Light Photos

Santa Barbara Skies
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Santa Barbara Skies

An evening in the hills over Santa Barbara. The lights of the city are just visible as the bright glow through the trees and the foreground was lit by the headlights of passing cars. There is such an amazing dance going on just above our heads every night. And you don't even need a telescope or even a camera to appreciate it. Just a short drive up the mountain to a dark spot and the patience to sit and let your eyes adjust, is all you need to have the beauty of the universe laid out before you. (Or at least our little galactic corner of it.)


Clock Tower View
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Clock Tower View

I'm often surprised at how many locals have never been to the observation deck at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clocktower. It's a wondeful experience, even for those of us who may be used to looking at the beauty of Santa Barbara all the time. A wonderful experience that is, if you can easily navigate the tight metal stairways winding up the last story from the top of the elevator.

But that is all about to change. Thanks to the caretakers of the courthouse a new project is underway to extend the elevator the last story all the way to the observation deck. But unlike some of the accessibility stories you hear where someone sued or complained to get action, the story behind the project is very positive. The courthouse has had ADA accessibility plans in the works for some time, but this particular project was accellerated by the people who forged ahead, rather than let it stop them. Even though the climb to the top was tough there are many who make the trek apparently even in the face of extreme difficulty. Inspired by the people who felt the experience was worth the effort, the Courthouse Docents urged the powers that be to fast track the project. Led by a guy who's love of the history and heritage in his care is quite apprent when you talk to him, the County Arcitect Robert Ooley, the project got the green light this week.

Of course, extending the elevator another floor is no easy task. Starting January the Clock Gallery and the observation deck will be closed to the public to allow for construction, which is slated to run through July 2015. So if you've never been to the top because you've just never got around to it, now is a great time to go before construction starts! Of course if you've stayed away because of the climb, your wait is almost over. Either way, during the construction I'll do my best to bring the wonderful views right to you.

You can find out more about this project and others in the works at http://www.santabarbaracourthouse.org/


Crescent Moon
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Crescent Moon

The crescent moon setting over Santa Barbara. When the moon is just a sliver like this, it's easy to miss. (in fact you may have to click to view a larger size image) Especially on a day with a beautiful sunset to distract you. But if you look closely the tiny crescent following the sun over the horizon is a beautiful sight.


Harbor View Sunset
Monday, September 1, 2014
Harbor View Sunset

The Santa Barbara Harbor about a half hour after a beautiful summer sunset. This year has been one of the driest on record, but several Pacific hurricanes have supplied us with enough of these beautiful wispy evening clouds to put on quite an unseasonable show. This particular day had a wonderful parade of high clouds all day giving me a good hint that the evening would be beautiful. And I couldn't think of a better place to spend the warm evening than walking on the breakwater at the Harbor with my best friend.


Milky Way Over Goleta
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Milky Way Over Goleta

Last night in the foothills above Goleta, the sky was beautifully dark and clear. I have been planning a drive to Santa Ynez to get some Milky Way pictures out where there is less light. But last night I just had to get out and see what I could get, even if it was a little late for the drive all the way to my favorite astrophotography spots.

This was one of my earlier shots of the evening. The glow is from cars in the distance and the city of Goleta down the hill in the distance. This spot was not my first choice (or even my second) when thinking of where to go, but as it turned out it was the best. There was just enough of a ridge around this area to block the city lights enough to get some beautiful images of the night sky and to see quite a few beautiful shooting stars!


Friday Night Lights at Butterfly
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Friday Night Lights at Butterfly

I've always enjoyed taking my camera out after dark. A long exposure can reveal all kinds of interesting things you didn't even know were there. This was Friday night at Butterfly Beach. The moon was bright enough in the sky to easily catch the details at a faster shutter speed than this. But I intentionally lengthened the exposure to try to capture a more dreamy effect. In the middle of my exposure the people at the right walked up carrying some kind of small light, a cell phone presumably, which made for some unexpected interest in the form of an abstract light painting along the wall.


Evening Over Stearns Wharf
Friday, July 25, 2014
Evening Over Stearns Wharf

A nice cool evening out on Stearns Wharf. This is one of my favorite times to be out on the wharf. Most of the shops have closed and the only people out are fishermen or the restaurant patrons heading back to their cars. Of course it's a little harder to get ice cream and candy at this time... but the parking is free!


Santa Barbara City Lights
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Santa Barbara City Lights

A nice long exposure just after sunset from the end of the breakwater. The tide was pretty high when I took this last week, so I came back from a nice evening walk on the breakwater a little soggy. But it was well worth it. I was not the only one crazy enough to brave the beautiful waves either. There were more than a few people trying to enjoy the view while running from dry spot to dry spot on the breakwater. I actually had fun trying to capture the breaking waves, but they seemed to take on a life of their own. Taunting me only when I turned my back. When I came close to the wall ready to snap my shot quickly then duck, they seemed to know I was stalking them. I actually got all the way out and most of the way back before they caught me off totally off guard. I guess the score is waves 1 - photographer 0, but there will be plenty of warm evenings this summer to give me the opportunity to even up the score.


Santa Barbara Evening View
Friday, June 6, 2014
Santa Barbara Evening View

I love trying to get a different perspective on our beautiful corner of the world. And I've always enjoyed experimenting with my cameras after dark. No surprise then that I would always be on the lookout for a wonderful nighttime perch like this.

We have a wonderful opportunity to go from a beautiful cityscape like this, to an absoulte dark sky allowing great views of the stars in Santa Ynez Valley with only a short drive. And you can see that on some interesting maps online that can help you find dark skies for stargazing, or even bright cityscapes if you're a crazy owl-like photographer who likes that sort of thing. This is one of my favorites... http://darksitefinder.com/maps.html

(By the way, access to this particular view was thanks to a friend, client and regular Santa Barbara View reader!)


Carmel Mission Twilight
Monday, May 5, 2014
Carmel Mission Twilight

Sometimes the show is just starting when the crowds leave. This weekend I saw some of the biggest crowds I've ever seen at the Carmel Mission ( Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo ) in Carmel by the Sea. From weddings to tourists and even the occasional church service this beautiful gem of Spanish and Moorish architecture is well loved and often visited. But this evening after the sun set and the last people were leaving the parking lot, I stopped by with my camera. Only the faintest color of the sunset remained on the horizon, and the stars were clearly visible overhead. But a slightly longer than usual exposure revealed all the beauty of the misson at rest in its faint lights after a long day of festivities and worship.


SBIFF Opening Night Prepariations
Thursday, January 30, 2014
SBIFF Opening Night Prepariations

Before the show, and before the crowds arrive there's always a million little details to get right. Most of which noone ever sees.


Queen of the Missions Sunset
Monday, January 20, 2014
Queen of the Missions Sunset

The end to another beautiful day, yesterday at the Santa Barbara Mission. The sunset this evening was absolutely amazing. The clouds were putting on a beautiful show long before the sun neared the horizon. It promised to be another amazing show, and when the colors really started it did not disappoint. The brightest glow like this only lasted for a few moments, but it was a fitting backdrop for such a beautiful example of historic architecture.


Savanna May Santa Barbara
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Savanna May Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Harbor is one of my favorite evening walks. The shops and restaurants along the side of the harbor are always quite busy in the evenings, and the walk out on the breakwater offers a variatey of wonderful views on the city. This was one of the last shots of the evening on one of those walks.


Twilight Bluff
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Twilight Bluff

An early evening long exposure from Butterfly Beach. The glow in the distance is the reflection of the city lights on the evening marine layer, and the last light of the setting sun. This is about half an hour after sunset while there was still a little color in the sky. Of course these days a long exposure like this is 3.2 seconds. Once upon a time I would have been standing there for minutes with a stopwatch.


Marine Layer
Friday, November 1, 2013
Marine Layer

Although nothing like closer to San Francisco in the north, Santa Barbara is a favorite hang out for something the weather man calls the "Marine Layer". It's basically a layer of air cooled quickly by the water making it much more dense than the warm air above. This cool layer has a tendency to slide into the coast as the sun is setting, bringing with it some beautiful swirling fog. Once in a while the effect is so pronounced that from the right vantage point you can see it rolling in like a beautiful blanket.


Reflections of The Belt of Venus or...
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Reflections of The Belt of Venus or...

...Paddle Boarding in the Shadow of the Earth. Just after sunset there is a beautiful phenomenon that we can clearly see in Santa Barbara thanks to generally clear skies and good views of the horizon. The blue band you see in the sky opposite the location where the sun recently set is actually the shadow of the earth. You can see it cast upon the atmosphere in the distance as the angle of the sunlight dips below the opposite horizon. The pink or purple layer above that is called the Belt of Venus or the anti-twilight arch, which is caused by a completely different phenomenon, a backscattering of the light from the already set sun. You could think of it as a reflection of the sunset that is happening further to the west of your location. Now isn't physics pretty? By the way, if you're more of a morning person you can see these effects just before sunrise too.


Pacific Grove Sunset
Monday, October 7, 2013
Pacific Grove Sunset

In every city I spend much time, I always end up with my favorite spots where I try to end up at the end of the day. This is Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula. Some days the waves are huge and breathtaking, other days the sun slides down past the horizon peacefully, but every evening it's a wonderful show.


Iridescent Jelly
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Iridescent Jelly

This amazing little creature is a Comb Jelly. The lights in rows on the side of his body are rows of tiny cilia (tiny movable hair like structures). But the light does not come from bioluminescence, the cilia are like tiny little prisms refracting the ambient light as the jelly waves the cilia to move through the water. The resulting wave of small rainbows is quite a show.


Mountains and Harbor Lights
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Mountains and Harbor Lights

The Santa Barbara Harbor is a great place to be on a warm day in Santa Barbara. Walking on the breakwater is always a beautiful experience, from wildlife to views of Stearns Wharf there is no better place to be.


Evening at Mount Carmel
Monday, August 19, 2013
Evening at Mount Carmel

One of my favorite local landmarks, Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Montecito. There are many well known sights to see in Santa Barbara, but this is one of the little local gems that is more tucked away off the beaten path.


Moonlit Island Fog
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Moonlit Island Fog

On the surface near the beach they call it June Gloom. In Santa Barbara the fog that rolls in the late spring and early summer can be very thick right at the surface. But if you take a step back and get a better view you can appreciate its beauty more. This evening the fog was hugging the surface in the marine layer, a cool layer of air just above the water. As it met the resistance of the islands, at first it was not thick enough so it went around, but as the evening progressed it started to pour over the island like running water.