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.

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