Sunday, February 11, 2018

Half Moon Bay

Our final day of our recent visit to California included some sights in and around Half Moon Bay.

Here are photos taken just north of Half Moon Bay at Maverick's Beach, which is a destination for big-wave surfers. While we didn't see any surfers, likely due to the low tide, we enjoyed the rock formations and tide pools.

Tide's Out

Exploring Tide Pools

Oncoming Wave Crash

Slippery Rocks

Lines of Reflection

The remaining photos are taken at Half Moon Bay Beach.

Western Sun

Clouds Over Cliff

Moon Over Cliff

Sunset Bubbles

Muted Spray

Backlit Splash

Extra Big Splash

Last Minute Beach Walkers

Somersault Goodness

All photos © 2018, all rights reserved.  Contact for licensing or to order prints.


Continuing our California adventure, we met up with my son and daughter-in-law in Pacifica. We enjoyed some coastal views as well as a lovely hike in Pacifica's San Pedro Valley Park.

Ravens and crows are hard to tell apart; I'm going to guess this is a Raven. Raven's usually travel in pairs, and this one had a pal on another branch. Crows travel in crowds. Their tail feathers differ, but I missed seeing the tail feathers' shape when this one flew away.

Coastal Raven

Coastline Looking North

Near the end of our hike at San Pedro Valley Park we came across a deer family grazing off our path in the late afternoon sun. They were strongly backlit, so it made for a slight but overall rewarding photographic challenge to capture some shots at 300mm (600mm equivalent). These are all handheld 1/1000 second exposures at ISO 1600, except for "Looking My Way", which was at ISO 1000.

Young Deer

Deer in Sunlight

Questioning Deer

Looking My Way

Older and Wiser Version

All photos © 2018, all rights reserved.  Contact for licensing or to order prints.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tall Trees, Surfing, Birds, and Beaches

The day after our Pinnacles visit was filled with wonderful memories including classic California goodness. We started our day at the Sand Rock Farm B&B where we'd been staying - highly recommended, the breakfasts are fantastic - and wended our way slowly northward to Half Moon Bay.

Here's a shot of the open air "wine cellar" that was accidentally discovered underground at the farm, and is now put to good use as an event area.

Wine Cellar Dance Floor

We visited "The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park" in Aptos to see some tall Redwood trees. The park did not disappoint. Here are a few shots looking skyward!

Going Up

Branches in the Clouds

We headed over to the area known as Steamer Lane on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. We went to see the lighthouse with a "surf museum", but the main attraction was the view of the surfers from a high cliff relatively near them. These are extremely experienced surfers enjoying their sport by surfing the remarkably large Santa Cruz waves. I was amused to see several photographers, some with tripods, and all with very large lenses, lined up photographing the surfers. I wasn't sure if I dare join the crowd of experienced photographers. Deb encouraged me to take the time and grab some pictures, and I'm glad she did! I changed lenses from my 12-40mm to my 75-300mm (150-600mm equivalent) telephoto to have a chance of getting worthwhile results.

How It's Done

Carving a Turn

Riding It Out

Pointing In the Desired Direction

Tip Up

For reference, here's a quick shot from Deb's cell phone:

Her Pixel 2 normally takes outstanding photos, but this subject is just too challenging for a general purpose cell phone wide angle camera. You can see how far away we are from the surfers, and why having a real camera with a real telephoto lens is quite necessary to get good surfer photos!

After the surfer photo fun, on our way back to the car, we stopped for a few moments to admire some birds sitting in the Ice Plant groundcover very close to the sidewalk. I still had the 75-300mm lens on my camera. So I grabbed some shots of these friendly flyers. These were all captured at a 179mm focal length. I was delighted with the sharpness of this lens - my least sharpest Olympus lens - in rendering the birds' feathers.

I'm pretty sure these are all Brewer's Blackbirds. The mostly black ones are males, while the brown ones are females or juveniles.


For this and a few other bird photos that follow I've decided to share a closer cropped view as well so you can get an even closer look at these feathery creatures.

Sheen (cropped)


Resting (cropped)

Lost in Thought

Right Back Atcha

In the Ice Plant

In the Ice Plant (cropped)


We then made a quick visit to nearby Natural Bridges State Beach before heading further northward up Route 1.

Natural Bridge

This next photo was taken outside the hostel at Pigeon Point:


We arrived at San Gregorio Beach in time to appreciate a true west coast sunset. San Gregorio holds a special place in my heart as I have fond memories of bringing my son to play in the sand and enjoy the natural beauty of this Northern California beach.

Looking Back


Sunset Loving Dog

Beach Hills

Sunset Path

View North

Beach Twilight

All photos © 2018, all rights reserved.  Contact for licensing or to order prints.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Pinnacles Visit

We visited Northern California to get a break from the New England winter weather. Not only was it considerably warmer than our home climate this time of year, we got to visit with my son and daughter-in-law as well; they live in San Francisco. In the first part of the trip, we stayed in Aptos at the northern edge of Monterey Bay, just south of Santa Cruz. We visited Pinnacles National Park on our first full day after arrival. I'm pretty sure I was there once before, but it was many decades ago. Other guests at the B&B where we were staying suggested we go to the east entrance, and we decided to follow their advice. Pinnacles has a west and an east side; there are no direct roads connecting the two sides.

After parking in the Bear Gulch parking lot, we hiked the Overlook Trail (yellow) and the Bear Gulch Cave Trail (green).

Our Pinnacles Hikes

While the Outlook Trail was pleasant, it wasn't as interesting as the hike up to the Bear Gulch Reservoir via the Bear Gulch Cave. There was a light rain shower twice during the Outlook Trail hike, but it didn't bother us too much.

We enjoyed the striking smooth red bark of some of the trees on the trails. After returning home, and doing a bit of googling, I've decided this is a Manzanita tree. I've seen them before when I lived in California, but had forgotten what a unique and colorful appearance they have.

Manzanita Tree

 View of some "pinnacle" formations towering over Bear Gulch.

Monoliths in the Distance

High Silhouette

The remaining photos are from the Bear Gulch Cave trail loop.

Rock Wall

Here's Deb demonstrating her massive strength to keep these rocks from colliding. This gap occurs right before the entrance to the cave.

Deb Keeps the Rocks from Colliding

The cave was quite a joy to climb through. It had steps inside, and one could stand up most of the way except in a few places. Parts of it were extremely dark; we had to use our cell phone flashlights to see where we were going. The next two cave pictures are of a particularly colorful section using two different aspect ratios. These were at ISO 5000 at 1/20 and 1/25 seconds respectively. I do not recall seeing the color on the rock with my eye. Nice that the camera reveals it.

Cave Color

Shining Through

After exiting the cave, we had an adventure figuring out which piles of rocks to crawl though to find the stunning Bear Gulch Reservoir.

Reservoir Peak

Boulders and Trees

Enjoying the High Res

Late Day Reservoir Blue

High Terrain

On the way back down, after the lovely reservoir visit, Deb used her great hiking boots with good grip to take a detour out onto a steep outcropping to see a magnificent view of the valley below. Here she is standing atop big rocks. Did I say these were BIG rocks?

Feeling Small

The Pinnacles terrain is unique and impressive!

Trailside View

All photos © 2018, all rights reserved.  Contact for licensing or to order prints.