Tag Archives: yellow

Sunrise, Marshland, Birds

Sunrise, Marshland, Birds
Thousands of migratory geese fly above foggy San Joaquin Valley marshland at dawn

Sunrise, Marshland, Birds. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 26, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Thousands of migratory geese fly above foggy San Joaquin Valley marshland at dawn

On this late-February day we arrived at the wetlands well before dawn, slowed by heavy tule fog along the final miles of our route. The fog was thick but not deep, and while our horizontal view was obscured we could see that objects as short as utility poles extended above the fog layer. At our destination we finally stopped, and got out of the vehicle to set up camera equipment and to get the lay of the land.

Almost immediately flocks of geese began erupting from ponds and taking to the sky, thousands at a time. First a group nearby, then one far off to one side, then another at the distant edge of the refuge, and so on until the sky was filled with them. We thought that it was perhaps the greatest bird tumult that we had seen, and we had arrived just in time to see it. (Of course, only a few days later we experienced an even more monumental evening, with tens of thousands of geese and cranes.) At first we simply photographed the birds in the low light, but eventually I turned my attention to the landscape and made a few photographs across the tule ponds toward the first light developing above the Sierra crest far to our east.


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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Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlark perched in San Joaquin Valley branches

Western Meadowlark. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 15, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Western Meadowlark perched in San Joaquin Valley branches

I’m going to indulge my bird photograph collection interest and share what is really just a photograph of another little bird! This beautiful little bird was a side attraction I found during a recent visit to the California Central Valley to mainly photograph geese and cranes, plus the odd heron and egret.

Photographing the larger birds is an experience that often vacillates between moments of wildly photographing as birds fly above, or as huge flocks take to the sky, and then long periods of not doing much at all — waiting for birds, trying to figure out where the birds are, moving to another location to find birds, and so forth. But I’ve found that when I keep my eyes open I find interesting things that aren’t what I was initially looking for. That was the case with this yellow western meadowlark, which was standing in some brush alongside a perimeter road at a wildlife refuge and which I just happened to spot while passing by.


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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Central Valley Trees and Fog

Central Valley Trees and Fog
Late autumn trees and fog, San Joaquin Valley

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

Late autumn trees and fog, San Joaquin Valley

I have had my eye on these trees for several years now. In fact, I have photographed them a few times, though I wasn’t quite happy with the results. They stand near a spot that I frequently visit during the late fall through winter months, when migratory birds live in the nearby wetlands and fields. In fact, that is why I was there on this December day. After a couple of hours of bird photography I looked over in the direction of the trees and thought that the light might be right for a photograph.

The light in this part of the Central Valley is astonishingly variable, especially in the winter and near-winter months. There can be high thin clouds, a Pacific weather front, general haze, or fog so thick that you can’t see 100 feet… unless you look up to see the stars and the moon! This day was quite variable, and that was part of the fun of photographing it. Fog was forming when we arrived before dawn. It stuck around a while, thinned and morphed into a sort of general atmospheric haziness. Above the fog there were high clouds that also muted the light a bit. Here and there, actual fog banks formed. This photograph has a little of all of these things: the light on the trees is muted, fog banks stand in the distance with high clouds overhead.


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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Yellow Building, Ventilation Towers

Yellow Building, Ventilation Towers
Night photograph of a building in yellow light and ventilation towers, Mare Island

Yellow Building, Ventilation Towers. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. November 7, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Night photograph of a building in yellow light and ventilation towers, Mare Island

This was one of the last photographs I made on a recent evening with The Nocturnes at the historic Mare Island Naval Ship Yard. After spending the first half of the shoot exploring some little hidden areas that aren’t quite so obvious, I made my way back towards the “historic core” of the ship yard near the dry docks. This area is well-lit these days, as it is being used to dismantle ships of the “ghost fleet” that have been anchored in the delta for years.

The nature of that light is part of the subject of this photograph. The foreground building, with its classic and well-worn military base construction, stands across a street from the work area. It is brightly lit by sodium vapor lamps whose light floods this entire area, and this kind of lighting has a very warm color cast, so warm that it can give a bright yellow appearances to buildings that are very drab in daylight. Off in the distance is another set of buildings, with some kind of ventilation or cooling towers standing above them. The color of the light on that structure is a mystery — aqua, faint purple, yellow, blue-green. Most likely it is due to a combination of multiple light sources including sodium vapor, industrial LED streetlights, and more. Above all of that is the sky, though it also has a somewhat odd coloration, much warmer that the sky tones in rural areas due to the city lights reflecting on 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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Yellow Wall, Warning Signs

Yellow Wall, Warning Signs
Night photograph of yellow building wall, doorway, windows, and warning signs, Mare Island Naval Ship Yard

Yellow Wall, Warning Signs. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. November 7, 2015© Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Night photograph of yellow building wall, doorway, windows, and warning signs, Mare Island Naval Ship Yard

This will be the first of a series of night photographs, made on a recent visit to the Mare Island Naval Ship Yard in Vallejo, California. I have been photographing at night here for more than a decade now. As I return I continue to find new things to photograph as the lighting is always different and the buildings themselves change. For example, on this visit I found that a dry dock area that has recently been used to dismantle old ships is lit in such a way as to light familiar buildings in new ways, and that some ship yard equipment that used to be behind security fences was now more accessible.

The architecture of this old building is found all over Mare Island and in other military and similar locations all over the country. (At a recent exhibit in San Francisco many viewers of one of my Mare Island photographs were almost certain that the photograph was from Hunters Point — and I can see why, as the same sort of architecture is found there.) Many buildings near this one appear to have been damaged in a north bay earthquake that happened not too long ago — a chunk of the building’s roof is damaged, some of the hanging conduit may have come down in the quake, and a corner of the next door brick building is gone.


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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Orange, Yellow, and Green

Orange, Yellow, and Green
Autumn aspen color along Bishop Creek in the eastern Sierra Nevada

Orange, Yellow, and Green. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 4, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn aspen color along Bishop Creek in the eastern Sierra Nevada

By the time this photograph appears at my website, the transitory seasonal aspen color show will be mostly a memory. (Or, for many of us who think way in advance, a promise for next year!) With this fall’s release of my book on Sierra fall color (“California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide of Autumn in the Sierra” — Heyday Books, 2015) I made a point of spending as much time in the Eastern Sierra as possible. I started looking for easy signs of developing autumn color all the way back in early September — and in this unusual, drought-influenced year, I found it. The first notable aspen color appeared in late September, and by the end of the month I saw very good color in some high elevation locations, and I spent a good portion of the next few weeks returning to photograph as it continued to develop.

I made this photograph in early October, typically the beginning of the period of best color — though this year some areas had already lost leaves by then. Aspens grow in a range of different surroundings — these grow in a drier area of sage brush rather than begin interspersed with pines. This group of aspens had achieved more or less peak color, and some nearby trees were losing leaves rapidly. In this photograph the colors are intensified by the quality of the light — I like to photograph these trees in the very early and very late times when they have fallen into shadow, softening the otherwise harsh contrasts of brighter light.


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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Columns and Lichen

Columns and Lichen
Basalt columns and bright yellow lichen, Devils Postpile National Monument

Columns and Lichen. Devils Postpile National Monument, California. October 9, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Basalt columns and bright yellow lichen, Devils Postpile National Monument

This photograph is probably the result of at least one accident. We had gone to the Eastern Sierra for a few days to photograph fall color, arriving late in the evening, tired and ready to sleep. We discussed how early we would get up the next morning, but I managed to remain vague about my plans, secretly hoping that I might not wake up on “photographer time,” but perhaps actually sleep in a bit! In fact, that is what happened — and it was probably a good thing since I was tired after three busy weeks including several previous trips over the crest to photograph on the east side of the range.

Of course, once we got up late we still had to figure out what we would photograph. Obviously dawn light was out of the question, and it seemed like we might not get out until the best early and soft light for aspen color had passed. We hatched a very general plan to head over to Devils Postpile National Monument, though I didn’t have real high hopes for it. However, once we arrived we realized that we had actually come at just the right time. This feature, at this time of year, doesn’t get sunlight very early. When we arrived the face was still in beautiful, soft, shaded light but the surroundings were reflecting some light onto the columns. That’s what I call a “happy accident!”


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.