Waterfalls and Waves

Four Mile Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken north of Four Mile Beach, Santa Cruz, California on April 9th, 2010

Just north of Four Mile Beach there’s an interesting shelf with a neat rock formation. When the tide is right the waves come in, crash against the shelf, and send jets of foamy wash around the rock to cascade back into the ocean. It’s pretty excellent to watch, but the conditions have to be just right in order to make a great photo: the tide has to be higher than 3 feet, but lower than 4 feet, and you also need some nice sunset color to the southeast. After a number of attempts over many weeks, everything finally came together for me and I was able to get this shot.


Poseidon’s Drive-In


Taken in Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, California, on March 30th, 2010.

Poseidon, the god of the sea, has a pretty sweet 100,000-inch movie screen with a trillion watt projector which plays all your favorite hits.  He’s got a pretty sweet sound system too and man, when the bass is booming you can feel it throughout your whole body.  Last night he invited me over to watch a classic sunset, which was nice of him because that’s one of my all time favorite pieces of entertainment.  We both forgot the snacks though, so I went home hungry, but I didn’t really mind since the light show was so good.

Shimmering Salmon Sands

Hole in the Wall Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, California

Taken at Hole in the Wall Beach near Santa Cruz, California on January 7th, 2010

The far south end of Hole in the Wall Beach is a wonderland of rocky formations, shelves, gaps, and holes. I initially intended to shoot an extremely long, narrow channel in the rocks, but after a few snaps I decided something more dramatic was in order, as the sunset was turning and becoming more beautiful by the minute. I was struggling to find a winning composition when, almost by accident, I happened to look behind me and saw incredible orange reflections forming in the wet sand. I knew I wanted those reflections to be the centerpiece of my photo and so set up in such a way that all the lines in the scene were flowing over and around that gorgeous sand.


Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken at Upper Cathedral Lake, Yosemite National Park on August 30th, 2009

Living and working at sea level makes life tricky in the high country. Even though this was my second day of backpacking at the Cathedral Lakes, and should have been somewhat acclimated to the altitude, my unaccustomed lungs were still sucking wind as I clambered around the bluffs above Upper Cathedral Lake shooting the incredible alpenglow that glazed Cathedral Peak. Of course, part of the reason for my dizzy spells and headache could have been the thick smoke wafting through the Yosemite high country thanks to the Wildcat Fire burning near Foresta, some 30 miles to the west. And even though the smoke made my lungs burn and found me dizzily shooting from the tops of 100-foot bluffs, I couldn’t complain too much as the setting sun shined through the haze to cast a vivid red light on the top of Cathedral Peak.

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Lofty Heights

Chiswell Islands and jagged mountains in Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska

Taken near the Chiswell Islands, Resurrection Bay, Alaska, on August 16th, 2009

Alaska is one of those surreal places of the planet: a place that has scenery so breathtaking it seems impossible. The peaks in Resurrection Bay aren’t particularly high, but their sharp spires and glacier-covered flanks make them seem unassailable. I wanted to enhance this fairy-tale, unreachable quality of the mountains, so I placed the warmer, gentler, rocky slopes of the Chiswell Islands in the foreground of the photo to provide a stark contrast to those looming crags off in the distance.


Aleutian Afternoon

Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Taken near the summit of Gareloi Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska on July 23rd, 2009

A slog. That’s what the trek up to the top of Gareloi Volcano was: a vertical mile of knee-high grass, treacherous talus, and shifting snow. And despite my group’s steady pace, the summit never seemed to get any closer. When we finally did near the top, we were stopped dead by a steep slope of impossibly crumbly rock and icy snow. Since we didn’t have any technical climbing gear with us, we decided to stop where we were and savor the vista: an awesome view of Gareloi’s ever-steaming South Crater backed by the beautiful northern Pacific and the islands of Kavalga, Ulak, Amatignak, and Unalga.


The Thing!

South Africa Desert Tortoise, Great Karoo National Park, South Africa

Taken in Karoo National Park, South Africa, on September 13th, 2008

Camping towards the very end of a trip to South Africa, I woke up one morning to find the campground being besieged by desert tortoises, who were there to feast on the campground’s grassy areas. This particular tortoise had more things on his mind than just grass though and in this shot I caught him astride a female tortoise doing his best to ensure that there would be a new generation of desert tortoises to roam the scrub.


End of a Dusty Trail

Taken in near the northern border of Kruger National Park, South Africa September 2nd, 2008

There are few better places to spend your birthday then Kruger National Park, which is absolutely teeming with African wildlife. And there are few better ways to spend your birthday than scanning a river in search of hippos, only to see a herd of elephants come thundering out of the bush towards the water, sending dust flying and scattering crocodiles, the elephants’ jubilation only too obvious as they race to the river’s edge.


Banner Peak over Garnet Lake

Banner Peak over Garnet Lake

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken at Garnet Lake beneath Banner Peak in the Ansel Adams Wilderness on July 27th, 2008

Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine how beautiful certain places on the planet can be. Garnet Lake in the high Sierra, with its clear, clean waters, pond-studded granite peninsulas, and spectacular backdrop, is one of those places. While camped there in the summer of 2008, I got up early one morning to find Garnet’s waters glassed-out to a mirror’s smoothness and the sun’s rays diffused warmly over Banner Peak, all of which made for an amazing photo-op.

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Nugget Point

Nugget Point sunset, The Catlins, New Zealand

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken at Nugget Point in the Catlins, New Zealand, on October 16th, 2007

It almost didn’t sound worth visiting. The guidebook described Nugget Point something like “a few large rocks in the water, and nearby there’s a spot where you have a small chance of seeing some wildlife.” Hardly enticing, I thought, and was ready to pass by altogether. But my travel partner was intrigued by the chance of seeing penguins and albatross and so convinced me we should check the place out.

Driving down the long dirt road to Nugget Point I wasn’t sure what to expect, but once we arrived it was more than clear that we had made the right decision to come. Those “large rocks” the guidebook mentioned were actually a series of gargantuan seastacks stretching out toward the horizon. The sense of depth and space they created was simply breathtaking, and I’ll remember this as one of the most beautiful ocean views I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. Of course, it didn’t hurt that long, textured clouds rolled in in the afternoon, creating one of the top five sunsets I’ve ever experienced.

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