Archive for the ‘California’ Category

“Evening’s Entrance”– San Clemente, CA – Charlie Stinchcomb (Me) – Transition Day!   63 comments



“Evening’s Entrance”– San Clemente, CA – Charlie Stinchcomb (Me)

Transition Day!  Today is the day that we are transferring (upgrading) from to  Since PhotoBotos might be down for a couple hours, we didn’t want to “short change” a Featured Photographer and we are showcasing one of Charlie’s images instead.  As we noted yesterday, everything will remain the same except that our daily images will no longer show up in your WordPress “Home Dashboard”.  There are a lot of Pros and Cons when it comes to making the decision to transfer to, but, we felt that it was in the best interests of everyone to do so.  Let us know if you would like us to detail our reasoning behind the decision and we will put together a review for our community.

Take it away Charlie!!

There are great rewards in having a camera handy almost everywhere you go.  You don’t have to wait until you are on vacation before you start looking for that prize image to hang over the fireplace.  Some of my best shots are taken during spontaneous brief periods of time where I slip away from a daily activity to capture a shot.   I captured this image between the time my family and in-laws finished dinner and paid the check.  I slipped out (almost unnoticed) for about ten minutes from the restaurant while everyone else was finishing their glass of wine.  I adjusted my camera settings on the quick walk across the street to the beach.  I was able to grab a couple dozen shots of which I thought this was the most appealing!  So throw your camera in the car so you will not miss that next great wall hanger! 

“Death Valley Racetrack” – Death Valley, California – Paul Rojas – Featured Photographer   40 comments



“Death Valley Racetrack” – Death Valley, California – Paul Rojas – Featured Photographer

I was just talking the other day to someone about how we will spend thousands of dollars to travel the world to take photographs, but we seldom take advantage of the magical places within a few hours’ drive from home.  Well, I am guilty of never having been to Death Valley although I have lived in Southern California for almost 20 years.  Fortunately, Paul was there recently and took some spectacular photos including the one featured today.  The tones are incredible.  Read his story below about how things didn’t go as planned yet he got great photos anyway.  Then check out the rest of his portfolios.

Here is Paul with a detailed account :

This was from a trip to the Racetrack in Death Valley, CA a couple of weeks ago to photograph the sailing stones.  Nobody really knows how it is that the stones move, but theories suggest that a rare combination of rain and extremely strong wind could provide the conditions needed to push them along the playa surface.

It was my very first time getting to the Racetrack, so I got there early in the afternoon to allow enough time to scout for compositions. Using a handheld GPS device, I also marked the coordinates of all the stones I found interesting for possible nighttime visits.  After doing so, I just hung around, took goofy shots with my girlfriend, and waited for the right light.  Judging by the clouds overhead, I was optimistic that there would be good light and colorful skies. But just as the sun began to drop below the mountain range, dark rain clouds started rolling in, casting a shadow over the playa.  Though not what I was expecting, I found the gloom somewhat interesting and I liked how it added to the overall desolation of the place.

For the shot, the camera was tripod-mounted and positioned probably no more than a couple of feet away from the stone. With my past landscape shots, I took single RAW shots and used hyperfocal distance to set the focus.  Being so close to the ground and foreground subject though, I was certain to get a soft foreground using this, so I decided to try something different.  In the days prior to the trip, I had been reading up on a technique called “focus blending” and it seemed to be the best way to go about capturing the scene.

To do this, I focused my camera on the foreground stone and took a shot, quickly refocused on the midground and took another shot, then refocused on the background mountain and took a final shot. When I got home, I manually blended the in-focus portions of each of the three shots together in Photoshop to create a single image.  This article by John Williams provides an excellent guide to the technique and post-processing:

Camera/lens: Canon 5D MKII with EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II @ 22mm
Camera was set to Manual and 3 shots taken at the following settings:
Aperture: f/13
Shutter speed: 1/25 sec
ISO: 100
No filters my personal favorite.

“Ruff Water” – Los Angeles, CA – Seth Casteel – Featured Photographer   174 comments



“Ruff Water” – Los Angeles, CA – Seth Casteel – Featured Photographer

Ok, today’s post might be a bit late because these photos have been circulating around the internet like crazy and crashing Seth’s webpage with boatloads of hits. He has a dozen or so photos that will make you smile even if you are a cat person.   So after you get a taste of the really unique images below head on over to his website at for the full course.  By the way,  Seth isn’t just a talented photographer, but he is a really cool guy also.  He volunteer’s his talents to take photos of shelter pets increasing their chances of adoption. Great work Seth!  His company is based out of LA and Chicago, but is available nationwide.  To keep tabs on his latest plans keep in touch with him at

Now that you are a fan of Seth’s work, you should check out all of his prints, calendars, etc. that he has available *Click Here* 

“Images represented by

“Horsetail Fire Falls”- Yosemite National Park, CA – Nader Beheshti – Featured Photographer   93 comments



“Horsetail Fire Falls”- Yosemite National Park, CA – Nader Beheshti – Featured Photographer

I have a list in my head of one thousand places and things I would like to photograph and this is in the top five.  The “fire falls” is really just the sun shining on Horsetail Falls at the right angle.  The phenomenon is so rare it can only be photographed a few days in February at sunset. Nader has photographed it as good as I have ever seen it.  After you read how he captured the image (without HDR) then please stop by and enjoy his galleries. 

Here is Nader with the story:

I live in Las Vegas, and as such, I am privileged to attend the CES show in January every year. Last year, during my visit to the CES, I saw a large print of this waterfall being displayed in the CANON booth.  I was completely mesmerized by it. I asked most of the Canon representatives at the show whether they knew the name or location of this waterfall to no avail.  A few weeks passed, and finally, through happen chance; I saw a photo of this waterfall on Google.  After a bit more research, I learned the name and location of this beautiful waterfall.  I also discovered that the ‘glowing lava’ phenomenon is a rare event that only happens during sunset a few days out of the year in February. The information about the exact time frame in February was a bit fuzzy and I didn’t want to take any chances. So I ended up driving to Yosemite every weekend in February in hopes of the “perfect shot”.  At the end, the sun, the earth, the weather, snow and water levels, aligned just right so I could finally obtain this very elusive shot.

Please feel free to visit my Flickr site at:
and my 500PX site at:

Image Parameters:
Location: Horsetail Falls, Yosemite National Park
February 28, 2011
Nikon D700
Nikkor 180mm
f/2.8 lens
iso: 200
exp: -1.7
shutter speed: 1/320s


“A Splash of Light”- Morro Bay, CA – David Pasillas – Featured Photographer   45 comments



“A Splash of Light”- Morro Bay, CA – David Pasillas – Featured Photographer

I think we need a bigger jetty!  I love the sun setting into the whitewater.  It gives a calming effect under such raw power.  I have surfed here many times, but never when the waves were this large.  Dave is very creative in his photography and even uses his Iphone to take some really interesting shots.  Be sure to check them out here or  You can also contact him at

Take it away Dave:

I had heard the waves were going to be massive out in Morro Bay, CA so I made the 45 minute drive to hang out next to Morro Rock with all the other spectators. There was quite a crowd actually, and most of them had the common sense to keep a safe distance. Imagine 12+ foot waves crashing into the jetty creating a cool mist in the air. Not so cool when you have to keep wiping your lens, but I digress. I got a few awesome shots of the waves crashing into the rocks, but this one stood out.

For months, this image sat on my hard drive because I had yet to figure out how to make the most of this image. It looked muddy and bland as some RAW files tend to do. After watching a workshop on HDR, I took the plunge and blended 5 exposures in Photomatix, used Topaz Adjust to bring out some more detail, and color efex pro to add a slightly dreamy feel. The result is the image I call A Splash of Light.

The camera used was a Nikon D60, really just an entry level camera, with the 18-55 kit lens. So who needs the biggest and baddest gear to get a good shot!? This HDR image was created from 1 RAW file.

The Fraggle – Pismo Beach, CA   49 comments



 The Fraggle – Pismo Beach, CA

What is the first word or thought that comes to mind when viewing this photo?  If you are by yourself then say it out loud.  If you are at work then please say it internally.  I don’t want you to lose a cool job that lets you surf the internet for cool photos.  Some people may notice the beautiful sunrise, or the guy with dread locks hunched over the rail.  If you are like me then your eyes go straight to the breaking wave below (3-5 foot reef break).   When I first saw the photo I was very surprised.  It appears to symbolize  “a new hope rising above despair”.  It could be a warm sun rising over a down trodden soul.  What do you see and more importantly feel?

Spoiler alert!  My perception couldn’t be any further from reality.  In fact the rising sun is really setting over the west coast.  The young guy in the photo’s name is Fraggle.  I had a great conversation with him about the area, places to surf, and vantage points for other great photo shoots.  He was a really happy dude living life and 100% stoked to be in the picture.  The reason he is slumped over the rail is because he is watching his friends surf the waves below.  It is funny how a photograph can take a moment in time, a visual record of history, and change the perception of reality 360 degrees.

That’s A Lot Of Pelicans! – Santa Barbara, CA   49 comments



That’s A Lot Of Pelicans! – Santa Barbara, CA

After the title I didn’t know what else to say.  Here is an attempt.  I woke up on a stormy morning at the beach in downtown Santa Barbara, CA.  I walked out to the sand and observed thousands of pelicans just hanging out.  Maybe they were brought in by the storm, or maybe they just had a killer beach party the night before – it is anyone’s guess!  I have seen this several times with shore birds and sea gulls.  I am curious to know if anyone else has seen this phenomenon.  Sorry the photo is a bit gray, but like I said the weather and light were both pretty bad at the time.

Stern’s Wharf – Santa Barbara, CA   38 comments



Stern’s Wharf – Santa Barbara, CA

California loves its piers.  Stern’s Wharf in Santa Barbara is no different.  In fact, it is the most visited landmark in the entire city.  I am curious to know how many locals walk their pier.  I know a lot of locals will fish from it, but whenever I see a new pier I always have to walk to the end of it.  I get to the end, look over the edge expecting to see a giant shark or whale, then turn around and walk back to the mainland.  Stern’s Wharf is actually interesting because they have a small marine museum shown just below the sun in the photograph.  What is it about large wooden piers and our fascination with them?  Maybe we just like to see pictures of them because inevitably we can say to ourselves  “I have been there and I walked all the way to the end!”  “No sharks though.”

Building Wave – Central Coast, CA   28 comments



Building Wave  – Central Coast, CA

Anticipation is what keeps me going at just about everything.  I just can’t wait to see what is about to happen.  As a surfer, I love to look on the horizon, see an army of waves marching towards the beach, and wonder how they are going to break.  My favorite wave shots are when then are stacked up long before they reach the shore.  “Corduroy to the horizon!”  This is a rare photo for me of a nice wave because normally I would choose a board over a lens.  When it is 33 degrees outside your are a little more  likely to check it out before you go.  It is these little surf checks that allow me to snap a few shots before the inevitable session.  However, one parallel between surfing and photography is I have never been disappointed when I actually went surfing or took photographs.  So next time you are debating about either  “Just go do it, you won’t regret it.”

Pink Lotus Flower (Nelumbo nucifera) – Monterey, CA   30 comments



Pink Lotus Flower (Nelumbo nucifera) – Monterey, CA

I think this is the first portrait of a single flower we posted here on PhotoBotos since we started.  It is also the first time we have added the scientific name to the title.  I am a bit torn about doing this because I don’t want the blog to seem too formal.  However, I am a sponge for knowledge and personally like it.  Let me know what you think and if you like it I will add it in when appropriate, if not then I will keep my Latin to myself. 

The Lotus flower is a universal symbol of beauty and in some circles fertility and sexuality.  I love it because it reminds me of South Korea when my wife and I were on our honeymoon.  They were adding on to a temple and we bought a shingle that they were going to use for the new roof.  They gave us a paint pen so we could write something before they placed it on top of the temple.  I wanted to write something funny, but my wife placed a beautiful saying on it (which I have since forgot ) and it gained its place upon new temple.  Afterwards, we went inside the main temple where we were given unopened lotus flowers to drip water on our heads in a form of prayer.  The World Cup was in town, so the temple was full of people praying for their soccer team to make the finals.   Since then I have read a quote from a Chinese Philosopher that went something like “… although the lotus grows from mud, it remains unstained.”  Not bad.   The next time I am in a South Korea temple I will pray for the ability to write words people will remember for minutes… Centuries may be pushing it a bit.

Southern Alligator Lizard – San Diego, CA   15 comments



Southern Alligator Lizard – San Diego, CA

Southern Alligator Lizards are one of my most favorite lizards to find in California.  They have huge heads and small legs so they almost look like a snake, but like I said they have legs.  This species of lizard is able to drop its tail if you grab it.  You think you have him, then BAM!  A puff of smoke and a wiggling tail is all you have left in your hands.  That is the good scenario.   Please don’t do this because a lizard stores a lot of fat in their tail and there isn’t a little lizard grocery store where they can go to restock.  The bad scenario is you have an 8 inch lizard hanging off your hand like a miniature pit bull.  However, if you give them their space they will leave you alone and pose for pictures quite nicely.  I photographed this one early in the morning when it was nice and cool.  They tend to be half asleep in the low temperatures and hang out for a while.

Old Vineyard Road – Arroyo Grande, CA   36 comments


Old Vineyard Road – Arroyo Grande, CA

Deep it the heart of Arroyo Grande, California sits Sausalito Canyon Vineyard, a very unique winery with vines dating back to the 1800’s.  It is called a “dry” winery because it is only watered by the local rains.  A bit strange to call a winery dry because it makes me think of the counties in Texas along Interstate 10 where you can’t pull over and get a beer.  However, I love the fact that not artificially watering the vines is extremely ecofriendly.  I thought the dirt road was a wonderful commute to work, but also brought back visions of a simpler time.  The clouds lined up perfectly to frame the mountains in the backround which happened to be on the label of all their wines.  Please enjoy the photo and if interested enjoy a trip to their website at

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