Dusk

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Yesterday evening at the coast just north of Scott Creek.
We had hoped for a pretty sunset, but were instead greeted by this moody, cloudy sky. I had a lot of fun making long-exposure exposures — until the batteries in my timer died. This is a 72 second exposure, which should have been a 90 second exposure, but I liked how it turned out.
It is a great photo spot and we will certainly check in on it again as it’s not only good for land/seascape shots, but also for capturing pelican formations and other beasts: just before we left we saw our first school of dolphins in the distance.

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Singer

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A Californian white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttalli) close to Tomales Point at Point Reyes National Seashore. While we were waiting for some tule elk to move into a more favorable position, this guy was engaging in a song contest to defend his territory. As he was so focused on his job, I was able to get close enough to take this shot.

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Groom

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This is a male coast range fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii), I believe. He was defending his territory by showing off his bright blue throat patch while doing fast push-ups, after which came a display of arching his back and standing as tall as he possibly could. In between he also tried a bit of head-banging, which was quite a feat, for someone with such a short neck. We saw him on yesterday’s hike around the Audubon Canyon Ranch. We also saw herons, egrets, an osprey, big caspian terns, long-beaked curlews, and quite a few birds we couldn’t identify on the spot. The folks from the Audubon Canyon Ranch did a great job of setting up scopes through which we could see lots of birds that we would not have noticed with our standard-issue binoculars.

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Rising

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I had seen these wind-power generators a couple of months ago on my way to Yosemite National Park. And yesterday was a good day to revisit them. I had checked the weather report and was happily surprised to find that clouds were forecast to arrive there at about sunset time. Well, it turned out that was wrong. I will revisit this spot sometime again when it is a little cooler and the probability of clouds getting that far east is higher. Yesterday, the felt temperature was around 50 ºF/10 ºC at the coast and 106 ºF/41 ºC at the wind farm.

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Fountain

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This one was inspired by the great Henri. I liked how the girl had just opened her hair and how it flowed over her shoulders, much like the water coming out of the pipes of the Vaillancourt Fountain.

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Unfolding

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I really like the lines and the simple structure of this heliconia. The growth pattern of the spoon-like bracts allows for simple scaling and no matter how large they become, they won’t block each other’s growth. When a heliconia blooms, the actual flowers grow out of these bracts.
Happy Mother’s Day!

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Simple

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A Lomo scan from a couple of weeks ago. As I am waiting for my gear to come back from a thorough cleaning session (I have spent too much time in dusty and salty places), I started digging through my archive and one of the first pictures that jumped out at me was this shot from Pomponio State Beach.

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Horned

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We saw this Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillii) on a hike at Mount Diablo State Park. His tactics to avoid detection seemed to have been to alternately hold perfectly still for a while, and then to sprint a foot or two towards a better hiding place when he thought we weren’t looking. Between the small stones his camouflage worked really well and we found it very difficult not to loose him after his sprints. After 5 minutes he finally disappeared into the bushes next to our trail.

 

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Blasted

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Another shot from Big Sur. When I took this shot we were sheltering behind a rock from the wind and sand that blasted everything around us. This rock looked as if it got blasted quite frequently. This shot is a long exposure of 30 seconds and you can see the softness that the moving grains of sand add to the foreground, a bit like the spraying waves do in the background. I also took some shots at 1/8000s to see if I could freeze it, but the swirling sand still only left blurry traces on the chip. At these speeds the sand gets everywhere: my eyes still hurt from its grinding force and I’m still finding it in my camera bag and my shoes. And no, those aren’t the real colors.

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Stellar’s Jay

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A Stellar’s Jay (Cyanocitta steller), who adamantly demanded to get some of our peanuts. We met this guy at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park where these jays, but also crows and what sounded like pheasants were on wakeup-call duty. The vocal expressiveness of these jays was quite surprising: sometimes they sounded like annoyed toddlers, sometimes they were clearly rallying their mates, and their wikipedia page states that they can also mimic hawks to drive away other birds from their feeding grounds.

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