Monday, November 30, 2015

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, f/8, 1/80s, ISO: 100
I'm starting to get back into the normal rhythm of things after my Thanksgiving trip up North.  I took a little under two thousand photos.  I'll be spending the next week or so going through them.  I wonder how much money that would have cost me in film and processing back in the day.  A photographer had to know what he/she was doing back then.  Now, a lug like me can drive around and press the button on the camera until his finger turns blue then sift through the crap to find the occasional gem.  Gotta love technology.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
Lake Tahoe is famous for its clear blue water.  No doubt.  This photo was taken three years ago in January.  It's obviously a winter shot based on the snow on the hills and ice on the water.  Tough to beat Tahoe in winter.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 138, image #6768.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Stalking the Spruce House

Spruce House, Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM, f/18, 1/800s, ISO: 1600
Hiking down to Spruce House exposes the cliff dwellings to a number of interesting views.  It's a short hike (about a mile) and not very difficult, but it's also not flat until you get to the Spruce House.  We toured three cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.  Cliff Palace was the most impressive.  Balcony House was the most adventurous.  Spruce House was the most intimate and easily my favorite of the three in part because we weren't stuck in a guided tour group.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Visitors at Spruce House

Spruce House. Mesa Verde Narional Park, CO
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, f/10, 1/100s. ISO: 100
I think it's easier to imagine what life would have been like living in the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde with people in the pictures.  It gives the photos a sense of scale and movement.  I had conversations with most of the people in this picture.  The gentleman in green is my friend Jim.  We went to college together and have been friends ever since.  He's accompanied me on a few road trips recently, but now he's met a lady so I suspect it may be just me and Pongo for a while unless I can figure out a way to get my wife to accompany us.  She hates camping.

Spruce House

Spruce House. Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, ISO: 1600. f/13, 1/800s
A lot of restoration work has been done on the main attractions at Mesa Verde.  I use the word 'attractions' with all of the touristy vibe that goes with it.  Mesa Verde is the closest thing to Disneyland that I've encountered at a National Park.  Guided tours.  Lines.  Semi-fabricated attractions.  The cool thing about Spruce House is that it's condition is a lot closer to what it was when people lived in it than when it was first discovered, I'm sure.  Would we be better off seeing things in a more natural state, though?  I'm not sure I have an opinion one way or the other. it's just a question I've asked myself since visiting the park.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Golfer Crossing

Paradise Valley Golf Course, Fairfield, CA
I was in one of those golf carts and this sign didn't make me feel any safer about crossing this particular road.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Anise Swallowtail

Anise Swallowtail -- Moss Landing, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
I can stare at butterfly pictures for a long time.  They are nature's masterpieces.  I'm agnostic with a hard lean toward atheism, but if someone wanted to convince me the world was artistically conceived by some higher power and used the butterfly as their first argument I just might be swayed.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 137, image #9860.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Balcony House

Balcony House, Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS
Balcony House is a fun tour.  I was worried because there were a lot of warnings about the difficulty of this tour and I have some medical conditions that make certain physical activities painful and sometimes even impossible.  It was no big deal, though.  You need to be able to climb a thirty foot ladder and crawl through a fifteen foot (or so) tunnel on your hands and knees.  The scariest part they don't tell you about, which is scaling a steep stairway cut into the cliff side.  There's a chain-link fence to catch you if you fall, but things could easily go wrong.  That was the best part.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Walls of Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Canon Powershot SD770 IS
This is one of my favorite shots from the Cliff Palace tour from this summer.  It's almost a shot of nothing, then again the wonkiness of the walls and steps are prominently on display.  There's not a straight line to be seen and I find that to be quite pleasing.  The lighting is a little drab because the sun was blocked out by the cliff, but that made for a pleasant touring experience.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bela Lugosi Egret

Snowy Egret -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, f/5.6, 1/1600s, ISO: 1250
OK, I know, it's silly but to me this egret looks like he's doing a Dracula impression with his wings as a cape.  He's sneaking up on that unsuspecting gull to suck his blood.  Poor unsuspecting gull.

In fact, the egret has just touched down for a landing and hasn't had a chance to pull its wings in yet.  That's not nearly as much fun as a vampire bird on a killing rampage photo, but I suppose that's why we have our imaginations.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cowboy Crossing

Grand Teton National Park, WY
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, f/7.1, 1/60s, ISO: 100
I like the cowboy hat mods on horse crossing signs even better than the Rudolph noses on deer crossing signs.  This one looks like Butch Cassidy.  By the tilt of his hat we can clearly see that he's moseying.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

San Francisco Bay, CA
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
There's a reason songs get written about this place.

Photo selection inspired by Geogypsy's Foto Friday Fun 136, image #2008.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Early Arrivals

Greater White-fronted Geese -- Merced National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, f/7.1, 1/400s, ISO: 320
I like how these five geese look like they're just out for a little stroll and a chat.  I wonder what geese talk about.  How was the flight, maybe?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt -- Merced National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, f/5.6, 1/1600s, ISO: 640
I don't tend to get very excited about small shorebirds unless they're flocked together in large numbers.  I do enjoy taking photos of black-necked stilts, though.  They're easy to identify and are probably the cutest shorebird on the West Coast.  They're a challenge to photograph well because like egrets their white feathers tend to wash out.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane -- Merced National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, f/5.6, 1/2000s, ISO: 500
I almost passed up on this shot because of the poor lighting.  Glad I hung in there, though, because I like what happened when the front crane turned into the sun.  I ended up with this shot, which I kind of like.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Winter Is Coming

Sandhill Crane -- Merced National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Canon EOS Rebel T5i, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, f/8, 1/500s, ISO: 400
Winter is coming.

It's hard to tell this year.  The temperatures have dipped only slightly.  We have yet to see rain.  The grass has been brown for months.  Aside from the fact that the days are getting shorter, the only physical indication that we're approaching winter is the departure and arrival of migratory animals.

I took a drive out to Merced National Wildlife Refuge on Friday.  A few thousand sandill cranes have already arrived, with probably an equal number of norther shovelers.  They've been around at least a couple of weeks.  I also saw a hundred or more white-fronted geese.  I didn't see any of those two weeks ago at the San Luis unit.  A few northern pintails and ross'/snow geese were there on Friday.  Soon they'll number in the thousands.