Tag Archives: Depoe Bay

Got Secret Sea Lions In Your Camera?

by Kimberly A. Cook             (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Sun fever. That’s my excuse for no posts the last two weeks. The bright orb came out for three days in a row, so I grabbed Mom and we bugged out for the beach. The Friday traffic was light, the sun kept shining; we were sure we’d get struck by lightning, but nada. Yeah!


This is one of the coves on the North Point at Depoe Bay. You can see the city in the background along the sea wall.


Took my almost new Canon PowerShot SX530 HS with me to put it through its paces. This beauty has focal length from 24-1200mm with a 50x zoom and 16 megapixels for about $250.00. It’s my first foray back into larger body cameras after leaving my metal 35mm Minolta’s behind in 2006 to go digital with the Canon ELPHs. Sometimes you just need a bigger lens. Smirk.


When I went full zoom from the same spot above, look who showed up? A faithful seagull subject. Thank heavens the clouds came in so his colors show up nicely and he/she is not bleached out.


Anyway, a big perk is the plastic body so it doesn’t weigh a ton like my vintage 35mms. When I worked on the newspaper I carried a 28 wide and a 100-250 zoom on two camera bodies and tried not to break my neck. Weighs less than a pound. This seems the best of both worlds, plus no film!

Of course, the manual has so many gadget settings it may take me years to figure them out, but I was out stalking marine wildlife and taking shots to test it. Much fun. Mom is working on her photo skills too, so we were girls on a mission.

One thing I did was make like a human tripod, since I didn’t bring one along on our walk. Both tripods were safe in the car back at the condo. I ended up leaning against a post and bracing my legs and then my elbows on my chest. It helps, really.

The clouds came over as a bonus since we were out at 2 p.m., not the best time for getting photos. But you take what you can get and go with it. When the wind picked up we scuttled back to the condo. Upon perusal of my many pics, I cracked up when I saw the ones of the buoy.


One photo trick is to get the path to take the viewer into the picture. This one I used both the rope and posts on the left side and the path on the far right. Between trees three and four from the left, is where the buoy is in the next pic.  It’s a ways out there, trust me.


Surprise sea lions! The 50x was at its max zoom, I was concentrating on being a tripod and just trying to get the buoy in the frame, so imagine my delight to find sleeping sea lions in my picture, lounging on the buoy. You never know what might show up in your pictures.


A tripod would have helped this exposure. As the “marine mammal editor” on the paper I was always mixing up the harbor seals with the sea lions. Harbor seals are like fat sausages and sea lions have the big flippers and small ears.  Sea lion on the right, I’m holding judgment on the other two.  Next time I’m taking both tripods!


So keep taking pics and being surprised. It’s part of the adventure!

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Cranky Or Kind Seagull?

by Kimberly A. Cook                      (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Back to the beach! Looking at my pics from our early August beach trip, I’m always surprised with what I see afterwards. Take this normal seagull. I took five pictures of him doing his feather cleaning and then a couple of him/her looking out to sea.

Five. Looking closer at the pictures when I got them on my computer, I noticed one photo of a nice, normal kind of happy looking seagull. Fluffy, pretty, bright colors.


Normal seagull guy on the rocks. So to speak.


Then I looked at the other four and saw the feather cleaning shot, couldn’t see his/her face. Then when I looked closer at the final three, I spotted this. Cranky seagull. Or is that just my imagination?

Checked the rest of the photos and three of the five are cranky gull. It almost seems like he knows what I’m doing and he’s not happy being a victim of the paparazzi. Maybe he is a celebrity seagull?


Cranky seagull! It’s the mouth right?


The best advice when taking photos is take as many as you want; you never know what will show up. When I went on a Europe camping trip for three months in 1983, I took 70 rolls of film; one for each day of the trip. Ended up selling a few rolls to my Autotours EX57 buddies, but I used most of them. When in doubt, take the photo.

Then be prepared for something to happen you couldn’t have arranged in a million years. Like this crazy person walking out onto the sea cliff across the bay from me at the same time a small boat was headed toward the harbor. Imagine!


You cannot plan this stuff, so you have to be ready to take the photo.


If it had been earlier or later in the day, the lack of glaring sun would’ve made the colors deeper. But short of hiring people to stand out on rocks, we have to take what pops up in front of us. Literally.

So always be prepared with extra memory cards and backup batteries. There may be a cranky seagull in your future.

Photo on!



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You Wanted The Harbor Seal IN The Photo?

by Kimberly A. Cook                   (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Spent a wonderful weekend with family at the beach the first weekend in August. Went on a walk to enjoy the great weather and stalk snoozing harbor seals with the camera.


Mom getting out of the ocean on her own rock away from kid or suitor? I’m not sure which. 


Since we got a late start after sleeping in, the bright sun after 10 a.m. washes out colors but harbor seals don’t go by my preferred photo shoot schedule. They have naps to take.


Kid/suitor slips away into the ocean and this seal looks like it’s a challenge to get up on the rock. I know that feeling so well.  


Once again my trusty little Canon PowerShot ELPH340HS was up to the task. However, wearing a baseball cap would have helped keep the glare from the sun off the viewfinder frame. But patience and timing is everything when it comes to photos, plus taking good and bad photos too.


This is what happens when you are try to hold an ELPH camera by hand at full zoom and then breathe. The seal disappears and only the tail is found, far right. Cute tail!


Turns out I took about 180 photos over the course of the two hour walk, most of them of seals. Some photos had only parts of seals and some had no seals since I couldn’t see what I was shooting in the sun glare. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Even a seal can’t seem to find peace from kids, suitors or rock crashers. Somebody always wants your rock. Sigh.


Had three groups to concentrate on; young pups playing in the ocean, the adults lazing on the rock and one intrepid seal who I think was trying to get away from the kids on her own rock. This series of photos were shot over thirteen minutes, with a bunch of other not so great ones.


And All’s Well That Ends Well as Shakespeare would say. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Now I need to go find a warm rock to nap on myself.

Taking pictures of wildlife from harbor seals to birds and even Spec Ops Cat is similar to taking sports photos; you’ve got to be quick and keep clicking away. Sometimes the harbor seal escapes the photo and other times you get lucky with a gem of a shot.

Practice makes almost perfect when it comes to photos, besides that whole breathing problem thing trying to keep the camera level.

Get outside and start taking action pics today!





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Got Your 2016 Vacations Planned?

by Kimberly A. Cook              (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

It’s a dark and stormy day here in Oregon with heavy rain and high wind warnings. So what better time to daydream about where and when to take vacations this year? I’ve already requested time off from the day job and I’m looking forward to playing in Oregon.


Suttle Lake outside of Sisters, Oregon – one of my top favorite lakes to visit. Priceless!


The 2015 vacations were all about flying to places and one staycation at home. This year is all about not flying anywhere and motoring around my home state. Places on the travel list are my favorites; Sisters, Depoe Bay, Madras, Sisters again and maybe a surprise or two.

One of the best parts about vacations is the planning and anticipation. A vacation bonus is spending time and making memories with family and friends. There is nothing like a vacation road trip to bring out the nutty and bizarre. This has been true whether travelling with family, friends or in the military. Really wacko things happened in the military. And with my family and friends too, come to think of it.

After my bag dragging days in the Army and Air Force, I now specialize in princess travel as I like to call it; full mosey mode with no aircraft to load, tents to pitch or screaming Drill Sergeants.

It’s always good to get away from home and explore the beautiful sights and sounds of my very own state. Even a quick day trip up the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River seems like a long vacation break. It doesn’t take an overnight trip to get that vacation bounce back in your step.

Got rain? Got vacation plans? Where are you going to venture this year?



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Can You Take Harbor Seal Photos From Your Porch?

by Kimberly A. Cook         (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

My last photography posting had so many nice people comment and like it I decided to follow-up with another photo topic. When I worked on the newspaper and took my own photos, there was a system I learned from my photography classes in college.

This is actually a mid-range photo since I was so far away. The pulled back photo made the harbor seals look like raw tapioca.

This is actually a mid-range photo since I was so far away. The pulled back photo made the harbor seals look like raw tapioca.

First take an overall shot of the area/subject, then look for details and close-ups to describe the story. That is how I ended up with photos for my feature stories and/or photo essays. While I might not use all of the photos in the newspaper, in fact I rarely did, taking more shots saved the day when I’d need to hunt for pictures to help fill space.

Now I keep those same rules in mind for a potential blog post, article or video I might be working on in the future.

To illustrate the system, here are pictures I took on a recent trip to Depoe Bay, Oregon, one of my favorite places on the planet. Munching a leisurely breakfast that Saturday, my sister let me know the harbor seals were hauled out on the rocks.

This is what a zoom lens, leaning against a post and keeping your breathing even can do. That's not tapioca after all.

This is what a zoom lens, leaning against a post and keeping your breathing even can do. That’s not tapioca after all.

Grabbed the camera and sauntered down the porch of the condos to get an aerial view. One cannot wait when the time, tide, seals and weather all create a photo opportunity – getting all those variables together is a rare event. So I grabbed both Canon cameras to ensure I would have focal length to get up close.

Details count. Did you see the Blue Heron in the first photo above?

Details count. Did you see the Blue Heron in the first photo above?

Photographers know the sweetest light to take photos is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, but tides and seals have their own schedules. Some of the photos I took are not as color-saturated as I would like, washed out by the sun, but I’ll take it.

Always have a camera, cell phone camera or video camera with you. You never know when seals may show up to interrupt your breakfast!

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