West Coast Aerial Photography Blog

 

The wetlands of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, CA are amazing to see from the air. They look like paintings from above, with very vibrant pastel colors. The Bolsa Chica wetlands have gone through a lot of transformations over the years, from the original Spanish land grant in the 1800s, then for hunting and oil extraction in the early 1900s, then for military bunkers during the 1940s, and finally to the nature reserve it is today.

For more information on Bolsa Chica Wetlands and to see their schedule of activities, go to the Bolsa Chica Conservancy website at www.bolsachica.org

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Bolsa Chica Wetlands

Bolsa Chica Wetlands and Huntington Beach, CA

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Here are some aerial photographs of the Santa Barbara oil spill by Refugio State Beach. You can see that the lighter oil has a light, white sheen to it as it floats on the water. The heavier oil is darker and more visible; you can see it covering the kelp and rocks close to shore. The ships are trying to corral and absorb the oil off the coast, while the clean up crew, in protective clothes, cleans the beaches by hand. I hope the destruction to the marine life isn't as devastating as they're anticipating.

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Oil on the Santa Barbara Beach

Ship tries to contain oil from Santa Barbara oil spill

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Three of my aerial photographs were selected to be in the Sink or Swim exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography.  I was also asked to speak about my aerial photography at the Iris lecture series. Here is my lecture Aloft - Photographing at 100 mph

To see the video, just click the image below.

Video thumbnail for Aloft: Photographing at 100 MPH

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La Conchita is a small beach community between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. After 15 days of near record rainfall (almost 15-inches!), there was a huge landslide which destroyed 13 houses, damaged 23 more and killed 10 people.  We took some aerial photographs a few days after the 2005 landslide and shot some more a few days ago (10 years later). It's amazing that nothing seems to have changed in the 10 years. Many of the destroyed houses are still there while people go on their daily lives next door.

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2005 La Conchita Landslide Aerial Photograph

2015 La Conchita Landslide Aerial Photograph

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2015 was off to a great start with a flyover of the Tournament of Roses Parade by a B2 Stealth Bomber. Later in the day a second B2 Stealth Bomber flew over the 101st Rose Bowl Game, which ended with the Oregon Ducks beating the Florida State Seminoles 59-20. The weather was unusually cold for Los Angeles, but otherwise it was a beautiful day.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year!

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B2 flies over 2015 Rose Parade

Smoke at the conclusion of the National Anthem at the 2015 Rose Bowl Game

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The Ports of Los Angeles & Long Beach are gridlocked, with docks full of cargo and ships anchored outside waiting to get in. Logistical issues at the docks are preventing the cargo from being delivered, with many delays lasting several weeks, but hopefully everything will be resolved before the holidays. Here are a couple aerials showing just how busy the ports are.

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Sunset at Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach

Full cargo ship at Port of Long Beach with Downtown Long Beach and Queen Mary in background

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We flew over Huntington Beach during the 2014 Vans US Open of Surfing. There wan't much of a swell this year which made the competition much more difficult. I also had time to check out the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, which was the first time it has taken place in the US in over ten years. The US team of Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross defeated Brazil in the finals for the gold.

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Having been a former beach lifeguard (LACO), the death of Newport Beach lifeguard Ben Carlson, really hits home. Ocean lifeguards know what it is like to be pounded by large surf, sometimes so large that all you can do is hold your breath while being taken for a ride, while trying to get to swimmers in trouble. Seeing that a seasoned lifeguard did not make it back to the beach makes me realize just how dangerous the ocean can be for anyone, regardless of experience. Yesterday there was a memorial paddle-out to honor him.  There were over 1000 people in the water, including rescue boats representing most of the Southern California lifeguard services.  Here are the aerial photographs I shot of the memorial service, which was right next to the Newport Beach pier.

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California is one of a few places where you can see snow and the California Wildflowers within 20 miles of each other. It snowed a few days ago in the mountains near Tehachapi and this weekend was the California Poppy Festival in Lancaster. Amazing to see to the snowy landscapes quickly turn to springtime wildflowers.

 

Snow-covered mountains in Tehachapi
 
California Poppies in Lancaster
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This year the BCS National Championship football game was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena between the Auburn University Tigers and the Florida State University Seminoles. It was a beautiful warm night with a fireworks show just after the National Anthem. While Auburn led for most of the game, Florida State scored in the last minute to beat Auburn 34-31.

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2014 Rose Bowl Stadium aerial photo

Fireworks show at 2014 BCS National Championship at Rose Bowl Stadium

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