On this beautiful July 4th, The Lovely Christine and I went down to Coronado Island to photograph, and participate in, the July 4th festivities. Much picture-taking was included, and a portion of my photos appear below.
This is the skyline of the city, as it appeared on July 4th. You always have to add the date qualification, because the city's skyline is always changing. There is a huge amount of construction going on downtown, as the city father are aggressively determined to make downtown livable. Over the last decade, the skyline has changed completely.
Many people were on the Island today, playing in the water. Here, a group of unruly youths jump off the ferry pier, in blatant—and fun—defiance of the law.
I want one of these. It seats 4, which is perfect for The Lovely Christine and I. And it is also unreasonably fast for a small craft. I don't know how much they cost, but I do know that Sea-Doo offers 7% financing for up to 15 years, so surely, I can afford at least one.
The building in the foreground is one of many new apartment/condo buildings that are going up in San Diego. I like the Victorian architecture. The architecture of the building behind it—which is a Pac-Bell telephone building, and not, as you might suppose, some sort of futuristic prison complex—is less appealing. I never understood why architects got the idea that people wanted to spend their days in featureless, windowless, concrete cubes. Sure, there is something interesting about the Pac-Bell building's severe style, but I find the faux Victorian exterior of the condo building far more appealing.
San Diego. Where man and nature live side-by-side in peaceful harmony.
Safety first! Even in San Diego Bay. I just liked the colors of these life jackets, hung out to dry on the pier where jet-skis and personal watercraft are rented.
This is a navy ship berthed at the 32nd Street Naval Station. Unlike Punch Sulzberger, I hope pictures like this don't give away valuable military secrets to Al Qaeda. But, like Punch Sulzberger, I don't care if they do. You, the public, have a right to know what our navy ships look like. After all, you paid for 'em.
This is the underside of the Coronado Bay Bridge, showing clearly where explosives should be placed to bring down the bridge, thus making the whole local economy higgeldy-piggeldy.
Maybe it's different where you live, but in California, houses bedecked in patriotic bunting and flags are the exception, rather than the rule. Coronado Island, however, seemed well decked out for July 4th. Surprisingly, I didn't see a single Mexican flag all day. That's unusual for Southern California.
Flying into Lindbergh Field in San Diego is much like I imagine strapping yourself onto a Tomahawk cruise missile would be. In both cases, you find yourself zooming through the city 50 feet off the deck, while stunned office workers look down at your aircraft. The first time you fly into San Diego is an...unsettling experience, what with looking up into offices and all.
Finally, we get to the true meaning of July 4th: Impressive fireworks displays.
This gives you a pretty good idea where the fireworks display appears, in relation to the city proper. They load a barge with pyros, tow it to the north side of the bay, and let 'er rip.
Once the fireworks are over, getting off the island is...problematic. Rather than battling through this, we decided to stay on The Island for a while to get more pictures. It took about the same amount of time, but was far more fun.
San Diego at night. I don't know why, but I just never get tired of this particular shot. As of today, I have this exact shot, taken with about 5 different cameras over the years.
This, on the other hand, is a shot I've never taken before. In the foreground is the Coronado Island Ferry pier, with the downtown skyline in the background.
Finally, here's a shot of the Coronado Bridge at night.
One note about night shots in cities: Back in the day, you used to be able to take cityscape night shots, and they would come out pretty good, without any post-production alteration. Sadly, since the 1980s, street lighting has switched to yellow sodium lamps, instead of the old carbon arc lights.
That saves the city a lot of money in electricity charges, but, for photographers, it means that city shots at night now almost invariably take on a sickly, brown hue, as the yellow lights reflect back through the atmosphere. That means that the picture you take looks almost nothing like the view that your eyes see.
But, with digital photography, that can be fixed, as long as you have decent photo software like Macromedia Fireworks or Adobe Photoshop. (Although, now that Adobe has acquired Macromedia, the future of Fireworks is...questionable. Which irks me, actually, since I far prefer Fireworks over Photoshop.) In both applications, however, you can adjust the color curves. Below is an unadjusted cityscape picture:
To fix this in post, you need to punch up the blue curves. For Photoshop, click on the Images menu, then select Adjustments, and Curves from the sub menu. In Fireworks, select the Filters menu, then Adjust Colors and Curves. In both cases, a very similar dialog box will appear. At the top of the dialog box, there is combo box with the following choices: RGB, Red, Green, Blue. From the combo box, select Blue. This will allow you to punch the blue curve. That will get rid of the crappy brown reflections. At the outset, the curves dialog box will appear like this:
Nobody wants to see this. It's all...icky brown, and stuff.
When you click and hold the left mouse button on the diagonal line for the curve, you can drag the blue curve higher. When you're done, the curve should look something like this:
By punching the blue curve, you eliminate the crap-brown reflections, and end up with something like this:
This looks much better, and gives night-time cityscape shots the bluish-purplish color that our eyes see, and that seems more natural for a night-time photograph.
Thus endeth the lesson.