Natural History Photography Blog - Phillip Colla

Sony A7r Camera, Sony 24-70 Lens, Sony Flash, Novoflex Adapter for Sale

Filed under: For Sale on 3/19/2015

I am selling my Sony A7r Mirrorless complete setup including Sony Zeiss FE 24-70 f/4 lens, Sony flash and Novoflex adapter. I’ve loved using this camera for landscape and travel photography, but I have too much gear and need to sell some. I’m returning to underwater shooting and orienting my gear around Nikon D800 bodies and housings, and I’m keeping one Canon 5D3 / Canon 200-400 combo for wildlife, so having the Sony setup is just one camera too many. My loss, your gain. This camera is in excellent condition, I do not see any scratches at all and the LCD and viewfinders are both super. I guess the camera listing guys would probably call this 9 or 9+ condition. The sensor is clean. The firmware is updated to the latest. The lens, which has been taken off the camera for only one shoot (photos below) is in excellent condition and very sharp. My testing of this Sony A7r / Sony 24-70 lens combo against my Nikon D800e / Nikon 24-70 lens combo shows they are essentially equivalent in sharpness and resolution.

I have used it primarily for shooting video of volleyball matches (great video capability!) and for some landscape and travel shooting.

Included:

Sony A7r mirrorless body, 36mp full frame sensor. I am the original owner, the warranty and box and docs are included but no longer under original warranty.
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens, purchased with the body
Novoflex NEX / Nikon adaptor. This lets you put your Nikon lenses on the Sony A7r camera body. It is a finely made, all machined-aluminum adaptor offering manual control of aperture and focus. I have a bunch of Nikon lenses but the only one I used on the Sony A7r was a 24mm f/1.4 lens for one astrophotography shoot.
Sony HVL-F60M flash for the Sony Alpha cameras, never used
Four batteries (two OEM Sony batteries, two off-brand backups)

Price: $2095, includes insured UPS ground shipping in the continental United States.

If I know you personally, you can come by my home and borrow it for a few days. If I don’t know you, payment by check must clear the bank before I ship it. If I know you, I’ll ship it as soon as we have a verbal deal. Please call me (760) 707-7153 with any questions. Cheers!

Click any pics to go big. First pics of the gear, then some examples of what I have shot with this setup.

Torrey Pines cliffs, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California
Torrey Pines cliffs.
Image ID: 29133  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
Pano dimensions: 4995 x 9126
 
Balboa Pier, sunrise, Newport Beach, California
Balboa Pier, sunrise.
Image ID: 29139  
Location: Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, California, USA
 
Torrey Pines storm clouds at sunset, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California
Torrey Pines storm clouds at sunset.
Image ID: 29164  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
 
Manhattan Beach Pier at sunset
Manhattan Beach Pier at sunset.
Image ID: 29143  
Location: Manhattan Beach, California, USA
 
Los Angeles Convention Center, south hall, interior design exhibiting exposed space frame steel beams and glass enclosure
Los Angeles Convention Center, south hall, interior design exhibiting exposed space frame steel beams and glass enclosure.
Image ID: 29147  
 
Scripps Pier at sunset, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California
Scripps Pier at sunset.
Image ID: 29171  
Location: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA
 
Mars under Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park
Mars under Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park.
Image ID: 29191  
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA
 
Palomar Observatory at Night under the Milky Way, Panoramic photograph, Palomar Mountain, California
Palomar Observatory at Night under the Milky Way, Panoramic photograph.
Image ID: 29344  
Location: Palomar Observatory, Palomar Mountain, California, USA
Pano dimensions: 6270 x 11632
 
Black's Beach sea cliffs, sunset, looking north from Scripps Pier with Torrey Pines State Reserve in the distance, La Jolla, California
Black’s Beach sea cliffs, sunset, looking north from Scripps Pier with Torrey Pines State Reserve in the distance.
Image ID: 29170  
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
'The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis' (1661-62), Rembrandt van Rijn, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands
‘The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis’ (1661-62), Rembrandt van Rijn.
Image ID: 29451  
Location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands
 
Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla
Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla.
Image ID: 30179  
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Militia Company of District XI under the Command of Captain Reynier Reael, Known as The Meagre Company, Frans Hals, Pieter Codde, 1637, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands
Militia Company of District XI under the Command of Captain Reynier Reael, Known as The Meagre Company, Frans Hals, Pieter Codde, 1637.
Image ID: 29469  
Location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands
 
Broken Hill and view to La Jolla, from Torrey Pines State Reserve, sunrise, San Diego, California
Broken Hill and view to La Jolla, from Torrey Pines State Reserve, sunrise.
Image ID: 30455  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
 
Aerial view of the Mara River, Maasai Mara, Kenya.  Photo taken while hot air ballooning at sunrise, Maasai Mara National Reserve
Aerial view of the Mara River, Maasai Mara, Kenya. Photo taken while hot air ballooning at sunrise.
Image ID: 29803  
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
 
Hot Air Ballooning over Maasai Mara plains, Kenya, Maasai Mara National Reserve
Hot Air Ballooning over Maasai Mara plains, Kenya.
Image ID: 29805  
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
 

Moonflowers - Desert Wildflowers at Night

Filed under: California, Desert — Tags: , , — on 3/12/2015

“Moonflowers” - with a nod to my favorite rock band, and the best guitarist of all time. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and the small community of Borrego Springs contained within, have had a reasonably nice wildflower bloom this year. That’s great news, since it has been awhile since the last nice bloom there that was not adversely affected by the black mustard plant. Alaskan photographer Ron Niebrugge kindly kept us up to date on the bloom from his winter location in Borrego Springs, and I managed to get out and try my hand at wildflower photography five times over the course of a week.

Dune Evening Primrose and Verbena, under a Full Moon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
Dune Evening Primrose and Verbena, under a Rising Full Moon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

Anza-Borrego is only 75 miles from my home in Carlsbad, and the entire mountains along the way are beautiful right now, including the oaks on Mount Palomar and the rolling hills around Lake Henshaw, so the drive itself was fun each time. My first visit was actually a detour on the way to Death Valley, so I really just went to scout and find the densest, healthiest patch of flowers I could find, free from the hordes of caterpillars and footprints that had overtaken DiGiorgio Road a short time before. I did have some great evening storm clouds over the flowers, and managed a few photos. I found the best area well to the north of Henderson Canyon Road. From just before before a big rain, to a few days after the rain and then into a dry hot spell, I was able to watch this one patch of flowers flourish with moisture, rise out of the sand and bloom, only to be overtaken by moth caterpillars and dry conditions and soon reduced to virtually nothing in 9 days. Having not had a chance to really photograph my favorite wildflower — the dune evening primrose — in some years, I tried photographing it in as many ways as I could think of, knowing it will probably be some years again before I see such nice displays. I shot these commando, working quickly and in one instance shooting handheld, while the moon rose (top photo) and fell (bottom photo). Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Dune Evening Primrose and Verbena, under a Full Moon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
Dune Evening Primrose and Verbena, under a Setting Full Moon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

Elephants (Three Different Ones)

I am starting to post my images from a fantastic safari experience in Kenya in September, and searched on the term “elephant” in my own stock files and found these three came to the top. I immediately thought “Elephants (Three Different Ones)”. Yes, I am a Pink Floyd fan, naturally. And no I don’t mean that kind of pink floyd. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Elephant arch and stars at night, moonlight, Valley of Fire State Park
Elephant arch and stars at night, moonlight, Valley of Fire State Park.
Image ID: 28435  
Location: Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, USA
 
Bull elephant seal exits the water to retake his position on the beach.  He shows considerable scarring on his chest and proboscis from many winters fighting other males for territory and rights to a harem of females.  Sandy beach rookery, winter, Central California, Mirounga angustirostris, Piedras Blancas, San Simeon
Bull elephant seal exits the water to retake his position on the beach. He shows considerable scarring on his chest and proboscis from many winters fighting other males for territory and rights to a harem of females. Sandy beach rookery, winter, Central California.
Image ID: 15458  
Species: Elephant seal, Mirounga angustirostris
Location: Piedras Blancas, San Simeon, California, USA
 
African elephant herd, Amboseli National Park, Kenya, Loxodonta africana
African elephant herd, Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
Image ID: 29531  
Species: African elephant, Loxodonta africana
Location: Amboseli National Park, Kenya
 

Paradise in February: San Diego

Filed under: San Diego — Tags: , , , , — on 2/18/2015

President’s Weekend was nice here. The rest of the country is freezing, yup that’s pretty bad. Southern California is in the midst of a bad drought and our Sierra Nevada is missing its usual snowpack which is going to hurt in the coming months, but at least the warm winter makes for clear skies and very nice temps. Here are a couple photos from President’s Day’s weekend, all depicting a few of my favorite scenes and all including the Pacific Ocean which was flat calm and glassy much of the time. Cheers and thanks for looking.

Broken Hill and view to La Jolla, panoramic photograph, from Torrey Pines State Reserve, sunrise, San Diego, California
Broken Hill and view to La Jolla, panoramic photograph, from Torrey Pines State Reserve, sunrise.
Image ID: 30469  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
Pano dimensions: 6212 x 12960
 
Gray whale raising fluke before diving, on southern migration to calving lagoons in Baja, Eschrichtius robustus, San Diego, California
Gray whale raising fluke before diving, on southern migration to calving lagoons in Baja.
Image ID: 30463  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 
Gray whale raising fluke before diving, on southern migration to calving lagoons in Baja, Eschrichtius robustus, San Diego, California
Gray whale raising fluke before diving, on southern migration to calving lagoons in Baja.
Image ID: 30464  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 30449  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Surf and spray during Santa Ana offshore winds, San Diego, California
Surf and spray during Santa Ana offshore winds.
Image ID: 30461  
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 

The Original Wind Surfers: Pelicans, Waves and Surf

Filed under: Birds, Pelicans, San Diego — Tags: , , , , — on 2/16/2015

Wikipedia describes the origins of wind surfing in the 1940s and 1950s. It couldn’t be more wrong. For as long as they have existed, sea birds and their ancestors have plied the oceans, riding the updrafts of surf, waves and sea swells to gain efficiency and a free ride. My favorite practitioner of this skill is the pelican, although the wandering albatross is a close second. I have been watching pelicans cruise the coastline of my southern California home with a graceful effortlessness my whole life. This winter I made it a goal to shoot some images of brown pelicans surfing and skimming waves. Here are a few of my favorites, photographed in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and La Jolla. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30257  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30199  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30262  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30275  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30193  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave.
Image ID: 30353  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30277  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30194  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30278  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave.
Image ID: 30364  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave.
Image ID: 30374  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30273  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30314  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican flying over a breaking wave.
Image ID: 30352  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
California Pelican flying on a wave, riding the updraft from the wave.
Image ID: 30264  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
 

I photograph brown California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis). If you like these, please see more California brown pelican photos or a little PDF e-guide about photographing California brown pelicans in La Jolla.

Killer Whales (Orca) attacking California Sea Lion

Filed under: Marine Life, Sea Lion — Tags: , , , — on 2/9/2015

I saw Wild Kingdom in action yesterday: killer whales preying upon California sea lions. Classified as Biggs transient orcas, these individuals are well known (CA51) for terrorizing other marine mammals along the Southern California coast. “Biggs transients” are one of four distinct populations (some insist they are species) of killer whales, characterized by predating upon marine mammals and occasionally sea birds as opposed to ground fish or salmon as do other coastal orcas. Coming upon the five killer whales as they finished toying with and consuming one predation (likely a sea lion), we watched them proceed to take at least two more sea lions over the next hour. In each of the following photos there is a sea lion although in some it is hard to find. The first image depicts the first hit that one of the adult orcas put upon the sea lion. I knew it was coming but still nearly did not get the lens on the sea lion in time. Several other hits took place and the sea lion was clearly panicky and stunned. In the third image, one of the females passes by the sea lion but what is not obvious is that there are two other orcas just below and in front of the sea lion, the pinniped is literally surrounded. There were two subadult orca in the group and it may have been a case of the adults allowing the subadults to learn how to hunt; in practical terms the pack was toying with its doomed prey. In the fifth photo you can see how close to shore this took place. In the final three images, the sea lion is 1) barely able to avoid being pushed under by one of the females, 2) hammered sideways by one of the adults, and 3) gasps for breath before being finally pulled under for the last time and consumed. I don’t photograph killer whales often, but have photographed other whale species including humpback whales and blue whales and some dolphins: Cetacean Photos. For my diving buddies who might be wondering: this was purely a topside trip. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30425  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30426  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30427  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30428  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30429  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30430  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30431  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30432  
Killer whale attacking sea lion.  Biggs transient orca and California sea lion, Orcinus orca, Palos Verdes
Killer whale attacking sea lion. Biggs transient orca and California sea lion.
Image ID: 30433  

La Jolla Birds

Filed under: Birds, La Jolla — Tags: , , , , — on 2/7/2015

La Jolla birds as of this morning. I had until 8:45 before catching the end of Sarah’s practice so I went down the coast highway. There were some waves in Encinitas but nothing special. Spectacular clearing mist at Torrey Pines at sunrise. In La Jolla the light changed much and often, wisps of fog passing just to the east in front of the sun. There was no workshop or crowd at the bird spot this morning which meant lots of birds and whisper quiet. Pelicans are at peak plumage, the cormorants have quite a ways to go. All in all a great morning. All photos are handheld with Canon 200-400. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Ring-Billed Gull, Larus Delawarensis, La Jolla

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , , — on 2/6/2015

Once in a while I will photograph seagulls. I really should spend more time on them, since they can at times be beautiful in the right light and when in good condition. Unfortunately, gulls often they look like crap, and when I see them out on the water I invariably think “sky rat”. I only photograph the ones I see in La Jolla, so along with the Heermann’s Gull I posted about a few days ago, I also like the Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis). Hopefully in a few months I’ll have more images of this gull to add to my collection. Cheers, and thanks for looking.

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California
Ring-billed gull.
Image ID: 18304  
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California
Ring-billed gull.
Image ID: 30355  
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California
Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight.
Image ID: 28990  
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

Royal Tern Breaking Its Fast, La Jolla

Filed under: Birds on 2/4/2015

This Royal Tern (Sterna maxima) manages a Exorcist-worthy head twist as it reaches for a small bug. See the tiny black bug? La Jolla, morning. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Royal tern eating bug
Royal tern eating bug

Heermann’s Gull, Larus heermanni

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , , — on 2/1/2015

The Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni), photographed when I am out and about in La Jolla and North County. Lately I have been trying to frame seabirds against blue water, or have the ocean horizon in the image to anchor the composition and help tie the animal with the ocean. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California
Heermanns gull in flight.
Image ID: 30348  
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California
Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave.
Image ID: 30359  
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California
Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky.
Image ID: 23656  
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Heermann's gull, immature, in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California
Heermann’s gull, immature, in flight.
Image ID: 28991  
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California
Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise.
Image ID: 18272  
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California
Heermanns gull in flight.
Image ID: 30312  
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California
Heermanns gull in flight.
Image ID: 18273  
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

La Jolla Reefs, Surf and Clouds

Filed under: La Jolla, Photo of the Day, Surf — Tags: , , — on 1/31/2015

This morning in coastal La Jolla was lacking in color but there is always something of beauty in the way waves come ashore and wrap around rocks and reefs. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

La Jolla Surf, Reef and Clouds
La Jolla Surf, Reef and Clouds
La Jolla Surf, Reef and Clouds

Blue Whale Full Body Photo

Filed under: Blue Whale, Icons, Underwater Life — Tags: , , , , — on 1/29/2015

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 80-feet long, full body photograph of an enormous blue whale showing rostrom head to fluke tail, taken at close range with very wide lens, Balaenoptera musculus, San Diego, California
Blue whale 80-feet long, full body photograph of an enormous blue whale showing rostrom head to fluke tail, taken at close range with very wide lens.
Image ID: 27967  
Species: Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 

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!

Stars, A Galaxy and … Wind Turbines?

On a lark one evening in 2014, my buddy Garry McCarthy and I headed out to the desert to do some night photography with only one caveat: try someplace new (in other words, not Joshua Tree again). We headed east and somewhat south with sort of a plan but really it was mostly the blind leading the blind. Eventually we got on spot, broke out the lights and flashed them around while clicking away with the cameras and what followed was one of the most industrial, industrious and unconventional photography sessions I’ve had. Thanks to Garry’s mad lighting skillz acquired on many landscape astrophotography trips, we came away with some creative and fun images. How big are these wind turbines? About 250′ tall at the rotor’s axle, and another 185′ for the blade, for a total reach of 435′ above ground. Pretty damn big! Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Wind Energy Turbines, at night with stars and the Milky Way in the sky above, the moving turbine blades illuminated by a small flashlight
Wind Energy Turbines, at night with stars and the Milky Way in the sky above, the moving turbine blades illuminated by a small flashlight.
Image ID: 30239  
Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,.
Image ID: 30242  
Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,.
Image ID: 30248  
Stars rise above Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades
Stars rise above a Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades.
Image ID: 30227  
Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,.
Image ID: 30246  
Stars rise above Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades
Stars rise above a Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades.
Image ID: 30224  

Photographing the Head Throw of the California Brown Pelican in La Jolla

Filed under: Pelicans — Tags: , , , — on 1/23/2015

I photograph brown California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis). A lot. I love them, they are at once both graceful and awkward. They surf. They dive. They eat fish. They live along the coast of California. All things I like to do too! Here are some of my favorite images, showing how beautiful these birds can be: California brown pelican photos.

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30304  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

There is one peculiar behavior that pelicans exhibit that is quite challenging to photograph: the “head throw“. Also known as a “bill throw”, it occurs when a pelican throws its head up and back, way way back! The head throw is thought to be a way for the pelican to stretch the skin of its gular pouch — its throat — in order to maintain its flexibility and health. The California race of brown pelican exhibits striking mating coloration in winter, including a colorful red and green throat, yellow head and breast patch, and a bright white or deep chestnut brown hind neck. When a California brown pelican tosses its head back into a bill throw, the rich olive and red colors of its throat are really on display. This year I decided to focus my photography on a couple aspects of these birds that I had not yet photographed to my satisfaction in the past, one of which was the head throw. (The other is surf, which I will share in a few days.) I had plenty of head throw photos before, including some very nice ones, but I wanted to make some new really top notch ones, real keepers. I now have dozens of head throw sequences captured by my camera this season (thank you Canon) but only a few that I feel are really perfect, framed well with super light, rich color and sharp as a tack.

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 28347  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30174  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

One key to photographing this behavior is to know where and when to find pelicans — that’s no secret. Another is to have ideal conditions. I live in the San Diego area so I can simply look outside to make sure the skies are clear — yielding perfect light for about an hour after sunrise — before investing the time to go shoot. Lastly, the pelicans need to be in the right mood — not bothered by people, dogs or big waves — and preening, drying and warming themselves in the sun. It is when they are relaxed and preening that they will do head throws. Once the pelican has lain down it is unlikely to do any more bill throws.

Brown pelican stretches its neck, to keep its throat pouch limber.  The characteristic winter mating plumage of the California race of brown pelican is shown, with deep red gular throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
Brown pelican stretches its neck, to keep its throat pouch limber. The characteristic winter mating plumage of the California race of brown pelican is shown, with deep red gular throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck.
Image ID: 23648  
Species: Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Brown pelican head throw.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican head throw. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 18044  
Species: Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

A challenge is anticipating when a head throw will occur, since they seem to be almost random for folks unfamiliar with pelicans. With lots of practice and 25 years spent watching this colony every winter, I’ve become fairly good at knowing when a bird is about to throw its head back, and can frame up the act and capture it reasonably well about 50% of the time. (Hey, even a blind squirrel sometimes find a nut!) It might help to think about the cat, that vile, irritable, nasty and vomit-inclined species of vermin. Cat owners usually have a sense when little precious is about to gack up a hairball or barf its last fetid, colorless meal. The creature stops licking itself, or tearing up the couch, or whatever it happens to be doing, and instead tips its head out at an odd angle, jerks its neck once or twice like something is wrong and perhaps a strange death-rattle sound eminates from its belly. Then, a few moments later - WHAM! — the cat does its thing all over your floor. It is similar with brown pelicans, only they are not so nasty. Often before one does a head throw, it will cock its head and neck at a odd angle, clap its beak once or twice, maybe even invert its throat (like sticking out its tongue) before it grows still. It may open its beak slightly as it pauses. Then, quickly, it raises its bill straight up and back, mouth open, then closing the mouth as it lowers it beak again. 2 seconds later, its over. But fortunately, a pelican that has just done a head throw is fairly likely to do it again in a few moments, so be ready to get it the second time if you miss it the first time.

Brown pelican head throw.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican head throw. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 20284  
Species: Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30297  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

A tip for photographers: don’t have too much lens! I like the Canon 200-400 (with built in extender) on a full frame body for all pelican photography in La Jolla these days. I see serious out-of-town bird photographers with 600 or 800mm, perhaps even on a crop body. Good luck with that. Perhaps the 800mm photographer is looking for head portraits - not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you want full body flight and head throw shots in La Jolla, I recommend 300mm as a starting point, and sometimes will shoot a bit wider if there are lots of pelicans right up close to where I like to shoot from. With a 600 or 800, it may be hard to fit the entire bird when it is stretched out to its fullest during a head throw along with enough negative space, and there is a good chance you will clip the head or feet unless you are way way back. (I’ve even seen a few guys this year return to their cars to get a second setup because the 500mm they were using was too much for flight and head throws.) Yes, once you realize you have just clipped the feet during the head throw that you spent $4000 and travelled from the east coast to shoot, you could take several photos immediately afterward of the feet, rocks, etc and Franken-blend a composite using techniques learned in your last workshop. But natural history photographers can’t be cheaters in that way (just ask Nat Geo) and just see what happens when you submit that image to a major contest or a decent publication A rough rule of thumb I have when waiting for a head throw is to expect the composition to be about twice as tall as the bird is when it is relaxed and sitting.

California brown pelican, throwing head back to stretch its throat, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California brown pelican, throwing head back to stretch its throat.
Image ID: 26287  
Species: Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 30341  
Species: Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

If you like these, please see more California brown pelican photos or a little PDF e-guide about this choice spot. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Wild West Magazine - Shooting Star and Milky Way over Delicate Arch

A shooting star and the Milky Way over Delicate Arch at night, seen on the “parting shot” end page of Wild West Magazine. This is the first time I have had my work in Wild West which was nice! Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Wildcoast Annual Report 2014

Filed under: Aerial Photography, Tear Sheets — Tags: , — on

The Wildcoast annual report for 2014 has my aerial photograph of a mother and calf gray whale pair swimming off the coast of California on the cover. Wildcoast is a great environmental organization. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Natural History Photography - Best Photos of 2014

Filed under: Best Photographs of the Year — Tags: — on 12/20/2014

My Best Natural History Photographs of 2014

This is the eighth year in a row I have done an annual retrospective. 2014 held less “serious” photography for me than any of the previous 20 years. Life gets in the way, and running a photography business is 60% administrative, 25% photographic and 15% chaotic. Nevertheless I still consider myself to be a fortunate photographer and would not trade places with anyone else (OK, perhaps Neil Armstrong in 1969). My creative goal for any one year is, as it always has been, to shoot 3-4 world-class images and 10-15 portfolio-quality images. Thanks to some special opportunities I was able to experience this year — including two stabs at aerial photography, one great outing to Utah, and a dream safari in Kenya — I was able to bring home some satisfying images. Here they are! Note: if you like these feel free to check out previous years’ favorites as well: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007. Also, be sure to check out Jim Goldstein’s blog, where he collects the “best of the year” collections of many talented photographers. Thanks for looking, and best wishes for 2015!

Lionness and two week old cub, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Lionness and two week old cub, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.
Image ID: 29793  
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
 
Mixed Herd of Wildebeest and Zebra, aerial photo, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Mixed Herd of Wildebeest and Zebra, aerial photo, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.
Image ID: 29824  
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
 
Lion female, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Lion female, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.
Image ID: 29917  
Location: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
 
Leopard, Olare Orok Conservancy, Kenya
Leopard, Olare Orok Conservancy, Kenya.
Image ID: 30081  
Location: Olare Orok Conservancy, Kenya
 
African elephant herd, Amboseli National Park, Kenya
African elephant herd, Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
Image ID: 29531  
Location: Amboseli National Park, Kenya
 
Milky Way at Night over Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park
Milky Way at Night over Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park.
Image ID: 29196  
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA
Pano dimensions: 6062 x 10233
 
Clearing storm clouds over Broken Hill, overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California
Clearing storm clouds over Broken Hill, overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Image ID: 29416  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
 
Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014, San Diego, California
Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014.
Image ID: 29412  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
 
Palomar Observatory at Night under the Milky Way, Panoramic photograph, Palomar Mountain, California
Palomar Observatory at Night under the Milky Way, Panoramic photograph.
Image ID: 29342  
Location: Palomar Observatory, Palomar Mountain, California, USA
 
Light Painting and the Milky Way and Stars over Delicate Arch, at night, Arches National Park, Utah
Light Painting and the Milky Way and Stars over Delicate Arch, at night, Arches National Park, Utah.
Image ID: 29288  
Location: Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah, USA
 
Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island
Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island.
Image ID: 29121  
Location: San Diego, California, USA
 
Torrey Pines cliffs and storm clouds at sunset, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California
Torrey Pines cliffs and storm clouds at sunset.
Image ID: 29102  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, 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: 29017  
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA
 
Lunar Eclipse and blood red moon sequence over Arch Rock, planet Mars above the moon, composite image, Joshua Tree National Park, April 14/15 2014
Lunar Eclipse and blood red moon sequence over Arch Rock, planet Mars above the moon, composite image, Joshua Tree National Park, April 14/15 2014.
Image ID: 29201  
Pano dimensions: 5835 x 14655
 
San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, the distinctive pyramid shaped southern end of the island
San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, the distinctive pyramid shaped southern end of the island.
Image ID: 29358  
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA
 
Balboa Pier, sunrise, Newport Beach, California
Balboa Pier, sunrise.
Image ID: 29138  
Location: Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, California, USA
 
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, Pelecanus occidentalis, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 29085  
Species: Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, Pelecanus occidentalis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla
Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla.
Image ID: 28984  
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Stars over Corona Arch at Night, Moab, Utah
Double self-portrait (I am both people in the image) with stars, Corona Arch at Night, Moab, Utah.
Image ID: 29242  
Location: Corona Arch, Moab, Utah, USA
 
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Dawn Patrol, Scripps Pier, La Jolla

Filed under: La Jolla, Surf — Tags: , , , , — on 12/14/2014

Three guys head out for a surf, under leaden skies and rain, pre-dawn. Scripps Institute of Oceanography Research Pier, La Jolla, California.

Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla
Scripps Pier and moving water, pre-dawn light, La Jolla.
Image ID: 30178  
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

California Brown Pelicans, La Jolla, December 2014

Filed under: Pelicans — Tags: , , — on 12/10/2014

A PDF guide to photographing these pelicans: Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla. If you like these photos, you can also see lots more blog posts from past sessions photographing California brown pelicans in La Jolla. Or, I’ve got a gallery of some keepers on my website, but most of the good ones from the last couple years I have not even gotten around to captioning and putting the web yet: California Brown Pelican photo gallery.

Pelicans on Goldfish Point (click to go big). If it looks like this you are doing it right. This is what the cliffs should look like on mornings when the pelicans are around (which is most but not all mornings). If you see pelicans on nearby cliffs and/or flying around, and you don’t see pelicans on top of Goldfish Point like this, there is a good chance someone has spooked them.

Thoughts on the Canon 200-400 lens: It’s a little early in December to photograph the pelicans but what the heck. I was able to check the skies at 5am, see that they were clear to the east, and run down to the cliffs to practice my skills with a new lens (see below). Since it is early December I was alone each morning this week; there are none of the crowds or workshops that are often here from Christmas through February. A storm is on the way in from Hawaii, driving a big swell ahead of it that kept the lower rocks wet today, pushing all the birds up to the top area. My guess is that plumage will peak in the first week or two of February, it is still quite early now and only a small fraction of the adults have what I would consider full mating plumage (chestnut brown hindneck, yellow head, deep red and olive throat, etc). The last couple years I have only photographed these birds a few times, having my best luck with a 300mm lens on full frame body. I am now using a Canon 200-400 lens, something I got for safari in Kenya, and now that I have tried it on these birds I can say: it’s the ticket. It is almost as if the Canon 200-400 was invented just for this one location — it’s perfect. Since it is hand-holdable you can dispense with the restrictions and cumbersomeness of a tripod if you wish. All of the following — including the top panorama above which is a stitch of about 20 images, the bottom pano is an iPhone shot — were shot with the Canon 200-400, most handheld, and only a few using the built-in 1.4x teleconverter (which makes the lens a 560mm f/5.6 lens). Note: this lens is sharper and has greater contrast than Nikon’s 200-400; I have owned both and can say this from experience. Both are great but the Canon is the one to get if you can afford it. I select lenses and then get cameras for them (not vica-versa) and this is one lens for which it is worth owning at least one Canon body. I have a 5DIII as dedicated life-support for this one lens. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30169  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30172  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30168  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30171  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30176  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Cormorants in flight, wings blurred by time exposure, Phalacrocorax auritus, La Jolla, California
Cormorants in flight, wings blurred by time exposure.
Image ID: 30163  
Species: Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30164  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30165  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 30167  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California
Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30170  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla
California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30174  
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides, La Jolla, California
Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides.
Image ID: 30166  
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides, La Jolla, California
Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides.
Image ID: 30173  
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 
Cormorant in flight, wings blurred by time exposure, Phalacrocorax auritus, La Jolla, California
Cormorant in flight, wings blurred by time exposure.
Image ID: 30219  
Species: Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
 

Lunar Eclipse Photo Sequence, October 8 2014

Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014, San Diego, California
Lunar Eclipse Sequence Over Broken Hill, Torrey Pines State Reserve. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014.
Image ID: 29412  
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA
 

I have made a few photographic sequences of lunar eclipses, including several of the total lunar eclipse of April 15 2014 (version 2, version 3). I wanted to do something similar for the October 8 2014 lunar eclipse, but did not have the freedom to go photograph out in the desert where the air was likely to be clear. On the evening of the eclipse conditions were iffy, and down on the beach the air was heavy and wet so the pier was out — it was on the verge of turning to fog. Up on the mesas above and inland from the beach the air was much clearer and drier but still the shooting looked iffy, I was not sure the eclipse would even be visible. As it turned out I was able to get the images for which I was hoping, although things were not as clear as I probably would have found in the desert.

My planning for the eclipse was something like this: the penumbral phase of eclipse was to begin at 2:15am at 227 degrees on the compass and inclination of 53 degrees. Full eclipse would begin at 3:25 (245 degrees, 41 degree inclination) and end at 4:24am (256 degrees, 30 degree inclination). The penumbral phase would end at 5:34 (266 degrees, 16 degree inclination). This meant the “rectangle” that the path of the eclipse would take through the sky was roughly 40 degrees horizontally (left to right on the compass) and spanned a vertical inclination of about 37 degrees. I figured a lens with about 24mm of focal length, or a little more, held in portrait orientation — which covers approximately 73 degrees vertically and 53 degrees horizontally would work well, since it would allow for some foreground and would cover the entire left-right travel of the moon with room to spare on all sides. Mind you this may sound like some sort of complicated math but in truth a few minutes with The Photographer’s Ephemeris and a few notes on the back of a VISA envelope were all that was required to set up the plan for that night. The “center” of the eclipse would be at a compass angle of about 250 degrees, so I setup my camera in that direction, configured it to shoot periodic bracketed images all night long using an intervalometer, and crossed my fingers the sky would remain clear for the two and a quarter hours that the eclipse would happening.

I also shot individual images of the eclipsing moon with 560mm of focal length — the Canon 200-400 f/4 lens with built-in 1.4x teleconverter turned out to be perfect for this, and I periodically used live focus to ensure the moon was as sharp as possible. That lens, coupled with good focus and a good sensor, can really resolve a lot. I composited these sharp and detailed moon images onto the best single image of the “background” in the location and orientation in which the moon travelled across the sky. They appear about twice as large as the moon actually appeared in the original wide-angle photographs. I was a little surprised to find the path was slightly convex (relative to the ground) as in my previous south-facing sequences the path was strongly concave, but then realized after looking at the star trails of the images from that night that indeed this was the proper path of the stars and moon. I was facing only about 20 degree south of west and Polaris was about 110 degrees to the right. All heavenly objects have an apparent rotation about that one star, leading to the path of the moon you see here. The following image is a huge (12000 x 12000) mosaic of the sequence, with some impressive detail in the moon including some visible lunar mountains when the sun was just skimming the edge of the moon in some of the frames. The frames I found the most interesting, and challenging to expose, are those were there is still direct sunlight case upon the moon while at the same time some of the “blood red moon” coloration is beginning to appear in the shadowed area of the moon. The moon is yellower at the end of the sequence than it is at the beginning — at the beginning it is high in the sky and the optical path passed through relatively little atmosphere, but toward the end of the sequence the moon was nearly setting and the optical path passed through much more atmosphere, affecting the “color temperature” of the moon and rendering it with a yellowish hue. (Hue: does anyone actually use that word in conversation?)

Lunar eclipse sequence. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014
Lunar eclipse sequence. While the moon lies in the full shadow of the earth (umbra) it receives only faint, red-tinged light refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere. As the moon passes into the penumbra it receives increasing amounts of direct sunlight, eventually leaving the shadow of the Earth altogether. October 8, 2014.
Image ID: 29411  
Pano dimensions: 8000 x 8000
 

Cheers, and thanks for looking!


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Updated: March 31, 2015