Hi, I'm Michael Hurder!

My sight lives here.

Oakland Zoo -2021
It's been since 2018 that I made a shoot here. I was very excited to get back. We visited with the grandkids in 2019, but then the Pandemic hit, and that was it until now. I had signed up for a "Breakfast with the Elephants" event in 2020. Of course, that was canceled, but they recently invited me to attend a "Brunch with the Wild Bunch" event. I couldn't say no. You'll see within this collection several shots of people inside the elephant enclosure. The idea was to grab a few items from the produce baskets and spread them out around the enclosure. The elephants would then be released into the enclosure and have at it. The image of the little girl with her big brother and dad was incredibly heartwarming. She didn't want to give up her banana for any reason. It took a few minutes for dad to convince her that he would get her a banana of her own once they left the zoo. Too cute! Further into the shoot are some rather scary images of the Lion brothers. When I first caught these guys on film back in 2018, it looked like they were play-fighting. It seems to have morphed into a more serious issue today. Two of the brothers were left tattered after this day's brawl, and it looks as though they've been at each other for some time, with a lot more force than one would expect from siblings. One of the three has almost no scars; I'm guessing he's the alpha, and the other two leave him alone while they vie for a lower level of dominance. It made me sad. The keepers were watching closely and trying to coax them into better behavior to no avail. I think there will be a separation shortly. The rest of the day was a bit sad, but the Grizzlies were fun. The closeups of these bears were taken through glass, so you'll see some funny reflections. This Grizzly had a coconut he was determined to crack open. After several minutes of frustrating attempts to break it by jumping up and down on it, he picked it up and started smashing it against the glass, to the delight (and terror) of twenty or so viewers (myself included). Apart from the lions, this was a good shoot. Because of the violent nature of some of these images, I've added an "adult content" filter. Please view before letting the kiddies watch. Thank you.
2021
Nikone D850 DSLR
Tamron 70-200mm f:2.8 G2 - w/2xTC
Point Reyes and Tomales Point - 2021
This was my first post-cataract surgery shoot, and it was a doozy. I drove over to Point Reyes, thinking I'd finally get to visit the Lighthouse. Not so. They've closed it again. Thanks, Delta Variant. Instead of heading to the Lighthouse, I decided to visit the Tule Elk Preserve on the other end of the landmass (see the map). I'd seen the elk before when I visited here in 2018. The herd has thinned a bit. The water here is a real issue, and the farmers/ranchers don't want to share with the Elk when their livestock is so thirsty. They have to truck water in for the elk every week. 😰 The scenery here is gorgeous, even if primarily brown. Open tundra, incredibly high bluffs, 360-degree views, and of course, there's always the ocean. Coyotes and Elk were spread across the roughly five miles of the preserve. I've either gotten better at this, or I'm far less selective about what I call "printable." I passed a far higher percentage of my shots to be published than I usually do. I traveled across to the lighthouse before I headed for home. Unfortunately, the fog had rolled in by then, so even though I was at least able to get to the top of the stairs that led down to the light, I still couldn't see it. When I got home, I applied a little Photoshop magic (dehazing) and was able to see the bottoms of the structures at the bottom of the stairs. I do love those Cypress trees. They seem otherworldly to me. NOTE: Viewable Point Reyes Light image courtesy of Wikipedia.
2021
Nikion D850 DSLR
Tamron 24-70mm f2.8, 150-600mm f5-6.3
Uvas Canyon County Park 2021
I read about this place online. I was looking for something new to shoot. Waterfalls!!! Yes, waterfalls. I was sooooo there. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the best year for rainfall, so not a lot of water. Still, this was an invigorating hike through the lower part of the Santa Cruz Range. 2.8 miles and a lot of uphill, about a 500 foot gain in elevation to 2500'. This could have been the proof that we walked to school uphill both ways. Phew! The falls weren't spectacular but picturesque just the same. I'll put this one in the file cabinet for later use when the rains come down.
2021
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2
Wavecrest Open Space 2021
I was drawn to this gem in my quest to find new and inspiring locales for my Photography to grow. It offers the shooter many subjects, though I must have arrived during the slow season for birdlife. Still, there were some willing posers, and of course, there is the sea and all it offers. White-tailed Kite, Red-Tailed Hawk, Ravens, Great Blue Heron, Sand Pipers. Seagull, and a Red Helo Bird too. 😋
2021
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC G2
Bair Island 2021
I heard of this place on an online bird page. I decided to go here as a test of my arm strength; it was a 3-mile hike, and according to reports, there were gazillions of birds and a ton of different species. I don't know about gazillions, but there were a ton of other species. I counted six species of duck alone. In order of appearance: Common Goldeneye male and female, Egret, Avocet and Scaup, Marbled Godwit, Pintail Duck male and female, Shoveler Duck male and female, Lesser Scaup, Lesser Yellowlegs, Stilt, Canadian Goose, Long-Billed Dowitcher, Greater Yellowlegs, American Wigeon, Killdeer, Crow, Sparrow, Bufflehead. Wow! Plus, the scenery was incredible and, in the early morning light, so dramatic.
2021
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC G2, SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands 2021
I've been saving this hike for when I was healthy enough to make it. It was well worth the wait, though I might have liked it to be just a little bit overcast to cut the glare from the sun. I happened to get here when the sun was to my right front, and the city was enveloped in a haze. This was a job for Photoshop. No matter, I made it here. I got the shots. I doctored the results, and here you go. One comment I should make, I traveled there primarily for the hawks. There were NONE. I saw one crow and some seagulls. 😏 Still, there's nothing to complain about with the scenery there. Image #092 shows the point from which I made the images of the Bay and SF from a height. It was high. The following image you might remember from a posting on FB from my phone. The following image, #102, is that hill.
2021
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2
In search of Eagles 2021
I searched online for a good place in my area to find eagles in the February/March timeframe. Google told me to head up to the Lower Klamath and Tule Lakes region in Northern California, just south of the Oregon border. Searching the net for a strategic place to base out of, I found Merrill, Oregon, close enough to all the areas I wanted to search in and have lodgings. I stayed in the Wild Goose Lodge Motel, a no-frills small-town facility with everything I needed and at a reasonable rate. No place I visited was more than 20 miles from the Motel. A perfect beginning.
2021
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC G2
Pacific Coast Highway - 2021
Another year is almost half gone, and I've only been to the coast once - so far. The sea is my spinach. I'll be back again before long.
2021
NIkon D859 DSLR
Various Tamron Glass
Hayward Shoreline 2020
This is another excellent place for water birds. It is on the shore of the San Francisco Bay, right off the San Mateo Bridge (pictured in this collection). The sun was harsh. I didn't get there early enough. So, I had a lot of glare issues. There weren't as many birds as I expected, so some must be seasonal or don't show until later in the day??? There are Sand Pipers, Sage Sparrows (or song sparrows), Gulls, Avocets, and Stilts in this collection. I expected to see A ton of terns and some Godwits too. The Stilt and Gull images didn't come out shooting into the sun. In the middle of this set, there are some images of a raptor in flight. I believe it was a Marsh Hawk, but it would be way north of its usual habitat if it is one. Regardless, the Avocets were having no part of his company. They shot right up to chase it off.
2020
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 w/1.4 X Teleconverter
Jenner by the Sea 2020 #1
This collection will come in six parts. I'll release them as I complete each of the four days at the River's End Restaurant and Inn. Today's release is pretty short. The following two releases will be pretty long. The last one will also be short. I'll spend a good part of today prepping tomorrow's release. I shot 50 images on day one, 480 images on day two, 515 images on day three, and another 100 images on day four before we headed home. Not all are printable, but there are still a lot of images to process. I can't say enough about this place. From the atmosphere to the lodging, the restaurant, and the views, there is no comparison. We will return here time and time again. And I dare say we'll never tire of being there. Regardless of the weather or conditions, the only bad part of visiting there is leaving there. Visit www.ilovesunsets.com, and see for yourself.
2020
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 / SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Jenner by the Sea 2020 #2
The River's End Restaurant and Inn is nestled beside the mouth of the Russian River in Jenner by the Sea, California. There is no place on earth that I love more, and I love Livermore, New England, Ireland, Britain, Vietnam, and Thailand.
2020
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Niles Canyon Railway - 2020
On 12/6/2020, I rode on a fundraiser/photoshoot for the restoration of the Southern Pacific #1744, a Class M-6 2-6-0 "Mogul" type steam locomotive built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Southern Pacific Railroad in November 1901. Images of the 1744 chassis and cab + #s 166, 173 & 185. About 40 people rode on a train pulled by an SW900 Diesel Electric Locomotive, SP #1195. We were following the "Skookum" Steam locomotive #7. History of the Skookum: Deep River Logging No. 7, named "Skookum," is a 2-4-4-2 steam locomotive. It was built in June 1909 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Deep River Logging railroad, where it was used mainly on log trains. It was retired and abandoned in place in a forest following a derailment in 1955. As of September 2018, it was nearing restoration to operating condition at the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad shop in Garibaldi, Oregon. Its first steaming was the following month, but not before problems with its bottom-end (low-pressure engine) were encountered. Afterward, back to the shop, it went, and once the issues were ironed out, Skookum returned to service by the end of 2018. It was completed in early 2019 and ran on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. It is now in full operating condition. It was sent to the Niles Canyon Railway to be run regularly in July of 2019. History of the 1744: It operated for many years out of Oakland on the SP Western Division and in California’s Central Valley, where the Moguls were fondly called “Valley Mallets” by their crews. The locomotive was made famous in later years by operating on several of the last steam railfan excursions on the Southern Pacific. After many years of operating around the United States, the #1744 is returning home to once again operate through Niles Canyon on the last leg of the transcontinental railroad. After retirement from service on the SP in 1958, the locomotive was operated at the Heber Valley Railroad, moved to Texas, and restored for a brief period of operation in New Orleans. Iowa Pacific bought the locomotive and ran it on the San Luis & Rio Grande over Colorado’s La Veta Pass in tourist service during 2007 until it was sidelined with boiler issues. The locomotive was disassembled, boiler work started, and then stopped. The locomotive has sat disassembled since 2008, with the boiler moving from Alabama to Texas and then back to Colorado during this time. The Pacific Locomotive Association is currently in the process of gathering the pieces together in Colorado for shipment. The boiler will be sent to a contract shop for repairs, while the rest of the locomotive will be shipped home to Niles Canyon. The PLA plan to return the #1744 to service will not be a quick or inexpensive proposition, but we are looking forward to the future when she will once again steam through Niles Canyon. ~
2020
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 24-70mm f:2.8 G2
Big Boy #4014 2019
Big Boy #4014 thrilled America last year with a tour through the states reminding us all of the might of American Industry. What an awesome display it was, and oh man, that deep-throated whistle.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 / SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Buckley Cove 2019
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
Hayward Shoreline 2019
This was my first visit to Hayward Shoreline. Since I'd become obsessed with birds at DelValle and Shadow Cliffs, I decided to branch out. I'd heard there were various shorebirds at Hayward Shoreline, so I headed over there one fine morning. The variety of birds was astonishing. From Canada Geese to Red-winged Blackbirds, Avocets, Stilts, Dowitchers, Mallard and Shoveler Ducks, Caspian Terns, and a Snowy Egret, I was busy capturing them all. Our friend, the Grey Squirrel, was there too. The San Mateo-Hayward Bridge is quite a sight also.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Devil's Slide and Half Moon Bay 2019
This was a great road trip Donna and I took at an exciting time of year as far the sea is concerned. It was winter, so the sea was very active. Some of the crashing waves reached 100 feet or more in the air after piling up against the rocky shoreline. I was thrilled, so much so that I didn't check my camera settings. The day itself was a constant lighting contest between the sun, the clouds, and the fog. The sun generally provided a bit of an orange glow as it fought its way through the mist. I was, and still am, enchanted by the fog that blows off the top of the waves. A lesson for the day: The discerning eye will notice a graininess to these images, some more than others. That's actually "High ISO Noise." Explanation: the shoot before this one was at night, and I had to have the ISO high to get the proper exposure for my night shots. This is okay for night shots, you expect to see some noise then, and you can filter most of it out within the camera and post-processing. I usually have my ISO set as low as possible during daylight hours to capture as much detail as possible. With high ISO in the daytime, you get the result these images show - graininess, the shots look pixelated. This would occur with any setting above, say 400 during daylight hours. At 3200, my photos were doomed. I completely forgot to check that setting, and it does not get checked or changed when using a shooting menu as I do. You must check and set this parameter manually. I didn't, and I didn't realize it until I got home and started to process the images. :-( Again, you CAN filter out some noise in post-processing, but you'll never get it all out without making your images look like paintings instead. You'll see this phenomenon in some of the images in this set, the ones that look a bit surreal. So, ALWAYS CHECK YOUR ISO SETTING. Had I set the ISO to "auto," I may have escaped this problem, but I had it set it to a constant 3200. Even when you use a shooting menu, there are settings that those menus won't touch for good reason. ISO is one of those settings. I paid the price with less than optimal results. I did, however, learn my lesson. NOTE: This is a rehash of an earlier set I published. I wasn't happy with the tone (too warm), and I hadn't cataloged them properly either.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Pacific Coast Highway 2019
By March of 2019, I was learning the trade. I made several trips along the PCH. I can never get enough of this ocean. There is so much to see here.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Palace of Fine Arts 2019
I've gone on several shoots with Mike's Cameras, a local Camera store. None has been as satisfying as this one. What started as a rather drab yet still dramatic shoot of the same architecture over and over suddenly turned magical when they turned on the lights. WOW!
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron: SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2, SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Staten Island Nature Preserve 2019
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 across a neat-looking bridge.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Ireland 2019
We have been here twice and hope to return at least one more time. I've been to a few countries, and none impressed me more or made me feel more comfortable than Ireland. 'Tis indeed a land of dreams.
2019
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Pinnacles National Park - 2019
This is a 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. Your film controls ISO in a film camera, so if you don't have the perfect film for the shoot, you're in trouble. I had a mixed bag of films with me but did not always make the right choice. The day started cloudy, then quickly turned sunny, then depending on where I was on the trails, I might be in the shade or 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 challenging, and I wasn't pleased with the results when I got the negatives back. After scanning and converting them to digital images I could post-process on my PC, I had to doctor the heck out of them. 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. 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 halfway up in altitude, I'd walked what seemed like several miles and was exhausted. I stopped there, with the ridgeline still a mile 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 and probably joined one of the trails I had followed from the east in 2018. From the west, side trails rose towards the ridgeline, but they looked steeply tricky at best. I passed them up. The views were spectacular from the canyon floor. I had much the same problems with light. I arrived in the park at 6 am. The light was perfect. No sun to contend with. By 8:30-ish, the sun was getting ready to crest the ridgeline and was already shining on some of the higher peaks. The bottom of some images was 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 the near end of this set you'll see have a 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. However, you wouldn't know 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
A ferry view of the Bay 2018
San Francisco is a great photo op, no matter the perspective. This one is from a Tour boat ride through the bay, leaving Iconic Pier 39 on a Blue and Gold Fleet Ferry boat.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park 2018
We took a trip to Chico in 2018 at the time of the Camp Fire. I didn't expect much with all the smoke, 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
Oakland Zoo 2018
This is an extensive collection. It is a compilation of three visits to the Zoo. I've never liked seeing animals caged or restricted. Like most folks, I've become aware of the plight of animals trying to survive in the wild in today's world of poaching, trophy hunters, and habitat encroachment. As a result, we are members and supporters of the Oakland Zoo. The Zoos in this country, at least, are dedicated to preserving the most endangered of the earth's species. Their work in this regard is fascinating and so necessary if we are to help these marvelous creatures continue. The images made of the city, the airport, or the harbor were created from the Gondola ride or the restaurant's patio on the new California Trails section of the Zoo. If you come away from this shoot thinking that I spent an excessive amount of time with the Lions, well, you're right. WOW! I got there early for the second visit, and they were up and about, playing with each other. OMG, the noise they make when wrestling and the speed they can attain in short distances was terrific. These three lions are brothers, and that's probably a good thing. Man, they beat the pants off each other. I was shaking from the sound of the roaring. PHEW!
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Point Reyes/Galactic Core 2018
I traveled out here to shoot the Galactic Core. I had high hopes that I could at least partly eliminate the ambient light from the bay area. Finding a "dark sky" anywhere in California is a real challenge. I picked a moonless night too. Alas, "true dark" was not to be. SF alone cast a heavy enough glow to make capture difficult and post-processing rather extreme. The Shots of the core are extensive post-processing to highlight the core and eliminate what ambient light I could so that the core showed through. You can see that I used two themes in post-processing, one cool and one a bit warmer. I arrived here in the late afternoon, so I got some daylight shots in. This turned out to be a challenge, too, as the sun settled until it got below the sparse cloud cover. It was casting some strange colors on my sensors. White balance and glare were a real bother. Again post-processing played a significant role in cleaning up those images. Image-making isn't just a point-and-shoot project. On a not-so-perfect image-making day, so much depends on how well you can manipulate the data your camera collects. Everything is there in the original image. You have to tweak it here and there to highlight the good and eliminate the bad as much as possible. This capacity to manipulate the data in post-processing is probably the most impactful property of digital photography. A couple of years later and my skills in Photoshop are greatly improved. This time though, I have what I think are far superior images than when I first processed them back in 2018
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
Tamron: SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 | SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 | SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Point Reyes to Jenner 2018
This was one of those road trips I live for lately. It started with high hopes, but this was at the end of the fire season in 2018, and the smoke was horrific. Combine that with California's harsh midday sun, and I had nothing but glare and haze. I couldn't make sense of the histogram no matter what I did, and nothing looked good. By the end of the day, though, the sunset turned everything rosy, and hope was restored. By the time I got to the River's End in Jenner, the images were looking magical. Once I got home and applied some Photoshop magic, I recovered almost 50 images to printable form.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
San Diego 2018
VDHA #1 to #52 In October of 2018, we took a trip to San Diego for the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association (VDHA) reunion. Before the festivities started, I took an early morning stroll along the waterfront. San Diego has everything, from good weather to good food to gloriously gorgeous scenes. A cameraman's delight. PS: Don't ask me about the RV, folks. I don't know. 😉
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Santa Cruz 2018
Waves, seabirds, surfing - Santa Cruz has it all.
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
SeaWorld-San Diego 2018
What is there to say about SeaWorld? It's an ocean adventure without ever leaving land. The fact that this one is in San Diego just complements the enjoyment. How we interact with these creatures is extraordinary. I found myself wishing I could do what the handlers do. To share that environment with a Dolphin...
2018
Nikon D850 DSLR
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
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