Santa Ynez Valley Photos

Cachuma Lake Sunset Colors
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Cachuma Lake Sunset Colors

Cachuma Lake is a beautiful place to spend the day. Even more so at this time of day. The sun was able to peek under the clouds the last few moments before sunset and light up the mountains.


Santa Ynez Night Sky
Monday, May 6, 2013
Santa Ynez Night Sky

This was a beautiful evening in the Santa Ynez Valley. The exposures were so long that I couldn't really tell how much the wispy clouds were affecting the shot. At one point it seemed like the clouds were too heavy to get anything interesting, but I kept at it. I was glad I did. The clouds only made things more beautiful. They gave a glow to the stars and Jupiter, and helped increase the glow of the lights in the distance. The light at the top (generally in the west) is the last glow of the setting sun. The light down the road is the glow of houses and cars moving around on the other side of the hill (the cars moving, not the houses.)


Jupiter over Santa Ynez
Friday, February 15, 2013
Jupiter over Santa Ynez

Last evening I found myself in Santa Ynez Valley. My plan was to look for some interesting wildlife to try out a borrowed lens to get comfortable with it before a shoot this week. But having arrived a little late in the day to find a good spot I decided to go after a different shot. As things got dark I found a perch on a back road overlooking several vinyards. The stars were really something to see this far away from the city lights. The amazingly bright one is actually not a star at all, it's Jupiter. The two large trails of light are planes, but in the upper right hand corner there is the small trail of a shooting star.


Gulf Fritillary at Rolling Hills Nursery
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Gulf Fritillary at Rolling Hills Nursery

A backlit beauty at one of my favorite local nurseries! This is a Gulf Fritillary at Rolling Hills Nusery in Buellton. We have some beautiful nurseries in Santa Barbara, but sometimes it's nice to get away for the day and see what's happening in the Santa Ynez Valley. Especially this time of year with our June Gloom (costal fog that covers the city for most of the day,) which comes early sometimes. The fog is usually very beautiful in itself, but after a couple of days it's nice to be able to go get a little sun in the valley. Then we can come home to the nice cool evening termeratures.


Santa Ynez Oak Tree
Friday, April 6, 2012
Santa Ynez Oak Tree

One of the things I enjoy when driving out to Santa Ynez Valley is all of the beautiful Oak trees. This one is beautiful, but relativly tame compared to some of the wild shapes they take.


The Great Wall
Monday, March 26, 2012
The Great Wall

...of Santa Ynez. I've driven by this beautiful wall a number of times in the past, but the timing was never right to get a nice shot. There is a rather large hill across the street, and the sun sets pretty early at this particular spot. But Saturday I was fortunate enough to be in the neighborhood right before the sun slipped behind the hill and I was able to catch some nice golden light.


Cachuma Lake Sunset Reflections
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Cachuma Lake Sunset Reflections

The last time I was at Knapp's Castle I took a little time to focus on the reason the castle was built in the first place. This is the view from what I can only assume would have been the main living area of the castle. It was particularly good timing since the sunset was amazing. But this video starts as the sun is slipping below the horizon. The faint light pillar and all of the bright spots you see that look like the sun are actually reflections in the flat ice crystals of the clouds. In calm air they can float horizontally and act almost like a mirror, putting on a spectacular show. Even after the sun dips below the horizon. If ever there was a good reason for an encore performance, this was it!


Knapps Arch Golden Hour
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Knapps Arch Golden Hour

This is a shot from my recent trip to Knapps Castle. Although there is a lot of construction going on, it is still the most beautiful place I know to watch the sunset. This is about forty five minutes before sunset, but the sky was beautiful until late in the evening. If you decide to make the trip, take some warm clothing! As soon as the sun goes down it can get really chilly and windy, even this time of year.


Knapps Arch Sunset
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Knapps Arch Sunset

Time lapse of the clouds over Knapp's Castle at sunset. Santa Barbara, California. Recently I had the opportunity to visit Knapp's castle in the mountains above Santa Barbara. The day I was free to go, the mountain was completely socked in. We call it June Gloom in Santa Barbara. But it makes the sunsets anything but gloomy. By the time the golden hour rolled around, the fog had turned into beautiful clouds and just enough haze in the air to make the light beautiful and golden.


Camino Cielo Sunset Over Cachuma Lake
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Camino Cielo Sunset Over Cachuma Lake

Sunset is one of the most beautiful things that happens every day. It's so hard to take the time to enjoy it. Most people think of the sun setting over the surf in California, and that is the case in most parts of the state. Our little section of the coast is a little different. We look south when we watch the waves break and this is the view from a trail at the top of our mountains. Just in front and to the right of the sun you can see Lake Cachuma, a man made lake which is a beautiful home to all sorts of amazing wild life including bald eagles. Someday soon I'm going to go catch one of them with my camera.


Santa Ynez Valley Grapes
Friday, September 18, 2009
Santa Ynez Valley Grapes

I've been working on trying to get an image that captures the feel of the Santa Ynez Valley. Of course, vineyards are a big part of that area of California these days. Especially after a rather popular movie about the area a few years ago. But wine is not the only thing they are known for. This weekend Solvang is having their Danish Days festival. If you've never eaten an Aebleskiver that alone could be worth the trip. Of course, I prefer just making my own and avoiding the crowds. Then again, maybe I'll brave the sand castle festival in Santa Barbara this weekend. Could be a busy weekend!


Knapp's Castle 360 VR
Friday, August 14, 2009
Knapp's Castle 360 VR

This is one of the most beautiful spots I can think of in the Santa Barbara area. Knapp's Castle was a beautiful mansion in the early 1900's. But even the impressive construction from those days could not stand up to the wild fires we have in the mountains here. A few arches and stone walls are all that remains of the mansion. Fortunately the panoramic view of the Santa Ynez Valley is as breathtaking as ever.

Part of this image was on the photo of the day before, Storybook Castle Sunset. But I recently had a chance to work on the high resolution image again when I was working on my 2010 Santa Barbara Calendar. This is the September image. In the process I was also able to finish the whole 360° view.


Storybook Castle Sunset
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Storybook Castle Sunset

Click on the main image for a larger view.

One more shot from the mountains. And, if I had to choose, I think this would be my favorite. I really like the way the wall frames the stairway.

Update: If you have Flash installed, the full 360° view virtual reality image of Knapp's Castle is now available online, here.


Sunset over Knapp's Castle
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunset over Knapp's Castle

This was one of the last shots as we were starting our walk back to the car from Knapp's Castle. I had put most of my camera gear away at this point and just looked back as I was walking away.

For a test shoot I ended up with quite a few images that I'm really happy with.


Knapp's Castle Sunset Panorama
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Knapp's Castle Sunset Panorama

Click main image for a larger view

This is another one of the "test" shots from the hike up the mountain the other day. Well, OK, actually more of a drive up the mountain followed by a half-mile hike on a nice trail. Regardless, it was a beautiful evening! These two shots were exactly what I had in mind before I got there. I still have some ideas for a later evening shot or two, but I'm going to have to find some warmer clothing before I go back up for that.


Knapp's Arch Sunset
Friday, April 24, 2009
Knapp's Arch Sunset

For the last couple of months I have been contributing a "Photo of the Week" to a local news site, Santa Barbara's Blog. Yesterday a request came through them for a shot of Knapp's Castle, the ruins of an old mansion that burned in the forties. It is just over the peak of the mountain north of Santa Barbara overlooking the Santa Ynez valley and Cachuma Lake. For the last year I had been trying to get up there to get some photos, so I was happy to get up there and take some test shots. The intention was to just check out the location and plan for equipment and timing. But, I'm pretty happy with the test shots. I'm still going to try to get up there again soon, but it's hard to beat a couple of nice shots on the first pass.