camera can blur motion with long exposures, can record with relative accuracy colors that we either cannot really see in near darkness or which our minds tell us are not what they really are, and quite simply the camera can sometimes produce a photograph of things that are too dark to really see. Secondly, because of these things, the concept of objective accuracy in night photography pretty much goes right out the window. How in the world do you make an “accurate” photograph of something that you cannot actually see without the camera?

If you or I saw this scene with our eyes, we would likely be almost completely unaware of the wildly divergent colors of the light. Our vision system (eyes and, especially, brain) often tell us that we are seeing what we believe we should see. Sidewalks are grey, not blue, so even in blue light the mind registers the objectively blue sidewalk as gray. Yet the camera is more objective, and when we see photographs of these subjects we are often struck by the wild colors. I have heard people ask how to “correct” these colors. My answer? Don’t! I look for and use these intensely colored lighting sources – here a blue light, sometimes the red of automobile tail lights, the warm color of tungsten light, the daylight-like color of LED lighting, the strange spectrum of fluorescent — all of which can lend string color to scenes that are often drab and nondescript in daylight


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Drake’s Estero

Drake's Estero
Summer sun penetrates clearing fog over Drake’s Estero, Point Reyes National Seashore

Drake’s Estero. Point Reyes National Seashore, California. June 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Summer sun penetrates clearing fog over Drake’s Estero, Point Reyes National Seashore

I took my camera for a hike this week. Or at least that’s how it felt. I have to confess that Point Reyes, a place I visit somewhat regularly, has always been a photographic challenge for me. I can’t quite put my finger on why that is. I certainly have good results with seascape photographs from other areas along the California coast. As I hiked today — an eight mile round trip to the entrance to Drake’s Estero* — I pondered this what might explain it. Because the point extends out into the ocean, it is often foggy. This fog is not the mysterious sort that hangs along the ground and partially obscures trees and hills. It tends to be the cold gray fog that hovers a few hundred feed up, simply blocking and flattening the light. Although I’m intrigued by this landscape, much of it can be quite barren. There are forests, but they often consist of slender trees growing closely together, often with dense undergrowth. It is difficult to find the things that attract me to the landscapes of the Sierra and the desert — rugged rocky forms, tall cliffs (there are some of these at Point Reyes), light-filled forests, bare and rocky ground. Oh, and did I mention the wind!?

But I keep going back, frequently returning with only a few photographs. This was one of those days. I very much like the place I hiked — a route that alternates between forest, tramping along the waterline, and traversing high bluffs above the estero. I walked four miles out past the end of the trail, to a place where I could walk along a narrow band at the base of cliffs that front the estero, and across the relatively still water were sandbars with birds. Beyond that the surf broke outside of the entrance to the estero. At this far end of the hike I was completely alone, and I found a rock to sit on and quietly take in this scene before turning around to retrace my steps. The photographic challenges on this walk were primarily the strong winds and the gray light. As I passed along the top of one of the bluffs, the sky cleared enough to produce beautiful, soft light on the water and the far peninsula, providing an opportunity to make my one good photograph of the day.

  • “Drake’s Estero” is, as you probably guessed, an estuary — but here I’m using the word that the park service uses for this feature.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Detail, Tower Bridge

Detail, Tower Bridge
Detail, Tower Bridge

Detail, Tower Bridge. London, England. July 3, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Detail of the Tower Bridge, London and the River Thames

Earlier today we were talking about how it has been too long since we’ve been across the Atlantic — our last trip was back in the summer of 2013. We started in London, spending nearly a full week there, enough time to feel like we were beginning to get past the most obvious things — but not nearly enough time exhaust the possibilities of the place. Making that trip extra special, we managed to meet up with a bunch of family members there, and then continue more or less together as we continued on to Germany for about a another two weeks.

As I like to do in American cities, we wandered a fair amount while we were in London. While I know that planning is very useful when going to a new place and having limited time, I know that I also like to just follow my nose a bit and get out and walk around and see where I end up — in some ways I feel that this may eventually give me a better sense of a place. Not that this location is exactly off the beaten track! In fact, this photograph shows details of one of the best known iconic bridges, with bits of the River Thames visible in the background.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring

Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring
Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring

Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn oak leaves, reflections of sky and sandstone cliffs on stained rock

This was a wonderful autumn day of exploration, re-visiting a familiar place, wandering with friends, and photography. We drove a short distance down a back-country road from our campsite to get to the start of a canyon, beginning in a spot where there is little in the surrounding landscape to indicate what is hidden here. We left our vehicles on the flats at the edge of a shallow valley and dropped into it. The valley quickly narrowed and it wasn’t long until sandstone walls towered above as we traced the meandering course of the stream that had cut this canyon. We travelled slowly, making detours as the spirit took us, and halting to concentrate on photographic subjects we discovered along the way.

Eventually we arrived at a sort of “half-subway” (referencing a well-known Utah landscape subject that is far from this spot) where the creek rounded a bend in a narrow section of the canyon and has cut away rock back underneath the overhead walls. At the lower end of this section we arrived at a wider flat area, though the canyon was still quite narrow, and we paused to eat, talk, make photographs, and ponder. Across the bend in the creek a smooth rock wall dropped down from beneath a thickly vegetated ledge to the banks of the creek, and water seeped from cracks below the ledge, providing enough water to keep the rock constantly damp, and autumn leaves from an oak tree on the ledge were scattered on the rock.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

The Wetlands, Late Winter

The Wetlands, Late Winter
The Wetlands, Late Winter

The Wetlands, Late Winter. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

San Joaquin Valley wetlands on a late winter morning

About a week ago we headed off to Yosemite Valley for a few days, primarily to attend the opening reception of the 30th annual Yosemite Renaissance Exhibit in The Valley, but also to spend some time there in what we hoped might be interesting and possibly snowy conditions. Given the way this year has gone, it shouldn’t be surprising that the hopes of snow were not met — though there was a five-minute flurry in the morning in the Valley and we found a few inches of new snow by climbing up out of the Valley. But “there is always something to see,” and there was no shortage of other things to photograph.

On our way to the Valley from the San Francisco Bay Area we made a short morning stop at a favorite migratory bird hangout. Typically we arrive here by dawn and encounter thick tule fog. This morning was different and more spring-like with sun and a few puffy clouds overhead. While it seems wrong to see this weather in what should be winter, it still was beautiful, and I made this simple photograph of a quite wetlands marsh where I more typically photograph in fog very early in the morning.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Geese in Blue Sky

Geese in Blue Sky
Geese in Blue Sky

Geese in Blue Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 13, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Thousands of Ross’s Geese in the San Joaquin Valley winter sky

And, yes, another photograph of thousands of geese wheeling overhead in the San Joaquin Valley sky. They tend to do that this time of year. The cause of this eruption of geese was a bit different from the usual. Typically, when they are flocking in pastures and similar areas, something sets them off — a predator, a low flying plane, who knows what else — and an entire flock will suddenly take to the air en masse, in a maelstrom of flapping wings and noise. We had stopped near a large group in a field, from which smaller groups were constantly coming and going, when another vehicle pulled up behind us. Out hopped a half-dozen young girls who proceed to run down the road, setting of the geese. (For the record, you aren’t supposed to do this. They are young. They will learn. :-)

Because the flock was so close, the first photographs I made mostly featured close up walls of geese. But eventually they widened the circle of their flight, looping round beyond this little brushy grove out in the flatlands. I zoomed out to see if I could get a larger view, and although I was shooting a 100-400mm lens, 100mm was “wide” enough to take in thousands of geese, the landscape, and the gradient of color in the sky as it transitioned from the lighter colors of the foggy atmosphere near the ground to the deeper blue of winter sky far above.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 25. 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A great blue heron in flight above the San Joaquin Valley

The great blue heron is a big and spectacular bird that I sometimes find in the San Joaquin Valley in the winter. It is often along — though occasionally paired up with an egret — and I find them in fields, grassy areas, and occasionally near ditches and creeks. The heron is an impressively big bird, slightly larger than the great white egrets that are often found in similar locations.

In some ways they are not so hard to photograph, though getting close enough to fill the frame with one of them isn’t easy. Often when photographing in an area where I can usually find them, they will seem to be not overly distracted as I come up to a reasonable distance, trying to avoid upsetting the bird. Then, almost invariably, I sense that the bird is nervous about my presence, so I go no closer — and before long it typically takes to the air. (Most often I photograph them from inside a vehicle.) Their flight is beautiful, as they spread their large wings and once in the air glide gracefully. The other sort of opportunity to photograph them is when one simply happens to fly past, which is what this one did. As it crossed in front of me I managed to squeeze of more than a half-dozen photographs of the bird against the foggy Central Valley sky.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.