Tag Archives: nature photography

Travel Theme: COUPLES

There are many different ways to be coupled…

California newts mating.

Incense cedar (left) and Douglas fir pals in Yosemite N.P.

This bull Tule elk seems to be “coupled” with a LOT of females! Point Reyes National Seashore.

This is in Yellowstone National Park, walking away from Old Faithful, and this elderly couple locked hands; it was a beautiful moment and I just had to sneak a shot =)

Travel Theme from Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack?, as per the usual!

Travel Theme: ANIMALS

As a vegan animal lover and uncompromising defender of their total liberation from human oppression for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment, this week’s theme from Where’s My Backpack? is naturally right up my alley!!

Coyote contemplating his life in Death Valley.

Yellow-bellied marmot, Yosemite National Park.

A couple gorgeous Oystercatchers (thanks to Kirsti, Joey, and Joanne for alerting me to exactly what kind of bird they are!) on the Mendocino coast of northern California.

At Kehoe Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore in the San Francisco Bay area.

Acorn woodpecker (thanks to Joanne for identifying the exact species!)  just outside Yosemite.

Turkey vulture, (ubiquitous in) northern California.

Right by the San Francisco Bay in China Camp State Park, a great white egret (top) AND a snowy egret!! ❤

Great horned owl (I think) in Red Rock Canyon State Park. Two of her young offspring were in the area, too. Apologies for the atrocious quality, but I didn’t yet have a good telephoto lens and this animal is too amazing and rare for me to not share my only picture of her!

Another magnificent coyote, this one in Sequoia National Park.

Newport Beach, Orange County in So Cal. I just LOVE his/her eyes!

Newport Beach again; I was showing a group of kids some tricks to finding sand crabs, and one of the girls dug up this beautiful beast! ❤

17-pound boa constrictor named Baby 🙂

Some good friends and I were eating dinner at my favorite restaurant, Wheel of Life in Irvine (100% vegan Thai food that even meat eaters go crazy for!, owned and run by FOURTH-GENERATION vegan, Victor, 66 years vegan and still lookin no more than early-50s, with his infamous    catchphrase–VEGAN POWAH!!); when I spotted a guy eating soup at a table outside with his buddy draped over his shoulders.  Apparently he got her when she was “even smaller” from the shelter.  I’ve always loved snakes, ever since my veterinarian Aunt Janet had a garter snake whom I would hold, who would wrap himself around my little 7-year-old arm, and who would dip his head into Janet’s fishbowl and gobble up goldfish.  But I’ve never held a snake this big.  It was a spectacular experience; you can truly feel the life in every square inch of their bodies, muscles pulsing, pulling, as they slither atop your torso.  There was something totally humbling about it–knowing that if Baby decided she didn’t like me or didn’t like what I was doing, she could wrap herself around my neck and squeeze the life out of me.  A possibility I was minorly concerned about:  “How will I know if she gets upset?” I asked her guardian.  “Oh,” he said, “well, she’ll squeeze your jugular and you’ll pass out in about 15 seconds.”
I laughed, and enjoyed the experience even more.  I absolutely LOVE any experience where I am humbled by nature or nonhuman animals; it makes me appreciate them even more, reminding me of why I love and fight for them, reinforcing and validating my knowledge that humans are just one species of millions, that we are not the pinnacle of evolution or the point of evolution, that every creature and wild space is marvelous and worthwhile for their own reasons, irrespective of human usefulness or greed or desire.

And of course, what animal-based photography post would be complete without a little Joie de Rikki??

Travel Theme: FOLIAGE

Joshua Tree.

Wildflowers and cholla cacti in bloom, Joshua Tree National Park.

Bigleaf maple leaves among the coast redwoods.

Douglas-fir needles and cone.

A perrenial favorite of mine–the wondrous ocotillo plant, Joshua Tree N.P.

Yosemite National Park; I **think** this is a Jeffery Pine, although it’s essentially impossible to tell them apart from Ponderosa Pines without seeing the cones (then it takes about a second!)

Thanks to Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack?  for yet another lovely theme!

Travel Theme: WHITE

Friday is the UN’s International Day of Peace, so in honor of that, Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack?  chose this Travel Theme.  And for those who believe in putting peace into practice, remember that peace begins on your plate–go vegan! (It’s easy, fun, gratifying and healthy–check out Vegan Outreach and The Perfect Formula Diet)

Fun fact:  All these pictures come from one road trip I took in January of 2009; from the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley, west out to Highway 395, then north through the Owens Valley and Mono Basin  past Mammoth Lakes, and finally west through the El Dorado National Forest to San Francisco; all of this in a mere two and a half days, close to 700 miles.  I hope you enjoy a few of the scenes from my wintery eastern California adventures!

Death Valley’s Badwater Basin salt flats, lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level; in the background, stark white clouds are poised above the 10,000-plus-foot snowcapped peaks of the Panamint Mountains.

The stark beauty of the Owens Valley and its nearly sheer wall of the eastern Sierra Nevadas.

Snow and volcanic dirt walking up the side of Panum Crater next to Mono Lake.

My little rescued polar bear travelin buddy, Fatty the rattie aka Ronnie Lee ❤

Sugar Pine, lichen and snow in the El Dorado National Forest.

Pictorial Highlight: Humboldt! #2

Roosevelt elk mama

Forest Reflection, Gold’s Beach, Praire Creek.

Young baby elk in April 2009.

“Na-na-nana-na, you don’t have antlers!!”

There is magic even in the tiniest of organisms; this is just the fruit, the reproductive organ, of a vast underground network of mycelium…and fungi are closer genetically to animals than they are to plants. Ponder THAT one for a minute!

Joie de Rikki, Gold’s Beach.

The sun drops below the horizon, painting the sky with its light-brush from millions of miles away, and the chill ocean breeze picks up and it lifts mist from the crest of each wave, and you feel like every moment is rife with possibility, with the awe of being alive in such a beautiful place, with the responsibility to do something that learning to love such things places on you.  You feel inspired.  The night flings itself upon you.

Sitting on a beached log, of which there are countless here…

There is something ultimately primordial about the temperate redwood rainforests of northern Humboldt and of Del Norte Counties.  Not just the size of the trees, but the density, the fecundity, the lushness; it can take you 10 minutes to travel 30 feet off-trail in these forests; you step on what looks to be solid ground, and then sink waist-deep in foliage and plant matter and rotting wood!  You expect to see Brontosauri here, munching on the leaves of old-growth redwoods, whose branches don’t even begin until about 90 feet up.  The amount of LIFE here is staggering, staggering, and 96 percent of the northwest’s old-growth forests have been logged, poisoned with herbicides and fungicides and diesel fuel (so the poisons stick–for awhile, until they eventually runoff into the local watershed), turned into lifeless deserts or genetically-modified monocrop tree plantations or moonscapes; that is “PROGRESS”–desert behind, forest in front.  That is growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell.  That is industrial civilization, and it must be stopped before it kills everything.

Banana slug!

Redwood textures and colors. Disproving Reagan’s adage that once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. Each is an individual.

This is the Arco Giant, technically located in Redwood National Park; it is the 10th largest coast redwood by volume.  I see a face, complete with green hair, on the right side of the tree–see it? The bottom of this picture is about halfway up the main trunk, where it splits–redwoods are prolific in their growth of “reiterated trunks.” Basically when the top of the main trunk is damaged, it sprouts a new “trunk” that then rockets toward the sunlight. The most architecturally complex tree in the world is Illuvatar, located somewhat near this tree, with 220 (!!) reiterated trunks.

One of the most amazing books ever created (it is not just writing, but pictures and fantastically skilled drawings by the author) is Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast  by Robert Van Pelt.  Very highly recommended!

Another darling baby elk and his mother.







Travel Theme: RED

Red–passion, blood, iron oxide, a lack of chlorophyll in the case of the Snow Plant, and this week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s Where’s My Backpack? blog.

Death Valley.

The magnificent ocotillo plant, this individual flowering in Joshua Tree National Park.

Stunning geology and iron oxide and sedimentary stratification in Red Rock Canyon State Park, in the northern Mojave Desert of California.

Snow Plant in Yosemite National Park; they apparently “supplement [their] nutrient intake by at least partially parasitizing the roots of pine trees by means of a shared mycorrhizal fungus.” (Info found HERE)

Seqoiadendron Giganteum individual in Sequoia National Park, with me for frame of reference. The most voluminous trees in the world.

Pictorial Highlight: Humboldt! #1

One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been, Humboldt County and its neighboring areas (Del Norte County and Trinity County) helped make me who I am today.  I feel a deep connection to those jaw-dropping redwood forests and the coastal environs that tend to accompany them.  I spent much time there in my crucial early days as a budding radical environmentalist, and the area’s majesty (and connected devastation) was extremely influential.

Usually I just let the pictures speak for themselves, with no introduction save for that like above.  But I want to remind everybody of something.  All these MARVELOUS, SPECTACULAR natural features, and the mesmerizing animals who live among them, of California that I try to convey to you–these are mere fragments of what once was.  At least 96 PERCENT of the old-growth redwoods have been logged, ravaged, clearcut, moonscaped.  96%!  Millions of acres, and it’s not “just” trees–think of all the animals killed and left homeless and resourceless through all that habitat destruction!  These are whole ecosystems of unfathomable fecundity, being wholesale holocausted.  And it’s still going on.  Can you imagine what it would’ve been like here before the conquest of the “civilized” (e.g. white Europeans) and the death-march of industrial civilization?  Here and in the rest of California, and the rest of the west, and the country, and the world?  Just something to think about.  Enjoying these places is not enough.  We have to realize what we have lost, what used to be–and what could be again if we act in accordance to principles of compassion, if we fight those battles that truly need to be fought.

A few books I’d like to recommend that are spectacular and that will educate and inspire you, and help you appreciate even more these amazing forests:  The Wild Trees by Richard Preston and From the Redwood Forest:  Ancient Trees and the Bottom Line (which features 50 pages of breathtaking photography) by Joan Dunning and pictures by Doug Thron.

Without further delay….

Roosevelt Elk.

The Stout Tree, whose “owner” wanted to cut down in the 1950s to make a dance floor on the flat stump top.

Great white egret in flight, collecting some twigs for her nest! So majestic and graceful…

Not great picture quality, but I wanted to capture the utter strangeness of this one, whom I call the CGI Tree. It looks painted, or digitally enhanced! Such strange patterns of color and texture!

Valley with some fall foliage on the eastern edge of Humboldt/western edge of Trinity County as you go into the Coast Range mountains.

Same valley–from almost the same position!–later that evening.

Butterfly chillin on the trail! ❤

Clam Beach wind-swept sand.

Rikki takes a moment to collect her thoughts =)

Gorgeous furry caterpillar in an area of wetlands.

These horses in their pasture are just too beautiful to not include. Sometimes you’ll see the Rooseveldt hanging out among the horses, both species just eating grass, minding their business.

The biggest sitka spruce I’ve ever seen, although there are ones much, MUCH larger (mainly in northwestern Washington and southeast British Columbia)

Part 2 coming next week!

Travel Theme: CURVES

Ailsa at the lovely blog Where’s My Backpack does a weekly photography theme, and whenever her theme goes well with my nature photography and my general pro-Earth/Animal(/and in this case Woman) worldview, I’m going to post a contribution of my own….

Mmmmm, curves!  What man (and woman who loves women!) doesn’t love curves?

The loving curve of a baby redwood and his mother?

Any real man, that is.  Women have curves.  Don’t feel desert-ed if you do.

Nothern Death Valley, the Eureka Valley Dunes.

You are in good company.  Women of all colors–brown, white, auburn, beige, ebony–have curves.

Turkey Tail mushrooms.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Curves inspire the flamy passion of the red-blooded.

Claret cup cactus flower in the White Moutains of eastern California.

Curves inspire awe and wonder…

Sitka spruce at Praire Creek Redwood State Park.

And are things of quiet, shapely beauty.

So join me in celebrating the wonderful, natural beauty of curves!!

Travel Theme: Silhouette

This week’s travel theme on Ailsa’s terrific blog   Where’s My Backpack  made me think of some nice nature (of course) silhouettes I’ve taken in the past.  Here are a few of them, hope you enjoy!

This was taken from my porch when I lived in Mendocino County in a tiny, middle-of-nowhere, off-the-grid cabin; my favorite place I’ve ever lived!

This is in far northwestern California; when I parked at the side of the road to sleep in the back of my pickup, I saw these lovely painted clouds with silhouetted trees in the foreground.

Joshua Tree National Park; one of my very favorite pictures I’ve taken (which is why it’s my RewildWest avatar!!)

This is an unmodified shot from the Marin Headlands looking down into the Golden Gate; something about all the red of the bridge and lights tinted the fog that color! It was dark out, so my shutter stayed open for about 6-7 seconds. I like how the natural silhouettes of tree and cliff contrast with the man-made bridge and boat!

Pictorial Highlight: Anza-Borrego #2


These structures in the hard-packed sand are called “Elephant’s Knees,” created by the channeling of water and wind into an erosive force…



Cholla cactus flower.



Wind Caves!


Got SUPER sick our first night from bad Gardein; ended up puking for several hours the next morning.  This is how I roll–whenever I get sick, I finger-fuck myself until I puke out all the poison 🙂





Lookit this beautiful bugger. HUGE!



The ocotillo plant, one of my favorite plants, so amazing…they have thick, SHARP thorns. And their branches…



…like this! Hard and brittle and peely, almost like thinly sliced dried fruit, but HARD. Their root systems begin aboveground, perched over the sand like spiders. Marvelous plants.



Found this desert lily just as the sun was rising…



More brittlebush, at dusk.


Inside the Wind Caves!!



Are you ready for the finale?  The triple-whammy grand finale?





‘Nuff said!