Monday, September 23, 2013

It’s Way Better than TV (but then you knew that…)

Within the first few minutes of arriving, I was glad I gave myself the much-needed push to get up off the couch and go on a photo shoot.  A very deep breath confirmed the satisfaction of being in a place where the sun was pouring down on me, the smells of the native grasses filled my belly and swirling movement of active birds teased me for my attention.  I was once again at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary (SJWS).

This remarkable habitat is in the middle of Irvine and about a 10-minute drive away.  Formerly known as the San Joaquin Marsh, this area used to be frequented by duck hunting clubs dating back to the late 1800s, this according to Catherine Waters in an article she authored for the American Birding Association in 2001.  Of course with the urbanization of Orange County, the duck hunting subsided, but the public’s enjoyment of this area has continued.

On this glorious afternoon, the SJWS was my playground.  The temptations had been strong to just sit there and watch TV or “work” on the computer, but I was successful in guilting myself to get out and exercise my camera…sure glad I did.  From a photography standpoint, I picked an aweful time to go…mid-day, bright sun, very warm outside (birds seek shade and are harder to find).  From a human standpoint though, it was the perfect time to go.  The place was nearly deserted.  The trails around the ponds were empty and the paths connecting them through corridors of trees and shrubbery were also void of other visitors.  Walking around one of nature’s gems is way better than TV…but then you knew that.

I had no real expectations of capturing any National Geographic-esque moments, but I was certainly ready if such an opportunity presented itself.  I enjoyed the quite walking, the coolness of the occasional shady path, and the anticipation of the possibility of finding something interesting to photograph.  I wasn’t disappointed because if I’ve learned anything about photography, it’s that no matter where you are, there are ways to capture moments to convey the story of your experience.  And since I was feeling particularly good about my decision, I knew that “luck” would be on my side.

For me, the image of that bench across one of the ponds told the story of possibility…the possibility of a peaceful rest and the relaxing view of a nature.   Although nobody was enjoying it at the time, I couldn’t help but think about how nice it would be to just sit there and take it all it! 

And then was that small, cute heron…a young night heron or green heron (I’m not a birding expert, so forgive me if I don’t have it right).  I was treated to this great surprise as I came around one section of reeds and then looked back in the direction that I came from (a good habit for photographers to turn around and see other perspectives).  And there it was, stretched between two reeds, just above the water line, hanging on.  This was a real treat and is the sort of “luck” one finds when preparation meets opportunity. 

Further on my journey I came across another scene with a small black bird tucked in thicket of tall grass.  It was sitting on one strand which under its weight bowed down to make a nice perch.  The silhouette was wonderful.

On the short drive home I had a real sense of satisfaction having spent a gorgeous afternoon in such a refreshing and rejuvenating place.  Next time you’re invited to join me!

You can check out my entire collection of images on my website gallery at and as always, I welcome your comments and feedback at

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Seal Beach Shopping trip—or was it a Photo Shoot?

I’ve not been to Main Street Seal Beach before, despite being in Southern California for over 30 years.  What a hidden treasure though, or not so hidden if one has already discovered it!!  In an area no bigger than 3 or 4 blocks, this quaint combination of shops and restaurants has something for everyone.  As we were completing a purchase at the Olive Oil Company, we asked the ladies there what a good place would be to have lunch.  Several places were suggested, but when I asked if they were to leave for lunch this moment, where would they head…they said Hennessey’s.  So that’s where we went.  It’s like all the merchants work together here…fantastic!

There were so many great-looking places to eat that we will definitely have to come back.  Same goes for the shopping…the stores we went in were packed will all sorts of interesting and desirable items—how does one choose??  Guess we’ll have to be back to shop some more there too!  All in all, this small pocket within your city packed a big punch—kudos to the teamwork that must be present in order to bring that about!

So I’m guessing that I’m one of the last people around here to discover this special area of Seal Beach… my photography will likely bring me back to get more images…and Hennessey’s service and ice cold IPA’s will no doubt bring me back too!  Or is it the fine olive oils and vinegars at the Olive Oil Company… or wait, maybe the fresh seafood at… yes, we’ll be back!

Below are just a handful of my recent images.  Check out my website for my complete collection…   (Any of my images can be ordered as prints, enlargements, or imprints on merchandise)