Photographs stimulate our visual sense and often our memory, but in some cases they do more. This image of the Pacific coast at Big Sur, California evokes for me a big breath of fresh air and the distant sound of the surf.
The wind was blowing and the sun was shining. The temperature was in the 70s (Fahrenheit). Other tourists were milling around us, talking and taking photos.
Visually, this photo gives us texture and color as well as a long view to the south. Regions that are very dry contrast the open sea. The foamy shoreline as well as the cliffs help our eye to travel to the distant horizon. A bit of wild brush shows us where we are standing.
Let’s drive to the next lookout and check out the vista from there.
Great bird photography comes from a successful collaboration of the right location, the right equipment, good technique, plenty of patience and an ounce of luck. If you approach a target-rich environment with the right lens and practice your technique enough — you will get lucky. (I paraphrase my husband’s motto: luck comes to the well prepared.)
The nesting arctic terns on Vigur Island in Iceland (a target rich environment) are very strong, fast and quick. They are busy catching small fish and delivering the fish to their chicks on the island. They also have an instinct to attack your head, so it helps to have an assistant guard your head with a stick.
Set your camera this way: fast shutter speed to freeze action, and all other settings to support that choice: higher ISO, wide open lens, spot meter, and maybe continuous shooting. Then, my technique was very quick action: pan/focus/shoot.
If you think this tangle of cypress trees in Monterey are shaped by a strong coastal wind, you would be half right. The wind was not blowing at the time I took this photograph. But surely, the wind makes a habit of blowing off the Pacific and has shaped these trees over time.
This image invites me to ponder: how much am I shaped by my everyday environment? In what ways are you shaped by your world?
Some days you are just plain lucky, and the Pacific coast fog takes a day off. The day we drove south of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea was a special sunny day. As we looked south toward the bridge, we could see for miles along the rocky Pacific coast.
Stay tuned to this blog to see more photographs of the beautiful California coast from my recent trip. I will share lots of ideas to help you plan your next trip.
If it’s July, it’s time to shoot family portraits for the remarkable families at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. For the past six years, I have donated my time to create portraits. This year with my husband assisting, I completed 23.
While I protect the confidentiality of the patients at the school by keeping their photographs private, I can share a portrait of a staff member with her family.
The day before we visited Gullfoss (on July 20), a massive and powerful waterfall within a few hours’ drive of Reykjavik, Iceland, a man fell in. I can easily envision this happening, as I was carefully watching my step on wet slippery rocks alongside a steep grassy hillside leading to the falls. That day, I thought to myself, “you don’t survive a fall into Gullfoss.” The 22-year-old man’s body was found miles down the Hvita River nearly a month later. This sad incident is a safety warning to all future visitors.
“Thar She Blows” was the cry of a sailor spotting a whale, but the expression came to mind as we stood waiting for the Icelandic geyser to explode with a massive force of steaming water.
About every 10 minutes, Iceland’s Strokkur geyser puts on a show — shooting hot water about 30 meters into the air. It’s a dramatic natural phenomenon that you can watch only a few places in the world. Yellowstone National Park and the north island of New Zealand are two other sites that come to mind. Geysers are an indication that you are standing in a volcanic landscape.
You would be well advised to keep your children and yourself out of the line of fire, but not everyone follows the rules or exercises good judgement.