January week 2 – exposed on the beach

Rodeo Beach in Marin County on the other side of the Marin Headlands always has something worth photographing.  Its beach is made of sand and pebbles in which you may often see jasper, carnelian and agate.  The bluffs and lagoon also offer picturesque opportunities.  And wintering migrations of various birds stop by.  Right now a couple of Barrow’s Goldeneyes have joined a few common mergansers, coots, eared grebe, western grebe, buffleheads and the resident mallards, killdeers, egrets and great blue heron.

“For the protection of the beach and the endangered tidewater goby—which burrows in the lagoon’s soft shoreline sediment—people and pets are not allowed in any part of Rodeo Lagoon.”

Recent roiling waters dislodged some mussels and goose barnacles and tossed them on the beach.  This provided great photo opportunities.  Unlike most other types of barnacles, intertidal goose barnacles depend on water motion for feeding, and are therefore found only on exposed or moderately exposed coasts.

Since these barnacles were dislodged it was easier to see how they attach themselves to rocks and the filter system they use for feeding. This capture was possible using a 100 mm lens, mounted on a tripod.  To me they look like long toes with multifaceted nails from some ancient and exotic queendom.

I used a little fill flash and threw a black scarf in the background to cover all the distracting pebbles so that the barnacles would stand out.   I used aperture priority and get my meter (exposure) reading and then set this reading manually –  F/16 at 1/5 of a second (ISO equivalent 100).  Then I adjusted my shutter speed a little faster (because I am adding light) 1/10 of a second and dialed in -1 for my on camera flash (using a Canon 7D).

My second shot is from the same location at dawn before the sun came over the hills. The sky had just enough varied clouds to catch the dawn reds which got reflected in the lagoon.  Obviously a very low angle with a wide lens made this capture possible. Even though I haven’t used slide film in almost a decade I still underexpose for the brilliant, vibrant and deep colors of the sky.

Winter, summer, spring or fall the edge of the water is always teeming with life and mystery, beauty and unfolding story.  Usually Rodeo lagoon and the ocean meet in the winter but our lack of rain has kept the lagoon waters trapped behind the cresting berms. Maybe next week, with the long hope for rains the two will once again join in their winter sandy nuptial ritual.

Only a “record shot” but here are the goldeneyes in Rodeo Lagoon.  The colorful water is the early morning reflection of the sun hitting the buildings of Fort Cronkite.  These diving ducks are rather shy and difficult to get close to, so my 400 mm lens was pretty insufficient.

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