Monthly Archives

September 2006

Fall Comes to the Eastern Sierra

California, Sierra Nevada, Trees

For a few years I have been interested in witnessing the famous fall colors of the Eastern Sierra, but never had the time to drive up Highway 395 and take a look. I finally managed to squeeze 36 hours out of my schedule recently and get up to Bishop, and I was not disappointed. The weather was pleasant, warm and sunny, and the aspen trees were superb. I was particularly happy with images I shot with a fisheye lens, since I was able to cram as much detail into the frame as possible and the resulting colors were deep and rich. This perspective is quite contrary to the conventional images one sees of autumn aspens and mountain landscapes, typically photographed with medium-wide rectilinear lenses, and not for everyone. The photo below was shot just below the dam at Lake Sabrina in the Bishop Creek Canyon, shortly after the sun rose over the peak and lit the lake and tops of the trees.

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon.
Image ID: 17547
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Eastern Sierra photos
Aspen photos (Populus tremuloides)

South Carlsbad Reminiscing

California, Carlsbad, Stories, Surf

When I was a kid, my family would drive down from Newport Beach to spend a week or two each summer camping at South Carlsbad State Beach with two other families. This was going on 30+ years ago. (Now you know how old I am; everyone looks like a grom to me.) Back then we just had fun and didn’t ruminate over things too much. Now I realize how excellent these trips were. For a boogie-boarding wanna-be grom, mornings in the surf here were heaven. Our parents gave us all the freedom we could want. The 10 of us kids, plus friends who we might bring along, had the run of the beach and surf while the old folks would kick back and keep half an eye on us from up on the bluffs. We would get up early, crawl out of our sand-filled sleeping bags, grab our boards and fins, double-time it down the wooden stairs and paddle out over glass. Sometimes it was clear, other times overcast. The north county bottlenose dolphins, the ones that inhabit the coastline and forage for fish in the rips, would often swim by just outside the break, same as they do today. We knew they were dolphins but also half-imagined that they were sharks; I was sort of nervous around them. We would have wave after wave all to ourselves with not another person in the water for hours as far up and down as we could see. I suppose everyone was at work. Most of Carlsbad was undeveloped, agricultural land or just empty, so there was no pressure on this break. I would spend so many hours catching waves my Churchills wore holes in my heels.

I have been catching some of that old vibe shooting photos in the water. I realize the shots I am trying to score are not those of surfers and other people but rather of sunlight, empty breaking waves, barrels closing out, blue-green water and the mist that hangs over the coast just before the sun is high enough to burn it all off — these are the images etched in my mind from our Carlsbad camping weeks. Nowadays I live 2 minutes from South Carlsbad State Beach, how is that for coming full circle? My fins are longer, hair is shorter, however I still like to be in the waves from the campground down to the Ponto jetties. A kid again.

Those are the south Ponto bluffs looking toward Leucadia in the background. Some damn developer is planning on building a hotel or something on that spot. Travesty.

Ponto jetties, the entrance to Batiquitos lagoon, are just visible if you squint real hard. I live on that hill back there.

Fire Breathing Dragon

California, Carlsbad, Surf

**As of August 2012, I am using Delmar Housing Projects for my Canon 5D Mark III. The lens I prefer to use is the 16-35 f/2.8 II. The first couple sessions with this rig: first and second.**

More surf photos.

My approach to photography is not particularly rigorous or diligent. In fact, it is random and haphazard. A good friend of mine has several times referred to my technique as “machine-gun-fire.” My thinking is that if I spray enough frames around during the course of a shoot, odds are one of them will be a keeper. I adhere to the ancient Zen saying that Even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut. In keeping with this philosophy (of shooting as many frames as I can and worrying about it later) I replaced my 20D with a wildly fast 1DIIN (my other camera being a relatively slow 1DsII). This thing is a fire breathing dragon. It fires off 8.5 frames a second, continuously, and doesn’t even begin to slow until I have blazed 20-30 frames. Not only that but I got 500 shots this morning before the camera was full — that is a lot of photos. 8.5 frames a second is twice as fast as any of my other cameras, so I can shoot twice as many frames in a day which means, assuming averages hold, I will get twice as many keepers. Twice the keepers means I am now twice as good as I was before and I should expect twice as many photo sales. Sound reasoning.

I took the new camera out for a test drive this morning at Ponto, wrapped in the beautiful new Delmar camera housing that Erik Hjermstad just built for me last week. Conditions were nice, glassy, sunny, warm. It was fun. Here are a few shots.

Breaking wave, Ponto, South Carlsbad

Breaking wave, Ponto, South Carlsbad.
Image ID: 17679
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Breaking wave, Ponto, South Carlsbad

Breaking wave, Ponto, South Carlsbad.
Image ID: 17680
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Shorebreak at the Wedge


Another morning at the Wedge. I sympathize with this guy as I have eaten more than my fair share of shorebreak sand too. It looks like the lip caught him in the back of the head just after this shot was taken. And this is only a small inside shorebreak, not a set wave. Some days Wedge waves are so mutant that, combined with crossed-up backwash, they have the potential to work you at any time. See more wave photos.

Shorebreak, The Wedge, Newport Beach, California

Image ID: 14204
Location: The Wedge, Newport Beach, California, USA

My guess is this guy shrugged it off and paddled out on the next backwash. Just one more reason to love a September southern hemi swell in southern Orange County…

Patient Bear, Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Alaska, Brown Bear, Katmai

This brown bear knows why it’s called “fishing” and not “catching”. On this overcast morning he waited nearly motionless atop the falls for an hour, watching the churning pools below the falls, before a school of salmon came up the river and gave him opportunities to catch a meal. Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Brown bear waits for salmon at Brooks Falls. Blurring of the water is caused by a long shutter speed. Brooks River, Ursus arctos, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Brown bear waits for salmon at Brooks Falls. Blurring of the water is caused by a long shutter speed. Brooks River.
Image ID: 17047
Species: Brown bear, Ursus arctos
Location: Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

Keywords: Brown bear photos, Grizzly bear photos