Tag Archives: sky

Window Shades

Window Shades
Window Shades

Window Shades. Getty Center, Los Angeles, California. March 28, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A walkway with window shades, Getty Center

I visit the Getty Center (perhaps once or so each year) as much to photograph the architecture as to see the art. The overall effect of the space, on the large and small levels, is stunning. It sits on top of a ridge with long views over the Los Angeles basin and out to see near Santa Monica. The Center sprawls along the top of the ridge, with many levels to the buildings and with an unusual garden below. The details are also fascinating — among other things, rectangular forms are reflected in almost all aspects of the design, yet there are things that are set off at odd angles from this regularity.

I made this photograph in a small interior area, more or less a sort of hallway and stairway with a walkway crossing in front of a wall of windows that are covered by translucent shades. As I looked at it I thought of it as a sort of cubist subject, and I found the colors (the various transparencies and the strips of muted blue sky beyond) and varying decrees of opacity/transparency very interesting.


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.

Ross’s Geese, Evening Sky

Ross's Geese, Evening Sky
Ross’s Geese, Evening Sky

Ross’s Geese, Evening Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. March 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A flock of Ross’s geese head west against the clouds of a winter evening sky

This may well end up being one of my final migratory bird photographs of the 2014-15 season. It seemed to wind down early this year, at least from what I saw. I suspect that this probably has something to do with the very unusual weather this winter in California. The temperatures were far above normal. In some places there averaged ten degrees higher than usual during the first three months of the year. Precipitation has also been way out of whack. There were some early indications of a possible wet year, then things seemed to be put on hold… until some serious rain (at my elevation) in December, which brought back memories of what winter used to be like in California. Then the tap seemed to be shut off with the new year, and where I live we went nearly 50 days with no rainfall whatsoever at what should be the wettest time of the year. It finally rained again, but not much. More troubling, the Sierra experience roughly 10% of typical precipitation levels, and this is the fourth year of below normal precipitation.

Despite the climate challenges, the season did produce some truly wonderful days of bird photography in the Central Valley. One thing that helped was a long period of tule fog in the Valley, which I find picturesque. Eventually the birds showed up, and we had a great stretch of geese and cranes and more up through the middle of February. At the end of the month we headed to the Sierra for an exhibit at the Yosemite Renaissance, stopping on the way to visit the birds. We didn’t see many at all, and when we stopped again on the way back things hadn’t changed much. Late in the day we did find a group of Ross’s geese on a pond, and I caught groups of them as they departed to the south and west.


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.

Red Rock Panorama

Red Rock Panorama
Red Rock Panorama

Red Rock Panorama. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 23,2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening glow on red rock landscape, Utah

I acknowledge that this color is pretty wild. This is partly a result of the way the camera sees in diminishing twilight, with colors saturating in surprising ways. The photograph was among the last couple I made on this evening when we continued photographing so late that it was about to become tricky finding our way back down in the near darkness. It is also the result of wild color in the sky — a bit of which you can see on the clouds in the upper portion of the frame — that fell on rock that is already quite red.

We had spent perhaps a couple of hours photographing in this terrain, focusing on the sensuous shapes of the curved sandstone, the odd cottonwood tree with fall color leaves, and bits of the surrounding landscape. It was a productive evening, working a group of six of us exploring, at times together, and times in smaller sub-groups, and sometimes alone. I didn’t really want to stop, since this isn’t the kind of location that I can easily return to — but eventually the light faded and our work was done 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.

Geese, Pasture, Dusk

Geese, Pasture, Dusk
Geese, Pasture, Dusk

Geese, Pasture, Dusk. San Joaquin Valley, California. March 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small group of Ross’s geese feed in a San Joaquin Valley pasture as dusk arrives

As a winter afternoon begins to turn into evening in the San Joaquin Valley on a day of photographing migratory birds, a familiar ritual begins, with variations depending on various factors — the weather, the month, and which birds are about. Not long before it becomes too dark to photograph I begin to seek out a place to be at the end of the day. The ideal locations includes some combination of interesting birds, a compelling sky, and a location that lets me combine the two.

This was a rather quiet evening, and it had the feeling of being late in the winter season. The numbers of birds had diminished quite a bit, even compared to only a couple of weeks earlier. High clouds and haze filled the sky and began to take on the colors of evening. We went to one likely bird spot, found few birds, spotted a fly-in some distance away, and headed over to this spot where a group of Ross’s geese was on the ground, feeding in a pasture. As the last light angled across the birds, I made this photograph of mostly sky, one of the last of 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.

Curving Branch, Rippled Water

Curving Branch, Rippled Water
Curving Branch, Rippled Water

Curving Branch, Rippled Water. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A curved branch extends above the rippled surface of a wetland pond reflecting morning sunlight and thinning clouds

This is a very simple photograph — though maybe not quite as simple as it seems — but one that needed a very specific set of conditions. The more I look at the shape of the branch the more the boundary between the actual branch and its reflection blurs, and the more similarities I see between the twisting shapes of the branch itself and the warped version of the twisting form seen in the reflection. I also like the way that its rough and mostly black shape contrasts with the soft curves and colors of the water.

The water is very shallow, part of a seasonally flooded wetland area in the Central Valley. Much of the flooded wetland is full of plants and grasses and other distractions, but here I found a single standing branch against a fairly large background uninterrupted by other branches or plants. The water was relatively still on this morning, though later the wind rose and broke up these smooth ripples. The morning tule fog had almost completely dissipated, leaving the sky a soft blue color interspersed with a few scattered clouds — and those colors and patterns are abstracted here in the surface of the water.


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.

The Wetlands, Late Winter

The Wetlands, Late Winter
The Wetlands, Late Winter

The Wetlands, Late Winter. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

San Joaquin Valley wetlands on a late winter morning

About a week ago we headed off to Yosemite Valley for a few days, primarily to attend the opening reception of the 30th annual Yosemite Renaissance Exhibit in The Valley, but also to spend some time there in what we hoped might be interesting and possibly snowy conditions. Given the way this year has gone, it shouldn’t be surprising that the hopes of snow were not met — though there was a five-minute flurry in the morning in the Valley and we found a few inches of new snow by climbing up out of the Valley. But “there is always something to see,” and there was no shortage of other things to photograph.

On our way to the Valley from the San Francisco Bay Area we made a short morning stop at a favorite migratory bird hangout. Typically we arrive here by dawn and encounter thick tule fog. This morning was different and more spring-like with sun and a few puffy clouds overhead. While it seems wrong to see this weather in what should be winter, it still was beautiful, and I made this simple photograph of a quite wetlands marsh where I more typically photograph in fog very early in the morning.


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.

Ross’s Geese, Clouds

Ross's Geese, Clouds
Ross’s Geese, Clouds

Ross’s Geese, Clouds. San Joaquin Valley, California. March 1. 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A flock of Ross’s geese against a clearing winter sky above the San Joaquin Valley.

On a late-winter afternoon we visited one of the places where we frequently photograph migratory birds in the San Joaquin Valley of California. We had been in Yosemite for a few days, and we arranged our departure from there so that we would have time for this stop on the way home to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Perhaps it is due to the unusual winter we are having in the West this year, but the numbers of birds had declined considerably since our previous visit a few weeks earlier. We were surprised to see almost no sandhill cranes at all. There were Ross’s geese, but in smaller number. We found one decent sized group settled in on a pond, and shortly after we arrived they began to depart in small groups like this one, passing in front of the clouds from a dissipating storm as they headed toward the west.


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.