Category Archives: Photographs: Sports

From 2008: Winter Surfers, Northern California

Since the 2014 Mavericks surf competition is on for today, I’m reposting a favorite surfer photograph of mine from 2008, along with descriptive text. Enjoy!

California Surfers, Winter
California Surfers, Winter

Winter Surfers, Northern California. Between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California. January 12, 2008. © Copyright 2008 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Two surfers near the edge of the winter surf in central California near San Francisco. Black and white.

As I write this description a half dozen years after making the photograph it is the day of another Mavericks surf competition, and I remember distinctly the day I made the photograph and the experience of making it. The location is somewhat typical of the California Coast Highway, along with the road alternates between ascending along the edges of high coastal mountains and dropping down to small beaches where creeks and rivers enter the sea. This beach is one of those latter locations, in this case one I frequently visit when I photograph along the coast south of San Francisco.

My favorite time of year along this coast is the winter, and for a diversity of reasons. Contrary to the expectations of non-Californians, summer is not the most beautiful time on the coast. In summer the coast is frequently socked in by fog, and the clear days are so clear that there may be no clouds – a lovely thought for all but perhaps the photographers, who often wants more “interesting” conditions. In the winter the ocean can become a powerful force, with winds whipping the tops of huge waves as storms near and far stir things up. While the summer coast can seem benign, the winter coast can present us with scenes of tremendous, awe-inspiring power. But it can also be quiet and moody as it was on this day. Yes, the surf was running high (which is why the Mavericks surf competition was going on a few miles north of this spot on the day I made the photograph), but winter clouds muted the colors, the sounds of birds and water were everywhere. These two surfers walked quietly along the beach, seeming a part of this beautiful scene. (Revised description written January 24, 2014)

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Kitesurfer, Pacific Ocean

Kitesurfer, Pacific Ocean - Kitesurfer on the Pacific Ocean coast south of San Francisco, California.
Kitesurfer on the Pacific Ocean coast south of San Francisco, California.

Kitesurfer, Pacific Ocean. Highway One, California. © Copyright 2011 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Kitesurfer on the Pacific Ocean coast south of San Francisco, California.

In the right weather conditions you can find people engaged in a range of water sports along the California coast in locations like this one a few miles north of Santa Cruz (and not far south of San Francisco.) In addition to the classic and iconic surfers, there are windsurfers and, as in this photograph, kiteboarders or kit surfers. It is difficult to not stop and make a few photographs when I catch the sight of a line-up of colorful sails just off the shoreline.

On this July day, a group of people were “playing” not far from the shore, alternately heading straight out into the ocean, only to return close to the shoreline where they could do some wild airborne maneuvers by picking up speed and then flying off the tops of waves. This fellow seems to be going for speed as he made a traverse of the area just beyond the beach.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Sail Boat, San Francisco Bay

Sail Boat, San Francisco Bay - A sailboat in morning light on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California.
A sailboat in morning light on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California.

Sail Boat, San Francisco Bay. San Francisco, California. April 20, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A sailboat in morning light on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California.

From time to time I take the train to San Francisco very early in the morning and then photograph while walking around the City. I often start by walking towards the Embarcadero waterfront, especially on sunny mornings when the haze over the bay is beautifully backlit, sometime so much that the glow obscures the East Bay cities and even the hills beyond. This was one of those mornings.

I had begun by photographing a bridge and then a construction site in the Mission Bay area, but I then headed back towards AT&T park, passing in on the walkway that travels along the waterfront. As I passed this area I had an idea that the atmosphere might be just about right, but I also realized that much of the foreground included subjects that I didn’t want in the frame. I was just in the process of switching to a longer lens – so that I could limit my field of view to an areas between the obstructions – when I saw this sail boat begin to approach from the right. I quickly finished the lens switch and moved to a spot that isolated this section of the bay from any other distracting elements, and almost immediately the boat passed across it. I had only a few seconds to work handheld before the boat passed closer to stuff I didn’t’ want in the frame and before a small motorboat accompanying it caught up.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Sail Boat, San Francisco Bay

Sail Boat, San Francisco Bay - A sailboat in morning light on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California.
A sailboat in morning light on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California.

Sail Boat, San Francisco Bay. San Francisco, California. April 20, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A sailboat in morning light on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California.

Taking a momentary break from the continuing stream of photographs from Utah, here is a photograph from San Francisco. On one of the first spring-warm days of the year, I took the train to San Francisco very early and then spent the morning wandering around with my camera and a few lenses. In many ways, this is my preferred approach to shooting in San Francisco – to travel light and walk – since there so many instantaneous and surprising subjects that come and go so quickly. This is sort of my own brand of “Photo Walk” for one.

On this morning I got of the train just after sun rise and first wandered through the China Basin area, taking time to photograph a large construction site before heading back over toward the Embarcadero to walk along the waterfront. As I walked past AT&T Park, I noticed the bright backlit and slightly hazy sky over the Bay and began to look for ways to photograph it. A moment later I found a gap in the shoreline “stuff” where I could get a clear shot of the water, and I stopped to put a longer lens on the camera. Right at that moment – lucky me! – I noticed this solitary sailboat coming into the scene from the right and by working quickly I had time to get about a half dozen shots of it against the minimalist backdrop of the bay before another boat joined it and cluttered up the image.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Zip Line

Zip Line - A person flies through forest trees on a zip line.
A person flies through forest trees on a zip line.

Zip Line. Woodinville, Washington. June 21, 2009. © Copyright 2009 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A person flies through forest trees on a zip line.

There probably isn’t a whole lot to say about this photograph, so instead I’ll just say…

Happy New Year, 2012!

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Rope Across Horsetail Fall?

Photographing Horsetail Fall has increasingly become “the thing to do” in Yosemite Valley for quite a few photographers this time of year. Horsetail is a seasonal waterfall that drops from near the eastern end of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, and for a few weeks each winter may catch the setting sun to produce quite a visual show when the conditions are just right. I’m not going to offer a how-to for photographing Horsetail – good ones are available elsewhere, and as beautiful as the sight can be, I have a sort of “been there, done that” attitude towards it at this point.

Which is not to say that I won’t point my camera that direction if I find myself in the area! I did so for a few minutes last weekend, even though it was well before the time when the sunset show begins, and even though it was the middle of the afternoon. I happened to be photographing something else below the fall and after I finished I looked up and noticed that the flow of water over Horsetail was as strong as I’ve seen it. I had a long lens on the camera, so I pointed it up and made a few photographs.

Here is the odd thing… In the photographs made with this telephoto lens I can clearly see that a long climbing rope ascends from the right to the first ledge that the water hits, crosses the ledge, and continues its ascent to the left of the fall. It appears to be a fixed rope that someone left in place, and I can only wonder about possible explanations. Did someone have to leave it behind earlier in the season? Did someone leave it with the intention of coming back and traversing through the fall?

If it does remain much longer, there may be some disappointed photographers who find a glowing rope draped across their photographs of the fall this season…

Fixed Rope Across Horsetail Fall
Fixed Rope Across Horsetail Fall

Fixed Rope Across Horsetail Fall. Yosemite Valley, California. January 16, 2011. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

This photograph is not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

G Dan Mitchell Photography
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.


Mark Cavendish, 2010 Tour of California

Mark Cavendish, 2010 Tour of California
Mark Cavendish, 2010 Tour of California

Mark Cavendish, 2010 Tour of California. Nevada City, California. May 16. 2010. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Columbia HTC sprinter Mark Cavendish signs autographs before the start of stage one of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California in Nevada City, California.

One more photograph from this year’s Amgen Tour of California, this one shot in the “pit” area before the start of the stage in Nevada City, California. Cavendish went to to win the sprint and the stage later that day in Sacramento.

Why another cycling photo? Well… I’m spending my weekend grading term papers and other end-of-term work from my students. I’ve had little time to work on photography for the past week, and I’ve had this one last 2010 TOC photograph waiting for posting – so I’m taking advantage of that, making this post, having another cup of coffee, and getting back to the grading!

G Dan Mitchell Photography
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

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