Surf and turf

We had a pleasant surprise the other morning when we arrived at Trinidad Bay for our daily reconnoiter….there was a young seal waaaay up on the beach!

DSC_8234_aDSC_8247_aA sign on the beach by the local marine mammal center said it was a young Northern Elephant Seal who was probably in the middle of his seasonal migration from Alaska to Mexico, and who probably was resting, but possibly was doing a “catastrophic molt” (sheds his fur and a layer of skin, in order to grow).

Must’ve been resting, because he was gone the next day.

Later that day, we drove up the coast to where we often see elk. Another pleasant surprise…not only was the herd close to the road, in a nearby field there was a group of 10 bulls.

DSC_8606_aWe’ve not seen this group of bachelors before…what a bunch of impressive antlers!


Tall trees and great waves

They grow em big around here….

The weather has given us some glorious days here recently. During one, we caught this scene.

DSC_6624_aAlthough the rain left, we still had days with fog and haze….which still makes for fun pictures of waves.

Here’s another instance where the same scene produces two images that offer different views. The sky changed in a matter of minutes, and I had to move the tripod farther from the surf….

DSC_8473_aDSC_8457_aWe spent a day with no rain among redwoods. Even with sunshine, the forest is soooo dark these exposures have to be long, and it’s impossible to stand still enough…especially for Ross & Ryan! Near the end of the day, fog started moving in…and the low sun had to work really hard to punch through!

DSC_8773_aDSC_8765_aDSC_8728_aDSC_8734_aWe leave you with a booming sunset scene.


Rocks in my head

Our favorite spot along this California North Coast is Trinidad.

Small town on a hill, with a single road that rolls down to a bay and a sandy beach.

Very deep beach at low tide, not so deep at high tide. With interesting rocks that mostly get wet. Here’s one that usually doesn’t.


On this day, the wind was really blasting and Ross didn’t like that one bit. We snugged the hoodie around his ears and face to minimize the blasting at his ears…and he seemed somewhat comforted. But standing on the lee side of this tall rock seemed the best. He had thrown his blocks in a fit of pique, so I gathered them at his feet.

We showed you Pewetole Island awhile back, planted out in Trinidad’s bay. That’s it in the background with trees on top. If this picture was taken at high tide, we’d be waist- or neck-deep in Pacific Ocean!

DSC_6886_aThe mollusks, anemones, barnacles, and other creatures that attach themselves to every rock in the intertidal zone just fascinate me! They’re so utterly dependent upon the water that soaks them for various periods of the day, and at other times just pounds the daylights out of them!

DSC_7327_aDSC_7265_aFinally, with Pewetole Island in the background, I had some fun with the rocks and surf at the strangest time…just after sunset with a dull, overcast sky and the mist or fog that often blankets this area.

It might be dim and dull, but life goes on at the water’s edge…the surf rolls in then out, the sand moves out of the way then streams back in, the rocks get wet, and the sea creatures get doused one more time with the nutrients they need.

I had two versions of this scene, and couldn’t decide between them…so I’ve included both!


Day is dying in the west

Along the California North Coast, there’s a nearly constant opportunity for great sunsets.

Even during all this rain, the clouds rarely totally blanket the sky…they’re usually in patches and streaks.

The horizon is soooo deep and wide. The foreground can be cliffs or sandy beaches.

And the colors vary widely…even from one minute to the next.

Here are four images from three sunsets. The first two are nearly the identical vantage point…on successive evenings.

The last two are from a point, just turning toward the south as the sun disappears, then toward the north to catch the color change just minutes later.

Ahhh, another week is finished….



No complaining by Californians about all the rain we’ve been having…although it tends to make photos dreary and cameras wet….

But I’ve told you…and shown you…what storms can do for sunsets.

Here are some further examples. But my point is more specific this time.

The last couple minutes as the sun approaches the horizon often produce spectacular colors and effects. The bright sun causes a camera meter to shut down the exposure…which makes colors much richer and the picture more dramatic than what your eyes see. It’s a cheap thrill!

But wait, don’t walk away yet.

There might be even more to come…the sun and sky might not be done with tonight’s show!

As it gets darker, many cameras are unable to adjust…they try to lighten the scene…making the colors and effects much less dramatic than what you’re seeing.

If that describes your experience, you might study the camera manual (ack!) to see if there is any adjustment you can make. Even cell phones sometimes can be adjusted by stroking the screen up or down.

But wait, there’s more!

Even half an hour after sunset there can be all kinds of color and drama. Your eyes probably won’t see most of it. If your camera can make some serious adjustments, you might get something waaaay interesting! You’ll need a tripod. And you’ll need to experiment…a lot!

It’s complicated, but worth the effort to learn, and worth the effort to find a good spot and a good sunset.

The images below were made one evening within 30 minutes of each other. They’re shot too slow to freeze wave action, but that’s part of the appeal for me. Click on each image to see it full-screen. Even an exquisite phone won’t do them justice.

I’m still learning how to best capture and process images for this circumstance, and hope to share some improved versions in the coming weeks & months!


After midnight

We sometimes stay out until nearly bedtime when Ross & Ryan have had too little exercise due to the rain…because they’ll bounce around the coach if we go home to just sit….

Which has allowed for some interesting exploring!

We found a remote road to the shore with pastures on both sides…where the cattle have discovered gaps in the fences on both sides, so they feed along the roadside and mosey back to a pasture when they feel like it!

But in these stormy days, when the clouds break and there’s a full moon…look what you get five hours after sunset! We could hardly see a thing (could hear the cows but not see them!), but the camera patiently recorded the faint light…for nearly a minute here (that’s why the stars are streaks).

DSC_6613_aAnd along the shoreline, you can see the lights of boats pulling their crab traps whenever the seas allow….even in the middle of the night!

DSC_6983_aFinally, we have experienced evenings with nearly clear skies, and the stars seem even clearer when you’ve not seen them for awhile.

Panorama 7368 & 7369

Fire and rain

The extreme weather along the west coast has certainly dampened our exploration.

On many days we have not been able to walk around with Ross & Ryan…which means we look for churches with porticos, since there are no Home Depots or Lowes within a hundred miles!

Actually, it has caused us to explore some new roads and areas we missed last year while here…and we’ve discovered some gems to revisit when it’s dry and we can get out to walk and shoot!

In the meantime, the rain means clouds, and clouds mean…well…gray skies and dull sunsets…

Except when there’s a break!

Here’s a remarkable sky from a recent evening.


The fun side of bad weather

You might’ve heard about the weather hereabouts….

We arrived on the North Coast just as this special weather pattern arrived…sheesh, it’s been wet & blustery….

Ah, but that wind sure does some great things to the waves, and you know what happens at sunset with clouds….

I maneuvered down to a spot on the shoreline behind these rocks at low tide near sun down. Wow, had to lift the tripod several times to avoid getting its legs in salt water!


I’ve got my eye on you

We’ve run across all kinds of interesting things to show you….too little time to get them ready!

But we ran across the sweetest little bird the other day, and had to share it immediately.

DSC_7457_aNorthern Pygmy-Owl.

Never sure if he’s coming or going….

DSC_7439_aQuite small….sparrow-sized!

DSC_7459_aHe (or she) was sitting alongside a very narrow trail out to a rocky overlook, but was separated from the trail by a thick hedge. He apparently felt unnoticed and safe there, but Robyn’s keen eye for birds found him immediately, and we had great fun taking his picture.

He continued to hang around, and we pointed him out to several other people who happened along.

Dreadful weather…very strong winds with periods of driving rain. He waited patiently.