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


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


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




New Images Mount Shasta

New Images Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta New Images Mount ShastaMount Shasta #60133    Purchase

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.



Sonoma Coast California

Sonoma Coast California

Sonoma Coast CaliforniaSonoma Coast Sunset  #60382   Purchase

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!


California Coast New Images

California Coast New Images: All the new images from my recent trip to the Columbia River Gorge and California Coast have been uploaded and can be viewed on my website. Highlights from the California Coast include Mendocino Headlands, Point Reyes National Seashore, Big Sur, and the San mateo Coast including Pescadero Beach and Gray Whale Cove.

Rugged coastal headlands of Big Sur California #51132 California Coast New Images

Big Sur Califonia #51132

This was a very special trip for a couple of reasons, for one it was the first time in many years my wife Coleen was able to accompany me on a photo shoot. Due to raising our daughter and some ongoing health reasons she has had to stay behind on the longer photo trips. Now that our daughter Addie is out of school and working Coleen is free to join me, as long as the trip isn’t too long, physically demanding, and camping oriented. The other reason this trip was special is that it was my first foray into photographing the California Coast where some of my longtime photographic influences worked and lived. While in the Big Sur area I made a point of stopping by and spending an afternoon in Carmel to pay homage at the Photography West Gallery to Edward Weston, Wynn Bullock, Morley Baer, Ansel Adams, and Don Worth to name a few.

Mendocino Headlands State Park, California #51030 California Coast New Images

Mendocino Headlands California #51030

Pescadero Beach San Mateo Coast California #51313 California Coast New Images

Pescardero Beach California #51313

Point Reyes National Seashore California #51083 California Coast New Images

Point Reyes National Seashore #51083


Big Sur California Coast

Big Sur California Coast:  Just to let everyone know that I’m still alive and kicking I’m posting this image made a couple of days ago on the California Coast of Big Sur. Today we are spending the last day on the coast at half Moon Bay, then we head back home with a brief stop in the Mount Shasta area. It has been an outstanding trip so far for many reasons, but mostly because this is the first extended trip in many years in which my wife Coleen has accompanied me! So far we’ve photographed in the Columbia River Gorge Oregon, Mendocino Coast, Point Reyes, Big Sur, and Pescadero beaches of California.

I should be back in the office by Friday or Saturday where I’ll be working hard to get caught up with business and editing all the new work. Sorry for not posting more updates while on the road, I tried to keep off the grid and stay more focused on photography during this one.

Big Sur California Coast


Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip

Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip: April was a productive month for me, with the finish and launching of the new website and a flurry of successful shorts trips to the Skagit Valley to photograph the tulip fields. Now that I have the tables clear of those projects I can move on to some road trips. Next in line for Spring is a two week photography trip to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and then down to the Big Sur on the California Coast.

Ponytail Falls, Columbia River Gorge #47675 Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip

Ponytail Falls Columbia River Gorge Oregon #47675

As most photographers know the Columbia River Gorge is a must visit this time of year. The mid to higher elevations in the region are still locked in the grip of winter so the Gorge is an especially enticing destination for those needing to get out in the fresh air and stretch those legs. The forests are vibrant green and intoxicatingly scented with new growth, waterfalls and stream are rushing with clear cold water, and on the eastern side the wildflowers are blooming in a riot of color. During last year’s trip to the Gorge I greatly expanded my files with general images of the forests streams and waterfalls. This year I’ll be working on a few specific falls that I missed but the main subject will be photographing the wildflowers on the eastern side of the Gorge, notable Roweena Plateau and Dalles Mountain Ranch.

After working for three or four days in the Columbia River Gorge I’ll be heading down to the Big Sur area of the California Coast, with Garrapatta and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Parks being the main focus here. Of course while in the area I’ll have to make the pilgrimage to Point Lobos and Carmel, the photographic Mecca of the Coast and home of one of my favorite photographers, Edward Weston. This will be my first visit to this section of the coast so I’m pretty excited about adding new images from here to my files. On the way back, if time allows, I’ll make a short stop stop to photographer Mount Shasta from a few spots I scouted out a few years back.

Balsamroot Columbia River Gorge #47843 Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip

Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) Columbia River Gorge Oregon #47843


2014 Audubon Calendars / More self-Promotion

I’m thrilled to announce that in 2014 three of my favorite images made in the past two years will be featured in the 2014 Audubon Wall and Engagement Calendars!

Limestone Lakes British Columbia #46245 2014 Audubon Calendars

Limestone Lakes British Columbia Canada 46245

This image was made a couple of years ago during one of the best backpacking trips in recent memory. A long difficult hike to a remote and unspoiled area of the Canadian Rockies, Limestone Lakes basin is set in Height-of-the-Rockies Provincial Park British Columbia. During my four day outing I had the entire area to myself while being treated to some exceptional landscapes and light.

Redwoods Coast of Northern California #44478 2014 Audubon Calendars

Redwoods Coast California 44478

The northernmost stretch of the California Coast offers some beautiful ocean vistas and coves along with expansive groves of Redwood trees. This image was made from Vista Point in DelNorte Redwoods State Park.

Balsamroot and Lupines, Dalles Mountain Ranch #77720 2014 Audubon Calendars

Wildflowers, Columbia River Gorge 47719

Last spring’s trip to the Columbia River Gorge yielded many great images of waterfalls and green forests along with spectacular displays of wildflowers along the Eastern half of the Gorge. This image was made at the Dalles Mountain Ranch State Park on the Washington side of the Gorge, a location I’ll be returning to again this May.


California Coast Spring Trip

Redwoods Coast of Northern California #44478 California Coast Spring Trip

Redwoods Coast California 44478

California Coast Spring TripWinter is beginning to wind down here in the Pacific Northwest and the first signs of spring are beginning to make their appearance, most notably the call of my favorite bird, the Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius). To that end I’m getting excited about making photography trip plans for the upcoming season. Towards the end of March Coleen and I will be headed down the Oregon and California Coasts. Selected areas so far are the Bandon Shore Acres vicinity of Oregon, the Redwoods Coast of Northern California and most importantly the Big Sur Monterey area of the Central California Coast. After that we plan on heading inland to Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, then finally the Owens Valley. Several of these areas are new to me and I’m excited about adding many images from them to my files.