High Over Utah

Posted November 4th, 2010 by
Categories: Aerials, Photos, Utah

Picture: View from 36,000 feet over Utah

Picture: View from 36,000 feet over Utah

One of the nice things about prioritizing some long overdue editing is finding shots you forgot had been sitting idle, quietly tucked away on a computer hard drive. This is one of those.

If anyone recognizes the area, please let me know. I’m thinking this might be the La Sal Mountains outside of Moab, but I don’t recognize the foreground formations.

You can see a few other aerial photos at my online image archive.

Why have just one?

Posted November 1st, 2010 by
Categories: Fossil Beds, Rants and Raves

Picture: Wind Energy Turbines at Altamont Pass, California

Photo: Wind Energy Turbines at Altamont Pass, California

Why have just one when you can have twelve at twelve times the cost?

Recently, I sent a request via US Mail to our Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a certification used for getting paid by my overseas stock agents. I sent a single envelope asking for certification to cover two fiscal tax years.

So what did I get back from the IRS? Four envelopes, each containing three pages. First was two envelopes containing identical information, followed three weeks later by another two envelopes, containing the same identical information as the first two.

In total, I got four envelopes and 12 pages to tell me information that could have been summed up in a single paragraph: “We received your request for… Processing normally takes…. If you have any questions, please call…”

I can’t believe the amount of redundant waste to impart so little information. Oh wait… it’s the government. That explains it.

Let’s see it in action, shall we: Information letter, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste, government waste. Envelope, government waste, government waste, government waste. Postage, government waste, government waste, government waste.

What a waste…

The joy of the catch

Posted October 26th, 2010 by
Categories: California, Outdoors, People, Photos, Water

Picture: Fisherman holding up a catch & release steelhead caught in the Sacramento River near the Sundial Bridge in evening light, Redding, California

Photo: Fisherman holding up a catch & release steelhead caught in the Sacramento River near the Sundial Bridge in evening light, Redding, California

I love to go fishing. I don’t really care if I catch a fish or not; it’s the activity and relaxation that matters. Still, I love the joy and thrill of catching a fish. There’s also another equal joy in releasing the fish.

There’s one other type of catch always gives me great pleasure: the joy of catching up. This image was taken last November while shooting for my upcoming book, Greetings From California. (Due out in 2011) For those that know or may recall, earlier that year I had a fairly bad accident that really put me under the gun when it came time to writing and shooting for the book. The resulting time crunch continued forward. Meanwhile, other things had come up to take my attention over this last year. But now I’ve finally caught up on a huge backlog of image editing that has stemmed back to last year.

Ok, I’m not totally 100% caught up, but I am catching up. The trade off is that I’m now staring at a mountain of images which need keywording. – Ack!

Maybe I’ll go fishing instead…


 

The Mendocino Coast

Posted October 20th, 2010 by
Categories: California, Coast, Travel, Weather

Picture: Seastacks, morning light, and fog along the coast near Elk, Mendocino County, California

Photo: Seastacks, morning light, and fog along the coast near Elk, Mendocino County, California

Click on the image to see it larger at 900 pixels.

The morning this was taken, I woke up in Fort Bragg under such heavy coastal fog that it was actually drizzling. Those of us that have lived along or near the coast know what I mean. Yet just a few miles inland, the state was under an Indian Summer heat wave with crystal blue skies. As I left Fort Bragg and headed south towards home along Highway 1, I eventually broke through the all-obscuring fog, and was rewarded with this scene coming around a corner. Yeah, like I wasn’t gonna stop and take a picture.

The force of the ocean

Posted October 15th, 2010 by
Categories: California, Coast, rocks, Sunset, Water

Picture: Seagull sitting on coastal rock as waves break in the background at sunset, Jug Handle State Reserve, Mendocino County Coast, California

Photo: Seagull sitting on coastal rock as waves break in the background at sunset, Jug Handle State Reserve, Mendocino County Coast, California

Late last week I zipped up along the Mendocino Coast to get a few photos for an upcoming book project. I spent a wonderful morning in complete solitude on a beach watching the sunrise light over the ocean. When I got back to my truck, I was a little winded, and my throat felt a little sore. No big deal, except the sore throat failed to go away despite juice, coffee, and ice water. By lunch time I had a bad feeling, so I called home to inquire about the family health status. Everyone was fine when I left. My wife informed me my daughter had come down with a cold. As I was quickly able to deduce, she wasn’t gonna be the only one.

By that night, I was having some pretty severe coughing spasms, one of which (as I would find out later when I got home) was strong enough to break one of my own ribs. I spent the remainder of the trip wincing in pain and grabbing my side with every cough or sneeze. As I watched the waves at sunset, every so often an especially forceful wave would slam into the rocks, sending its energy spraying out in all directions. – Yeah, that’s pretty much what it felt like.

One thing I will prefer not to try again: Driving hundreds of feet above the Pacific Ocean on a narrow, twisting, 15-mph section of curves alongside a “one mistake and you’re dead” cliff; having a coughing spasm with a busted rib, holding the steering wheel in one hand, ribs in the other, and trying stay in my lane. Yeah, once was enough for that.

For one brief moment

Posted October 7th, 2010 by
Categories: Moon, Mountains, Photos

Picture: “Balance this!” – Full moon setting over mountain ridge along the Sierra crest, near Tioga Pass, Eastern Sierra, California

Photo: Full moon setting over mountain along the Sierra crest, near Tioga Pass, Eastern Sierra, California

In photojournalism, the first thing you learn is “The Moment is Key.” The meaning of this is simple. If you don’t have an image that tells a story or reveals a peak moment in the action, you don’t have the shot. The same holds true for a lot of wildlife photography that focuses on behavior.

On the other hand, most people think nature photography, especially with landscapes, is very static. However, there’s no reason why some landscapes can’t be approached with the same goal as photojournalism; namely catching that one defining peak moment of action. A great example is an ocean wave breaking against a rocky cliff.

While watching the moon set on this morning, I worked with several placements of the lunar disc as it hung in the sky. Most were nice, but none were especially satisfying. Then I noticed the one outcrop in the direction that the moon was traveling. I knew that if I moved my position slightly, I could align the moon so it would just touch the outcrop. It adds a sense of tension and drama at that one instant. Plus, the tiny bit of the moon that is obscured by the rock helps solidify the authenticity of the image, keeping at bay the potential doubters who would say that I just dropped the moon in with photoshop. (I didn’t, I swear!)

Walden is where you make it

Posted September 29th, 2010 by
Categories: California, Mountains, National Parks, Outdoors, Photos, Reflections, Water

Picture: Moon setting over Boothe Lake, near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, Yosemite National Park, California

Photo: Moon setting over Boothe Lake, near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, Yosemite National Park, California

I just returned from a 4-day solo backpacking trip into the Yosemite high country. It was a great personal goal, being the first time I’ve backpacked into the wilderness since my accident last year. When I arrived at Boothe Lake, I had the place completely to myself, up until about 6:00pm when a pair of fellow backpackers set up camp on the far side of the lake. In the hours of quiet stillness during the preceding hours, I thought of John Muir and others who hiked the Sierra more than a hundred years ago. Sitting on a rock above the lake, I thought to myself, “this would make a perfect Walden.”

In the quest for an inner peace, or of a sense of harmony, understanding, or our interconnectedness with nature, our personal Walden can be wherever we choose it to be. For me, Walden is anyplace I can spend even a short time alone with my thoughts, admiring the plethora of miraculous life forms surrounding myself, and feeling the breath of the planet whispering through the trees or across my face. I don’t need to be a sole survivor living off the land to get the message of where and why I am.

People that know me, know my license plate expresses my love for the wilderness. It was a gift my wife got me nearly 20 years ago. As I entered Yosemite this last week, the ranger at the entrance gate noted his approval with a big smile & thumbs up.

BTW – My home for this day was on the rocks above the lake, near the two trees directly under the moon. Ain’t no Motel 6 on the planet that’s got a wake up view like this!

Waves of Land and Sky

Posted September 20th, 2010 by
Categories: California, Photos, Weather

Picture: Waves of land and sky; fog rolling over the Berkeley Hills as seen from a ridge in Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California (Click the image to see it larger.)

Photo: Waves of land and sky; fog rolling over the Berkeley Hills as seen from a ridge in Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California

Last week I made a post about how I deliberately chose to not take a photo, even though I had all of my camera gear with me, so I could enjoy the perfection of the moment. Well… that was last week.

On Friday, I was again out hiking with all of my gear, doing an extended 11 mile loop. As I crested a ridge, I saw something I can’t recall having seen before. In all the years of seeing fog pour in over the Berkeley Hills, this was the first time I remember seeing the fog make a very distinct rolling wave pattern. Normally the fog and rolls straight in from the coast, forcing the fog up and over the hills. In this case, while the fog was streaming eastward, an approaching weather system was dropping down out of the north, pushing winds to the south, parallel with the Berkeley Hills. So instead of pouring down the east side valleys and ridges, the ridges were forcing the winds back up toward the sky instead of down into the valley.

For those that know the area, Vollmer peak is directly under the “waves”.

The perfect time to take a photo

Posted September 15th, 2010 by
Categories: Animals, Barns Farms and Rural Scenes, California, Fossil Beds, Photos, Seasons, Spring

Picture: Oak trees, cows and green grass on hills over valley in spring at sunset, Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California

Oak trees, cows and green grass on hills over valley in spring at sunset, Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California

When someone is looking at one of our photos, many photographers have heard the saying “Wow! You caught that at just the perfect moment.” Sometimes though, the perfect time to take a photo… isn’t.

This last weekend I was on a training hike in the hills near my house. I had a fully loaded day pack with all of my camera gear and tripod. However, on this day I was more interested in exercise than photography, covering about 6 miles and 2000 feet of elevation in two hours. I crested the summit of Briones Peak just as the sun was going down on the horizon. At my favorite spot, I stopped to soak in the scenery and watch the sunset.

It was a clear, late summer afternoon. As I looked around, I could see the last golden rays of sunset light kissing the edges of the golden hills. To my left, a group of four deer were standing in the tall grass just below the new crescent moon. Straight ahead I could see the fog rolling in to the San Francisco Bay, as the sun set over the shoulder of Mount Tamalpais. To my right, a falcon hovered in the breeze above me as I looked out toward the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta.

It was all there. It was perfect. I had my camera with me.

It was as the famed psychologist, Abraham Maslow, would describe as a Peak Experience.

I immediately recognized that there was no way to capture everything I was seeing and feeling in a single frame. I also realized that if I raced to break out my gear and start trying to record all the disparate elements, I would completely shatter the peaceful scene by frantically trying to take pictures. My camera gear stayed nestled against my back as I stood quietly soaking in, experiencing, and being part the scene.

After remaining motionless for a few moments, a field mouse started rustling in the grass two feet from where I was standing. I no longer felt alone, but I was totally content. It was a perfect moment.

My only regret is that I can only share the experience with you in words. But this is one instance where the camera would’ve completely interfered with my experiencing the perfect moment for the sake of trying to record it.

C’est la vie.

East Bay & Mt. Diablo Archive Gallery

Posted September 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Fossil Beds

My web host finally upgraded my server to use php version 5. I’m no techie, but this allows me to use a new WordPress Plug-in that will let me put images, or even embed an entire gallery into a post on my weblog. This is a test of that new feature. The images are from my new searchable archive gallery collection of images from the area where I live. You can see the entire gallery as a full screen slide show by clicking on the expanding arrows in the lower right corner. You can also see all the images in the gallery by clicking on the thumbnail icon (9 little squares). Clicking on any of the images will take you directly to that image within my archive site.