Monthly Archives

February 2006

Photo of Badwater, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level. Indeed, it is the lowest point in the entire western hemisphere. The Badwater Basin is the catch point for 9000 square miles of drainage, however, there is typically little water here except following winter rains, since the water evaporates quickly. When it does, it leaves behind a saline, crusty, flat white playa made up of almost pure table salt and stretching for miles — a bizarre place. Evaporation is most extreme in Death Valley: a 1.9 inch annual rainfall is exceeded by evaporation potential of 150 inches per year, enough to scorch a 12 foot deep lake to dust in just 12 months. The water that does manage to persist here is the motivation for the place’s name, for it is a salty, warm, nasty swill which you are advised not to drink. A small, specialized species of fish, the Death Valley pupfish, somehow manages to eke out an existence in these waters. Rising above the parking area are some of the oldest rocks in Death Valley, 1.7 billion (with a b) year old Precambrian volcanic and sedimentary rock layers that have metamorphosed into gneiss. Perched 282 feet up the cliff face is a sign marking sea level. If you visit, be sure to walk out onto the playa, not just a hundred yards or so but far enough that the other visitors and their cars become specks. Admire the sheer white horizon stretching in all directions, the Panamint Mountain and Black Mountain ranges the form the walls of the valley, and the blue sky. Hear the silence as your feet crackle and crunch the salt upon which you walk. Feel the air wick the sweat off your skin. Feel your throat become dry. Squint. Nice. Now back to the car and air conditioning.

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15579
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15580
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15595
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Self portrait on salt pan, Death Valley National Park, California

Self portrait on salt pan.
Image ID: 15621
Location: Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Mavericks Surf Contest 2006

Central Coast, Surf

The Mavericks Surf Contest 2006 photos are now online. I shot the 2006 running of the Mavericks Surf Contest, held February 7, 2006 at Half Moon Bay, California. The event went off very well, with great organization, beautiful weather and near perfect waves. The Mavericks Surf Contest is about big wave paddle-in surfing, in which contestants are required to paddle in to huge, thick waves under their own power (jetskies are on hand only for safety purposes, no tow-in surfing is allowed during the contest). 24 of the world’s most skilled big wave experts were invited to compete, and surfed four heats, two semifinals and one final from 8am until 2pm. South African Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, who had a nearly flawless day winning his heat, his semifinal and the finals, was crowned champion and took home $30,000 and a gold watch. Tyler Smith of Santa Cruz took second and Brock Little of Hawaii third. Thousands watched the event from the shore, many scrambling up the cliffs of Pillar Point, while hundreds boated and jetskied out to the break to watch from the water. Mavericks Surf Ventures presented the contest live over the internet on streaming video, and NBC was on hand to capture the contest for broadcast on May 13 at 2pm EST. We selected 71 photos of the contest to place among our stock photos, here are just a few, click any one to see it larger:

2006 Mavericks surf contest champion Grant Twiggy Baker of South Africa.  Final round, Mavericks surf contest, February 7, 2006, Half Moon Bay, California

2006 Mavericks surf contest champion Grant Twiggy Baker of South Africa. Final round, Mavericks surf contest, February 7, 2006.
Image ID: 15299
Location: Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, California, USA

Brock Little, final round, Mavericks surf contest (third place), February 7, 2006, Half Moon Bay, California

Brock Little, final round, Mavericks surf contest (third place), February 7, 2006.
Image ID: 15300
Location: Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, California, USA

The wave.  Mavericks surf contest, February 7, 2006, Half Moon Bay, California

The wave. Mavericks surf contest, February 7, 2006.
Image ID: 15308
Location: Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, California, USA

Tyler Smith, final round, Mavericks surf contest (second place), February 7, 2006, Half Moon Bay, California

Tyler Smith, final round, Mavericks surf contest (second place), February 7, 2006.
Image ID: 15301
Location: Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, California, USA

More 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest photos.

Pelican Head Throw

Pelicans

See my Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Here are a few photos of California brown pelicans performing the pelican head throw, also known as the pelican bill throw. It looks painful. The brown pelican lifts its large bill up, arches its neck back until the throat gular pouch is stretched and taut, holds this position for a moment, and lowers its bill again. Sometimes it will open its jaw during the head throw, other times it will precede or follow the bill throw by bending its neck such that the throat pouch is turned inside out. Strange. Check out this bird, it is one of my favorite species and truly bizarre. I’ve seen one bird photo specialist refer to the head throw behaviour as “elusive”, however in my experience the head throw is quite easy to capture on film provided you are reasonably observant and can put your lens on the subject in a timely manner.

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: 15124
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: 15179
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See more photos of brown pelicans.

Keywords: pelican, brown pelican, California brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, pelican head throw, bill throw, La Jolla.