Big Sur Burnt Trees

A black and white shot of the dead trees as a result of a forest fire.Big Sur Burnt Trees

Driving on a back road above Big Sur, I came across the skeletal remains of trees after a forest fire. A lot of people thing that wild fires should be extinguished, but in reality, they are needed for the health of the ecosystem.

The fire clears the forest floor of excess detritus, eliminates the weaker members of each species, and actually helps the trees reproduce. The heat of the fire melts the resin in the cones, allowing them to open and release their seeds. If the fire doesn’t burn long enough, the seeds aren’t released. If it burns too long, the seeds are burnt too. A good fire will result in the release of over 500,000 seeds per acre and those seeds don’t have to compete with other plants because of the fire.

When I took this shot, knew there was something, but I wasn’t sure what. After playing with it, I found that I really liked it in black and white.

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Highway 58 Adobe Barn

Highway 58 Adobe Barn

California Highway 58 south of Atascadero to the central valley is one of my favorite drives, especially in the spring. The grass is green, the weather is still cool, and many times the wild flowers are blooming. If you drive at a leisurely pace, you will find all sorts of subjects to shoot and document.

On the right side of the road was this old adobe barn. Or what I can only assume was a barn. It is nestled in a small valley deep among the old oaks. The walls are giving out and starting to collapse and the roof is covered with leaves and tree litter.

I’m guessing that at one time it was used as a shelter for the ranchers or possibly a storage shed for supplies. Either way it’s still fun to shoot.

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Bodie Bottles

Bodie SHP Bottles

Bodie State Historical Park is one of my favorite places to shoot. In north east California, just north of Mono Lake, it was a boom town that was abandoned and left to disappear. The state took over and has kept it in a state of “arrested decay”, meaning that they don’t repair anything, but the also don’t allow it to get worse.

Winters brought snow ten feet deep and summers were hot and dry. The mills of the mines were loud and constant. And the population was a large group of hard living miners who weren’t always law abiding. Life must have been hard during it’s hay-day.

Shooting there is a blast. It has a shot everywhere you turn. They also have a museum where you can look at the artifacts found on site from a past culture. Inside, against a window is this collection of old bottles from the town.

I took this with a Lensbaby and actually did a great job getting the sweet spot in focus. I like the blur on the outside edges of the shot and the clarity of the  center bottle.

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Breakwater Chains, Crescent City

Crescent City Breakwater Chains

Crescent City is one of my favorite towns in Northern California. It’s really close to Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP, which in my mind, is one of the most beautiful parks we have in the state. It has a quiet, sleepy atmosphere. And it’s got great weather.

Crescent City also has a really cool breakwater that is made of tetrapods that deflect the waves and current from damaging the harbor. They are held in place with large chains and cables that are anchored at the top of the jetty.

Looking down the jetty, you can see all of the chains lined up across the  curb of the jetty. Inside the chains there seems to be some kind of electrical cable, but I have never been able to find out what it was or if it did anything.

 

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Lincoln

Lincoln

Touring around Illinois, I had the opportunity to stop at Lincoln’s birth place and museum in Springfield. They had this nice statue of Lincoln across the street in a park. I looked at it from all angles and finally found this.

Yes, there is heavy use of vignetting, but the sky was a boring overcast and I thought it brought attention to the subject and gave it an old fashioned look.

The museum itself was interesting and did a great job showing both the history of the era and what the feelings of the nation were during that turbulent time. I’d like to go back and see it again.

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Oregon Bridge

Oregon Bridge with Stream

The Willamette Valley area and southern section of Oregon has a LOT of covered bridges. I went on a hunt to shoot all of them. Most of them were boring and not all that interesting to shoot. But I did find this shot of a stream running under a bridge near one of the covered bridges.

Again, I played with shutter speed to try to capture the moving water and get a nice blur in the water, but still get the rest in sharp detail. Fortunately, I had my tripod with me and was able to hold the camera still in the water as I took the shot.

I love the dappling of the sunlight in the trees and side of the stream as well as the softness of the water. It’s a typical Oregon bridge.

 

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Highway 58 Windmill

Highway 58 Windmill

Before my mom and dad passed away, they lived in Atascadero, along the Central Coast of California. I would visit often and always made a long weekend of it. My favorite time of year was spring because the drive home could be a bonanza of photographic opportunities.

This time, I was driving along highway 58 and saw this windmill. I have driven by it many times and always refer to it as the Highway 58 Windmill.

I stopped and took a lot of images, none of which I was happy with. Being new to photography at the time, I thought I’d try some slow shutter speeds and took some shots. I realized that I was onto something. Finally, I zoomed in on just the vane and got this shot.

I have stopped time after time and tried to get a better shot, but none of them since compare to what I already have. I like it because the actual vane is sharp and in focus, but the “propeller” shows nice movement.

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City Warrior

City Warrior

On a visit to Chicago a few years ago, I found this City Warrior guarding an intersection near the lake. I spent a LOT of time trying to find a good shot that I liked and captured the flavor of the piece of art, but almost found nothing that wasn’t “touristy”.

After some research, I found that they were erected in 1928 as a tribute to Native Americans. There has been some discussion about how politically correct they are, but they remain on guard at the entrance to Grant Park. The title of the sculpture is The Spearman. You can read more about the work here and here.

Then I walked out into the  middle of traffic, on an island in the middle of the street, and looked up at the statue and saw the pattern of the building in the background. I knew I had my picture.

The tough part was getting the exposure right and making sure that the frame was filled with just the building and the statue.

I’ve been told by a “professional” photographer that my images isn’t that good, but I disagree. If you don’t mind, let me know what you think.

 

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Two Adolescent Male Elephant Seals Practice Fighting

Two Adolescent Male Elephant Seals Practice Fighting

 

The elephant seal colony at Pietras Blancas beach is a very busy place during December and January as the mothers are giving birth at the beginning of that time period and mating near the end. The males arrive in late October and the sub-adult males arrive late November/early December.

These two males have just reached the start of puberty, indicated by the slight growth at the end of their noses. When they finally reach adulthood, their noses can be as long as two feet.

The adolescent males practice fighting in order to prepare themselves for the day when they will have to battle for their harem of females on the beach. Very rarely are these mock battles or even the real ones fatal. Although once in a while a male may break a jaw or lose and eye which can hinder their chances for survival.

During their active months on the beach, you can see this behavior all of the time. I had to wait until the rest of the frame was clear of distractions and the water wasn’t covering them. Again, patients pays off in nature photography.

If you want more information on elephant seals, visit the Friends of Elephant Seals website.

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