Thursday, May 31, 2012

Muir Beach Overlook

Muir Beach is north of San Francisco on Route 1. It's a great place to stop and look around on a trip up the coast (in our case, on the way to Point Reyes). It's classic Northern CA coastline at its best... spectacular views and natural beauty. And we were lucky to have beautiful blue skies and warm weather.
My wife walking out to the end of the overlook... we were treated to a great view of whales (mother
and baby) in close to shore, just below the point.
View south towards San Francisco
View north towards Point Reyes
Linking to Skywatch Friday.
Click on the link to view great skies from around the world.
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

B&W Memorial Day Weekend

Friday afternoon we drove up Highway 18 to Green Valley Lake (near Big Bear in the S. CA mountains) to take care of some business, then continued down the back side of the mountain on 18 to 247 and out to 29 Palms. Such an interesting drive! I remember taking a plant ecology class years ago at Cal State Fullerton, and my professor (Dr. Jack Burke) took us on this same route for a field trip. Much of my scientific knowledge has long since been forgotten, but it's a radical change from one ecosystem to another (pine forest and mountain oak on the front / wet side of the mountain to pinyon pines, yuccas and even Joshua Trees on the back / dry side of the mountain). The transition is abrupt and incredible and is driven by moisture (or lack of), which I think is the key point Dr. Burke was trying to help us appreciate and see first hand.

I like the way some of these photos look in black & white (especially the desert vistas), so I decided to do the post in b&w.
Fog rolling off the surface of Big Bear Lake... made it look like a big jacuzzi!
Deer along Highway 18, North Shore
Back side of the mountain... agricultural area at junction of 18 and 247; incredible cloud cover!
Abandoned desert cabin along Highway 247
High, lonesome desert along Highway 247, view south.  My favorite shot from the afternoon.
As you can probably tell, I used Photoshop to help create the photo above. I took a photo of the crescent moon on Friday night, and combined it with the photo of this old desert road and landscape. Fun stuff!

Linking with and Weekly Top Shot at
Happy Memorial Day and have a great week!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Desert Skywatch!

Some additional photos from last weekend. I was using my 70-200mm telephoto with a 2X extender, so 400mm max telephoto. My wife and I were hiking out behind our house at sunset, and the late desert light was awesome! As you can tell, I was shooting a lot right into the sun, which is fun to do with a telephoto lens. I enhanced the color on a couple of these in Photoshop, but pretty close to straight out of the camera.

A favorite of mine... silhouette of my wife. I like the light coming through her hat and on her jaw.

Yucca sky

The creosotes are done flowering and have these puff balls that catch the late afternoon light.

Unknown weed silhouetted by the sun.

Desert hills and sky to the west of our house
Happy Skywatch Friday, and have a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Back To The Desert!!

Wow, feels like forever since I've shared any desert photos! Our San Francisco / Point Reyes trip resulted in sooooo many great photos, I've been posting on that for a while (I think I may yet have one more post from that trip). We did get out to the desert this weekend, so it feels good to be posting on desert topics. I think I'll focus this post on desert critters.
1. Humming Birds
F 5.6,  1/3200, 200mm focal length; iso 800 (oops, that was a mistake, but I like the way it froze the wings!)
F 5.6, 1/500, 200mm focal length, iso 160
The desert willow trees are blooming, so lots of hummers! For some reason, the desert hummers are less afraid of me than the city hummer! I was able to get closer, tighter shots... lots of fun and good photos.
2. Desert Dove
OK, admittedly not too exciting... these birds are common, but hey, just documenting what I saw (and this guy/girl was very cooperative!).
3. Coyotes
Yup, more exciting than the dove. My wife spotted two right up at the house while we we sitting on the patio (we had water on the trees so I'm sure they came down for a drink). Of course, I didn't have my camera with me, but they were in no hurry. I went in the house, got my camera, walk out and still managed to get a few photos. I like this photo because if you look really closely, you will see a second coyote on the left. And that little out-of-focus homestead behind our house is one of my favorites! There were a total of four coyotes, which is unusual. We usually only see one or two at a time.
4. Rascally Rabbits
Again, not too exciting... these guys are everywhere!

Oh, I almost forgot... there was a bird sitting on eggs in a nest on our front porch. She was very nervous. Every time we would go in or out the front door, or even walk by the window inside the house, she would fly away in a huff!
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Have a great week!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This Beach is for the Dogs!

Huntington Beach, CA, has a designated "Dog Beach". It's about a mile north of the pier and is one of the few S CA beaches where dogs can run free. We decided to take our 1-year old chihuahua there to see if she would like it (I was fully expecting her to freak out and need to be carried back to the car) but she did surprisingly well. I got to take some photos, my wife chatted with other dog owners, and our chihuahua was literally a blur of canine activity!

We went after dinner on a weeknight, and it wasn't crowded at all.  In the photo above, my wife's got the chihuahua on the leash... you can see a handful of dogs and owners, with Huntington Beach pier in the background.

A beach post wouldn't be complete without a couple of sunset shots!
Cold, wet chihuahua with the sun slowly rolling down Catalina Island!
Linking to Skywatch Friday.
Enjoy your weekend!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Remember These??

Amazing how quickly technology changes! I bet your kids / grand-kids have no clue what they are. Who would have thought they would become antiques so quickly?
Linking to: studio waterstone 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

McClure's Beach, Point Reyes

McClure's Beach is in the far northwest end of Point Reyes, CA. As I look back at the photos, it seems like it was one of those magical spots where all the photos are great! Such a pretty spot, it's almost as if you cannot take a bad photo, try as you might!
Beautiful skies and cows on the drive to McClure's Beach. A driver seeing
me taking photos rolled down his window and said "looks like Ireland, doesn't it?!"
Tule elk are a common sight on the drive. The bulls will have
antlers in the fall.
Parking for the trailhead is adjacent to this beautiful old farmhouse.
Off we go!
After a short hike that follows a stream, the trail ends at McClure's Beach... wow, beautiful!

Like I said, you can't take a bad pictures at McClure's Beach!
Time to leave...
Linking to Skywatch Friday. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Shoot the Moon

So Lap Dog Knits and I packed up our cameras and tripods and made an honest effort to shoot the "supermoon" last night. I've never had much luck taking photos of the moon... I think I usually overexpose and end up with a blurry moon.  My biggest telephoto is a 200mm, which makes it hard to take dramatic moon shots.  OK, enough excuses. Bottom line, I still have a lot to learn, but these are probably my best moon shots to date.
I did some major cropping to get the moon this large, but it still looks pretty sharp.

I cheated on this one and used Photoshop to add the moon to the shot of
this old church and bell tower. Both photos were taken last night.
We weren't alone... a number of folks up on the parking structure rooftop with us, including frequent stops by the police (no idea why they kept patrolling this area).
Reminds me of fingers or claws reaching up to grab the moon!
Added a texture... starry starry night?
After shooting the moon, we strolled around downtown Fullerton. We cranked up the ISO settings on our cameras so we could take hand-held night shots. The Cinco de Mayo crowds were just starting to show up.

Fun shot through the window of an Irish pub, with two musicians performing on the
other side of the glass.
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