Wednesday, January 6, 2016
For my first post of the new year, I thought I'd dig into the archives to celebrate one of my favorite January traditions while living in California -- the northern elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Reserve. There's nothing quite like seeing these beasts hauled out on the beach, and I definitely miss being an easy car ride away from the spectacle. These two frames are of the beachmaster of loser's beach in January 2011. After successfully charging a rival seal back into the water he reared back and roared before settling back into the sand.
View more photographs of elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Reserve
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
I've written about this plenty of times before, but strolling the trail to Kehoe Beach while the wildflowers are blooming in Point Reyes National Seashore is sight to behold. The air is thick with their sweet aromas, and the birds are abundant among the blooms. On my summer trip last year, I walked this trail almost daily looking for opportunities to photograph song birds as they bounced about the branches. The dominant color along the trail was yellow, and this song sparrow perched on a yellow bush lupine with wild mustard behind.
View more of my photographs of sparrows and other song birds.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
After spending some quality time photographing this California quail singing from the top of a branch of coyote brush last summer, I took another lap around the Tennessee Valley Trail. I didn’t see much on my traverse, but when I returned, this friendly quail had moved to a different perch even closer to the trail. His new location certainly didn’t tamp down his vigor, so I took advantage of the opportunity to make a few more photographs of him throwing his head back and calling out his lovely song.
View more of my quail photography.
Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this week's posts.
Monday, August 17, 2015
I knew it was going to be a productive trip to Point Reyes National Seashore for me last year, when I encountered this bobcat on my first evening in the park. After landing in California I grabbed some supplies for the week in my old stomping grounds (including a burrito from my favorite taqueria!) before heading out to Marin. For my first foray into the park I decided to look for quail in the coastal scrub near Abbotts Lagoon. I had some luck with birds near the trailhead before starting to hike toward the coast. I didn't get too far down the trail though before spotting this bobcat searching for rodents in the adjacent field. Much to my delight, the cat started working its way toward my location near the small drainage pond along the trail. It definitely noticed that I was watching, and it gave me a wary eye as it approached before disappearing into the reeds at the edge of the pond. I stayed in my spot on the trail for a while longer to see if it would emerge, and surprisingly it stepped out even closer to me. It seemed to want to get a better look at its observer, spending a few minutes looking my way before slipping back into the vegetation. I would see this cat working the fields near the pond multiple times during my trip (though never at this close range again), and I suspect that it may have had a den there.
View more photographs of bobcats.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Continuing with my run of fog-shrouded images from last summer, here is a mule deer doe (above) and her juvenile (below) enjoying the summer wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore. I began my day in the park with a morning drive out to Chimney Rock and encountered this pair along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. The backside of the large dunes of the outer peninsula are in the background, and if it wasn't for the fog, the Pacific would be visible beyond them.
View more of my photographs of mule deer.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Following on my theme in yesterday's post about switching my mind's eye into landscape mode, here is another photograph from last summer along the Tomales Point Trail under a heavy layer of fog. I've always enjoyed the wind-driven shape of these stately cypress trees, and they were even more engaging as they faded in and out of sight through the fog. My early June trip happened to coincide with an explosion of lupine and wild radish along the trail, which added an amazing amount of color, as well as a thick scent of pollen, to the scene.
View more of my photography from the Tomales Point area of Point Reyes National Seashore.
Friday, August 14, 2015
I'm looking forward to a trip to Acadia National Park later this month, which means I'll need to switch my photographic eye to landscape mode. I really wish that I was a better landscape photographer. With wildlife, it comes fairly naturally to me to create images that have the potential to build an emotional connection with the viewer. In some ways, I think it can be easier when you have a clear focus of attention on a living, breathing creature. The eyes provide that necessary window to pull a viewer directly into the scene, and there's always a dynamic component related to the perceived motion (or lack thereof) of the animal. I have yet to find a consistent way to generate an emotional connection through my landscape photography. I feel it strongly while viewing other photographer's work, but it still remains an elusive challenge in my own.
On my trip to Point Reyes National Seashore last summer, I was primarily focused on wildlife, but I made a conscious effort to try to capture the scenic aspects of the park as well. I have such a strong emotional connection to the Point Reyes landscape, and I would love to be able to express just a sliver of it through my lens. I walked the Tomales Point Trail a couple of times on this trip, and each time that I passed this valley bathed in wildflowers it caught my attention. I tried a number of times to create something that expressed my draw to this scene, and the closest I came was in this image under a dense layer of fog. The wind was barely blowing and the birds were quiet, as if the world was weighed down by the fog. The soft colors under the heavy air and remarkable density of blooms in the valley seemed to be cast by an impressionist's paintbrush. The stillness and serenity of this stop along the trail are still etched in my memory.
Ultimately, my efforts to create an impactful image fell short of my intentions, but with failure comes the opportunity for growth. Artistic expression would likely go stale without the constant pursuit of improvement, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Acadia is another landscape that I felt an immediate connection with, and I hope I'll be returning from my upcoming trip with an expression of that connection.
View more of my landscapes from Point Reyes National Seashore.
Monday, August 3, 2015
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am enamored with landscape photographs that take place above the fog. I've seen so many glorious images of the Golden Gate Bridge draped in fog over the years, and I recall a specific image from this area of Mt Tam that appeared in a CSPF bulletin a few years back. I had always wanted to try to capture such an image myself, but regrettably never made the opportunity for myself while living in California. It took until my trip back to the west coast last summer to finally be present with the right conditions. Though as I wrote about last year, I still ended up pulling into a turnout different than I had intended as time was running out.
View more landscape photography from Marin County, California.
Friday, December 19, 2014
I've previously written about my experience of chasing the sunset above the marine layer on my summer trip to California this year. It was a spectacular experience, and something I wish I had taken the time to do more often back when Mt. Tam used to be visible outside our kitchen window! I took a variety of images from the few pullouts I had time to stop at that day, and I think maybe this one is my favorite. I strongly considered it for my Favorite Photographs of 2014 post, but ultimately it was just outside my top ten.
View more landscape photographs from Marin County, California.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Thursday, November 27, 2014
A California quail staring into the camera from his perch in Point Reyes National Seashore
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my followers! I hope you are able to relax and enjoy some time with family and friends!
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Tenaya Creek, laden with heavy spring rain and snow melt, rushes over a cascade near Mirror Lake
I recently spent some time digging through my archives from a May 2011 trip to Yosemite National Park. I had processed some of my favorites right after the trip, but it was fun to delve a little deeper for images I had initially overlooked. It's so easy to get caught up in the dramatic rock faces, that I had passed over some of the more intimate scenes I stopped to photograph along the way. I found a few "new" images that I'm excited about, including this one, but what stood out to me the most during this exercise was the incredible beauty of Yosemite National Park. We only spent a couple of days in the valley on that trip, but there are so many stunning scenes. It is a photographic regret of mine that we didn't spend more time in that incredible place while living in California -- but it's nice to have a list of good reasons to go back and visit!
View more landscape photography from Yosemite National Park
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
A California quail posing on a fencepost near Abbott's Lagoon in Point Reyes National Seashore
I've been posting a lot of shorebirds lately since I've had some great recent outings in the area, but I still have a backlog of images from my five day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore over the summer. As I always do while in the park, I was constantly scanning for opportunities to photograph California quail. This particular male perched himself on a relatively plain fencepost, but in front of a nicely colored hillside for a backdrop.
View more of my photographs of California quail.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
The last rays of golden light illuminate hillsides above the marine layer on Mt Tam
On my summer trip to Point Reyes, I included a single sunset in my schedule to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge, which I had hoped would be bathed in partial fog. I spent the afternoon photographing quail in Tennessee Valley and drove to the bridge for the golden hour. To my dismay, the entire scene was completely fogged in, enough that I couldn't even see the bridge from the first pullout on Conzelman Road. Instead of waiting for the slim chance that the fog might lift, I made a last-minute change of plans to get above the marine layer along the crest of Mount Tam. I ascended the mountain under heavy gray, and eventually burst into the warm colors of sunset as I drove for the pullouts on Ridgecrest Boulevard. I was pressed for time with the sun already close to the horizon, but what a sight to see the warm colors of sunset offset by the cool fog. It was breathtaking, and Marin yet again delivered another of my favorite experiences.
Trees frame a fairly tale scene above the fog
Monday, July 28, 2014
A bull tule elk is lucky to have only vegetation wrapped around its antlers in Point Reyes National Seashore
This photo of a bull tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore is back from a foggy morning in 2011. If you look carefully, you can see a long vine wrapped around the base of his antlers. This is rather common during the rutting season as bulls aggressively brush their antlers on the ground to pick up grasses to carry on their antlers. For some elk though, this can be quite dangerous if they get tangled in broken lines of barbed wire fencing lying on the ground.
This is a long introduction to refer you to a great write-up done by fellow Point Reyes photographer Jim Coda about the potentially (un)wildlife-friendly fencing practices in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
A song sparrow belts out its tune from the freshwater marsh along the Kehoe Beach Trail
I have written previously about spending a fair amount of time looking for song birds to photograph in the wildflowers along the trail to Kehoe Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, but one of my favorite images from the trip came from turning to the opposite side of the trail. It may not have the flashy colors of wildflowers, but I'm a sucker for marsh vegetation!
Browse more of my photographs of song birds.
Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this week's posts!
Sunday, July 13, 2014
|A white-crowned sparrow perched in the summer wildflowers along the Kehoe Beach Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore.|
As I've mentioned in a previous post, the Kehoe Beach Trail is one of my favorite places to look for wildlife hiding in the sea of wildflowers that line the trail. I generally don't target song birds when I'm out looking for wildlife to photograph, mostly because I find it can be rather challenging to get close enough to obtain a bird that is relatively large in the frame and unobstructed by branches and such. However, a setting like this is, in my opinion, a great place to leave a lot of space around the birds. I particularly liked the layering to the wildflowers in this frame, with the white flowers extending on tall stalks above the yellow blooms.
View more photos from the Kehoe Beach area in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Friday, July 11, 2014
A California quail throws its head back in song along the Tennessee Valley Trail in the GGNRA.
For a long time, an image that was high on my wish list (at least of local opportunities) was a clean shot of a California quail in song. They’re already such interesting and charismatic birds, but it’s taken to another level when they throw their head back and call out toward the sky. During my time in California, I had a few fleeting opportunities to attempt a shot, but none of the images I produced quite met my expectations. On my recent trip to California though, I was finally able to capitalize. On one of my first mornings in Point Reyes, I photographed a female quail calling out from her fence post. She was not quite as exuberant about it as I might have preferred, but it still felt like I was putting a small checkmark on my list. Then, on my lone afternoon spent in the Marin Headlands, I came across this very loud male who was repeatedly calling out from his branch of coyote brush on a hillside above the Tennessee Valley Trail.
The same quail singing from his perch on an old branch of coyote brush.
This quail was dedicated to making sure the whole valley knew he was there, and this gave me the chance to fire off a lot of frames from a few different compositions. It was exciting to have the chance to mentally score a photo of a quail singing in such a great setting as well. Coyote brush is a bit more appealing than a standard fence post would have been – and the unique twisted branches he selected as a perch really added some great character to the scene.
Browse more of my photographs of California quail.
Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link for this week's posts!
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
A white-crowned sparrow sings along the Abbott's Lagoon Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore.
While looking for songbirds to photograph on my recent trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, my primary objective was to capture them perched in front of wildflowers. Of course, it wasn't always possible to get a bright, colorful backdrop in each frame. I was drawn into this scene by the old, weathered branch of coyote brush that this white-crowned sparrow was perched on. Even better, a distant hillside provided a clean background of neutral colors for the shot as it started to sing. This otherwise drab bird provided its own splash of color though, flashing its green and orange leg bands.
Browse more of my photos of song birds.