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Holy Jim Falls Trail

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

We had some great weather this past weekend here in Orange County (again...), so I took advantage of it and went for a solo hike up in the Cleveland National Forest (again...). This time, I decided to hit the Holy Jim Falls Trail in Trabuco Canyon.

My dad used to take my brothers and I to hike this trail when we were kids. In fact, it was those trips that helped me find my passion in landscape photography. But I hadn't hit this trail for at least 10 years, I think, due to the fact that I didn't have any 4x4 to get out there.

But man...I must have forgotten how beautiful this trail was or maybe I just didn't appreciate it as a kid and before I picked up a camera, but this trail was absolutely gorgeous! The hike winds through lush green forest, criss-crossing the crystal-clear Holy Jim Creek until you reach the 18-foot tall Holy Jim Falls. The various cascades leading up to the main falls coupled with the rich greens of the Spring foliage made for some awesome pictures.

Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

To my surprise, there were lots of patches of snow along the path. To those not familiar with the area, getting snow in these parts is rare and fleeting at best.

In one of the patches of snow at the base of a tree, I found a very clear paw print of a mountain lion track. This kind of evidence of these dangerous animals always gets me to start looking over my shoulder a bit more when I'm hunched over my tripod. For an ambush predator like that, a photographer crouched low along a babbling brook must look like Thanksgiving dinner.

Cougar Track along Holy Jim Falls Trail - Orange County, CA

The paw print was about 3.5 inches wide and 3 inches from toe to heel. Definitely a cougar.

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

Holy Jim Falls - Orange County, CA

After reaching Holy Jim Falls and photographing the hell out of it, I made my way back to the car and started the rough drive out to the main road. But before I could get home for some dinner, I had to stop along the highway for a few last-minute shots of the rolling green hills and puffy clouds as they gathered the sunset light. Click the pano for a bigger view.

Green Hills - Orange County, CA

Green Hills - Orange County, CA

Green Hills - Orange County, CA

 

Some New Seascapes

Ah, you gotta love winter in Southern California. The weather isn't bad enough to be a hassle, but there's just enough of it to bring some color to our sunsets.

Over the past couples weeks, I've been able to get down to the beach several times to get shots at sunset. This post covers just 2 of those outings (with 2 more days coming in another post soon!). The first set here is from Laguna Beach down below the Montage Resort and are actually my results from the field shoot for the recent winter 2011 session of my Landscape Photography Class. The clouds were fantastic and lit up a blood red as the sun dropped below the horizon. It was gorgeous.

In this first picture, I wanted to capture all the sea life in this tide pool along with the perfect reflection of clouds off the water in the background. I couldn't believe how many sea urchins were in this pool. I had to get my camera uncomfortably low for this shot, but it was worth it.

Laguna Beach Sunset

I then moved over to the sand to get the movement of the water with, again, the reflections of the clouds off the ocean surface in the background. I couldn't decide which of the two verticals I liked better, so I thought I'd post them both. They have a different enough feel to warrant two pictures, I think.

Laguna Beach Sunset

Laguna Beach Sunset

Laguna Beach Sunset

Once the clouds flared up red, I moved back to the rocks and tide pools.

Laguna Beach Sunset

The second day was at Crystal Cove State Park. The sunset wasn't as vivid as I normally like, so I didn't come home with a ton of pictures I loved. Again, I couldn't decide which of the following two pictures I liked better, so here's both.

Crystal Cove State Park Sunset

Crystal Cove State Park Sunset

There you have it. More from Corona Del Mar coming soon!