Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2012 California Road Trip 

Part 111

 Santa Barbara Mission and Dunes Oceano 

After 3 days in Los Angeles visiting family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday, we headed north toward Morro Bay and the Central California coast below Big Sur.  Our first stop was at the mission at Santa Barbara.

Mission Santa Barbara, also known as Santa Barbara Mission, is a Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order near present-day Santa Barbara, California. It was founded by Padre Fermín Lasuén on December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, as the tenth mission for the religious conversion of the indigenous local ChumashBarbareño tribe of Native American people. The mission is the namesake of the city of Santa Barbara as well as Santa Barbara County.

The Mission grounds occupy a rise between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, and were consecrated by Father Fermín Lasuén, who had taken over the presidency of the California mission chain upon the death of Father Presidente Junípero Serra. Mission Santa Barbara is the only mission to remain under the leadership of the Franciscan Friars since its founding, and today is a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

We arrived at the mission in the early afternoon and explored the external grounds.  The building in magnificent and has a lot of trees and plants in green colors even in November.  Having lived in Colorado the past 40+ years, I guess I forgot how great and green California (my mostly home state) is all year round.  The weather was beautiful, sunny and clear skies.  The first 3 photos below show the main building of the mission.


This photo shows Kathleen photographing a fountain in the main entrance to the mission.

Here is a detailed shot of the fountain and a humming bird pausing for a drink.

Here is a shot of the fountain and the front of the mission.

Here is a photo of some fading sidewalk art.

Here is a close up of a cactus plant.

This shot shows one of the arch ways between section of the mission.

This shot shows a few of the plants and trees on the mission grounds framed in an arch.

Dune Oceano and Beaches North

These are massive sanddunes located near Pismo Beach.  These dunes are very large and lead right to the ocean.  Ed Weston and Ansel Adams made several famous photographs on these dunes.  The route we took to get to the dunes was amazing in that we drove through a forested area and then up a paved road, mostly covered by sand, for about 2 miles and then cresting a hill and came to a parking lot over looking the dunes and the ocean.

We talked to a couple that had spent 2.5 hours hiking to the top of the highest dune starting at our parking area. 

The beaches and ocean surf, and distant mountain vistas were really great from this beach.

After leaving the dunes Oceano, we headed north toward Morro Bay.  Along the coastal highway we stopped and Kathleen captured this sunset shot.


Friday, January 25, 2013

2012 California Road Trip

Part 11

Saint Xavier del Bac Mission

The next stop on our road trip was at the Saint Xavier del Bac Mission that is just south of Tucson, AZ.  The following is a brief history of the Mission.

A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.
The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church's interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space.
The church retains its original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners.

The mission is referred to as "The White Dove of the Dessert' and from the photo below you can understand that name:  The mission structure is currently being refurbished on the exterior and is mostly completed, except for the right tower.

The facade of the front of the building shows remarkable examples of 18th century architecture.  The stone front is inlaid with hand sculptured figures of saints that protect the mission.

This is a close up of one of the figures which shows some weathering, remains in pretty good shape for a piece that is over 200 years old. 

This photo shows part of the back area of the mission that has a nice running water fountain  and open area that has a view of the Sonora mountains in the background.

There are numerous plants and cacti on the grounds that were in bloom in mid-November.   Also lots of bees and butterflies hovering around the plants.  In the photo below, a bee seems to be attacking a butterfly.  I turns out they were both going after the same flower and there was enough room for both to enjoy the plant.

The truly remarkable beauty of the mission is found on the inside where great paintings and sculptures abound.  The works were commissioned from artisans in 'New Spain' which Mexico was called in the 18th century.   The drawings and specifications for the art works were sent to capital of New Spain (Mexico City) and the artisans there completed the works by hand and sent them back on wagons and installed them at the mission.  The works in the church are absolutely beautiful and maintained in excellent condition.  Some of the statues have cloth garments that are removed and washed periodically, then put back on the statues.   I do not know if it would be possible to produce something like this today?  It is definitely a place I would recommend visiting when ever you have a chance, it should be on everyone's bucket list!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2012 California Road Trip
Part 1
Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

The first stop on our road trip was at the Bosque Del Apache national Wildlife Refuge which is located about 90 miles south of Albuquerque, NM on Highway US 25.  The refuge is the wintering sight for sandhill cranes and snow geese and other light geese.  There were an estimated 7500 sandhill cranes and 42,000 light geese on the refuge when we were there on November 18th, 2012.

 The sandhill cranes are a very large and majestic bird.  They stand 4 to 5 feet tall and make a very loud and distinctive sound, that can be heard for long distances.  You can hear these birds long before you actually see them.  On the ground they are remarkable, but it is when they take flight that their true beauty shines.

Sandhill Cranes

Here is a pair of cranes in synchronous flight.

This photo shows a crane, head in the air  making his loud call.

Here is a group of 4 cranes taking off above a shallow lake with lots of cranes still in the water.

Three cranes on the alert from something approaching from their left.

This photo shows a detailed close up of a single crane, beautiful red marking on the head.

This photo shows a large group of cranes feeding in a corn stubble field.

Back lite cranes reflected in water.

A single crane strutting in front of a large group of birds.

Cranes taking flight from large group of birds in a stubble field.

Snow Geese and Light Geese

When we read the bird count sign at the visitors center we were dumb-founded;  over 42,000 light and snow geese is a number that is hard to get your mind around.  However, when we pulled the car up to this lake and saw the multitude of geese on the water (almost covering the surface), that large number began to sink in.

This is just a portion of this pond and it is covered with snow geese.  From this point we could look left and right along the pond and see as many birds in each direction.  Absolutely remarkable.

Another small pond with a large number of light geese.

A light goose, call a blue phase lesser snow goose

A typical snow goose

A light goose sleeping, a Ross Goose. 

A light goose of the Blue Phase Lesser Snow geese species.

A snow goose swimming to deeper water.

We were visited by this high flying red tailed hawk.  I think he was on the hunt, scouring the country side for a tasty morsel.  There are lots of small animals on the reserve, such as rabbits, squirrels, and quail and other small birds.  I do not think he will have a problem finding his dinner!

We also saw a group of white tail deer on the reserve.  The buck stayed in the trees and I could not get a good shot of him, the several does just wandered across a canal from me and I was able to get several good shots.  This one was the best of the shoot.

Our next stop is the mission San Xavier del Baq, just south of Tucson, AZ.

Friday, January 18, 2013

2012 was a Great Year for Photography 

Kathleen and I had a very memorable year in our personal lives and in the area of photography. Kathleen Started the year with a blood clot in her leg and was laid up and home bound for most of the first half of the year.  Thanks to some good medical care and a lot of TLC at home she is much better and back to being my photography partner.  We made several trips this year, including a trip to Los Angeles for my mother's birthday in May, a trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park in August, a trip to Buena Vista for our anniversary in September and an eleven day road trip to California and back over Thanksgiving.

Kathleen started using a digital camera at the end of last year and is really starting to like it.  She is shooting a Sigma SD15  and I am shooting a Sigma SD1M.  I think I will post a baker's dozen sample of the photos taken this year, comprising a few of our favorites.  I hope you enjoy viewing these as much as we enjoyed taking them!

This is a photo of ice covered Echo Lake in January with mountains in the background.  It seems like a appropriate shot to start the blog since we are in mid-January and it has been very cold in Denver this past week.

Here is a spring shot of beautiful thunder head clouds heading into Denver  from the west in the early afternoon.  Rain was soon to follow. 

I went to the Denver Zoo in February and captured a few nice shots.  This giraffe was very cooperative and gave me several nice poses.  In the shot below the Gray Crowned African Crane might be saying are you kidding me!

This flamingo really gave me a nice pose.  I really appreciated her (his) effort and beautiful colors.

Kathleen and I went over Kenosha Pass in the fall and stopped to grab a few shot of the Colorado Gold that was in full bloom.  Kathleen capture these two shots in the woods

From Kenosha Pass we ventured to Buena Vista (a perfect name for the gem of a town) at the gateway to the Collegiate Peaks;  A line of 14000 ft peaks that seem to grow up from the valley floor in front of Buena Vista.  We stayed at a bed a breakfast in Buena Vista.  While there we drove up to Cottonwood Lake where I grabbed this shot.

I went up to Red Rocks Park just outside Denver to test a new lens and ran across this prime mule Deer buck.  He was kind enough to pose for a few seconds before he bounded off and jumped a 6 ft fence and scurried in the woods.  Some days you just get lucky!

We drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park and luckily ran into several groups of bull elk.  This guy was lunching on green next to a cabin and did not notice or chose to ignore me and my long lens.

As we were coming down Trail Ridge road this single bull elk just followed us walking parallel to the road for about half a mile.  This provided Kathleen with a series of photos in which the mountain backdrop and position of the elk kept changing and causing Kathleen to repeatedly give me stop and start instructions.  This was a very cooperative elk.

Kathleen and I were at Hudson Gardens shooting flowers when this butterfly kept fluttering around the group of flowers I was trying to shoot.  He finally stopped long enough for me to get a few shots, this one was the best of the group.

This is all for today.  I will continue in a couple of days, mainly with shots for the California road trip we took over Thanksgiving.  Stay tuned!