Sunrise/Sunset

The Friendlies: Baja’s Gray Whales

The Friendlies: Baja’s Gray Whales

February 2017

So many people have no clue about an amazing phenomenon that takes place every winter in Baja Mexico.

Gray whales migrate south every year in the fall, swimming some 12,500 miles down the Pacific Coast from their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic to their calving and breeding grounds in the warm protected waters of shallow lagoons in Mexico. Beginning in the 1970s or so, the whales of their own volition began to interact with humans.

Imagine the reaction of that first Mexican fisherman, Pachico Mayoral, who was fishing in his small open boat on the lagoon waters when he was approached by a huge gray whale that explored the small craft, going from side to side, until Mayoral was brave enough to reach down and touch it. And nothing happened. The whale stayed calm.

An entire ecotourism industry has sprung up devoted to introducing humans to whales – touching, petting, even kissing these wild whales! Let me know if you’d like an referral for the awesome tour group that hosted us in San Ignacio Lagoon. Peak season for whale watching is February and March. Our group camped in tents beside the lagoon, watched the whales cruise by our vantage point overlooking the water while the setting sun lit up the sky, voyaged out in pangas (traditional Mexican small open fishing boats) to interact with the whales, and on the last day when a massive storm flooded the entire camp and washed out the local airport, we enjoyed a well-orchestrated impromptu adventure through remote Baja countryside in search of transportation home.

When we visited in February the juveniles were the ones that interacted most with the boats: five, six and seven year old young whales that delighted in gliding along the hull while excited whale watchers leaned over to touch them as they passed by. They opened their mouths, inviting us to touch their tongues and baleen. They rolled on their sides to peer up at us with a large intelligent eye. They would sink below the hull and pop up on the other side, teasing us. Then with the flick of a tail the young whales would race over to another nearby boat to flirt with those whale watchers in turn. Later in the season the protective mothers of the current crop of newborns would relax their guard and bring the babies to the boats, introducing their offspring to the interesting phenomenon of humans floating on the surface in tiny buoyant shells.

What intrigues me the most is how the behavior of the gray whales has evolved through history. In the 19th century, the whaling industry discovered these nursery lagoons. The whalers cut off the entrances, trapping and slaughtering their quarry literally to the point of extinction. In self defense the whales became fiercely aggressive, earning the designation of ‘devil fish’ as they attacked their tormentors, smashing the boats with their tails or breaching out of the water on top of them. How, as the decades passed, did they revert from aggression to the charming playfulness they now display?

Since whaling days, gray whales have rebounded from the precarious edge of extinction. From a population decimated down to only 100 animals, in today’s world they number some 26,000.

 

Posted by Carol in Landscapes, Mexico, Seascapes, Sunrise/Sunset, Whales, 0 comments
Fire and Water

Fire and Water

January 2017

My sister Patty and I had booked this Hawaiian photography workshop well in advance, but right after the holidays I came down with a nasty bronchitis and a simultaneous knee injury. I was limping and coughing, generally feeling so under the weather that on the day before departure I was making plans to cancel. Luckily I realized at the last minute my symptoms had bottomed out and I was (barely) on the mend. Although certainly not at my best during the trip, I’m so glad I didn’t pass it up!

On Kauai the focus was on seascapes and beach scenes, where I concentrated on slow shutter technique that gives the waves and water a pleasing sense of motion while freezing the background into place. We started on the placid shores of Hanalei Bay near Princeville, before traveling to more distant beaches, each uniquely characterized by sand and lava rock. At Queen’s Bath a secluded tide pool fills and drains with the incoming wave action. Rogue waves have killed more than a few adventurers there, especially during the winter months when the sea is rough. We kept a safe distance but some more adventurous types were diving into the pool, giving our scenic shots a touch of human interest. On another day, a doors-off helicopter ride over the dramatic highland scenery of Waimea Canyon and the Napali coastline and cliffs provided a jolt of adrenalin along with dramatic aerial views.

The weeklong workshop ended with a side trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, where Kilauea Volcano dominates the landscape. Without a doubt, the highlight of the entire trip was a before-dawn boat trip to the Kamokuna coast, where a spectacular “waterfall” of lava from Kilauea was pouring into the ocean, creating a storm of fire and steam. Our captain maneuvered the boat close enough to the chaos that we could feel the heat and see floating chunks of hot lava sizzle in the water as they bumped against the boat’s aluminum hull. Hawaiian legend says that where lava meets sea, Pele the volcano goddess battles with her sister Namakaokahai, goddess of the ocean. This spectacular firehose of flowing lava had only appeared a few weeks earlier, on December 31, 2016, when several acres of built up volcanic delta collapsed unexpectedly into the sea, opening the lava tube. No one knew when it might suddenly close up again – making this opportunity exceedingly special.

Slideshow:

 

Posted by Carol in Hawaii, Landscapes, Seascapes, Sunrise/Sunset, 0 comments
Lighting the Path

Lighting the Path

 

Here’s another favorite from last week’s exploration of Sabino Creek with the water flowing, mist rising in the chill morning air, and rays of light beaming through the naked branches of the sycamores. I have so many winter portraits of bare-branched trees that I call them my ‘Dead Tree Collection’. There is a rhythm and poetry to the silhouette of bare branches against the sky, uplifted and graceful almost like dancers.

I did pay the price however. I have succumbed to some version of winter crud so, as I cough, blow my nose, and guzzle medicine, I’m keeping this post mercifully brief.

 SHOP THIS PRINT

Sony a7RII, 1/800 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100, 70mm (24.0-70.0mm lens)

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Enjoy but please respect.

 

Posted by Carol in Arizona, Landscapes, Sunrise/Sunset, USA, 0 comments
Sabino Creek Sunrise

Sabino Creek Sunrise

 

A new year, and back to my photography after a hiatus during the holidays. We’ve been having some lovely rainstorms with snow falling in the mountains. The result is that Sabino Creek, usually dry, is running again. We’ve lost our shortcut across the river, but the enhanced scenery is worth it.

This morning I woke before dawn and saw that a low fog was blanketing the creek. I knew the combination of the coming sunrise and the lifting mist would offer a rare photographic opportunity. I spent a couple of hours at the water’s edge, and even midstream (soaking my shoes) in pursuit of some landscape photographs to add to my portfolio. There were several keepers in the lot, but this one might be the favorite.

 SHOP THIS PRINT

Sony a7RII, 1/500 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100, 25mm (24.0-70.0mm lens)

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Enjoy but please respect.

 

Posted by Carol in Arizona, Landscapes, Sunrise/Sunset, USA, 2 comments
Early Start

Early Start

 

Only a week ago we were cruising in Maine! On our last morning before heading south again, I woke to the most spectacular sunrise I have seen in years. The intense colors only lasted for a few short moments before fading to softer shades of rose, then gold. I could hear the engines of nearby anchored boats as they warmed up for an early departure, and a small fishing boat was already on its way. We were anchored in a quiet cove near Penobscot Island, and the tide was out – exposing shoulders of boulders draped in weed. Every detail was reflected in the quiet glassy water for double impact. I captured what I could from AVATAR’s deck while the colors were at their peak, then went kayaking to further enjoy the moment.

Sony a7Rii, 1/320 sec at f/4.0, ISO 400, 119mm (FE 70-200 F4 G OSS), hand held

BUY PRINT

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Please respect.

Posted by Carol in Landscapes, Maine, Scenic, Seascapes, Sunrise/Sunset, USA, 0 comments
Sail Into Sunset

Sail Into Sunset

 

We purchased our sailboat RAVEN in 2004 in New Zealand, embarking on what has become more than a decade of exploring the oceans of the world. After cruising the South Pacific for several years, we brought the boat to North America and in 2008 we spent the year cruising Mexico, primarily the Sea of Cortez. This image, Sail Into Sunset, was captured as we crossed over from Mexico’s mainland to Cabo San Lucas on the tip of the Baja California peninsula. Fortunately we had a motor, as there was very little wind – either on that day or, for that matter, the majority of days that we spent cruising in Mexico. Rather than linger in one spot for days becalmed, we just cranked up the John Deere and continued on our way. This ultimately contributed to our decision to make the transition from a sailboat to a powerboat in 2010 – because we were probably motoring 90% of the time anyway! Perhaps the title should be modified to ‘Motorsail Into Sunset’, but that sort of takes away from the romance!

That said, my favorite conditions at sea are intrinsic to this image – the peaceful ambience of a smooth calm glassy sea reflecting the sky. Unobstructed views of the distant horizon, sunrise and sunset, blue skies and cloud formations, moon and stars, all viewed in fullscreen iMax glory. I would lie stretched out on the folded sails along the length of the boom and enjoy the soothing motion of the boat, while scouting out denizens of the sea lazing on the surface – turtles floating with a seabird perched atop their shells, flying fish skittering out of the way of our oncoming hull, a breaching whale, dolphins racing to play in our bow wave.

Prints of Sail Into Sunset are available for purchase HERE.

Nikon D3, 1/250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400, 14 mm (14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8 lens). Handheld.

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Please respect.

 

 

Posted by Carol in Mexico, Scenic, Seascapes, Sunrise/Sunset, 0 comments
Sunrise Flight

Sunrise Flight

 

Sunrise Flight is a composite image created from two photographs captured in the Solomon Islands. We left our anchorage at dawn one morning to get an early start for a long day’s passage. The rising sun lit the cumulus clouds building up on the horizon, giving them an internal glow. I was concentrating on capturing images of the dramatic sky when a booby joined us briefly, winging his way parallel to the boat, his eye reflecting the early light. Two captures taken just moments apart – the empty cloudscape and the sunlit bird in flight – were meant for each other, so I married them in one image that captures the essence of the moment as I experienced it.

The vast expanse of sea and sky and the perfectly positioned wings of the bird together create an image that expresses the unfettered freedom of flight.

Sunrise Flight has been exhibited from coast to coast, including the San Diego Museum of Natural History and, most recently, PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont, a contemporary photography venue. Prints of this award-winning image are available for purchase HERE

Nikon D4, 1/500 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100, 165 mm (70.0-200.00 mm f/2.8 lens)

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Please respect.

 

 

Posted by Carol in Birds, Scenic, Seascapes, Solomon Islands, South Pacific, Sunrise/Sunset, USA, Vermont, Wildlife, 0 comments
Fringing Reef #4 Wavelet

Fringing Reef #4 Wavelet

 

The 29th Annual Fund-Raising Gala for Salpointe High School here in Tucson is scheduled for this Saturday, April 23, at the elegant Cross Creek Riding Club estate. I’m pleased to support them by donating a 24″ x 36″ canvas gallery wrap to the text-to-bid silent auction. FRINGING REEF #4 WAVELET is one of my more popular images – I hope it generates a nice contribution to a worthy cause!

More information about the gala HERE:

FRINGING REEF #4 WAVELET is an artistic interpretation of dawn rising over the Pacific Ocean as it meets the fringing reef surrounding a South Pacific atoll, as a small wave breaks over the shallow coral.

In 2009 we were sailing our sailboat Raven from French Polynesia to Tonga, a distance of some 1300 miles. Mid voyage we laid over in the remote Cook Islands. It was a pleasure to pause and take respite in the quiet anchorage of uninhabited Suwarrow Atoll, protected from the open Pacific Ocean by the shallow circle of coral reef that surrounded the inner lagoon.

Early one morning I paddled my kayak to the reef to catch the sun as it rose. The corals of the reef were only submerged by a couple of feet, and their vibrant colors were visible beneath the clear water. I came back with so many stunning photos from that session, I can hardly choose which is my favorite.

FRINGING REEF #4 WAVELET is available for purchase HERE.

Nikon D700, 1/45 sec at f/4.8, ISO 200, 14mm (14.0-24.0mm f/2.8), hand held.

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Please respect.

Posted by Carol in Cook Islands, Scenic, Seascapes, South Pacific, Sunrise/Sunset, 0 comments
Southwest Excellent Adventure

Southwest Excellent Adventure

Full Screen Slide Show

Welcome to my newly resurrected photography blog.  I’ve decided to expand my journaling efforts to include a photo specific website in addition to The AVATAR Logs. My last photography post was nearly three years ago! A lot of digital film has passed through my camera in that time, so the first posts will play catch up – casually perusing past images before moving on to current events.

I considered posting straight into The AVATAR Logs blog but decided instead to publish both in parallel with each linking to the other.  Hopefully it will be easy to navigate back and forth between the two seamlessly.  When we are cruising, posting to The AVATAR Logs will take priority. When land-based, CBParkerPhoto will take the lead.

If you are on my notification list for The AVATAR Logs, you will also be sent notices when I post to CBParkerPhoto.  Feel free to contact me if you wish to opt out.  Mostly I use these blogs to stay in touch with friends and share adventures in  a visual way, so I hope you will continue to enjoy the expanded content.

For starters I’ll reminisce about a wonderful week in early April in the Four Corners area of the desert southwest. I joined Laurie Excell again for one of her Excellent Adventures – this time a tour of Monument Valley in Utah and the Slot Canyons in Arizona. Laurie asked me to write a post for her own blog, so I’m republishing the content here along with a few favorite photos from the trip.

You can read the original post on Laurie’s website here, but it is reproduced in full below:

I’ve lived in Tucson for decades and true to the cliché that one never explores one’s own backyard, I had never spent time in the spectacular surroundings of the Four Corners area of the southwest. Having already enjoyed previous Excellent Adventures with Laurie (Bosque, Katmai) I was feeling the need for a photo workshop “fix” – a chance to chase pixels with like-minded enthusiasts. During a workshop we are all in pursuit of the same goal. The nit-picky details have already been prearranged, enabling us to focus strictly on our photography. The itinerary has been fine-tuned to take best advantage of the allotted time; the ho-hum details of car, lodging and meals have already been handled; knowledgable local guides have been booked in advance to take us off the beaten track and open the doors to a more unique experience.

In college my art instructor once commented that the creation of a painting becomes a souvenir of time and place for the artist. That thought struck a chord that has stayed with me through the years and applies equally to the images we are making. Why am I doing this, anyway? Does the world really need another photograph of The Mittens in Monument Valley or the rays of light in Upper Antelope Canyon? Surely images of these subjects have been recorded in the tens of thousands over the years and by better photographers than I. Why not just purchase a postcard or a coffee table book at the gift shop to remember my visit to the desert southwest?

But the photograph that I take myself has an entirely different significance to me than those commercial images. In the process of pursuing another worthy photo to add to my collection, the entire experience of its creation is imprinted on my brain. It is not just the snapping of the shutter – it is the process of working the subject that makes it my own. Months later one glance at the finished image and the adventure leaps to life.

– Camaraderie in the back seat of a rented Suburban with new acquaintances sharing the same passion…

– And the same frustration of arriving in Monument Valley during a sandstorm that obliterates sky and light…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm VR

– Followed by the revelation a day or two later that this same sandstorm has refreshed the dunes and made them pristine for our lenses!

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm VR

– Friendly Navajo ponies with their eyes squinted shut against the blowing grit…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 28-300mm VR

– Lurching in four-wheel drive through the rough back country to access remote locations…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm VR

– Photographing the Milky Way from the hotel balcony while asleep in a comfortable bed…

Nikon D3, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

– Trudging through the desert on a moonlit night lugging 30 pounds of equipment on my back because I’m afraid of leaving behind that one essential bit of equipment needed to shoot the night sky…

Nikon D3, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

– Cold fingertips on a brisk morning waiting to capture a starburst of the sun rising over The Mittens…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm VR

– Our Navajo guide Lionel (a photographer in his own right) opening locked gates to ‘the Rez’ after hours to shoot Upper Antelope by starlight with not a single tourist in the vicinity…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

– Gingerly setting up my tripod at the edge of a precipice to capture the curve of Horseshoe Bend in its entirety…

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

– Climbing up (and down) Home Depot ladders and squeezing our gear (and ourselves) through the narrow passages of Rattlesnake Canyon and the satisfaction of zeroing in on rhythm and pattern encapsulated in the overwhelming maze of the slot canyons…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

– And the sweeping vistas and play of light and shadow as the sun set on the last day of our most excellent adventure…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

Posted by Carol in Arizona, Landscapes, Night Skies, Scenic, Sunrise/Sunset, USA, Utah, 0 comments