Happy Mother’s Day from Black Point

 

Ice Plant at Black Point

003_D356207shrp1200

004_D356211shrp1200nz

Ordinarily I would be a bit hesitant to glorify an invasive, non-native plant like ice plant, but sometimes you just have to take a breath and enjoy what’s right in front of you.  I also thought that it would be a nice way to send some flowers to all the moms out there, being so close to Mother’s Day and all.

This time of year this section along the bluff at Black Point here on Sea Ranch is in full bloom from several colors of ice plant, and some poppies as well.  The colors seem unreal, almost iridescent.  Ice plant is native to South Africa and has invaded the California coast from top to bottom.  It displaces many native species but can also serve to stabilize embankments, although there are almost always native alternatives available for bank stabilization.  It’s difficult to remove ice plant once established and sometimes you just have to marvel at its bright colors and take in its beauty.

So, an early Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there and no letters please from the California Native Plant Society.  It’s Mother’s Day…deal with it!

 

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 lens

 

Posted in Beach, Coastal meadows, Environmental Issues, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Wildflowers | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Few of the Local Ladies

We use a sheep flock here at Sea Ranch as a way of managing our fuel load (dry grasses and other natural combustibles).  Once a year they make their way around to our meadow and munch away for a couple of days before moving on.  I haven’t photographed them in a few years and, quite frankly, they were so noisy it was hard to ignore them.  So I took my camera out back and had a fun afternoon watching these lovely ladies at work.

They really have such unique faces and expressions it’s hard to pass up sharing their unique beauty with the rest of the world.  These are just a few of the little lovelies who shared our meadow for a day or two.  They moved this morning and I miss them already, although their scent still seems to linger.  Such is life in paradise!

Sea Ranch Sheep

Just another pretty face

Such a pretty face

Sea Ranch Fire Control

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens, monopod

Posted in Coastal meadows, Environmental Issues, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Circle of Life

It’s seal pupping season on the north coast so I thought I’d head down to Tide Pool Beach here on Sea Ranch.  There’s a nice spot on the bluff from which to photograph moms and pups without disturbing them too much.  Unfortunately when I got there I saw a pup that had recently expired lying on the beach.  California has recently experienced a rash of dead or abandoned seal pups due to inadequate food resources available for moms to feed/nurse their pups.   I have no idea about the cause of that little guy’s demise, but I could also see that he was about to become a part of Mother Nature’s great circle of life.

There were two turkey vultures there with only one thing on their mind.  Unfortunately for the vultures there also was a pair of rather feisty ravens who had other ideas about their own place in Mother Nature’s circle of life.

Raven and Vulture take a spin

Shall we dance?

One Tenacious Raven

As you can see from the images above, there is a considerable size difference between these birds.  Nevertheless, one of the ravens took charge of the operation by grabbing a firm hold on one of the Vulture’s main wing feathers and had no intention of letting go.  The vulture got highly annoyed at this kind of treatment from such a smaller rival.  The vulture began spinning around as to try to grasp the raven with its large bill, but all he managed to do was to give the raven quite a ride.  You can see from the images that the raven is completely off the ground yet still holding on firmly to the vulture.  The raven took several more spins on the end of the vulture’s wing until the vulture finally gave up.   After the ravens had their fill they left the vulture to lick his wounds (and his pride) and to clean up what was left.

Mother seal and her pup

I thought I would complete the circle of life theme with one final image, a mother and her pup bonding for life at the ocean’s edge.  Life does go on; survival of the fittest…and apparently the most tenacious.

 

Equipment:  Nikon D3s; Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens; monopod.

Posted in Beach, Birds, Environmental Issues, Marine life, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Foggy Day along Sonoma’s North Coast

The Mendonoma Coast is the land of micro-climates.  We live in what some of the locals here call “The Banana Belt”, where it can be totally fogged in at one location and in full sun just a few miles down the road.  Such was the day last week when I hit the road to capture some beach shots.  It was a little foggy where I was when I started out and as I headed north I noticed that the fog was lifting, the sky was cloudless and the wind was really picking up.  As I looked south I saw that the fog was still clinging to the coast so I headed down-coast.

Salt Point State Park

Salt Point in the Fog

California Poppy

I decided to try Salt Point State Park which is only about a half hour south of Sea Ranch.  The first two images were taken close to CA-1 in the late afternoon.  The sun was poking through a little and it made for a nice mood where the glistening ocean mixed with foggy cliffs.  The third image was taken on the edge of a bluff top where this nice little California Poppy was just hanging over the cliff.  I just couldn’t pass it up.

Cypress Hedgerow

Sea Ranch Cypress Hedgerow

On my way back home I decided to check out one of my favorite hedgerows to see how the fog may have transformed it.  As I may have mentioned before, these Monterey Cypress hedgerows were planted by the original sheep ranchers as wind screens.  The original landscape architects of Sea Ranch not only kept them but built a community around them.  They are a signature part of Sea Ranch today.  As these images suggest, the hedgerows can be a magical place to visit and walk through.

Enjoy wherever you are!

 

Equipment:  Nikon D3s; Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 lens; Oben Tripod

Posted in Beach, Coastal meadows, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Sonoma County, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Spring Glow at Sea Ranch

Ice Plant on the Bluff

Spring at Black Point

Sea Ranch Spring

In between a few small storms recently we’ve had some spectacular weather here on the North Coast.   I’ve put off boasting about our great weather here for a while as I still have family and friends in Long Island.   These folks are still suffering through the final throws of this winter’s storm season of ‘thunder snow’ and blizzards.   But I hope that these few images of ‘glowing’ orange ice plant (Lampranthus aurantiacus) will reignite the hope that spring is just around the corner.

These ‘intimate landscapes’ were captured along Black Point in the late afternoon a few weeks ago.  Ice plant is not native to this area, and Sea Ranch strives to maintain a predominantly native environment here, but there is no escaping the captivating glow of these bright orange succulents.  Perhaps their bright (almost Caltrans) orange color isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I find their arrival a wonderful harbinger of spring.  I hope you will too.

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 lens, monopod.

Posted in Beach, Coastal meadows, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Wildflowers | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

After the Storm

After the Storm at Walk-on Beach

Walk-On Beach draining to the ocean

A few weeks ago we had a nice little storm here giving us some much-needed rain.  I headed down to Walk-On Beach catch some late afternoon light.  The rainfall had filled the meadow’s ephemeral creeks and was running off across the beach and into the ocean.  Although the rain had mostly stopped by now, there was still a misty fog at the beach which lent a nice aura to the scene.  Obviously I was not alone but I was more than happy to share the moment with some other brave souls taking in the moment.

Hopefully there will be more storms, maybe even a “Miracle March” with some big storms to fill our reservoirs and aquifers.  In any event spring is around the corner and the Trilliums and Camas will be popping up, and hopefully I’ll be there to capture their arrival.  In the meantime I hope you enjoy these images of a brief moment in time.

 

Equipment:  Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens, monopod.

Posted in Beach, Coastal meadows, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Winter’s Day in Sonoma’s Coast Range

 

The Hills East of Sea Ranch

Oaks along Skaggs-Springs Road

Rolling Hills in Sonoma's Coast Range

 

Coast Range east of Sea Ranch

About a week ago we had a much welcomed rain storm.  I decided to head east along Skaggs-Springs Road through the Coast Range between Sea Ranch and Healdsburg.  The storm had passed so the ground and vegetation were wet and the clouds were starting to break up.  The Coast Range here gradually changes as you go eastward from predominantly redwood forests along the coast to more open oak woodlands and rolling hills to the east.  It’s a beautiful drive and I was able to capture some nice late afternoon light breaking through the clouds. The last image is a multi-shot panorama taken at 70mm. The other images were all shot at 24mm.

Some of this land is cattle-grazed while some (not seen in these images) has been converted to vineyards.  In any event, the recent rains increased the saturation of our aquifers and also the color saturation of the scenes.  The sun also seemed to cooperate by dappling the landscape with varying amounts of light.  All in all, it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens, Oben Tripod

 

Posted in Coastal meadows, Forest, Landscapes, Sonoma County | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

“On-the-Way” Photographs

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been out shooting in several locales from Sea Ranch south to Jenner.   On each occasion I had an idea in mind of what I wanted to shoot, either a specific location or a particular subject.  What I found happening, as it often does, was that on the way to my “Destination” I discovered things far more interesting and intriguing than what I found when I finally got there, if I got there at all.  This also explains why these images, taken as a whole, don’t necessarily relate to one another except that they are what I call “On-the-Way” pictures; you know, pictures you take while you’re on the way to your main destination.  The trick to OTW images is being open to seeing them while your head is focused on some great idea further down the trail.

The first image was taken at Walk On Beach here in Sea Ranch.  I think I was heading out there to shoot some sunsets but along the way I shot this nice weathered rock outcrop reflecting the setting sun.  The sky wasn’t really providing much drama for the sunset, but I liked the contrast of the cool blue water and the warm light on the rocks.

Sun Setting on the Rocks, Sea Ranch, CA

The next two images were taken a little north of Jenner along Highway 1.  I never quite made it all the way down to Jenner that day because I was too busy playing and hiking along the bluff capturing these panos.  I was using my 24-70mm lens so I shot each pano at 70mm.  In the first image I used the camera in the horizontal orientation but in the second image, looking down-coast toward Jenner and Bodega Bay, I oriented the cameral vertically on the tripod.   This gives you a much taller pano and really provided some broad views of the ocean and winding coastline.

Looking North along CA-1, north of Jenner, CA

Looking Toward Jenner and Bodega Bay from CA-1

The last three images were taken here on Sea Ranch near Black Point.  I went down there to shoot whales so I had my 70-200mm lens with a 2x telextender.  Well, no whales but I did manage to smell a few roses along the way.  The last image I had already posted on Facebook, but wanted to do a little more work on it before I posted it final.

Black Point at Sea Ranch, CA

Old Barn at BlacK Point, Sea Ranch, CA

Light at the end of the Tunnel

It has taken me a while to learn the value of the OTW image, and being open to opportunities as they present themselves allowed me to expand my horizons and my vision as a photographer.  I often just grab my camera and head out somewhere with no particular destination in mind.  You might not even have the right lens on for what you find, but making the best of it with what’s on your camera also sharpens ones skills.

I especially hope my friends and family back in LI will enjoy these images as a brief respite from yet another snow storm bearing down on them.  Stay safe!!!

 

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8 lens, 24-70mm f2.8 lens, and 70-200mm f2.8 lens with Nikkor 2x telextender; Oben Tripod

Posted in Beach, Coastal meadows, Landscapes, Old Buildings, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Architecture, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Sunsets | Tagged | 1 Comment