Hi, I'm Michael Hurder!

My sight lives here

Tesla
There's another great place for bird photos in Livermore. There's no name for the park as far as I know, it's a small patch of green across from the Gillig Plant, and next to the Tesla Warehouse on Discovery Drive. Facebook recognizes it as "Tesla Livermore Discovery". I started walking my dogs here when we first moved to Livermore, before there were any structures. Beyond the park (in blue highlight) there's a huge drainage ditch (circled in pencil) bordered with a bicycle path on one side and and a dirt track on the other. It's about a mile around; the perfect hike. Before I had a camera to shoot with, I started recognizing this place was a haven for many kinds of birds and particularly, Birds of Prey. The place is infested with squirrels, lizards and rabbits. A raptor's smorgasbord.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2, and other glass
Sycamore Grove - 2019
Another fantastically picturesque park in Livermore is Sycamore Grove. I don't spend as much time here as I'd like. They don't allow the dogs to be off leash and there's no way I can shoot and hold onto the two dynamos, Kitty and Shea. So my time here is limited to when I've already taken the hounds for their walk and I still have energy left for a shoot. Still, that's just fine...
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, and other glass
Shadow Cliffs - 2019
I spent almost as much time here as I did in DelValle in 2019. Another target rich environment with birds of all types.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3, and various other glass Di VC USD G2
Staten Island Nature Preserve
This is part of the Cosumnes River Preserve. I traveled here to shoot the Sandhill Cranes before they migrated. I barely made it on time. There were White Fronted Geese, Stilts and Coots too. On the way home I came a cross a neat looking bridge.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Buckley Cove
These are from a random journey I took along the San Joaquin River just west of Stockton. I had no destination set in mind. I was just looking for something else. I found it and was quite pleased with the results. Another gem I'd never know existed unless I happened on it by accident. A Goose family and The Devil's Bounty. AAAAARRRGH!
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Pinnacles National Park - 2019
This is high chaparral country. In 2018 I visited this park while my honey was off to Paris. I had back issues that would have caused me to make the plane ride an excruciating experience for everyone else on the flight, so I stayed home. I could however last several hours driving with frequent breaks, so I headed for the Pinnacles for a couple of days and then Yosemite. That first trip with a camera was with my film camera, a Nikon F5. I posted those images a while back, so you've perhaps seen them and remember they were grainy and not well exposed all the time. That was for several reasons. ISO in a film camera is controlled by your film, so if you don't have the perfect film for the shoot, you're in trouble. I had a mixed bag of film with me but did not always make the right choice. The day started out cloudy then quickly turned sunny, then depending on where I was on the trails, I might be in shade or I might be in blazing sun. I might be shooting into the sun or with the sun at ninety degrees to my camera lens, and occasionally behind me. It was tough and I wasn't real pleased with the results when I got the negatives back. I had to doctor the heck out of them after scanning and converting them to digital images I could post process on my PC. The biggest problem with film cameras, especially for a rookie, is that you can not tell how bad or good you're shooting. There is no display on the back of a film camera to check your work on. You can't see the results until several days later when you develop the film. I was a true rookie then too. The first time I traveled to the Pinnacles, I came in from the east. The trails were long and arduous treks uphill with switchbacks and all. By the time I made it half way up in altitude, I'd walked what seemed like several miles and was exhausted. I stopped there, with the ridgeline still a mile or so away on the trails and perhaps 500 feet higher. I vowed to return when my back wasn't an issue (if ever) and try again. Fast forward to March of 2019. By then I had purchased my Nikon D850 and was in full Digital mode. I also had more than one full frame lens to shoot with. This time I came in from the west and it was an entirely different experience. First and foremost I started virtually a the base of the ridgeline where I parked the car. No long uphill hike involved. The main trail winds through natural canyons without any real altitude change. The end of that trail does rise about 500 feet to a pass that overlooks the entry from the east. It was the end for me, that is. The trail continued on and probably joined one of the trails I had followed from the east in 2018. From the west, there were side trails that rose up towards the ridgeline but they looked steeply difficult at best. I passed them by. The views were spectacular from the canyon floor. I had much the same problems with light. I arrived in the park at 6am. The light was perfect. No sun to contend with. By 8:30-ish the sun was getting ready to crest the ridgeline and was shining on some of the higher peaks already. The bottom of some images were in dark shade and the tops, where the peaks are, were lit brilliantly to a golden hue. Then the sun came over the ridgeline and most of my images were washed out or silhouettes because my subject invariably was in front of me...where the sun was or to the side. The sun was either directly in front of me or out to 90 degrees of me left or right (this will cause sun glare...those rainbow colored spots across your images). At this point I could see I wasn't going to be able to defeat the sun with different ISO settings, so I put an ND (neutral density) filter on to limit the sun's effect. This is a variable filter that I could set the amount of darkness I wanted to add. This resulted in dark pictures I would have to doctor in post processing when I got home. That I thought was okay, because I would still have usable images. The images in the middle to near end of this set you'll see have very dark sky and are darker still below the horizon. It turns out, I used too much ND. I should have dialed it back a bit. Still, the effect, I think, is rather pleasing. You wouldn't know, however, that those images were made between 8:30 and 9:00 am in super bright sun. As I stated in 2018, The Pinnacles are for exploring. Come along with me on my expedition...
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Holdener Park - 2019
With so many great places to hike and shoot here in Livermore, I often forget about the obscure, out of the way parks, like this gem, Holdener Park. Nestled in between Sycamore Grove and DelValle, and situated on just 55 acres, this place is one of the girls favorite places to frolic. There are seldom many people and they can go hog wild chasing each other and pretending to catch a squirrel or two. 😉 The scenery is nothing to bark at either. I love the views of Livermore, the vineyards, Mount Diablo, Brushy peak and all the other hills. Especially in March when it's all so verdantly green. The girls often have to stop and wait for me. In one shot, Shea is looking down at me as if to say, "Come on Popi. It ain't that steep." In another they have raced down a hill that I'm debating whether or not I should sit and slide the rest of the way down the slope. 😮 The White Tailed Kite we ran into was hunting. I've caught them hovering so many times and yet I've never seen one make a kill. Not that I'm bloodthirsty, but that is the nature of nature, and I love to capture it all. After editing this shoot, I decided to go to Holdener park for our daily walk. The hills didn't get any less steep. Phew! 😵 Check for the short video...
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Livermore - 2019
This is a short set from around town. It was shot in April so it was still green here. I always thought the view from the top of Altamont pass would make a great panorama. I was right. By the way, this is Livermore, doncha know, and we'll leave our horses wherever we see fit. Y'all might just as well get used to it. Yessuh! 😎
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Tri-Valley Gorgeous
This was one of those dreary winter days. The rains were finally turning us green again. I decided to drive around the valley and shoot what I saw randomly. I drove out North Livermore Ave, Manning Road, Morgan Territory Road, Marsh Creek Road and then Vasco Road back into Livermore.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
DelValle 2020
The year 2020 started out with much promise...Eagles, Ospreys, Hawks, Waterfowl, oh the prospects were huge. I got a couple of months in before Covid-19 hit and that was that for the fun end of DelValle. I could still get into the dam end, but that's not were the Eagles were, or any of them. C'est la vie!
2020
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 / SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
DelValle - 2019
I made the trip here for many shoots at my favorite hometown locale, DelValle Regional Park. I have never tired of capturing this gorgeous location for its raw beauty, it's wildlife and the contrasts.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Birds of Prey #3
With the exception of a few images of Falcons, Kites and Kestrels, I could easily have called this collection 'Red Tails'. These were all shot at the girls' (Kitty & Shea) favorite place to walk, the park next to the Tesla plant on Discovery Road here in Livermore. The Red Tails are always here as this is a great feeding ground with all the squirrels, rabbits, lizards, and snakes. The other raptors are here only seasonally. You'll no doubt notice that some of these shots are very softly focused. This was becasue of two factors: poor hand held and focusing mode techniques (I was not using BBF initially, and I couldn't pan worth a tinker's dam), and lens calibration. You'll also notice the difference in color in the Hawks plumage. This is the result of different light, the time of day, and the time of year.
2020
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Birds of Prey #2
This is the second batch of 2019 Raptors from Livermore. These are from Del Valle, Holdener, and Sycamore Grove Parks. There's more to come. I've hardly touched Tesla yet.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Birds of Prey #1
These are the first shots resulting from my obsession with wildlife. From the day I shot my first eagle at Tesla, I have had an unquenchable thirst for more. I haven't looked back since. The restrictions placed on my shooting now due to Covid-19 and my injured arm, has been nothing less than torture. These are taken from other collections of Shadow Cliffs, Tesla, or DelValle, so you may see them on other pages as I go through this process.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Tesla Discovery Park
Although I have been walking the dogs here for years, I didn't start shooting in earnest here until I happened on an eagle one day in 2019. The Hawks and Buzzards have always been around as there are a ton of ground squirrels, lizards and snakes...a virtual smorgasbord for the bird population. The few times I did bring my camera in 2018 yielded some fair prizes but light was not my friend back then. This is a compilation of all the best shots taken in the whole of 2018...pretty slim pickins.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 / SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Sycamore Grove #1
Sycamore Grove #1 to #82: Livermore has so many beautiful parks, I may never tire of retuning to capturing them all again and again. LARPD's Sycamore Grove Park is just one of many. I don't go here very often because the dogs have to be leashed. That's not much fun for them. Still it's a wonderful venue for photography.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 / SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Sunol Wilderness
Hidden in the hills southwest of Livermore, lies another Bay Area gem, small town Sunol. A favored hiking area for locals, the Sunol Wilderness offers more of the southwest flavor I've come to love capturing. This hike out to Little Yosemite (the tiny falls) was as beautiful as any in this target rich environment I call home.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
From the Pleasanton Ridge
These images were made from atop the Pleasanton Ridge in Augustin Bernal Park. A slightly different look at the Tri-Valley where Livermore is located. Pleasanton is our next door neighbor to the west. I tried to make the Plaque fully readable but my magic is not that advanced. ;~). It reads: "Reaching the trailhead the biker's shadow lengthens. Bird sounds seem clearer." NOTE (for the curious): The closeups of wildflowers and tree limbs here are not "Macro" photos, but more in line with "Intimate Landscapes". Macros are taken with a special lens that produces a 1:1 image of your subject without having to zoom in. In other words, the size of the subject in the image is the same as the subject's actually size. This lens is also called a "prime" lens. Primes have but one focal length. A Telephoto has a range of focal lengths. You zoom in and zoom out with a telephoto lens. My lenses for this camera are almost exclusively telephotos, and I used a telephoto for this shoot. You can add attachments called "extension tubes" to a Macro lens to get even closer to your subject. This is where those incredible close ups of bugs and such come from.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
To and From Mount Diablo
The drive from Livermore to Mount Diablo can be done on all back roads. I could easily have taken so much time getting there that it would have been too late to continue. The views from up top were very much worth it though, as you'll see. NOTE: The images of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are from between 30 to 40 miles away.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2-Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2-Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Shadow Cliffs #?
Shadow Cliffs #970 to #1253. The rosy glow of a California summer sunrise always adds drama to a landscape. Add to that the residents of the park and you have a really nice shoot. From a Cormorant waking, to a baby Heron calling for momma and then feeding from her, to a Caspian Tern fishing his heart out and a Red Winged Blackbird calling to his mate, There is no better wayt o start a day for a photographer.
2020
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Tamron 1.4 x Teleconverter
Livermore #3
Livermore #270 to #309 Great and small, Livermore's beauty shines through on all levels.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Livermore #1
Livermore # 1 to #143 Sundown around Livermore.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Holdener Park
There is so much to enjoy here in Livermore. This is another great park in the LARPD stable.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Del Valle #1
Del Valle #1 to #92. Sunrise from the top of the hill on Del Valle Road.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Del Valle #3
Del Valle #207 to #297 Del Valle Regional Park at the beginning of the rainy season.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Brushy Peak #2
Brushy Peak #108 to #201
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Brushy Peak #1
Brushy Peak #001 to #107 A local Park with great hiking trails.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park
We took a trip to Chico in 2018 at the time of the Camp Fire. With all the smoke I didn't expect much, but even in desperate times, Mother Nature's beauty shines through.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
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