About Bill Heller

Bill Heller is a local photographer who has been contributing to the Santa Barbara View since February, 2009. His photographs, virtual reality photos, and innovative video techniques showcase our beautiful City and County on a weekly basis. You can visit Bill's website at, http://www.billheller.com.

Author Archive | Bill Heller

Night Fishing at the Harbor

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Night Fishing
On warm days I like to take a walk out the breakwater at the Santa Barbara Harbor. It’s always cooler out there and any time of day it’s a beautiful walk. At sunset, and just after, it’s absolutely magical. This evening I was enjoying the beautiful view of the last colors of the setting sun in the company of an amazing Great Blue Heron (in the center at the edge of the water). Of course I think he was more interested in the fishing than the sunset, but we were both happy to patently stand there and take in the wonderful evening.

-Bill Heller

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Clock Tower View Closed Soon for Renovation

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Clock Tower View, Closed soon for Renovations

I’m often surprised at how many locals have never been to the observation deck at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clocktower. It’s a wonderful experience, even for those of us who may be used to looking at the beauty of Santa Barbara all the time. A wonderful experience that is, if you can easily navigate the tight metal stairways winding up the last story from the top of the elevator.

But that is all about to change for the better. Thanks to the caretakers of the courthouse a new project is underway to extend the elevator the last story all the way to the observation deck. But unlike some of the accessibility stories you hear where someone sued or complained to get action, the story behind the project is very positive. The courthouse has had ADA accessibility plans in the works for some time, but this particular project was accellerated by the people who forged ahead, rather than let it stop them. Even though the climb to the top was tough there are many who make the trek apparently even in the face of extreme difficulty. Inspired by the people who felt the experience was worth the effort, the Courthouse Docents urged the powers that be to fast track the project. Led by a guy who’s love of the history and heritage in his care is quite apparent when you talk to him, the County Architect Robert Ooley, the project got the green light this week.

Of course, extending the elevator another floor is no easy task. Starting January the Clock Gallery and the observation deck will be closed to the public to allow for construction, which is slated to run through July 2015. So if you’ve never been to the top because you’ve just never got around to it, now is a great time to go before construction starts! Of course if you’ve stayed away because of the climb, your wait is almost over. Either way, during the construction I’ll do my best to bring the wonderful views right to you.

You can find out more about this project and others in the works at http://www.santabarbaracourthouse.org/

-Bill Heller

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Butterfly Beach Wedding

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.

Butterfly Beach Wedding
Not long ago I was out at one of my favorite spots trying out a new lens. This beautiful Cypress tree watches over all the weddings and dog walks, and people just enjoying this beautiful stretch of the California Coast called Butterfly Beach. And on this particular day, he just happened to be watching over a newlywed couple enjoying the first moments of their marrage down below on the beach. One of countless amazing moments this wonderful tree has witnessed I’m sure.

As for the lens, if you’re interested. A while ago Canon replaced the 15mm fish-eye that I love with a zoom lens. An 8mm-15mm fish-eye. This circular picture is what results from the 8mm end on a full frame camera, which when used sparingly in the right situation can give a beautiful and unique point of view. -Bill Heller

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Santa Ynez Grapes

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Grapes on the Vine

Wandering through the vineyards of the Sant Ynez valley. Thanks to our extreme weather this year, it’s been an early grape harvest throughout California. I love to watch the grapes develop for photo opportunities like this and just because I’ve always loved plants in general. This year I noticed early in the summer the grapes looked unusually advanced for the time of the season and with a bit of research online I found that vineyards were expecting a particularly early year. Early, but no less impressive and beautiful from the looks of things.

-Bill Heller

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Shoreline Bluff

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Shoreline Bluff
Just after sunset the colors are beautiful this time of year. This is looking east from Shoreline Park, one of the best places in town for a nice evening walk.
-Bill Heller

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Santa Barbara Marine Layer

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Santa Barbara Marine Layer
Although nothing like our friends to the north in San Francisco, Santa Barbara is a favorite hang out for something the weather man calls the “Marine Layer”. It’s basically a layer of air cooled quickly by the water making it hug the ground under the lighter warm air above. This cool layer has a tendency to slide into the coast as the sun is setting, bringing with it some beautiful swirling fog. Once in a while the effect is so pronounced that from the right vantage point you can see it rolling in like a beautiful blanket.

If you take the time to watch it, you can almost imagine an animated living breathing thing the way it swirls and moves so gracefully. This year we’ve seen a little less than usual of our beautiful fog friend, but there are still some amazing moments!

-Bill Heller

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Peaceful Evening on the Water

Santa Barbara photo to start the week, by Bill Heller (click to enlarge).

Peaceful Evening on the Water

I love to walk on the beach and at the harbor and look at all the boats. There are a wide variety of amazing crafts around Santa Barbara, but the sailboats have to be my favorites. It’s been a long time since I’ve been sailing, and I’m pretty sure I’d have trouble living full time on one. But it sure looks like a nice relaxing way to spend the sunset hours. Someday soon I’m going to find the time to spend more time out on the water -Bill Heller

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Heaven and Earth

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Heaven and Earth
Every evening as we go about our lives there is an amazing ballet going on above our heads. Most of us are too busy to think about it. But if you take some time to get away from the brighter lights of the city you can see some spectacular things just by looking up. This is the the beautiful Santa Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, under the equally beautiful Milky Way Galaxy. The Galaxy we call home. If you think of all those stars at night that you usually see from any location, they are in general just our local neighbors in a small part of the Milky Way. All the visible stars you can make out with your naked eye in every direction from the earth (anywhere between five to ten thousand stars give or take) only comprise a tiny fraction of the stars in the Milky Way. That glowing band however, is made up of individual stars so numerous that they appear to be a continuous cloud of light to the unaided eye. Estimates put it from one to four hundred billion stars. There are absolutely wondrous and beautiful things all around us!

-Bill Heller

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Santa Barbara Breakwater Twilight

Santa Barbara photo to start the week, by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.

Santa Barbara Breakwater Twilight

Walking along the Santa Barbara Harbor breakwater at sunset, the perfect end to a warm day. -Bill Heller

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Friday Night Lights at Butterfly

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Friday Night Butterfly Lights

I’ve always enjoyed taking my camera out after dark. A long exposure can reveal all kinds of interesting things you didn’t even know were there. This was Friday night at Butterfly Beach. The moon was bright enough in the sky to easily catch the details at a faster shutter speed than this. But I intentionally lengthened the exposure to try to capture a more dreamy effect. In the middle of my exposure the people at the right walked up carrying some kind of small light, a cell phone presumably, which made for some unexpected interest in the form of an abstract light painting along the wall.

-Bill Heller

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Andree Clark Sunset

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Andree Clark Sunset
One of several absolutely spectacular sunsets this week thanks to high clouds in the area from Hurricane Hernan. This was the view from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, one of the amazing natural places in the Santa Barbara area, named in memory of the sister of the refuge’s primary patron, Huguette Clark. A special thanks to Alan Rose at KEYT, for the heads up early in the week about the impending high level moisture. Knew it was going to be a good week when I heard that.

-Bill Heller

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Evening Over Stearns Wharf

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Evening Over Stearns Wharf
A nice cool evening out on Stearns Wharf. This is one of my favorite times to be out on the wharf. Most of the shops have closed and the only people out are fishermen or the restaurant patrons heading back to their cars. Of course it’s a little harder to get ice cream and candy at this time… but the parking is free!

-Bill Heller

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Anna

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.

Anna's
Our hummingbirds are having a particularly active season right now. On one evening walk we counted at least eight sitting patently waiting for their flowers to refill with nectar on a small stretch of the path by the beach.

This beautiful little creature was watching me quite intently. He seemed as interested in me as I was in him. He was probably just trying to figure out what the tall guy with the 300mm nose was doing. He was a little nervous at first, but over the years I’ve found a patent slow approach usually puts them at ease. After a few minutes I was able to get close enough to get the shot I was looking for.

-Bill Heller

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Cypress Super Moon

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Cypress Super Moon
The view from last night above Butterfly Beach. At the time I did not realize this was a “supermoon”. A full moon that coincides with the moon’s perigee, the closest part of the moon’s orbit to Earth. But the crowds of people out along the beach watching seemed to suggest something was up. Of course the moon needs to be very close to the horizon to really notice a difference in size, but then every moonrise is beautiful here.

-Bill Heller

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Santa Barbara City Lights

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Santa Barbara City Lights
A nice long exposure just after sunset from the end of the breakwater. The tide was pretty high when I took this last week, so I came back from a nice evening walk on the breakwater a little soggy. But it was well worth it. I was not the only one crazy enough to brave the beautiful waves either. There were more than a few people trying to enjoy the view while running from dry spot to dry spot on the breakwater. I actually had fun trying to capture the breaking waves, but they seemed to take on a life of their own. Taunting me only when I turned my back. When I came close to the wall ready to snap my shot quickly then duck, they seemed to know I was stalking them. I actually got all the way out and most of the way back before they caught me off totally off guard. I guess the score is waves 1 – photographer 0, but there will be plenty of warm evenings this summer to give me the opportunity to even up the score.

-Bill Heller

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