Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Golden Gate

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40 mm f/4 L USM, 1/200s, f/14, ISO: 100
I took Pongo for a walk today at Crissy Field in San Francisco.  It was overcast but warm and of course a little windy.  We were mostly there for the walk but I took a few pictures along the way,  This is a view I sometimes take for granted.

I've seen some old movie from the 1915 World Fair which took place on this very spot.  The wildest thing from those movies was seeing the Golden Gate without a bridge.  It's hard to imagine that thing hasn't always been there.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Traveling Companions

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 1/80s, f/9, ISO: 100
This photo popped up as the wallpaper on my computer the other day, and as I looked at it I came understand it as being somewhat profound.  If you've followed my blogs you've seen pictures of all three of these individuals with little reference to who they are.  This is probably the only picture I have of all three of them together.  These are my traveling companions.

On the left is Jim.  I've known him for thirty years.  We met in college.  We've done a couple of road trips together in the last three years with a big one coming up in about a month.  Our first trip three years ago kindled my interest in the outdoors and photography.  Up until that point, I'd only ever visited a single national park, and that was only by driving through Redwood National Park on 101 on my way to Oregon.  On that first road trip we visited the Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and I was hooked.  I've now been to sixteen national parks and I'll be adding to that total soon.  Jim will be there.

My son Sam is on the right.  He's been accompanying me on trips up and down the coast since he was an infant.  He's also joined me on trips to Yosemite, Point Reyes and the Grand Canyon.  I love traveling with Sam.  He's quiet and patient and open to adventure.

Pongo is my most regular companion.  He doesn't accompany me all of the time, but if I'm going someplace where dogs are allowed I take him.  Pongo loves seeing wildlife.  He's excited and occasionally intimidated by elk, deer and cattle.  He's not sure what to do with deer.  If a deer approaches us he hides behind me, but if a deer runs away he wants to take chase.  Rabbits, raccoon, squirrels, ducks, lizards and quail are all meant for chasing in his book.  We stumbled onto a white rat someone had dumped on a trail once.  Pongo was very upset with the rat when it didn't run away when he charged it.  He barked and barked until the rat scampered off.  Poor rat didn't know the rules.

Pongo is a mama's boy.  He's my wife's dog at home and mine on the road.  My wife rarely travels with me.  She prefers to stay at home with our other two dogs running her dog rescue organization.  Maybe someday she'll be in one of these pictures.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Elkhorn Valley

Elkhorn Valley Golf Course, Lyons, OR
Canon PowerShot SD770 HS
This is my friend Jim on his approach shot on I forget which hole at Elkhorn Valley Golf Course three years ago.  We were wrapping up an epic road trip that took up to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone as well as stops in Colorado and Oregon.  We're embarking on a similar road trip in a month.  We'll probably not play any golf on this trip.  We're loading it with scenic tours of return favorites like the Grand Canyon, Vegas and Yellowstone as well as new stops like Mesa Verde and Monument Valley.  It should be awesome.


Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 113, image #777.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bridalveil Fall in the Mist

Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm L USM, 1/30s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
There's not a whole lot of water coming off of Bridalveil Fall, is there?  It's hard to believe this is a photo taken in May.  Bridalveil usually runs year round.  I wonder if it will dry up this year.  It's hard to imagine it won't considering how low it looks already.  Maybe the source is an underground spring?  Dunno.  Most creeks and rivers in Yosemite come from snow melt.  I imagine Bridalveil Creek is the same.  Guess I'll have to google it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Rainbow Face of Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
I've posted a number of photos recently of Yosemite in the rain.  There are no rainbows in those pictures.  The only time I've seen rainbows in Yosemite Valley--and I'm not saying they don't appear on rainy days, I just haven't seen any--is on bright sunny days around the big waterfalls.  I've seen pictures of moonbows around the waterfalls, but I've never seen one personally.

So, anyway, this isn't a full rainbow, obviously, just a hint of one.  There were two rainbows at the bottom of the fall.  I'll save that for a different post.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS
Love this place.  Looking forward to going back in a month or so.  Bring on the next road trip!

Monday, May 25, 2015

S.S. Minnow

Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
OK, OK, this isn't really the S.S. Minnow.  Kinda looks like it, though, doesn't it?  I don't know the story about this boat.  It's basically a tourist attraction now behind a grocery store in Inverness.

That blade of grass bugs me now.  It didn't bother me when I took the picture a couple of years ago.  I've become fussier.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Not a Bear

Cow -- Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Canon SX40 HS
Before heading down this trail at Bryce Canyon a couple of years ago I had noticed a warning at the Visitor's Center that a bear had been seen in this area.  On the trail I saw what looked like a bear track (front paw) in the mud on the trail.  The trail led down to the rim of the amphitheater and was rather secluded.  I think I passed one set of hikers the entire two plus hours I was out there.

After taking a bunch of pictures I turned and saw a flash of brown on the hillside.  The bear!  I panicked.  My back was to the cliff there so was nowhere for me to run except toward the bear.  A few seconds were just a blur as I looked for a way out.  Then I looked back up the hill again.  It wasn't a bear at all, it was this cow.  Phew.

She looked like a real sweetie, even after coming down to walk the same trail I was walking.  I gave her a wide berth anyway as I passed her.

I never did see that bear.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls -- Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm L USM, 1/40s, f/5.6, ISO: 500
This is the top of Cascade Falls from a bridge on 120 about a mile or two before the highway enters Yosemite Valley.  The water level is low for this time of year so it's a little light on drama, but it's still a beautiful sight to behold.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Big Basin Redwoods

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM, 1/8s, f/4, ISO: 100
The redwoods at Big Basin State Park aren't the most photogenic of trees.  You have to work pretty hard for interesting shots.  I don't think I worked hard enough here.  I was more interested in hacking out the camera settings anyway, so I'm actually kind of happy with the quality of this photo aside from the dull composition.  Big Basin is a great place for a hike in the woods, not so great for photography, at least from my limited experience.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 112, photo #78.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mule Deer

California Mule Deer -- Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO: 4000
Deer sightings are almost guaranteed in Yosemite Valley.  I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rain on the Merced

Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM, 1/40s, f/6.3, ISO: 100
Even foul weather can't spoil the beauty from this spot on the Merced River in Yosemite Valley.  It's a cheap photo opportunity, really, a pullout on the road out of the valley.  I'll take it, though, it's one of my favorite spots to grab a late photo on the way home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tunnel View

Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM, 1/60s, f/6.3, ISO: 100
It's hard for me to go to Yosemite and not make a stop at Tunnel View.  It's always crowded there, but it's worth dealing with all of that.  I've seen some amazing photos taken from this spot, but none have ever captured the power and beauty of this place.  In fact, if anything they diminish it.  I forget how big everything is, photos simply can't capture that.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rain in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM, 1/40s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
You can't actually see the rain coming down in this picture, but it was.  It was actually raining hard enough I couldn't get out of the car for more photos at this spot.  I took this yesterday on our way out of the valley.  It rained the entire time Pongo and I were there.  I don't mind the rain, in fact I enjoy being out in it especially given how rare it's become over the last few years here in California.  I have to worry about getting the camera too wet, though.  It's not water resistant (although the lens is).  In the past I've taken the SX40 or SX50 along on rainy days.  I've gotten those both so wet they stop functioning until they dry out.  I loaned those out, though.  The SX40 will never return (it was lost) and the SX50 will likely never return (hopefully it's found a home where it will be enjoyed and not abused the way I would use it) so that's not an option.  I need to get my little SD770 up and running again as a bad weather backup.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bull on a Cliff

Angus Bull -- Jenner, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
I like to think of this as our Northern California defense system against invading forces from the Pacific.  Well, a prototype anyway.  We line the coastline with a bull every hundred yards or so and who's going to dare invade?  Cheaper than guns. too.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Estuary

Oakland/Alameda Estuary, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
Truth be told, I'm not big on sunset shots.  I love that late afternoon light, of course, and I'll grab the sunset photos that fall in my lap, but I don't go out of the way for them.  I came across this scene while walking home a couple of years ago.  This is about one block from my house.  Alameda is on the left, Oakland on the right.  The High Street Bridge is in the background, and behind it can be seen the shadow of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin.  I thought the water was looking particularly pretty so I grabbed a few shots.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 111, photo #993.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron -- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO: 320
Great Blue Herons are common in the West.  I suspect they're common in the East as well, but I wouldn't know from experience.  They're fantastic birds, if you ask me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Olympic Range

Olympic National Park, WA
Canon  PowerShot SX40 HS
I took this from the side of Highway 101 in Olympic National Park.  It was early in the morning and the mountains were absolutely glowing.  This photo doesn't quite capture what I recall, but it hints at it.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO: 250
This shot is from December.  I'm pretty sure this was the same bird I saw hanging around the shoreline for the entirety of 2014.  I haven't seen her (him?) lately.  Most of the birds have moved on now, but there are still plenty of rabbits and squirrels for the eatin', so I hope to see her back soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 1/80s, f/8, ISO: 100
There are no boring views at the Grand Canyon.  I haven't been down inside, and I probably never will make to the bottom so I can't speak for what happens down there, but up on the rim every spot I've been to reveals amazing things.  Even at high noon on a smoky day like the one pictured here the views are breathtaking.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Color at Point Reyes

North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 1/30s, f5/6, ISO: 100
If all you see in this picture is dirt and iceplant and maybe a sliver of ocean in a photo that isn't particularly sharp I can't really argue with you.  That's all that's there really in a literal things-that-are-in-the-picture kind of sense.  I see browns and greens giving way to reds and oranges that soften to yellow before the harsh cut to whatever color that is that we see in the sky and water.  I like this one.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO: 1600
Four burrowing owl dens have been built near Arrowhead Marsh in hopes of attracting these cute little owls to the area.  Last year an owl was a fairly common morning sight for a couple of months.  This year I've only seen an owl a couple of times.  I've never seen multiple owls.  I hope the place becomes popular with the little owls, but I'll be surprised if that happens.  I think the dens are too close to the road and the last time I saw an own here it barely escaped being carried off by cooper's hawk.  Hawks and harriers are common in winter, which is when the owls are visible.  I've heard that the owls used to be seen on the lawn area but I've never witnessed that.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 110, image #1688.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Somewhere in Utah

A view from State Route 12, UT
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
The drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon I took a couple of years ago on Route 12 yielded a plethora of nice photos, this being one of them.  I don't know the names of most of the places I captured on film, though.

Plethora?  Can you tell I watched Three Amigos last night?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

All Your Ducks Are Belong to Us

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
Northern pintails and northern shovelers are packed in tight in this photo from a couple of years ago at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge.  The populations can get a bit dense in the winter.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Color in Yosemite

Bridalveil Fall -- Yosemite National Park, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 1/100s, f/7.1, ISO: 100
I recently posted a black and white photo from a similar spot on a different day.  That one was taken earlier in the day before the shadows take over.  The sun was low when this photo was shot, turning the cliffs in the background blue and lighting up Half Dome and the Cathedral Rocks.

I haven't been there in months, I need to rectify that.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl -- San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO: 320
Kinda tough getting a shot of this guy (gal?) through the tree, but I think this one worked out OK.  This was my second crack at this guy.  He was in a tree in the union of the two main driving loops at San Luis.  The light was better in this later set of shots I took after driving the waterfowl route and before before splitting off on the elk route.  This was the only usable photo from that second set.  Better light, but either the picture was blurry or the branches were blocking too much of the face in the other photos.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Turning Tern

Forster's Tern -- Arrowhead Marsh, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, 1/1250s, f/5.6, ISO: 100
I enjoy watching the terns fish at Arrowhead Marsh.  I see mostly Forster's terns and occasionally a Caspian's tern.  The Forster's terns hover until they spot something they like, then they do a barrel roll and dive straight down into the water.  Looks like fun.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Is There Life on Mars?

Natural Bridge Canyon, Death Valley National Park, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
It's not too hard to imagine this shot was taken by a Mars rover, is it?

This canyon has a lot of evidence of erosion by water, including chutes in the rocks carved out by waterfalls and of course the natural bridge that gives the canyon its name.  Hiking this canyon is like hiking back in time.  It's impossible to not try to imagine what it would have been like when water was more plentiful here.  It's also easy to imagine you're on another world entirely.

I was just reading about how some scientists now believe life started on Mars.  They're quite serious about this and it's not as crazy as it sounds.  The gist of it is that the Earth of 3.5 billion years ago or so, when life is suspected of having started, wasn't a place that would have been conducive to stringing together the right chemicals that would become the early historical stages of life.  The planet would have been covered completely in water after having been bombarded for millions of years by space debris, some of which came from Mars which itself was being bombarded.  Life probably started in a shallow pool, but a planet covered in ocean obviously can't have any pools.  Mars, on the other hand, had such things.  A meteorite or volcanic activity might have shot rocks from Mars into space (something that can happen on Mars because of its lower gravity) and those rocks might have had these early microorganisms as stowaways and one or more of these rocks might have found its way to Earth where it found the ocean and atmosphere was to its liking.  Mars would have been the place where the early complex processes of producing RNA would have occurred with natural selection driving everything once the microbes got to Earth.  That's the abbreviated I'm-not-an-expert-I-just-read-it-in-a-book version, anyway.

Science is cool.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 109, photo #168.