On the road with ‘fresh eyes’ – Part 1

A few days after my last post, my lovely bride and I loaded the Escape and headed west.  Our ultimate destination was south-central Washington state, to attend our grandson’s birthday party.  For a little extra fun, we chose to drive up the California coast and into Oregon before we headed inland.  This was not my first time on a coast but, having been born and raised in the high plains of a landlocked state (Wyoming) and currently living in the high desert (Nevada), seeing the vast expanse of water with nothing (figuratively, not literally) on the horizon was different and fun.  We also experienced an unknown phenomenon called ‘humidity.’  We’re told they have it there all the time – how very interesting.

One of my photography and Photoshop mentors (and very good friend) has been blogging about travel photography recently.  She and her hubby travel often, so she has vast experience and knowledge on the subject.  She encourages her readers to take lots of pictures when traveling.  Please forgive me, Katie, I tried but probably didn’t take as many as I could or should have.  The engineer in me just can’t take pictures just to consume pixels.  Someday I’ll get over it – I hope.

In addition to birthday presents and our bags, I packed all the camera bodies and lenses for the trip.  My lovely bride expressed an interest in using a ‘big camera’ on this trip, so the Canon EOS Rebel XSi was hers to use.  I had to be on top of my game to explain the photography concepts I’ve been struggling to learn.  I enjoyed trying to put into words the actions/effects of and relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in making images.  The part I liked best, however, was her fresh perspective on photo composition.  Susan is a quilter and tole painter, and her artistic eye is vastly different from mine.  As expected, we took many pictures of the same subject, but our interpretations and capture rarely showed the same subject.  The wildlife photographer in me, combined with my engineering background, makes me work to get close to a subject, while she takes a broader view.  Not surprisingly, her images are very good, and I enjoyed the experience of learning to look at things differently.  I hope her influence helps me be a better photographer, in the same way that she helps me be a better person.

Let’s get to the pictures.  I’m still working on pictures from the trip so you won’t see everything in this post.  This first group are shots along the California coast – I don’t recall specific locations.


Several days after I took this picture, I found a wonderful book on landscape photography. The authors recommend putting something in the image that helps establish scale, such as people. In this image, I have people and the added benefit of the road and stairs at the right to establish scale. Sometimes I get very lucky.


I had seen this rock with the hole from a previous stop. My pictures emphasize the rock and Susan’s introduced a little vegetation in the foreground.


This is Susan’s interpretation of the scene. Very nice!


Long ago, I learned that you must look everywhere when shooting. This is the view in the opposite direction from the above images.


These images created lots of discussion between us. I favor the wider view showing the end of the land mass at the upper left and the hint of the tree at the right…


…but my lovely bride preferred more of the tree and less of the land mass. Both are very nice, I think. If you have a preference, please make a comment.

We spent the night at Ft. Bragg CA.  Our hotel was called the Emerald Dolphin and they had a miniature golf course, with a free round included with our hotel room.  After a long day in the car, a little mini golf was great.  Nope, we didn’t keep score, but I’m certain that my lovely bride took the trophy!


Taken with my cell phone. The best camera is the one in your hand!

On our way out of Ft. Bragg, we stopped at Glass Beach.  The views were gorgeous, but we got caught up in the wildlife.  I am a wildlife photographer, after all.


From the path above the ‘beach.’ It was overcast on most of the trip along the coast, which made for challenges while shooting. I wasn’t able to get those amazing Pacific Coast sunsets.


The Harbor Seals were enjoying low tide. I think this is a young one.


Another Harbor Seal. We decided that Harbor Seals are kind of homely when they’re just laying around.


While shooting the Seals, we happened upon a Seagull nest with a little one. This little guy was very active and put on quite a show. The wildlife photog in me was ecstatic.


I’m not sure if it was just stretching or checking me out…


We’re not sure which parent this is. Both were present while we were there.


In this setting, the Seals don’t move very quickly. Not like the wild horses and raptors I usually shoot.


The Seals are barely visible in the top third of this image. I was struck by the rock on the bottom left…so similar to a Seal…

The last images for this post come from the Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon.  Do a quick Google search for Heceta Lighthouse and you’ll find lots of information.  This is one of many lighthouses built along the Oregon coast, and is currently owned and maintained by Oregon Parks and Recreation.  We took the brief tour and learned about the unique Fresnel lenses that concentrate the light, focusing it in one direction.  The landscape shots were made from a scenic overlook just south of the lighthouse.  The lightkeeper’s residence can be seen in the last image.  They were preparing for a wedding at the residence when we were there – what a fun venue for a wedding.


Great view!


This image represents another of those ‘fresh eye’ moments. Susan requested images of the lighthouse with the tree in the foreground. I wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t asked.


I worked hard to capture the light as it rotated around. I’d love to be there on a foggy evening to capture the beam of light sending its warning to ships on the ocean.


Sometime, I’ll get a wide angle lens to remove some of the perspective. Maybe they’d let me bring in a ladder? Probably not.


The view from the trail to the lighthouse.


A wider view with the lightkeeper’s residence visible. Could you imagine living there and raising a family? We learned that they had a school on site for the children.

Well, that’s all for today.  There will be many more pictures in future posts.  After all, we visited an aquarium and a brewery, saw several great bridges, and more beautiful scenery.  Oh yeah – we stayed in a bed and breakfast that was originally a Sears kit house!