I left my heart in Santa Barbara

So as some of you know, I went to school in Santa Barbara.  I loved my time at UCSB.  The people, the school, the location... all great.  One of my favorite things to do in school, besides studying of course, was going to basketball games.  The Thunderdome has to be one of the most fun and exciting places to watch a basketball game.  So when my friend asked me to come back to Santa Barabara for the Alumni basketball game I decided to throw the family in the car (I literally picked them up and tossed them in the car) and head down for the weekend.  Well, I'm sure you wondering how the game was, right?  The highly anticipated match up between UCSB and Cal Poly was a bust.  Totally sucked.  The Gauchos lost and we all went home not understanding what we just witnessed.  The good news is that we had been drinking at one of the local student hangouts before the game, so the truth is I was too drunk by game time to even know who was playing. ;-)  So we went back to the hotel after the piss poor, giant ball suck of a basketball game and drowned our sorrows in italian food from the restaurant across the street.  It was at that point that I realized that i was going to have to do something to cheer me up, so I decided I was going to get up at sunrise to shoot photos down at the beach.  I loved the beach when I went to school... even taught scuba diving, so I figured it was a great place to get up and make some pictures.

So at sunrise I jumped out of bed, put my 24-105 lens on my Canon 5D and headed down to Stearns Warf which is down near East Beach.  It was great.  Totally beautiful, quiet and peaceful.  I was in jeans and a t-shirt at 6:00 in the morning.  Considering what the rest of the country is dealing with right now on the weather front, it was a pretty spectacular morning.  

My first few photos were taken right as the sun was coming up.  I set up on my Gitzo tripod and used a pretty long exposure to get the following shots.  There was very little wind, so that paired with the long exposure gave me a really nice look in the water and the light starting to shine on the wharf made it glow.  When I saw the sunrise in college, it was usually for a complete different reason and was a totally different experience.  One of the weird things about taking photos at the beach in Santa Barbara is the geography is totally confused.  As you can see from the photos, the sun rises over the ocean and for those of you who paid attention in class, the sun rises in the east.  Well unless that's changed, Santa Barbara is on the west coast, so this is totally messed up!  The sun is rising in the west, right?  I mean you can see it in the freakin' pictures!  Well it turns out that because of the way the land curves around at this point on the coast, you're actually facing south east when you look out at the ocean.  I know, totally crazy, right?  I took me a while to convince myself I wasn't just hungover from the previous night at the basketball game, but this weird sunrise did make for some really nice photos.


I planed to play a little with HDR while I was there, so I bracketed five shots at -2, -1, 0, +1 and +2 exposure.  When I got home a messed around with Photomatix Pro and got these results.  Honestly, I like the non-HDR shots best, but I thought these were interesting.

So at this point it was about 7:30am.  The nice thing about taking photos at sunrise in the winter is that the sun rises much later than in the summer.  So while I had to get up at 4:00am to shoot the sunrise in the Grand Canyon in July, I only had to be at the beach by 6:50 to get the sunrise last weekend.  So, my choice was now  to go back to the hotel and stare at my family sleep, or take a walk and take more photos.  So walk it was!  I headed down to the marina and shot along the way.

Now it was about time to head back to the hotel.  I'm sure you know why, right... It was almost 8:30 and I missed my family... couldn't wait to see their happy faces as I walked into the room, coffee in hand and ready to start the day.  Right, who was I kidding.  The Niner game started at 10:00 and I didn't want to miss any of it, so back to the hotel I went.  On the way I noticed a new addition to the Santa Barbara waterfront since I last was there... a skate park.  So before heading back I cranked up my shutter speed, put on my 70-200 lens and I shot a few images of the little hoodlums.  This place was really sweet and I'm sure if it was here when I was in school I would have been more of a skater instead of the world class surfer I was.  Okay, I wasn't a surfer either, but I tried it.  Most exhausted and cold I've ever been.  I was more of a TV watcher in college, although I did jog once or twice. :-)

I call this one "What the hell am I about to do?"