Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Ocean

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

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Four years ago today we were heading down California’s Highway 1 in waning daylight when I saw a sign for the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery near San Simeon and drove in to check it out.

In chronological order, you’re seeing three of the pictures I took there. You may be surprised, as I am when I look back at these photographs now, that the first one came about 17 minutes before the second one, and the third followed the second by about 16 minutes. In other words, we got two differently colored sunsets a little over half an hour apart. Hail, metadata, as good an elucidator as a sunset! (Let that last line live on as an idiosyncratic quotation for you today.)

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 3, 2020 at 4:35 AM

We had two December 25ths last year

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Unlike most people, Eve and I lived through two December 25ths last year. The first one began in our hotel across from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines, where we boarded a flight for Taipei. The second December 25th began over the Pacific Ocean at the International Date Line during our flight from Taipei to San Francisco. That second December 25th ended in Austin after our third and final flight.

The cloud pictures I took through the plane’s window between the Philippines and Taiwan turned out to be the last photographs of any kind I took on our trip, and so this 22-episode Philippine travelogue comes to an end.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2020 at 5:49 AM

California and Texas

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With about 39 million people, California is the most populous state in the United States. Texas comes in second with around 28 million people. Both are still strongly growing.

When it comes to physical size, the order is reversed. Texas is the nation’s second largest state, covering almost 268,600 square miles, while California ranks third at close to 163,700 square miles. Alaska is larger than those two combined, with an area of some 663,000 square miles, but that enormous—and enormously cold—state claims only 740,000 inhabitants, or roughly 230,000 less than the city of Austin.

I’ve never set foot in Alaska, and most of the pictures on this blog have been from Texas, so here come another two photographs from California. The first shows Pacific Ocean waves breaking at Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve on November 4th last year.

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Click for larger size.

A nearby look in a different direction revealed waves of sand.

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 1, 2017 at 4:51 AM

Duncan’s Cove

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After visiting a wet Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve on October 27th last year, we drove over to get a look at the Pacific Ocean. The hazy view shown here greeted us in the Duncan’s Cove section of Sonoma Coast State Park. Looking lower and much less far away, I noticed some grass that had dried out but now had raindrops on it. Getting down at its level, I made this impressionistic picture of the wet grass:

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“Impressionistic” doubles as a self-serving way of saying there was so little light I couldn’t get much in focus at such a close distance.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2017 at 4:16 AM

Like a long mound of orange spaghetti

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Driving south along California’s scenic Highway 1 on November 3rd last year, we stopped at Carmel River State Beach, where I found this drying mound of seaweed that made me think of orange spaghetti. You’d have seen it that way too, wouldn’t you?

I take this to be a kelp, possibly Macrocystis pyrifera. Click the icon below to zoom in for some yummy details.

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Great blue heron on the Pacific coast

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I’ve seen an occasional great blue heron (Ardea herodias) in Austin, but the closest I ever got to one was at Muir Beach on the Pacific coast of California on November 1st of last year. Why the bird let me get so close, I don’t know, but I wonder if my being downhill from it made me seem less threatening. From a photographer’s point of view, my lower position let me aim upward enough to isolate the heron’s head and neck against the sky.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2017 at 4:56 AM

Morro Rock

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Within an hour of leaving the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery in San Simeon on November 3, we arrived at our Morro Bay hotel. It was close to the coast, so when I awoke early the next morning and saw some color in the sky, I hurriedly walked the few blocks to the water in hopes of recording the famous Morro Rock at sunrise. I think this was the only time in my life I’ve done back-to-back sunset and sunrise pictures.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 14, 2016 at 4:56 AM

Also at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery near San Simeon

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We arrived at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery near San Simeon, California, so late in the afternoon on November 4th that we soon got to enjoy a scenic sunset.

While the distant rocks in the photograph that appeared here three days ago hosted seals, the rock at the left in today’s photograph attracted birds. Click the excerpt below if you’d like to zoom in on that silhouetted rock and its avian fringe.

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© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 29, 2016 at 6:32 AM

Elephant seals

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A couple of posts back you caught a tiny glimpse of seals on the rocks at Point Lobos, California, on November 3. Late the next afternoon, having worked our way down scenic Highway 1, we pulled in at the parking area overlooking the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery near San Simeon. It was a popular place, both for the elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) on the beach and the onlookers lining the fence to watch them. Note that while most of the seals were drowsily minding their own business, two of them were going at it nose to nose.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2016 at 4:56 AM

Monterey cypress with an unusually long horizontal branch

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Click for better quality and larger size.

At Point Lobos, California, on November 3rd, I noticed that one of the Monterey cypresses, Cupressus macrocarpa, had an extraordinarily long horizontal branch.

If you’ve ever seen one branch of a tree so much longer than all the others, raise your hand. Of course you’ll have to tell us if you raised your hand.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 27, 2016 at 5:01 AM

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