The summer of 2021 has been challenging, to say the least. Record breaking heatwaves, devastating wildfires, widespread smoke, crowded parks, and the persistent COVID thing. There was so much hope that this summer would offer a return to normalcy. Well, it is better than last year, but not much.
I can usually plan and complete successful photography trips by having various backup locations in mind. Mostly for when conditions are less than optimal. However, this year the wildfire season started much earlier than usual, and by early July thick smoke was present over all my primary and most backup locations. That is except one.
Mount Rainier from Reflection Lake #73103 Purchase
Backup Plans: Mount Rainier
So far NW Washington has been, for the most part, lucky to escape all the wildfire smoke. So that gave me the opportunity to visit some great locations closer to home. In particular I was able to make a long overdue trip to Mount Rainier National Park. For many years I’ve put off photographing in Mount Rainer for various reasons. Mainly because in August I’m usually off on more ambitious trips out of state, or in Canada. But also because of the summer crowds. And the necessity of having to drive through all the Seattle and Tacoma congestion to get there.
In addition to a very successful trip to Mount Rainier several other locations made it on my list. These included Olympic National Park, Diablo Lake, Heather Meadows, and Skyline Divide in the North Cascades. Summer isn’t over yet so hopefully there will be several more trips to be made before fall arrives.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area #44164 Purchase
This week we will be leaving for a ten day photo shoot on the Oregon Coast. Our usual plan is to photograph coastal locations in April or early May but this year we had to postpone it for obvious reasons. However after several months of enduring Stay At Home orders filled with endless home improvement projects we can’t wait to hit he road again and get back to work!
At this writing only about half of Oregon State parks along the coast are open for camping. So we’re a bit limited on our options. Fortunately a few choice locations are open, enabling us to photograph some areas we haven’t visited in a number of years. We will be starting at Shore Acres State Parkwith its whimsical sandstone cliff formations, and Bandon Beach‘s iconic sea-stacks. Then we’ll move north to the Oregon Dunes, and finally on to the Cannon Beach area.
If you’re also visiting any of these areas at the same time let me know, I’d love to meet up and chat!
While this long awaited trip to the Oregon Coast is exciting in its own right, it’s only just the beginning. Several days after returning home I’ll be leaving on an extended photo tour of the Rocky Mountains. In some ways it will be a continuation of last year’s epic trip to the Idaho Sawtooths and Wyomings Wind River Range.
The park is not very large, and it isn’t a quick drive destination. In fact it can take a bit of prior planning to make a trip worthwhile. This is mainly due to the need to take a ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Since the park and ferry terminal are on opposite sides of the island you’ll also need to take your vehicle along for the ride. But don’t think you can just drive up to the terminal and be loaded on the ferry! The San Juan Islands are a very popular destination, especially on summer weekends. So to avoid ruining your outing you’ll need to reserve a spot in advance. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for some travel tips!
Killer Whales off San Juan Island
If you’re visiting Lime Kiln Point for the marine life you won’t be disappointed. The surrounding waters are home to the Southern Resident Killer Whales. They are a group of about 75 killer whales, or orcas, that live for most of the year in this part of the Salish Sea. Aside from orcas, sea lions, seals, porpoises, and minke whales frequent these waters. On our visit there were numerous sea lions playing close to shore. But don’t expect close up personal views of orcas, they swim farther off shore. Bring your binoculars or spotting scope for good views, predictably we forgot ours. The photo above is from several years ago on a whale watching tour.
It should be noted here that the Southern Resident Killer Whales are considered an endangered species. Their population has dropped from 85 to 75 individuals in recent years. This is mainly due to a drastic reduction of their prime food source, coho salmon. Their situation is compounded by numerous other factors, including increased stress due to noise levels from pleasure boats and freighter traffic. To learn more please check out the Center for Whale Research.
The park was our main destination for photos, but since we arrived early we had all day to explore the entire island for more subject matter. Another lighthouse at Cattle Point at the southern tip of the island was on my shoot list. However, lighting conditions there we not very good so I’ll need to return in the future to photograph it.
On the northwest tip of San Juan Island lies Roche Harbor, a historic seaside resort town. Here can be found Hotel De Haro, the states oldest continually operating hotel, in business since 1886. Judging by the looks of it Roche Harbor is the go-to destination for the yachting crowd. There is plenty of lodging and dining here, along with a general store well stocked with a variety of wines.
After our short tour of the Island we drove back to Lime the park in time for evening light and sunset. The lighthouse is the most obvious subject matter here. However, there are also great views south to the Olympic Mountains. I found them to work well as a backdrop for telephoto shots of freighters, and also on their own. Of course there is also the marine life. You’ll definitely need a good telephoto lens for photographing killer whales.
The lighthouse photographs best in the evening and sunset. There are plenty of excellent spots on the rocky shore to set up different compositions. A variety of focal lengths will work here, from wide to short telephoto. The classic south side view of the lighthouse will be illuminated much better in winter, when the sun is further south. However, at that time you’ll need to create a wide panoramic to include the sunset and structure in the same frame. In summer the north side will be in sunlight. Then you can photograph the lighthouse looking south with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop. Unfortunately from this angle there are few spots to set up your tripod, so getting a good composition may be difficult.
As mentioned above, you’ll need to review the ferry schedule carefully and reserve a vehicle spot in advance. You can still drive on without a reservation, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. On a Friday or Saturday in summer it appears like everyone in the state is going to the islands. If you are just walking on or taking a bicycle you won’t need a reservation. But remember the park is not within walking distance from the ferry terminal at Friday Harbor.
There are two ferry routes to Friday Harbor, one is a direct nonstop passage from Anacortes. The other makes three stops, at Lopez Island, Orcas Island, and Shaw Island. If you have the time I recommend the latter. It’s a much longer passage but more scenic as the ferry sails past numerous picturesque islands. If possible try and time your return ferry passage for the evening before sunset. There are excellent photo opportunities then, with the islands and Mount Baker bathed in warm light!
Taylor Dock Boardwalk, Bellingham WA #64663 #Purchase
2018 is turning out to be a year of new beginnings. Along with the launching of my new website comes this first blog post of the year, featuring several new images. These new photos are even more special in that are the first made using an entirely new camera system.
Last week during a brief window of decent weather I took a short break from working on the new website. This break enabled me to finally get out in the field to test out my new Nikon D850 camera system and a couple new filters. I find reading and writing reviews of photo gear a huge bore. So, if you’re interested in my opinions of the D850 you can contact me. I’ll be happy to share my first impressions.
The first photo above is from Boulevard Park, along Bellingham Bay. Aside from the new camera and lens, this was my first photo using a Lee Big Stopper filter. For those not familiar, the Big Stopper is a neutral density filter that dramatically increases the length of exposure. This extended shutter speed results in any movement becoming blurred. In the case above, the sky and water took on a silky texture. Photographing after sunset during the “Blue Hour” adds to the mood with cooler saturated tones.
Larrabee State Park
Wildcat Cove Sunset, Larrabee State Park #64680 Purchase
The next day I decided to head down to one of my favorite local winter destinations, Larrabee State Park. Usually I stop by Clayton Beach on the south end of the park. However, since I’ve made numerous photos from that great location I decided to check out Wildcat Cove beach. I haven’t been there for many years and I forgot how scenic it can be.
Wildcat Cove Sunset, Larrabee State Park #64695 Purchase
The tide was going out, exposing some interesting and extremely slippery rocks. The winter light was also warm and pleasant with some nice wispy high clouds. Since it was mid-week there weren’t many people. So it was nice to leisurely set up my gear and make a few photos as the sun went down.
I wanted to get in more practice with the Lee Filters so I made couple more tries. Exposures of even a few minutes long seem to take forever when it’s getting dark and cold!
Wildcat Cove Sunset, Larrabee State Park #64696 Purchase
Want to Learn More?
Would you like to learn more about photography? I offer full day, half day, and multi-day photo tours and instruction. Check out my Private Instruction/Tours page for more info, or contact me directly. I would love to help you take your photography to the next level and shoot like a pro!
In my last post I left off with our departure from Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia. In this post I’ll be talking about our visit to Bluenose Coast of Nova Scotia. This area of Nova Scotia has been high on my photography wish list for many years. Bluenose Coast contains some of the most famous tourist attractions in the Province. Situated southwest of Halifax the area includes Peggy’s Cove, and the lovely coastal villages of Chester, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, and Blue Rocks. How the term Bluenose originated is up for debate, some say it is a derisive term dating to political divisions of the late eighteenth century. However, others will say it refers to a bluish variety of potato, or the nose color of locals in winter.
Our drive from Cape Breton Island down to the Bluenose Coast was again a long tiring journey. Not only was the weather rainy discouraging, the route we took was longer than anticipated. Instead of taking a direct course via the main highway, we decided on a more scenic drive along the coast. While I won’t say this was a mistake we did find the road to be exceedingly long with very few coastal views. Most of the way travelled through heavily forested lands dotted with tiny villages. Occasionally the roads breaks out on the coast with views of numerous islands. According to our travel brochures this area northeast of Halifax is a haven for wilderness loving sea kayakers. I’d love to be able to return and explore this vast area with a boat.
The Fo’c’sle Pub Chester, Nova Scotia #58700
Between the rain and the torturous road we decided to finish the drive to Bluenose Coast the next day. We weren’t to thrilled at the prospect of finding our way through the Halifax area at night. After anxiously getting through Halifax in the morning we decided to base our stay at Graves Island Provincial Park. Well situated near all the sites I was hoping to photograph, Graves Island also had some of the best campsites on our trip. After setting up camp we went on to check out the nearby town of Chester. Founded in 1759, Chester is a quaint village on Mahone Bay noted for stately old homes, and a thriving artist community. Along with a boat filled harbor Chester is also home to The Fo’c’sle, Nova Scotia’s oldest pub. I couldn’t resist photographing the whimsical dragon hanging above the entrance.
After a few weeks of photographing mostly nature oriented locations we were finally in Coleen’s environment. Picturesque coastal towns with lots of shops to browse through was something she had been looking forward to. Although I’m mostly a wilderness nature lover I also was enjoying the change. The next day was perhaps the most memorable of the entire trip. It was a big day with lots of sites to see and photograph on the Bluenose Coast. We began it with breakfast at The Kiwi Cafe in Chester, a colorful establishment with great food, after which we proceeded to Lunenburg and Blue Rocks. Along the way we passed by Oak Island, the site of questionable buried treasure, made famous on the History Channel’s Curse of Oak Island tv show. Needless to say, we didn’t stop by to check it out.
Along the way we had to stop in the town Mahone Bay for the annual Scarecrow Festival and antique fair. Even without the festival the town is definitely worth a stop. Dating back to 1754, Mahone Bay has numerous eclectic boutiques, art studios, antique shops, B&Bs, and restaurants. Of course with the festival in full swing Mahone Bay was overflowing with tourists, including us. We ended up spending several hours there checking out shops and the over 250 whimsical handmade scarecrows. But we had to move on, I was anxious to scout Lunenburg and the tiny fishing community of Blue Rocks. Aside from Peggy’s Cove these to locations are perhaps the most scenic and photographed in all of Nova Scotia.
Mahone Bay Scarecrows #58715
Lunenburg is yet another old historic fishing town. In my mind it was the most interesting one we visited. The town sits on a gentle hill overlooking the bay, with many of the historic buildings sporting vibrant colors. For photographers looking to capture these colorful buildings on the waterfront there is no better spot than a park directly across the bay. You have the option of photographing from the waterfront or up a hill on the edge of a golf course. The later offers a wonderful elevated view of the town and boats.
After finding these locations and making a few photos we went on to scout Blue Rocks. Being new to the area it was a bit difficult to find among the maze of roads. However there was no mistaking it on arrival. Blue Rocks really is just a small community with several fishing shacks and boats on calm inlet. The location though is classic, old colorful fishing shacks and boats moored alongside with islands and the Atlantic as a backdrop. And the rocks are really blue, with the layers eroded into fantastic shapes. With crystal clear water and bright yellow skirts of seaweed the rocks boats and buildings presents a dazzling array of colors and shapes. I was bubbling over excitement at photographing this wonderful location! The only thing missing though were clouds, the sky was an empty electric blue. Perfect for picnics and leisurely drives but not for photography.
It was still early so we went back to Lunenburg to check out the town and have a bite to eat. We found another gem at the tiny Salt Shaker Deli. I would highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area. The food was wonderful, probably the best seafood chowder in the Province, and the friendly staff and outstanding harbor view made for a memorable experience. And if this wasn’t enough, as we were finishing our meal I noticed some interesting clouds moving in!
Our plan was to head back to Blue rocks after dinner for evening light, and then hurry back to Lunenburg to photograph the waterfront at twilight. Arriving at Blue Rocks the sky darkened and rain began to come down in sheets. A complete opposite of the earlier sunny blue sky. I was getting discouraged at my prospects when the showers began to move on. The elements for some great evening light were beginning to come together. Firstly a rainbow began to take shape, followed by curtains of rain and clouds being illuminated by the setting sun. Moving around I found many compositions among the boats and fishing shacks. As the light began to peak and fade I worked to photograph one of the most iconic shacks in the last glowing light of the evening. So far this was the best combination of light and subject matter on the trip.
We were also able to get back to the Lunenburg location in time for more photography. I quickly set up and made some photos just as the lights began to turn on in town with a purple twilight glowing above. All in all it was a perfect autumn day, sightseeing in historic towns with Coleen, great meals, and successful photography. But there was more in store for us along the Bluenose Coast the next day at Peggy’s Cove, our final location in Nova Scotia.
It’s funny how life can be so unpredictable. Some may be tempted to replace “funny” with frustrating, discouraging, exciting, or fun. Last year at this time I was on a dream trip with my wife Coleen to photograph in Nova Scotia and New England. This year I’m stuck at home in the office, working on marketing and fantasizing about future trips. So since I’m not able to get out on the road anytime soon, the next best thing is to relive last year’s trip by writing blog posts.
In my last post I wrote about our brief visit to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. In this post I’ll be recapping our visit to Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia, one of the main highlights and destinations of the trip. As with any new location I hoped to see as much of the province as possible. We had to carefully choose only a few of the best locations to visit in our available time. After years of poring over Nova Scotia maps and images I settled on a couple of areas. For me Cape Breton Island and Peggy’s Cove Coastal Region were obvious choices. Cape Breton Island represented the rugged wind swept character of the Canada’s Atlantic Provinces. While Peggy’s Cove Region highlights the historic and thriving culture of the province. There is, of course, much more to see, but these locations will make a good start.
After leaving New Brunswick we drove straight to our first destination,Cape Breton Highlands National Park. On the map it looked like about a half day drive. In reality it took us most of the day to arrive, exhausted from driving, at Chéticamp in the park. Of course we had to make a few stops along the way. Part of the appeal of Cape Breton Island is it’s Scottish heritage, most notable along the Ceilidh Trail. Picturesque Ceilidh Trail (pronounced Kay’-Lee) runs along the west coast, and has its road signs written in both English and Gaelic. Along the way are quaint villages, world class seaside golf courses, and North America’s first single malt distillery.
Further north the Ceilidh Trail gave way to the world famous Cabot Trail. Possibly the most scenic drive in all of Atlantic Canada, the Cabot Trail encircles the entire northern section of Cape Breton Island. During our visit we focused on the western section of the trail, from Margaree Harbour in the south to Pleasant bay in the north.
Fishing Boats Grand Étang Harbour Cape Breton Island #58583 Purchase
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Arriving in Cape Breton Highlands National Park was exhilarating. We were just about as far north in the province as we could drive. The land had begun to take on a wilder primordial feel, even more evident high on the Cape Breton Plateau. There were few towns, and those being very small fishing outposts. Although Cape Breton Highlands lies only at 46º north, I had the feeling of being on the southern edge of the vast expanse of Canadian subarctic lands. I imagined that if I squinted hard enough I could see Newfoundland, then Labrador, and finally Baffin Island. I should state here that for most of my life I’ve had an obsession with everything arctic. Especially the Canadian Arctic, which holds a tight grip on my imagination, partly due to it’s rich and often tragic history of exploration.
After setting up camp in Cape Breton Highlands National Park I anxiously began to scout out the coastal drive. Along the west coast the Cabot Trail climbs high and has stupendous views of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. At its height you can see all the way to the Magdalen Islands, situated nearly in the center of the Gulf. I like to think this section of the Cabot Trail is Canada’s east coast version of Big Sur in California. After winding up along the coast the road heads inland to the plateau highlands and a dramatic change of scenery.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia #58564 Purchase
Cape Breton Highlands Plateau
Dominated by boreal forest with a distinct sub-arctic feel, the Cape Breton Plateauis a windswept wilderness of barrens, bogs and lakes. Most people think of the Appalachian Mountains ending at Mount Katahdin in Maine. However, geologically they continue much further north. Cape Breton Plateau is actually an Appalachian mountain worn down by glacial activity. To reach the true end of this ancient chain of mountains you would need to travel as far as the highlands of Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. Since the weather was grey and forbidding on the plateau I headed back to photograph the coastal drive in evening light.
While in the park I wanted to hike the Skyline Trail to photograph the iconic view from the top. At the end of the trail a dramatic headlands cliff overlooks the winding road and the vast expanse of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This trail and view is one of the hallmarks of the park. However, my timing to get there was poor. I failed to take the length of the hike into consideration, it would’ve been dark by the time I made it there. I was fortunate to drive to an alternate overlook just in time make a few photos of evening light breaking through the clouds.
Cabot Trail Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia #58637 Purchase
Margaree Harbour & Lobsters
The next day Coleen and I drove south to scenic Margaree Harbour to photograph fishing boats and coastal views. I really enjoyed this area, there were picturesque seaside farms, sandy beaches, churches, and colorful boats. An interesting find was Centre de la Mi-Carême, an interpretive center focusing on the Acadian celebration of Mid-Lent with masks, music, and dance. Attracting us to the center was the display of colorful effigies on display in the parking lot. Unfortunately our visit was cut short as the center wasn’t open at the time.
Back on the lobster hunt, as we found out in New Brunswick, lobster was out of season. However, we were lucky enough to find that in Margaree Harbour the Island Sunset Lobster Pound still had some some available. After chatting with the friendly owner and a patron about our travels we hurried back to camp to cook our long anticipated crustaceans. In the warm afternoon sun we made a glorious mess of cracked shells lobster meat and melted butter! This was the way to do it, out in the open air by the sea, not in a stuffy restaurant.
Margaree Harbour Cape Breton Island #58615 Purchase
In the evening, and again the next morning, I went out to make photographs along the coast. I had some nice light for photography while in the area but it didn’t last very long. I came back with only a few new images, including one of a beach whale, headless and rotting on the beach. This is usually the situation when visiting a new location. Without prior firsthand knowledge of a location it’s difficult to be in the right place at the right time. In my experience I might get lucky a few times on an initial trip. But it normally takes several return visits to really understand the its character. There are some spots from which I still have not created a defining image, although I’ve been there many times and know it intimately.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park #58560 Purchase
After packing up our camp we began our drive north and over to the Atlantic side of Cape Breton Island. At Green Cove we got our first real view of the Atlantic Ocean. Getting out of the truck to stretch our legs I found this to be a great place for photography. The headland is composed of beautiful pink granite laced with striped intrusions. Given the right lighting conditions I could spend hours here photographing the fascinating patterns. Unfortunately a storm front was arriving with the first drops of rain which lasted all day.
I wished we had better weather and more time to stay and explore beautiful Cape Breton Island. One of my biggest regrets was having to pass up a visit to Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Located on the far eastern edge of Cape Breton Island, the fort is a wonderfully preserved 18th century military installation. Among activities here are interactive tours and reenactments of 18th century life. Including Louisbourg on our trip would’ve meant excluding other important locations further on. And I definitely didn’t want to miss out on photographing iconic Peggy’s Cover and historic Lunenburg. So it was onward into the rain, and part two of this post!
Green Cove, Cape Breton Highlands National Park #58656 Purchase
A year ago I made my first visit to the Bay of Fundy New Brunswick. For many years the Atlantic Provinces of Canada have been on my must see list. Last year my wife, Coleen, and I finally had the opportunity to visit and photograph in this beautiful region. Our plan was to spend six weeks traveling to Nova Scotia and New England for fall color photography. Since we had to drive through New Brunswick we couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the fabled Bay of Fundy.
Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park was our first stop in the Atlantic Provinces after leaving New England. Fundy National Park showcases rugged coastline, over 25 waterfalls, dense Acadian Forest, and of course the famous tides. We excitedly pulled over at the first overlook of the bay. After such a long drive across the continent it was a welcome sight to see and smell saltwater again. We checked in at the visitor center to secure a campsite then quickly set up our home for the night.
Fishing boats, Alma, New Brunswick #58493 Purchase
We stayed in Headquarters Camp and found it very convenient, being very close to the bay. Campers in Fundy National Park have a variety of options available in three different campgrounds. You can choose between traditional tent and RV sites, yurts, rustic cabins, oTENTik, or the new Goutte d’Ô. Goutte d’Ô is a structure with a water droplet shape suitable for couples or family. I must warn, however, along with the park’s daily use fee per person, the cost of renting out an oTENTiks, or Goutte d’Ô could be higher then a nice motel room.
Alma, Bay of Fundy
Our next objective was to pay a visit to the small town of Alma in search of lobster. While in town I made some photos of fishing boats moored to piers at high tide. My plan was to make some comparison photos of low and high tides. We searched the town but couldn’t find any open lobster shacks. It turned out the season had closed so there wasn’t any lobster available. So we settled for the next best thing, clam chowder and fish & chips. I wish I could report that we had a good introduction to east coast seafood, but it wasn’t to be. The clam chowder was very watery, with hardly any cream clams or flavor. Unfortunately the fish & chips were no better, a small fillet covered in thick very greasy batter. Although we were sorely disappointed, our dining luck will greatlyimprove in the coming weeks!
Dickson Falls Trail, Fundy National Park #58487 Purchase
Aside from the obvious attraction of the bay and it’s tides, Fundy National Park also has over 100 kilometers of trails. I wanted to check one of those trails before getting ready for evening photography. I decided on the popular Dickson Falls Trail, a short walk into a forested ravine to a famous waterfall. Upon entering the forest I was immediately struck by the heavy fragrant scent of spruce trees. Forests in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are classified as Acadian, a mix of northern hardwoods and boreal spruce usually found in the far north. A well constructed boardwalk trail takes you through a cool green forest which felt more like home in the Pacific NW. Due to all of New England and the Atlantic Provinces experiencing a severe drought, Dickson Falls turned out to be a disappointing trickle.
After the hike we returned to a wide overlook of the bay and settled in to see what kind of light evening will bring. A quaint feature of Fundy National Park is the placement of red Adirondack chairs in quiet scenic locations. It was relaxing to take advantage of the chairs as we gazed across the bay hoping to see whales. While we didn’t see any whales in the bay I did manage to make a few semi-abstract photographs of cloud patterns.
Fishing boats at low tide, Alma New Brunswick #58535 Purchase
Fundy Low Tide
I got up early the next morning to drive down to the bay for low tide. It was quite a sight to see such a low tide. All the fishing boats were now resting high and dry on a gravel and mud seafloor. After scouting for photos along the expansive low tide beach I headed back to camp to pack up and move on to Nova Scotia. I was hoping to make a stop along the way at Hopewell Rocks to photograph the famous sea stacks. However, as we pulled into a full parking lot the sight of a large quantity of tour busses was discouraging. I knew from experience that the best views for photography would be crowed with tourists. So with a tinge of regret we instead drove on to our next main destination, Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia.
It seemed a shame though to have only a little more than a day for this area. I guess we’ll have to come back again!
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.
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.
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.
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, just south of Sonoma Coast #60262 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!
This week I will be leaving for an extended Spring trip to photograph landscape nature and travel imagery throughout Oregon and Northern California. During this excursion I’ll be photographing some new locations and subject matter, along with adding depth to places I’ve previously covered. Check out some of the exciting areas on the itinerary below.
Oregon: Hood River Valley Orchards, Southern Coast, Owyhee River and Canyon, Wallowa Valley Hells Canyon Area.
California: Redwoods National Park, Mount Shasta, Mendocino Coast, Point Reyes, Sonoma Valley Vineyards.