Tag Archives: evening

In Flight, Dusk

In Flight, Dusk
Ross’s geese in flight above San Joaquin Valley wetlands in dusk light

In Flight, Dusk. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 5, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Ross’s geese in flight above San Joaquin Valley wetlands in dusk light

This was a beautiful mid-winter day in the San Joaquin Valley. It began with a two-hour pre-dawn drive from home, starting earlier than a month ago now that the days are beginning to lengthen again. I drove in clear weather and it remained so as the sky began to brighten as I entered the valley, but as I got closer to my destination I was pleased to encounter for — thin at first but within minutes so think that I had to slow and turn on fog lights. I arrived at my destination a half hour before sunrise, and began photographing, working all morning before finally taking a break for lunch.

My friends Claudia and Michael had dropped a hint in an email that they might be out that way later in the day, and I was pleased to find them there when I came back from my break. We greeted one another, took a quick trip around the area to scout the birds for evening photography, and then ended right back were we started. Big groups of sandhill cranes and geese (mostly Ross’s but with a few other interlopers mixed in) were active in newly turned fields nearby, so we found a good vantage point and watched as the evening light came on. Eventually the light became so dim that it was no longer really possible to make sharp stop-motion photographs of birds in flight. This is, in a way, one of my favorite times of day, when I switch over from a more typical kind of bird photography and begin to go with the darkness, using slow shutter speeds and panning along with the motion of flocks, and making photographs that work with the motion blur of low light and slower shutter speeds.


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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Big Creek Bridge, Big Sur Coast

Big Creek Bridge, Big Sur Coast
Evening light on the Big Sur Coast and the Big Creek Bridge

Big Creek Bridge, Big Sur Coast. Pacific Coast, California. January 24, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening light on the Big Sur Coast and the Big Creek Bridge

I have to admit that when it comes to available photograph subjects… I am spoiled. I knew I was going to go make photographs today, but when I awoke well before dawn I had not decided for sure where I would go. I considered going north across the Golden Gate to Point Reyes National Seashore, but it sounded like a weak weather system was going to pass through that area late in the day. I thought about heading to the Central Valley where my favorite winter subject, migratory birds, can be found — but I generally prefer to go there when I think there will be at least some fog. So I headed south, beginning my morning with a few hours at the Point Lobos State Reserve and then heading further south down the Big Sur coastline.

When I arrived at Point Lobos the light was interesting and the surf was still huge. Over the next few hours the surf diminished a bit and a thin overcast drifted in overhead and began to thicken. I figured that I might get somewhat clearer light a bit further south, so off I went on the Pacific Coast Highway. On the way south I stopped at this spot and considered it as a possible subject for the sunset hour, and then I continued on down the coast. Later I checked the time, estimated I had enough to make it back to this spot before sunset, and headed back up the road, arriving here perhaps ten minutes before the good light arrived. The bridge, dwarfed by the immense landscape of coastal mountains and ocean, spans the outlet of Big Creek.


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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Marsh, Fog, Evening Light

Marsh, Fog, Evening Light
Evening light on San Joaquin Valley marshland

Marsh, Fog, Evening Light. San Joaquin Valley, California. December 17, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening light on San Joaquin Valley marshland

This photograph represents the flip side of an observation I made in a separate post regarding another photograph that I made on this mid-December evening. The comment had to do with the contrast at the end of the day between events here that happen suddenly and those that unfold more slowly — a simulations slowing down and speeding up of events at the end of the day. The speeding up events include sudden departures and arrivals of large groups of birds. The slowing down part is exemplified by this photograph. (For the EXIF file data aficionados among you, the EXIF data shows an incorrect time of day for this photograph. Ah, well…)

As I photographed other subjects I had slow moments to look around and take in static elements of the scene. Late in the evening, as the light color warmed, I saw the effect this had on the brown reeds and the trees, many of which still had a few fall leaves left. While the near trees are quite clear, being lit by this beautiful side-light, the details of the further trees are muted just a bit by haze, and the more distant sky’s color is muted by this incipient fog. A few remaining geese along with some ducks sit almost completely still in the shallow water.


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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Cranes, Dusk Sky

Cranes, Dusk Sky
Sandhill cranes return in dusk light above the San Joaquin Valley

Cranes, Dusk Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. December 17, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Sandhill cranes return in dusk light above the San Joaquin Valley

It sometimes seems odd to me that as the day comes to an end out here where I photograph birds, things seem to both slow down and speed up. The slowing down is the natural consequence of the daylight coming to an end, with my own awareness that a long day of photography that began well before dawn is soon to conclude, and the quieting of some of the natural occupants of this environment. The speeding up comes from certain events that take place suddenly and evolve quickly, along with the potential for several of them to occur simultaneously.

Very late in the afternoon I made a quick circuit of the area where I was photographing, trying to make a few final full daylight photographs and identifying locations where certain dusk events might be more likely — a landing by cranes, a sudden departure of geese. I identified a spot out along the levee loop where a decent sized flock of snow geese (and perhaps some Ross’s geese?) had settled in close to the perimeter road, and less than a half hour before actual sunset I was back there and ready to photograph. For some time things were very quite nearby. The geese mostly sat still in the shallow water near reeds, and I had time to compose photographs that were essentially landscapes with birds. As I was working on one of these I saw, far off in the distance beyond a roadway, that a huge flock of geese had lifted off and was wheeling in circles. Ah, well, I wasn’t going to get to photograph that flock close-up on this evening! Before long I sensed a restlessness in the smaller flock near me and, sure enough, groups soon began to lift off suddenly and head south and west — first smaller groups, and soon almost the entire remaining flock. When this happens I transition immediately from the slow and leisurely “landscape with birds” photography to working quickly and making instant decisions about what to photograph and how to photograph it. As I tracked these birds into the distance I began to notice lines of cranes heading back to one of their favorite spots perhaps a quarter-mile away. Using a long lens I tracked them as they crossed the cloud-textured sunset sky.


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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Evening Trees

Evening Trees
Evening trees reflected in the surface of San Joaquin Valley wetlands

Evening Trees. San Joaquin Valley, California. December 6, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening trees reflected in the surface of San Joaquin Valley wetlands

The primary attraction for me in these San Joaquin Valley wetlands is, or so I tell myself, the hordes of migratory birds that arrive here in the late fall and over-winter — geese, ibises, sandhill cranes, along with egrets and herons and more. They draw me to the Valley, just a couple of miles away from my home over the coast range, throughout the late fall through winter period. But once I get there I think I am as interested in the landscape as in the wildlife.

We had just about finished a full day of photographing (mostly) the migratory birds. Late in the day I always start to think about what my final subject will be, and then I try to extend my shooting time as late into the failing light as possible. I might continue to photograph birds in deep dusk, raising ISO and lowering shutter speed and working with the resulting motion blur. On this late-fall evening I went in a different direction, and I put the camera on the tripod and finished up with some blue-hour landscape photographs of the wetlands, the trees, and the evening clouds.


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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Hollywood

Hollywood
The Hollywood sign and antennas

Hollywood. Los Angeles, California. November 28, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The Hollywood sign and antennas

Yes. That sign. I suppose that everyone (probably) needs a photograph of the thing and, believe it or not, this is my first. There I was. There the sign was. The light was attractive. I photographed it. ;-)

During a four-day visit to Southern California we ended up making a drive up north to central Los Angeles to visit a museum, and since I had never been to the Griffith Observatory before — really! — we decided to correct that. In the late afternoon we headed to Griffith Park with, or so it seemed, about half of the population of the Los Angeles basin. We eventually caught a shuttle and soon found ourselves among the crowd at the observatory. Crowds aside, it is quite a place… and there, off to the right, was the famous sign. As something of an iconophobe, I have to admit that I did not realize that it would be visible from here!


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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Observation Deck, Griffith Observatory

Observation Deck, Griffith Observatory
Visitors to Griffith Observatory overlook Los Angeles twilight.

Observation Deck, Griffith Observatory. Los Angeles, California. November 28, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Visitors to Griffith Observatory overlook Los Angeles twilight.

We were in Southern California over the Thanksgiving holiday, visiting our daughter and son-in-law. On the weekend we decided to head up to Los Angeles for various things, including a visit to the Frans Lanting show at the Annenberg Space for Photography. We finished up there, headed out for food (of course!) and then decided to head to Griffith Park.

We were apparently among approximately 350,000 people with the same idea! I’m not sure what a typical crowd looks like here, but this one was huge. We finally abandoned our rental car well below the observatory and found a shuttle bus that went up the hill. We arrived a bit before sunset and found that hordes were already there. But I can see why — it is a spectacular location. Although I was only carrying my “little camera,” I decided to see what I could come up with. Eventually I photographed the actual sunset, but first I turned the camera towards the people crowded onto the walkways around the observatory and standing in the beautiful light watching the evening develop.


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.