A Return to Black and White

Remnants Driftwood Walk-On Beach in B&W Explosion! Cormorants Del Mar Point

The beach is a wonderful place to experiment with black and white photography.  As much as I love the vibrant colors here along the Sonoma coast I’m still drawn to the challenge of creating different moods using black and white images.  So please bear with me as I indulge myself in more experimentation into the world of monochrome.

I took these images here at Sea Ranch in mid-day at Del Mar Point and Walk-On Beaches.  As you can see in a few of the images I used long exposures to create a smokier, moodier image of the ocean.  I thought it might be interesting to take a basically high-key midday image and try to make it more low-key.  For some of these images I used a 10-stop ND filter and 3-10sec. exposures.  For others, I used a 3-stop ND filter and a 1/8 sec. exposure.  The two beach images drew my attention because of the untouched, wind-blown sand and the half-buried driftwood remnants.

I hope you enjoy my latest journey further into the world of B&W photography.  Capturing the full tonal range of light in B&W is a real challenge for me and presents quite a different set of issues in post-production.  For those who may be interested, I used a combination of tone mapping in Photomatix, and Photoshop with Nik’s Silver Efex Pro for the B&W conversions.



Equipment:  Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.5 lens; Hoya 10 stop ND filter; Oben Tripod; Kirk ball head

Posted in Beach, Birds, Black and White, Fall, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Sonoma County | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dahlias, Dahlias, and More Dahlias


A week or so ago Barbara and I went up again to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden in Fort Bragg.  This time we up there with our friends Nancy and Jim and we soon found ourselves amidst the special Dahlia exhibit that lies in the center of the overall garden.  Unfortunately I didn’t take note of the various varieties that I shot, but I’ll leave that up to you Dahlia aficionados to decipher.  Whenever I see Dahlias I often think of my brother Chris and the beautiful Dahlias he grows in his garden in Long Island.  I couldn’t possibly photograph all the varieties that were there, but I wanted to give you all at least a small taste of what we saw.  We certainly had a wonderful day wandering through the garden and thoroughly enjoyed this special display of Dahlias.  I hope you do as well.

Dahlia Dahlia Dahlia Dahlia

And of course what Dahlia garden would be complete without its own dragon to watch over it?

Dragon Guarding the Dahlias


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens

Posted in Landscapes, Mendocino County, Uncategorized, Wildflowers | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Black and White Day at the Beach

I’ve been experimenting with my new camera and I thought I’d focus a little on some black and white photography.  The sand, surf, sky and sandstone rocks of the beach all conspire to produce great B&W images.  So I spent a few hours at Del Mar Point and Walk On beaches here at Sea Ranch capturing the light of a mid-day afternoon.

At this point I’m really just trying to get used to handling the D810 as its control features are slightly different than my D3s.  The big difference comes in developing a workflow to deal with these larger files that are also not compatible in Raw form (.NEF) with my older version of Photoshop (CS5).  So I’m converting all images to a .DNG format in Lightroom and then processing them through CS5.  It’s an additional step and I have to be a bit more careful to make sure I dump images I don’t use as I’ll quickly fill up my hard drive if I’m not a bit selective about what I keep.

In any event I made some B&W images that capture the feeling and mood of my afternoon at the beach playing with my new toy.  I think that I’ll have a great adventure experimenting with this camera and learning all, or most, of its vast capabilities.  I hope you enjoy sharing in my adventure.

Walk On Beach rocks Sea Cave entrance at Walk on Beach Walk On Beach looking South Walk On Beach looking North Rocks at Del Mar Point Del Mar Cove Del Mar Cove north


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens; monopod.

Posted in Beach, Black and White, Geologic Formations, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A  Day in a not-so-ordinary Garden

I’m baaaack!  Actually I never really left; I was just working in a different part of my website.  Over the last few months I’ve been working in my shop on a furniture commission for some very good friends here on the Ranch.  You can check out the Bar Stool project from beginning to end in the “In the Shop Now” Page on my website.  With that project behind me I’m freer to more fully engage myself in photography again.

I also wanted to try out a new camera (thanks to my latest woodworking project).  Barbara and I took a day trip to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden in Fort Bragg.  We’ve been there many times and it truly is a special place.  The images below catch some of the many beautiful features of this wonderful garden paradise.  There is also some significant art displays imbedded throughout the garden; some are statuary in nature while others are more integrated into the gardens themselves.  One of my images shows a couple of honey bees on a flower, and right after I took that shot I came across a beautiful statue of bees on a honeycomb.   They truly know how to celebrate nature in all its glory.

So, it’s nice to be shooting again and I hope you enjoy my return to nature as much as I do.

Life is good!


Equipment: Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens.

Water Lily Sedges around the Pond Honey Bees Art in the Garden Mendocino Botanical Garden Bees and Honeycomb Herons Garden Path




Posted in Landscapes, Mendocino County, Wildflowers | Tagged | 2 Comments

Couple More Sea Ranch Locals

Great Blue Heron

Black Oystercatcher

I’m still engaged in the shop these days but I thought I’d share these two images of frequent fliers along our coast here at Sea Ranch.  The large heron in flight is a Great Blue Heron and we see them quite frequently along the bluffs and in the coastal meadows.  The second image is of a Black Oystercatcher foraging along the mussel beds at Del Mar Point near the State Ecological Reserve.  I photographed these birds back in March as spring was getting under way.  These birds, while quite common here, are nevertheless beautiful to behold.  The oystercatchers may not have the spectrum of colors of the GBH, but they have no trouble getting noticed due to their constant high-pitched chattering (similar to that of a Killdeer).  All part of the symphony of sounds and sights here along our coast.

Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens with 2x teleconverter.

Posted in Beach, Birds, Marine life, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Cormorants and More!

I’ve been a bit busy in the shop these days so it’s taken me a while to get back to my blog.  Back in the end of May I took an afternoon to scout out some cormorants during their nesting season.  Specifically, these are Pelagic Cormorants, and they build their nests precariously on the rugged cliff faces along the coast.  The first image shows a nesting pair.  Their nests are usually easy to spot as there is usually a rather large swath of guano coating the rocks below the nest (locals call it “white washing”…really?)

Nesting Pair of Pelagic Cormorants

I subsequently headed down to the intertidal zone to see what else I could see and shot some nice images of mussel beds being showered with the incoming tide.  I also spotted this black oyster catcher feeding among the mussel beds.  And before we leave the mussel beds I thought I’d share this image of an incoming tidal surge heading into shore.

Mussel Beds

Black Oystercatcher

Tidal Surge

Lastly, just a couple of final images of meadow grasses (bunny tails) and a rather interesting prehistoric looking sandstone formation on the edge of the bluff.  It was a fun afternoon as I went through several different environments within a very small area.  I just never know what I’ll find which makes the journey that much more interesting.

Bunny Tails

Prehistoric? Rock Formation

Equipment:  Nikon D3s; Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens with a Nikkor 2X telextender; monopod.

Posted in Beach, Birds, Coastal meadows, Geologic Formations, Marine life, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Seascapes, Uncategorized, Wildflowers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Black Point Barn and Cabin at The Sea Ranch

Over the last week or so the fog has moved in and out off the ocean at various times throughout the day.  The light was very interesting because the fog was really just the marine layer which has a very low ceiling and allows the sun to filter through.  I’ve come to really love these foggy days and thought I would venture down to the Black Point Barn adjacent to the Sea Ranch Lodge.

This barn and the small cabin structure near the Lodge are the only remaining structures from the 1870’s development at Bihler’s Landing.  During Prohibition, bootleggers would often offload their ship’s illegal cargo onshore and store it in this barn.  The structure deteriorated after the 1920’s until after The Sea Ranch was developed and the Black Point Barn was restored to the condition shown in the following images.

I love the light on these structures and I decided to use a 70-200mm telephoto lens to compress the distance and strengthen the effect of the fog on the scene.  I also chose to soften the focus slightly in post-processing to give the images a more old-time look.  I’ve photographed these structures many times and each time these old buildings tell a story about the land, the place and a time long ago.  I’ll keep coming back.

Black Point Barn and Cabin

Small Cabin near Black Point Barn



Stables part of Black Point Barn

Cabin Structure next to Black Point Barn


Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 70-200 mm f2.8 lens; Induro monopod.

Posted in Coastal meadows, History, Landscapes, Old Buildings, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Architecture, Sea Ranch Photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Visit to the Sag Ponds

Corn Lilies at the Sag Ponds


Its Memorial Day Weekend here at Sea Ranch and the tourists abound.  Of course, more than about three people on the bluff trail at any one time seem like a crowd.  So with the combination of high winds and tourists on the bluff trail, I decided to head to the woods.

There are several areas in the forests of Sea Ranch where sag ponds are accessible.  Basically these bog-like ponds are remnants of geologic activity along the San Andreas Fault.  Over the millennia movement along the axis of the fault creates these deep “scars” in the landscape which capture rainfall and remain wet most of the year.  The wet soils are a perfect environment for corn lilies, shown in the first image.  These lilies bloom in the winter with small clusters of white flowers, but in the summer only the tell-tale green corn-like leaves appear.  This plant, while common around here, appears virtually nowhere else.  What a treat for us!

In the last image I show a fairly common Clintonia which just seemed to ask to be photographed as a nice single specimen.

One of the nice things about the solitude and quiet of a walk in the forest is the ability to search your mind a little more deeply about the moment you’re in.  It made me realize that the reason for all the tourists is in fact Memorial Day…a day in which we give homage to our fallen soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom to enjoy such moments as a walk in the woods.  So it is to them, our brothers and sisters in arms who gave the ultimate sacrifice that I dedicate my humble offering today.

Posted in Forest, Geologic Formations, Landscapes, Sea Ranch, Sea Ranch Photography, Wildflowers | Tagged , , | 2 Comments