Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay California.

Go there. Seriously.

And stop and get crab chowder at one of the small outdoor cafes (well, in California they all are outdoor!), where the chowder cooks in big old foil covered stock pots out on the front porch. Best ever!

 

 

Warblers and Phoebes and Kites, oh my!

I was quite fortunate to be able to spend time with two local biologists/bird/wildlife guides when I was in the San Francisco Bay area. It was, as you’d expect, an incredible experience. Not only were there 50+ new species of birds (and several new mammals) that crossed my path (and, my camera lens!), but also just absolutely stunning beauty of the habitats we visited.

All of the areas I explored were in the North Bay region – Marin and Sonoma counties, (google map it!). These locations are world-renowned for their abundance and variety of bird species, which, as it goes with many areas of the world, change thru-out the year. For December this meant the “non-breeding” winter birds, who typically go north (at times WAY north) in the spring/summer to breed and raise their young.

That said, I’m going to break my posts down into four or five posts, otherwise, I’ll have about 2,583 bird pics here. 🙂

First stop: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds in San Rafael

Ok – I won’t lie. Las Gallinas Ponds are holding ponds for water in the lifecycle of wastewater treatment. I know, I know – sounds like the LAST place to see a gorgeous setting and wildlife. But, this really is the later phases of the water treatment process. No smells, just huge ponds/marshes that look like a storybook of outdoorsiness. And, BIRDS 🙂 Several are photos of the same bird, but given that it can be incredibly difficult to get a good shot of many of these birds, well I’m posting them all. In this instance, the male Northern Harrier gave me an opportunity for some crisp shots. He’s a stunning raptor, nicknamed “grey ghost” for obvious reasons!

 

Shooting with what you have: Expressions of the 35mm lens

Art to me is expression, and that specific artistic expression – as well as interpretation – has allowed me to be creative on both the front (camera) and back ends (photoshop, etc) of every picture I take. I don’t take any of this too seriously, of course – simply because I can’t imagine enjoying it as much as I do if I lamented the shot, or if I’ve post-edited something in a shoddy way.

Before my California trip (where these shots were taken), I picked up a 35mm lens for my Nikon DSLR – a first “prime” single-focus lens in the mix of my growing list of lenses. I’d read it’s a great choice for street photography and an overall good entrance to the class of wide-angle lenses. Granted, as for street photography, it can mean getting rather close and intimate with any people you may want to be the focal point. That I didn’t do so much this go round, but instead again decided to just get a sense for the limitation it forces upon the photographer – me, who is used to adjusting my usual all in one zoom lens to suite the subject in a jiffy. 35mm too can lend to some of the best color renditions in photography. Perhaps power of suggestion, but I was in fact pleased with more than a few of the shots that were color inspiring to begin with.

None are edited, only the file size reduced for web presentation. Some are “meh” to  me, but the exercise here was shooting as though I had film in my camera, fixed focal length, with no chance of edits before or after “processing” them. I will admit, some give me the itch to really want to use even subtle post-editing features 🙂

For a bit of perspective, I posted the same images all in monochrome in a separate gallery. *Update – I now posted the monochrome first, as it gives a better sense of the color! Thanks Manja for that suggestion 🙂

I don’t typically photoblog in mosaic, but 80 photos can be tedious presented individually. You can click on the photos itself to view in larger format, as a side note. I’ve not captioned them, they are from around San Francisco, specifically the Financial District, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Chinatown, and Embarcadero neighborhoods.

So first up: Monochrome set.

 

The same gallery, as shot in color.

A bit of a shuffle,  colorless….

 

 

Thursday Doors December 7: West Coast Doors (sung to West End Girls, if you’re a Pet Shop Boys fan)

FINALLY.

A doors posting for Thursday – what is it with busy lives??

But, on a positive spin, this week’s doors come out of a little vacation, a little respite. Actually, a lot of both, in a favorite place of mine: California. Specifically, the San Francisco Bay part of California. And while I took a boatload more pics of wildlife, birds, nature and beautiful landscapes (all that never end), those will certainly come later,  once I sort thru the mountain of digital images (thankfully, the ‘mountain’ a tiny SD card nestled in my DSLR. Heh).

Ok. Here’s to some fun funky and classy San Francisco doors!

For this week’s doors challenge.

Thursday Doors, July 20: Of Hobbits and Trees and such…

It’s easy to feel extremely humbled, and quite a bit miniature, when walking through a grove of Coast Redwoods in California’s Muir Woods National Monument…especially where the Redwoods create natural doors, inviting us in for a biscuit and tea, perhaps.

And in scouring my photos on my Mac, I came across a couple others that were “hobbit” inspiring…

For this week’s doors challenge….

For Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors challenge.