Wonderful Wintry Weather

February 27, 2011

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)

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Images of the Week – Feb 14-20

February 23, 2011

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

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Images of the Week – Jan 31- Feb 6

February 7, 2011

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

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Wintry weather in Southern California

January 4, 2011

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

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Happy New Year!

December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!  I wish everyone the very best in life in the coming year.


The below image is a story of a great find and near miss. Having a one-track mind can be troublesome at times but also provides focus and motivation. While seeing fresh snowfall in Yosemite was incredible, the real goal of the trip was to photograph a bobcat in the snow.

We spent hours a day walking in likely locations, but the best strategy was to get on a trail first after it snowed. We got up at the crack of dawn, strapped on the chains one more time and were rewarded by finally seeing the tracks of a bobcat. Based on when the snow stopped falling and the condition of the tracks, we figured they were maybe an hour or so old.

We followed the tracks until they disappeared into a pile of boulders. It was a long-shot but we found a place to sit that looked down on the rock pile and proceeded to wait. We didn’t want to negatively impact the bobcat, so after 15 minutes we left without seeing it.

Further down the trail we found black bear tracks, and proceeded to follow them for almost an hour until they led us to a dense stand of pine trees along the river. We circled widely around the area and confirmed that the bear hadn’t crossed the river and must still be there. Just knowing that the bear was there, was reward enough and we retraced our path back to the bobcat’s hideout. Sure enough, a new set of tracks had appeared, which led nearly directly to where we had been sitting. Who knows if it would have emerged had we waited longer…

 

“Bobcat and Mule Deer Tracks in the Snow”

“Bobcat Hideout”

“Bear Tracks”

 


More Animals in the Snow

December 24, 2010

For me, the Lynx were the primary reason for heading to the Minnesota Zoo.  However, there were plenty of other animals to see.  The snow on the ground transformed the environment and helped create the illusion of being in the wild.

“Mountain Lion”  –  Minnesota Zoo

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Favorites from February 2010

March 14, 2010

While doing some digital organizing, I realized that I have only posted a small fraction of my favorite images from last month.  The bulk of my time was spent searching for the local bobcats.  Day-by-day, they have become more difficult to find and with warm weather in the forecast I think they will become far less active during the day.  Thankfully the warm weather should really kickstart the wildflowers and I hope to get out to as many of the hotspots as possible this season.

“Young Male Bobcat at Dusk”  –  Goleta, CA

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