Sierra Vista Openspace

East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
California Poppies, East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

As mentioned in an earlier post, one of my clients suggested I check out Sierra Vista open space. It’s a park perched above San Jose with panoramic views of the South Bay.  I did a quick recon of the site a little while back.

East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Lone Tree, long daylight exposure, East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

This isn’t my technical blog: Lensbusters.com- but from a technical standpoint, Murphy’s Law snuck up on me. As is usual when I come upon a particularly good photo op I don’t bring all  my equipment with me. Invariably I find myself missing whatever I didn’t bring. So I found myself wishing I had my panorama machine- this is pano heaven (aside from the wind of course!) And given the wind and clouds it was a rare opportunity to do long daylight exposures. Only the lens I wanted to use, my 100mm required a filter adapter to use either of my super duper dense filters (the 70-200mm would have been good too but I didn’t bring it!) But I then remembered that I did bring my little kit that included the plastic-fantastic 100mm Vivitar that uses a 49mm filter, and I had my Hoya 8 stop and Tiffen 4 stop filters that let me take 15-30 second exposures in daylight. That’s what gives the clouds the “smear” look.

East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

Another technical problem I noticed later as I was downloading my images at English Ales in Marina was a small scratch in my graduated filter. Most problems were barely visible but that led to a few duds. Time to buy another set of Cokin P filters.

On returning from Monterey I spent the later half of the day up in the hills again. The clouds were gone. But it was pretty clear by Silicon Valley air quality standards. And I had the time to spend this time ’round. So I hiked up to the lone tree I photographed the day before. The panoramic views were amazing. And worthy of me coming back with my pano setup. Hidden behind the large rocks in my earlier photo was also a picnic table- another great idea for a return trip.

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, Santa Clara County (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Cattle grazing at Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, Santa Clara County (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

Killing time, I hiked along parts of the trails below. Think of the contrast between green open spaces, the grazing cattle that would have looked similar for millennia with cities and towns below- San Jose, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto. The places credited with the most modern of technology.

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, Santa Clara County (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
Litter along the East Foothills, Santa Clara County (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

A less pleasant contrast also exists in the Silicon Valley foothills. For one, there are the types you’d expect to find out along a trail, nature enthusiasts, fitness buffs, photographers and the like..  But you can also see the traces of those folks you were trying to avoid by heading up here. There are piles of trash near most pullouts along the road.  Occasionally a loud car would pull up and rowdy folks would yell and scream. And the same idiots on Harley Davidsons that terrorize the city below with the roar of their meth-and-mullet culture. I cracked a joke with a couple of hikers: “love the peace and quiet and fresh air” after a kid on a “rice rocket” burned rubber and blew tire smoke towards us.

East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)
East San Jose Foothills, San Jose, Silicon Valley (M Halberstadt/SiliconValleyStock.com)

And another downside as far as photography is that they close up right after sunset. So after we were booted out, I desperately looked for a legal pullout to photograph. The light really gets good just about the time the park closes. But then again, I found a few other great spots.