Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hold on to the Thread

South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/400s, f/14, ISO: 100
I like how this picture looks black and white when in fact it's in color.  I was shooting into the sun and was't too sure what I'd end up with.  Turned out OK, I think.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Amongst the Waves

South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/125s, f/10, ISO: 100
I was watching the surf yesterday--it seemed particularly angry--when it occurred to me that I rarely take photos of the ocean by itself.  I have plenty of pictures of the ocean but it's usually part of the scenery, rarely the subject itself.  So, here's a picture of the ocean.  I think I like it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dairy Cows

Holstein Cow -- Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/640s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
I took Pongo for a drive to Point Reyes today to see the cows.  These two were closer to the fence for a while, at least until Pongo got too excited and barked at them.  He loves seeing the cows but he gets a little intimidated when they're very close, I think.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, 1/1250s, f/4, ISO: 200
If you're looking for endless views, Bryce Canyon is the place to go.  Yosemite and the Grand Canyon might have more spectacular scenery, but only slightly more spectacular, and both of those places are basically closed in.  Bryce Canyon is the high point for miles around in a couple of directions.  The views can go on for miles and miles and miles.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 104, photo #1955.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Into the Mystic

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO: 100
Anyone that knows me knows I'm not a believer in things mystical or religious.   Well, aside from my mother who seems to need to cling to the idea that I'm a man of faith, which I certainly am not.  I don't disbelieve, I just think if there's a greater being or beings out there then he, she or they are bound to be of unfathomable complexity to these hairless apes that roam the Earth.  Anything we to try to make sense of such things can only succeed in obscuring things further.

That doesn't mean I don't think some people can't have experiences with meaning that surpasses our physical constraints, and when I run into a scene like this I can't help but be a little jealous that these folks just might be getting a brief sliver of a glimpse at the unfathomable.  If not, they're certainly experiencing that enriching peaceful quiet that only places like Bryce Canyon can deliver.  I tend to suspect the latter, for what it's worth.

On this particular day I'd experienced that soul-reviving quiet while taking a nap under a tree a couple of hundred yards away from this scene.  I was probably sawing logs, ruining everyone else's peace.  Sorry.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Bottom of the Continent

Death Valley National Park, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, 1/1250s, f/5, ISO: 160
Death Valley wasn't always a dry desert.  The valley floor was once a large, deep lake.  At its largest, it was roughly eighty miles long, six miles wide and six hundred feet deep at its deepest point.  It's known as Lake Manly, and it made a brief return in 2004 after a severe storm.  It only averaged a couple of feet in depth, but it covered most of the valley floor and people were actually able to kayak from one side of the valley to the other.  Wouldn't that have been something to experience?

Today there's a large aquifer beneath Death Valley.  That's why there are always pools of water at Badwater Basin and other places in the valley.  I believe the water in this picture springs from the aquifer as well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

California Ground Squirrel

California Ground Squirrel -- Arrowhead Marsh, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
A lot of people I know consider ground squirrels to be nothing more than rats with bushy tails.  I think they are kind of cute.  Pongo likes chasing them.  One thing is for sure, they're in no danger of going on the endangered species list anytime soon.  They seem to be everywhere in Northern California.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pelican on a Piling

Brown Pelican -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1.1600s, f/5.6, ISO: 200
I saw this pelican on my drive home a few days ago so I stopped for a few pictures.  Watching these big birds fish the estuary never gets dull.  This pelican was hanging out with another pelican who was snoozing on an adjacent piling.  It's got to be tough sleeping on a pole.

Brown Pelican -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1.1000s, f/5.6, ISO: 100

Monday, March 23, 2015

There's Something You Don't See Every Day

Double-crested Cormorant -- Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO: 160
I'll grant you, this isn't the greatest picture by any stretch of the imagination.  I had to share it for the sheer strangeness of it.  Web-footed birds sitting on a power pole?  I've never seen such a thing.  It would be even more awesome if they were actually on the power line but I suspect that's not a possibility.  Crazy birds.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

South to Big Sur

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/80s, f/9, ISO: 100
Where Big Sur begins and ends is a bit fuzzy, especially the Northern boundary.  I've seen it defined vaguely as "South of Carmel."  I've seen it defined somewhat arbitrarily but specifically as the mouth of the Carmel River.  If you go by the signs along the road, places don't start labeling themselves as "Big Sur This" or "Big Sur That" until you're probably twenty miles South of Carmel.

Personally, I like to think of Point Lobos as the boundary.  I would say that Point Lobos is the union of Big Sur and the Monterey stretch of coastline.  It's easy to imagine that Point Lobos is where the mountains start to fall into the sea, yet the cypress groves tie it to what lies North, not South.  It's a little bit of both, which is part of what makes it unique.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird -- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO: 1250
Whenever I see a hummingbird in Northern California I start with the assumption that it's an Anna's and go from there.  Occasionally it will turn out to be something else, but Anna's are the most common hummingbirds around here.  I never tire of them, though.  They are such amazing creatures.

Anna's Hummingbird -- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO: 1250

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tree on a Cliff

Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, 1/80s, f/4.5, ISO: 500
How big do you suppose this tree will grow to be?  This little guy was growing on the side of a granite cliff near Yosemite Falls.

Guy?  Gal?  Dunno.

Anyway, I'm not sure how this little tree found this particular spot to grow.  There's just not much there.  You go, little tree.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 103, photo #9247.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pig Crossing

California State Route 1, Carmel, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/100s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
Pig?  Hog?  Boar?  Feral?  Wild?  Whatever.  Just keep your eyes out for pork on the road when you're driving through Carmel.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Headland Cove

Headland Cove, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/100s, f/8, ISO: 100
This is the shot that just keeps on giving.  I have a number of pictures from this exact location and I never tire of them.  The combination of the rocks, trees and water is unbeatable.  Sunset was close to 8:00 on this particular day and I shot this at around 5:00, so I wasn't getting a whole lot of help from the lighting.  A smidge, perhaps, it wasn't high noon after all, but not much.  My point isn't that I'm just that good--I'm getting better but I still have a long way to go-- it's that this particular location is just that good, especially in the afternoon.  You can't go wrong here as long as you remember to take your lens cap off.

It's an easy spot to find.  Park at or hike to Headland Cove then follow the trail to Sea Lion Rocks.  Follow the sound of barking sea lions if you can't read the signs.  About half way out there's a bench.  Stop there and look North.  Take pictures and amaze your friends.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

China Cove

China Cove, Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/40s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
I like the late afternoon colors on this picture.  The green grass is nice, I suspect it will soon turn yellow.  I imagine Spring is the only time these particular colors can be seen at this spot.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i,  EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/80s, f/6.3, ISO: 100
It's been a while since I've had a good photography outing.  No better place to dust off the cobwebs than at Point Lobos.  The only drawback is that the Point isn't very big and going off trail is strongly discouraged, so finding something completely new to photograph is sometimes a little difficult.  The animals help out a lot in that regard, and the ocean and the sky often have a lot drama going on, so shooting at the same locations from one visit to another doesn't mean the pictures will look the same.  In fact, that's part of the fun.  Even though I've got plenty of pictures at a few favorite spots I don't hesitate to hit them again.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Harbor Seals

Harbor Seal -- Moss Landing, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm IS II, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO: 200
Elkhorn Slough is a great place for kayaking.  There's a lot of marine wildlife to see and getting out on the water puts one into their element.  Of course, a good distance has to be maintained away from the animals, still there's nothing like being in the same water with these seals, sea lions and sea otters.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mountain Lion Crossing

Desert View Drive, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 1/40s, f/6.3, ISO: 100
I'm thinking this is one of the last signs you want to see if you have a flat tire.

This mountain lion crossing sign can be seen on Desert View Drive along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  It's a not-to-miss thirty mile stretch of road between the South and East entrances of the park.

For the record, I've never seen a mountain lion there.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Driving at Gleneagles

Gleneagles Golf Course, San Francisco, CA
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS, 1/160s, f/8. ISO: 80


Hat on backwards?

Roger.  Ready for launch in T minus ten . . . nine . . . eight . . .

Inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 102, photo #6349.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Otter Crossing

Muir Woods National Monument, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, 1/250s, f/4, ISO: 6400
This is the first entry in what I hope will be a fun little series of animals crossing signs that I come across.  I hesitated to start off with this sign or even include it at all because it isn't a permanent metal sign, but it does have the National Park and California State Park logos on it, so I figure it's official enough.  I've yet to see a river otter in the wild, so I drive extra slow through this stretch of road just in case.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

California Condor

California Condor -- Pinnacles National Monument, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, 1/250s, f/5.8, ISO: 100
This picture is from a trip to Pinnacles National Monument a few years back.  It hadn't been promoted to a National Park yet.  Turkey vultures are good sized birds, but the vulture on the right looks pretty small next to the condor.  This is the best look I've ever had of one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Committee

Turkey Vulture -- Pinnacles National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm IS II, 1/1250s, f/5, ISO: 125
I've seen vultures gathering on this dead tree near the visitor's center a few times.  Once there was even a condor on the tree with them.  That was the best look I've ever had at a wild condor.

Turkey vultures aren't the prettiest of birds.  They aren't graceful fliers.  They don't seem to be particularly smart or clever.  They're all right by me, though.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Coyote in the Meadow

Coyote -- Pinnacles National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm IS II, 1/1600s, f5.6, ISO: 640
As Pongo and I were leaving Pinnacles National Park this weekend I was lamenting to him how we'd never seen a coyote during any of our visits.  We heard one while camping once, but that was the closest we had come.  Within a minute of my uttering of those words we saw this coyote in the big meadow near the entrance of the park.

This coyote was skittish.  I pulled over when I saw him and had to get out of the car to get to my camera which I'd packed away for the drive home.  When he saw me get out of the car he moved out across the meadow, putting a good deal of distance between us in a very short time.  Although it cost me any shot at a good picture, I was OK with that given their status as undesirable animals in most rural areas of the US.  Personally, I'm a fan, but a lot of folks would like to see then exterminated.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hangin' Out

Turkey Vulture -- Pinnacles National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm IS II, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO: 250
Pongo and I went camping at Pinnacles last light.  We woke up to over a dozen vultures circling over the campground.  I didn't spot any condors in the mix.  Around there, condors can often been seen mixed in with the turkey vultures.  The vultures are better at spotting dead stuff than the condors.  The bigger birds use the vultures as advance scouts.

It was a nice night.  Pongo called it quits early, right after dinner.  About an hour later he flopped out of the car completely freaked out.  I guess he fell asleep then woke up not knowing where he was.  Poor guy.  He was fine after he got his bearings.  He's wound so tight.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican -- Crab Cove, Alameda, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, 1/800s, f/5. ISO:100
If you have any experience trying to shoot birds in flight with a point-and-shoot camera, I think you'll appreciate what an incredible shot this is.  So many things had to go right for this to come out as well as it did, none of which I had much control over and not the least of which was a pelican had to fly almost right over my head at a very low altitude.

For a while there this was probably my best wildlife photograph.  This still might be my best pelican image.  Many of the other top contenders were also taken with my old SX40.

For the record, this is the first photo of mine actually improved by blogger's image auto-tuning.  The tones in the sky are better than the original.  I still wish they'd mind their own business.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hoh River

Hoh River, Olympic National Park, WA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, 1/250s, f/4, ISO: 200
There is a bald eagle somewhere in the trees in this picture.  I was following the bird with my camera but it had landed on one of the trees by the time I snapped the shot.  So, yeah, not the most exciting of images but I do love this river.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 101, photo #8888.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

San Luis Wetlands

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm IS II, 1/800s, f/5, ISO: 100
Not much to say here.  This is the kind of scene that's pretty common at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.  Looking at a picture like this can bring calm when I find myself tensing up.  I imagine if you're a duck it might not seem quite so serene considering the usual high density of harriers and hawks, but to me this is the essence of tranquility.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Roadways: Capitol Reef's Scenic Drive

Scenic Drive, Capitol Reef National Park, UT
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS, 1/500s, f/2.8, ISO: 80
Capitol Reef is probably the least well-known of Utah's national parks, and I'm both surprised and a little awed by that fact.  I've also been to Zion and Bryce Canyon, and of the three I'd have to say Capitol Reef was my favorite.  That makes me wonder what Canyonlands and Arches have in store for me on some future visits, because I think they're both more popular destinations than Capitol Reef, and if so they must be truly spectacular.  Zion and Bryce Canyon were pretty amazing also, I just didn't spend much time in Zion and Bryce was a bit too crowded for my liking.  It's easy to get away from the crowds in Capitol Reef, though (a lot like Death Valley in that regard) , and the views are unforgettable.

I spent a single night at Capitol Reef a couple of years ago.  I arrived in the early afternoon, snagged the last available camping spot, then spent the rest of the daylight hours seeing as much of the park as I could.  If I knew then what I know now I'd have spent an extra night at Capitol Reef and cut my time at Bryce Canyon shorter.  Well, then again I had some cool adventures at Bryce, so maybe not.

I kind of think all of Southern Utah should be one big park.  That place is amazing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal -- Arrowhead Marsh, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm IS II, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO: 500
I wouldn't say blue-winged teals are common at Arrowhead Marsh, at least not in places where they're easily photographed.  Every once in a while they'll appear somewhere near the shoreline.  I try to take a lot of picture when they show up. after all they're such pretty little ducks.  These two were part of a group of eight or so that were hanging out in December.  I had a couple of mornings with them but had mixed luck with the shots.  I was experimenting with different camera settings.  I think I got this one in sports mode, the old standby for shooting birds.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sunrise at Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS, 1/100s, f/8, ISO: 60
I'm itching to get on the road.  I'm hoping to make a big trip this summer, which means I'll probably forego the short trips I've been making in spring.  It will be worth it if I can get back to Colorado and Wyoming.  I may have gone stir crazy by July though.  Hopefully I'll have my kayak in these waters in a few months.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
I'm a little under the weather, so just a quickie today.  Bird.  Lawn.  Estuary in the background.  Enjoy.