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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!

Hummingbird Chicks

A little while back, a hummingbird started building a nest just outside the window of my brother's home office. Soon enough, she laid 2 eggs. Soon enough after that, those eggs hatched. Now, those 2 chicks barely fit into the nest.

Hummingbird Chicks
The two nicely-camouflaged chicks wait patiently for mom to return with food.

I went over today with the intention of capturing some shots of the mother bird feeding her young. I'm happy to say it was a success, but there were some barriers to overcome that resulted in images a little lower quality than I'm used to.

First of all, I had to shoot through the window - a dirty window at that. This meant a loss of sharpness and contrast. Next, the light was dim. That meant I'd have to boost the ISO to an uncomfortably high level - 1600 - just to get a shutter of 1/200. And finally, the window prevented me from getting close enough to fill my frame, so I'd have to crop pretty heavily to get the shot I wanted.

All of this ultimately amounted to images that are far grainier than I care for, but I can't complain. This was a rare opportunity to photograph a hummingbird feeding her young...and from the comfort of the indoors where I could shoot the breeze with my brother in between shots.

Hummingbird Feeding Her Young

With a little bit of online research, I'm almost certain this species is the Broad-Tailed Hummingbird (selasphorus platycercus). The coloring matches and it certainly did have a broad tail.

Macro at the Fullerton Arboretum

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

We have a great arboretum out here in Orange County on the campus of Cal State Fullerton called, you guessed it, the Fullerton Arboretum. A student of mine and I went there yesterday for a lesson in lieu of our usual beach landscape sessions and had a great time doing some close-up work with the variety of plants. The weather was working in our favor for once with lots of clouds to block out the sun and send us some nice, diffused light.

We started off shooting the daffodils towards the center of the park. There were a lot of blooms out and it's only February. Can't wait to see what this place looks like this Spring.

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

Daffodils at the Fullerton Arboretum

The arboretum has a fantastic desert section, too, where we concentrated on the patterns and colors found in the unique flora. This first plant is called Parry's Agave (agave parryi).

Parry's Agave (agave parryi) at the Fullerton Arboretum

Parry's Agave (agave parryi) at the Fullerton Arboretum

I couldn't find the name of these yellow flowers, but I really loved the look of them. For the horizontal shot, I placed myself so that a blue plant in the background would line up just behind the flowers. This blue gave some great color contrast with the yellow for a more interesting shot.

Yellow Flowers at the Fullerton Arboretum

Yellow Flowers at the Fullerton Arboretum

Last of all, I photographed this desert succulent known as Blue Finger (senecio mandraliscae). Very aptly named, Blue Finger has a gorgeous blue coloring that really stands out amongst the other desert plant life. I think it's my favorite shot from the day...

Blue Finger (senecio mandraliscae) at the Fullerton Arboretum