Tag Archives: weather

Figueroa Mountain Canyon Storm by T.M. Schultze

Morning Clearing Storm at Figueroa Mountain (12 Images)

A Morning Clearing Storm at Figueroa Mountain

This morning, I spent a stormy Spring morning up at Figueroa Mountain north of Santa Barbara near Los Olivos, California.  While I was a little late for the California Spring wildflower season in 2016, I knew that California Poppies tend to bloom late and I could take advantage of the storm clearing most of the Southern California.  Below is a gallery of images I made and some notes on how I made them.

I left my home in San Diego a little past midnight and got some rest at the Gaviota Rest Area on US Highway 101 (I was far from alone, many were there doing the same thing!).  At sunrise, I left for Los Olivos and proceeded North on Figueroa Mountain Road.  This road came to my attention many years ago when Google revealed the location of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, which is indeed right off the road.

As Figueroa Mountain Road winds its way up the mountain, it is a very narrow paved road, sometimes with only space for a single vehicle.  During Spring wildflower peak season, it can get very hectic, and you have to watch for vehicles rather than look at the hillsides.

I was here past peak, and I knew it.  But with California Poppies being late bloomers and the storm, I thought I could make some cool images and the weather did not disappoint.  Everywhere I turned, there were things to see, if I only I could find a turnout!

Even the turnouts turned out to be difficult once I found them.  Because of the storm that blew through, a lot of it was extremely muddy and my Honda Civic Coupe was not built to handle it well.  Mud caked all over the bottom of my boots and I gained a couple inches of height just from the mud.

The storm seemed to have two major clouds layers.  The lower cloud layer, which I drove through, was low to the ground and hugged the lower canyons.  There was also an upper cloud layer that was above the mountain.  At the ridge-line, there were many compositions of the canyon below which were amazing to see.

One of the best spots had light rays shining right through an oak tree off the mountain.  I found a turnout about 1/4 mile away, but by the time I got there, most of the mist was gone.  I didn’t get quite the image I wanted, although I like the color and black and white I selected for this gallery.  Still, I have another image that will stay in my mind forever.

I wanted to close with a shout-out to Jeff Sullivan, who posted an excellent blog post on Figueroa Mountain on April 3.  I was a little late for peak wildflower season, and staying only until the morning meant I had closed poppies, but it was a great refresher after not having visited in several years due to the persistent California drought.  Thanks Jeff!

Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you enjoy the images!

 

Santee Lakes Summer Monsoon by T.M. Schultze

Photography In San Diego Weather

Santee Lakes Summer Monsoon by T.M. Schultze

Santee Lakes Summer Monsoon by T.M. Schultze

Weather is tough to predict, even for meteorologists.  Landscape photographers have the challenging task of reading the weather and deciding when to get their gear out and when to wait for another day. Continue reading

Skyfire – A Review of the App

Skyfire – A Review of the App

Skyfire App

Skyfire App

One of my photography friends, Matthew Kuhns, has released a new app called Skyfire.  The app has appeared on Petapixel, so it has already received a good amount of promotion so far.

As a user of the app, I thought I would include a few notes about the app and what value it brings to the landscape photographer.

Weather is complicated, and I am often faced with making value judgments on the locations to choose for sunrises and sunsets.  Some I have accurately selected, but what sticks with me are the times I got it wrong.

Living in the San Diego area, the majority of the days are sunny, which do not necessarily make for the most engaging photographs.  The right type of clouds entering or leaving the area are rare.  In addition, for a good portion of the year, the onshore flow produces a marine layer that are usually death for the light needed in the morning and evening.  Sometimes I head to the coast for what I think will be a great image, only to find the marine is just a couple miles inland and ready to kill the light.

Skyfire is the first app to attempt the incredible challenge of using weather predictions to forecast the right type of light.  The interface is simple.  With a login, you are taken to the member interface.  The first you will see is the prediction for the nearest sunrise or sunset.  A Google Map and a static map are included.  Visually, it works as a heat map.  Dark blues are complete cloud cover with little light, light blues are clear skies with no clouds, and the colors warm from there until you may have light and dark reds when the landscape is really going to light up.

The first question everyone asks is:  Is it accurate?  My experience has been that the app has been extremely accurate.  I have spoken to Matt the few times the app was off, and most of the time, it ended up being an inaccurate weather forecast.  We know what they say about predicting the weather.

There have been a couple occasions recently that not only did the app give me a good indication that I should be out shooting at the right time, but gave me good insight into where in the area I should go.  For an app that is attempting to forecast light in the entire United States, this is excellent.

So, would I recommend this app?  If you are a landscape photographer, who wants the best images at the far margins of every day, before sunrise and after sunset, then I highly recommend this app.  For $25.00 a year, you will gain insight that will help you pick the right days and the best areas to photograph.  Just one image that you wouldn’t have shot without the app makes the price easily worth it.

The app is currently html-based with plans to eventually be available on iOs and Android.  Visit Skyfire at www.skyfireapp.com.