Category

Sierra Nevada

Natural History Photography – Best Photos of 2017

Aerial Photography, Best Photographs of the Year, Catalina, Clipperton Island, Hornby Island, La Jolla, Revillagigedos Islands, San Diego, Sea Lion, Sea of Cortez, Sharks, Sierra Nevada, Underwater Photography, Wildflowers

My Best Natural History Photographs of 2017

2017 offered opportunities for me to visit remote and seldom-seen Clipperton Island, frolic with enormous Steller Sea Lions in the chilly waters of British Columbia, photograph (again) the wonderful underwater and aerial views of the Sea of Cortez, hike among Southern California’s technicolor hillsides during 2017’s amazing springtime Super Bloom, spend hours hanging out with a huge courting aggregation of Black Sea Bass amid Catalina’s gorgeous kelp forests and photograph some aerial views of America’s Finest City, San Diego.

This is the eleventh year in a row I have done an annual retrospective. My creative goal for any one year is, as it always has been, to shoot 3-4 world-class images and 10-15 portfolio-quality images. Below are my favorites from 2017. If you like these feel free to check out previous years’ favorites as well: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007. Cheers and Thanks for looking!

Steller sea lion underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada, Eumetopias jubatus

Steller sea lion underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada
Image ID: 32661
Species: Steller sea lion, Eumetopias jubatus
Location: Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada

Steller sea lions underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada, Eumetopias jubatus

Steller sea lions underwater, Norris Rocks, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada
Image ID: 32663
Species: Steller sea lion, Eumetopias jubatus
Location: Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada

Plumose Anemone, Metridium farcimen, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Metridium farcimen

Plumose Anemone, Metridium farcimen, Hornby Island, British Columbia
Image ID: 32809
Species: Giant Plumose Anemone, Metridium farcimen
Location: Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada

Aerial panorama of Clipperton Island, showing the entire atoll.  Clipperton Island, a minor territory of France also known as Ile de la Passion, is a small (2.3 sq mi) but  spectacular coral atoll in the eastern Pacific. By permit HC / 1485 / CAB (France)

Aerial panorama of Clipperton Island, showing the entire atoll. Clipperton Island, a minor territory of France also known as Ile de la Passion, is a small (2.3 sq mi) but spectacular coral atoll in the eastern Pacific. By permit HC / 1485 / CAB (France)
Image ID: 32889
Location: Clipperton Island, France

Cabo Pearce on Socorro Island, aerial photo, Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico, Socorro Island (Islas Revillagigedos)

Cabo Pearce on Socorro Island, aerial photo, Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico
Image ID: 32909
Location: Socorro Island (Islas Revillagigedos), Baja California, Mexico

San Benedicto Island and Barcena crater, aerial photo, Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico, San Benedicto Island (Islas Revillagigedos)

San Benedicto Island and Barcena crater, aerial photo, Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico
Image ID: 32938
Location: San Benedicto Island (Islas Revillagigedos), Baja California, Mexico

Coral reef expanse composed primarily of porites lobata, Clipperton Island, near eastern Pacific, Porites lobata

Coral reef expanse composed primarily of porites lobata, Clipperton Island, near eastern Pacific
Image ID: 32963
Species: Porites lobata
Location: Clipperton Island, France

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad
Image ID: 33131
Location: Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad, California, USA

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, during the 2017 Superbloom, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, during the 2017 Superbloom
Image ID: 33168
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, during the 2017 Superbloom, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, during the 2017 Superbloom
Image ID: 33246
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Fin Whale, Aerial Photo, Baja California, Balaenoptera physalus

Fin Whale, Aerial Photo, Baja California
Image ID: 33267
Species: Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus
Location: Baja California, Mexico

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. Calf exhibits embryonic folds characteristic of a very young whale. 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

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. Calf exhibits embryonic folds characteristic of a very young whale. 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: 33271
Species: Gray Whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: Baja California, Mexico

Giant Manta Ray at San Benedicto Island, Revillagigedos, Mexico, Manta birostris, San Benedicto Island (Islas Revillagigedos)

Giant Manta Ray at San Benedicto Island, Revillagigedos, Mexico
Image ID: 33289
Species: Giant Manta Ray, Manta birostris
Location: San Benedicto Island (Islas Revillagigedos), Baja California, Mexico

Silky Shark at San Benedicto Islands, Revillagigedos, Mexico, Carcharhinus falciformis, Socorro Island (Islas Revillagigedos)

Silky Shark at San Benedicto Islands, Revillagigedos, Mexico
Image ID: 33313
Species: Silky Shark, Carcharhinus falciformis
Location: Socorro Island (Islas Revillagigedos), Baja California, Mexico

Giant black sea bass, endangered species, reaching up to 8' in length and 500 lbs, amid giant kelp forest, Stereolepis gigas, Catalina Island

Giant black sea bass, endangered species, reaching up to 8' in length and 500 lbs, amid giant kelp forest
Image ID: 33354
Species: Giant Black Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Sunlight streams through giant kelp forest. Giant kelp, the fastest growing plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky reef to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, Catalina Island

Sunlight streams through giant kelp forest. Giant kelp, the fastest growing plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky reef to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest.
Image ID: 33444
Species: Giant Kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Corynactis anemone polyp, a corallimorph,  extends its arms into passing ocean currents to catch food, Corynactis californica, San Diego, California

Corynactis anemone polyp, a corallimorph, extends its arms into passing ocean currents to catch food
Image ID: 33475
Species: Strawberry Anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Cardon Cactus on Isla San Diego, Aerial View, Baja California

Cardon Cactus on Isla San Diego, Aerial View, Baja California
Image ID: 33578
Location: Isla San Diego, Baja California, Mexico

Minute starfish (sea star) living on larger starfish, Sea of Cortez, Mexico, Isla San Diego, Baja California

Minute starfish (sea star) living on larger starfish, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Image ID: 33587
Location: Isla San Diego, Baja California, Mexico

Isla San Diego and Coral Reef, reef extends from Isla San Diego to Isla San Jose,  aerial photo, Sea of Cortez, Baja California

Isla San Diego and Coral Reef, reef extends from Isla San Diego to Isla San Jose, aerial photo, Sea of Cortez, Baja California
Image ID: 33601
Location: Isla San Diego, Baja California, Mexico

Longnose hawkfish on black coral, underwater, Sea of Cortez, Baja California

Longnose hawkfish on black coral, underwater, Sea of Cortez, Baja California
Image ID: 33616
Location: Baja California, Mexico

Natural Salt Lake on Isla San Jose, Aerial View, Sea of Cortez

Natural Salt Lake on Isla San Jose, Aerial View, Sea of Cortez
Image ID: 33620
Location: Isla San Jose, Baja California, Mexico

Isla San Francisquito, Aerial View, Sea of Cortez

Isla San Francisquito, Aerial View, Sea of Cortez
Image ID: 33627
Location: Isla San Francisquito, Baja California, Mexico

Tiny shrimp living on Starfish, Sea of Cortez, Isla San Diego, Baja California, Mexico

Tiny shrimp living on Starfish, Sea of Cortez
Image ID: 33709
Location: Isla San Diego, Baja California, Mexico

Bluechin Parrotfish Eye Detail, Scarus ghobban, Sea of Cortez, Isla Cayo, Baja California, Mexico

Bluechin Parrotfish Eye Detail, Scarus ghobban, Sea of Cortez
Image ID: 33751
Location: Isla Cayo, Baja California, Mexico

Serpulid polychaete Christmas Tree Worm, Sea of Cortez, Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja California, Mexico

Serpulid polychaete Christmas Tree Worm, Sea of Cortez
Image ID: 33782
Location: Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja California, Mexico

Orange Cup Coral, Tubastrea coccinea, Sea of Cortez, Mexico, Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja California

Orange Cup Coral, Tubastrea coccinea, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Image ID: 33806
Location: Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja California, Mexico

Aerial Panoramic Photo of Children's Pool, Casa Cove and La Jolla Coastline. The underwater reef is exposed by extreme low tide

Aerial Panoramic Photo of Children's Pool, Casa Cove and La Jolla Coastline. The underwater reef is exposed by extreme low tide.
Image ID: 33875
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Three Arch Bay, Mussel Cove and Three Arch Rock, Laguna Beach Coastline, Aerial Photo

Three Arch Bay, Mussel Cove and Three Arch Rock, Laguna Beach Coastline, Aerial Photo
Image ID: 34043
Location: Laguna Beach, California, USA

Turning aspen trees in Autumn, South Fork of Bishop Creek Canyon, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Turning aspen trees in Autumn, South Fork of Bishop Creek Canyon
Image ID: 34158
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Submarine Reef with Hydrocoral and Corynactis Anemones, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island

Submarine Reef with Hydrocoral and Corynactis Anemones, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island
Image ID: 34170
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Catalina Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands
Image ID: 34173
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Dusk on Vogelsang Peak, Yosemite National Park, California

Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

The last time I stayed at Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, my dad and I took the Rafferty Canyon trail and arrived about 3pm. For some reason I still had some energy so I took off and tried for the summit of Vogelsang Peak, arriving just shortly before sunset. The view was spectacular, an unobstructed view of much of the high country around Yosemite National Park. I got back to camp well after dinner but my dad had saved a plate of food for me, which I scarfed up. I crashed hard that night after covering about 13 miles. It was a good day. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Vogelsang Peak (11516') at sunset, reflected in a small creek near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in Yosemite's high country, Yosemite National Park, California

Vogelsang Peak (11516′) at sunset, reflected in a small creek near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in Yosemite’s high country.
Image ID: 23202
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Panoramic view of the Cathedral Range from the summit of Vogelsang Peak (11500').  The shadow of Vogelsang Peak can be seen in the middle of the picture, Yosemite National Park, California

Panoramic view of the Cathedral Range from the summit of Vogelsang Peak (11500′). The shadow of Vogelsang Peak can be seen in the middle of the picture.
Image ID: 25751
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Townsley Lake and Cathedral Range at Sunrise, Yosemite National Park

Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

One of my favorite lakes in the Sierra Nevada is Townsley Lake, located a bit above and not far from the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in Yosemite National Park. Every time I stay at Vogelsang I make sure to spend at least one sunrise at Townsley, where I have always had quiet solitude and wonderful morning light. Vogelsang means “bird song” in German, and while I made this photograph that was indeed all I could hear: the chirping of small birds and nothing else. Two other beautiful, typical, granite-basin Sierra Nevada lakes are very close to Townsley; Hanging Basket Lake (you can actually see a bit of light bouncing around the hanging valley containing Hanging Basket at the far right of this image, below the sunlit Cathedral Range), and a lake I like to call “Nameless Lake” about 1/2 mile above and to the left of this image. All three can be easily bagged in a half-day hike from Vogelsang High Sierra camp. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Cathedral Range peaks reflected in the still waters of Townsley Lake at sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California

Cathedral Range peaks reflected in the still waters of Townsley Lake at sunrise.
Image ID: 25756
Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Lembert Dome Sunset, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park

Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Nice pastel light hits the clouds and lights up Lembert Dome rising above Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, California. An easy hike takes one to the top of Lembert Dome for expansive views of Tuolumne Meadows and the high Sierra Nevada around the eastern side of Yosemite National Park. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Lembert Dome and late afternoon clouds rise above Tuolumne Meadows in the High Sierra, catching the fading light of sunset, Yosemite National Park, California

Lembert Dome and late afternoon clouds rise above Tuolumne Meadows in the High Sierra, catching the fading light of sunset.
Image ID: 09938
Location: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Milky Way over Sky Rock Petroglyph, Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, California

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Sierra Nevada

Milky Way over Sky Rock Petroglyph, Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, California.

I made this image several years ago but neglected to share any images from that evening’s photographic efforts on my blog. I have made many visits to the Volcanic Tablelands, at all times of day, to explore the rocks, admire the vistas over the Owens River, and photograph one of the finest petroglyph panels in the world. In this composition, I waited for a specific date when the Milky Way could be effectively photographed above the petroglyphs with Mount Tom and the Sierra Nevada range aligned in the distance. It was a very cold evening, I wore all the clothes I had on hand, but after several hours of trying different compositions I managed several images I am very happy with. Sky Rock is a magical place at night, with ancient light emanating from stars many hundreds and thousands of light years away cascading down upon these special, old and impressive engravings. It is just the type of place I enjoy photographing at night, with no other people around, no photo workshop groups, no RVs, no automobile sounds — nothing. Solitude. I have also photographed these petroglyphs under a full moon as well as under pastel dawn skies, as well as a massive panorama of this location that I will be sharing soon. Cheers and thanks for looking!

The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock.  Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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

The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock. Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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: 28798
Location: Bishop, California, USA

Sky Rock Petroglyph with the Milky Way Rising over the Sierra Nevada

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Sierra Nevada

The Milky Way Galaxy rises in the night sky over the Sierra Nevada, with the Sky Rock Petroglyph panel in the foreground. I’m sure the original creator of this remarkable set of petroglyphs — considered by some to be the finest petroglyph panel in the world — had even darker skies than we do today and a much better view of the Milky Way, hundreds or thousands of years ago when he chiseled these strange shapes into the desert varnish of the volcanic tablelands. Cheers and thanks for looking!

The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock.  Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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

The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock. Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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: 28798
Location: Bishop, California, USA

Sky Rock and Full Moon, Chalfant Petroglyphs, Volcanic Tablelands

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Sierra Nevada

Sky Rock and Moonlight, Bishop, California. (See also my photograph of Sky Rock at Dawn, Bishop, California and a gallery of other Sky Rock Petroglyph photos.) 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 at night, light by moonlight with stars in the clear night sky above.  Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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 at night, light by moonlight with stars in the clear night sky above. Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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: 28505

If you like this image, be sure to visit my Landscape Astrophotography website.

Milky Way Arching over Sky Rock Petroglyphs at Night, Bishop

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Sierra Nevada

Sky Rock Petroglyph and the Milky Way Galaxy, Bishop, California

This image has been a goal of mine for some years. Ever since I first saw Sky Rock in person, and realized how fully its skyward gaze ties it — and its visionary creator of many centuries ago — to the stars above, I wanted to depict the Sky Rock Petroglyph beneath the night sky. Sky Rock is considered by some to be the finest single petroglyph panel found anywhere; it is certainly the best I have ever seen. This panorama, spanning 220 degrees horizontally and 160 degrees from top to bottom, is based on 51 separate 36mp exposures. I’ve created it using two projections: the Mercator projection (below) and the spherical projection (link).

The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock.  Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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

The Milky Way at Night over Sky Rock. Sky Rock petroglyphs near Bishop, California. 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: 28817
Location: Bishop, California, USA

This enormous, high resolution panoramic image will print 11′ wide by 14′ high. Prints are available here. If you like this image, please see more Photos of Sky Rock Petroglyph and more Astrophotography Landscape photos.

A Taste of Fall Color

California, Sierra Nevada

Tracy and I will be looking for fall colors in a different place this autumn: Paris and the Loire Valley. A friend who has just returned from Paris says the Luxembourg Gardens are in magnificent bloom and trees should be turning along the Seine, so we are hopeful for some nice autumn color and mood while we are there. Unfortunately, though, I won’t be making any visits to the Eastern Sierra in October, for the first time in some years. I miss it, especially a few of my secret spots that yield nice photos year after year. This is one of them. I hope to get back here next October. Cheers!

White trunks of aspen trees, viewed upward toward the yellow and orange leaves of autumn and the blue sky beyond, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

White trunks of aspen trees, viewed upward toward the yellow and orange leaves of autumn and the blue sky beyond.
Image ID: 23337
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Unicorn Peak and Cockscomb Peak, Yosemite National Park

California, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Some years ago I stood with my young daughter in the far northwest end of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, watching a group of mule deer graze and enjoying the grassy expanse, when we turned around and realized we had this great view of Unicorn Peak (10,880′ left) and Cockscomb Peak (11,065′ right). I find these to be two of the more distinctive granite rock formations in the Yosemite High Sierra. Both peaks are on my bucket list, not having bagged either yet.

Unicorn Peak at sunset, seen from Tuolumne Meadows.  Cockscomb Peak rises in the distance, Yosemite National Park, California

Unicorn Peak at sunset, seen from Tuolumne Meadows. Cockscomb Peak rises in the distance.
Image ID: 09945
Location: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California, USA