Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sunrise at Morro Bay, California

with 35 comments

Four years ago this morning I went out early to see if I could catch the sunrise at Morro Bay, California. I did. The vertical view above, with its dark strip of land across the middle and a border around it gives me the illusion now of looking through a two-pane window. I also made a tight one-pane portrait of a seemingly unshy gull, which I take to be Larus occidentalis. The red patch on the lower bill apparently characterizes a breeding adult; imagine if breeding people had a red patch on their chin.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 4, 2020 at 4:41 AM

35 Responses

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  1. That sunrise shot is exquisite! How early did you have to get out and about to manage that image? Of course you know I love the shot of the gull, and I burst out laughing about the red patch comment. I’m pretty sure that’s one of those pondering thoughts that will pop up throughout the day and make me smile.


    November 4, 2020 at 5:07 AM

    • Happy laughter and residual smiles to you about the red patch.

      In putting this post together, I also wondered how early I’d gone out that morning. The metadata says the picture was created at 4:39 but that’s too early. During the trip I was in three time zones and I don’t know which one my camera was set to, or how accurately the minutes were set. It’s plausible I took the picture around 6:39, given that the time of sunrise in Morro Bay today, according to the Internet, is 6:28.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 7:19 AM

  2. It doesn’t matter how many sunrises/sunsets I see, whether in person or in photos, I’m still always impressed by the range of colors and how they can differ from time to time or place to place. I’ve enjoyed looking through this two-pane window.

    Todd Henson

    November 4, 2020 at 7:06 AM

    • Getting up and out early certainly paid off that morning. I think the two-pane-window (which I’m glad you also saw) occurred to me only when processing the image and preparing this post, not at the time I took the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 8:50 AM

  3. You had a lovely sunrise while there.


    November 4, 2020 at 7:21 AM

    • We had several pretty sunsets, as you saw in yesterday’s post. I believe this was the only sunrise I went out to record during our trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 8:51 AM

  4. The capture of the sunrise turned into another masterpiece of abstract art, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    November 4, 2020 at 8:47 AM

    • The strip of land’s darkness, which obscured details, made this view more abstract that it would otherwise have been.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 8:53 AM

  5. That’s one fine sunrise. Could almost be a Rothko painting. We stopped off here too, but in the rain. Your gull is similar to our Herring Gull.


    November 4, 2020 at 9:11 AM

    • It’s unfortunate but not unexpected that the rain that interfered with your stop at the Elephant Seal Rookery would also have been a detraction at Morro Bay. Many gulls look similar to my untrained brain, including the ones I saw in New Zealand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 2:14 PM

    • I hadn’t thought of Rothko, but he favored square painting and my “two-pane window” does split into approximate squares.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 2:29 PM

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed both photos here, Steve. You captured that sunrise with all the colors of the rainbow. Lovely western gull, too.

    Jet Eliot

    November 4, 2020 at 10:56 AM

    • Because I don’t often find myself in a scenic place at sunrise, I did my best to take advantage of the opportunity. I imagine the gull was used to people, given all the tourism in the area, and that made it easy for me to make my portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 2:20 PM

  7. Oh, I love that first photo! The pure colors of the sky reflected, then textured in the water are perfection! The bird is nice too. 🙂


    November 4, 2020 at 12:14 PM

    • I’m pretty fond of the first picture, too, given my general leaning toward Impressionist-type reflections. In this case the sunrise colors made the reflections more like those in a painting. I was going to show the first picture in its own right, then saw the bird as I looked through my archive for pictures from that date.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 2:27 PM

  8. Great seascape, the colors look almost dichroic.
    The gull’s red spot reminds me of a Hindi woman’s bindi. 😉

    Eliza Waters

    November 4, 2020 at 2:47 PM

    • I like the double novelty: nobody’s ever likened the colors in one of my photographs to those of dichroic glass, and you’re the first person to leave a comment with the rhyming words Hindi and bindi. I never knew the name for that ornamental dot. It’s easy to see why the gull’s red marking reminded you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 5:04 PM

  9. That’s a nice catch of that gull, there. As for the patch. I thought that’s why we wear beards.


    November 4, 2020 at 6:27 PM

  10. Nice closeup of the gull. Following up on Gary’s comment, it reminds me of a “soul patch”.

    Steve Gingold

    November 5, 2020 at 3:56 AM

    • That more closely matches the size, though not the color, of the gull’s red mark than a beard does. I wouldn’t have thought of it, maybe in part because I have the latter rather than the former.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 5, 2020 at 7:08 AM

  11. Different environments bring different sunrises. I don’t remember seeing this combination of colors before, and it’s quite beautiful. Being able to look across the water’s a plus, too. The smooth sky and rippled water makes for an equally pleasing combination.


    November 5, 2020 at 7:11 AM

    • Unlike Steve G., I’m rarely out recording sunrises. I’m glad I was up early enough that morning to pursue what turned out to be a beautiful one. The bay that you mentioned in the foreground and the horizontal strip of land beyond it gave me the split-panel look that I ended up liking so much.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 5, 2020 at 7:34 AM

  12. Ow that’s a super sunrise shot! Just love the colours Steve! So pleased we don’t have the red chin!


    November 11, 2020 at 12:38 PM

    • I really lucked out with that sunrise, no question. As for a red chin, it might well make human life more interesting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2020 at 5:16 PM

  13. That is one beautiful sunrise, Steve, with so many, many colors. I like the way you framed it very much. And the Western gull is a nice companion to it, with your funny remark about the red spot.


    November 11, 2020 at 6:49 PM

    • I’m rarely out for sunrises, so I got my money’s worth with this picture and a companion one of the famous Morro Rock. As for red spots, maybe Jupiter is also breeding.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2020 at 8:08 AM

  14. HEY! Los Osos is just off to the left of the picture!


    November 16, 2020 at 2:40 PM

    • I just checked the map. Too bad I didn’t know about the cliffs at Baywood-Los Osos, or I’d surely have gone there that morning. Maybe another time….

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2020 at 3:12 PM

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