Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Point Reyes, with the California Academy of Sciences

In late April I had visited Point Reyes on a trip organized through the California Academy of Sciences. It was a photography focused trip, covering key aspects of conservation efforts in Marin and the Point Reyes seashore .As such, I got a lot more out of it than I had expected. One of the big bonuses was Calumet helping organize the trip. They brought along cameras and glass. I had a 70-200 F2.8 LII IS lens, with a 2x extender, without which I wouldn't have gotten very many decent photographs on this trip. I have been on a longer trip to the Eastern Sierras through the Cal Academy in the past, this trip was every bit as good. See the whole album here.

Even with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 640mm (200mm with a 2x extender on a sensor with 1.6 crop factor) some of the situations were extremely difficult to photograph. We visited an egret nesting site, and the viewing platform was, photographically speaking, far from ideal. The day was very bright, and the lighting harsh, necessitating quite a bit of post-processing to reduce the contrast. I didn't realize it at the time, but the 2x extender is as bad as all the reviews claim. It added a lot of grain to the photographs. I would probably have been better off working with a 1.4x extender.
It was spring. There were a lot of flowers. I thought we were doing well before we got to Point Reyes.
Point Reyes, well, was blooming. You couldn't point your camera many places without flowers getting in the frame. Which is great. I like photographing flowers.
One of the stops we made was at a farm in the Point Reyes area. We learned a lot about the history of Point Reyes, and the role ranchers played in its development. All the farms around Point Reyes are small family operations. Ranchers initially had no desire to have the NPS as a neighbor, and fought the establishment of Point Reyes. That no longer seems to be the case. The farms are all on the northern end, the southern end is now relatively untouched.
Some more flowers.
There are tule elk at Point Reyes. They were keeping their distance that day. This herd was all female. The males stay away except around mating season. The elk have no natural predators, and introducing wolves or grizzlies wasn't really an option. Population control is through intravenous contraception, administered through a dart gun.
One last flower. This was with my 100mm macro, rather than the 70-200 with extender. Especially when zoomed in, this looks a lot more pleasing. No grain, not quite as much contrast, and really nice and smooth bokeh. I could have spent the entire day there. But there wasn't much time left, and I didn't get any really good shots with the macro.