Monthly Archives

December 2009

Best Photos of 2009

Best Photographs of the Year

Best Photos of 2009

Looking back on 2009, I realize I was fortunate to spend a lot of time outdoors — alone, with my family and with friends old and new — pursuing photographs and adventure. During the course of those outings I brought back some images I am proud of, and which bring back fond memories. Without further ado, here are my twelve favorite images of the last year, my “Best Photos of 2009”:

Half Dome and storm clouds at sunset, viewed from Sentinel Bridge, Yosemite National Park, California

Half Dome and storm clouds at sunset, viewed from Sentinel Bridge.
Image ID: 22744
Location: Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Bald eagle spreads its wings to land amid a large group of bald eagles, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Haliaeetus leucocephalus washingtoniensis, Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska

Bald eagle spreads its wings to land amid a large group of bald eagles.
Image ID: 22588
Species: Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Haliaeetus leucocephalus washingtoniensis
Location: Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska, USA

San Diego Coronado Bridge, known locally as the Coronado Bridge, links San Diego with Coronado, California.  The bridge was completed in 1969 and was a toll bridge until 2002.  It is 2.1 miles long and reaches a height of 200 feet above San Diego Bay.  Coronado Island is to the left, and downtown San Diego is to the right in this view looking north

San Diego Coronado Bridge, known locally as the Coronado Bridge, links San Diego with Coronado, California. The bridge was completed in 1969 and was a toll bridge until 2002. It is 2.1 miles long and reaches a height of 200 feet above San Diego Bay. Coronado Island is to the left, and downtown San Diego is to the right in this view looking north.
Image ID: 22288
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Brown pelican preening, cleaning its feathers after foraging on the ocean, with distinctive winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican preening, cleaning its feathers after foraging on the ocean, with distinctive winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch.
Image ID: 22527
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California sea lions, underwater at Santa Barbara Island.  Santa Barbara Island, 38 miles off the coast of southern California, is part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park.  It is home to a large population of sea lions, Zalophus californianus

California sea lions, underwater at Santa Barbara Island. Santa Barbara Island, 38 miles off the coast of southern California, is part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park. It is home to a large population of sea lions.
Image ID: 23422
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California, USA

Torrey Pines State Beach, sandstone cliffs rise above the beach at Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Beach, sandstone cliffs rise above the beach at Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Image ID: 22435
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

Joshua tree, sunrise, infrared, Yucca brevifolia, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua tree, sunrise, infrared.
Image ID: 22888
Species: Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

A giant sequoia tree, soars skyward from the forest floor, lit by the morning sun and surrounded by other sequioas.  The massive trunk characteristic of sequoia trees is apparent, as is the crown of foliage starting high above the base of the tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

A giant sequoia tree, soars skyward from the forest floor, lit by the morning sun and surrounded by other sequioas. The massive trunk characteristic of sequoia trees is apparent, as is the crown of foliage starting high above the base of the tree.
Image ID: 23259
Species: Giant sequoia tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum
Location: Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Garibaldi and golden gorgonian, with a underwater forest of giant kelp rising in the background, underwater, Muricea californica, Hypsypops rubicundus, Catalina Island

Garibaldi and golden gorgonian, with a underwater forest of giant kelp rising in the background, underwater.
Image ID: 23432
Species: California golden gorgonian, Muricea californica, Hypsypops rubicundus
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

An explosion of yellow and orange color, aspen trees changing color in fall, autumn approaches, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

An explosion of yellow and orange color, aspen trees changing color in fall, autumn approaches.
Image ID: 23325
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

San Diego city skyline at night, showing the buildings of downtown San Diego reflected in the still waters of San Diego Harbor, viewed from Coronado Island

San Diego city skyline at night, showing the buildings of downtown San Diego reflected in the still waters of San Diego Harbor, viewed from Coronado Island.
Image ID: 22250
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Old car lying in dirt field, Bodie State Historical Park, California

Old car lying in dirt field.
Image ID: 23112
Location: Bodie State Historical Park, California, USA

See also:

Best Photos of 2008
Best Photos of 2007

National Wildlife Photo Contest Winner

Canyonlands, Utah

The National Wildlife photo contest is the only one of the “big three”** in which I have not had any luck — until now. After taking a hiatus from contests for about 8 years, something possessed me to enter this year. Lo-and-behold the image below caught the judges’ notice and won first place in the professional division of “Connecting People and Nature”, and is featured along with 17 other super images in the December/January 2010 issue of National Wildlife magazine.

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

This is a self portrait. I was alone this morning at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. It was a cold but clear January morning with some snow on the ground. I used a Canon 1Ds Mark II camera and 15mm fisheye lens. I put the camera on timer, quickly walked up on the arch, raised my hands the way I do when my daughter scores a goal, and click. The view from atop the arch, looking down the wall to the canyon below, was exhilirating.

**The “big three” photo contests, at least for wildlife, outdoor and nature photographers, are the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the Nature’s Best photography contest and the National Wildlife photo contest. For ocean-oriented photographers, Nature’s Best also sponsors the Ocean Views contest.

Note: Performed by a trained professional stunt photographer. Do not try this at home. Photography is an inherently dangerous and frustrating pursuit. You can and will die photographing landscapes.

Sea Lions of Santa Barbara Island

Sea Lion

Santa Barbara Island Sea Lions

Santa Barbara Island, part of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, is home to a large population of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Since Santa Barbara Island lies only 38 miles off the coast of Southern California, it is possible to visit the island by boat and dive there. Diving with sea lions is lots of fun, and the best opportunities I have had to dive with sea lions in the United States have been at Santa Barbara Island. If you like these you can see more of my stock photos of California sea lions.

California sea lions, socializing/resting, Webster Point rookery, Santa Barbara Island, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Zalophus californianus

California sea lions, socializing/resting, Webster Point rookery, Santa Barbara Island, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Image ID: 06284
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California, USA

California sea lions, underwater at Santa Barbara Island.  Santa Barbara Island, 38 miles off the coast of southern California, is part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park.  It is home to a large population of sea lions, Zalophus californianus

California sea lions, underwater at Santa Barbara Island. Santa Barbara Island, 38 miles off the coast of southern California, is part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park. It is home to a large population of sea lions.
Image ID: 23422
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California, USA

The smallest of the California Channel Islands, Santa Barbara Island is only one square mile in size. Formed by underwater volcanic activity, Santa Barbara Island is roughly triangular in outline and emerges from the ocean as a twin-peaked mesa with steep cliffs. In 1602, explorer Sebastian Vizcaino named Santa Barbara Island in honor of the saint whose day is December 4th, the day he arrived. Today, visitors can camp and hike on the island under the management of the National Park Service, and boaters visit the island for fishing, kayaking and scuba diving.

The rocky shores of Santa Barbara Island provide resting and breeding areas for California sea lions, harbor seals and northern elephant seals. These marine mammals feed in the rich kelp forests surrounding the island. The raucous barking of the sea lions can be heard from most areas of the island. On land these animals appear ungainly, but underwater they are agile and quick. Nothing is better than being mobbed by a dozen or more young sea lions, curiously nibbling on dive equipment and leaving contrails of bubbles in their wake as they speed by.

California sea lion, underwater at Santa Barbara Island.  Santa Barbara Island, 38 miles off the coast of southern California, is part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park.  It is home to a large population of sea lions, Zalophus californianus

California sea lion, underwater at Santa Barbara Island. Santa Barbara Island, 38 miles off the coast of southern California, is part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park. It is home to a large population of sea lions.
Image ID: 23418
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California, USA

California sea lion, Webster Point rookery, Zalophus californianus, Santa Barbara Island

California sea lion, Webster Point rookery.
Image ID: 03803
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California, USA

Keywords: Santa Barbara Island, California sea lion, Zalophus californianus.