Natural History Photography Blog - Phillip Colla

Blue Whale Full Body Photo

Filed under: Blue Whale, Underwater Life — Tags: , , , — on 4/14/2014

Blue Whale Full Body Photo

For more, see Blue Whale Photos, Balaenoptera musculus

I made my first underwater photo of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) about 18 years ago, and over the intervening years I have struggled to make a perfect image of an entire blue whale, rostrum to fluke, one with which I am entirely satisfied. This image of an adult blue whale underwater, which I made while out on the water off San Diego with friend and fellow photographer Mike Johnson, is a good example.

Blue Whale Underwater Full Body Photography, California

This photograph illustrates the snake-like proportions of an adult blue whale as well as the curve of the upper lip bone (the largest single bone in the animal kingdom), the thin ridge on top of the rostrum that leads to the splash guard in front of the whale’s blowhole, and the curious skin mottling that characterizes the species. But technically this image has some problems, the sort that drive underwater photographers nuts. I do not exaggerate when I say trying to photograph an 80′ or longer animal underwater in typical California water conditions is a real challenge! The water is often cloudy or hazy, as can be seen in this image by a “glow” or “halo” that surrounds some of the brighter parts of the subject, particularly around the dorsal ridge and caudal area of the whale which are close to the surface and thus reflecting a great deal of light. With film this haloing was at once less objectionable but nearly impossible to deal with in post processing. With today’s digital tools, the computer operator can attempt to suppress the haloing somewhat but at the risk of adding too much artificiality to the image. So my decision is that it remains. Above water our eyes and lenses are accustomed to seeing things clearly in the range of miles. Underwater, our range of vision is crippled tremendously, measured in just feet. This begs the question: How does one photograph a subject whose dimensions are greater than the distance one can even see? For whales, water visibility must be excellent, 60′ or better, or else much of the leviathan is depicted without detail. In this image, note the whitewater at top left: it is the point where the blue whale left the ocean surface and began its underwater glide but, at about 120′ away, it is rendered with no detail at all. The leading 1/3 of the whale is sufficiently near the camera that it is rendered with plenty of detail, but is not so close that it is distorted by the fisheye lens I was using. The open ocean, miles from shore, is normally the best place to find clear and blue water. Recently, though, the ocean off our coast has been a veritable soup of zooplankton. Abundant salps, sea nettles, filamentous and particulate-like critters float about in an explosion of spineless life. This occasional summer phenomenon is very cool to experience, and in the past I have even stopped to photograph these small weightless water-filled wonders. But on the day I shot this photo, such things are effectively obstacles to photographing much grander subjects. The only way to deal with the situation is to shoot as many photos as possible hoping that, upon review later, one is lucky to have some frames in which the jellies do not obscure the whale. Of the 10 frames I shot while the animal passed by me, rolling on its side to look at us with one eye as it did so, this was the only frame that did not have zooplanktons screwing it up. I experimented with using a silver color conversion on this photo to better accentuate the sunlit whale against the dark, bottomless void of ocean below, and I thought this rendition looked pretty appealing. I do not get out on the ocean much anymore. In fact this may be the only photo of a blue whale I take all year! So I consider myself lucky to have seen it and be able to share the experience with you. Thanks for looking, and cheers!

Venus, Milky Way and Arch Rock at Astronomical Twilight, Joshua Tree National Park

Things are always better at astronomical twilight.

Venus was often referred to as the “Morning Star” by ancient civilizations (and as the “Evening Star” as well). On this day, it was indeed the morning star, rising just moments before astronomical twilight began. This allowed for a very brief window of time, a few moments really, to make a balanced exposure including the Milky Way galaxy and a sky full of stars, the planet Venus, the onset of dawn’s blue sky, and a softly lit Arch Rock. Just a few minutes later and the impending dawn became bright enough to make the Milky Way unseeable This image required no compositing or local adjustments, just global contrast, shadow recovery and white balance. I managed to make a huge 180-degree panorama of this same scene just two days later, but an alignment such as this allowing one to compose Venus under the arch, with the Milky Way just above, right at the transition of astronomical twilight (with its accompanying deep blue sky) will not reoccur for quite some time and I will probably never have another opportunity to see it. Shot alongside friend and photographer Garry McCarthy in Joshua Tree National Park. If you like this, check out some of my other Astrophotography Landscape Photos. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Venus, Milky Way, Arch Rock at Astronomical Twilight, Joshua Tree National Park

Scripps Pier, Clouds and Surf, Black and White Grunge, La Jolla, California

Filed under: California, La Jolla — Tags: , , , — on 3/22/2014

Scripps Pier, La Jolla, California. Cloudy day and small surf. This image was photographed with the relatively new Sony A7R camera. I am really impressed with this camera. If you follow my photography you may know I am not a black and white art photographer, but in this case it seemed to suggest itself. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Scripps Pier Grunge
Scripps Pier Grunge, La Jolla

High Resolution Panorama of San Diego City Skyline and San Diego Bay

Filed under: California, Panoramas, San Diego — Tags: , , , — on 3/20/2014

Here is another recent panoramic photo of San Diego, photographed on a beautiful spring afternoon. This one spans nearly the entire width of the bay, and includes the yacht marinas of Shelter Island in the foreground. I photographed this with a top quality 300mm f/2.8 lens and high resolution camera, and the resulting detail seen in the buildings is outstanding. The final panorama was composed from nine source images, and the resulting image will print 3′ tall by 12′ long with no interpolation necessary. If you like this, please check out more of my panoramic photographs, or see more photos of San Diego. Cheers and thanks for looking!

High Resolution Panorama of the San Diego City Skyline
High Resolution Panorama of the San Diego City Skyline

San Diego City Skyline, Full Moon Rising, Sunset

Filed under: California, San Diego — Tags: , , , , — on 3/19/2014

A new photograph of the full moon, just rising over the mountains behind downtown San Diego, with the San Diego County Administration Building seen lit in the foreground. This is actually just a small portion (about 5%) of a huge panorama stretching the entire length of the San Diego City Skyline which I have just completed and will share in a few days. It is also the second in a series of new images I have made of the San Diego city skyline and rising full moon, including several very large, high resolution panoramas, including yesterday’s post “Full Moon Rising Over San Diego“.

Full Moon Rising over San Diego City Skyline at Night
Full Moon Rising over San Diego City Skyline at Night

If you like this, please check out more of my San Diego City Skyline photographs. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Full Moon Rising over Downtown San Diego, Sunset

Filed under: California, San Diego — Tags: , , , , — on 3/18/2014

A new photograph of the full moon, rising at dusk over a view of downtown San Diego and its beautiful harbor front and city skyline, viewed from Point Loma, California. I have recently made a nice series of new images of the San Diego city skyline, harbor and rising full moon, including several very large, high resolution panoramas, so watch for them to be posted in the coming few days.

Full Moon Rising over Downtown San Diego at Sunset
Full Moon Rising over Downtown San Diego at Sunset

If you like this, please check out more of my San Diego City Skyline photographs. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Dawn at the Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego

Filed under: California, San Diego — Tags: , , , — on 3/14/2014

I recently sold a beautiful 60″ print of “Dawn at the Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego” for display in a client’s home. I’ve had images presented in quite a few print publications, museums, aquariums, etc. but the most rewarding sale is to a client who wishes to include my photography in their home since it means the image has the same sort of impact on my client that it does on me. I have not kept count but I know that I’ve had at least a few dozen print requests over the years for images of places where couples have become engaged. Each one of my images has an emotional significance for me — I can usually remember the moment I pressed the shutter release for each of my photos as well as the people I was with at the time, even for photographs made underwater 20+ years ago — and I feel successful if my image also has a similar gravity for its viewer.

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long, San Diego, California
Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.
Image ID: 27389  
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 

The Ocean Beach Pier is one of my favorite piers, with a stark structure and clean geometrical lines. Here are a few images of the Ocean Beach Pier shot within the last few years, all available as large prints should you be interested. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long, San Diego, California
Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.
Image ID: 27387  
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 
Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long, San Diego, California
Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.
Image ID: 27391  
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 
Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long.  Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma extend off to the south, San Diego, California
Ocean Beach Pier, also known as the OB Pier or Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast measuring 1971 feet (601 m) long. Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma extend off to the south.
Image ID: 22459  
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 

See also my photos of the other four ocean piers in San Diego County:

Scripps Institute of Oceanography Research Pier photos
Crystal Pier photos
Oceanside Pier photos
Imperial Beach Pier photos

Three Panoramas - Yosemite, Mount Rainier and Torrey Pines

Filed under: Panoramas — Tags: — on 3/9/2014

A client approached me recently to request several photos for their website, including three panoramic images (which lend themselves well to banners at the top of web pages). The three selected he just happened to be among of my all-time favorites and it will be great to see them together in use. Here they are. If you like these, check out some of my other panoramic photographs. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Yosemite Falls reflected in flooded meadow.  The Merced  River floods its banks in spring, forming beautiful reflections of Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite Falls reflected in flooded meadow. The Merced River floods its banks in spring, forming beautiful reflections of Yosemite Falls.
Image ID: 26887  
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Pano dimensions: 5256 x 11469
 
Mount Rainier is reflected in the calm waters of Reflection Lake, early morning, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier is reflected in the calm waters of Reflection Lake, early morning.
Image ID: 28705  
Location: Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA
Pano dimensions: 6921 x 17081
 
Broken Hill and view to La Jolla, panoramic photographic, from Torrey Pines State Reserve, sunrise, San Diego, California
Broken Hill and view to La Jolla, panoramic photographic, from Torrey Pines State Reserve, sunrise.
Image ID: 28397  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
Pano dimensions: 4332 x 11344
 

Eric’s New Board

Filed under: Surf — Tags: — on 3/7/2014

My friend Eric had a couple of my wave photos laminated onto his new board by Kings Paddle Sports who custom made it for him. Eric brought it by this morning before he waxed it so we could get a look at how the images came out. The board looks awesome. The bottom image will end up being mostly obscured by wax, so Eric had a second image put near the nose which won’t be obscured. This way, as he puts it, even when the water is flat he will still be able to look at the image and be forever in a tube. Turns out Kings Paddle Sports is about 3 min from my house, so I am going over there soon to have a paddleboard made up for this spring with a few of my shots on it. Should be cool!

California Sea Lions at Los Islotes, Baja California, Mexico

Los Islotes, the small island just off the northern end of Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez, is my favorite place in the world for photographing California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus). These wonderful pinnipeds are very comfortable with the presence of, and famous for the willingness to interact with, divers in the water. Shooting portraits of sea lions is a piece of cake, the photos almost take themselves. Plus the diving tends to be shallow and calm so bottom times of a two hours can be easily had. Here are a few of my picks from my last visit to Los Islotes a few years ago. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez
California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27418  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez
California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27423  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion underwater playing with sea star, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez
California sea lion underwater playing with sea star.
Image ID: 27428  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez
California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27420  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez
California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27421  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico
 

Los Islotes is a small island at the northern end of Isla Espiritu Santo, near La Paz in the Sea of Cortez. Espiritu Santo Island and Partida Island are two beautiful desert islands, scalloped with gorgeous white sand beaches. Bird nest on their rugged slopes, and cardon cacti grow in abundance. All three of these islands are part of the Espiritu Santo Biosphere Reserve, named a UNESCO Biosphere due to the area’s biodiversity and beauty. I have had the good fortune to cruise along both shores of Espiritu Santo and Partida but most of my time has been spent at Isla Los Islotes, diving and relaxing. In addition to the sea lions, these waters are full of many Sea of Cortez fishes. However, when I am at Los Islotes I basically ignore all else and just enjoy my time swimming with and photographing los lobos marinos.

Oceanside Pier Photos

Filed under: California — Tags: , , — on 3/1/2014

The Oceanside Municipal Pier is located at the end of Mission Avenue in Oceanside, California. The area has a bit of a gritty look to it but don’t let that dissuade you from visiting, the Oceanside Pier is frequented by families, surfers, dog walkers, locals, fishermen and tourists day and night. Ruby’s Diner lies at the end of the pier, a great place to take the kids for a burger and a shake and to get a view of the coastline at sunset. Brown pelicans, long habituated to handouts from fisherman, are often found idling on the railings of the pier and make for an easy photo. Dawn light usually paints the area in cool colors, blues and purples, and there is rarely anyone around at that time. Sunset, on the other hand, has the more classic golden state look to it, with many people lining the pier, the beach and the boardwalk enjoying the end of the day. I have sold a number of nice prints of the Oceanside Pier to clients, and return several times each year in an effort to make new images of this southern California icon. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Oceanside Pier at dusk, sunset, night.  Oceanside
Oceanside Pier at dusk, sunset, night. Oceanside.
Image ID: 14628  
Location: Oceanside Pier, California, USA
 
Oceanside Pier at sunset, clouds and palm trees with a brilliant sky at dusk
Oceanside Pier at sunset, clouds and palm trees with a brilliant sky at dusk.
Image ID: 27610  
Location: Oceanside Pier, California, USA
 
Oceanside Pier at Dawn
Oceanside Pier at Dawn.
Image ID: 28878  
Location: Oceanside, California, USA
 
Oceanside Pier at dusk, sunset, night.  Oceanside
Oceanside Pier at dusk, sunset, night. Oceanside.
Image ID: 14629  
Location: Oceanside Pier, California, USA
 
California brown pelican on Oceanside Pier, sitting on the pier railing, sunset, winter, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California brown pelican on Oceanside Pier, sitting on the pier railing, sunset, winter.
Image ID: 27603  
Species: brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: Oceanside Pier, California, USA
 

See also my photos of all five of the ocean piers in San Diego County:

Ocean Beach Pier photos
Scripps Institute of Oceanography Research Pier photos
Crystal Pier photos
Oceanside Pier photos
Imperial Beach Pier photos

Milky Way over Sky Rock Petroglyph, Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, California

Milky Way over Sky Rock Petroglyph, Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, California.

I made this image several years ago but neglected to share any images from that evening’s photographic efforts on my blog. I have made many visits to the Volcanic Tablelands, at all times of day, to explore the rocks, admire the vistas over the Owens River, and photograph one of the finest petroglyph panels in the world. In this composition, I waited for a specific date when the Milky Way could be effectively photographed above the petroglyphs with Mount Tom and the Sierra Nevada range aligned in the distance. It was a very cold evening, I wore all the clothes I had on hand, but after several hours of trying different compositions I managed several images I am very happy with. Sky Rock is a magical place at night, with ancient light emanating from stars many hundreds and thousands of light years away cascading down upon these special, old and impressive engravings. It is just the type of place I enjoy photographing at night, with no other people around, no photo workshop groups, no RVs, no automobile sounds — nothing. Solitude. I have also photographed these petroglyphs under a full moon as well as under pastel dawn skies, as well as a massive panorama of this location that I will be sharing soon. Cheers and thanks for looking!

The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock.  Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky. These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them
The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock. Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky. These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them.
Image ID: 28798  
Location: Bishop, California, USA
 

Whales at the Coronado Islands, Mexico

Filed under: Islas Coronado, Mexico, Underwater Life — Tags: , , , — on 2/12/2014

Whales visit the Coronado Islands in Mexico throughout the year. During winter months, gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) pass by the islands, first southbound and a few months later traveling north, during their annual migration between Baja California and the Bering Sea. Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) may be found at the Coronados year-round but spring and summer months are the best times to see them in the islands, especially if there is the presence of krill which does occur from time to time. All of the photos below were taken at the Coronado Islands.

Fin whale dorsal fin.  The fin whale is named for its tall, falcate dorsal fin.  Mariners often refer to them as finback whales.  Coronado Islands, Mexico (northern Baja California, near San Diego), Balaenoptera physalus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
Fin whale dorsal fin. The fin whale is named for its tall, falcate dorsal fin. Mariners often refer to them as finback whales. Coronado Islands, Mexico (northern Baja California, near San Diego).
Image ID: 12769  
Species: Fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
A blue whale blows (exhales, spouts) as it rests at the surface between dives.  A blue whales blow can reach 30 feet in the air and can be heard for miles.  The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, reaching 80 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds.  North Coronado Island is in the background, Balaenoptera musculus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
A blue whale blows (exhales, spouts) as it rests at the surface between dives. A blue whales blow can reach 30 feet in the air and can be heard for miles. The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, reaching 80 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds. North Coronado Island is in the background.
Image ID: 09497  
Species: Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
A blue whale raises its fluke before diving in search of food.  The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, reaching 80 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds.  North Coronado Island is in the background, Balaenoptera musculus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
A blue whale raises its fluke before diving in search of food. The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, reaching 80 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds. North Coronado Island is in the background.
Image ID: 09484  
Species: Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
Gray whales traveling south to Mexico during their winter migration.  The annual migration of the California gray whale is the longest known migration of any mammal, 10,000 to 12,000 miles from the Bering Sea to Baja California, Eschrichtius robustus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
Gray whales traveling south to Mexico during their winter migration. The annual migration of the California gray whale is the longest known migration of any mammal, 10,000 to 12,000 miles from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
Image ID: 29049  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
Blue whale rounding out at surface, North Coronado island in background, Balaenoptera musculus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
Blue whale rounding out at surface, North Coronado island in background.
Image ID: 02224  
Species: Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
A blue whale blows (exhales, spouts) as it rests at the surface between dives.  A blue whales blow can reach 30 feet in the air and can be heard for miles.  The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, reaching 80 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds.  South Coronado Island is in the background, Balaenoptera musculus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
A blue whale blows (exhales, spouts) as it rests at the surface between dives. A blue whales blow can reach 30 feet in the air and can be heard for miles. The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, reaching 80 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds. South Coronado Island is in the background.
Image ID: 09498  
Species: Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 

Garibaldi Fish, Coronado Islands, Mexico

Filed under: Islas Coronado, Mexico, Underwater Life — Tags: , , , — on 2/10/2014

The most easily recognized, and typically the most prolific, fish at Mexico’s Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado) is the brilliant orange Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus). Some underwater areas of the Coronado Islands are urchin barrens (reef areas taken over by fields of sea urchins and devoid of most other marine life) so the recipe for garibaldi photos is: 1) smash a few urchins, 2) wait for the garibaldis to dive in for a feast, 3) snap photos. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Garibaldi, Coronado Islands, Hypsypops rubicundus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
Garibaldi, Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 02511  
Species: Garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
Garibaldi juvenile, vibrant spots distinguish it from pure orange adult form, Coronado Islands, Hypsypops rubicundus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
Garibaldi juvenile, vibrant spots distinguish it from pure orange adult form, Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 01930  
Species: Garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 

California Sea Lions, Coronado Islands, Mexico

Some of my favorite diving with California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) has taken place at Mexico’s Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado). The Coronados are a small group of undeveloped rocky islands just offshore of Tijuana, Mexico and only about an hour boat ride south of San Diego. Seemingly barren, the islands are in fact loaded with marine life, including the clown princes of the Pacific, sea lions. Here are a few of my better photos of these noble and beautiful creatures. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

California sea lions, Coronado Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
California sea lions, Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 02160  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
California sea lion.
Image ID: 02943  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion, Coronados Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
California sea lion, Coronados Islands.
Image ID: 00956  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion pup starving during 1997-8 El Nino event, Coronado Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
California sea lion pup starving during 1997-8 El Nino event, Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 02417  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
California sea lion colony, Los Coronado Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
California sea lion colony, Los Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 03077  
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 

Aerial Photos of Islas Coronado, the Coronado Islands, Baja California, Mexico

Filed under: Aerial Photography, Islas Coronado, Mexico — Tags: , , , — on 2/8/2014

Aerial Photos of the Coronado Islands, Baja California, Mexico

These new aerial photos of the three main islands in Las Islas Coronado, offshore of Baja California not far from Tijuana (Mexico) and San Diego, came from a nice flight a few weeks ago during a high pressure system, which calmed the ocean surface thus allowing some of the submarine rocky reef structure to be visible. Thanks for looking!

North Coronado Island, Mexico, northern point looking south with Middle and South Islands in the distance, aerial photograph, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
North Coronado Island, Mexico, northern point looking south with Middle and South Islands in the distance, aerial photograph.
Image ID: 29052  
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
North Coronado Island, Mexico, southern point looking north, aerial photograph, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
North Coronado Island, Mexico, southern point looking north, aerial photograph.
Image ID: 29053  
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
South Coronado Island, Mexico, northern point showing underwater reef structure, aerial photograph, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
South Coronado Island, Mexico, northern point showing underwater reef structure, aerial photograph.
Image ID: 29061  
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
South Coronado Island, Mexico, southern point looking north, Middle and North Islands in the distance, aerial photograph, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
South Coronado Island, Mexico, southern point looking north, Middle and North Islands in the distance, aerial photograph.
Image ID: 29063  
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
Middle Coronado Island, Mexico, looking north with San Diego and Point Loma in the distance, aerial photograph, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
Middle Coronado Island, Mexico, looking north with San Diego and Point Loma in the distance, aerial photograph.
Image ID: 29059  
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
South Coronado Island, Mexico, eastern side, Middle and North Islands in the distance, aerial photograph, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
South Coronado Island, Mexico, eastern side, Middle and North Islands in the distance, aerial photograph.
Image ID: 29066  
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 

If you like these, please check out more aerial photography or photos of the Coronado Islands in Mexico.

Aerial Panoramas of La Jolla and San Diego

Flying recently while a winter high pressure system hung over Southern California, I was able to take advantage of clear dry air to shoot several aerial panoramic photos of the La Jolla and northern San Diego coastline. These are technically very difficult to realize, both in capturing the source images and in digitally blending them into the final high resolution panoramic image. The plane was moving 100+ mph, so parallax was a significant factor, and holding a 300mm lens steady while buffeted by wind is not easy. Shown below are coastlines along Torrey Pines State Reserve, Point La Jolla south to Bird Rock, and Point La Jolla north to Scripps Institution of Oceanography (including UCSD). Cheers and thanks for looking!

Aerial Panorama of La Jolla, University City, showing (from left) UCSD, University City, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla Shores, Point La Jolla, Mount Soledad, in the background some of the mountains to the east of San Diego
Aerial Panorama of La Jolla, University City, showing (from left) UCSD, University City, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla Shores, Point La Jolla, Mount Soledad, in the background some of the mountains to the east of San Diego.
Image ID: 29098  
Pano dimensions: 3881 x 20864
 
Aerial panorama of Torrey Pines State Reserve, from Del Mar (left) to La Jolla (right), San Diego, California
Aerial panorama of Torrey Pines State Reserve, from Del Mar (left) to La Jolla (right).
Image ID: 29096  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
Pano dimensions: 3403 x 33257
 
Aerial Panoramic Photograph of La Jolla, Mount Soledad, University City
Aerial Panoramic Photograph of La Jolla, Mount Soledad, University City.
Image ID: 29097  
Pano dimensions: 3627 x 18499
 

If you like these, please see more aerial photographs, photos of La Jolla and photos of San Diego.

Gray Whale Aerial Photos, Eschrichtius robustus, California

Filed under: Aerial Photography, Underwater Life — Tags: , , — on 1/27/2014

Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) migrate from the Bering Sea in Alaska down the west coast of the United States to the “calving lagoons” of Baja California. (A small number of grays whales also live in the extreme western Pacific.) This migration is considered the longest of any mammal. Calves are typically, but not always, born in or very near the Baja California lagoons but are sometimes born north of there, during the southern migration. I have encountered one gray whale mother and newborn gray whale calf well to the north, in the cold gray waters of Big Sur, about 20 years ago. I recently had another special opportunity to photograph gray whales during their southern migration, this time from the air. Southern California had experienced a high pressure weather system that cleared out the air and laid the seas down flat. The best time to fly in such conditions is in the last days of the high pressure, before it breaks. We had clear skies, flat oceans, great visibility, and did see a few whales. These photos are tagged with their exact GPS locations (sometimes I get requests for info from cetacean researchers). Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place, Eschrichtius robustus, San Clemente
Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place.
Image ID: 29001  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA
 
Gray whale blowing at the ocean surface, exhaling and breathing as it prepares to dive underwater, Eschrichtius robustus, Encinitas, California
Gray whale blowing at the ocean surface, exhaling and breathing as it prepares to dive underwater.
Image ID: 29045  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Encinitas, California, USA
 
Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place, Eschrichtius robustus, San Clemente
Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place.
Image ID: 29031  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA
 
Gray whales traveling south to Mexico during their winter migration.  The annual migration of the California gray whale is the longest known migration of any mammal, 10,000 to 12,000 miles from the Bering Sea to Baja California, Eschrichtius robustus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)
Gray whales traveling south to Mexico during their winter migration. The annual migration of the California gray whale is the longest known migration of any mammal, 10,000 to 12,000 miles from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
Image ID: 29048  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico
 
Gray whale diving below the ocean surface, leaving a footprint in its wake.  Aerial photo, Eschrichtius robustus, Encinitas, California
Gray whale diving below the ocean surface, leaving a footprint in its wake. Aerial photo.
Image ID: 29037  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Encinitas, California, USA
 

Sea Turtle, Galapagos, Black and White

I have made a lot of dives in the Galapagos Islands, and one of my favorite creatures to see underwater is the sea turtle. The ungainly-looking animals are actually quite hydrodynamic and can navigate the surge, currents and waves to graze on algae along the reef. These two turtles were encountered at remote Wolf Island (Wenman Island) in the far northern reaches of the Galapagos archipelago. In the first image, a school of ever-present Pacific creole fish surrounds the turtle; its distinctive tail gives away that it is a male. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white, Wolf Island
Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white.
Image ID: 16382  
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
 
Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white, Wolf Island
Image ID: 16383  
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
 

Medano Beach Sunrise, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Filed under: Mexico, Sea of Cortez — Tags: , — on 1/24/2014

Medano Beach, the beautiful long sand beach fronting the bay of Cabo San Lucas, can be crowded and busy with tourists, but I found that it was peaceful and quiet each morning.

Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Image ID: 28948  
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
Pano dimensions: 4368 x 16027
 
Surf fisherman on Medano Beach at sunrise, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Surf fisherman on Medano Beach at sunrise, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Image ID: 28953  
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
 
Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Image ID: 28955  
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
 
Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Image ID: 28946  
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
Pano dimensions: 4481 x 9747
 
Resort hotels on the beach in Cabo San Lucas
Resort hotels on the beach in Cabo San Lucas.
Image ID: 28954  
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
 
Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Image ID: 28947  
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
 
Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Image ID: 28949  
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
 

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Updated: April 16, 2014