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

A Winter’s Day at Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse facing south

Stornetta Lands near Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse facing north

Beach north of Point Arena Lighthouse

Earlier in the week when the weather was bright and warm I planned a day to head up to Point Arena Lighthouse and the Stornetta Lands National Monument for a hike.  When Thursday finally rolled around so had winter with all its windy, cold, and grey weather.  Not to be deterred, I headed up there anyway to see if I could be inspired.

It’s always a bit windy up there but on Thursday it was howling even more than usual. The sky was heavy with storm clouds and there was a light foggy haze blowing off the ocean.  The late afternoon sky created quite a mood.  I wanted to try to capture some of that winter “Moodiness” by using some long exposures to blur the ocean into a smoky mist. For that I used a 10-stop neutral density filter which allowed me to use a 30-second exposure.

The biggest problem was that the wind made it difficult to get a good 30-sec exposure even on my trusty Oben tripod.  I had to find some spots more or less out of the wind and eventually did land on some areas a little more protected from the wind.

The first two images were taken from the Stornetta Lands just south of the lighthouse. The second two images were taken from the bluff north of the lighthouse.  It was a long cold day on these bluffs, but I’m happy with the images as they reflect the mood of the day, at least as I saw it in my mind’s eye.  It was a blustery day and not what I was expecting when I planned the outing, but such is life.  The coast gives you something different every day and you just have to be open to what it brings you.  But next time I’m definitely bringing my thermos full of hot chocolate.

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 17-35mm, f2.8 lens; Oben Tripod

Posted in Beach, Coastal meadows, Geologic Formations, Landscapes, Lighthouse, Mendocino County, Seascapes | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Winter Along the Gualala

 

Late Afternoon along the Gualala River

White Alder trees near the Gualala River

Dense riparian growth along the Gualala River

Riparian growth along the Gualala River

White Alder

Along the Banks of the Gualala River

Dense growth along the Gualala River

Winter Along the Gualala River

Gualala River in the background

Dense Stands of White Alder on the Gualala River banks

The New Year brought some beautiful bright days here along the north coast and I was lucky enough to be able to get out and capture some nice warm afternoon light.  I headed east toward the Gualala River near the Twin Bridges (Between Annapolis and The Sea Ranch.)  In fact most of the images were shot from the bridge itself or near it.

 
The winter here is not like the winters where I grew up in Long Island. Fall tends to linger into the winter months here so some leaves remain on the trees late into the year.  Most of the trees in these images are the riparian White Alder, as identified by their whitish birch-like bark.

 
It was about four PM and the sun had almost ducked down behind the ridge to the west so the lighting was a little tricky.  But a light misty fog was developing which added a nice aura to some of the images.  Even in the starkness of winter some color still remains and the late afternoon light really helps to bring it out even more.

 
The Gualala River watershed is the life’s blood of this community and is under continued threat of upstream development.  It also is a wonderful place to just go and enjoy its beauty, even in the throes of winter.

 

Equipment: Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 lens, monopod. I should also note that many of these images were shot at 6400 ISO due to the low light conditions, and none were shot below 1600 ISO. If you ever wonder why I chose this camera…this is one of the reasons.

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

A Foggy Day near Fort Ross

Yesterday Barbara had a small group of friends from her Italian group over to the house for one of their regular gatherings.  I sometimes hang around, at least long enough to act as Barista making lattes and espressos, but I decided instead to head out with my camera. The day was pretty foggy so I thought I’d head south toward Fort Ross and see what trouble I could get into.

Highway 1 near Fort Ross

Pasture Land near Fort Ross

Rolling Hills near Fort Ross

The first three images show the area along Highway 1 near Fort Ross and the greening up of the pastures after all the rain we’ve had here on the coast.  Actually this particular area can be hazardous to drive at night because this also happens to be a ‘free range’ area where the local cow population gets to roam freely, including in the middle of Highway 1 (no fences).  For some reason, only the all-black cows seem to delight in standing in the middle of the road at night.  And if you hit one, you bought it!

Fog Moving up the Canyons east of Fort Ross

Redwoods in the Fog

Looking down the foggy canyon near Fort Ross

Anyway, later in the afternoon I headed east from Fort Ross and tried to follow the fog up the coastal canyons.  The next three images show various coastal evergreens being enveloped in fog.  Actually, condensate from this fog is also a major source of water for these trees. I also thought it was a nice Christmas theme to show all these Christmas trees in their natural and preferred setting.

In the woods near Fort Ross

Very Quiet Mood

The next two images were taken along the wooded drive east from Highway 1.  I often speak of how photography is all about light, and here you can see how the fog affects the lighting to create a quiet mood.  There wasn’t a soul within miles of me, or at least that’s how it felt standing in the midst of this piece of paradise. (And, there probably wasn’t a soul within miles of me.)

Looking South down Highway 1 near Fort Ross

The final image is a look back down Highway 1 where I spent the day.  I am truly blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world. I hope you enjoyed my little trip into the fog.

Ciao!

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

Posted in Coastal meadows, Forest, Landscapes, Seascapes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

End of the Day

Bluff-top Trail at the end of the dayWalk-on Beach BluffBlack Point post-stormPelican's last flight of the dayBlack Point sunset

Soft light at Walk-on Beach

Last Light of the Day

First Big Storm of 2014 at Sea Ranch

Before all the really big storms hit the north coast here I spent a few late afternoons and evenings capturing some nice light.  These images were captured along several Sea Ranch beaches, including Black Point and Walk-on beaches.  There’s quite a mix of colors, depending on the time of day and the cloud conditions.

I was lucky to hit the beach at just the right time – around sunset after a minor storm. The sky was still full of energy and the setting sun danced around the remaining storm clouds. I was also lucky enough to capture a trio of brown pelicans on one last flight as the day ended.

The last image is not so much about light, but perhaps the lack of it. This shot was taken just north of Stengel Beach on Sea Ranch a day or so ago during one of our really big storms.  It was raining hard, foggy and as you can see the visibility wasn’t the best.  But the surf was really churning with huge waves driven by the storm and 30 – 40 knot winds. I found a nice somewhat protected spot under a big Monterey Cyprus on the bluff from which to shoot.  After shooting it was nice to come home to a warm fire.

So at the end of the day we have some nice soft light and very cold stormy surf. Every day is a new day and you just never know what it’s going to bring.  These were all good days…Life is good!

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 24-70 mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 lenses; monopod.

Posted in Beach, Birds, Landscapes, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Sunsets, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Bone Yard: A Driftwood Extravaganza

There is an area of Walk On Beach here in Sea Ranch where driftwood, large and small, accumulates with each major storm. When we first visited this beach years ago we were taken by the size and expanse of the driftwood pile that seemed to have been pushed into a seasonal drainage from the adjoining meadowland.  We called it “The Bone Yard”, because that’s exactly how it struck us.  It’s a fun place to hike around as you can find all manner of rather artfully weathered driftwood logs and stumps.  So I thought I would try to capture the essence of this place in photographs in hopes of sharing the experience of just hanging out here for an afternoon.

Bone Yard Entrance from the Beach

The Pile at the Bone Yard

Walk On Beach and the Bone Yard
The first three images (above) show the whole of the place where the giant logs are strewn about and also how they seem to converge up the small drainage area of the meadow . It takes a very large storm to move these logs this far up beyond the normal high tide line.  There also must be some unique circulation patterns just off shore here that seem to concentrate and push the flotsam into this beach.  I generally didn’t see such large chunks of driftwood along the south shore of Long Island where I grew up, so it’s always a treat for me to visit this beach.

Walk On Beach DriftwoodMore Driftwood from the Bone YardBurl Stump DriftwoodBurl Stump Close-upPeek-a-booAnother Denizen of the Bone YardDriftwood as Art
The remaining images speak for themselves, and represent just a small smattering of the local denizens of the Bone Yard.  I especially like the root burls and how the weathering seems to really enhance the swirling grain patterns in the root mass. These logs move around from year to year, storm to storm, so each year brings new members to the Bone Yard. And as it does I’ll be there to add to our collection of Bone Yard inhabitants.

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

Posted in Beach, Coastal meadows, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

First Storms of 2014 hit the Beach

Over the past week or so we started to get some minor but welcomed rain here on the north coast. The storms weren’t much, but they did manage to churn up the surf pretty well.  The waves weren’t huge, maybe some 10 – 12 footers, but they sure made an impact when they landed ashore.  I was lucky to have been down at Walk-on Beach before the storms actually landed and the first two images capture the slow build of the storm’s impact.  I like the moodiness of these images as the fog was kind of in and out, and you can see hints of blue sky here and there.

Walk On Beach Before the Storm

Walk On Beach reflective wave in the fog
The next two images were captured off of Fish Rock road in Sea Ranch and the bluff top home adds some scale to the scene.  By this time one storm had passed but another was on the way, so the surf was still pretty wild.  These waves were pounding day and night and we could hear them at night while going to sleep.  It’s the best sound to sleep to that I can imagine…pure white noise and it wasn’t some digital creation.

Storm Surf off Fish Rock Road, Sea Ranch

Big Splash off Sea Ranch
The last two images were captured a day or so later off Headlands Reach in Sea Ranch. There was still one more storm to come and the surf was still exploding nicely along the bluff. I was using my 24-70mm lens so I had to get a little closer to the action and I got wet on more than one occasion.  I tried to perch myself in one location so I didn’t have to worry about getting blindsided by an incoming wave, but I still got splashed a few times.  I guess that’s how you know that you’re in the right place.

Storm Surf off Headlands Reach, Sea Ranch

First Storm of 2014 hits Sea Ranch at Headlands Reach
I hope we get lots more storms like this as we really need the rain.  As winter heats up you can be assured that I’ll be somewhere out there capturing images of storm surf in all their glory.
Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens, monopod.

Posted in Beach, Fall, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments