Sunday, January 18, 2009

Carmel California

On the way back from the weekend Monterey trip, we had to stop in Carmel. I was thinking of my east coast friends while walking through the streets. Betty, Rebecca and Vicki would love staying, dining and people watching here.

It is an arty town, full of rules and regulations on how buildings must look. As frustrating as that may be for some business owners, it makes visiting Carmel like going to a very special place.

We stopped in the Weston Gallery and enjoyed some interesting prints, wandered a few streets and stopped for a great cup of coffee to go.

It was getting late and as much as we did not want the weekend to end, driving Highway 1 in the dark is not nearly as fun (or safe) as having some light. Besides, we had either a lighthouse or waterfall to shoot for sunset.

We stopped for some whale watching and missed the sunset at the waterfall, but it was okay cause we got the lighthouse at sunset instead.

Next trip up there will have to include more time, the Carmel Mission is an incredible place well worth spending time.

There were more galleries to visit and of course......some fine dining to be had!

I was having fun with my new "happy snappy" point and shoot camera too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Point Sur Light Station

The Sunday end of the weekend trip back home, was down Highway 1. I love the drive, there is so much to see. First stop was in Carmel, more on that in a different post, coffee was needed and then off down the road.

Coming around a corner, whales were spouting as they migrate along the coast. Even though they were far out to sea, it was incredible to see them and in the numbers that were there.

I figured they were enjoying the coast as well. Since it was getting late, it only seemed appropriate to watch the sunset over the Point Sur Light Station after all, we had spent a lot of time shooting the Point Pinos Lighthouse.

Point Sur is now a State Park with limited tours available, info at , I have taken the tour in the past. Do not let a foggy day stop you from going, the fog on the light is really special. The Lightstation is in the process of being restored and is really worth the visit and braving the walk UP the road to the top.

There is a beautiful beach with waves that roll as they come in, I think I could sit and watch for a long time.
The dawn photo is from a summer trip; I made my boys roll out of the tent before the sun and drive from our campground in the redwoods at Pfeiffer Big Sur, they did not appreciate the sunrise as much as I did. We watched as the sun slowly touched the hills and lit the rock with the light station on top.

Sunday, 1-18-09, the light house is having a whale watching picnic after the shorted tour of the light station. I would love to be sitting there
watching the whales again and enjoying the view of the lantern room from the hill top. Maybe
next time........
We stopped at Ragged Point for another cup of coffee.
And still managed to make back to Pismo in time for clam chowder at the Splash Cafe.
More photos from the trip and light station are here:
And even more photos from previous trips:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Point Pinos Lighthouse

Back to the Monterey Trip

Saturday, January 3rd was a good day to sleep too late and then go for a drive to the Lighthouse in Pacific Grove. The Lighthouse is open for tours from 1 to 4pm Thursday to Monday, since it was 12:30 the best thing seemed to drive around to the beach side and take a look from that angle. The light was good and if you hurried, you could get a shot off with out a golf cart load of people.

Another photographer came up to see what we were looking at, turns out I had been to his gallery when he had it open in Santa Barbara. Dan Merekel, , was shooting with his 6x17. He has some incredible night exposures on his website.

We had a nice visit with him and met up again when the gates opened and we could get closer to the lighthouse.

He went on to shoot the 17-mile drive Lone Pine, we took the lighthouse in the dark.

We were so busy talking, we forgot to take the tour, but the light house is decorated for the period.

It was built in 1855 and is currently surrounded by a golf course. Often your photos can include the local deer enjoying the greens.

For more information on the lighthouse

For more of my photos of the Point Pinos Lighthouse

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pixley National Wildlife Refuge

One of my friends, Kim, found that the Sandhill Cranes we have been wanting to see were at a Fish and Game Dept refuge just 45 minutes north of her in Bakersfield. So we had to take a trip there since it was so much closer than the other places we had scouted out.

Of course, we had to be there for sunrise over the reserve. Two of us had to leave our homes by 3:30 am to meet and carpool to Bakersfield. I had checked the weather forecast the night before and found that there was a fog warning, but in this part of central California, fog warnings are common and the CHP reports said the roads were clear. As we came over the pass, we were happy to see the lack of fog....and then we hit the fog and it got thicker and thicker. The reserve was down a small farm road, we could hardly see the fields next to the road for the fog.

Once we got to the reserve we could hear the birds, sounds all around us, but we could not see them. It was 31 degrees, cold damp and frosty, we stood around the parking lot a bit debating the fog, but since we had come so far, we had to gear up and head down the trail.

Most of the refuge is off limits so the birds can nest in peace but the road in was an easy walk. We arrived at the view platform, we knew we were surrounded by birds, we could hear there calls and in the breaks in the fog overhead, catch a glimpse of them flying over head. But that was it. We found a few other things to shoot and decided what all good nature photographers in this situation would do is, go for breakfast and hope it clears up. So off to the Black Bear Cafe in Tulare we went.

By the time we got back, the fog had lifted some in most areas but since there is water at the refuge, the fog was still pretty thick. We walked back out to the viewing area and with our longest lenses and telecoverters, we could see birds. We hoped that some where the cranes, they were so far away and hazy it was hard to tell.

We did see:
Sandhill Cranes
Canada Geese
Meadow birds
and an eagle
One thing I learned, when calling for information, ask how far from the viewing areas are the birds. I would guess with strong binoculars, it is a fantastic birding location, for photographers with out the big buck is a great experience.
Oh, and we did find the Sandhill Cranes, they were in the farmers field we drove past 3 times but it was too foggy to seem them. And they are very nervous critters to try and sneak up on. even in a hybrid quiet car!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Monterey ~ Cannery Row ~ Pacific Grove

I am back....finally! Between work, holidays and a crashed computer, I have been otherwise occupied.

I was also really in need of a break and some quality photography time. While debating options for a weekend away, the Monterey Peninsula was an easy choise. With the economy as it is, the fires that scorced so much of the hills and the time of year; hotels had lots of vacancy and good deals. A small group of us met and stayed with in a quick walk from Cannery Row and the Aquarium.

I think next trip, one of these Bed and Breakfasts will be calling my name. They have such a nice view and really unique rooms from what I can see on their websites and

Monterey is a great get away with more than you can see or do in a weekend.

The Aquarium is worth the trip, even if I did not go this time (photo tip-those old fashioned rubber lens hoods held against the glass of the tanks will reduce the reflection)

There are birds and marine animals to see up close and this time of year, the whales are mirgrating too.

A glass bottom boat gives tours as well

The lighthouse, Fishermans Wharf, Surf, Beaches and of course fine dining are just a part of the options of things to do.