When you step foot atop Twin Peaks in San Francisco, you imbibe sweeping views of a thriving metropolis nestled in nature. There are vast swaths of gray hugged by adjacent seas of green and blue. It’s not Brooks Range-esque wilderness, but as Bill Cronon professes, “what brought each of us to the places where such memories became possible is entirely a cultural invention.” Although I don’t always completely agree with Professor Cronon’s view of a necessarily anthropogenic wilderness – San Francisco undoubtedly stands as living proof that cultural intervention has allowed for these memories to be accessible (my interpretation) to the masses, not the few private property owners. Cultural intervention has also preserved a taste of wilderness, and the home of this unlikely resident of Twin Peaks, the Mission Blue Butterfly. MBB’s fly from about April to May, each year, a reminder of how delicate biodiversity can be, while at the same time celebrating the incredible resiliency of this tiny, ephemeral butterfly.
Two Golden Hour Restoration Institute volunteers restoring habitat for lupines, the host plant for the Mission Blue butterfly.
Drought is kind of a dirty word. It’s a dry, dusty, parched, scary, dirty word for most Californians. I feel for the farmers and ranchers and fish as we survive through epic drought conditions.
Black oaks (Quercus kelloggii) was slower to leaf out in the drier year.
Although the important discussions press onward about impacts of drought on people (which I think is an extremely important discussion), I’m taking a second to think about it from a wildflower perspective. Yes, drought means limited water, but what’s that decrease mean for one of California’s oldest residents – the flora. Continue reading →
I’m very excited to be working with NATGEO this afternoon helping photographers get the most out of their camera! The 2014 Bioblitz is already looking to be a tremendous success as more people get out and learn about the natural resources in the Bay Area’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I hope to see you all out there geeking out on nature!
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.
We have one (maybe two) slots left for our February 1 workshop in San Francisco. This will be modeled after the January workshop where we spent the day going over techniques/methods – photographing – talking and repeat! We had a great time and I’ve heard lots of positive feedback from attendees.
Who’s this for? Amateurs who are interested in getting the most out of their camera (usually a DSLR, but an advanced compact is great too!). You’ll be joining a small group of about 4 people and will be working together and learning as a group. It will be fun, instructional, and very interactive with fast feedback on what you’re learning!
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.
It’s always difficult drifting into a new year for me. I never feel quite ready to release the last one – for all its memories, love, fun, adventure and emotion. Letting go is very hard for me, something I’m always working on. I never want the year to end… endings can feel so lonely to me.
In December of this year, a great hero of our civilization passed on and I guess for 2014 I’d like to integrate his words into all I try to do. Nelson Mandela was amazing in so many ways. A fearless, selfless leader who shared smiles regularly. He was a unifier, a communicator, a savior to many. Continue reading →
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.