Archive for January 2014

Friday Foto Talk: Why is Metadata Important?   7 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Beacon Rock   10 comments

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

The Rugged Sonoma Coast   8 comments

The rugged beauty of Sonoma Coast State Park in northern California.

The rugged beauty of Sonoma Coast State Park in northern California.

On this last trip, returning home to Oregon, I almost missed this place.  Sure I’ve been through there before.  But I never really appreciated it fully.  I even got back on Interstate 5, the main (boring) freeway traveling north-south through California, Oregon and Washington.  Something made me swing back over to the coast north of the Bay Area.  I did it at night, as if it was somehow wrong.

I hit the coast at Bodega Bay.  This is the perfect place to stroll the quintessential California seaside town.  (If you’re heading north of the Sonoma Coast Mendocino is even better!)  Wander the quaint streets, sample salt-water taffy and shop for souvenirs ’till you’re heart’s content.  Then, for more adventurous doings, head north.  But before you do, stock up on things like picnic fixings, drinks, and even gas.  There aren’t any big towns for quite a ways.

Rocks and surf as far as the eye can see.  Cape Mendocino is in the distance.

Rocks and surf as far as the eye can see. Cape Mendocino is in the distance.

The wonderful Sonoma Coast State Park stretches north from Bodega Bay for miles and miles.  It includes marvelous sea-stack-filled vistas that even a veteran of the Oregon Coast will have trouble getting through in a day.  I must have stopped a dozen times, walking out over a headland or stumbling down to a rugged beach.  I had camped at a quiet spot just east of Hwy. 1, where the county is in the process of turning an old dairy ranch into a park.  Very peaceful and quiet, beautiful weather, the perfect setting for a detour!

I did a longer hike near Goat Rock, just south of the Russian River mouth.  What a spectacular place for a walk!  The trail, which parallels the coastline not far from the road, is easy and flat.  It’s accessible at several points, allowing a shuttle if you want to do the whole stretch (about 5 miles).  I did an out and back hike.  An aside:  since I became a more serious photographer, I have forgotten my former insistence on doing loop hikes.  Now I don’t mind out and backs so much.  I think it’s because you get a completely different view going the opposite direction.  It’s something I knew before, of course; yet didn’t appreciate as much before now.

Highway 1 in northern California passes through eucalyptus groves.

Highway 1 in northern California passes through eucalyptus groves.

For the Russian River mouth, you can simply view it from pull-outs to the north along Hwy. 1, where surfers park to go try the rough surf created by the sea-dominated delta.  Or you can, a mile or so south of the bridge over the Russian, take Goat Rock road down to the spit of flat land that projects north between river and sea.  This is a nice place for a beach walk.

North of the river, the highway climbs up and over a spectacular series of headlands.  You can easily park at one of several small pull-outs and walk the short distance out to the edge.  The views are stunning.  There are also steep trails leading down to pocket beaches which you’ll likely have to yourself.  Highway 1 climbs steeply over the main headland, where you have an incredible, eagle’s eye view down to the rugged coastline.

Traveling north, you would be wise to make time for Fort Ross.  I already posted on this beautifully-situated place last year, so I’ll just say that it’s a fascinating piece of American (and Russian) history.  Check out that post for photos and more info.  For photographers, a huge eucalyptus grows there that Ansel Adams famously photographed.  North of Fort Ross, Stillwater Cove is a lovely place to hunt abalone shells and take pictures.  You’ll need a permit to collect the shells.

Practicalities

You can certainly visit this coast for the day while staying at one of the inland towns (Healdsburg is a great choice).  If you are doing the Sonoma wine-tour thing, this could be the best way to get a first-pass overview of the Sonoma Coast.  But plan to get started early and spend all day; otherwise it will feel like you just drove all day.

Better is to stay the night, in one of the lodges in Bodega Bay or Mendocino, or at one of the many campgrounds.  There are campgrounds in the state park just inland as well as along the coast.  Anchor Bay is a tiny town positioned more centrally on the coast.  It has both lodging and camping options.  And there are a number of B&Bs and other lodging options dotted along the coast, that is if you don’t need town amenities.

If you’re coming down from the north, Fort Bragg is the last big town for groceries, gas and the like, whereas if you’re coming from the south, Bodega Bay is your best option for stocking up.

There are more wonders to the north, in Mendocino County.  And the wonderful Point Reyes is a short jaunt to the south.  The really nice thing about this stretch of coast is that you often find nice weather even in winter.  It can get wild in stormy weather, but when placid it’s downright mild!  Thanks for reading.

The light at dusk is subdued by fog and spray from the Pacific in this view south along the Sonoma Coast, California.

The light at dusk is subdued by fog and spray from the Pacific in this view south along the Sonoma Coast, California.

The sun sinks into the Pacific.

The sun sinks into the Pacific.

 

Single-image Sunday: Hidden Gem   9 comments

I’ve been going back through all the photos from this last trip, searching for pictures I may have missed.  I’ve found a few, but it’s always the case that most of those I don’t catch on the first pass are just good not great shots.  I like this image but I want you be the judge of that.  Please give your honest comment below.

 I recall being a bit late getting up for sunrise on this particular morning.  It was a hike up to the top of a ridge in an area I had mountain-biked the day before.  The beautiful light arrived before I made it, so I turned around and set up right down on the slickrock, shooting back towards where I was camped.

The dawn light was very pretty, but there was also a lot of contrast.  So I wasn’t sure about the quality of the image.  Also there was the fact I was on the way to somewhere else.  I try not to let that influence my opinion of a shot, but sometimes it does.

After I spent some time editing this to subdue the contrast, trying to make it look like what I saw that morning, I saw it was a  nice shot.  I’m happy with the image mainly because it captures the feel of this place:  long curving striations of the Entrada Sandstone sweeping away and merging together in the broken and juniper-dotted background.

It’s an area that, while known by serious mountain-bikers, is off the radar for landscape photographers.  And the area around Moab, Utah certainly draws its share of photogs.!  I worked pretty hard there to find a half-dozen or so relatively unknown areas, at the same time taking the opportunity to do more mountain biking than I had ever done before at Moab.  Have a great week everyone!

Dawn breaks over sandstone slickrock in southern Utah.  Protected by copyright.  Click image for purchase options

Dawn breaks over sandstone slickrock in southern Utah. Protected by copyright. Click image for purchase options

Friday Foto Talk: Metadata Basics   6 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Volcano   1 comment

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Monochrome Monday: Foggy Mornings   4 comments

A barge on the Columbia River waits for heavy fog to lift before continuing down the river past Portland, Oregon.

A barge on the Columbia River waits for heavy fog to lift before continuing down the river past Portland, Oregon.

I’ve been back home about a week and a half and have not been shooting much.  But I got out the other morning to see what the fog presented in the Columbia River Gorge.  Since I didn’t do my usual Sunday post (blame football), here’s a rare Monday offering.  Fog is just made for black and white!

Though some of these images do work well in color as well (the barge shot especially), I decided to convert them to monochrome to highlight the mood.  They are copyrighted and not available for free download, sorry.  If you are interested in any of them just click to go to the main gallery section of my website.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, please contact me with any requests and I can help you personally.  Thanks for your interest.

Fishing for winter steelhead is a popular reason to visit the Sandy River near Portland, Oregon.

Fishing for winter steelhead is a popular reason to visit the Sandy River near Portland, Oregon.

Fog shrouds the Sandy River Delta natural area along the Columbia River in Oregon.

Fog shrouds the Sandy River Delta natural area along the Columbia River in Oregon.

The lower Columbia River Gorge is near home, so it was easy to get up early enough.  The fog was heavy in town so I expected it to be shrouding the Gorge as well.  But I soon broke out of the fog into windy & crystal clear air just after sunrise.

Then I saw the barge (top image).  Normally I wait for these to clear out before getting my shot.  But this time I saw a photo where the barge was heading into the fog bank covering the lower river.  I was in a hurry to park and set up, but I didn’t need to.  The barge just stayed there.  I realized he was waiting for the fog to burn off before continuing.  With the heavy ship traffic on the Columbia this suddenly made perfect sense.

After the sun rose a bit and light got harsher, I retreated back to the fog.  I took a short walk on the Sandy River Delta, which is just off the interstate as you exit the Gorge going west.  It’s a popular place for people to go run their dogs.  It also is a very large area, and flat as a pancake.  The shot with the single tree and the fog is from here.

Fog and wintertime set a mood along the Sandy River in northwestern Oregon.

Fog and wintertime set a mood along the Sandy River in northwestern Oregon.

I drove a short distance up the Sandy River on the old historic highway.  Winter steelhead are the main draw this time of year on the Sandy, so the only people I saw had fishing poles in their hands.  I’ve been wanting a foggy shot of the Sandy for quite some time, and I think I got a good one (above).  What do you think?

I finished up shooting a small waterfall.  When you drive up the Sandy, you skirt a steep escarpment made up of the lava gravels of the Troutdale Formation.  In the wet season many waterfalls plunge off this cliff.  Since the Gorge’s famous falls are nearby, these get short shrift.  A beautiful little falls.  Thanks for reading and have a great week!

A small waterfall along the Sandy River, Oregon.

A small waterfall along the Sandy River, Oregon.

Friday Foto Talk: Titles   15 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Morning Drive   Leave a comment

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Single-image Sunday: Tidepooling on the Lost Coast   3 comments

A crab inhabits the shallows along California's Lost Coast.

A crab inhabits the shallows along California’s Lost Coast.

Although I can’t claim this as one of my best images, it’s a memory I want to hold onto for as long as possible in this rainy mess back home in Oregon.  It seems like two months ago I was on a sunny, warm California Coast, focused on one of my favorite activities (it was last week).  Tidepooling at low tide anywhere on the Pacific is just plain fun.  It is rugged on the Lost Coast, a stretch between the towns of Fort Bragg and Eureka in northern California.  But there are plenty of rocky sections accessible at low tide.

I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve been under the mistaken impression I could keep my feet dry.  This was yet another one of those times.  I was rewarded when I came upon an area where crabs seemed to be congregating.  I’ve never seen this crab before.  It was one of two types I saw with unusual projections on the carapace.  I googled but the closest thing I found was the sharp-nosed crab.  And that wasn’t really a great match.  So if you know please tell me!

He was hiding in a mass of kelp that I stepped on.  I was walking carefully and didn’t put my full weight on it right away.  I felt the kelp moving under my foot and pulled back in surprise.  When I peeled the kelp away I almost got a rude surprise.  He was a feisty fella!  Who could blame him, being stepped on.  Pulled my fingers away just in time.

I found myself wondering what he tasted like.  That’s my childhood talking.  In summer we would go down to the nearby Chesapeake Bay, bare feet in the cool mud, and catch blue crabs.  I let him be.

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