LowePro Sunset

February 12, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Recently, I have been exploring the Santa Clarita valley and nearby areas for locations to shoot sunrises or sunsets. The Santa Clarita valley is north of Los Angeles and is the location of the city of Santa Clarita, the 4th largest city in Los Angeles county. The Santa Clara river, for which the city and valley are named flows west from the San Gabriel mountains meeting the Pacific ocean near Ventura, California.

The sunrises and sunsets can be spectacular when you have clouds move in from the west (the typical storm pattern) into the valley. With the last un-channeled river in southern California running through the valley, one would think there would be many opportunities for great images. But the city of Santa Clarita alone has over 100,000 residents and all of these people need infrastructure: roads and freeways, gas stations and markets, movie theaters and amusement parks, etc. So finding a location that favors natural elements over man made ones is difficult.
 

LowePro SunsetLowePro Sunset
LowePro Sunset

In trying to avoid scenes with roads, markets, cars and the like, I have been searching for locations above the valley floor. Central Park, sort of located "centrally" hence the name, is the largest recreation area within the city boundaries and supports many activities. It is the location of many cross country running meets because it has flat areas and hilly areas making for interesting course layouts. Adjacent to the park is privately owned land that overlooks the Santa Clara river. In hunting for locations, I had seen these hills and wondered how to access them. Using google maps, I found a way to access the private land using part of the cross country course that originates in Central Park.

The sunset on the evening of February 11th, 2012 looked promising and I decided to try to shoot the sunset from the private land. I grabbed my camera bag and rain gear (it spit for a minute but rain was never an issue) and hiked south from Central Park. The good news is that when I finally got on the top of the right hill, I was rewarded with the view that I wanted. The bad news was that this was the private land I had been seeking but it had been graded and stripped of vegetation in preparation for building houses. I am not sure when the grading occurred (it was likely before the current housing bust) but the land is slowly recovering. At some point the housing market will recover and the owner will build out the houses with the side affect that the views from these hills looking out across the valley will be limited to a few people. Because the land had been graded and the scrub brush is slowly recovering, there was not anything interesting to use in the foreground so I improvised by using my camera bag.

In the meantime, I was there, set the aperture at f/8 and captured a few images. I had been in this general area one other time and did not relish hiking out in the dark so on that occasion, I left when there was still some light and as a consequence I missed it when the sunset "exploded". This time I brought a flashlight and waited but the sky never went boom. It was still very nice.
 

Image particulars: Canon 5D MKII, EF 16-35mm/f2.8L II lens at 16mm and f/8, .6 sec, ISO 100 using a Kirk BH-3 ball head on a Gitzo GT2541 tripod.
 
The image, LowePro Sunset and others are available at my website.
 

 

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