It has been a couple of years since I went to Cabo San Lucas. Thinking about an image for Flashback Friday, one from a spectacular sunrise there came to mind. The fiery sky had me thinking about where to set up for a landscape shot when I saw a brief of brown pelicans flying low over the water. I switched to my camera with a telephoto lens attached and watched as they rose off the water. This let their silhouettes contrast sharply from the background. That got me excited and I squeezed off a couple of photos before they dropped down again and continued southwards.
If you are interested in seeing a few more images like this one, here is another photo from the same flight which I posted that morning in December 2014. And, another post where one pelican flew very close to me a couple of days later and I isolated the lone bird against the sky and the rising sun.
A few minutes later, I returned to landscape hunting and was not disappointed in any way with what nature laid out before me.
When we were in Los Cabos last December, we were able to enjoy beautiful sunrises almost every day. This morning’s dawn was a favourite and I was out early to catch the sun rising out of the Sea of Cortez at these fingers of rock that I had scouted a few days earlier.
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/10th of a second at f/4.5 on ISO 640
Cars, motorcycles, buses and rickshaws swung by me one evening while I was in the heart of Cabo San Lucas. With the neon signs hanging above many of the shops and the sky still deep blue, I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to drag my shutter and play with what images I could create.
When practicing motion photography, I like to try different techniques. I switch between keeping the subject sharp by panning in sync with its movement and panning out of sync so that only a small part is sharp or the whole thing has a large or small amount of blur that pushes the image into an abstract shot.
For the better part of an hour, the traffic kept me happily occupied while I waited for my bus to arrive.
One morning on couple of Brown pelicans were fishing close to the rocks where I was perched. This started before dawn and lasted through sunrise. There were a few great moments to silhouette one against the early sky.
The clouds changed moods swiftly through the morning. It was a very nice moment on a beautiful stretch of the coastline a few miles east of Cabo San Lucas.
One morning while I was set up for sunrise in the rocks on the coastline, one of the resident Ospreys flew low overhead looking for fish. Her sharp eyes picked me out easily and she looked at me for a couple of seconds before banking back towards the open water. The pink light from the eastern horizon softly painted the belly and underwing covert feathers.
Along the coast in Los Cabos, I often came across fishermen casting among the rocks before sunrise. We would exchange greetings on passing by but they, like me, seemed intent on what they were about and enjoying the quiet the comes with the early morning.
I liked making the occasional photograph with them silhouetted against the colourful sky as they provided an interesting element to these beautiful scenes.
During our stay in Los Cabos last month, each day started with beautiful mornings as the sun rose out of the Sea of Cortez. This stretch of coastline between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas has great rock outcrops wrapped with honey coloured sand. This cove was a few minutes walk from our patio and was a fun place to play and hunt for seashells with the kids during the day. Before dawn, I had it all to my self and it was magic.
This iridescent green lizard had a black tail – with that colour scheme and pattern of spots, bands and spikes – he blended in well with its surroundings.
Whether peeking out from the shadow under a rusting metal lid or wound into a wall of leaves off to one side of the garden I found him in, he seemed able to choose when to appear and when to disappear.
And when he chose – to strut like a peacock!
Note: I did include a couple of other photographs of this fellow in an earlier post on Los Cabos lizards here previously.
Bobbi and I enjoyed a beautiful walk around the art district of San José del Cabo one evening while we were in Los Cabos, Mexico. The galleries housed in character buildings stretching across a number of blocks were filled with wonderful Mexican art and we spent hours taking in what we could.
The Mission of San José del Cabo Anuití is a cornerstone of that area of town and I had to take a few pictures of this historic church.
When night arrived, we returned to the main square the church overlooks to see the lights in the pavilion, the big Christmas tree and the life-size Nativity scene. A dog charged out from the shadows as we passed by one gated establishment which served as a good surprise. Once at the square, artists had their paintings and sculptures on display which was a nice balance to the curated work in the galleries.
A great day ended with a beautiful evening in an old part of San José del Cabo that was new to us.
This Great egret (Ardea alba) stepped around the point and into view from the rocks where I was photographing.
After a short pause, she flew across a small gap and began fishing. The head cocks back and then strikes into the water, rarely coming up without a fish.
At home I photograph the Great blue herons frequently which is in the same family as egrets. Their mannerisms are very similar as is their size. The white feathers are the most obvious difference and I love shooting them against the blues of the water and the warm hues in the rocks.
In flight, I find them particularly alluring and this bird flew between several outcrops affording me great opportunities to watch.
We have relatively few lizards where I live. The same does not seem to be true here in Cabo San Lucas. We have a trio of geckos that come out around our patio nightly. During the day I have seen a variety of iguanas, salamanders and rock lizards. One large iguana was perched in a hedge munching on the flowers when I walked by a few days ago. I was surprised to find it in that spot and have since learned that petals are a regular part of the diet.
Most often, I see them out warming their cold blood on hot rocks in the sun…
Some stay mostly out of sight – this green lizard was shy but easily the most colorful one I’ve seen. After watching me for a couple of minutes, he did come out for a look around.
My son and I spent a couple of hours down on the beach watching the stars and playing around with some longer exposures. It was a beautiful night made infinitely better with him there.
We are staying at a beautiful resort that is along the shore of the Sea of Cortez about ten kilometres from Cabo San Lucas. Hacienda del Mar has colonial style architecture painted in vibrant, warm tones. The villas are surrounded by gardens, pathways and courtyards which attract hummingbirds, sapsuckers and a wide variety of other birds. This is our second visit here and I took a little time to photograph the grounds on the way to the beach before sunrise the other day.
Hurricane Odile hit the Los Cabos area on September 14, 2014 unleashing 210 km/h winds and 6 hours of torrential rain. The aftermath saw heavy destruction all along the coast and an unprecedented disruption to Cabo’s primary industry – tourism. Hacienda del Mar was hit hard but, as seen throughout the area, the people here have done incredible work to get the resort not just back into service but I would say to a better than before state. It’s a great place with very special people – we are lucky to be able to enjoy time with both.
When my wife and I went to Cabo San Lucas last December I was lucky to find this Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) in a stand of cacti during a morning walk. I had noticed the hole in this cactus and was looking on when this one flew in. It poked its head out a couple of times before heading off again. I carried on and saw it flying around a couple more times when I came back that way near the end of my stroll.
Brown Pelicans are frequent fliers just above the waves all around Los Cabos. I love watching them glide and I had a special encounter one morning when we were staying near Cabo San Lucas in December. Just before sunrise down on the beach near Punta Cabeza De Ballena, east of Cabo, when one landed on rocks near the shore close to me. This pelican came in when it was still pretty dark but there was enough light to make the landing a good photo opportunity.
In the two images above, I brought out some detail by bringing up the shadows in post. Below, I went the other way and deepened the shadows to create a solid silhouette of the pelican.
This fellow flew off before the sun came up. I had hoped he would stay as the sun was at an angle where the sun would be backlighting the feathers which I thought would look beautiful.
As the sun came up so too did the tide. The waves were breaking around the rocks where the pelican had rested which looked beautiful. I was really happy when another pelican came in and landed very close to the original one’s spot. With the sun and sea spray, it was a great scene to photograph. The first image in this set was from this point in the morning.
The second pelican stayed for a little while and then took off allowing for a nice launch photograph and then headed over the waves in the opposite direction from the first pelican.
When we were in Cabo San Lucas in early December, I saw many cormorants flying past our beach. They fly low and fast with little deviation from a straight line past the shore. The odd one would dive under to fish but our location did not seem to be a great spot for a meal. One morning, I was watching for Brown Pelicans, who will occasionally land quite close by, when a juvenile Brandt’s Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) popped up on a rocky shelf about 30 meters away.
It looked at me for a second, started shaking off the water and then set to preening its feathers. I was thrilled to see one of these birds closeup. From afar, they appear to be completely black. With this opportunity, I was able to see the different shading in the feathers and the lighter shading around the face.
That was interesting for me but the location made the images even better than the close proximity. It had chosen a dynamic spot where the waves were breaking close behind it, one even crashed right on the bird. The water droplets from the cormorant’s shaking, the sea spray and warm morning sunlight as well as some nice looks from my new friend made for a really great encounter.
When we were in Cabo San Lucas the first week of December, Bobbi and I both went out on whale watching trips. Whales found Bobbi less than a mile out of the Cabo San Lucas Marina while I had a longer travel along the Pacific coastline before sighting one active Humpback. We both had long encounters with these magnificent animals. Our children had enjoyed the dolphin swim the day before but were not excited about the whale watching. So one parent went out while the other patrolled the kids at the pool and beach.
While we went on separate excursions, we went with the same operator and were both similarly impressed. Whale Watch Cabo runs their tours on Panga boats, low to the water and great sight lines for everyone on board. Every tour they run is led by a marine biologist and a local captain. It was nice to hear more information about whales and other local ocean wildlife during the trip.
We enjoyed a close look of the Sea Lion colony and the groups of birds around Land’s End. Then headed out onto the open ocean up the coastline of western Baja. On my tour, we found an energetic whale and it was incredible to watch three separate breaches and numerous airborne tails. Bobbi and I both had great times and thank Janneke and Peter, the owners of Whale Watch Cabo, for making our trips very memorable.
When we were in Los Cabos last week, we stayed just off the water near Punta Cabeza De Ballena which is east of Cabo San Lucas. Facing east, the sun rose out of the Sea of Cortez every morning. With my wife’s graceful blessing, I was on the beach before dawn almost every day. These are a few of the different faces the coast presented over the week.
Water sprays off a whale’s tail as it begins a dive in the Pacific Ocean west of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. This Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was very active with some great tail lifts and breaches before settling into a steady swim just under the surface which we used as our queue to part company. It is amazing just to see them and for it share some of its out of the water action was very fun to watch.
Bobbi and I are in Cabo san Lucas with our children for a nice break from winter. We left just before a heavy blizzard so we were lucky with the timing. The mornings have been spectacular here as we are located on a lovely stretch of sand where the sun climbs out of the Sea of Cortez right in front of us. On this morning the silhouette of a fellow sunrise watcher tied the glowing pastels in the sky ahead of dawn to the rippled reflections and the beach.
After settling into the hotel room, we sat out on the deck to watch the ocean. In twos and threes, squadrons of brown pelicans swing around the rocks and glide in front of the advancing waves, climbing over the top just as the water crests and slams into the beach.
American white pelicans summer in lakes across the Canadian prairies but I had never seen their cousins, the brown pelican, in the wild before. So, I was quite excited that these huge birds (they have wingspans up to seven feet) were residents near our vacation spot. For the next couple of days, I went down to the water’s edge and enjoyed taking shots of them on the beach, fishing in the water and flying along the coastline.
When we finally went into town and spent the day around the marina and the beaches along the Sea of Cortés, I was surprised at the number of pelicans settled into the dockside environment. They play the role of seagulls down there, massing on the boats and docks as well as lounging on the rock ledges along Land’s End. There are native gulls down there as well but they do not appear to have anywhere near the same numbers as the pelicans.
At the narrow entrance to the harbour, the pelicans bob in the water waiting. As sportfishing boats return to the marina, the birds fly up and follow just off the stern, expecting to get scraps from the fishermen.
On a water taxi from the main beach area to the marina we detoured out to Land’s End where we found clusters of pelicans throughout the rock formations vying for space with cormorants and gulls.
On our last morning before heading home, I went down to the beach early and sat down to watch some of the birds who seemed to just be lounging around, in no rush to start their day.
Great fun to be able to see these impressive birds in a wide variety of places. I feel lucky to be able to have seen them displaying the many different ways they live out the day.
We were in Cabo San Lucas last week for a few days of vacation time. It was our first time to the Baja Peninsula and found it to be a beautiful spot. We spent a lot of time on the water or very close to it. After a few years on the Prairies, the ocean has an incredible pull for both Bobbi and I.
I got out for a couple good shoots before sunrise and again before sunset while we were down there.
We stayed along Sunset Beach, just outside the town on the Pacific side. Very quiet beach with wonderful rock formations the only breaks to the stretches of sand.
Definitely a place I am looking forward to shooting again.