©Bert Gildart: The past 20 hours have been filled with photographic highlights. This time frame began Monday night about 6 p.m. when Don, Nancy, Janie and I made a drive from our Chula Vista campground to the ferry crossing on Coronado Island – immediately across from San Diego. However, we stopped first at Coronado Beach where we encountered Nilaja Gardner accompanied by her promoter and camera crew (see photo below).
Seldom have we ever stumbled across a more engaging group, inviting us to watch Nilaja’s video recorder as he filmed her lip-syncing one of her pre-recorded songs back dropped by the sun sinking into Pacific Ocean. The young lady was extraordinarily talented and I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t ask permission to take her picture.
“Thank you,” said Nilaja, “Please do.” Later she gave all of us big hugs and then asked if they could photograph us? How gracious can a person be? She said her style of music has been inspired by R&B icons such as Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Tina Turner, and Etta James. But Gardner also says that life, her own and others, is the main inspiration for development of her soulful voice.
ICONIC EMERALD PLAZA
Half an hour later we made the five-minute drive from the ocean to the ferry landing where I set up my tripod-mounted camera. I pointed it toward San Diego Bay and the ferry dock – and, of course, toward the city’s magnificent array of lights. I was so pleased with the results that I sent the image to photographer friend Bill D, who wrote back saying he liked the picture and then explained in his email letter to me that the green lights emanate from “the iconic Emerald Plaza,” and that it is the most distinctive building to shape the San Diego skyline.
Bill explained that the hexagonal green neon halos glow each night acting as a beacon for visitors intrigued by the city’s revitalization. He said views from the building offer panoramic images of the Pacific Ocean, San Diego Bay, Coronado Island, Point Loma and the Cuyamaca Mountains. In his email Bill also provided a link which further explained that the tallest tower was 30 stories and 400 feet tall and that the structure’s eight rooftops are all angled at 33 degrees to match San Diego’s latitude.
Some may be interested in the technical data required to make this picture, which includes a 20-second time exposure, an aperture setting of f-20, an ISO of 150 – and the obligatory setting of the camera’s “High Noise” reduction program. Without it, the image would have contained unwanted “points” of light, which result from long time exposures.
WHALE WATCHING PROVIDES THE UNEXPECTED
The last part of my 20 hours of photo Nirvana included a whale watching trip. Yesterday morning we drove to Mission Bay and hopped aboard the 60-foot “Eclipse” whale watching boat, which made its way toward the five Mexican owned Coronado Islands. Though March is said to be the end of the whale migration, which transports several species from Baja to Alaska, nevertheless, our luck was incredible. In the course of our five-hour trip we saw a fin whale, several minke whales and, finally, and most dramatically we saw the breaching of a Blue Whale.
CLICK ON EACH IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION
L to R: Bottle-nose dolphin caught at apex of its “flight”; the extraordinarily talented Nilaja Garder who we think is on a fast track to becoming a house hold name when
R&B music is mentioned; small group of seal lions lounge on marker buoy in Mission Bay.
As the world’s largest animal, Blue whale facts are impressive. A full grown blue can reach 100 feet in length and weigh up to 200 tons, which is huge, as Melissa, our “ship’s” on-board naturalist, tried to dramatize. Melissa said a blue whale heart can exceed the size of a Volkswagen and that the spray from a blue whale’s blowhole can spew as high as a three-story building. She said a toddler can fit into the creature’s blowhole. She continued, and we whale watchers remained enraptured.
Though seeing whales was a highlight the creatures are difficult to photograph. For one thing, they can outpace most whale-watching boats. Nevertheless, I thought I made up for it by virtue of the photographs I managed to get of several bottle nose dolphins – and of the sea lions lounging near the entrance to our dock.
As I implied, for a photographer the past 20 hours have been exhilarating.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy