Thursday, July 18, 2019

Enveloped by fog, Mount Tamalpais State Park

Rolling fog on Mount Tam

In contrast to my 2014 trip, when I was scrambling to find the right pullout before missing the sunset, I arrived with plenty of time to spare on this trip. I chose my spot and sat on a rocky outcrop with enough time to meditate in the evening sunshine. Unknowingly, I selected a vantage point that was a little too low in elevation for the day’s weather conditions. I enjoyed watching the rising fog creep up the valleys and lap up against the lower outcrops of pines. Suddenly, something changed and the fog rapidly rose and fully enveloped my position. I went from warm sunlight and colors to being submerged in cold windy gray in just a few moments. Despite my best intentions of selecting one place for the sunset, I now had to race down the narrow trail of the hillside in thick pea soup to find my rental car so that I could drive to a higher elevation to take advantage of the remaining light somewhere else.

Coastal fog envelopes the western slopes of Mount Tamalpais in California


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Island in the fog, Mount Tamalpais State Park

A tree-covered hilltop peeks out from the coastal fog in Mount Tamalpais State Park, California

The lure is strong to be above the coastal fog for a sunset when I manage to make it back to California for photography, and I've tried to plan for one evening each trip to be on Ridgecrest Blvd in Mount Tamalpais State Park. I love watching the dynamics of the rising tide of fog filling the valleys, and in this case, forming small hilltop islands set in a sea of roiling moisture.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tule elk grazing in the fog, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule elk grazing in fog at Tomales Point, Point Reyes National Seashore

My nascent photographic vision was developed under the coastal fog of Point Reyes, and now that I’m settled in the Northeast, I don’t have nearly as many opportunities to experience ground-level fog like this. Standing in the middle of a thick cloud is perhaps a bit heavier than would be truly helpful for photography, but it does add a different feel of weight and solitude to the story told by a photo. I don’t know if sounds are actually dampened in fog, but looking back at these images, my mind’s interpretation is a quiet scene with only the sound of elk footfalls softly stepping through the wet grass.

Tule elk under heavy fog in Point Reyes National Seashore


Monday, July 15, 2019

Quail on a fencepost, Point Reyes National Seashore

Male California quail on a fencepost in Point Reyes National Seashore

Three years ago, I was back out in California with a few days to spend on photography. I posted a handful of images from this trip last year, but there are a bunch still waiting their turn in my upload folder. Since I’ve shared a lot of baby plovers recently, this seems like a nice time to break things up a bit by tapping into my July archives. A California quail on a fence post is hard for me to pass up when I’m in Point Reyes National Seashore, so these seem like a logical place to start.

Profile view of a California quail in Point Reyes National Seashore


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Least tern chick with parent, Sandy Point State Reservation

Least tern chick walking on a Massachusetts beach

It’s been so much fun to observe the least tern and piping plover chicks at Sandy Point State Reservation. Having the chance to see both in such close proximity makes the difference between the life histories of the species so striking. The plover chicks appear curious and brave, moving quickly across the beach looking for food on their own, occasionally returning to brood under a watchful parent. In contrast, the young terns are clearly more dependent as they wait for their next meal to be brought back and they appear rather awkward as they run across the sand. Regardless of how they are raised, both are certainly adorable in their down feathers!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Curious piping plover chick, Sandy Point State Reservation

Curious plover chick on the beach in Massachusetts

Photographing piping plover chicks can be so rewarding since they're so curious. On many occasions during my recent trips to Sandy Point State Reservation, I’d get myself positioned in the sand a good distance away from the plovers, only to have them approach really close. For better or worse, they seem to be inquisitive about what the photographer is doing lying in the sand. It can be challenging to keep them in frame with a long telephoto at close range, so sometimes it’s worth just pulling up from my viewfinder to enjoy their remarkable cuteness with unaided eyes.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Least tern chick at sunrise, Sandy Point State Reservation

Least tern chick snuggled with parent in Massachusetts

A young least tern chick enjoys the comfort of its parent’s embrace at sunrise. Its sibling was tucked under the far wing, but perhaps this one enjoyed feeling the warmth of the first early rays rising above the Atlantic. At one point, it ran out onto the sand, apparently thinking that its other parent was coming back with a fish, but once that moment passed it came back to snuggle in again.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Piping plover chick at sunrise, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick at sunrise on Plum Island, Massachusetts

The early morning alarms to get to the refuge entrance by sunrise can be rough in the weeks around the solstice, but it's always worth it when you have a chance to spend time with these adorable chicks bathed in the first light of the day.


Monday, July 1, 2019

Piping plover hug, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover parent and chick looking at each other on Plum Island, Massachusetts

The brooding behavior of piping plovers makes for such special photographic moments. While the precocial chicks are incredibly independent on the beach, they still check-in with their parents regularly to brood. If you're in the right place, this gives a great opportunity to capture short moments of direct interaction between the chick and its parent. In the photo above, a young chick approaches with the clear intention of snuggling under those insulating feathers. Having the two birds looking directly at each other adds a nice tenderness to the interaction.

Baby piping plover ready to warm up under its parent's feathers

I really love the two photo below though, after the two chicks have nestled in under the parent's wing. You can see the two small beaks peeking out from under the feathers, and I just have the sense that this must be what plover smiles would look like, in the embrace of a warm parental hug.

Two piping plover chicks in an underwing hug from their parent in Massachusetts