When backpacking the John Muir trail with some great friends I remember how critical water management was for us. We were packing lightly, covering the trail with backpacks weighing in a 40 pounds or so. Included in these weigh savings was reduced water storage capacity. We moved from creek to creek, calculating what we needed to filter, drink or carry for how long. Water defined our journey in a quietly critical way.
Both as a photographer and an ecologist I am regularly wowed by valley oaks (Quercus lobata). These comely giants rise up from the driest summer soils and produce a rich refugia for hundreds of plant and animal species avoiding the unrelenting sun. These trees create veritable oases of wildlife and wildflower activity in a desert-like August sun.
Unfortunately these giants are perishing with limited replacement. As the parent trees pass on, quality habitat for regeneration also desiccates. The fathers and mothers have seen our land shift from native American management to agro-industrial conversion. Rare trees still grow in large groves with mingling arch-like crowns. Instead they are often solitary sentinels. Listen for echos from a quieter 1800, or even a 1700.
We as humans can and must metamorphose nostalgia into restorative action. We can start to replant our valley oak spreads, but we must do it while they still have the soil, water and biotic conditions to establish. The figure below from a 2012 CA Energy Commission report models a loss of 2/3 of the extant habitat in light of rising carbon emissions and climate change. These trees are resilient when they are established, but that needs to happen soon, before it’s cost prohibitive and ecologically nearly impossible. We hope to get a small planting going in a historic valley oak area through Golden Hour Restoration Institute. We do need money (about $2000) and partners and I hope we can play a small role in helping maintain the grandiose valley oaks of our fathers grandfathers past.
The following calendar shows star trails behind a massive, silhouetted valley oak in Joseph Grant County Park in Santa Clara County. I hope you enjoy it as a desktop for February. Here’s the full-sized image for download for desktop use.
I’m excited to be presenting some photographs at the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society’s Membership slide show. This should be a really fantastic evening of people who will share images from all around the East Bay and even greater Bay Area I bet. I know a couple of the other photographers presenting and they will have some great images. Presenters must register in advance and here are more details on the evening: http://ebcnps.org/meetings/.
I personally hope to offer a ten minute insight into the power of imagery with the goal of celebrating the value of human stewardship of our wildlands. It will be a quick taste of how I use the camera as a tool and why you (as an advocate for nature) should too. Create depth – connections – interest in your images.
Happy New Year Folks! I decided to continue the calendars as they were fun to do and I liked the monthly check in. Here’s a quick post of the January 2014 desktop image – free to use as a desktop all you’d like. I think I may try to add in non-distracting calendar “elements” at some point but January is so mixed up I’m not sure a calendar with days and things like holidays would help. Here’s the image for download.
I’ll be kicking off this December with a double-decker banana Sunday type blog post thingy… The December desktop calendar – celebrating family and the outdoors AND a formal announcement for a SF photography workshop for 5 people who want to learn how to get really great photos out of their DSLR.
November is such a transitional month in California. I personally feel that this month truly and confidently brings in the winds of fall and winter, as steam rises perceptibly from clenched coffee mugs while waiting for a chilly engine to warm or a bus to come pick you up. This is a month of dramatic change.
With that I’m writing a short post wherein my calendar for the month is a) in black and white and b) opens up the question of the footprint of green technologies on our landscape. Winds of change… hmm. I have a special treat in store as I’m excited to be meeting The Great Texas Wind Rush author Kate Galbraith this weekend to discuss her new book. I guess Texas blows – she’ll be talking about that. Now I’d better get back to that book I should be reading!
With bittersweet timing, the government has closed its doors on Yosemite’s “birthday” as a national park (which should rightfully be called Ahwahneechee National Park had a historian been involved in determining the proper name of the local native peoples who lived here). This is a place very dear to my heart. A place where we as a family can experience excitement, being humble, and being alive.
The act of designating national parks and protected areas is arguably one of the greatest accomplishments of the US government. That said, these areas do need regular funding to maintain safe access, steward important resources, and provide user experiences that will increase ones interest in the park, its resources, and history. Staff and volunteers are an essential element of any park – whether you see them or not. Continue reading
This seasons Rim Fire of the Sierra Nevada has been an extremely destructive wildfire. Now determined to be California’s 3rd largest fire in history, the burn envelop now extends some 237,000 acres (as of Sept 6) which equates to roughly 370 square miles. To put this into perspective – this would have burned more than 7 San Franciscos. Notwithstanding the extent, Cal Fire and other crews have done a phenomenal job protecting life and property. Somehow, only 11 homes have burned and there are no reported fatalities. We owe the men and women on the front line a huge thanks and maybe a hug wouldn’t hurt either.
We completed our 8 hour intensive conservation photography workshop hosted by the California Native Grasslands Association and I’m very happy to report that it was an absolutely wonderful day spent with inspired and interesting people (who love photography too!). Here are a few pics from the day and even one or two items about post processing that we went over. Thanks to everyone for such a great day. Continue reading
I’m very excited to be teaching a workshop on photography that is being sponsored by the California Native Grasslands Association.
The workshop is a full 8-hour engagement with myself and photographer Jim Coleman of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. We will be catering specifically to thinking about outdoors photography with an eye on conservation and site documentation. That doesn’t mean we won’t offer some basic ideas, themes and concepts to improve anyone’s photography (and if I remembered half the things I teach, I’d be a better photographer too!). We only have a limited number of spots remaining (in keeping with our class size of less than 15)!