This is a late photograph post today. It was a busy weekend followed by a busy Monday, and I had no time to post this until evening. The photograph comes from our visit to London a couple of years ago. I’m intrigued by the ever-changing patterns formed by people moving through public spaces like this one. The photograph was made late on a haze afternoon, so the soft light mutes the shadows of the people engaged in activities including walking through the square, watching other people, making photographs, sitting, and more.
A group of people sit on a concrete bench as a red bus stops behind them.
I think there might be a bit more to this photograph than meets the eye — at least I like to think so. The scene is a concrete bench along the edge of Trafalgar Square late in the day, as the low angle sun hits the bench and its occupants straight on. I’ll leave it at that…
Street art in a doorway, bouquet of flowers, London street
It has been a very busy day and another busy day is beginning, so this will be a short post today. As we walked past this spot in London on a summer 2013 visit it seemed that perhaps not everyone had been equally enthusiastic about the Olympic Games coming to London…
Brown Pelican in flight above Moss Landing, California
Here we have (yet) another in the continuing quest to get the exactly right pelican photograph. Actually, I’m joking — I don’t know what “the” right photograph would be, and I do know that there are almost infinite variations in these birds and the ways that they can be seen. Each individual looks at least a bit different, and they appear in all sorts of different surroundings: against the sky, against the water, close up or far away, overhead, at my level, below me when photographed from bluffs, midday or golden hour light, how the bird is orientated relative the light source, and on it goes.
This is another of the big group I photographed at Monterey Bay last summer, when the promise of whales surfacing near the shoreline took us there on short notice. Indeed, the whales were there and they were remarkably close to the shoreline. But nearly as remarkable was the absolutely huge number of birds that also showed up, including the pelicans.
Dust from a desert sand storm fills the air and obscures mountains
You’ll have to look closely to make sense of this one. Made on April 1st, there is a certain sense about this photograph of a minor April Fools joke played at my expense. I had experienced several days of very dusty conditions in Death Valley. On the first day I was way up in the Panamint Mountains at dawn, only to discover that I was still within a cloud of dusty air the extended up to well above 8000′ of elevation. I never did figure out where it was coming from, as the Valley itself certainly wasn’t producing it. That night the winds came to the Valley and blew a decent sand storm through my camp. The next day I figured that I would try to find a way to evade the blowing dust.
I got up very early — as always — and headed out of Death Valley and to the east toward Nevada. I then took a long back road route back into the park. This route took me on back-country gravel roads through the Amargosa Range, eventually dropping down into a deep canyon before heading back to Death Valley. Driving in these mountains and down this canyon, I forgot about the dusty conditions — here there wasn’t more than a bit of hazy atmosphere and the wind didn’t work its way into this canyon either. At the bottom of the canyon the route finally emerged from a narrow canyon and arrived at the top of a huge gravel fan stretching down toward the Valley. And here I saw the extent of the dust and wind, as the entire Valley was full of dust that was well-distributed yet thick enough to almost completely obscure the mountain range on the other side. My day of clear weather came to an abrupt end as I descended into the dust and wind and headed back to my camp.
A brown pelican flies past and continues over the Monterey Bay
Brown pelicans are a common sight along the California coastline, though the numbers fluctuate from season to season and year to year. I often photograph them along the immediate coast, where they may be spotted skimming just above the surf, usually in small groups flying in a line. Sometimes they fly along top edges of coastal bluffs, apparently riding the updrafts from the Pacific onshore winds. From what I’ve seen, their numbers have varied a great deal in this strange California weather year. Last summer, when I made this photograph, there seemed to be a lot of them, but by this past winter the numbers had decreased significantly.
I photograph this pelican and a bunch of its kin near Moss Landing in Monterey Bay. We had gone there after hearing reports of whales surfacing just off the beach here, and sure enough, that’s what we found when we arrived. I have seen whales along the California coast for years, but I had no idea that they would come into a bay and then come so close to a beach. Whatever attracted the whales also attracted huge numbers of birds, including one of the largest collections of pelicans that I recall seeing. Photographing them was almost easy — I simply picked a spot near where a creek emptied into the bay and waited, and soon a nearly steady stream of the birds passed right over me in the warm evening light.
Brown pelican flight above the shoreline of Monterey Bay, Moss Landing, California
Rediscovering this photograph and a few of its buddies makes for a bit of an odd story. Earlier today I got a message telling me that one of the drives attached to my computer was nearly full. That seemed a bit surprising, but it also was clearly an issue I had to address, so I set about looking for unnecessary files on that volume. In doing so I “discovered” a folder full of raw files and a few Photoshop files that I had apparently transferred to the computer last year… and then forgot. Most of the files there turned out to be unneeded, and I reclaimed 5GB of disk space by deleting them. But among there were s small number of shorebird photographs that I had forgotten.
The photographs came from an amazing and surprising spur-of-the-moment visit to Monterey Bay last June. For weeks I had been hearing stories of whales coming very close to the shoreline, and I had even observed a few from the cliffs in the Big Sur area. A news story claimed that they were now inside Monterey Bay and even coming very close to the beaches an Moss Landing — and friends had photographs to prove it. So over the hill we went to go there ourselves. When we arrived we were, indeed, impressed by how close the whales came to the beach — I had no idea they did that. But as impressive was the huge collection of birds that was perhaps attracted to the same food sources that drew the whales. I had never seen such numbers of these birds along the coast. Among them were a large number of brown pelicans, so many that photographing them was almost too easy.