Calm after the Storm

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Calm after the storm Sun Peaking through near Stewart's Point

Just when you think winter is behind you, it suddenly lets you know who’s still in charge of the weather calendar.  We had a pretty good storm here over the last couple of days, and yesterday afternoon I decided to head south along the coast to try to capture the remaining storm clouds just as the sun was starting to peak through.   This spot is right along Highway 1 between Stewart’s Point and Salt Point State Park.  The western horizon was still dark and ominous while the sky to the east was beginning to clear.  This made for some nice light conditions.  I was originally going to process these in B&W, but I thought the bright colors of the grasses and carpet of wildflowers against the dark sky was too much to pass up.  Decisions, decisions.

Many places in California are displaying what they call “Super Blooms” of wildflowers; one great gift from years of drought followed by record amounts of rain.  While I wouldn’t exactly call the wildflower display in these images a super bloom, you can see a broad carpet of various colors along these wind-swept bluff tops.  The wind really keeps most plants, including wildflowers, pretty close to the ground along these bluffs.  I though the light really highlighted this mini bloom across the bluff top.  It may not measure up to be a super bloom, but I think it’s pretty super.

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

Posted in Coastal meadows, Landscapes, Seascapes, Wildflowers | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Walk-0n Beach Sentinels

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Walk-on Beach Sentinels

This is one of my favorite beaches to, well, walk on, and to photograph.  Shooting ultra-wide at 14mm gives a fitting perspective to these massive sandstone sentinels overlooking the northern entry point to Walk-on Beach here in Sea Ranch.  The glow from a late afternoon sun in February adds to the mood of this enduring landscape.  If you look closely, you’ll see that I was not alone, as there is a couple sitting on a large piece of driftwood down on the beach also enjoying the passing of the day.

Today is also my 68th birthday and this is my small way of saying thank you to all those friends who have sent me birthday wishes.  Enjoy each day as it passes and try to capture those small moments that bring you joy.  You really don’t need a camera for that.

Equipment:  Nikon D810:  Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 lens; Induro monopod

Posted in Beach, Geologic Formations, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Sonoma County: Beer Country?

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Old Hop Kiln on Westside Road Hop Kiln off Westside Road

Yes, that’s right…beer country.  Back in the turn of the century through to about the 1950’s and 60’s hops were Sonoma County’s “King of the Crops”.  I didn’t know this until I came across this beautiful old barn on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley (and Yes, I finally found another barn, and will keep looking for others.)  The architecture of this barn, with its two prominent ‘towers’ projecting from the ridge line of the roof looked familiar to me.  Then I remembered that the Martinelli Winery main building looks similar.  After a little digging I discovered that the Martinelli barn building is in fact a turn-of-the–century hop kiln; a building constructed specifically for the drying of hops prior to brewing beer.

The building I’ve photographed here is part of the Westside Farms Vineyard.  And while they don’t produce or sell wine there, word has it that there may be plans afoot to restore the hop kiln.  But for right now, I’m just enjoying the grace and beauty of an old turn-of-the century building that still stands today as a testament to the past when hops and beer were king of what has now become a world renown wine mecca.

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

Posted in History, Landscapes, Old Buildings, Sonoma County | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

An Afternoon in the Russian River Valley

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Oaks west of Windsor Native Oaks in the Russian River Valley

I was actually driving around the area west of Windsor along the Russian River looking for old barns to photograph.   As often happens, I found no barns worth shooting, but managed to stumble upon this nice little grove of young oaks next to the La Petite Etoile (The Little Star) vineyard.  And yes, there are still a few acres of native lands left in the Russian River Valley that have not yet been converted to vineyards.  But the thought also crossed my mind that because this little parcel of native oaks is so close to the vineyard, it might be nice to immortalize its beauty in pictures.  The late afternoon sun lent some nice shadows to the scene, and the lack of undergrowth allowed the colors of the grasses and wildflowers to shine through.  So, you just never know what you’re going to find when you embark on a day’s photo quest.  I’ve often said that some of my favorite images were taken on the way to somewhere else.  Isn’t that a little bit like life itself?   Your life may be taking you in one direction, but you better smell the roses along the way.

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

Posted in Forest, Landscapes, Sonoma County, Wildflowers | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Daylight Savings Time can only mean that Spring is on its way

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Sunset at Black Point

Our bluffs here at Sea Ranch are beginning to show their colors, but are not quite in full bloom yet.  Daylight savings time always used to remind me as a kid growing up in Long Island that spring and summer were just around the corner.  So, I thought I’d post an image taken a few years ago from one of my favorite spring spots on the Ranch.  This is Black Point at sunset in May, and the bluff is completely awash in ice plant.  And for you locals, yes, yes, I know it’s an invasive species and not native to this area.  But without it, this image wouldn’t have quite the pop that it has.  You have to take beauty where you find it.

I thought I would share this image especially for my friends and family back on the East Coast who are experiencing a resurgence of winter right now.   Trust me, it will pass and the spring blooms will make winter feel like a distant memory.

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

Posted in Beach, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Sunsets | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Windsor Town Green Convergence

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Windsor Town Green Water Feature

Windsor Town Green is a 10-year-old development project a few miles north of Santa Rosa, CA.  It’s still a small town, but includes a very nice park-like Town Green that also includes this interesting little water feature.  Unfortunately, the water was not flowing on this day but the feature itself caught my eye.  The long converging lines of the concrete fixture between the trees makes for an interesting image.  Most city-scape types of images capture the converging vertical lines of tall buildings, but this little town green offers its own unique “Town-scape” without ever having to go vertical.  A small town with big city features, but without the crowds.

Equipment:  Nikon D810; Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 lens


Posted in Black and White, City-Scapes, Landscapes, Sonoma County | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Windsor Town Green Convergence

Calla Lilies bring in the Spring

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We had some nice spring(ish) weather here a week or so ago and I have been noticing the Calla Lilies in various spots around the Ranch.  So, I knew it was time to head over to the abandoned barn near the Sea Ranch Lodge which is surrounded by Callas this time of year.  Some interesting clouds on the horizon also made for a nice backdrop.  I’m glad I didn’t wait much longer as some of the lilies were just starting to brown around the edges.  In any event, Callas are a great harbinger of spring and it was a nice late afternoon spent waist deep in lilies.  Who wouldn’t love that?

Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 14-24 mm f2.8 lens; Induro Monopod

Posted in Coastal meadows, Landscapes, Old Buildings, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Wildflowers | Tagged | Comments Off on Calla Lilies bring in the Spring

Wine Country Barn

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Wine Country Barn

Barbara and I were in Healdsburg last week and, while she shopped for fabric for her next quilting project, I decided to head towards the wine country with my camera.  I drove out north and east on Alexander Valley Road and I came across this neat old barn set amongst the oaks.  The late afternoon light was perfect for dappling the hillside with filtered light and letting the barn’s red color really stand out.  I confessed many times to having a thing for these old barns, and I’d love to get in any that I can.  But I would have to settle for the outside of this barn.  When I got done shooting this scene I figured Barbara had amassed all the fabric she needed so it was back to Healdsburg.  And there she was just coming out of the fabric store ready for her next project.  All in all, a very good afternoon.

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

Posted in Landscapes, Old Buildings, Sonoma County | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Before the Storm

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We were heading for another big storm a couple of days ago so I thought I’d head out to an area just north of Stengel Beach here on Sea Ranch.  It was cold and windy, but I managed to grab a couple of interesting images that pretty much captured the impending storm on the horizon.  Sometimes it’s all about the water, and sometimes it’s all about the sky; today it was certainly the ominous sky which foretold of another nasty storm heading our way.  Last night the storm hit in the middle of the night and woke us both up from a sound sleep.  It even moved the heavy teak chairs around the back deck.  The sky certainly foretold the story here.

Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8 lens; Induro Monopod

Posted in Beach, Black and White, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Storm Surf | Tagged | 4 Comments

An Afternoon at Shiloh Ranch Regional Park

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Last week I spent an afternoon hiking through Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, an 860 acre park in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains.  The trails wind through many different landscapes, but I was captivated by these oak woodlands.  The late afternoon light was wonderful and you can see the dappled light in many of these images as it fell through the canopy of these stately old oaks.

Sonoma County has several of these one-time ranches that were turned over to the county parks system to manage.  In several of the images you can also notice the small rivulets draining off the mountain from the prior heavy rains.  The sounds of these many little impromptu creeks made for a nice backdrop as I hiked through the woods.  As always, it was a great way to spend an afternoon…with a camera, or without.

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

Posted in Forest, Landscapes, Sonoma County | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Exploring Windsor and its Environs

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Foothill Regional Park near Windsor Oaks along the banks at Foothill Regional Park Oak Reflections: Foothill Regional Park Oaks against a grey sky: Foothill Regional Park

Barbara and I were over the hill last week in Windsor for a few days.  Windsor is only a few minutes up Highway 101 from Santa Rosa.  So, I had an afternoon to take my camera out and chose first to visit Foothill Regional Park just northeast of the town of Windsor.  It was an overcast afternoon and the oak trees were deep in their winter sleep.  The small pond and grey sky were great backdrops to the gnarly and twisted branches of these old oaks.  The third image is actually a reflection of an oak tree on the surface of the pond.

Antique Store in Downtown Windsor Old Chevy still useful

The last two images were taken in the downtown area of the Windsor Town Green Development.  The overall development project is a unique mixed use project with commercial stores on the ground floor and living spaces above.  But some of the old remnants of the earlier town are still on the outskirts of the new town.  This old antique store is certainly a holdout from days gone by, but I loved the colors of both the store and its offerings out on the sidewalk.  The last image is an old Chevy truck that stands on the front lawn of a local beer garden.  It was just too interesting a piece of Americana to pass up.

It was a fun afternoon discovering this new place.  You definitely see things differently when you walk around with a camera in your hands.

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

Posted in History, Landscapes, Sonoma County, Street Photography | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Big Storm Hits the Sonoma Coast

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Big Waves hit the Sea Ranch Coast  Rock Cove in the thick of it Huge Waves Just Keep Rolling in at Arch Rock Cove

Over the past couple of days one of the strongest winter rain storms to hit the Sonoma Coast in years produced some of the largest waves to land here in decades.  We often hear storm warnings predicting 20-25’ waves for our area, and they rarely ever reach those heights.  The current warnings indicated waves up to 25’ and by all accounts it seems that the predictions were right on target.

So, once the rains let up a bit I took my camera out to Arch Rock Cove off of Galleon’s Point here on Sea Ranch.  I often use the house shown in the first shot to provide a little scale for my images.  I was amazed to see how high these waves were relative to the top of the cliff.  The bluff here is easily 20 – 25 feet off the surface of the ocean.  The next two images show the incredible storm conditions in Arch Rock Cove just north of Galleon’s Point.  The rain came back pretty quickly and soon put an end to my photoshoot.  The sound and the fury of this storm was impressive, and being right there at the water’s edge was a real treat.

Equipment:  Nikon D810; Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5 lens; monopod

Posted in Beach, Black and White, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Storm Surf | Tagged , , | 2 Comments