Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Preface to California's Wildfires

The storm arrived on the California Coast last Friday evening with a few puffy white clouds punctuated by occasional flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder. Overall it seemed like a very small scale event, with a few light showers that lasted mo more than a few minutes. I even captured a brief rainbow projected onto one of the clouds as sunset approached.

The clouds seemed to grow a little taller as they climbed the Coast Range, with intermittent thunder rolling in the distance. It was an interesting novelty to have rain at all in June, all the more noteworthy with the rare accompaniment of lightning.

By the following morning, the storm had passed from the coast, although thunder could still be heard to the East. What I didn't know at the time was that the lightning has struck over 8000 times, and over 840 fires were burning in the state, at least 90 in Mendocino County alone.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Return to Bowling Ball Beach

I have an obsession. With a beach. I think it's a healthy obsession, but I've never thought of myself as a "beach person". Don't get me wrong, I love the sea, but I'd rather be playing in it or on it than walking or lying beside it.

So this interest in beaches, is it something I've learned, or do I have a "beach gene" that I've somehow overlooked until now? Or is this particular beach attractive specifically for its un-beachly character? What kind of beach is filled with, even named after, a collection of giant rocks? Whatever the case, I returned yet again to Bowling Ball Beach on California's North Coast.

Perhaps I'm just captivated by my own conviction that there are great images to be created at Bowling Ball Beach, while being frustrated by not having caught one yet that fully lives up to my lofty expectations.

So much of photography is the journey... visualizing the concept, preparing, anticipation, enveloping the subject with different angles, perspectives, exposures and filters, then gently teasing out a halfway decent result in postprocessing that might stand some faint chance at fairly representing a unique moment... in time, in place, in your life. The destination, the image itself, typically pales in comparison to the pursuit, but it's all we can offer to those who missed the adventure that led to its creation.

So I'll continue to visit this stretch of coast until the sun, the moon and the planets line up just right and I get the shot that I know will come from there... perhaps with a rising sun with a setting moon, at low tide. In the meantime my exploratory trips there serve as preparation for when I will eventually encounter those few precious moments of precious light that I will have to make the most of.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back to the Mendocino Coast

With some of my favorite lakes in the High Sierras still under snow, I decided to take my kids up the coast to show them some of my favorite places and to introduce them to abalone diving. First we stopped at Kruse Rhododendron State Park so see if the the flowers were still around. No luck on that count, but the redwoods are always nice, and we found some cute little newts in the creek.

We secured a campsite near the beach at Manchester State Park near Point Arena, and on two evenings we headed down to the beach for sunset. We spent the next couple of days exploring the Point Arena area including Bowling Ball Beach, where we could explore tide pools and interesting rock formations.

Later in the week we moved north to the Mendocino area and camped at Van Damme State Park. We used the fire rings on the beach each night to make s'mores and to toast dinner roll dough over the fire on our marshmallow sticks (great right off the fire, especially if you roll the hot bread on butter).

The cove there is sheltered, so it's a great place to play in the water. We went to a dive shop in nearby Fort Bragg and rented wetsuits so the kids could snorkel around while I looked for abalone. Although we had minus low tides and I did get some abalone when I went out alone, it turned out that the kelp had grown significantly since I had visited in May and it was so thick at low tide that it wasn't practical or safe to bring the kids into the thick floating mats of it in the cove. We had fun swimming around though.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Join Me This Summer or Fall!

So for the past few years I've explored some of the best photographic vista from the West Coast to Montana to Arizona and back. As I travel this Summer and Fall, I'd like to share my site knowledge and my enthusiasm for photographic exploration with other photographers. In person. I love to create, but I love to teach and inspire others to create as well.

Here's what I propose: look at my schedule, and tell me where you might want to join me, and when. If it doesn't match with my current schedule, let's see if I can fit it in. Let me know what accommodation standards you'd prefer (camping/motel/hotel), and the level of adventure you'd prefer: road-accessible areas only, at least trail-accessible only, off-trail and cross-country exploration OK, or "full adventure" (such as guided canyoneering in Zion with 100' rappels into slot canyons).

I'll provide a quote for your custom trip, with the option to keep it private (limited to just your party). I'll even guide you for a few hours if that's all you want; my rates are very reasonable.

Here's my initial outline for the next few months.

July 9 - 10 Portland, Waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, OR
July 11-14 Seattle, Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
July 15-16 Hoh Rain Forest, Second Beach, Ruby Beach, Olympic Peninsula, WA
July 17-20 Backpack: Shi Shi Beach, Point of Arches, Olympic Peninsula, WA
July 21-24 Portland, Oregon Coast: Cannon Beach, etc.
July 26-Aug 3 Lake Tahoe and Hot Air Balloons, CA
Aug 6-10 Backpack to site of Ansel Adams' "Frozen Lake and Cliffs", Kings Canyon
Aug 12-17 Eastern Sierra: Bishop/Bristlecone Pines/Alabama Hills
Aug 20-24 Eastern Sierra: Mono Lake/Bodie/Mammoth Lakes
Aug 23-Sep 4 Eastern Sierra backpacking?

Sep 5-7 Lake Tahoe area, Reno Balloon Races
Sep 10-15 Glacier National Park, MT
Sep 15-22 Yellowstone National Park & Grand Teton National Park, WY
Sep 23-30 Colorado Fall Colors: Maroon Bells, Dallas Divide, etc. CO

Oct 1-3 Great Sand Dune National Park, CO, Taos Pueblo, NM
Oct 4-12 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, White Sands National Park, NM
Oct 13-15 Full moon rise & set shots TBD
Oct 16-24 Open in the UT/CO/AZ/NM region (Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, The Wave?)
Oct 25-28 Bryce Canyon National Park
Oct 28-Nov 2 Zion National Park: The Subway

Nov 3-6 Death Valley & Eastern Sierra
Nov 8-9 Lake Tahoe area
Nov 10-14 Sacramento area
Nov 16+ Open

Dec: Re-shoot Ansel Adams' "Moon and Half Dome" in Yosemite National Park

Where would you like to join me, or have me adjust my itinerary or schedule to meet you?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Three "Photo of the Month" Awards on!

For the month of May my photos were honored in 3 of the 13 categories in the photo contest at

Plant life: Baby Waterfall © Jeff Sullivan
Seasonal: Yosemite Falls Reflection at Night © Jeff Sullivan
Waterscapes: Moonbows in Lower Yosemite Falls © Jeff Sullivan

I'm particularly pleased when my photos are recognized there, as the site has 1000 members taking quality photos in the same places I do. Here are my photos that have been selected picture of the day, month, or year there: