Monthly Archives

August 2011

Stock Photo Gallery: Icebergs

Antarctica, Galleries, Southern Ocean

Stock photos of Icebergs

One of my goals in January 2010 when I traveled to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica was to make a series of good iceberg photos. I think I succeeded! It was wonderful cruising around the Antarctic Peninsula and witnessing the variety of shapes, sizes and hues of the thousands of icebergs that we saw there. We also saw impressive icebergs in the South Orkney Islands (Coronation Island) as well as a few around South Georgia Island. Click the image below to see my Gallery of Iceberg Photos. Thanks for looking!

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset.

New Work – August 2011

Galleries, New Work

If you want to go straight to the good stuff and skip my base prose, visit my “New Work” gallery!

My latest sampling of new photography originates from a variety of great outdoor experiences, all with my family and a couple of good friends. All of these images were produced during family travel (with kids alongside!) or on weekend-warrior outings, which means all of these photographs are attainable with reasonably little effort. If you like these, hopefully that will be encouraging and you can go out and make your own similar outdoor photos! However, I am holding back one image in particular shot during the last 8 weeks. It is truly a lifetime image, and represents the very best that I can do with a camera in the wild. It was an opportunity presented to me after about 18 years of waiting, and to my surprise I did not screw it up, and came home with a real keeper. I need to consider how best to market and publish it along with others from that same sequence. I look forward to sharing it on my website someday, but that may not be for some time. So, with that curious exception noted, the best images from the last two months for me are found in my New Work” gallery (that’s your cue to click on it).

Thanks for looking!

Old Faithful geyser, sunrise.  Reaching up to 185' in height and lasting up to 5 minutes, Old Faithful geyser is the most famous geyser in the world and the first geyser in Yellowstone to be named, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Old Faithful geyser, sunrise. Reaching up to 185′ in height and lasting up to 5 minutes, Old Faithful geyser is the most famous geyser in the world and the first geyser in Yellowstone to be named.
Image ID: 26939
Location: Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California, sunrise light just touching clouds and the Sierra Nevada. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky.  These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them

Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California, sunrise light just touching clouds and the Sierra Nevada. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky. These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them.
Image ID: 26979
Location: Bishop, California, USA

Water falling from the fluke (tail) of a humpback whale as the whale dives to forage for food in the Santa Barbara Channel, Megaptera novaeangliae, Santa Rosa Island, California

Water falling from the fluke (tail) of a humpback whale as the whale dives to forage for food in the Santa Barbara Channel.
Image ID: 27029
Species: Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
Location: Santa Rosa Island, California, USA

UCSD Library glows at sunset (Geisel Library, UCSD Central Library), University of California, San Diego

UCSD Library glows at sunset (Geisel Library, UCSD Central Library).
Image ID: 26908
Location: University of California, San Diego, USA

This months new work originates from the following locations:

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, California
The Pacific Ocean, Offshore of Southern California
Mono Lake, California
Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, California
Convict Lake, California
Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, California
University of California, San Diego
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, California

Convict Lake Sunrise, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California

Sierra Nevada

Convict Lake is a small lake at the foot of Laurel Mountain and Mount Morrison, in the Sherwin Range of the Sierra Nevada, California. Convict Lake is named for a group of convicts that escaped from Carson City, fled to and were apprehended after a shootout. Convict Lake is a popular fishing lake in the summer and is frequently stocked with trout. I happened to make two early morning stops at Convict Lake this summer, and these are the sunrises that I saw there:

Convict Lake sunrise reflection, Sierra Nevada mountains

Convict Lake sunrise reflection, Sierra Nevada mountains.
Image ID: 26974

Sunrise and storm clouds over Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain, Eastern Sierra Nevada

Sunrise and storm clouds over Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain, Eastern Sierra Nevada.
Image ID: 26858
Location: California, USA

Humpback Whale Fluke ID Identification Photos

Humpback Whale

It has been 10+ years since I last worked at making fluke ID photos, but it’s just like riding a bike and one never forgets and I had some success at it yesterday. What is a “fluke ID photo” you ask? The underside (ventral surface) of the fluke (tail) of some species of whales — including most notably humpback whales — typically has permanent visible characteristics, such as light or dark patches, scratches, dots, scars, etc. that allow an individual whale to be identified. Whale researchers, including Dan Salden of Hawaii Whale Research Foundation with whom I worked from some years, maintain growing catalogs of humpback whale fluke ID photographs, allowing them to gain an understanding of where individual whales have been over time and, by extension, develop insight into the population as a whole.

Yesterday I went on a whale watching trip in the Santa Barbara Channel. This is a good time of year to see whales along California as they are moving generally northward along the coast and foraging for krill and schools of small fish. The trip was organized by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Cetacean Society using the boat “Condor Express”. We saw a few dozen humpback whales and a half dozen blue whales, and the seas were nice and flat. The weather was heavily overcast which is terrible for photography, so I resigned myself to use the longest lens I had and focus on practicing making fluke ID photos. I made clean fluke ID photos of 16 different humpback whales, so all I can say for certain is that there were at least 16 humpbacks that we saw. Some on the boat commented that we saw many more humpbacks than that, but looking closely at the fluke ID photos (as well as dorsal fins, which are good secondary ID devices) along with the corresponding times at which they were taken I figure that I personally saw about 18-22 humpbacks. It’s tough to know for sure when 80% or more of the animal is underwater 90% of the time. I totally made up those percentages by the way.

Here are the 16 humpback whales that gave it up for me on this trip: http://www.oceanlight.com/log/img/humpback-whale-fluke-id-identification-photos/ along with a few select ones below.


Salps, Pelagic Tunicates, Cyclosalpa Affinis

California, Underwater Life, Underwater Photography

Photos of Salps, Pelagic Tunicates, Plankton

This summer I’ve been fortunate to get out on the ocean a few times, and each time we have seen an incredible abundance of pelagic tunicates, in particular the species Cyclosalpa affinis. These open ocean planktonic animals largely drift with ocean currents, although they do have the ability to pump water through their bodies and propel themselves to a certain degree. Typically, the salps that I have seen are in some colonial form, either in rings or in chains of rings. Sometimes an individual salp is observed reproducing, producing a much smaller chain of miniature salps. A few of my salp photos were shot some years ago on SCUBA, but most of the ones on my website now were made freediving (snorkling, breathholding diving) so you can see they are often quite shallow. Salps will often be at or near the ocean surface at night or if the weather is overcast, and will sink 20′ or 30′ when the sun comes out.

Freediving photographer in a cloud of salps, gelatinous zooplankton that drifts with open ocean currents, San Diego, California

Freediving photographer in a cloud of salps, gelatinous zooplankton that drifts with open ocean currents.
Image ID: 27012
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Salp (pelagic tunicate) reproduction, open ocean, Cyclosalpa affinis, San Diego, California

Salp (pelagic tunicate) reproduction, open ocean.
Image ID: 01263
Species: Salp, Cyclosalpa affinis
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Colonial planktonic pelagic tunicate, adrift in the open ocean, forms rings and chains as it drifts with ocean currents, Cyclosalpa affinis, San Diego, California

Colonial planktonic pelagic tunicate, adrift in the open ocean, forms rings and chains as it drifts with ocean currents.
Image ID: 26819
Species: Salp, Cyclosalpa affinis
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Freediver photographing pelagic gelatinous zooplankton, adrift in the open ocean, Cyclosalpa affinis, San Diego, California

Freediver photographing pelagic gelatinous zooplankton, adrift in the open ocean.
Image ID: 26818
Species: Salp, Cyclosalpa affinis
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Photos of Vernal Falls and the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park

Sarah and I recently made our somewhat-annual hike up the Mist Trail in Yosemite, enjoying the heights and sounds of Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, as well as the Panorama Trail. It was not a serious photography outing since I was huffin’ and puffin’ just keeping up with Sarah who is a serious hiker and in better condition than I. We did make a stop just below Vernal Falls where we made the photo below. This is a place at which I always stop for a photo, and often there is a rainbow in the composition (see bottom of this post). On this day, however, breaking out the camera was especially difficult because of the enormous amounts of spray produced by near-record flow in the Merced River. I had about a second to get the shot before the lens would fog over with spray. I tried a dozen times and then gave up not wanting to damage the camera. I got this one keeper frame out of the attempts.

Vernal Falls and Merced River in spring, heavy flow due to snow melt in the high country above Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Vernal Falls and Merced River in spring, heavy flow due to snow melt in the high country above Yosemite Valley.
Image ID: 26878
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

While we were hiking, we discussed the potential pitfalls of the hike, the short sections of the steps leading up to Vernal Fall which are most dangerous, where a simple slip can lead to a deadly fall down the steep and slippery rock apron and into the raging Merced. We also discussed the danger around the top of Vernal and Nevada falls, each of which has seductive and exceeding risky brinks. She got the message and I didn’t browbeat her too much, but quietly kept her within arms reach during some of those more nervous sections of the hike.

A few weeks later I had a somewhat unsettling experience. After enjoying a family reunion in Yellowstone during which I had the phone and email turned off for a week, I returned to my office to find that the most popular images on my website for the previous week were all images of Vernal Falls. Then, catching up on messages, I found two urgent calls from news organizations asking for images of the falls to run in breaking news stories. “Uh oh.” Indeed, with a quick search of recent headlines I learned that three young people had tragically died after slipping into the Merced above Vernal Falls and going over the edge. What a terrible event, for the three young hikers but also for all the others present on the brink of Vernal Falls at the time it happened. I felt sick in the gut, knowing Sarah and I had been there just a few days prior, walking those same steps and having one of the most enjoyable days together we have ever shared. With just a small misstep, the Mist Trail can turn deadly, and indeed it does almost every year. This year the Mist Trail has claimed at least four lives. Yet, it remains one of my favorite trails and I will continue to hike it with Tracy and the girls as long as they can tolerate my slowing pace and lame jokes.

About the Hike: Spring is the time to visit Vernal Falls and the famous Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park. Vernal Falls is at peak flow in late May and June, the weather is usually pleasant and the dogwoods are in bloom on the valley floor. We try to make a springtime visit to Yosemite each year to hike the Mist Trail with our daughters. We get soaked by the falls on the way up, soak in the sun and dry off at the top, enjoy a lunch of trail mix and Clif bars alongside other hikers, and leisurely make our way back down the trail later in the afternoon. If one times his visit to Vernal Falls at midday, a rainbow is often visible in front of the falls when viewed from the trail just 100 yards away.

Vernal Falls at peak flow in late spring, with a rainbow appearing in the spray of the falls, viewed from the Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

Vernal Falls at peak flow in late spring, with a rainbow appearing in the spray of the falls, viewed from the Mist Trail.
Image ID: 12634
Location: Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Sky Rock Petroglyphs, Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, California

Sierra Nevada

Photograph of Sky Rock Petroglyphs, Bishop, California.

For some years I’ve wanted to see the Sky Rock Petroglyphs, a secluded and unusual set of petroglyphs located in the Volcanic Tablelands near Bishop, California. The Sky Rock Petroglyphs sit atop of an enormous volcanic block. The petroglyphs — dozens of them in many shapes and forms — face the sky, thus lending Sky Rock its name. My understanding is that Sky Rock’s orientation toward the heavens is unusual, but also curious is that this set of petroglyphs sits alone, isolated some 5+ miles from the rich Chalfant, Chidalgo and Red Rock petroglyph collections. Chipped into the rock, through the darker “desert varnish” that typically covers the exterior of such rocks, the Sky Rock Petroglyphs expose the lighter-colored rock underneath. The history of Sky Rock is not clear to me, although I have seen a number of published suggestions that the Sky Rock Petroglyphs were perhaps created by ancestors of what are today known as the Owens Valley Paiute (or Shoshone-Paiute) people.

Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California, sunrise light just touching clouds and the Sierra Nevada. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky.  These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them

Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California, sunrise light just touching clouds and the Sierra Nevada. Hidden atop an enormous boulder in the Volcanic Tablelands lies Sky Rock, a set of petroglyphs that face the sky. These superb examples of native American petroglyph artwork are thought to be Paiute in origin, but little is known about them.
Image ID: 26979
Location: Bishop, California, USA

Sky Rock is a special place, indeed. It was fascinating to see it firsthand and consider the artist who, probably many hundreds of years ago, composed the intricate petroglyph forms. While looking at it we realized very few, if any, of the shapes were recognizable. In the way that other famous artists in history have done, Sky Rock’s talented creator produced a work that captivates and intrigues and will outlive him for centuries – a distinction that most artists (and photographers) hope to achieve.

Thanks for looking! I have a few more Sky Rock Petroglyph photos. Also see my gallery of California photos and Sierra Nevada photos.

iPhone Panoramic Photography, #3

iPhone

iPhone Panoramic Photos.

If you like these, be sure to see my first set of iPhone Panorama Photos and a second set of iPhone Panorama Photos.

Why do I shoot photos with the iPhone when I have a “real camera”? Quite often we are out and about scouting locations to shoot later in better light. The iPhone lets me take a record of the place so I can better plan my return. Sometimes the iPhone panorama results are pretty good in and of themselves. And simply put, spinning off a panorama with a phone camera is fun, my kids love it and I don’t blame them. The Autostitch iPhone app ($2.99) lets you make a panorama in the phone itself and then upload it to Facebook or email it to friends. I usually keep the original photos on the phone until I get home so that I can stitch the panorama using Photoshop CS5 on cylindrical or spherical photo merge settings. Then I judge whether its worth keeping or not. Below are some new iPhone panoramic photographs, made on a quick trip up the Eastern Sierra Nevada to photograph Mono Lake and Sky Rock. These are all shot with the iPhone 4 and stitched with Photoshop CS5. Each of these panoramic iPhone photos links to a 2000-pixel version, but the full size of the largest of these is about 5000 x 11000 pixels — pretty big. Last weekend I also made a mosaic image — like a panorama but not quite — consisting of 125 iPhone photos blended together, and the resulting composite image weighs in at a whopping 600+ megabytes!

I’m processing “real” versions of these images and they will be included in my main stock photography collection soon…