Oxen at the OC Fair

Oxen at the OCFair

Oxen at the OC Fair

The oxen at the OC Fair are always popular with the visitors. These animals are big! The caretakers brought each ox out at a time into the open area.

They carefully placed the wooden harness on both of them and the crowd was allowed to get near them. They seemed very easily controlled.

Oxen

I’m no expert on oxen, so I headed over to Wikipedia and found out exactly why they are so easily controlled. Castration! Yikes.

These oxen were very tall, just as tall as their caretakers. I believe they normally have them in the big red barn at the entrance of the fair grounds, but during the fair they bring them to the back with the rest of the livestock.

Photographing the animals at the OC Fair

Each year my wife and I take a trip to the OC Fair, no we don’t each the chocolate covered bacon or fried Twinkies. But we do enjoy walking around and looking at all the exhibits.

Plus, it’s a great place to take pictures. I don’t carry my full gear, only my Nikon DSLR and one simple lens.

In the past I’ve focused on the food or in one case the large sign at the Arts and Crafts exhibit.  But this year, I spent a little time photographing the animals. And one of the first I chose was the Oxen at the OC Fair.

For the photo above I got down a little low. I wanted my angle of view to be just below the oxen’s eyes. Shooting slightly upwards is much better in this particular case. I’m 6ft tall, so if I shot it at my level, the animal would look big, but it’s size would really be lost. So I quickly got low as they were moving the oxen and one of them looked straight into my camera. Almost as if he was posing!

Overall, we had a great time with the oxen at the OC Fair. I’ll share more images from that day on a different article.

4th of July Fireworks Show in Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pier

4th of July Fireworks in Huntington Beach

Every year the 4th of July fireworks show in Huntington Beach is a major event in southern California. Attended by hundreds of thousands of spectators, it’s an interesting experience.

This year my wife and I decided to capture the fireworks over the HB Pier using long exposures.

But first we had to find somewhere to park! With very little public parking available near the pier, we found one about a mile away. We were well prepared with two beach chairs, my Case Logic camera bag and tripod. Yup, we had to carry them all for at least 9 long blocks!

After finding the spot we liked, I setup my gear and waited for the fireworks start time of 9 pm. We were surprised to see that people were still in the water up to and after the fireworks began. Must have been the adrenaline of the day because the water wasn’t exactly that warm.

The beach was at full capacity. I tried setup near the water so that I wouldn’t get people on the pictures. However, with so many people, that was not possible. That’s why you see some “ghosts” in the images. With long exposures, the people sort of fade. That’s why the surfer on the lower left looks that way.

Photographing the 4th of July fireworks in Huntington Beach can be a little challenging with the people and the unpredictable Pacific Ocean mist that can cause a haze to occur in the images.

The show lasted about 20 minutes and fired off near the end of the pier, so I knew that Ruby’s Diner would show up on the photos. Making sure it was visible was very important. The lights on the pier are turned off, so the only thing lighting up the pier and beach would be the fireworks.

Camera Settings

I set my Nikon D7000 and lens to 29mm. Manual AF, manual exposure and shutter. My ISO was set to 100. Most of my settings varied, but they ranged from f/8 – f/22 and shutter release from 10 to 25 seconds.

Using the Nikon ML-L3 wireless remote, so that I wouldn’t touch and move the camera while the shutter was open, I triggered the shutter. It was really easy, every once in a while I would adjust the settings a little to capture more or less series of fireworks.

Overall, I was happy with my results but like always I learned something. The best photos were generally those captured at the beginning of the show. After that, the smoke which was blowing toward us, started to block half of the fireworks. You can see this a little on the photo above.

Also, at the end of this firework show, like most others, there’s a burst of several of them going off at the same time. Well, next time I’ll need to lower my exposure time, because with so many lights it really overexposed those photos.

But again, overall I was happy with my photos of the 4th of July fireworks in Huntington Beach. I encourage anyone to give it a try, the experience is fun especially with so many thousands of people in attendance.

You can purchase a download of this image at OCPix.com

Santa Monica Pier at Sunset – Long Exposure

Long exposure setting

The Santa Monica Pier with Ferris wheel illuminated on a long exposure image

After a long day at work and much needed relax time, I grabbed my gear and headed over to the south side of the Santa Monica Pier. That special hour, just as the sun sets behind the wooden pier, is the best time to capture it.

I set my Nikon D5100 on a tripod and had the following settings: ISO 100, f/20, and a 30 second shutter. I also used a 52mm Bower ND variable filter to offset some of the harsh light from the sun overexposing the foreground.

By having the shutter open for 30 seconds it produced the cool lights on the Ferris wheel and smoothed out the water and waves at the shore. In a way the color of the water matched that of the Ferris wheel!

If you’d like to buy a print (or digital download) see it here on OCPix.com.

Man Playing a Violin a the Huntington Beach Pier

Street performer

Man playing a violin at the Huntington Beach Pier in Orange County

You can find a full resolution copy of this photo here.

In another warm day, a man plays a violin as the crashing sounds of the waves echo behind him in Huntington Beach. I’ve seen all types of musicians at the pier, from a banjo player to a one-man band with an alien. No matter what day of the week it is, there’s always something new. That’s probably why I like spending so much time here.

The HB Pier is always a nice walk, much nicer than the other big pier in LA. Perhaps it’s because HB feels more like a beach town. Volleyball, surfing, music, it can all be found here just steps away from the pier.

I like going during the week, early morning or sunsets are the best. For entertainment or a leisurely walk on the pier, mid-day is just fine. Take your time, look at the surfers, seagulls or the crazy stuff people do on the beach. You won’t be disappointed.

There are tons of events throughout the year, so it really doesn’t matter when you visit. For surfers though, it’s the US Open of Surfing, and that’s a big one. The crowds are huge.

Kite Flyers at the 2014 Kite Party in Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Kite Flying

Kite flyers at the 2014 Kite Party event in Huntington Beach

This weekend the north side of the Huntington Beach Pier was cornered off for the annual Kite Party. It’s sponsored by The Kite Connection and each year professional kite flyers from around the country arrive and put on a great show for thousands of spectators.

This year a spent a little more time photographing the people behind the kites, the kite flyers. Maneuvering so many kites in synchronization takes great skill, especially with so many kite lines so close to each other.

Large groups of kite flyers worked together to fly kites that danced, jumped and moved in such a precise manner that they could make them dance to music! It looks like so much fun, perhaps one day I’ll actually fly one instead of photographing them!

You can see the full gallery of photos over at OCPix.

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