May 2012 Throwback

May is typically the time for “May Gray”, when the shift to summer weather pulls the cool ocean air in over the landscape west of the mountains, and this inversion causes dense, low clouds to build — the marine layer. Some people refer to it as “the overcast” as well. We’re not seeing that much of it so far in 2022, unfortunately, just a bit more atmospheric haze. The weather was more typical ten years ago, in May 2012, and you’ll see some of that in the “throwback” for this month, below.

May 2012 began with a hike on Ellie Lane Trail, which is a less popular alternative in the extremely busy Iron Mountain area. Incorporating a part of the main Iron Mountain “hiking autobahn” trail and the Miner’s Ridge trail, this can be turned into a very nice loop hike. In the afternoon, the atmospheric haze was very persistent, but there were also some higher clouds.

Then it was time to give Three Sisters waterfalls another try, of course, after my botched attempt in April, which I mentioned in last month’s throwback. In the afternoon, under a marine layer that reached very far inland, I had wonderful conditions for hiking. Three Sisters, with good flow of water, is certainly one of the most impressive waterfalls in San Diego County. As the name implies, it consists of three separate drops. On the east-facing slope of the canyon, I found this view of the uppermost waterfall:

While the marine layer is desirable to keep temperatures down and cast even light onto the landscape, it’s a bit of the opposite when you go to the coast for photography: on many days in May and June, no colorful sunsets will occur. It just gets darker. On one occasion I went to Sunset Cliffs in the evening, and even though it was a clear evening, marine clouds were way out over the ocean and blocked the sun as it was setting. The sky color was still okay, but my favorite photo from that evening is this black & white:

Long before I got seriously infected with plant & flower photography, I observed these “really neat looking pink flower” during a walk at nearby Lake Hodges. I was experiment with screw-on close-up lenses back then (an experiment that I ended quickly because the optical quality is not very good), and that is how I made the photo, below. I like the shadow of the twirled anthers on the petal of the bottom-left flower. :)

Then there was a solar eclipse! An annular eclipse, to be precise. The moon didn’t cover the sun entirely, and at our latitude, the alignment never turned the sun into an entire ring around the moon, either. Nevertheless, it was fun to observe, of course. For the photos, I stacked a 10-stop and 6-stop filter. My longest focal length back then was 300mm, so the photo below is quite heavily cropped too. What amazes me most is that there’s a visible sunspot in it!

The landscapes in May aren’t as lush and green anymore as they are in March and April. The typical green of spring disappears, and is replaced by the beige of drying annual (and often, non-native) grasses — there’s still a lot of flowers in bloom though. Yellow and red are the dominating colors, but depending on the location, blue larkspurs and pink checkerbloom and clarkia can be found as well. I quite like this color combination.

More towards the end of the month, I hiked to Cuyamaca Peak for the first time. It was grand! Approaching from the east, it’s impossible to see the actual conditions west of the mountain, for the longest time. When I reached the crest, I found myself above a sea of clouds that was washing against the west-facing slopes, even making its way past the mountain, slowly. I’ve hiked Cuyamaca Peak many times since.

Last not least, Toni and I visited Los Peñasquitos Canyon for the first time — 1.5 years after I had moved here, I finally explored this beautiful canyon with its riparian woodlands and quiet ponds here and there. Needless to say that I’ve been there many times since, as well.

And that concludes the monthly throwback, to May 2012. I hope you liked the selection of photos, and perhaps even felt compelled to click through on one of the links. ;) Thanks for reading!

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8 thoughts on “May 2012 Throwback”

  1. That view from atop Cuyamaca Peak is amazing. You’re right there in the clouds with other peaks just peeking through. You mentioned trying close-up lenses/filters, something I never tried. Have you used extension tubes? You’ve probably mentioned before but I don’t recall. I have a set but it’s been quite a while since I brought them with me on a hike.

    • I do have extension tubes (the set from Kenko) and I’ve used them a couple of times. The optical quality is much better than with close-up filters, but they’re a struggle with regards to focus operation. They’re probably best used with a macro focusing rail (which I don’t have), otherwise it’s just too damn difficult out in nature — unless you get one of those mythical days without wind… ;)

      • Yup, that fits my experiences, as well. I also have the Kenko set. I used them more before I purchased a macro lens, which I suppose makes sense. But not being able to focus to infinity while using them did take some getting used to, and like you, I don’t have a focusing rail. Interesting side note, I did once try both a teleconverter and extension tube, hoping to both focus closer and get some extra reach, but the Kenko and tc wouldn’t fit together, at least not as I’d tried to connect them.

        For some reason I feel like writing a bit of poetry right now. I’m thinking the title might be: Ode to a Windless Day. :-)

  2. ein atmen, aus atmen, … was für ein grandioser platz, auf dem “universal light” entstanden ist. balsam für die seele, wenn man so weit blicken kann! find ich sehr berührend und wohl tuend, diese aufnahme.


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