Monthly Archives

January 2014

Gray Whale Aerial Photos, Eschrichtius robustus, California

Aerial Photography

Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) migrate from the Bering Sea in Alaska down the west coast of the United States to the “calving lagoons” of Baja California. (A small number of grays whales also live in the extreme western Pacific.) This migration is considered the longest of any mammal. Calves are typically, but not always, born in or very near the Baja California lagoons but are sometimes born north of there, during the southern migration. I have encountered one gray whale mother and newborn gray whale calf well to the north, in the cold gray waters of Big Sur, about 20 years ago. I recently had another special opportunity to photograph gray whales during their southern migration, this time from the air. Southern California had experienced a high pressure weather system that cleared out the air and laid the seas down flat. The best time to fly in such conditions is in the last days of the high pressure, before it breaks. We had clear skies, flat oceans, great visibility, and did see a few whales. These photos are tagged with their exact GPS locations (sometimes I get requests for info from cetacean researchers). Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place, Eschrichtius robustus, San Clemente

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place.
Image ID: 29001
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA

Gray whale blowing at the ocean surface, exhaling and breathing as it prepares to dive underwater, Eschrichtius robustus, Encinitas, California

Gray whale blowing at the ocean surface, exhaling and breathing as it prepares to dive underwater.
Image ID: 29045
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Encinitas, California, USA

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place, Eschrichtius robustus, San Clemente

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place.
Image ID: 29031
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA

Gray whales traveling south to Mexico during their winter migration.  The annual migration of the California gray whale is the longest known migration of any mammal, 10,000 to 12,000 miles from the Bering Sea to Baja California, Eschrichtius robustus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

Gray whales traveling south to Mexico during their winter migration. The annual migration of the California gray whale is the longest known migration of any mammal, 10,000 to 12,000 miles from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
Image ID: 29048
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

Gray whale diving below the ocean surface, leaving a footprint in its wake.  Aerial photo, Eschrichtius robustus, Encinitas, California

Gray whale diving below the ocean surface, leaving a footprint in its wake. Aerial photo.
Image ID: 29037
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Encinitas, California, USA

Sea Turtle, Galapagos, Black and White

Galapagos Diaries, Marine Life, Underwater Life, Underwater Photography

I have made a lot of dives in the Galapagos Islands, and one of my favorite creatures to see underwater is the sea turtle. The ungainly-looking animals are actually quite hydrodynamic and can navigate the surge, currents and waves to graze on algae along the reef. These two turtles were encountered at remote Wolf Island (Wenman Island) in the far northern reaches of the Galapagos archipelago. In the first image, a school of ever-present Pacific creole fish surrounds the turtle; its distinctive tail gives away that it is a male. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white, Wolf Island

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white.
Image ID: 16382
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white, Wolf Island

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white.
Image ID: 16383
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Medano Beach Sunrise, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Mexico, Sea of Cortez

Medano Beach, the beautiful long sand beach fronting the bay of Cabo San Lucas, can be crowded and busy with tourists, but I found that it was peaceful and quiet each morning.

Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Image ID: 28948
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Surf fisherman on Medano Beach at sunrise, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Surf fisherman on Medano Beach at sunrise, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Image ID: 28953
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Image ID: 28955
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Sunrise on Medano Beach, on the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Image ID: 28946
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Resort hotels on the beach in Cabo San Lucas

Resort hotels on the beach in Cabo San Lucas
Image ID: 28954
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Image ID: 28947
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sand in front of resorts on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Image ID: 28949
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

New Work – January 2014

New Work

October 2013 through January 2014 took my cameras and me around San Diego for sunrise scenes as well as up into the sky around Cabo San Lucas and over gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) during their southern migration off the coast of Southern California. Below are a few of my favorites from the last several months; see more in my gallery of new images released January 2014. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Hospital Point, La Jolla, dawn, sunrise light and approaching storm clouds

Hospital Point, La Jolla, dawn, sunrise light and approaching storm clouds.
Image ID: 28851
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place, Eschrichtius robustus, San Clemente

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place.
Image ID: 29017
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA

North Coronado Island, Mexico, northern point looking south with Middle and South Islands in the distance, aerial photograph, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

North Coronado Island, Mexico, northern point looking south with Middle and South Islands in the distance, aerial photograph.
Image ID: 29052
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy
Image ID: 29085
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Oceanside Pier at Dawn

Oceanside Pier at Dawn
Image ID: 28878
Location: Oceanside, California, USA

Aerial photograph of Land's End and the Arch, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Aerial photograph of Land’s End and the Arch, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Image ID: 28890
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

Residential and resort development along the coast near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Residential and resort development along the coast near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Image ID: 28926
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico

California Brown Pelicans, Winter Plumage, La Jolla

Pelicans

The plumage of La Jolla’s California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) has been especially striking this year, it seems there are more really red throats and deep brown necked adult brown pelicans on the bluffs than usual. I also find it interesting how much color variation there is in the bills of these birds, from pink and red to gray to white or sometimes near black. The last two weeks have had exceptional weather with clear dry offshores, which makes for good photography. It really has been like shooting fish in a barrel, the great conditions combined with the latest autofocus gear makes flight photography a breeze. I drove down the coast to admire the waves at sunrise, and stopped for a bit in La Jolla. There was ideal light plus a large swell that arrived yesterday had the water stirred up far below making for slight different texture to the background of portrait and flight photos. These are the images I kept from this morning; all were shot handheld with a 5DIII and 300/2.8, they razor sharp on the eyes and little or no cropping needed. If you like these, please see more California brown pelican photos or a little PDF e-guide about this choice spot. Cheers and thanks for looking!

California 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

California 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: 29086
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy
Image ID: 29085
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 29084
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying 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 portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 29087
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying 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 portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 29088
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 29089
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

La Jolla Bluffs, Gulls, Cormorants and Pelicans

Pelicans

I have not been down to the La Jolla bluffs to see the birds for a couple weeks to see my favorite seabirds, the California race of the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), so I thought I would take a look this morning. I had hoped the projected swell would be up this morning, allowing for flight shots over breaking surf, but it looks like the waves will not arrive until tomorrow. Its a good thing I waited until the weekend, as a buddy who was just there mentioned that the situation was less than copecetic when he photographed there yesterday. This morning was slow on the bird action but still fun, and I bumped into a couple San Diego photographers I had not seen in a year so that was nice. I took very few photos, instead taking in the warm sun. It was nearly glass calm all morning. This is what I kept from this morning, all shot handheld with 5DIII and 300/2.8, razor sharp on the eyes and little or no cropping needed:

California 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

California 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: 28968
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 28969
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 28970
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying 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 portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 28979
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See more California brown pelican photos and a little PDF e-guide about this choice spot.

Torrey Pines Sunrise in San Diego Magazine

San Diego

One of my favorite shots from 2013 was featured as a nice-looking spread in the January issue of San Diego Magazine: Torrey Pines State Reserve’s famous “Broken Hill” at sunrise, with La Jolla and the Pacific in the background. (Here is a link to the full-width pano: Torrey Pines Broken Hill panoramic photo.) I had a cover for San Diego Magazine a couple years ago, but this is the first interior full page image I have had with them. Thanks San Diego Magazine!

California Brown Pelicans in Flight, La Jolla, California

Pelicans

The morning light along our coast has been very nice lately, not to mention our temps have been balmy while the rest of the country is in deep freeze. I’ve had a couple nice morning sessions photographing my favorite seabirds, the California race of the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), including some views of adults in winter plumage (red/olive throat, white/yellow head, chestnut brown hindneck, both mating and non-mating varieties) against not only blue water but also rocks and shadowed sea cliffs.

California 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

California 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: 28968
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

These were all made this morning with a full frame camera and 300mm f/2.8 lens, hand-held, on the upper part of the bluff in La Jolla. I choose to shoot only on clear sky mornings, and don’t begin shooting until the sun just crests Mount Soledad and begins to shine on the pelicans as they approach the bluff in flight (I have enough photos of pelicans in shadow that frankly I never want another). That would be about 7:40 these days, although I do arrive early so I can slowly find a position before the homecoming birds arrive without disturbing the ones that are already there. I try not to focus on immature pelicans any longer; it might be good practice but their coloration just does not make for appealing images (except as documentary shots which serious bird photographers shoot much better than I). I position myself so that the light is over my shoulder and my shadow is pointed where I think the pelicans will be, and then I wait and wait and wait until a pelican crosses through the waiting composition. (I use the same technique underwater shooting sharks and sea lions, choosing a composition that makes good use of the light and my focal length and then waiting for the subjects to play their part). This morning I only had about 6-8 decent flight passes by mature adults, but they were productive and I managed a keeper from each one. If you are curious, I’ve compiled my thoughts on photographing California brown pelicans in La Jolla in a PDF article. Cheers and thanks for looking!

California 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

California 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: 28969
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 28972
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 28970
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying 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 portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 28979
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 28977
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California 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

California 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: 28971
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Seabird Entanglement in Monofilament Fishing Line

Environmental Problems, Pelicans

Unfortunately, I have another image of wildlife entanglement to share, this time a California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) entangled in monofilament fishing line. This seabird appeared to me to have ingested a hook or lure, so that one end of the monofilament fishing line was down its throat while the remainder of the line was wrapped in and around the pelican’s beak and neck. I have other photos of monofilament fishing line injury to marine wildlife. I also had a blog post some time ago about Seabird and Sea Lion Entanglement Photos.

Brown pelican, entangled in monofilament fishing line, showing winter mating plumage colors, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican, entangled in monofilament fishing line, showing winter mating plumage colors
Image ID: 28966
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ghost Cormorant

Abstract, Birds

A cormorant speeds home to its nest in the La Jolla seacliffs, flying just above the waves. Shot long before sunrise, this image is blurred from the long time the shutter was open.