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Huntington Beach, CA
Sunset Beach, CA. The color of the sky is enhanced by some wildfires in the L.A. area.

The 2014 travel season commences!

Not a new destination, but certainly an old favorite… Our first trip of the year was to my hometown Huntington Beach to visit family.

I’ve always enjoyed the beach, but now that I no longer live near one I make a concerted effort to make it out to the pier or beach at least once during my visits home.

Huntington Beach Pier
Standard shot of the Huntington Beach pier. Also, testing the tilt-shift rental by straightening out verticals in camera.


New Camera Toys

I got tired of waiting for a Canon 7D Mk II announcement (been hoping for over a year), so I decided to upgrade to a full frame 5D Mk III so I would have a new camera for our infrequent-in-a-lifetime February trip to Patagonia. This trip home to HB was my first weekend with said camera and new 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (the full frame equivalent of my favorite 17-55mm f/2.8 crop lens).

I also had an ultra wide in my crop camera kit, a 8-16mm Sigma; however, I wasn’t sure what ultra wide I wanted for my new camera. I was debating between a 16-35mm, 14mm prime or maybe even the 17mm (or 24mm) Tilt Shift lens. Anyway, to help with my decision I rented the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens for my HB weekend as well.

Under the Pier
This one was a little artsier on the tilt-shift.

I thought it would be good to play with the tilt shift in a familiar (but scenic) environment so I wouldn’t worry about messing up my vacation photos. In the end, while it was a fun toy to play with, I decided that I don’t currently have a use for a tilt-shift lens that justifies its enormous price tag.

Sunrise at the HB Pier
I’ve shot a lot of sunsets on the west coast with the sun out over the ocean, so it’s fun to try and get interesting angles on a sunrise at the beach.
Lifeguard Stand #12
Lifeguard Stand #12
HB Pier
Water details under the pier.
Huntington Beach, CA
Nice pink sunrise clouds and you can almost see Catalina.

So after my morning shots at the beach I wanted to do sunrise shots/birding in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. Unfortunately, our beach/wetlands access was blocked so we scrapped the walk and decided to drive to the beach instead, and figured we’d do the Bolsa Chica in the morning instead.

Sunset from Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach sunset. I love the sand texture.

Travis isn’t a big fan of the beach (it’s boring, he says), so I made him my official bird chaser.

“Go chase those birds over there”
“Chase them where?”
“In front of my camera”

Birds in flight at sunset.

Birding in the Bolsa Chica

Aside from the beach, another one of my favorite HB places is the Bolsa Chica. We usually go on a nice 3-5 mile walk and photograph birds. Typically this is a lot of white egrets (Great Egret and Snowy Egret) and Great Blue Herons.

This was the first time I can remember that I found a Reddish Egret in the wetlands, so I spent some time following it.

Reddish Egret in the Bolsa Chica
Reddish Egret looking for fish.

We also enjoy trying to capture birds in flight or birds capturing fish, since both are quite challenging.

Here is a Brown Pelican in flight. The red color on the neck is part of their breeding plumage.

Brown Pelican in flight
Brown Pelican in flight in the Bolsa Chica

My Nat Geo shot of the weekend: Brown Pelican swallowing two fish.

I’ve always wanted to get a good bird-eating-fish shot, but they’re obviously quite difficult to anticipate/focus/capture. I was pretty far away from this one, but even with a pretty extreme crop it looks alright. I definitely want to try again, because it’s very challenging but with practice I’m sure I can improve.

Brown Pelican eating fish
Brown Pelican eating fish

And that sums up our first trip in 2014. Simple, but satisfying. Next up we have plans for Colorado and then a big trip to Patagonia.

Sunset Beach Seagull
Sunset Beach Seagull


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