I was practicing my panning skills on some gulls, when I decided to try for some abstract shots of the distant shoreline. This one turned out quite nicely.
A very cold storm was forecast for this weekend, with snow levels possibly down to 500 ft. We did get quite a bit of rain on Friday, but the precipitation was over by the time the temperature dropped. However, all was clear at dawn the following day. This made it really difficult to decide where to head out for the day, and I ended up staying close to home in the hopes the weather would get more interesting. Luckily, some large cumulonimbus clouds started developing over the mountains in the afternoon. It looked like the weather was clear along the mountaintop ridge, so I gassed up the car and we headed on up.
While at the gas station, we could see precipitation moving in from the east. Normally, our weather comes from the south or west, so this was a bit unusual. Even from such a distance (several miles) I could tell that the precipitation was not the usual rain. On the way up, we started getting fat drops of rain, which then turned to icy pellets, and actually started accumulating on the road. When we left Goleta, it was almost 55F, but had dropped to near freezing by the time we reached the ridge-top.
The precipitation had intensified greatly and a large amount of graupel was falling and accumulating. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this form of precipitation, so it was very cool to experience something new. Photographing in these conditions is always a challenge. The lighting conditions and weather were changing rapidly and with the road conditions deteriorating, I couldn’t spend a lot of time up there. However, I managed to come away with several images that I like.
“Cumulonimbus Clouds” – Lake los Carneros, Goleta (2-stop, soft, GND Filter)
Birds in flight and weather seemed to be the theme of the past week. After weeks of beautiful, but boring weather, we finally had a few storms come through. I’ve always looked forward to stormy weather, because that usually makes for great landscape opportunities. Now I have another good reason to cheer for the rain… animal tracks. Since I’m not seeing much of the bobcats anymore, I’ve come to rely on finding their tracks to know that they’re still around. But I’m getting far off topic.
Since there are two pairs of White-tailed Kites starting to nest near me, they have been an obvious photographic target. I already have a huge catalog of Kite photos, so I’m making an effort to photograph them more creatively, or at least photograph behaviors that I’ve missed before. I’m also working on shooting some video, since some of their actions are difficult to photograph.
“Passing Zone” – Male and Female White-tailed Kites
The theme of the past week has been the intense sunsets. It’s interesting that I’m primarily out looking for wildlife, but when I put together a collection of my favorite images from the week, only one contained an animal. This is one of the things that makes photography so exciting… you never know exactly what will catch your attention on any given day.
There has been another pair of White-tailed Kites seen at LLC over the past few weekends. I’ve only seen them on weekends, which is a bit strange. Yesterday it was confirmed that they are intending to nest somewhere nearby. The resident pair seems to be tolerating them so far. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
“Alien Landing” – Goleta, CA
This is the start of (I hope) a weekly series where I will post some of my favorite or interesting shots from the previous week. I will try not to cross-post too many of these on Flickr, but there may be a duplicate or two here and there.
Birds and Spring seem to be the major theme from the past week. The local pair of White-tailed Kites have been working on their nest, and there may also be another pair staking claim to the northern side of the park. Likewise, a pair of Mute Swans have given some signs that they may start working on a nest. They have both been pulling dead reeds, but have not made any effort to construct a nest. Meanwhile, the mustard and wild radish is near peak bloom at the park, and wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the foothills. All of the early rain and recent warm weather have gotten Spring off to an early start this year.
“Winter’s Color” – Rainbow over the Santa Ynez Mountains
A cold storm blew through last weekend and some mysterious white stuff graced the Santa Barbara mountains. Unfortunately the clouds didn’t clear until the snow completely melted from the front range. However, from the ridge-top there was plenty of snow to be seen on the distant mountain peaks. Sunset would have been a better time to photograph them, but it is always hard to know how long the clouds will last, so waiting is always a gamble. As it was, there were clouds forming literally in front of me as I perched atop the ridge. The constantly moving clouds created some amazing light, with foreground vegetation illuminated against dark skies. These conditions changed from minute to minute and I could have spent all day photographing along the mountain top. Unfortunately I had to hit the road, but I’m really glad I made the trip.
“Backcountry Snow” – Santa Ynez Range, Los Padres National Forest
Since we had a good dousing of rain on Friday night, I decided to hike up Cold Springs Trail to check on the water flow. There really wasn’t very much water, but thankfully it was still running clear and not mud colored. This hike was an experiment to see if I could make do with just the Joby – Gorillapod Focus, and not a full tripod. It worked really well when there were boulders to work from, but was nearly impossible to use at ground level. My knees were not at all happy about this experiment! However, with mirror lockup and a cable release, it did a great job holding the camera still.
I’ve been doing so much wildlife photography lately that I feel like I’m getting in a bit of a rut. So, it was very refreshing to search out some different subject matter and to look for interesting compositions in the exceedingly chaotic wilderness. I’ll have to make a point of going on more of these excursions this winter.