Tag Archives: shore

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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Rocks, Wave, Horizon

Rocks, Wave, Horizon
Shoreline rocks, an incoming wave, and the Pacific Ocean horizon on a gray morning

Rocks, Wave, Horizon. Coastal California. May 13, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Shoreline rocks, an incoming wave, and the Pacific Ocean horizon on a gray morning

I knew I wanted to photograph today, but the conditions in the Bay Area were perhaps less than inspiring, at least for the subjects I had initially thought to explore. It was a gray morning all up and down the coast and the high fog extended well inland, producing lots and lots of flat light. I stalled for a bit and then, after reading a weather forecast offering the hope of some breaks my late morning, I headed over the hills to the coast and began to work my way north from the Santa Cruz area. Some days the photographs just seem to appear almost of their own accord, but this was not going to be one of those days.

There are several ways to deal with this eventuality. One is, of course, to give up and go home — and, in truth, sometimes that is the most reasonable choice. There will always be another day with better conditions. A second option is to continue to look, holding out hope that something special will eventually happen. (I can tell plenty of stories of unpromising conditions that offered up astounding light surprises.) A third is to look for some completely different subject. For a moment today I thought about doing some urban photography. A fourth — and this may be the best in the long run — is to try to “see” the conditions as they are and find some way to photograph them, perhaps even going with the gray, so to speak. So that is what this photograph is — a very simple and quiet image that perhaps reflects the nature of this day.


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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Bluffs and Morning Fog

Bluffs and Morning Fog
Coastal bluffs lead away into the fog along California’s rugged Pacific Ocean coast

Bluffs and Morning Fog. Big Sur Coast, California. May 1, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Coastal bluffs lead away into the fog along California’s rugged Pacific Ocean coast

I am still astonished by how widely variable the appearance of a single scene can be along this Big Sur coastline. On a winter day this area could be raked by monumentally powerful Pacific storms, raising winds and surf. On a quite summer evening it could be warm and peaceful with sunset light bathing the cliffs. On another summer evening everything could be socked in completely by thick fog.

On this spring morning the light coming over the ridges of the coastal mountains was still casting shadows along the shoreline, while the tops of the bluffs were in sunshine. Oddly, on a morning that began clear, fog was beginning to form down low, hugging the coast just above the water. Despite the bright morning sun, along these bluffs the principle color was blue — the blue shades of ocean water and the subtler blue of haze and fog and shaded rock, with the landscape and water eventually disappearing into the distance, muted by the 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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Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake shoreline in evening, Sequoia National Park

Moraine Lake. Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, California. August 7, 2008. © Copyright 2008 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Moraine Lake shoreline in evening, Sequoia National Park

I have only been to this remote lake twice, but as I think back on it now it seems a special place. My two visits were separated by decades. The first was when I was in my twenties and one half of a young couple on our first very long Sierra pack trip, a trip that had us taking two weeks to cross the Sierra from west to east. When I think back to pack trips from so far back, I realize that I have forgotten many details but this lake remains. On the second visit I came here on a trip retracing that earlier trip, though this time with a larger group of friends who had not been here before. It takes me a solid four days of walking to get this place, and the route covers some spectacular country and takes me into and across some very high places.

That route, and the contrast between it and what I found at this lake may account for the special feelings I have for this place. Both times on this route, the first day was a hard one under a heavy, long distance backpack load. The second day is about the same length, but it ends with a moderate climb to a lake. Day three starts right out with a brutal climb up the walls of the cirque above the lake, then crosses a high pass, drops into timberline country, and descends mostly open terrain to a camp where the trees grow thicker. Then on the fourth day things ease up. Much of the trail is though Sierra high country forest, mixed with open views, and then it leaves the main trail and takes a lateral out through more forest to this lake. I recall an expansive area of open forest along the shoreline, a shallow and pretty lake with forest on the other size, and a few peaks in the distance to catch the morning and evening light. From the right spots I could catch my first views of the summit of Mount Whitney, where I would stand a week or more later. And from this second trip I recall a slow and quiet evening with my hiking partners, hanging out in camp and sitting lazily on shoreline logs.


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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Forest, Lake, and Haze

Forest, Lake, and Haze
A hazy late-summer day at a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake, Yosemite National Park

Forest, Lake, and Haze. Yosemite National Park, California. September 10, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A hazy late-summer day at a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake, Yosemite National Park

With all of the recent urban and street photography I have been posting — which is a bit seasonal pattern, given my travel tendencies — I’m also making an effort to go back through some older photographs from last year to find landscape photography that escaped my notice on the first pass. This always happens with photographs — for some reason certain images don’t make sense right after I make them, but when I come back to them later on with a fresh eye I see potential that I missed. Right now I’m revisiting late-summer photographs from a week-long backcountry stay at a Yosemite lake.

For me, this photograph holds many of the subtler elements of the High Sierra experience — not the spectacular grand vistas, but something deeper and ultimately perhaps more powerful. In this beautiful late-season time of year, the meadow grasses around this quiet lake have finished the wild growth phase of summer and have already turned golden-yellow in preparation for autumn and then winter. Lower angle light comes over the shoulder of the granite ridge whose base is visible beyond the trees. Widely spaced trees stand at the edges of the meadow and even trace weaknesses in the granite slabs on the higher slopes.


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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Shoreline and Meadow

Shoreline and Meadow
The shoreline of a Yosemite backcountry lake in the late season

Shoreline and Meadow. Yosemite National Park, California. September 10, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The shoreline of a Yosemite backcountry lake in the late season

This lake was our home for a good week this past September. I was among a small group of photographers who spend a week or more doing this every year. This year we camped by the shore of an accessible backcountry Yosemite lake. We woke up every morning to views of this lake and we went to bed in the evening with such images still in our minds.

At times on this visit the light was very subdued. Early on this was because of intense wildfire smoke — some of the worst I’ve encountered in the range. Near the end of the trip a Pacific weather pattern swept through, and in its wake there was a period of several days of raining, cold conditions.


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

Autumn Shoreline

Autumn Shoreline
Autumn colors arrive along the shoreline of an Eastern Sierra lake

Autumn Shoreline. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 4, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn colors arrive along the shoreline of an Eastern Sierra lake

This photograph represents a bit of a step back from the more intense Sierra Nevada colors of some of my other fall color photographs. Here many of the colors are muted, and the light is soft. The upper trees have already lost their leaves — early, as a result of the drought — and the foreground plants lining the lakeside marsh have largely gone dormant. A few conifers and some sagebrush appear around the edges of the frame.

This lake in the Eastern Sierra is the location of some spectacular fall color, too. In fact, this photograph intentionally looks away from some peak colors that were occurring nearby on this morning. After photographing so much intense color for several weeks, I think I was enjoying the muted quality of autumn storm light as it began to rain and eventually rain on this beautiful and quiet October morning.


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.