February Week 4 – Over and on the ocean … seeds and surfers

Feb 4 -  Eucalyptus webIn 1849, some 2,500 people left Sydney, Australia for San Francisco.  They traveled in American clipper ships and slower moving vessels.  It was among these voyagers and their ships that the first eucalyptus seeds were transported to California.

The seeds are very tiny so thousands came in each small sack. The fast growing trees were needed to produce wood and fuel for the settlements.   They were also planted for their shade and beauty.  They grew fast and huge.

Most accounts credit W.C. Walker as the first planter of eucalyptus in California in 1853.  He was the owner of the Golden Gate Nursery in San Francisco.  Within a few years Walker was selling  several varieties of Eucalyptus. And thus began the coastal population of small and large groupings of  eucalyptus tress that quickly assumed a native tree attitude – foresting hillsides.

Without thought to their immigration status, new arrivals to California, like myself some twenty-five years ago, often assume the towering eucalyptus were here forever as a native icon.  Regardless, their spring blooms are once again arriving and these closely photographed flowers are from a stand on highway 1 just east of the Pigeon Pt. Light House. Others are blooming right here in the city.  People can be naturalized, but it is more complicated with plants, apparently. (i.e.  Save Mount Sutro Eucalyptus Forest vs. UCSF proposed cutting.)

Not far from a grove of eucalyptus trees in Santa Cruz you find locals and folks from around the globe tracking the waves either on surf boards or from the lighthouse observation area.

Feb 4 - Surfer webWinter afternoons can feel like spring when the sunlight streaks across the surfer’s faces and the waves of the Monterey Bay. Santa Cruz is about 75 miles South of San Francisco on the northern end of the Monterey Bay. Cowells beach is located on West Cliff Drive, near Bay Ave. Just up from Cowells is Steamers Lane at the Surfing Museum housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse.

Feb 4 - Surfer Legs webThis location is one of the most accessible places to photograph the fine points of surfing without jumping into the water.  Although you are above the surfers you can minimize the slope by using a long lens and selecting individuals heading towards you from a distance.  No iPhone photography here!

Try a 400 mm lens, ISO 400 and a shutter speed no slower than 1/640 of a second. Keep the sun over your shoulder and on the face of the surfer.  (I always take my meter reading off the ocean water and then manually dial that reading into my camera.  Otherwise the white surf may throw the exposure off.)

Catching the wave is their goal – catching their turns and tumbles is my goal.

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