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San Diego

La Jolla Birds

Birds, La Jolla

La Jolla birds as of this morning. I had until 8:45 before catching the end of Sarah’s practice so I went down the coast highway. There were some waves in Encinitas but nothing special. Spectacular clearing mist at Torrey Pines at sunrise. In La Jolla the light changed much and often, wisps of fog passing just to the east in front of the sun. There was no workshop or crowd at the bird spot this morning which meant lots of birds and whisper quiet. Pelicans are at peak plumage, the cormorants have quite a ways to go. All in all a great morning. All photos are handheld with Canon 200-400. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 30409
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. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 30413
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brandt's cormorant, La Jolla, California

Brandt’s cormorant
Image ID: 30418
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brandt's cormorant, La Jolla, California

Brandt’s cormorant
Image ID: 30419
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter plumage with distinctive yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 30420
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-Billed Gull, Larus Delawarensis, La Jolla

Birds

Once in a while I will photograph seagulls. I really should spend more time on them, since they can at times be beautiful in the right light and when in good condition. Unfortunately, gulls often they look like crap, and when I see them out on the water I invariably think “sky rat”. I only photograph the ones I see in La Jolla, so along with the Heermann’s Gull I posted about a few days ago, I also like the Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis). Hopefully in a few months I’ll have more images of this gull to add to my collection. Cheers, and thanks for looking.

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull.
Image ID: 18304
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull
Image ID: 30355
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight.
Image ID: 28990
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermann’s Gull, Larus heermanni

Birds

The Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni), photographed when I am out and about in La Jolla and North County. Lately I have been trying to frame seabirds against blue water, or have the ocean horizon in the image to anchor the composition and help tie the animal with the ocean. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight
Image ID: 30348
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave
Image ID: 30359
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky.
Image ID: 23656
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermann's gull, immature, in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermann’s gull, immature, in flight.
Image ID: 28991
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise.
Image ID: 18272
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight.
Image ID: 18273
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight
Image ID: 30312
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Stars, A Galaxy and … Wind Turbines?

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, California, San Diego

On a lark one evening in 2014, my buddy Garry McCarthy and I headed out to the desert to do some night photography with only one caveat: try someplace new (in other words, not Joshua Tree again). We headed east and somewhat south with sort of a plan but really it was mostly the blind leading the blind. Eventually we got on spot, broke out the lights and flashed them around while clicking away with the cameras and what followed was one of the most industrial, industrious and unconventional photography sessions I’ve had. Thanks to Garry’s mad lighting skillz acquired on many landscape astrophotography trips, we came away with some creative and fun images. How big are these wind turbines? About 250′ tall at the rotor’s axle, and another 185′ for the blade, for a total reach of 435′ above ground. Pretty damn big! Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Ocotillo Wind Energy Turbines, at night with stars and the Milky Way in the sky above, the moving turbine blades illuminated by a small flashlight

Ocotillo Wind Energy Turbines, at night with stars and the Milky Way in the sky above, the moving turbine blades illuminated by a small flashlight.
Image ID: 30239
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Image ID: 30248
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades
Image ID: 30227
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Image ID: 30246
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,

Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Projects, moving turbines lit by the rising sun,
Image ID: 30242
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades

Stars rise above the Ocotillo Wind Turbine power generation facility, with a flashlight illuminating the turning turbine blades
Image ID: 30224
Location: Ocotillo, California, USA

Surfer’s View of Scripps Pier Perfect Sunset, Solar Alignment, La Jolla

San Diego

Twice each year, the sun sets perfectly centered in the long thin window of the Scripps Research Pier pilings. Photographing this event is frankly rather formulaic and straightforward, to the point that people pack the narrow space on the shore between the pier pilings well before the sunset to ensure they have a “spot” when the sun lines up. It’s not a secret photo op nor is it spontaneous, but it is a striking and fleeting sight to see. I met a couple photographer buddies for one of the lineup evenings in 2013 and managed to photograph it reasonably well: Scripps Pier Sunset Perfect Solar Alignment, La Jolla, San Diego, California. This year I gave the matter some thought and realized I just couldn’t bring myself to do the same photo over again, especially with the crowd that forms. How to do it differently and with at least a modicum of spontaneity and physical challenge?

Scripps Pier solstice, surfer's view from among the waves, sunset aligned perfectly with the pier. Research pier at Scripps Institution of Oceanography SIO, sunset, La Jolla, California

Scripps Pier solstice, surfer’s view from among the waves, sunset aligned perfectly with the pier. Research pier at Scripps Institution of Oceanography SIO, sunset.
Image ID: 30150
Location: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA

After pondering it for a while I realized leaving the shore was really the only option. I spent three afternoons recently photographing the pier using one of my water cam setups — a custom-made surf housing for my Canon 5D Mark III — along with a few pieces of simple but secret equipment to make it all possible. Shooting it from the surfline is pretty tough, the pier does not move of course but the water moves and thus so do I. The sun is only centered below the far end of the pier for a short while, perhaps 30 seconds or less, and getting the camera reasonably high up off the water while positioning the pilings where I wanted them and keeping them vertical was tougher than I thought I would be. The nice part was that even though the solar alignment that makes these sunsets special only really occurred one of the three evenings (and was probably not properly aligned had I been shooting from the shore), it was still great to get wet and enjoy the surf and I landed some new views of the pier I have known since 1981 (ok, including the older pier and this new one). This photograph was the image from that effort with which I am happiest; it seems to capture dark shadows that settle under the pier rapidly as the sun disappears, the thin pastel colors in the clouds, and rapidly moving wavelets of water reverberating through the pilings. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Searching the Skies – Palomar Observatory at Night

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, California

My father took my brother and I camping at Mount Palomar a few times when I was a kid. We would fish at Doane Pond (back then it seemed like a lake but now I realize its little more than a puddle), and always visit the Palomar Observatory just up the road. I was fascinated by the amazing astronomy photographs in the gift shop, and the sheer size of the dome and telescope (200″ diameter, 14-ton glass mirror!) seemed awesome. Fast forward 40 years. I was recently permitted to photograph this telescope at night. The Palomar Observatory, which first collected light in 1948 and is part of the California Institute of Technology, remains one of the most important telescopes in the world. The evening I photographed the observatory, I was fortunate to be accompanied by the observatory’s public relations officer who kindly answered my many questions. One remark of his in particular really stunned me regarding the work that was being done the very evening I was there. I still sort of shake my head thinking about it. I spent years in college and grad school studying some heavy mathematics and science and still have trouble wrapping my mind around this idea: within the last decade and particularly in the last year, scientists at the Palomar Observatory have made direct observations of exoplanets — planets orbiting another star. I don’t mean inferences of other planets by observing the slight periodic dimming of a star, suggesting a planet is crossing in front of the star. I mean direct observations of the exoplanets themselves, through spectroscopy, which allows the composition of the planet to be understood. The distances involved in this science are so great, and the implications so profound, that I find it a little disorienting to ponder for more than a few minutes at a time, my puny intellect is overwhelmed! I’ll have more images of Palomar Observatory to share in the coming weeks. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Palomar Observatory at sunset, Palomar Mountain, California

Palomar Observatory at sunset.
Image ID: 29336
Location: Palomar Observatory, Palomar Mountain, California, USA

Panorama of the Full Moon over San Diego City Skyline

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Panoramas, San Diego

I shoot a lot of images of the San Diego City Skyline, to keep them fresh and because I am always looking for a reason to be down along the San Diego Bay at dawn or dusk — it is such a beautiful city. A few months ago I made some nice photos of the full moon rising over downtown San Diego (and this one too!). This is the one I like the best: an enormous panoramic photograph printing up to 3 feet high by over 28 feet long! Here the full moon is seen just after it has risen above the mountains east of San Diego, above the San Diego County Administration building. Photographed with a very sharp telephoto lens and high resolution camera and consisting of over 20 source images, the detail in the final panorama is quite something, with individual people visible in restaurants along the waterfront. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island
Image ID: 29120
Location: San Diego, California, USA

High Resolution Panorama of San Diego City Skyline and San Diego Bay

California, Panoramas, San Diego

Here is another recent panoramic photo of San Diego, photographed on a beautiful spring afternoon. This one spans nearly the entire width of the bay, and includes the yacht marinas of Shelter Island in the foreground. I photographed this with a top quality 300mm f/2.8 lens and high resolution camera, and the resulting detail seen in the buildings is outstanding. The final panorama was composed from nine source images, and the resulting image will print 3′ tall by 12′ long with no interpolation necessary. If you like this, please check out more of my panoramic photographs, or see more photos of San Diego. Cheers and thanks for looking!

San Diego City Skyline viewed from Point Loma

San Diego City Skyline viewed from Point Loma
Image ID: 29114
Location: San Diego, California, USA

San Diego City Skyline, Full Moon Rising, Sunset

California, San Diego

A new photograph of the full moon, just rising over the mountains behind downtown San Diego, with the San Diego County Administration Building seen lit in the foreground. This is actually just a small portion (about 5%) of a huge panorama stretching the entire length of the San Diego City Skyline which I have just completed and will share in a few days. It is also the second in a series of new images I have made of the San Diego city skyline and rising full moon, including several very large, high resolution panoramas, including yesterday’s post “Full Moon Rising Over San Diego“.

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island

Full Moon rising over San Diego City Skyline, viewed from Harbor Island
Image ID: 29121
Location: San Diego, California, USA

If you like this, please check out more of my San Diego City Skyline photographs. Cheers and thanks for looking!