Tag Archives: blue

Headlands, Fog, Ocean

Headlands, Fog, Ocean
Gathering fog along rugged Big Sur coastal cliffs

Headlands, Fog, Ocean. Big Sur Coast, California. May 1, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Gathering fog along rugged Big Sur coastal cliffs

One more photograph from my May Day quick visit to the Big Sur Coast and the lower Monterey Peninsula. I visited fairly early in the morning — not as early as dawn, but certainly before most of the tourists showed up along this popular coast on this weekend day.

I started with a plan to visit Point Lobos — and I did later end up there — but I was distracted by the formation of thing fog right along the waterline. More typically I would expect to see thick fog in the early morning, left over from the night before, with murky conditions until some clearing happens later on. But on this morning the pattern seemed reversed. It started out clear and then as the morning wore on the weather changed and a beautiful misty quality appeared along the coast, in places leading to the formation of fog.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Surf, Bluff, Sea Stacks

Surf, Bluff, Sea Stacks
Surf, a steep bluff, and sea stacks lead toward a foggy horizon, Big Sur Coast

Surf, Bluff, Sea Stacks. Big Sur Coast, California. May 1, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Surf, a steep bluff, and sea stacks lead toward a foggy horizon, Big Sur Coast

I sometimes forget how long this coast has been a part of my consciousness, but a visit or two quickly remind me. I have lived in the San Francisco Bay area since I was four-years-old. Weekend and summer visits to the Monterey Bay beaches and the tide pools of Point Lobos were regular events, and the effect of those visits remains all these years later — and all it takes is a quick visit to remind me of what it means to live this close to the Pacific Ocean.

On this first day of May I made a morning visit to the upper Big Sur coast, getting to some of the best parts before the inevitable weekend crowds arrived. It was a beautiful day, at first looking like it might turn out to be “yet another blue sky day,” but soon becoming more interesting, at least from the photographic point of view, as thin fog began to form just about the meeting of the ocean and land. When I made this photograph looking south down the coastline, it was still early enough that the bluffs and coastal mountains cast shadows along the surf line.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
A great blue heron stands next to a Sacramento Valley pond

Great Blue Heron. Sacramento Valley, California. January 8, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A great blue heron stands next to a Sacramento Valley pond

As I prepare photographs to share via social media (in my continuing photo-a-day marathon, now perhaps the years old) I often have photographs lined up for posting days or weeks in the future. Occasionally one sits here on the computer for a long time before I finally share it. This photograph of a great blue heron is such a photograph — I made it almost four months ago, way back when we were in the middle of winter!

This past winter I decided to expand the range of my bird photography a bit. I’ve been photographing winter birds in Central California for the past few years, but mostly in a range from roughly Sacramento south. So it was time to connect a few dots on the map and travel out of that area a bit. One of the first extended visits took me a good distance up the Sacramento Valley on a cold winter day when snow topped the mountains to both the east and west. This specimen was hanging out along an irrigation ditch near the edge of a wildlife refuge, and it allowed me to get relatively close (“hidden” inside a vehicle) without taking flight.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Alpine Pond, Evening

Alpine Pond, Evening
Evening reflections in a boulder-strewn alpine pond, Sequoia National Park

Alpine Pond, Evening. Sequoia National Park, California. August 6, 2007. © Copyright 2007 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening reflections in a boulder-strewn alpine pond, Sequoia National Park

This pack trip, now almost a decade behind me, was a different sort of trip in several ways. We began on the east side of the range in a high valley south of Mount Whitney. This was in an area that we had visited in the past, and on one occasions I spent several days going up and down an unmaintained pass until we finally all got together and climbed a nearby 14,000′ peak. On the trip where I made the photograph we started out at the same trailhead but then skirted a bit south to cross the crest on a more popular trail. A bit further along to the west we left the main trail to visit a nearby lake, found a cross-country route out of its cirque, walked up a long valley to another lake, and camped there. I made the photograph on the evening of our arrival, looking back at tall ridges lining the valley we had ascended to get here.

There rest of the trip was unusual and special, too. On the next morning we skirted the lake and then headed up to find an unmarked route over a steep pass, dropping down abruptly from its summit into a long granite valley with several lakes. A day later we arrived at the usual west side route towards Mount Whitney. We stopped for lunch and moved on, heading north on the John Muir Trail. Eventually we crossed one of my favorite high spots along this trail and then descended to the junction with the trail over Shepherds Pass. We hung out in this area for a few days, investigating some more remote areas of the Upper Kern drainage before returning to this spot and then heading out over Shepherd Pass.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Granite Cliffs, Alpine Lake

Granite Cliffs, Alpine Lake
Rocks from vertical cliffs line the base of a deep blue alpine lake

Granite Cliffs, Alpine Lake. Sequoia National Park, California. August 6, 2008. © Copyright 2008 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Rocks fallen from vertical cliffs line the edges of a deep blue alpine lake

As I write this tonight for posting tomorrow, winter is over and spring is a few hours old. It is perhaps for that reason — the start of spring and the inevitability of summer — that I found myself looking though some old photograph files from a summer about eight years in the past. There is a practical reason to revisit the old files from time to time; I often find photographs that now look pretty interesting that I apparently skipped over originally, for one reason or another. But it is also an opportunity to revisit the older memories as well, since looking at the photographs brings back the recall of many other details of such Sierra trips.

On this trip I crossed the Southern Sierra from west to east with a small group of long-time trail friends. I am not sure why, but I had not been back on this trail in the decades since my first visit — so I was excited to revisit this spectacular route. Today I began tracking the progress of the trip via the old photographs, starting on the first day and looking at photograph up through day three, when we climbed from a beautiful lake to cross the Kaweah Mountains and head east. I came to this photograph, which is a vertical orientation interpretation on a scene in another of my photographs that may be somewhat recognizable. At the time when I made the original print I think I must have committed to the horizontal format and, thus, put the vertical on the back burner. but today I decided that I like this version, too, with a bit less emphasis on the water and a bit more on the vertical thrust of the rocky walls.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Three Lesser Sandhill Cranes

Three Lesser Sandhill Cranes
Three lesser sandhill cranes fly against blue sky above the San Joaquin Valley

Three Lesser Sandhill Cranes. Central Valley, California. February 15, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Three lesser sandhill cranes fly against blue sky above the San Joaquin Valley

These beautiful sandhill cranes are found up and down California’s Central Valley and beyond. Many things characterize the winter “bird-scape” in the state, but high on my list is the sound of these birds, whether directly overhead or somewhere off in the fog, invisible but often present in large numbers. They are not as numerous as the geese, but at times their numbers can become quite astounding, especially when they find a good place to feed. I think that they can be a bit awkward looking on the ground, but in flight they are transformed. Their flying pattern features slower wing motion, periods of gliding, a flat trajectory, and often wingtip-to-tail relationships with other cranes.

They aren’t always easy to photograph, though if you come (quietly!) upon a group on the ground and they don’t fly away you can often get good photographs, and you may even see the “dancing cranes” behavior. Photographing them in flight can be just a bit tricky. They seem uneasy about flying directly over humans, and birds that appear headed for your position will often divert at the last moment. Fortunately, they can be very attractive viewed from the side — perhaps more so that a straight-on view or photographed from underneath. These three were part of a larger group that was flying at low elevation between two areas of pasture-land.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Two Geese, Reflection, Fog

Two Geese, Reflection, Fog
Two geese float on a winter pond in morning fog, Great Central Valley

Two Geese, Reflection, Fog. February 5, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Two geese float on a winter pond in morning fog, Great Central Valley

As is typical, this morning in California’s Great Central Valley began in fog — for so think that it initially obscured almost all potential subjects, at least if they were more than a few yards off of the route. Many times we could hear large numbers of geese and cranes that were not visible in the fog, but eventually some would break off from the flock and fly over and past us.

The fog is among my favorite features of winter in this valley, especially in the lowland wet areas where it can be foggy on many winter days. The fog transforms the landscape in many compelling ways. By obscuring distant detail, subjects can sometimes be seen apart from their regular surroundings. It is possible to make photographs in locations that would have been far too busy in “good” light — the fog selecting obscures of mutes more distant subjects. Here I stopped in a spot where there were few geese at all, though those that were hanging out here we floating serenely on the surface of the pond.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.