Monthly Archives

December 2007

Best Photos of 2007

Best Photographs of the Year

Best Photos of 2007

I had a couple of fantastic road trips last year, putting big miles on my Expedition, including a winter trip through Utah and Arizona (where I was able to enjoy a number of iconic locations totally alone!), a long weekend in Minnesota, a memorable journey to Lake Clark National Park in Alaska, and a fall outing to Yellowstone with my daughter and my father where we toured the park and enjoyed the fall elk rut. Here are my favorite images from 2007:

Mesa Arch, Utah.  An exuberant hiker greets the dawning sun from atop Mesa Arch. Yup, that's me, Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Utah. An exuberant hiker greets the dawning sun from atop Mesa Arch. Yup, that’s me.
Image ID: 18036
Location: Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA

A hiker admiring the striated walls and dramatic light within Antelope Canyon, a deep narrow slot canyon formed by water and wind erosion, Navajo Tribal Lands, Page, Arizona

A hiker admiring the striated walls and dramatic light within Antelope Canyon, a deep narrow slot canyon formed by water and wind erosion.
Image ID: 17993
Location: Navajo Tribal Lands, Page, Arizona, USA

Black bear walking in a grassy meadow.  Black bears can live 25 years or more, and range in color from deepest black to chocolate and cinnamon brown.  Adult males typically weigh up to 600 pounds.  Adult females weight up to 400 pounds and reach sexual maturity at 3 or 4 years of age.  Adults stand about 3' tall at the shoulder, Ursus americanus, Orr, Minnesota

Black bear walking in a grassy meadow. Black bears can live 25 years or more, and range in color from deepest black to chocolate and cinnamon brown. Adult males typically weigh up to 600 pounds. Adult females weight up to 400 pounds and reach sexual maturity at 3 or 4 years of age. Adults stand about 3′ tall at the shoulder.
Image ID: 18744
Species: American black bear, Ursus americanus
Location: Orr, Minnesota, USA

Western gull, early morning pink sky, Larus occidentalis, La Jolla, California

Western gull, early morning pink sky.
Image ID: 18394
Species: Western gull, Larus occidentalis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Juvenile female coastal brown bear (grizzly bear) grazes on sedge grass, Ursus arctos, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

Juvenile female coastal brown bear (grizzly bear) grazes on sedge grass.
Image ID: 19137
Species: Brown bear, Ursus arctos
Location: Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, USA

The Kenai Mountains rise above thick ice sheets and the Harding Icefield which is one of the largest icefields in Alaska and gives rise to over 30 glaciers, Kenai Range, Kenai Fjords National Park

The Kenai Mountains rise above thick ice sheets and the Harding Icefield which is one of the largest icefields in Alaska and gives rise to over 30 glaciers.
Image ID: 19016
Location: Kenai Range, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, USA

Lunar eclipse sequence, showing total eclipse (left) through full moon (right).  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.  August 28, 2007, Earth Orbit, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, The Universe

Lunar eclipse sequence, showing total eclipse (left) through full moon (right). 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. August 28, 2007.
Image ID: 19392
Location: Earth Orbit, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, The Universe

A great white shark opens it mouth just before it attacks its prey with a crippling, powerful bite.  After the prey has been disabled, the shark will often wait for it to weaken from blood loss before resuming the attack.  If the shark looses a tooth in the course of the bite, a replacement just behind it will move forward to take its place, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

A great white shark opens it mouth just before it attacks its prey with a crippling, powerful bite. After the prey has been disabled, the shark will often wait for it to weaken from blood loss before resuming the attack. If the shark looses a tooth in the course of the bite, a replacement just behind it will move forward to take its place.
Image ID: 19452
Species: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 20051
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Coyote in snow covered field along the Madison River, Canis latrans, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Coyote in snow covered field along the Madison River.
Image ID: 19635
Species: Coyote, Canis latrans
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Grizzly bear in snow, Ursus arctos horribilis, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grizzly bear in snow.
Image ID: 19616
Species: Grizzly bear, Ursus arctos horribilis
Location: Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Madison River steaming in the cold air, sunrise, autumn, tall grasses and golden light, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Madison River steaming in the cold air, sunrise, autumn, tall grasses and golden light.
Image ID: 19592
Location: Madison River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Bull elk in sage brush with large rack of antlers during the fall rut (mating season).  This bull elk has sparred with other bulls to establish his harem of females with which he hopes to mate, Cervus canadensis, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Bull elk in sage brush with large rack of antlers during the fall rut (mating season). This bull elk has sparred with other bulls to establish his harem of females with which he hopes to mate.
Image ID: 19746
Species: Elk, Cervus canadensis
Location: Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Breaking wave, tube, hollow barrel, morning surf

Breaking wave, tube, hollow barrel, morning surf.
Image ID: 19567

Overcast Day in La Jolla

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

Check out our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

It looked beautiful out my front window this morning, so I headed off to La Jolla hoping for some sharp brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) flight shots. Not to be. The clouds had built up around Mt. Soledad by the time I got down there. I tried to salvage the morning with some blurred flight shots and got a couple of marginal keepers but the color of the light was weird (see shots below). What saved the morning from being a total loss was a small group of gregarious sea lions. Having been hauled out for a while most of them were a nice shade of blond (and dumb?).

Brown pelican in flight, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican in flight, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise.
Image ID: 20119
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California sea lions hauled out on rocks beside the ocean, Zalophus californianus, La Jolla

California sea lions hauled out on rocks beside the ocean.
Image ID: 20130
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican head throw, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise.  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, blurred due to long exposure before sunrise. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 20121
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Swirly Winds and Pelican Tips

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Photography, Wildlife

I got down to La Jolla again this morning. It looked clear when I left the house but when I checked the surf at Ponto it was bumpy so I decided no go on surf photos and went with the backup plan of birds for the second day in a row. I should have opened the car window, then I would have known how windy it was. Anyway, I get down to La Jolla, hop out of the car and my hair goes swirly, its really windy. I go to my favorite spot and watch all the birds looping around, riding the gusts and figuring out where to land. As the morning went on I saw Mike Wilson (whom I met a couple times last winter) as well as John Pelafigue again. I managed to get a few more good flight shots by handholding the 300. I ran into three more people who mentioned they had seen my blog comments on pelicans in La Jolla and found them helpful. So I’ve added a few more comments and and published them as a PDF file. Here it is:

Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched.  The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched. The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20083
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched.  The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched. The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. Adult winter non-breeding plumage showing white hindneck and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 20080
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Day After Christmas Sunrise Birds

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

I met photographer John Pelafigue this morning, a great guy from Humbolt whose website has some really fine images. I also bumped into Garry McCarthy whom I had not seen since bumping into him in La Jolla shooting birds a year ago. Like myself, Garry is an underwater photographer who has also taken up the curious habit of shooting photos on land. Its sad, really, when one gives up real photography for the less savory and more mundane terrestrial pursuit(cue: laugh). As far as my photography went, I had too much lens and my flight shots were pretty weak. I did get a couple pre-sunrise shots of of brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) about 7am, some 30 minutes before the sun tops Mt. Soledad and lights the birds:

Brown pelican, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults.  This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, winter adult breeding plumage, showing bright red gular pouch and dark brown hindneck plumage of breeding adults. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning.
Image ID: 20074
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican, non-breeding winter plumage.  This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican, non-breeding winter plumage. This large seabird has a wingspan over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, due largely to predation in the early 1900s and to decades of poor reproduction caused by DDT poisoning.
Image ID: 20078
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Pelican Flight in Butter Light

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Here are my two favorites from this morning. First is a brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) in sweet morning light, taken just as the sun rose high enough to clear Mt. Soledad and throw light on the pelicans on the cliff. Second is a shot showing the Scripps Institute of Oceanography research pier in the background. When I was in grad school at UCSD, I used to work in the Norpax building on the SIO campus (upper right in the photo), overlooking the ocean.

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 20051
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 20053
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Photo of a Brown Pelican in Flight

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Another shot of a California brown pelican in flight (Pelecanus occidentalis).

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched.  The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight, soaring over the ocean with its huge wings outstretched. The wingspan of the brown pelican can be over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.
Image ID: 20012
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See: brown pelican photos.

Photo of a Pelican In Flight

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

A portrait of a California brown pelican in flight (Pelecanus occidentalis). I shot quite a few sharp, crisp pelican shots by handholding the 500mm recently. Normally I just use it on a Wimberley gimbel head since the lens and camera are so heavy, but that combination is sometimes awkward when tracking flying birds. It can be hard to swing the lens through a large arc and keep the focus spot on the subject while following a fast-flying bird. I have heard other photographers insisting they can shoot tack sharp images of birds in flight by handholding the 500mm so I decided to give it a shot, and surprised myself with how many of the images were razor. I’ll be handholding more often in the future I think.

Brown pelican spreads its enormous wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs.  Brown pelicans appear awkward but in fact are superb and efficient fliers, ranging far over the ocean in search of fish to dive upon.  They typically nest on offshore islands and inaccessible ocean cliffs.  The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.  In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican spreads its enormous wings to slow before landing on seaside cliffs. Brown pelicans appear awkward but in fact are superb and efficient fliers, ranging far over the ocean in search of fish to dive upon. They typically nest on offshore islands and inaccessible ocean cliffs. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 20017
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See: brown pelican photos.

Photo of a Juvenile Brown Pelican

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Here is a shot of a juvenile California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). Pelicans tend to be ugly, and juveniles with their plain brown coloration and skinny frame are really ugly. It is hard to get a photograph of one of these prepubescent pelicans where the bird actually looks handsome. This is as close as I have come so far.

Juvenile California brown pelican in flight.  Note its drab brown colors, it is not mature enough to assume the more colorful plumage of adults.  The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Juvenile California brown pelican in flight. Note its drab brown colors, it is not mature enough to assume the more colorful plumage of adults. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status.
Image ID: 20046
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See: brown pelican photos.

The Coronados Islands, Their History and Environment

Islas Coronado, Mexico

Yesterday a copy of the new book, The Coronados Islands, Their History and Environment (Las Islas Coronados, una Historia y un Entorno Natural) arrived in our mailbox. It is very well done, the best treatment of the Coronado Islands (Las Islas Coronados) I have yet seen. Although I was contacted by the editors of the book for images related to the ecology and animal life at the Coronado Islands a couple of years ago, yesterday was the first time I had a chance to actually see the publication, which is printed in both Spanish and English with high quality printing and binding.

The book has some history. In 2003, Chevron proposed installing a $650 million liquified natural gas receiving terminal near the Coronado Islands, which are only about 8.5 miles from the Tijuana coast and just a 1-2 hour boat ride from San Diego. The book is derived from a large body of data that was collected during the permit process and includes interesting material about the history and ecology of the islands along with many photographs. Chevron received approval for the project but ultimately withdrew for economic reasons. Fortunately, the book was still produced and is now a publicly accessible distillation of all that research data. It is being distributed at no cost to many educational institutions in Mexico.

Check out the cover. The top photo showing all three islands was made by Alfonso Caraveo Castro, who contributed most of the images in the book. The middle photo, of fishes swimming in a kelp forest, and bottom photo, of a huge blue whale raising its fluke out of the water before diving, are mine.

Skip Stubbs at Bosque del Apache

Skip's Trips

Skip recently spent several days with Bob and Rosie photographing sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) and snow geese (Chen caerulescens) at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. I had hoped to join them but my schedule just did not allow for it. He got some super shots, I’m pretty envious, way to go Skip! Here are two that I thought were especially nice:


Click the images above to see more of the photos that Skip scored. I have to get out there next year.