Monthly Archives

March 2011

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego

San Diego

Photos of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma, San Diego

When I went down to Point Loma to photograph downtown San Diego and Mount Laguna, I spent a while visiting beautiful and solemn Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. I was struck by the sheer number of tombstones covering the grassy rolling hills the overlook both San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. I felt a renewed and deep appreciation for the many heros buried at Fort Rosecrans as well as our country’s many other National Cemeteries.

Tombstones at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, with downtown San Diego with snow-covered Mt. Laguna in the distance

Tombstones at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, with downtown San Diego with snow-covered Mt. Laguna in the distance.
Image ID: 26593
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Image ID: 26572
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Image ID: 26573
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Image ID: 26571
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Downtown San Diego and Snow-Covered Mount Laguna

San Diego

Mount Laguna, covered in snow, rises over the downtown San Diego City Skyline

In Southern California we have the ability to go skiing or sledding in the morning and surfing in the afternoon! A couple times when I was growing up I was able to ditch school and go mid-week skiing in the local mountains and get back home in time to make a run on the beach. A novelty, sure, but there are not too many places one can experience both in a single day.** In late February we had a cold wet storm come through that left quite a bit of snow on the mountains east of downtown San Diego. I decided to make a photograph contrasting downtown San Diego with a snow-covered Mount Laguna in the distance. This is a composition that occasionally appears on the front page of the local paper, the emphasis being on the novelty of the snow in this city known for its mild and pleasant weather. However, the U-T usually shows a harsh mid-morning or daytime image. I wanted something with warmer and softer light than that, so I photographed this after sunset. In the foreground is part of North Island Naval Air Station’s complex of tarmacs, runways and hangars. The bright plume of white seen in the middle of the image comes from an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego Bay. Originally I liked the streak of light from a passing plane, but being a modern unethical photographer I now think I should remove it in Photoshop. OK, that last part was a lie.

I was in shorts and a t-shirt when I took this photograph but I am sure the folks on Mount Laguna were bundled up.

Dusk settles on downtown San Diego with snow-covered Mt. Laguna in the distance

Dusk settles on downtown San Diego with snow-covered Mt. Laguna in the distance.
Image ID: 26716
Location: San Diego, California, USA

**Another place I was able to play in the snow and swim in the ocean on the same day was at my aunt and uncles place on the Big Island. My uncle drove us from Kamuela on a dirt road to the top of Mauna Kea, where we ran around and got lightheaded from the altitude and slid down the snow-covered sides of the bowl alongside the astronomical observatories on top of the volcano. We drove back down and had pupus and an afternoon swim at the beach later that same day. Snow and surf.

See more photos of the downtown San Diego city skyline.

Tabular Iceberg Photos

Antarctica, Southern Ocean

Photos of Tabular Icebergs in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean

Some of the most impressive sights I beheld during my trip along the Antarctic Peninsula were enormous tabular icebergs. Tabular icebergs are sheets of ice, sometimes many miles long, that detach from Antarctica and travel with currents about the Southern Ocean. Tabular icebergs are characteristically flat in appearance, although their sides can be quite sheer and/or serrated. Like all icebergs, about 90% of the mass of a free-floating tabular iceberg is underwater. Tabular icebergs do run aground of course, in which case they can be canted at severe inclinations as they are pounded and broken apart by wave energy and other loose bergs.

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset.
Image ID: 24778
Location: Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound.
Image ID: 24783
Location: Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound.
Image ID: 24784
Location: Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Adams River Sockeye Salmon Swimming Upstream

Canada, Salmon

Sockeye Salmon swims upstream in the Adams River.

This is another sockeye salmon photograph (Oncorhynchus nerka) that took a while to grow on me, but which is now one of my favorites. Usually underwater photographers spend much of their time trying to eliminate backscatter and bubbles from their compositions, hoping for the clearest and most pristine rendition possible. For some reason, perhaps because I do not shoot underwater much anymore and have lost the grip I used to have on backscatter-free imagery, on this trip I deliberately placed my camera into some of the most turbulent, sand- and pebble-filled sections of the Adams River rapids. My hope was to make a few gritty images showing the sockeye salmon struggling against really difficult currents. While in most of my attempts this approach resulted in photographs in which the salmon is so heavily obscured by gook and turbulence as to be unusable, I did manage a few keepers with which I am happy. In these few frames — such as this one — the suspended sand and streaking bubbles add to the atmosphere of the image and help to describe the amazing migration story of these fascinating fish. I had to experiment and discover some different lighting techniques that allowed me to shed artificial light on the scene, balancing strobe light with the available sunlight while not highlighting the bubbles and sand any more than necessary. The trip ended up being one of the most challenging and technique-expanding underwater photography efforts I have made in years. I really hope to do it again.

Adams River sockeye salmon.  A female sockeye salmon swims upstream in the Adams River to spawn, having traveled hundreds of miles upstream from the ocean, Oncorhynchus nerka, Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Adams River sockeye salmon. A female sockeye salmon swims upstream in the Adams River to spawn, having traveled hundreds of miles upstream from the ocean.
Image ID: 26161
Species: Sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka
Location: Adams River, Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Photography efforts undertaken by permission of Fisheries and Ocean Canada and BC Parks.

Sockeye Salmon Migrating Up The Adams River

Canada, Salmon

A group of sockeye salmon school tightly as they migrate upstream in the Adams River.

In reviewing some images I shot last year I realized I almost trashed this one during the initial edit. I’m glad I saved it, because in the months since I shot it last October it has really grown on me. More than most of the sockeye salmon photographs (Oncorhynchus nerka) I made during my short day and a half at the Adams River, this photograph offers some intimacy and insight into the final weeks of life that sockeye salmon experience. The salmon migrate up the Fraser and Adams Rivers in large schools. At times they are “shoulder to shoulder”, pressed up against one another as they struggle against the neverending downstream current. Their bodies take on a rich crimson hue in their final weeks of life. That the color is “blood red” is poetic in a sense; it signifies their impending doom. They are struggling in the contest of their lives and even those individuals that successfully travel hundreds of miles from the Pacific Ocean to reach the spawning ground and produce eggs or sperm will still die. But perhaps the most appealing detail in this scene is the damage the salmon sustain in their migration. In the thousands of photographs I made of the spawning sockeye I did not see a single uninjured fish. Virtually every fish that reaches the Adams River looked “seriously thrashed”. Most injuries were contusions on the leading edges of the fishes jaws and head and on the dorsal, ventral and caudal fins. These appear to have arisen from collisions with rocks, branches and other obstacles that they slam into as they throw themselves upstream. It is a brutal pursuit. I have a newfound and keen appreciation for the hardiness of sockeye salmon after seeing the end of their migration firsthand and I hope the photographs I made will help convey that appreciation as they are used in publications in coming years.

Sockeye salmon, migrating upstream in the Adams River to return to the spot where they were hatched four years earlier, where they will spawn, lay eggs and die, Oncorhynchus nerka, Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Sockeye salmon, migrating upstream in the Adams River to return to the spot where they were hatched four years earlier, where they will spawn, lay eggs and die.
Image ID: 26149
Species: Sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka
Location: Adams River, Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Photography efforts undertaken by permission of Fisheries and Ocean Canada and BC Parks.

Sandhill Cranes at Sunset, Bosque Del Apache NWR

Birds, Bosque del Apache

Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) arrive at the “crane pools” at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge each evening. Having spent the day feeding in nearby corn fields, they will overnight standing on their long legs in the shallow pools, presumably so that they can rest in the dark with minimal threat of attack from coyotes. As the sun rises the next morning, they warm up and eventually depart to the corn fields again. This location is perhaps my favorite spot in all of Bosque del Apache. Skip and I made a point of being here for sunrise and sunset photography most days during our in visits to the Bosque in 2008 and 2010.

Sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with sandhill cranes silhouetted in reflection in the calm pond.  Spectacular sunsets at Bosque del Apache, rich in reds, oranges, yellows and purples, make for striking reflections of the thousands of cranes and geese found in the refuge each winter, Grus canadensis, Socorro, New Mexico

Sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with sandhill cranes silhouetted in reflection in the calm pond. Spectacular sunsets at Bosque del Apache, rich in reds, oranges, yellows and purples, make for striking reflections of the thousands of cranes and geese found in the refuge each winter.
Image ID: 21804
Species: Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA

Photography Travel Gear Checklist

Photography

Below is my pre-trip photography gear checklist, to make sure I don’t forget anything. On any photography trip I take it is guaranteed that I will forget something important, but by using my little list I keep the forgotten gear to a minimum and I can usually improvise with what I remembered to bring. Note that while this looks like a LOT OF STUFF, it all fits in one photo backpack (Thinktank international size) and one roller duffel. So I buzz through the airport with a minimum of hassle. The only time I have a problem is when I take both the 300 and 500. For most landscape travel I leave the telephotos at home and bring a single mid-zoom. Note that this is not my gear list for a diving trip, however, as that is a whole different can of worms!

Important: the photo posted here has nothing to do with a photography gear checklist.

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: 18009
Location: Navajo Tribal Lands, Page, Arizona, USA

Perhaps this gear list will be useful to you. If it is, cut and paste and modify it for your own purposes!

1Ds III and charger, spare battery
1Ds II and charger (time lapse, spare batteries ?)
5D II and charger, spare battery
15mm fish
16-35mm and polarizer
24-105 or 24-70 ? and polarizer
70-200 and polarizer
300
500 (and Wimberly head ?)
Teleconverters ?
All CF cards
Flash ? Better beamer ?
Timer remote controller (both ?)
Grad ND filters, ring, holders ?
ND filter (water ?)

Big tripod
Ball head
Small tripod (time lapse ?)
L plates for all bodies!
Extra base plate
Allen wrench for plates, ball head

AA Batteries and holder
GPS and memory card
Head lamps

Chapstick
Sunscreen
Mittens
Gloves
Woolen hat
Sunscreen hat
Ball cap
Sunglasses

IPad (sync)
Laptop ?
Colorspace and power cord

Printed copy of passport, drivers license, permits, flight itinerary

IPhone:
Passcode and lockout for travel
Sync calendar and contacts
Contacts for hotels, car, guides
Car charger / room charger
E copy passport, drivers license, permits, flight itinerary, car rental

Nav computer for rental car ?

Hiking leggings
Hiking pants
Running shorts
Shorts
Flipflops
Hiking shirts
Nice shirt
Fleece
Jacket
Boots

Cash and tip money
Charge cards
Gas cards
Drivers lic
Passport ?

Big backpack or small backpack
Hip sack
Tags on bags

Bars
Fruit
Water bottle
Wine and chocolate

This is a generic gear list of things I need to consider for any topside trip. If you want to see what I specifically took on my trip to Antarctica last year, and what I recommend for next time, see my Photography Gear List for Antarctica, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands.