San Ignacio to Loreto

San Ignacio to Loreto

I took an early morning walk into the town square before the ride today.  All was quiet with just a few locals sweeping the streets outside of their shops.

The following excerpt from our tour paperwork explains today.  “Ahead of us this morning is the massive ‘Volcan Las Tres Virgenes’. Which tells us the origin of recent lava flows around us. We descend Devils Grade, seven miles of switchbacks that take us down to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. We ride along the shores of beautiful Bahia Conception, whose deep-blue waters, volcanic islands, and isolated beaches are real Baja delights. In the afternoon we reach Loreto, the oldest Spanish settlement along the West Coast. The town offers a picturesque central plaza, shopping, and an array of excellent restaurants.”

We had a rest day upon arriving at Loreto.  Our van driver took 4 of us up the mountain to San Javier Mission.  Founded in 1697 by Jesuit Missionaries, it’s the oldest Spanish settlement on the Baja peninsula and one of the best preserved.  Beats the hell out of me how or more importantly why they would want to create a settlement up in the mountains like they did. It was a challenge getting up there with a paved road, how did they manage without one? 

San Ignacio to Loreto

A local

 

Mission San Ignacio to Loreto

San Ignacio Mission

Prime waterfront realestate

San Ignacio to Loreto

Warming up before their performance

 

Day 19 Loreto to Guerrero Negro

Loreto to Guerrero Negro

The usual morning ride into the mountains, the twists and turns that Andy loves, then once more we see the Sea of Cortez.  Riding along Conception Bay enjoying our last day with these stunning views.

A short break at Mulege Mission Santa Rosalia which is small but rather nice and sits on a hill over the town.

We head a little further up the coast back on the water for our lunch stop at a little taco place in Santa Rosalia.  Awesome soft shelled beef tacos.

The afternoon sees us head towards the Pacific Ocean and the town of Guerrero Negro.  Not much here but a nice meal at a local restaurant.

Due to the nature of the roads (mountainous with tight curves etc) and not very strict road rules (people still allowed to ride in the back of utes) we have seen lots of little (and some not so little) roadside shrines where people have lost their lives.  The example below is the largest we saw but they do range from a simple cross to a small building.

Sea of Cortez

Moulage Mission Santa Rosalia

Build your home around the palm trees

Camping at Concepcion Bay Sea of Cortez

Roadside shrine

Day 21 San Quintin to Ensenada

San Quintin to Ensenada.  

I had the opportunity finally, for some serious photography from our balcony and on the beach this morning.  Nearly missed the lovely colourful sunrise due to time changes messing with my timing.

Another lovely ride though the hills then a long straight stretch, still up rather high so cool.  Passed through another agriculture area.

There’s a huge military presence in the Baja.  Stopped at about 5 checkpoints on the way south and passed through another couple which were unmanned.  They’re looking for drugs and guns.  Sometimes the first couple of bikes were inspected and other times we were just waved through. 

We’ve been passing a number of Off-road racing vehicles heading south to prepare for the Baja 1000.  After seeing some of the areas they’ll be racing through it would be fantastic to watch.

We had the best spicy shredded beef tacos for lunch at El Trailero, a very popular place in Ensenada.  You order your food, get a drink, then pay after you have eaten.  Works well, great turnaround but I do have to wonder if everyone pays?  

Got in a little souvenir shopping this arvo at Ensenada and then a little quiet time before our farewell dinner.

Sunrise from our room

Military Escort

Ensenada Food Stall

A popular street food stall

Full ute load Ensenada

Fully loaded ute

 

Day 6 Loreto to La Paz

Day 6 on the Bikes.  

Lovely drive through the mountains and along the coast, the Sea of Cortez to be precise, for a while today.  Temperature unusual, really cold and then really warm a minute later, didn’t matter if we were in the sun or the shade or right on the water it could be hot or cold.  Next up we had about 50km of thick fog to ride through, we could see it in the distance but didn’t realise at first what it was.  From the fog and beyond it was desert so we did’t miss seeing any sights.

Overnight at La Paz, now the capital of Baja (previously Loreto) is a busy industrial hub. Silver mining, agriculture, fishing and pearls.  We stayed the night in a hotel a few km out of town opposite the marina and had a lovely evening watching the cruisers go by.

Early morning light as we leave Loreto

Another day another mountain pass

Golf course at La Paz

A sky full of Magnificent Frigatebirds

 

 

Click West 2017

The Big Night

An annual event that I attend in Perth is the WAPF’s Canon Click West.  A great competition for members of West Australian camera clubs with fantastic prizes.  This year, for the 2nd year in a row I was fortunate enough to have an image selected as a finalist in the Natural Portraiture category.  My “Fire Starter” image was taken on my trip to Namibia last year and is a favourite of mine.

Here’s a link to the finalists in all categories Canon Click West.  Much to my surprise this year, I also made it into the top 10 for the portfolio prize.  Although I only had one entry make the top 10, my other three images obviously rated high enough in their categories to get me through.  This was the one to win, a Kimberley cruise with Kimberley Expeditions, congratulations to Marie Kingsley for taking out this award.

Natural Portraiture

Natural Light Portraiture

Landscape

Australasian Landscape

Fungi

Macro/close Up

Maritime

Maritime


Weekend Events

Included for the first time this year was a weekend of events including photo walks and workshops.  They covered topics like printing, Eizo monitors, making photo books, speed lights and the list goes on.

I stayed in Perth overnight and just attended the Melville Camera Club hosted walk around the Heathcote Cultural Precinct for sunrise on the Saturday morning.  We didn’t have the spectacular colour that we’d had earlier in the week but it was still nice to be out.

Sunrise on the river

 

 

Sossusvlei – Valley of Dunes

Sossusvlei – Valley of Dunes

Dunes

Sossusvlei would have to be one of the highlights of this trip for me due to the amazing sand dunes (another was Etosha).   The Namib-Naukluft National Park covers an area of nearly 50,000 square kms.  It is one of the largest nature reserves on our planet.  Sossusvlei is located in its southern reaches and is where mountainous sand dunes cloak the Namib Desert.  These are known as star dunes because they are formed by equally strong winds from different directions.   The Sossusvlei dunes are considered to be the world’s highest.

Sossus Dune Lodge

We spent three nights at the Sossus Dune Loge in huts spread out around the base of a mountain, joined by a boardwalk with quite a long walk to reach our rooms.  Our first day here in 46 degree heat wasn’t the most comfortable.  Our rooms although nicely appointed didn’t have air-conditioning,

 Thankfully the next couple of days the temperature dropped to mid to high 30s.  As well as trips to the dunes, we had options of helicopter flights and ballooning.  I did both and will bring you pics in a future post.

Sossusvlei - Valley of Dunes

Dune 44

Sossusvlei - Valley of Dunes

Sossusvlei - Valley of Dunes

Mrs & Mr Ostrich at sunset

Sossus Dune Lodge

Aerial view of our accommodation – Sossus Dune Lodge

Luderitz & Ghost Town Kolmanskop

Luderitz

After a short flight we landed at our next stop, the town of Luderitz located on the coast.  Surrounded by sand dunes and nine kilometres inland from Luderitz is the airport.  I still remember our Cessna 210 landing and seeing the rest of our tour group (from the “caravan”) walking into the terminal.  The mass of sand that was being blown around in the high winds meant that I could only see just their upper torso as their legs were lost.

Our lovely hotel (Ludertiz Nest Hotel) was situated right on the waters edge just out of town.  We spent two nights here which meant we were able to make three visits to Kolmanskop.

Ghost Town Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop is amazing.  The Ghost Town of Kolmanskop is now an abandoned diamond mining town which has been overrun by the sands of the Namib Desert.  In its heyday the town was home to over 300 German prospectors and their children.  Along with about 800 Ovambo labourers which had come from the North.  There were grand residences for the mine manager and other key personnel.  A state of the art hospital, bowling alley, casino, baker, ice factory, slaughterhouse, theatre, clubhouse, and library etc.

The discovery of the first diamond in 1908 brought an influx of fortune seekers to the area.   So began the construction of the buildings between 1908 – 1910, the town peaking during the late 1920s.  Due to dwindling diamond deposits and richer finds to the south, the processing plant was shut down in 1936.  The offices were moved south and the hospital was closed down a few years later, with the the last resident departing the town in 1956.

 

Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop
Kolmanskop

Fish River Canyon

And so it begins, a two week landscape photography tour with a couple of my favourite photographers, Christian Fletcher and Nick Rains, and twelve other wonderful photographers who helped make this a very special journey for me. Stunning scenery, wildlife, more stunning scenery, more wildlife and one on one time with Christian and Nick plus the never ending supply of food.

Fish River Canyon

The second largest canyon in the world (the Grand Canyon in Arizona is the largest) is pretty spectacular but I found it rather difficult to photograph.  The enormity of it was overwhelming, so a little help from Nick and Christian was appreciated to get me started.  Individual cottages lined up along the rim of the canyon was our accommodation for the next few nights.

 Our accommodation at Fish River Canyon was in individual cottages lined up along the rim of the canyon.  The cottages branched out either side of the restaurant, reception, deck and pool area.  As the front of the cottages were glass fronted the view was incredible.  A brilliant coloured sunset greeted us on our first evening.  After that night the wind picked up to a howling gale and we quickly found out why there were no internal doors in the room.  They also provided earplugs with the room key for those that had trouble sleeping with wind noise.

Our days here here at the canyon filled with landscape photography, editing and a game drive for those that wished to.  We went looking for the Mountain Zebra.  Unfortunately the Zebra were not to be found but we did come across Springbok and Oryx.  Here’s a couple of pics from this location.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy seeing some of my trip to Namibia.

Fish River Canyon

Sunset Fish River Canyon

 

Sunrise Fish River Canyon

Sunrise Fish River Canyon

 

Quiver Tree

Quiver Tree

 

Fish River Canyon

 

 

2nd Place Perth Nationals

2nd Place Rural Life

2nd Place in the Perth Nationals Australian Rural Life.

I’ve been entering the Perth Nationals or the (Perth Royal Show Photography Competition) for the last couple of years now and have achieved a merit in this category every year but have never been able to make it into a placing until now.  The above image was taken from a helicopter last year during our motorbike trip to Darwin.  It’s an aerial image shot over Packsaddle Plains.  I have no idea what the crop is that has been planted but it looks like an awful lot of something.

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The Wonders of Victoria Dam

On a recent overnight visit to Perth I headed up to Victoria Dam (a water supply for Perth City) in Carmel early in the morning.  My aim was to do some birding but it turned out to be much, much more.  It’s quite a walk on the weekends as the 2nd car park is closed and that’s closer to the dam.  Armed with my 300mm f2.8 birding lens and backpack with some breakfast, oh and don’t forget the rain coat as it had rained overnight and was still threatening to start again.  I didn’t find any birds that I hadn’t photographed before.  I was hoping for some Firetails or a Western Rosella, maybe next time.

Birds

This Australasian Grebe was happy to forage around in his little pond with me photographing him until a family joined us and the noise scared him into the reeds.  I was quite surprised at how well he blended in with the ground and the water in the 2nd image.

The Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo is a common sight in many areas.  We have them roosting in the bush behind our place. This female was not alarmed by my presence and stayed long enough for me to get a few shots off.  This is a female (white bill and yellow spots) Forest Red-tail, a subspecies found in the South West of Western Australia.  These birds are listed as Vunerable, if you wish to read more about them here’s a link to the WA Museum.

Victoria Dam-3

Australasian Grebe

Victoria Dam-5

 

and More

The early morning light, recent rain and a good quality lens at a big aperture make for good bokeh.  Here’s a great little article on Bokeh is you’re interested in the effect. I’ve never really used my 300mm lens for anything other than birding or sports photography.  Today was a different story.  There was just too much to photograph and I didn’t have another lens with me.

Victoria Dam-4

The low cloud cover, or was it fog, in the valley created a beautiful mood which I did my best to capture.

Victoria Dam-2

I was very surprised to see the city appearing out of the clouds.  Quite a cropped image but I think shows the diversity of the views from the walk down to the dam.  In conclusion, it appears that I didn’t photograph Victoria Dam itself.  And as I didn’t photograph any new birds perhaps I need to come back another time.

Victoria Dam-1