Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Photography

Figueroa Mountain: Where the poppies are

Photographing poppies:web

When it comes to spring wildflower peeping in Southern California, there are generally two hot spots: deserts and mountains. Because of the wacky winter weather this year, the Antelope Valley poppy bloom is less than stellar, but the blossoming is on in a big way at Figueroa Mountain (above), in the Los Padres National Forest.

After checking the Theodore Payne Wildflower Hotline online report (updated weekly) and a Figueroa flower update on the Los Padres website, we decided to skip the desert and head up the coast. On a Santa-Ana-wind-warmed afternoon, we set up camp north of Santa Barbara at Refugio State Beach (warning to tent campers: this is RV heaven), then headed with our dog back south to Arroyo Burro Beach. Possibly even more colorful than the wildflowers was that evening's sunset, tinted garishly from the sundowner wind that blew particulates out to sea (below).

SB sunset:web

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national survey to begin

Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin conducting its national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation and are requesting that hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts participate if contacted for interviews scheduled to begin April 1.

The information, collected by the U.S. Census Bureau primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October this year and January to March, 2012, provides the only comprehensive statistical database available on Americans' participation in and spending on hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in the 50 states.

"We appreciate the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and other citizens throughout the United States who voluntarily participate in the survey when contacted," said the wildlife service's acting director, Rowan Gould. "The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of both participation and expenditures."

The survey, conducted every five years since 1955, will involve 53,000 households from the Census Bureau's master address file. From this information, the bureau will select samples of 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers and follow up with further detailed questions.

"The last survey published in 2006 revealed 87.5 million Americans enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent more than $122.3 billion pursuing their activities," said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director for the service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. "The survey is a critical information resource for federal and state wildlife agencies, outdoor and tourist industries, local governments, planners, conservation groups, journalists and others interested in wildlife and outdoor recreation."

Participation is voluntary and all responses are confidential. Preliminary survey findings will be available in spring 2012 with final reports issued beginning in the fall, to be posted on the restoration program's Web page.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on. Credit: Fred Greenslade / Reuters


Death Valley winter weekend

Mesquite Flat Dunes

Any amateur photographer worth his or her Badwater Salt Flats knows winter provides the best shooting opportunities in Death Valley, especially early and late in the day. The sun stays low, the weather is tolerable and the air is clear — barring any sand storms, as we endured on the last day of a recent trip.

That said, digital photography in the desert presents some unique challenges. Sure, that undulating sandstone and filtered sunlight looked fantastic in the slot canyon when you snapped photos during a hike. But very often, no amount of processing will help a downloaded image that ends up with a washed-out sky and a shadow-heavy canyon.

And when it comes to composition, does the world really need yet another shot of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes with the Grapevine Mountains in the background? (Guilty as charged, see photo above.) As we discovered in a ranger-led program on desert photography that we stumbled upon at Death Valley National Park, the answer is a resounding "no."

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Images sought for Yellowstone Winter Photo Festival

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Shutterbugs of all skill levels are invited to share their favorite regional winter images at the third annual Yellowstone Winter Photo Festival, scheduled to take place March 9 at Yellowstone National Park.

Photographers are asked to bring digital photos taken in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on a thumb drive or photo CD so they can display and narrate their photos. 

Sponsored by the National Park Service and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, the festival presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center and is open to the public.

With no judging or prizes, the evening should be very casual and reminiscent of family slide shows, except everyone attending will be there because they want to be.

Those interested in participating should contact Rich Jehle at (307) 344-2840 or by e-mail for more information and to register. The registration deadline is March 7.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Credit: National Park Service


Submission deadline nearing for third annual California Waterfowl photo contest

Last year's Best of Show winning entry, "You Missed Again."

The deadline is fast approaching for submitting entries to the third annual California Waterfowl Assn. "Take Your Best Shot" photo contest.

Open to all California Waterfowl members, the contest will highlight photos of wetland wildlife, dogs in action, waterfowl hunting and wetland landscape.

Prizes will be awarded to a winner in each category, as well as one best in show and one youth photographer. Photos of particular interest are those that highlight the drama of the moment, the beauty from the blind, and the relationship of the hunter with their dog and/or the environment.

The entry fee is $15 per photo, with proceeds going toward prizes as well as to the development of future California Waterfowl programs.

Entries can be submitted either online or by mail but must be received by March 15. Complete contest rules and information on entering can be found on the California Waterfowl Assn. website.

For questions or more information, e-mail or call Courtney Ashe at (916) 648-1406, ext. 127.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: "You Missed Again," last year's Best of Show winner. Credit: Philip Robertson with Rodger Benadom

Outposts looks back at 2010: Unusual news 2

With the year ending, it is worth looking back at memorable posts of 2010. Each day this week through Friday, Outposts will recount some of the records broken, the achievements reached, the notable passings and the downright unusual during 2010 in the outdoors, action and adventure world.

Hunter's ticking timepiece attracts some interesting clock-watchers

Deer seem to be checking the time in these images taken by a trail camera. Minnesota bow-hunter Doug Strenke received a surprising, and amusing, reaction after hanging up a large, white-faced clock near the infrared trail camera he installed on the property he hunts, wanting to keep track of when deer visit the area, since the cam had no time-stamp function.

The St. Paul Park, Minn., resident was worried that the clock would scare everything away "within miles." Instead, his trailcam began photographing lots of deer and, Strenke said, "A lot of my pictures show the deer looking at the clock."

Photo credit: Doug Strenke

Bigfoot alive and well and living in North Carolina

North Carolina resident Tim Peeler drawing the Bigfoot creature he had a close encounter with. Bigfoot has apparently gone blond and lives in North Carolina. At least according to Cleveland County resident Tim Peeler, who told local authorities of his encounter with the 10-foot tall creature.

Peeler thought he was calling coyotes, but instead got surprised and frightened by what -- or who -- came a-calling.

"This thing was 10-foot tall. He had beautiful hair," said Peeler.

Screen-grab credit: NBC affiliate WCNC NewsChannel 36, North Carolina

Sailboat struck by breaching whale

A southern right whale breached and landed on a sailboat off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa on July 18. The whale broke the mast and then swam away, but the boat's occupants were uninjured.  A couple sailing off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, on July 18 got the surprise of their lives but were uninjured when a breaching southern right whale crashed onto their sailboat, damaging the vessel.

"It was quite scary," said Paloma Werner, who had been out sailing with her boyfriend and business partner, Ralph Mothes of the Cape Town Sailing Academy. "We thought the whale was going to go under the boat and come up on the other side. We thought it would see us."

Photo credit: European Pressphoto Agency

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The Lazy Marathoner: Well, that was easy

Runhappy I registered for the Long Beach Half Marathon with zero expectations. My running and fitness hit the skids a while back, and although I've been trying to get back on track, I have been bedeviled by a nagging, compelling, overwhelming desire to lie on the couch and watch TV instead of working out. I also had a painful foot injury. I used it all as an excuse to take months and months off. Ugh.

But I've rallied back by trying to follow Dr. Phil Maffetone's fitness plan. You can read more details here, but, briefly put, Maffetone bucks conventional wisdom by opposing the "no-pain, no-gain" philosophy that has been so ingrained in me and others. Instead, he focuses on improving aerobic conditioning -- and fat burning -- by slowing down and keeping your heart rate in check. He has urged me repeatedly to enjoy working out and not to focus on the clock. And although I have been skeptical about it at times -- it feels so easy, I can't believe I'm actually getting a "good workout" -- I'm here to say that it has worked for me in a big, big way.

The proof came Sunday, when I took part in the Long Beach Half Marathon simply as a training run. The cool temperatures and overcast skies made for perfect running weather for the roughly 24,000 people who took part in the day's events. Jason Gutierrez, 26, of Bogota, Colombia, came in first among the men, with a time of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 41 seconds. Lindsay Nelson, 25, of Chico, Calif., won the women's division with a time of 2 hours, 45 minutes and 8 seconds, a time that qualifies her for the 2012 Olympic trials.

For me, it was, by far, the easiest, most enjoyable, relaxed race I've ever run. (I've competed in a total of about 10 half marathons and marathons.) I felt like the gun went off, and next thing I knew, I was at Mile 11. I felt so great that when the race split off for the marathoners, I ever-so-briefly considered trying to do the whole thing.

And then I came to my senses and stuck to the half-marathon course.

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Entries welcome for Yellowstone Fall Photo Festival


Shutterbugs of all types are invited to submit photos taken for the annual Yellowstone Fall Photo Festival, taking place Sept. 22 at Yellowstone National Park.

All submissions, vacation snapshots or pro photos, are welcome as long as they were taken in the Greater Yellowstone area.

Photographers may bring up to 25 digital images on a thumb drive or a photo CD and are asked to spend no more than five minutes narrating the story behind their photos.

The festival presentation will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 in the Community Room of the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center and is open to the public.

With no judging or prizes, the evening will be very casual and reminiscent of family slide shows, except everyone attending will be there because they want to be.

Those interested in participating should contact Rich Jehle at (307) 344-2840 or by e-mail for more information and to register. Registration deadline is 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: The sun sets by Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Did hunter's infrared camera capture images of UFO?

Fort Worth area resident Lisa Brock-Piekarski is a little freaked out by images she discovered on an infrared camera mounted at her family's favorite hunting spot.

That's not because of the deer in the foreground but because of the mysterious lights in the background to the left of the animal.

"What I see looks almost like a Frisbee," Brock-Piekarski told Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate KXAS-TV. "You see a several lights going around, and they're all symmetrical and lit up, and it just looks like an object in the sky."

While she hesitated calling it a UFO, Brock-Piekarski could not identify what might have caused the string of lights to appear in the photos, taken over a timespan of almost two hours.

"There's nothing back there but trees and sky," she said. "There's no hills, no buildings, nothing back there. It's all flat."

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Aquarium of the Pacific opens exhibit tank to divers

A child waves to a diver inside the Tropical Reef Habitat.For the first time, general certified divers are invited into the Aquarium of the Pacific’s largest exhibit tank, the 350,000-gallon Tropical Reef Habitat.  With the new pay-to-dive program, guests will have the opportunity to interact with more than 2,000 tropical fish and animals, including an olive ridley sea turtle, bonnethead and zebra sharks, cownose rays and a queensland grouper.

In this 2 1/2-hour experience, divers will also get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Aquarium’s dive program, including a look at what it takes to manage one of the largest aquariums in the United States. As part of their dive inside the Tropical Reef Habitat, participants will have full use of an underwater camera and will receive a certificate of completion, souvenir towel and a data stick with their photos. All equipment is provided (though divers are welcome to bring their own mask, booties and underwater camera).

Open to divers age 15 and older, the cost is $299 per person ($279 for members) and includes Aquarium admission. Dives take place from 3 to 5:30 p.m. daily, with a limit of four participants per session. A valid diver certification and driver's license or other form of I.D. is required. Divers who are 15 to 17 years old must be accompanied by an adult who also signs up to dive.

For more information and reservations, call (562) 590-3100, ext. 0, or visit the Aquarium of the Pacific website.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A child waves to a diver inside the Tropical Reef Habitat. Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I use an air tank while photographing abalone divers?

Abalone1 In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I would like to photograph abalone divers diving, but I need to use an air tank to obtain the imagery I want. How can I go about this without getting in trouble with Department of Fish and Game? (Andrew B., Salt Lake City)

Answer: It is legal for you to photograph abalone free-divers while you are using a tank, as long as you observe a couple of regulations.

According to DFG Associate Marine Biologist Ed Roberts, the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e) prohibits the use of scuba gear or surface-supplied air while taking abalone. If you are using a tank while photographing abalone free-divers, you cannot assist them with taking abalone. You cannot help them pop abalone off the rocks, or spot abalone for them, or do anything else that could be construed as giving assistance in taking abalone. In addition, under this section the possession of abalone is prohibited aboard a vessel that also contains scuba gear or surface-supplied air. This means you will have to use a separate boat -- you cannot board the same boat that the abalone free-divers are using while you are using scuba gear.

Q: Is it legal to use mice as bait for stripers and bass? (Chris M.)

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Yosemite exhibit will feature early park visitor photos

Historic photograph of Yosemite visitors in the 1880s I find myself enthralled by photographs from bygone days, drawn to vintage images of people and their trappings who have traveled to places before me.

So I hope to make it to Yosemite National Park to check out a new exhibit opening Wednesday.

Entitled "View & Visitors: The Yosemite Experience in the 19th Century," the exhibit features early park visitor photographs, souvenirs, paintings, prints, artifacts and ephemera and will be on display in the Yosemite Museum.

Made possible through a grant from the Yosemite Conservancy as well as funding from the National Park Service, a highlight of this unique exhibit is a historic hotel register, called the "Grand Register of Yo-Semite Valley," that was used at the Cosmopolitan Bathhouse and Saloon, located in Yosemite Valley from 1873 to 1884. 

The register contains more than 800 pages of entries, weighs more than 100 pounds and contains more than 18,000 signatures, including those of four U.S. presidents: Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes, and James Garfield.

A reception will be held Tuesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Yosemite Valley Museum. There is no cost to attend and food and drinks will be served.

The Yosemite Museum is located in Yosemite Valley next to the Visitor Center. The exhibit will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Oct. 31.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Historic photograph of Yosemite visitors in the 1880s taken by Gustav Fagersteen. Credit: National Park Service

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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.