Posts Tagged ‘sunset’

November 28th, 2011

The Shadow Knows…

I kept my word and was on the lookout for more shadows.
I was quickly rewarded this morning when I walked into my office and was rewarded with super cool shadows.
I felt the window shadow needed and utilized one of the young men that work for facilities.
The human figure adds humanity and scale to the image and spices up the shadow.
Interestingly the composition of this image is very similar to yesterday’s glass of water image.
I enjoy that type of kismet.
Again, I’m challenging you to be on the lookout for shadows and the awesome images they can make.
Be inspired!

November 27th, 2011

Refreshing Moment

I’ve been noticing shadows lately and been looking at them a lot more than ever.
Ever noticed how when you looking to buy a new car, once you have decided on a certain make or model, that is all you seem to see.
I’ve been considering getting a new Scion xB and for weeks now, it seems they are everywhere.
Neighbors have them, they drive by me in packs and park nearby, no matter where I go.
Let’s start doing that with shadows and the images they create.
I’ve been doing this exercise for a bit and here’s an image I came up with.
This is just a glass after I had had a long drink of water.
The sun was just out of reach, as I was sitting under my patio I noticed the shadow that it cast was amazing.
I love the different variations that the light creates after passing through the glass and casting a very unique shadow.
I had to make an image.
I composed the image with the glass in the upper left area of convergence and the strong diagonal created gives great movement and power to the image for the viewer.
Commit to looking for shadows and the role they might have in your photography over the next couple of days or weeks and see how it changes your vision.
Be inspired!

Michael Kitada was a staff photographer for the Orange County Register for 17 years, has served as an adjunct at UCLA and currently is an adjunct teaching beginning, intermediate and advanced photography at Cal Baptist University in southern California. He is also an author, speaker and blogger on photography. He is the owner of Michael Kitada Photography and his clients include, The Irvine Company, Forbes, People magazine, TV Guide, Newsweek, CURE magazine, and newspapers nation-wide.

November 16th, 2011

Seeing Dramatic Light

As I was leaving school recently, the light from the setting sun was so brilliant in a tunnel that I just had to stop and make a few images.
The image is rather center-focused, but the symmetry of the image really lent itself to that type of composition.
The dramatic shadow really helps the image, too!
I made a few images like this and then decided to crop into the scene a bit to see if that might yield a different type of dramatic image.
This image focuses on just the shadows of the students walking towards the setting sun.
I tried to compose them so that the shadows were just on the edges of the frame.
Symmetry but with a twist or more of an angle and less center-focused.
Again, be on the look out for dramatic light and you will find it more often.
Be inspired!

November 9th, 2011

Black & White vs. Color

A bit more from the past weekend’s wedding.
What about the difference between color and black & white?
In the old days of film, you switched from color to black & white or had two camera bodies loaded with the different films.
You could print on special paper that was made to convert, but it was never the same and looked funky.
Today, you shoot in color and make the switch in Lightroom or PhotoShop. Easy peasy!
I think too many photographers tend to forget about this easy alternative.
The first image has beautiful colors in the vineyards, but check out this alternative image from the same situation.
In this image, I’ve desaturated the colors and added a few other things to snap up the image in black & white and I think it’s a totally different and unique look from this event.
Black & white photography makes us work differently as composition and sharpness of focus really come to a head, as color isn’t a factor in the image.
In the last image, we just have a light and a dark subject against the rows of vines which are gray and recede into the background as supporting elements rather than main subjects.
On your next shoot, try a few black & white images and see how they spice up your shoot.
Be inspired!

July 19th, 2011

Photography Composition Basics

I’m currently working on a sunset project and ran across this image.
I wanted to talk about photography composition basics in today’s post.
My rule is that as a photographer, you need to be as prepared as possible and then you’ll be ready for those wonderful surprises.
A lot of folks like to call that being lucky, I call it, “The best prepared, make their own luck.” Well, at least in photography.
All my settings were arranged for this silhouette of the pier, when I noticed a lone figure strolling down the beach.
I quickly positioned the pier in along the top horizontal of my compositional grid, the buildings in the upper left area of the grid and waited for the person to walk right into the lower right area. Perfect!
I was ready and didn’t have to mess with the composition once she arrived in the perfect spot.
Also, I had been tweaking my exposure and previewing it to make sure the tones were just right, too!
Practice makes perfect, so continue to work on your composition. If every frame you snap, you work on your craft, then when the chaos hits, you’ll have the basics just happen and you will be able to concentrate on other things.
Like capturing the moment.
Be inspired!

January 16th, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset


Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the years…

It’s a line from a song from the play, “Fiddler on the Roof,” which I think about almost every time I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I love the words and the feelings that the song evokes…hold that thought…

Because of my crazy schedule, I am able to witness the sunrise 3 days a week!

Anyone who knows me, will tell you this is a major feat!

Rising before dawn has never been high on my wish list.

Today was worth it!

This image is actually the best image. I stopped on a vantage point near my house and underexposed the sky to retain the light near the horizon as the sun just began to crest. The colors were spectacular.

The air was still, and only a few cars were on the road. I was almost completely alone. I start to hear the first strains of the song as the sun starts to peek over the horizon and the intense colors start to vanish in almost an instant.

I decide to move on…


Here’s my first view of the sky as I pulled out onto an adjacent street from my housing tract. The bell shape of the street light reminds me of the mission bells that run up and down the coast, pointing out where the California Missions are.

Of course, the sky is the star in both of these images, so I left just a hint of the shadowy ground to anchor both photos. The palm trees in this image are in the left and right vertical zones and they lead to the golden horizon.

I started thinking, if sunrise was so incredible, what could be in store for sunset?

All day, as I went about my business, I waited for 5:05 PM. Sunset.

Would it be as good?

The Steelers and the Ravens were just about finished when I looked out my window.


“Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play”?

The palms fit nicely in the lower horizontal and make a nice repetition to keep the viewer’s eyes occupied as they take in the different hues of the dying light.

As each day passes so swiftly before us, do we stop and cherish those that we love?
“I don’t remember growing older
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”

I can’t believe we played this at our wedding!

At the time, I thought the words were quaint, but only now, now as I see my own children swiftly growing older, do the words take on their true meaning.

I look on them, like I look at the sunrises and sunsets, not with sadness, but with satisfaction of life lived well and for the hope of our future.

As the days swiftly flow by…

Be inspired!

January 10th, 2011

Stay Gold – The Sunset


One of my favorite books is by S. E. Hinton, “The Outsiders,” and the quote from Johnny in the book, “Stay Gold,” to Ponyboy. Johnny’s plea is for Ponyboy to stay true to his dreams and not be tarnished by the things of this world. I think of that quote every time I see a spectacular sunset.

This one occurred last week as my son and I were driving to deliver a birthday present. Fortunately I was driving west-bound and couldn’t believe the fire-like quality of this sunset.

I was possessed to capture this sunset from a good vantage point. While driving, I could only catch incomplete glimpses of it, so I was obsessed to capture this incredible scene. I drove like a madman towards the high ground a few miles away, knowing that light like this lasts at best about 5-10 minutes as the suns dying rays of the day slip below the horizon. We finally found a vacant lot between some houses in the hills above Cal State Fullerton and I snapped this image. I ran back to my car and decided to try for another vantage point at a nearby park.

The sky was so incredible that people at the park were standing in the middle of the parking lot pointing at the sky, but frozen in the middle of the lot. I raced through them as if they were pylons in some bizarre driving test and slid to a stop in the first parking space I found.


I always feel a bit of panic in the pit of my stomach whenever I come across an amazing scene like this. “What if I miss it,” races through my mind as I try to calmly set my camera for the correct exposures. I assume it must be from my days as a photojournalist. Worried about missing the shot, and getting beat by the competition, always tries to creep into my thoughts during exceptional moments.

While these thoughts are shooting through my head, I’m running up a path of steps, thinking about f/stops, my son is peppering me with questions about something, and I’m trying not to fall, this all happens in slow motion and in the span of about 20 seconds.

We reached the top of the park and I begin to fire off a few frames, checking the LCD to ensure I have the correct exposure.

This is better, I think.

I can see the sun. The clouds are a bit less dramatic, but I’m happy I can see the sun.

Still not quite high enough, no, that’s not it. There’s too much foliage in the way for a clear shot at the horizon.

I continue shooting.

Finally, satisfied, I turn and see a clean shot of the mountains, barely illuminated with the light of the setting sun.


A completely different feel and look from the fire in the sky sunset just 180 degrees away.

That brings me back to the, “Stay gold,” idea.

The dying character Johnny tells Ponyboy to not change and to follow his dreams. I think everyone who sees a beautiful sunset should cling to that thought, to recalibrate and stay the course and follow our dreams. Regardless of what life may bring, to, “Stay Gold,” unchanged and true to ourselves may be a bit Pollyanna-ish in our times, but it’s a goal I try to achieve. At least every time I see a beautiful sunset.

Stay Gold.

Be inspired!

October 19th, 2010

Composition in photography

Today I wanted to point out how important strong composition in photography can be. These three images are all taken at sunset which helped out with glorious coloring, but without some strong sense of composition, the images would not be as striking.

Let’s look at the silhouette of the man in the chair. This image is really fun with the huge darkness of Dana Point looming behind the chair guy. Without the extreme composition, it’s just another guy sitting in a chair with the point next to him. But, with the chair man in the extreme lower left area of the canvas, the darkness of the point turns into a mysterious shape that either threatens to overwhelm our subject or protect him. It really depends on the viewer’s point of view.

The next image was taken nearby of two folks photographing themselves as the sunset. Little did they know they were making my photograph sing with their playfulness. Thank You. I put the figure throwing her arms in the air, in the lower left area of convergence to draw the viewer’s eye to her first. Without these figures, I have just another pretty sunset. Their presence gives a story and intrigue to the image. Again, Thank You to my subjects.

Lastly, I have a beautiful sunset after a thunderstorm in July which is fairly rare here in southern California. I wanted to emphasize the clouds so I placed the horizon very low to leave plenty of room for the painted sky. Emphasizing the sky or the ground is easy if you remember where to place the horizon. Remember, halfways is visually boring(usually).

Happy shooting!!!

October 17th, 2010

Digital Photography Tip

sunset1I was arriving at an appointment last week around sunset when I actually took time to look up and that’s when I saw the sunset. It was gorgeous!

Time for another digital photography tip.

How often do we miss the wonderful and the beautiful due to our “busyness?” Take a moment and look around, you might just be surprised and captivated by the beauty that surrounds us.

Back to my sunset pic.

I was running all day long that day. I had spent about 6 hours teaching my photo classes in Riverside and had driven from there to Lakewood to deliver a client’s photos. I was trying to kill two birds with one stone by doing my vocal exercises while waiting for my 7 pm appointment. Good thing I was looking around while waiting for my next exercise. The sky was stunning with golds, yellows and pale pinks with a few clouds floating around. My hipstamatic application for my iphone with it’s sloppy border setting really dresses this image up. I placed the palm trees in the lower right area of convergence for my composition and just let the light do the rest of the talking.

Let’s all agree to stop, look up and down a few times this week, just to check our surroundings for great photo opportunities. Happy shooting!

December 19th, 2009

Landscape Composition

I was photographing a couple at one of my favorite spots, Huntington Beach at sunset. I had to post a couple of the sunsets, just to let all my friends on the east coast see how our weather is. Landscape composition varies depending on what part of the ’scape you want to emphasize.

Our first frame shows a classic 1/3rd land and a 2/3rds sky of a beautiful sunset.

Our other images show a version where we have about 4/5ths sky and 1/5th water, while we also have a 2/3rds water and a 1/3rd sky.

My last frame is actually a bit of a rulebreaker. Why? I’ve placed the surfer walking in the lower right area of convergence, but he is walking out of the frame. Normally, you want to leave space for our subject to walk or run or even look into. Why? Because it helps our viewers eyes to remain engaged and not stop viewing our image. It also emphasizes the ocean over the sky.

Lastly, we can’t forget our friends on the east coast who encountered one of the largest snow storms to hit in a number of years.  Looks like a white Christmas for them and we will just have to suffer through another wonderful sunset. BTW, that’s Catalina Island in the background.