California’s Sonoma Coast

California’s Sonoma Coast

Sunset Sonoma Coast wildflowers, California's Sonoma CoastSunset, Sonoma Coast California  #60392  Purchase

California’s Sonoma Coast stretches roughly from Bodega Bay in the south to Mendocino County line in the north. In this post I will feature areas of Sonoma Coast State Park, a highly scenic and popular area to the north of Bodega bay. This was my second visit to the area, and the first in which I was able to take time to appreciate and photograph the scenery. Visiting in the spring I wanted to take advantage of plentiful wildflowers along the coastal bluffs, and the greenery of surrounding hills. Although visiting during spring I avoided persistent coastal fog there were constant winds instead.

Sonoma Coast wildflowers, CaliforniaSonoma Coast California  #60377  Purchase

Iconic California Highway 1 runs the entire length, with numerous places to pull off for enjoying the view. The most dramatic view can be had just north of the state park. Here the highway switchbacks high up a headland. The entire coast all the way to Point Reyes is visible from this point. Sonoma Coast State Park is comprised of several scenic sand beaches and rugged headlands. Being a close drive to San Francisco the park sees a large number of visitors from the metropolitan area. Bodega Bay, being the hub for all the activities, also has the claim to fame for having Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds filmed there. I couldn’t identify any of the set locations on my visit though. I was too preoccupied with delicious Oyster Po Boy sandwiches from Fisherman’s Cove a local seafood venue.

California Highway 1 Sonoma CoastHighway 1 along the Sonoma Coast #60421  Purchase

Aside from the beaches and wonderful restaurants Sonoma Coast is a great location for watching migrating whales. While admiring the view from a bluff a local man pointed out to me a group making their way north. They were a fair distance off and hard to see even with binoculars. I had never seen whales, despite living many years in proximity to the coast, so this was pretty exciting. Goat Rock to the north has some of the most dramatic scenery, and is a bit of an oddity. This headland was quarried back in the 1920’s to provide building material for burgeoning San Francisco. As a result Goat Rock in its present state looks more like a detached sea stack.

Sonoma Coast sunset CaliforniaSunset, Sonoma Coast California  #60303  Purchase

If you decide to visit this wonderful area I have a couple of essential tips. Make sure you book accommodations well in advance. I arrived on a weekday in the shoulder season and was only able to gain the last campsite by arriving early in the morning. Make sure you have enough time for leisurely exploring the area. At least three days, and preferably a week, would be best to see and photograph the sites. Lodging and food can be fairly pricey if, like me, your are from outside the area. State Park campsites all along the California coast start at $30 and can be as high as $50. For these prices there also is no guarantee of full facilities in good working order. Private campgrounds of course will cost more but may be better maintained.

Point Reyes Beach Point Reyes National SeashorePoint Reyes Beach, just south of Sonoma Coast #60262  Purchase

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Summer Poster Sale

Glacier Peak and Image LakeNow through August 19 save 20% on all posters in our Posters Portfolio

Choose from over 100 of our most popular images from the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Southwest.

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Just enter Coupon Code:  summer17  at checkout!

Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

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Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley California

Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley California

Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley CaliforniaBurney Falls #60182 Purchase

Last April I visited Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley California as part of a Spring photography tour. This tour encompassed hood River Oregon the northern California coast and finally back to eastern Oregon. On the way to the California coast I took the opportunity to make my first visit to these iconic locations.

Burney Falls, California Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley CaliforniaBurney Falls #60183 Purchase

McArthur Burney Falls State Park is the second oldest state park in California. Located  in the Cascade Mountains northeast of Redding the falls are the centerpiece of the park. Created by both Burney creek and springs issuing from layers of volcanic rock, the falls are an imposing site. Like many large waterfalls Burney falls can be difficult to photograph due to constant mist created by the thundering water. Visiting at this time of the year there isn’t much colorful foliage around the falls so I decided to focus on details. Using a medium telephoto lens and long exposures, I found numerous compositions on the far side of the falls. The rest of the park is mainly forested with several hiking trails and a very large and pleasant campground. Unfortunately since I was anxious to get to the coast I stayed only long enough to photograph the falls.

Sonoma Valley Vineyards Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley CaliforniaSonoma Valley Vineyard #60208  Purchase

My next brief stop on the way to the coast were the famous vineyards of the Sonoma Valley. Considered the birthplace of the California wine industry Sonoma Valley is home to some of the oldest vineyards and wineries in the state. Alexander Valley in the north was where I was able to leisurely drive along backroads to photograph the lovely scenery.

Along the way I had to stop at Soda Rock Winery. Not only were there some nice vineyards to photograph, there was also the imposing and whimsical Lord Snort guarding the entrance to the winery.  Showcased at the 2016 Burning Man Festival, Lord Snort is a metal sculpture by Bryan Tedrick. Visiting the tasting room, I felt very much out of my league among the lavish furnishings. Trying a white wine, I don’t remember what kind, the nice woman behind the bar talked up the complexity of notes, which of course just flew over my head. If this had been a distillery in Scotland it would’ve been a much different story!

Sonoma Valley Vineyards Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley CaliforniaSonoma Valley Vineyard #60221  Purchase

Lord SnortLord Snort Soda Rock Winery

Sonoma Valley Vineyards Burney Falls and Sonoma Valley CaliforniaSonoma Valley Vineyard  #60213  Purchase

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Washington Pass North Cascades

Washington Pass North Cascades

Liberty Bell Mountain Washington PassLiberty Bell from Washington Pass   #61304   Purchase

My last post featured a hike up to Maple Pass along the North Cascades Highway of Washington State. This post will feature the second part of that short trip. Not far up the road from Rainy Pass and the Maple Pass trailhead is one of the premier areas of the North Cascades, Washington Pass. Sitting at 5477′ this is the high point of the North Cascades Highway. It also features one of the best views of dramatic mountain scenery in the state accessible by vehicle. During the winter months the pass closes due to deep snows and hazardous avalanche conditions.

Proudly guarding the pass is Liberty Bell Mountain and its attendant peaks, The Minute Man and Early Winters Spires. All of these and surrounding peaks are composed of a pinkish type of granite carved from the Golden Horn Batholith. The quality of rock attracts climbers from all over the globe, and in early spring ski mountaineers.

Kangaroo Ridge, Washington Pass MeadowsKangaroo Ridge from Washington Pass #61316   Purchase

The aesthetic beauty of the area also attracts photographers, me being one of them. Most visitors new to the pass generally head to the dramatic views of the overlook area. However I enjoy the peaceful solitude of the adjacent meadows and the wonderful compositions it offers. The meadows are the headwaters of State Creek and can be classified more as wetlands. Photographing on the spongy ground requires very light steps to protect the delicate plants. Another requirement is a willingness to get your feet wet and a tolerance for swarms of flying biting insects!

Liberty Bell Mountain Washington PassLiberty Bell reflected in State Creek #61365  Purchase

Autumn is also another great time to visit as the subalpine larches fringing Liberty Bell are turning gold. However the sun is then at a lower angle and doesn’t illuminate much of the north face of the mountain. When the road opens in spring you can also get an idea of how the pass looks in winter conditions.

To see more images from this series please visit my New Images Gallery, where you can also purchase prints and licenses for commercial uses.

Washington Pass North CascadesWashington Pass #61343  Purchase

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Maple Pass North Cascades

Maple Pass North Cascades

Hikers on trail North Cascades Maple Pass North CascadesHikers on Maple pass Trail, North Cascades  #61268

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit a few of my favorite areas along the North Cascades Highway. The first being a wonderful day hike up to Maple Pass. It’s been quite a number of year since I did this hike, and since the trail was extended into a loop trip I was excited to check it out. I won’t get into the details of the trail except that it quickly gets you up into the alpine and offers some of the best views in the North Cascades. Being one of the first to the pass it wasn’t long before a steady procession of hikers appeared. I usually try to avoid weekend hikes due to the crowds but in this instance it was nice to meet lots of nice folks. In addition I was able to include hikers in some photos to add to my recreation files.

Hikers on trail North Cascades Maple Pass North CascadesHikers admiring view from Maple Pass Trail, North Cascades  #61284

As you’ll notice in the photos I mixed up the processing a bit from my usual style. Since these were all made during midday it seemed a good opportunity to try out a high key look. I’m a firm believer of photographing in all types of light and getting creative with different types of processing to fit the occasion. Beautiful dramatic evening light is great but you’re not stretching your artistic boundaries if that all you do. Of course my next post will most likely include some of that very style!

North Cascades Maple Pass North CascadesNorth Cascades from Maple Pass  #61260

Black Peak, Lake Ann North Cascades Maple Pass North CascadesBlack Peak and Lake Ann, North Cascades #61302

Maple Pass North Cascades

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Mount Shasta Pluto’s Cave

Mount Shasta Pluto’s Cave

Mount Shasta Pluto's CaveMount Shasta #60134

Mt. Shasta is one of the most strikingly beautiful mountains in the Cascades. At 14,179 feet it is the second highest in the range. It is also a sacred mountain of the Klamath tribe. On my way south to the California coast I made a point of setting aside a few days to photograph this beautiful peak. In the image above I was lucky enough to arrive in the area just in time to photograph the mountain while bathed in evening light. The next morning I headed to U.S. Highway 97 for a view of the mountain as a backdrop for the road. Fortunately the morning fog lifted just long enough to make this compressed view image.

Mount Shasta, U.S. Highway 97  Mount Shasta Pluto's CaveMount Shasta from U.S. Highway 97 #60144

Pluto's Cave Mount Shasta California  Mount Shasta Pluto's CavePluto’s Cave  #60164

As an enthusiast of all types of caves I was thrilled to learn about and visit Pluto’s cave while photographing in the Mount Shasta area. This cave is really just a large Lava tube created by a past eruption of Mount Shasta.

While checking out the main chamber a group of people passed by to explore the further reaches of the cave. I quickly set up my camera in hopes of making an interesting image. Having no idea how long of an exposure it would take so I just took a guess by leaving the shutter open for 7.5 minutes. I also used my headlamp to “paint” light on the ceiling and walls.

The coolest thing about this image is that the group of people were there to meditate. On finding suitable spots they turned off their headlamps and the leader began singing Native America chants in total darkness. A wonderful experience I’ll never forget.

Pluto's Cave Mount Shasta California  Mount Shasta Pluto's CavePluto’s Cave  #60158

 

 

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Liking Lichens

Liking Lichens

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens #59874

One of my favorite quirky subjects I love to photograph are lichens. Lichens grow just about everywhere but unfortunately are unappreciated by most people. They are some of the oldest organisms found on land, dating back perhaps 600 million years. They live in some of the most extreme conditions and are an important food source for animals such as caribou. For humans they are a natural source of antibiotics and pigments. Lichens are also an indicator of clean air as they will not grow in the presence of  pollutants.

During my recent visit to Cottonwood State Park in Oregon I saw some outstanding lichen colonies. A large outcropping of columnar basalt which remains in shade harbored a beautiful display in many striking colors. Juxtaposed against the interesting patterns and cracks of crystallized basalt, the lichens made a wonderful abstract study.

Admittedly this kind of subject matter isn’t appealing to everyone, but I had a great time picking out interesting compositions.

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensBasalt and Lichens #59895

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens #59869

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens and Basalt #59897

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensBasalt and Lichens #59881

Liking Lichens
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John Day River Oregon

John Day River Oregon

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59904

This post will begin a series of recaps from my recent spring photography trip. My first stop was Cottonwood Canyon State Park, along the lower John Day River Oregon. This is Oregon’s newest state park and it was a pleasure to visit. As you can see from the photos the surrounding country is part of the Coloumbia Plateau, with the John Day River cutting canyons through the flood basalt. The nature of this geology helps the river create many scenic winding turns and horseshoe bends.

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59852

Visiting this area in early spring offers cool green hillsides sprinkled with a variety of wildflowers. Most notably Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and Desert Parsley (Lomatium laevigatum). Later in the season the hills will turn a golden brown, and the weather will be much hotter. The park was donated by a local ranching family and contains several remnants of its past, such as a picturesque red barn and some farming implements. A small campground is located right along the river where several nice riverside trails begin. If you’re not into natural history or photography the river is supposedly great for fishing and the spring runoff offers excellent rafting.

Red Barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon John Day River OregonRed barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59841

Hiker John Day River OregonJohn Day River Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59797

Photography, of course, was the main reason for my visit. The goal was finding some nice views of the river bends. This proved however to be a bit of a challenge as many of the best bends were inaccessible by road or foot. After scouring Google Maps I did manage to find a backroad close to the canyon rim with a nice view. My research showed the best horseshoe bend view is situated about an hour drive south of the park. The weather forecast didn’t look good enough to make the trip worth it though. That one will have to wait until my next trip to the area.

John Day River OregonDesert Parsley, John Day River, Oregon #59858

A couple words of warning if you visit this quiet and special area. All unsurfaced roads can be impassable to vehicles after a rain, they turn into a gluey gumbo. Trust me on this, I once almost got stuck and had to wait a couple of days for the road to dry out before I could safely proceed. Rattlesnakes are common, and in spring ticks can be a problem. Also in late spring and summer the temperature can be very hot, with little shade to provide relief.

If you’d like to see more photos from this area you can search John Day River or Cottonwood Canyon State Park on my website. All photos can be licensed for editorial or commercial use or also be purchased as prints. Thanks for viewing and please pass this post along to your friends!

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59912

John Day River Oregon

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New Images Mount Shasta

New Images Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta New Images Mount ShastaMount Shasta #60133

I’m still working on the long process of editing all the new images from my recent trip to California and Oregon. However, there are some obvious highlights I’m anxious to share, this photo of Mount Shasta being one of them.

Making this photo was one of those lucky close calls. After driving south all day from Hood River Oregon I noticed some interesting clouds developing as I approached the California state line. Nearing the town of Weed CA it became apparent there was going to be some good light over Mount Shasta. However I was still miles away and not familiar with the area. Taking a clue from my trusty guidebook, Photographing Northern California by Gary Crabbe, I sped down a nearby ranch road and managed to set up my tripod just in time to make several exposures.

I’m pretty happy with the results, but further scouting the next day revealed an even better composition just a mile further down the same road. There was even an exit on I-5 that could have gotten me there faster. Oh well, there’s always a next time.

 

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Sonoma Coast California

Sonoma Coast California

Sonoma Coast CaliforniaSonoma Coast Sunset

I’m back in the office today after five weeks on the road in Oregon and Northern California. Tons of work to catch up on plus a huge editing/processing project to begin.

Since while on the road I only posted a few quick iPhone pics I felt I should select and share one of the highlights from the main group of files. This photo is from the Sonoma Coast California, just north of Bodega Bay. I’ll add more as they come available, and of course I’ll be working on a trip summary to post soon. Stay tuned!

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