2011 One Weekend in Pacifica

with a Telephoto Lens

(10/15/2011 - 10/17/2011)

All the pictures on this web page are taken from one spot in Pacifica, CA on the weekend of Oct 15, 2011.  I rented a telephoto lens and a nice camera, sat on the deck, and took pictures.  It is amazing how much interesting stuff goes on visible from this one spot!  Click on any photo below for a super large, highest quality original.

Longer explanation: I live near the Pacifica California "boat docks" on Pedro Point at the south end of Linda Mar Beach.  Interesting wildlife like harbor seals and dolphins swim by (at a distance) and I wanted to take pictures of them.  In addition, other interesting stuff is going on constantly like wind surfing, regular surfing, boating, paragliding, etc.  So for fun I rented a truly massive telephoto lens for a weekend to take random pictures.  DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional photographer!  I'm just a dork who rented a camera that I have never touched before this weekend and I barely understood how to use it, this is NOT what I do for a living. 

Below is a picture of the deck and the tripod setup.  Here is a list of equipment: 1) Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR, 2) Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Telephoto Lens, 3) Wimberley Gimbal II with Arca Swiss Quick Release Base (Requires Plate), 4) P-40 Wimberly Arca Mount (this is the plate), 5) Induro AT413 Heavy Duty Tripod Legs.   WE ALSO had (not pictured) a less insane lens: 6) Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens.   I  rented all this equipment for 3 days from "BorrowLenses.com" which is a GREAT service.  Also seen below are Sada and Katherine hanging out on the deck with me.  (Note: picture below taken on a small compact Canon S95.)

 

Here is a close up of the Canon 5D Mark II attached to the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM telephoto lens.  Mounted like this, you can get it properly balanced so even if there is no friction on the tripod head it will just "hang in the air" and you can move it with very light touches.   This lens gives you about a 16x magnification.  Just below the camera body in the picture you can see a pair of Canon 18x50 Image Stabilized binoculars that provide approximately the same magnification.  Some technical image size observations: the high quality JPEG photos that come out of this camera body are usually about 6.2 MBytes, and when I run them through Photoshop and save them out as "very high quality" Photoshop can reduce that to about 2.5 MBytes without much visible loss, then the pictures you see on this web page are 800x600 "thumbnails" which are compressed at half quality (5) in Photoshop and come out as 88 Kbytes.

 

Below is what the "scene" is for the whole weekend, this is Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, CA.  This particular weekend there is very little surf, it is flat as a lake.  That's Ok, more wildlife, less surfers.  :-)

 

I invited some people by who might be interested in this experiment.  From left to right below is Casey in grey shirt, Tim in green/black jacket, Gromit (the Labradoodle under Tim), Katherine in red pants in corner, Connie (facing away from camera on couch), Ali (head just poking in front of Yev's green shirt) and Yev in green shirt facing away.

 

Connie (in white dress) is reading the instruction manual on the iPad trying to setup the Canon 5D Mark II to take multiple shots every time you pull the trigger.  (Like a "machine gun".)

 

OK, now here are the pictures taken through the amazing telephoto lens!

A close up of a seal.

 

I have been trying to capture a picture of a seal for over a year, and have always failed.  They have small heads and they are hundreds of yards away.  So this next series of pictures makes me happy.  Below is a smiling harbor seal with whiskers hanging out in the kelp bed in front of the dock.

 

A happy harbor seal hanging out in the kelp bed.

 

I'm not sure why they do this, maybe just napping?  They keep their heads above water for maybe two or three minutes, then they slip under the surface and just disappear for up to ten or twenty minutes, then sometimes reappear.

 

Is the harbor seal sleeping on his back?

 

Below is the most exposed I ever see the harbor seal heads.  Notice his whiskers.

 

Bright eyed harbor seal.

 

A sailboat maybe a mile offshore.  This picture isn't really that impressive, EXCEPT that the boat is so far away.

 

Sea Kayak.

 

A bird in flight.

 

Click on the movie below to play a clip (on Vimeo) Casey put together from the video footage we shot through the camera.

 

Close up of seagull sitting in the ocean.

 

The cliff behind the sailboat is about a mile away from the camera.

 

Lots of surfers but they are about half a mile away.

 

People come to the beach and throw tennis balls to their dogs, which is nice.  Below are two happy dogs running through the surf.

 

More of the same dogs.

 

Dogs splashing happily charging through the surf.

 

A man with a smile launches his sea kayak on Saturday morning.

 

Happy tan dog with yellow ball in his mouth stepping through the ocean surf.

 

Surfers.

 

A man with his dog.

 

A woman stand up paddle boarder half a mile away.

 

A windsurfer.

 

A seagull on the roof of the dock 70 yards away.

 

A close up of the sea gull taking flight.

 

The wind surfer catches a wave.

 

A happy man and woman play in the surf a half mile away on the beach.

 

Seagulls like to stand on the top of the pilings immediately out front of the dock.  So the bird below is about 40 yards away from the camera.

 

With the telephoto lens, it is possible to get right up close to the bird.  Notice the "red dot" on his beak.  I'm told the red dot means this "Western Gull" seagull is mature,

 

Windsurfer almost 3/4 of a mile away.

 

A surfer catches a wave.

 

San Francisco Airport (SFO) is about 10 miles away, and here I can see a Virgin America logo on the side of this aircraft when I take the picture through the telephoto lens.  Remember to click on any of these pictures to get a MUCH MORE DETAILED higher quality original version.

 

Below the harbor seal peeks out of the water.

 

A balloon in a parking lot a quarter mile away.

 

Looking at a Google Map of this area of Linda Mar Beach, it is about two miles from where I am standing to that pier in the distance, and about one mile to the paddle boarder.

 

Below is a Google map with the location of the camera (the blue marker near the bottom) and the location of the pier (the blue marker near the top of the map):


View Pacifica and Linda Mar Beach in a larger map

 

This wind surfer is about a mile away from the camera.

 

A happy couple walking on the beach together.

 

And they walk away arm in arm.  Very sweet.  :-)

 

A wind surfer playing in the surf near shore.

 

A paddle boarder out in the water.

 

This is a picture of the pier as the sun goes down.  The pier is two miles away.

 

The hotel on the corner as the sun wanes for the day.

 

The next morning (Sunday morning) Katherine spotted dolphins!  It took me a minute to get the camera set back up so I only got the three pictures below as they disappeared.

 

In the picture below there is a dolphin on the left, and actually one just submerged on the right.

 

A dolphin swimming through the water.

 

The following picture is *NOT* from this weekend, it was taken with my Canon S95 on Sept 10th, 2010 but it also shows two dolphins in the surf, one right in the center of the picture and one on the left.  These were much closer, but you can see how useful the telephoto lens is (the picture below did not have the benefit of telephoto).

 

This is a picture of the red hotel in the morning as the sun comes up at 7am.

 

A surfer launches at Linda Mar Beach.

 

He paddles out.

 

Then starts to catch a wave.

 

Picks up speed.

 

And the surfer stands as he catches the wave!  This is about half a mile away from me, and you can see the individual droplets of water.

 

A sea kayaker out in the water.

 

Sada looks for sea glass.

 

A paddle boarder catches a wave.

 

Close up of a low flying seagull.

 

These movies are in QuickTime format, I hope to come back and edit them later.  But if you are on a Macintosh the links below should play very nice, high quality short videos.

 

MOVIE OF WIND SURFER.  <NEEDS WORK>

 

 

MOVIE OF PADDLE BOARDER <NEEDS WORK>

 

 

MOVIE OF SEAGUL ON PILING <NEEDS WORK>

 

Another low flying seagull.

 

Dave Lockwood paddleboarding.

 

A closeup of his feet standing on the paddleboard.

 

Dave near another paddleboarder.

 

A few more pictures of yet another (or maybe the same?) harbor seal.

 

Just a harbor seal, hanging out, happy.

 

The harbor seal is looking towards me but I doubt he can see me, he is hundreds of yards away.

 

The harbor seal napping.

 

If you look closely, you can see the harbor seal has toenails.

 

Below is a closeup of the harbor seal's toenails.

 

The harbor seal is hanging out.

 

Another low flying bird.

 

This seagull is landing in the ocean.

 

A seagull standing on the piling near the dock.

 

MOVIE OF BOAT LAUNCH - NOT EDITED YET

 

The scene below is *NOT* taken with the telephoto, just the Canon S95 pocket camera to show what it looks like. 

 

Dave with his son on the paddleboard talking with Jim who is rowing.

 

Jim gets ready to fire up the outboard motor.

 

And he pulls!

 

And away it goes.

 

A man sea kayaking with his son.

 

Another seagull on the piling.

 

A seagull preening.

 

Another guy paddleboarding.

 

A bird in flight, landing soon so slowing down.

 

A woman throws a ball for her dog.

 

The happy dog hurtles through the surf going for his favorite ball.

 

A close up of the dog splashing through the surf.  This picture is impressive to me because the dog is a quarter mile away and you can see the water droplets.

 

I've seen the boat type seen below before.  Notice it has its own built in wheels for when it is being trailored behind a car.

 

Another sea kayaker.

 

Happy boaters in the ocean.

 

The pier two miles away, and Sharp Park Road going up the hill even further away.

 

Another seagull.  They are everywhere.

 

Action shot of a seagull on one foot.

 

Nice happy seagull hanging out.

 

Surf school on Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, CA.

 

Bird in flight.

 

Surfers walking off the beach holding their surfboards.

 

The picture below is terrible and blurry, but shows a paraglider that sailed over our heads and is coming in for a landing on Linda Mar Beach, Pacifica, CA.

 

A telephoto shot of the paraglider.

 

Getting lower.

 

Close up of the paraglider half a mile away.

 

Lower.

 

Lower.

 

Super close up!

 

And he's only 6 feet off the ground!

 

Coming in.

 

Touchdown!  The paraglider is on the beach!

 

Or at least one inch from the beach.

 

These movies are QuickTime, if you are on a Macintosh they are large, high quality, and you can play them!

 

MOVIE OF PARAGLIDERS LANDING - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF SEAGULLS FEEDING IN OCEAN - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF HARBOR SEAL SUBMERGING - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF MAN PADDLING SON IN SEA KAYAK - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF SEAGULL PREENING while STANDING ON PILING - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF SEAGULL EATING A FISH HEAD ON BEACH, KINDA BORING - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF SEAGULL STANDING ON PILING PREENING AND SCRATCHING BEAK - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF HARBOR SEAL FLOATING IN KELP BED PEACEFULLY - NOT EDITED YET

 

MOVIE OF SEA KAYAKER CATCHING A WAVE - NOT EDITED YET

 

A lone jogger on the beach.

 

A fisherman standing knee deep in the ocean surf at dusk.

 

A plane leaving SFO airport.

 

A man and his daughter on the beach.

 

The exposure below is a long exposure as the sun set on Sunday night.  The red streaks are car tail lights.

 

The Taco Bell on Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica at night, it is about half a mile away.

 

Picture of the pier and Sharp Park Road and the hill at night.

 

Monday morning I spent an hour taking a few more pictures, below is a low flying seagull.

 

I like the picture below because the bird is in good focus even though it is a mile away.

 

Flying bird.

 

A woman surfer paddles out into the surf.

 

Two low flying seagulls flying together.

 

Another shot a few seconds later.

 

A happy woman with a tattoo on her left arm and another on her leg throws a ball for her dog on the beach.

 

The movie below was shot on a DIFFERENT DAY with a different camera and lens!!  It was shot on 12/18/2011 with a Canon 7D at mostly 60 frames per second and with a Canon EF F4.5/5.6 100mm-400mm telephoto lens.  I also had the 2x III EF extender on it (for some shots).  Click here for a much higher quality QuickTime "original" version.  WARNING: this will probably not play on a Windows PC.

And I finish this web page with a picture from a DIFFERENT day, and *NOT* through the telephoto lens.  Below is Jim helping a neighborhood kid surf.  Jim gives him a little push as the wave approaches.  The picture was taken as the sun was going down.

 

All done!

 

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