San Francisco at night

A little deviation from nature photography today, because I like to try different kinds of photography.

Back in May, I did a San Francisco night photography tour with John Gunther.  John was a terrific and easy going guide, and very helpful in offering advice.  I had a great time that night, and look forward to doing another photo event with John.

After sunset, we went atop the hill on Yerba Buena Island, where you can get a direct view of the Bay Bridge heading into San Francisco.  A longer exposure gives trails of the red brake lights of vehicles on the bridge.


Then we went to another part of Treasure Island to get some shots of the new Bay Bridge, which I think is quite pretty at night, with reflections in the water.  Confession — I love bridges!


Next stop was Pier 14 in the city.  There are some mercury street lights there that cast a beautiful amber glow on the old pilings in the water.


From the end of the pier I took the photo below of the Ferry Terminal, with the new “1915” lights.  Those lights were installed in February of this year, along with the lights along the edges of the building.  This is how the Ferry Building was lit for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and they were reinstalled this year to celebrate the exposition’s 100th anniversary.

FerryTerminal_from_Pier 14.2015-0327

Last stop was the Palace of Fine Arts, originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, then rebuilt in 1965.  It is really striking at night.  It was well past midnight when I took this shot.Palace of Fine Arts-10.2015-0327

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Death Valley at sunset

Last November Pepe and I were in Death Valley National Park.  Nearing sunset one day, we were in an area with large broad sand dunes.   The low angle of the sunset made beautiful warm colors and lovely shadows.

Death Valley.2014-Nov-56

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The back of the flower can be as pretty as the front

One of my favorite local places to go for macro photography is the Marin Art and Garden Center, in Ross, California.  They have beautiful gardens, with much of interest for the macro shooter.   When I go during weekdays the place is usually quiet with only a few people, and my tripod doesn’t get in anyone’s way.

This little flower is called borage (Borago officinalis); it is also called Starflower.  I like the color and its delicate form, and I love that my macro lens shows all of the little hairs.  This is the back of the flower.


The background was a little busy in the original shot, so I converted it to an all black background and I think it shows off the flower quite nicely.

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Cascade Pass

A couple of weeks ago Pepe and I were in Seattle visiting friends.  Naturally we wanted to do some hikes in the area.  Since we intended to drive the Cascade Loop (which we could not complete becausue of major forest fires in the area), we looked for a hike on the most scenic part of the loop that goes through the North Cascades National Park.  A friend suggested the trail to Cascade Pass.  This hike was also highly recommended in a book on photography in Washington State that I really like.  It was a terrific suggestion.  I have been an avid hiker for many years;  I have hiked thousands of miles in many countries, and this trail would be very high up on my list of all-time favorites.  It is nothing short of spectacular.

Even before you hit the trail you are treated with wondrous scenery as you drive the 23-mile Forest Service road to the trailhead, about an hour’s drive.  The first half is paved, and the second half is gravel.  The road parallels the North Fork of the Cascade River, and as it climbs you are treated to one waterfall after another.

The trail starts in the forest, and you hike up more than thirty switchbacks before the trees start to thin.  In another mile or so you arrive at the pass.  The view at the pass literally took my breath away.  It almost looks like a painting, but this is real!

The view from Cascade Pass

The view from Cascade Pass

Some hikers told us that if we climbed further up the trail, we would get a beautiful view of an Alpine Lake.  So upward we went.  The trail up on this part of the climb is also beautiful.  Here is Pepe on that part of the trail.  I love the colors, almost like fall colors.

At the top of this climb we saw the view of Doubtful Lake.  Yes, that is the name of the lake; we had a lot of jokes about how the lake got its name.


There was wildlife along the trail.  We saw young grouse and heard their mother calling for them.  We saw an adorable pika, and a marmot, but the marmot was moving too fast for a good photo.  Near the viewpoint for Doubtful Lake there was a beautiful mountain goat.  And on the way down, there was a deer on the trail, a young doe who didn’t move even as we got very close to her; the deer there must be very used to people, as the trail is popular.

There was one more treat in store for us as we hiked down the trail and the sun started setting.  Another stunning vista with the clouds revealing the sun’s rays.


It was definitely a day to remember!!!!!

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Look up! Owl!

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day at Point Reyes National Seashore.  It was a NANPA photography meetup led by John Gunther.  I have done a night photography workshop with John, and he was the main reason that I went to the meetup, because John is both a great photographer and also a great teacher, very generous with his time and knowledge.

I brought my brand new camera with me.  I upgraded to a Canon 6D because (a) I wanted the image quality that a full frame camera affords, and (b) I wanted better low light performance, which was something pretty frustrating on my older camera.  I am so far very happy with the new camera.

We started at Chimney Rock, which is one of my favorite places to go in spring for the abundance and variety of wildflowers there.  Chimney Rock is also known for sea lions, often visible in several areas.  In the past I have been lucky to be very up close and personal with dozens of sea lions on the sand by the Historic Lifeboat Station there, but none were there this time.  We saw sea lions in other places, but at a distance.

The big treat of the day for me was this beautiful owl in the pine trees near the lifeboat station.  There were actually two of them, and we were able to observe them for quite some time.  That gave me time to put my really long lens on my trip and get some good shots of the owl.  This one is my favorite.  I am not exactly sure what type of owl that he is.  It is a little more difficult to tell because this fellow is actually sitting sideways, with his head turned.  Did you know that owls can turn their heads almost completely around?  My guess is that is owl is a short-eared owl, Asio flammeus.


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Cacti Cluster

I was taking a walk in the neighborhood with my husband, and stopped to look at one of the gardens that has always interested me.  This garden has a lot of cacti, and this cluster struck me with their beautiful structure and colors.  I didn’t have my DSLR camera with me, only my iPhone, and I took a few pictures with the iPhone camera.  I continue to be amazed at the quality of the shots from the iPhone.  Not as good as I can get with my DSLR and high quality lenses, but pretty darned good.

Someday, I’ll work on my garden, and plant cacti like this.  Someday……

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Tamalpais Coyote

Some months ago, in the fall, my friend Jim and I took our cameras into the redwoods on Mt. Tamalpais near my home.   We wanted to photograph the fall colors in the redwood forest.  At one point I saw this coyote a little ways up the hill from us, and signalled to Jim to stop and be quiet so we could just observe him.  Normally coyotes on Tamalpais are quite shy and avoid people, but this one actually came closer to us.  We were near a stream and the coyote ambled down into the streambed.  I was too much in awe of this beautiful animal to look at my watch, but Jim and I guessed that the coyote stayed near us in the streambed for something like half an hour, within only about twenty or thirty feet of us.   He was well aware of us, and we were careful to stay quiet and barely move.  I observed more than photographed, but did manage to capture a few shots of this beautiful animal.

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