Autumn along the Gualala

Fall is settling in here along the north coast and I always enjoy going down to the Gualala River in the late afternoon this time of year.  There is a rather thick stand of white alders at the junction of the South Fork and the Wheatfield Forks of the Gualala River (we call it the “Twin Bridges” area.)  I enjoy photographing these trees especially late in the day as the sun is low in the sky.

White Alders along the Gualala River

White Alders

The first two images are taken from deep in the woods and I chose B&W because the color range was pretty narrow and the texture of the bark stands out more in shades of grey.

Riparian Growth along the Gualala

The last image was taken slightly down stream and it obviously had a much broader range of fall colors than in the stand of alders.  The river was not really flowing so the reflection of the trees in the still water was a nice bonus.  We had some rain last night and the place from where I stood to take this picture is now under water.  As always, this was a great way to spend a late afternoon, and yes we do get some fall color here.


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens; B&W 6-stop ND filter; Oben Tripod

Posted in Black and White, Fall, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Arched Rock Cove, a Study in Black and White

A few days ago, during the tail end of hurricane Patricia, we had some large surf here on the north coast.  I wanted to continue my experimentation with black and white photography so I headed down to Galleon’s Point on the south end of Arched Rock Cove here on Sea Ranch.  This spot is right down the path that goes through the meadow in back of our house.  I can shoot there from some fairly wind-protected spots, which I needed for the long exposures I had in mind.

I shot all these images with a 10-stop ND filter (“Black Glass”) in late afternoon using exposures from 6 to 30 seconds.  The large waves crashing against all the rocks in the cove produced a lot of sea spray (spin-drift) which is evident as soft white clouds in some of the longer exposures.  The massive rock towers are a great feature to contrast against the ever-moving and turbulent surf as it makes its way to shore.  The end result is a more abstract expression of what I saw, especially when mixing the long exposures with B&W.

I realize that fall is a time of great color change, but here on the north coast fall is more about changing ocean conditions and abrupt weather changes, at least for me.  We have our share of changing fall colors, don’t get me wrong, but having grown up in the northeast it’s just not quite the same thing.  But I revel in the differences and take each day, and wave, as it comes.


Equipment:  Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens, Oben Tripod wit Kirk ball head; Hoya 10-stop ND filter

Posted in Beach, Black and White, Fall, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes | Leave a comment

An Autumn Afternoon at the Beach

We had our first light rain the other night and our first sense that fall has finally arrived here on the north coast.  I spent a nice late afternoon at Walk-On Beach here at Sea Ranch, watching the heavy surf pound against the rocks.  Watching the churning surf made me think that some extended exposures would provide an interesting mood from this scene.  So I used my 10-stop ND filter and used a 25-second exposure to tame that powerful surf and create the sultry scene I had in my mind’s eye.  The air was cold, the wind was up and fall was definitely in the air.  These images show what I felt as I slowly filled all my senses with the sights, sounds and smells of a beautiful fall afternoon along the Sonoma coast.  I’ve photographed here many times and each time is like I’m experiencing it for the very first time.  Not bad for just another day at the beach.

Walk-On Beach rocks Autumn Afternoon at Walk-On Beach Walk-On Beach looking south Smoky Surf at Walk-On Beach


Equipment: Nikon D810, Nikkor f2.8 24-70mm lens, Oben tripod, Kirk Ball head.

Posted in Beach, Black and White, Fall, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Sonoma County | Tagged , | 4 Comments

A Return to Black and White

Remnants Driftwood Walk-On Beach in B&W Explosion! Cormorants Del Mar Point

The beach is a wonderful place to experiment with black and white photography.  As much as I love the vibrant colors here along the Sonoma coast I’m still drawn to the challenge of creating different moods using black and white images.  So please bear with me as I indulge myself in more experimentation into the world of monochrome.

I took these images here at Sea Ranch in mid-day at Del Mar Point and Walk-On Beaches.  As you can see in a few of the images I used long exposures to create a smokier, moodier image of the ocean.  I thought it might be interesting to take a basically high-key midday image and try to make it more low-key.  For some of these images I used a 10-stop ND filter and 3-10sec. exposures.  For others, I used a 3-stop ND filter and a 1/8 sec. exposure.  The two beach images drew my attention because of the untouched, wind-blown sand and the half-buried driftwood remnants.

I hope you enjoy my latest journey further into the world of B&W photography.  Capturing the full tonal range of light in B&W is a real challenge for me and presents quite a different set of issues in post-production.  For those who may be interested, I used a combination of tone mapping in Photomatix, and Photoshop with Nik’s Silver Efex Pro for the B&W conversions.



Equipment:  Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.5 lens; Hoya 10 stop ND filter; Oben Tripod; Kirk ball head

Posted in Beach, Birds, Black and White, Fall, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Sonoma County | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dahlias, Dahlias, and More Dahlias


A week or so ago Barbara and I went up again to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden in Fort Bragg.  This time we up there with our friends Nancy and Jim and we soon found ourselves amidst the special Dahlia exhibit that lies in the center of the overall garden.  Unfortunately I didn’t take note of the various varieties that I shot, but I’ll leave that up to you Dahlia aficionados to decipher.  Whenever I see Dahlias I often think of my brother Chris and the beautiful Dahlias he grows in his garden in Long Island.  I couldn’t possibly photograph all the varieties that were there, but I wanted to give you all at least a small taste of what we saw.  We certainly had a wonderful day wandering through the garden and thoroughly enjoyed this special display of Dahlias.  I hope you do as well.

Dahlia Dahlia Dahlia Dahlia

And of course what Dahlia garden would be complete without its own dragon to watch over it?

Dragon Guarding the Dahlias


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens

Posted in Landscapes, Mendocino County, Uncategorized, Wildflowers | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Black and White Day at the Beach

I’ve been experimenting with my new camera and I thought I’d focus a little on some black and white photography.  The sand, surf, sky and sandstone rocks of the beach all conspire to produce great B&W images.  So I spent a few hours at Del Mar Point and Walk On beaches here at Sea Ranch capturing the light of a mid-day afternoon.

At this point I’m really just trying to get used to handling the D810 as its control features are slightly different than my D3s.  The big difference comes in developing a workflow to deal with these larger files that are also not compatible in Raw form (.NEF) with my older version of Photoshop (CS5).  So I’m converting all images to a .DNG format in Lightroom and then processing them through CS5.  It’s an additional step and I have to be a bit more careful to make sure I dump images I don’t use as I’ll quickly fill up my hard drive if I’m not a bit selective about what I keep.

In any event I made some B&W images that capture the feeling and mood of my afternoon at the beach playing with my new toy.  I think that I’ll have a great adventure experimenting with this camera and learning all, or most, of its vast capabilities.  I hope you enjoy sharing in my adventure.

Walk On Beach rocks Sea Cave entrance at Walk on Beach Walk On Beach looking South Walk On Beach looking North Rocks at Del Mar Point Del Mar Cove Del Mar Cove north


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens; monopod.

Posted in Beach, Black and White, Geologic Formations, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A  Day in a not-so-ordinary Garden

I’m baaaack!  Actually I never really left; I was just working in a different part of my website.  Over the last few months I’ve been working in my shop on a furniture commission for some very good friends here on the Ranch.  You can check out the Bar Stool project from beginning to end in the “In the Shop Now” Page on my website.  With that project behind me I’m freer to more fully engage myself in photography again.

I also wanted to try out a new camera (thanks to my latest woodworking project).  Barbara and I took a day trip to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden in Fort Bragg.  We’ve been there many times and it truly is a special place.  The images below catch some of the many beautiful features of this wonderful garden paradise.  There is also some significant art displays imbedded throughout the garden; some are statuary in nature while others are more integrated into the gardens themselves.  One of my images shows a couple of honey bees on a flower, and right after I took that shot I came across a beautiful statue of bees on a honeycomb.   They truly know how to celebrate nature in all its glory.

So, it’s nice to be shooting again and I hope you enjoy my return to nature as much as I do.

Life is good!


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens.

Water Lily Sedges around the Pond Honey Bees Art in the Garden Mendocino Botanical Garden Bees and Honeycomb Herons Garden Path




Posted in Landscapes, Mendocino County, Wildflowers | Tagged | 2 Comments

Couple More Sea Ranch Locals

Great Blue Heron

Black Oystercatcher

I’m still engaged in the shop these days but I thought I’d share these two images of frequent fliers along our coast here at Sea Ranch.  The large heron in flight is a Great Blue Heron and we see them quite frequently along the bluffs and in the coastal meadows.  The second image is of a Black Oystercatcher foraging along the mussel beds at Del Mar Point near the State Ecological Reserve.  I photographed these birds back in March as spring was getting under way.  These birds, while quite common here, are nevertheless beautiful to behold.  The oystercatchers may not have the spectrum of colors of the GBH, but they have no trouble getting noticed due to their constant high-pitched chattering (similar to that of a Killdeer).  All part of the symphony of sounds and sights here along our coast.

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens with 2x teleconverter.

Posted in Beach, Birds, Marine life, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography | Tagged , | 1 Comment