Tag Archives: coast

Cormorants, Coastal Rocks

Cormorants, Coastal Rocks
Cormorants nesting on rugged coastal rocks at Point Lobos State Reserve, California

Cormorants, Coastal Rocks. Point Lobos State Reserve, California. May 3, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Cormorants nesting on rugged coastal rocks at Point Lobos State Reserve, California

Following a significant bit of photography near the end of April and the beginning of May, I had hardly picked up my camera for nearly a month — and I was itching to get out and make new photographs. Time was still tight, but I found a free day and headed off to the coastal areas of the Monterey Peninsula and the northern reaches of the Big Sur coastline, ending up at Point Lobos. Frankly, as much as I wanted to make photographs, I also simply wanted to get outside for a bit, and a morning of hiking and photographing here fit the bill perfectly.

The rock in the distance on which some cormorants are nesting is actually an island — an island that at some times of year is covered with many hundreds of all kinds of shore birds. This time there were far fewer. It could have been a seasonal thing, or it might be related to the changes in ocean temperature that have caused harm to marine mammals this season. In any case, I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose the small group of black birds with a landscape of rugged rock, so I wandered a bit until I found this camera position that put nothing but rocks between me and the island.


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.

Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vultures
Turkey vultures on coastal rocks, Point Lobos State Reserve

Turkey Vultures. Point Lobos State Reserve, California. May 3, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Turkey vultures on coastal rocks, Point Lobos State Reserve

Let me begin by pointing out that I did not go to this place to shoot turkey vultures. In fact, of all the things that I might have expected to see and photograph here, such critters were at the bottom of the list if they were even on it at all. Point Lobos is one of my local “go to” places when I have a half day or a day to photograph. I’ve been going there for literally decades, and I know many parts of this beautiful little park very well. (On the other hand, I hardly ever fail to discover something new when I visit, even after all of these years.) So I had gone there hoping to photograph things like morning fog, the conduction of rocks and surf, the coastal trees, and so forth.

I pulled into a parking lot along the main road and got out without my camera so that I could just look around a bit. As I scanned my surroundings I was surprised to see some large birds on rocks above the surf, birds that I did not immediately recognize. I soon was even more surprised when I realized that I was looking at a group of five turkey vultures — a bird that I’m more accustomed to seeing airborne, coasting on updrafts along inland coastal hills, and often seen alone. I didn’t have any good photographs of these birds, so I grabbed camera, long lens, and tripod and rectified that commission! In flight, these can be rather impressive birds — they are large and they coast quietly overhead. Yet their heads are a gaudy red color, and generally very wrinkled — this almost seems out of character with the rest of the bird. This group stood still for a few moments before, one by one, they gradually took to the air and departed.


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.

Coal Chute Point

Coal Chute Point
Coal Chute Point

Coal Chute Point. Point Lobos, California. March 15, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A bench on the bluff at Coal Chute Point, with inlet and peninsulas leading toward green hills, Point Lobos

A few days ago I needed to go make photographs, following a period during which that has not been possible, so I headed off towards the Monterey Peninsula with a vague plan that might have ended up here at Point Lobos or could have taken me further down the coast highway. It was overcast further north and inland, so I figured that by going south a bit I could find better light. In fact, I did, though it was not without its challenges — though the challenges of thin clouds (with their softened light) and haze usually appeal to me.

Without thinking about it a lot I ended up at Point Lobos, a place I have visited regularly since my family first came to California when I was four years old. Needless to say, this is familiar territory for me! I arrived shortly after the park opened and I headed straight to Whalers Cove and soon saw the peninsulas across this bay fading into atmospheric haze and finally to the “impossibly green” hills of the coastal range — and I knew that this would be my first subject for the day.


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.

Forest, Ridge, and Haze

Forest, Ridge, and Haze
Forest, Ridge, and Haze

Forest, Ridge, and Haze. Point Lobos State Reserve, California. October 10, 2010. © Copyright 2010 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning haze mutes the details of forested coastal ridges along the California coast

Yes, yet another of the December black and white photographs — inspired by all of the black and white “challenge” posting going on right now. This photograph comes from 2010 when I made one of my frequent visits to the Point Lobos area along the California coast south of Monterey, an area that I have visited for decades. The typical focus of those visits is the shoreline itself, which is very spectacular here and which produces a wide range of moods throughout the year.

The photograph was made at Point Lobos, but much of what you see is not actually in this state park. The foreground forest is, but the high coastal hills rising beyond are outside the park. As beautiful as the ocean is, there is a lot to see if you turn your eyes in the opposite direction, too! On this morning there was high, thin cloudiness along with a great deal of backlit atmospheric haze — perhaps my favorite conditions for photographing scenes like this one! The haze glows in the backlight, and it mutes the smaller “busy” features of the landscape, allowing the larger forms to be seen more clearly… and perhaps evoking a sense of mystery.


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.

Morning Musings for 8/30/14

Today a few thoughts, in no particular order…

California Surfers, Winter
California Surfers, Winter

The photo – I made the photograph attached to this post a few years back on a winter day along the California coast. It is here today for those who
a) want to see something non-urban (see below)
b) join me in looking ahead to the cooler season and its interesting weather and light
c) love the California coast.
d) share in “all of the above.”

You can read more about this photograph here. (As always, a big “thank you!” to the unknown surfers who walked across just the right spot on the beach at just the right time on just the right day in just the right conditions. ;-)

Articles at the blog – In addition to sharing my photography, I share a lot of written material here at the blog: technique, locations, equipment reviews, and more. Some — but not yet all — of these articles are listed on my Articles page. Have at it!

Urban photography at the blog — The urban and street photography thread is going to continue for just a bit longer — Chicago is up next. For those of you who enjoy such things, thanks! For those of you who prefer the landscape and nature photography, it will be back. (And, like me, you might even enjoy the look at different subjects from the usual — I find that looking outside of my favorites often helps me see more clearly.)

Projects — I have some upcoming plans to get back into the wild world relatively soon. This should, among other things, lead to new landscape photographs. And the need for a shower.

Aspens and fall color  – Fall colors are arriving very soon. In fact, hints are already about if you look in the right places. Here in California the aspen color should begin in about another month or so, though in this drought period things may not evolve in quite the typical ways. I’ll have more to say about how I view this season’s prospects toward the middle of September. (For now, read more about Sierra Nevada fall color here: Sierra Nevada Fall Color Season – Coming Sooner Than You Think)

Morning Musings – “Morning Musings” comprise a series of mostly off-the-cuff posts on various subjects — whatever comes to mind at the time I write them. They may appear as frequently as every day or sometimes they not appear for a while.

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.

Napping Elephant Seals

Napping Elephant Seals
Napping Elephant Seals

Napping Elephant Seals. Point Piedras Blancas, California. July 24, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A crowd of elephant seals napping on the beach near Point Piedras Blancas

This is (yet another!) photograph of elephant seals lolling about on the beach near Point Piedras Blancas just south of the Big Sur coastline. This location is well-known for providing easy access to viewing of these remarkable animals. They are found in many other locations along the coast now that their numbers have recovered, but in most places access is much more difficult. Here there is an “elephant seal nursery” mere feet for the Pacific Coast Highway, with short observation trails that give good views of the action and which protect both the seals and the human visitors.

I visited a bit earlier in this season when the pups were still rather small. This visit was almost an afterthought — after a morning of photographing landscapes and seascapes along the Big Sur coast I found myself at the southern end of this area with a few hours to kill in midday light, so I decided to drive a bit further and visit the seals. There were not nearly as many there at this later point in the season, but there were still plenty for me to make photographs. Images of the animals lying almost motionless on the sand not only evoke our own pleasant thoughts of doing the same thing (!) but they can also create a false impression that the lives of these creatures are lives of ease. In fact, the reality seems quite a bit different. In contrast to what seems like a life as a big chunk of sleeping blubber, these animals become quite sleek and graceful once in the water — where I understand that they have to be on the lookout in order to avoid become a snack for a great white shark!

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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

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.

Elephant Seals, Point Piedras Blancas

Elephant Seals, Point Piedras Blancas
Elephant Seals, Point Piedras Blancas

Elephant Seals, Point Piedras Blancas. Big Sur Coast, California. July 24. 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Elephant seals massed along the edge of the beach at Point Piedras Blancas, California

Photographing elephant seals was not originally port of my (somewhat vague) plan when I set out for the Big Sur coast on this one day outing. I started out fairly early heading south, figuring that I would just stop at whatever seemed interesting along the way. It was quite foggy across the Salinas Valley near the outlet of the Salinas River, so I wasn’t sure what I would find on the coast. But when I got there the fog was thinning quickly, so I had a lot of opportunities for seascape/landscape photography along the periphery of the fog. Continuing south I eventually “ran out of fog” and as it became midday the light was less inspiring, so I set a new goal of looking for lunch! After lunch I continue south a bit more and crossed the lowlands south of Ragged Point.

As I drove past the elephant seal viewing area, which I had last visited in the winter when the newborn seals were still there, I was a little surprised to find a decent number of seals. Since the good light for photography on the return drive was still a ways off, I figured that photographing elephant seals was as good of a way to spend an hour as any so I stopped and made some photographs. The place is quite different without all of the newborn seals. There were far fewer seals and almost all were relatively large. Mostly they lay around, either up on the beach a ways or else lined up side to side right at the waterline as this group is doing.

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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

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.