Drive by


Not to be confused with what you might see on the evening news in California… no, I’m talking about “shooting” photography. You know, youu’re driving along, you see something amazing, so you go back… Well, 9 times out of 10, it was better while you were driving by… That’s what Tony, Diane and I did this week during our photo outing at Point Reyes National Seashore. Sometimes photo outings have a purpose, an agenda. Like shooting the Milky Way, or a sunset, or I’m going to shoot some wildflower macros today. No, this was just a photo outing with some photographer friends with no agenda other than to “see what we can see.”

This suited my style perfectly. Pull over whenever you see something interesting; stop at every pullout, explore every side road. stop in the middle of the road (when safe of course) if you need to - and keep your camera handy in the front seat! Go with whatever conditions are presented to you. On this day, yesterday, it was fog. Rolling in and out, brief periods of light and dark and misty fog everywhere.

I was following Diane. She had stopped - in the middle of the road and so I stayed back wondering what she saw. Maybe it was a big bull Tule Elk. Then I could see that 500mm beast out the window… ahhh, it was a hawk on a fence post, probably a Redtail. Or was it the coyote stalking a field mouse, can’t remember. But now my eyes were scanning (well they are even when I’m driving - wife doesn’t like that…) Well, I spied this scene while “driving by”. I caught up with Diane, told her I would catch up and put the car in reverse back to this scene. Actually, there was probably a good 50 yards of these plants against the backdrop of green and gold vegetation in a thin veil of fog. I had to stop and pull over.

I spent a good 15-20 minutes working the scene from the side of the road. This might just be my favorite from the trip - although I haven’t even begun to go thru 600+ images… (lots of ICM’s as you might guess). It was fortunate that the bg was far enough away that at f/9 I could separate and let the bg go soft. Just something about this setup that presented itself to me that I found so inviting; just some weeds with a little fog and a colorful back drop. Doesn’t get any better. I had to photograph this.

Anyway, I had a great time not only being in the great outdoors shooting some drive-by’s, but also being able to enjoy the time with other folks with the same passions. Was a great time! Thank you Diane and Tony! More to come!

Thank you for looking - and for reading/listening!

Specific Feedback Requested

Of course all feedback, comments suggestions welcome. I’m putting out two versions including the 2nd which is square crop. I like the symmetry of the crop, but the 1st impression is usually the one I fall back to as a favorite.

Curious your feedback on the colors and WB. I actually backed off the warm color balance and desaturated the yellows a tad. But as with most times when we’re processing, at some point you lose sight of the colors and/or issues with color after staring at something too long. Your feedback will be appreciated.

Technical Details

Nikon D800E, 28-300mm @170mm, f/9 1/15s iso 50, tripod.


I find myself drawn more to the square crop. The symmetry you mention appeals to me as well. Both are quite nice, though. Love the separation from the background. The colors/WB sit right with me.

I too like the square format Lon and the nicely out of focus background tapestry. Wonderful pastel colors as well.

Excellent. I loved the first crop but when I saw the second I liked it even more. I just prefer the processing of the second more. The colors. I like both compositions about the same really. However I’m seeing this with a mobile device so perhaps should reserve judgment.

Most of my photography is the way you describe it. I’ve annoyed a lot of drivers by stopping the car and studying a scene through the window.

I’m at home now looking at it on a bigger screen. The landscape version is clearly a stronger composition. We’re looking at dried up Queen Anne’s Lace aren’t we? It gives the illusion of a canopy of a forest. If I’m permitted I will switch my preference to the landscape version.

I think this image is marvelous. I love the colors and how well they blend together. The soft background really brings out the dried flowers, yet it still preserves the forest and grasses that are there. I had to look at both your posts for awhile to decide which I liked best. I think I like the landscape crop. The square crop seems to cut the story to short and needs more room to breath. Isn’t it fun to find an unexpected treasure!! One of your best.

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This one’s easy for me, Lon. I much prefer the Landscape image. I like the muted colors better and I just love the balance of the landscape version. The square crop is too warm for my liking and it feels cramped and cut off when compared to the landscape. If I hadn’t seen the landscape version I would no doubt love the square crop but having both side by side is a no contest for me. Landscape wins.
What a great write up regarding your trip with Diane and Tony. I really wanted to go but there was no way I could get it off of work so I’ll have to settle for seeing your posts of this quick trip here at NPN. Looking forward to lots more.

This one is easy for me, as well. Landscape version. It feels more balanced to my eye and it also feels like the background is more an integral part of the image, if that makes any sense. Really good one, Lon.

Lon, you know I always pick the horizontal images… :clown_face:…except here. So, I guess I’m odd person out in the end. The square crop seems just simpler I guess. Not sure that is a good POV but it’s what I see and feel. Obviously, there is nothing to complain about as when you get a winning image many times it leaves optional versions as we see here…Wonderful image either version… :+1: :+1:

Lon,I see the most in the square image.And I like the subtle colors in it.
Your photo outing by car is very different to how I do it on my bike . Almost nowhere I could stop my car as you did.
A well spotted piece of nature in slow image making.

Thank you all for your comments! It seems there’s just about a split between the two crops, which I suppose would be expected,

I think that’s my take on this as well Harley. Thanks for the comment.

Thank you Igor. And thanks for the plant ID. I’ll have to take your educted guess as I’m not that great in plant ID’s - but that sounds logical. I like the analogy of a forest canopy as well. This is like a tiny little forest. Good call.

Thank you so much Donna! I too like the feeling of “room to breath”.

Thanks David! Next time! We’ll be sure and plan another NorCal get together!

Thank you Ben! Well, in this case I was able to be safely off the road, although you can see from below the road is narrow. But this particular morning, middle of the week, almost middle of nowhere there was literally no traffic - in fact not a single car came by the entire time I was working this scene. But for sure, there are fewer places to safely pull over and so probably not unlike the areas you travel. Here’s a Google street view of the exact spot. I was parked just past the driveway. Road is narrow for sure and you can see the scene layout onthe left down the fence lline. Of course the street view image isn’t the same time, conditions or season, but you get the idea

Thanks all! @DeanRoyer , @Eva_McDermott , @Igor_Doncov , @Donna_Callais , @David_Haynes , @Harley_Goldman , @Paul_Breitkreuz and @Ben_van_der_Sande

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Love this one Lon.
For me the Landscape one suits me better.

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This is marvelous, and I’ll go with the landscape format because of the two different heights of the larger plants. This is fennel – it is yellow when the blooms are fresh. Spring out there can be very cool – maybe the next trip?? AAARRRGH!!! I didn’t shoot a single weed silhouette!! But I had a fantastic time and will be working on the images for the next month at least.

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I am partial to the second, square composition. There is more interesting detail in the foreground subject and the inverted “V” creates flow and balance, in my opinion. The pastel tones create a rich backdrop without being over saturated. Thumbs up!

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Lon, the quiet gentleness of this fall scene is lovely. I prefer the extra space of the full view, it adds to the feeling that there was a lot more of this to enjoy. It’s a great example of, “Natural beauty is everywhere, provided you take the time to look.” The variety of tonal strips in the background look great.

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Oh, wow! I really love this image (actually both versions of it)! I love the colours in the background and the darker plants in front that in a way, kind of look like a silhouetted forest. Overall this is a very peaceful and relaxing image that I can perfectly see hanging on a wall somewhere. Oh, and the WB looks just right to me and I wouldn’t change it.

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Wonderful photograph Lon of the dried fennel. But I have to go against the majority here and say the square crop is better. It has a nice right-left sense of symmetry and the diagonals that pull the eye to the top center plant is pleasing. The soft background is perfect and the subtle pastel hues work so well with the stark deep brown almost black fennel.

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Way late for the party but I just had to tell how that I think this image is exquisite, particularly the landscape mode. The delicacy of the plants is perfectly matched by the colour palette. Very, very fine.

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