A Week-end on the Wild Side

A week-end full of wildlife photography that is.

I spent Sat. with a Meet up group out in Moss Landing, CA at Elkhorn Slough. We took a pontoon boat out in the slough and saw oodles of Otters, pups, seals, seal pups, and shore birds. The weather was warm, but overcast throughout most the day.

Here are Mom and pup. Mom trying to relax and the pup was as curious about us as we were about them.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

These guys eat 25% of their body weight in clams a day! They are very cute.

Sunday morning myself and 2 friends headed back up North to Point Reyes National Seashore’s Tule Elk Reserve to hike out to Tomales Bay Point to photograph the Tule Elk again ,and some coastal scenics. We had rain in the forecast and were hoping for big dramatic clouds and nice moody scenes along the rocky coast line.

It drizzled the whole 2.5 hour drive up. As we headed out on the trail to Tomales Point it was still drizzling, and the sky was gray with no definition in the sky or clouds. Just overcast.

We reached the pond 3 miles out- there was an Alpha Male with about 25 females and 4 calves in his Harem.
Up on the hill was another male calling the females. He had about 5 females which deserted him for the Bigger Tule Elk down by the pond. He came down the hill and we hoped there would be a battle over the Harem.
The Bull on the hill didn’t put up a fight he let his females go. There was a lot of bugle calling and half hearted, and “I mean business ” charges from the Alpha Male which was enough to scare the Bull on the hill away.
He lost all his females to the Older Bull who had about 30 females in his Harem when we left them to continue out to Tomales Point.

The hike out to the point is 4.7 miles. On the way back my legs were tired. I carried with me the D300s, 17-35mm f2.8, and the 300mm f4 along with accessories and filters, lunch, water, tripod, and trail stool. I think my load was 20 pounds. Right now this is my current limit loaded with all this gear.

PP- Vibrance, clarity, a little fill light, some USM, and resized.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

“Herding the new additions” Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

We were about to leave and continue our hike as we thought the action was over. There wouldn’t be a fight and the Alpha was herding the new females into the Harem, and giving them a thorough sniffing and sizing up. Sensing the Alpha was distracted the young bull took advantage and crept around the hill and down into the herd undetected…but only for a few minutes. Once the Alpha caught scent of the other bull, he called and charged! All the females moved out of the way as the Alpha charged the young bull. The youngster ran right by us and stopped just 6 feet away from us! Unfortunately, we had packed up all our gear to make the hike easier. Still,  it was so thrilling to be that close to them!

As we headed down the trail the young bull took off and we didn’t see him until we  were on the way back.

Out at Tomales Point the sky didn’t have the drama or definition we had hoped for in the sky, but the scenery was beautiful none the less.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Here at the point where the rain runs off were the most interesting and beautiful gullies, and patterns in the cliff.

We left the Point at 4PM knowing it would take us about 2.5 hours to hike back out. We saw a lot more Tule Elk at the pond. More of the unattached males were on the other side of the pond-away from the Alpha and his Harem. We didn’t stop to take photos but did pause a minute to look. Further up the trail the fog rolled in. I spent the whole day damp. Out of the fog we saw on the trail ahead of us 3 females and then we spied another Harem. We walked cautiously past them. Fortunately they were just as cautious about us and moved off the trail inland a little further.

We made it out to the parking lot in 2 hours 15 minutes. We were in dire need of dinner and I really wanted a pot of hot tea! We dined in Inverness at Priscilla’s Cafe. It was wonderful! I had a crab sandwich, mixed green salad, and mixed berry pie for dessert.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

After dinner we walked across the street to where the Point Reyes is beached. I took a photos of her a few weeks ago when another friend and I came up. This time a night shot was what we were after. One of my companions had a big LED flash-light he used to light up the boat.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Using a technique called light painting he painted the boat, and foreground with light. I set up my cameras for a long exposure. This was a 67 second exposure.

On the way home I saw the Golden Gate bridge with the fog just starting to come in, and the city lights twinkling like jewels through it and wanted to stop to take one last shot before continuing southward home. My friend pulled over at the Marina Headlands where we spent a good half hour shooting the city and the bridge.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This was 59 second exposure .  I was happy to see I captured some Moon beams and a star too!

This was a lovely last shot for my week-end on the Wildside. Life is good!

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 300mm f4, Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8, Sundisk Ultra SDHC Digital Film

A peek through the shrubs

, originally uploaded by dmzajac2004.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

There’s a little path along this lake that Theresa, Diva Dog, and I walked. It wasn’t too far from here that we met some guys out fishin’. They were locals- pretty nice guys. I can’t remember if they caught anything. I should have written things like this down sooner. I usually keep a travel journal too, but I fell into bed each night and conked out as soon as my head hit the pillow- I think I got up at 3AM 2 out of 3 of the nights I was here.

I hope to get back to this lake. It was really peaceful here.

Nikon D300s
Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S
SinghRay LB ColorCombo Polarizer/Warming filter

Point Reyes and Inverness

Beached and Abandoned we found her- the Point Reyes her chipped white paint looking pretty clean in the late afternoon sun.

This boat is pretty famous to photographers. I think all in the Bay Area have shot her. My friend Alex and I stopped here in Inverness to take a photograph of this boat in the morning light and we stopped again on the way home to shoot it in the late afternoon light. I have a favorite shot from each shoot.

I’ll post the morning shot in a day or two. I didn’t use any filters on this shot. I used my Nikon D90 with the Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 lens.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

These stags on the hill we past on our way to the pond. These are younger males. Not Alphas. They were without harems. Only 5 pointers I think.

They looked magnificent standing on this hill.

This I shot without filters as well. I used my Nikon D300s with the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8AF-D and Tamron 1.4x extender.

It was a little soft so I used a little smart sharpening to bring out some more of the texture and details of the fur/hair and faces.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”~Mary Anne Radmacher

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge
Drawbridge Ghost Town

2.5 mile hike out to this spot

A friend and I went out to this refuge to scout it out for a possible Meet-up location.
Unfortunately you can’t really get to Drawbridge anymore from this side. This is as close as we can get.
Not a total loss though. There were White Pelicans everywhere, and several types of Egrets, and this sunset was rather nice.

Nikon D300s
Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8AF-S

5:04 in the Eastern Sierra

5:04 in the Eastern Sierra, originally uploaded by dmzajac2004.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range from Mono Lake,CA.
Reaching back to June now. I have some time to go back to some older photos that I haven’t had a chance to post.

This was after sunrise. My friend Theresa and I were heading up to the car to get breakfast when I stopped to grab this shot. We ate at a picnic table with a view of mountains and lake.
Breakfast was hard boiled eggs, and a fruit cup. I really wanted a hot cup of coffee or pot of tea! That wouldn’t come until lunch time though as Bodie the Ghost Town was our next stop on our Photography week-end in the Eastern Sierras.

Nikon D300s
Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S

Full Moon Over James Lick Observatory

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This shoot was fun. We hiked out through some thick brush, and not much of a trail to get to this location.
Using TPE we got the angle and with a bit more math and thought we got the time right too.
I need to remember to buy bug spray and wipes they were eating me alive! We’re having a hot spell so the evening was gorgeous and warm. I didn’t need my wool sweater or jacket until the sun dropped.
I didn’t realize the little dome was open last night at all. It wasn’t until I uploaded my photos that I saw it open. It was only open for two frames then closed again.

Walking out of the location and back to our cars we were stopped by a Ranger who had been looking for us. Evidently we were parked in area that was closed after sunset. He told us he’d been looking for us for 45 minutes and he given all 3 cars citations despite our day passes and camping permit. He didn’t see our camping permit. We didn’t put it in the right spot. We left it on the dash of one car and it should have been dropped in a box at the entrance. We had been told we needed to buy a campsite, and a day pass per car two days prior to our going to shoot this by a Ranger.
Once we explained what the Ranger told us to do to be legal he said he’d remove the citations. What a relief that was!
I’m glad the group leader for this event called ahead to speak to a Ranger and made sure we would be legally in the park after sunset.

Nikon D300s
Nikkor 70-300mmVR

After Hours Photo-Walk

A friend and I went to Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, CA for an after hours photo walk with a Ranger.

There were quite a few other photographers there. We were a 5 car caravan in all with Ranger Bev, Alex, and myself in the lead car.

We drove out to a creek to catch the last of the Golden Hour. Here we saw  white pelicans sleeping on a pond, the moon rising, and the most beautiful golden amber color on the sun dried fennel, thistle, and grass.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

For this shot I used my Singh Ray LB ColorCombo/Warming Polarizer which really helped to make those golds pop.

I also thought to take my telephoto on my D90 just to be ready for any wildlife or birds. It proved to be a wise choice.

While shooting the creek several White Pelicans flew by me. I managed to get this one as it passed me. It’s lost its whiteness in

this evenings amber glow.

and a couple more,

While regrouping and getting all 5 cars ready to roll to the next stop I caught this shot with the Fennel in silhouette through the window

of the van.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

After this we drove around the mountain to the mud flats where we  parked then some of us climbed up a trail on foot about 1000 ft with at least a 20% grade- NO KIDDING! I’m going to look up the name of this hill, er Mountain!

The view was stunning. Here I got a great view of the lights just coming on in Eastern Fremont including the Moon on the rise.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

I turned around and got a nice view of the mud flats and sunset. As the evening wore on the colors in the sky got deeper and deeper.

I used my Graduated Neutral Density filters and polarizer, to cut the heat of the sky, and then found bracketing with 2 stops down really brought out those reds, and oranges.

Here is my last shot of the night. Bands of blue, red, orange, and yellow, and a bit of reflection in the damp mud flats. I used the middle bracketed shot EV 00. I ran it through ACR’s basic sliders, added a bit of sharpening, and resized it.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

It was a lovely Sunday evening spent with good people, a good friend, and beautiful views.

Nikon D300s

Nikon D90

Nikkor 80-200mm  2.8AF-D

Nikkor 17-35mm  2.8AF-S