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Orbs of Mystery #1 - Mendocino County, California | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Orbs of Mystery #1 - Mendocino County, California

(eerie music playing..)

Could these 'coccoons' have been left by extraterrestrials planning the domination of our planet?

Read 'the story' below to discover the truth! No HDR.


Free wallpaper for over 100 of my images in 6 different screen sizes is now available!


See the 1200 pixel version!


Also, my pictures are featured on the front page of the newly redesigned

The state Gov. of California website. Have a look! It is Flash with my pics cut into layers for a 3-d slideshow. If you are into building apps, the State has opened up lots of data to the public, so check it out!



Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 17-40L @19

5-second exposure @F14

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm - 4x6in) 0.9

+ Singh-ray reverse soft edge grad 0.9

(I'm not sure about the singh-ray filter. I had to desaturate the blue channel in the sky

to make it look natural. The sky looked too blue in the camera compared to my eye.

Also, the edge of the grad is too hard, despite it being called a soft grad.)

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

No polarizer.

ISO 50

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop



The Story



Okay, well actually these 2-3 ft tall (1m) rounded rocks were embedded in sandstone layers. Then, as the soft layers eroded, the harder sections separated and were eroded by the sea into these round shapes. Some were round even while embedded in the sandstone layer, so they must have been formed and then were locked up in the layers and released in place in more recent times. So they have been eroded twice at least! I could not find out how they originally became round.


Here is a good explanation showing some of these rocks still embedded in the sandstone layers. There is even a video in there.


This is a -1.0 ft low tide, and I used the reflective water as best I could. A medium tide (+2/+3 ft (1m) is best here for showing the water moving through the many dozens of round rocks. It is called 'Bowling Ball Beach' but these are far too big to be rolled around by hand. Actually the smallest round rock is the size of a bowling ball. See the notes above.


There was a perfect medium tide at sunset on the three nights I was here, but not a cloud was in the sky. So I came out at sunrise when there were a few clouds. They were gone an hour later, so I lucked out!


These are similar to the Moeraki Builders of New Zealand, but there are more of them here and they are more densly packed. And they look just as good!


The map shows exactly where this is. It is an easy 1/2 mile hike from a small turnout just north of Schooner Gulch. Once you get to the cliff, there is a path with wood boards tied together with steel cable. The hill has eroded under the last part of the 'stairs', so you have to climb down, almost like on a very shaky ladder!



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Google Earth


Simply the best way to scout out locations that there is. You can see sun angles and pre-visualize light under lots of different conditions. Sometimes you can actually pre-compose your shots! This has saved me many thousands of vertical feet of climbing by avoiding spots with blocked views etc.


Satellite imagery (choose 'National' for a local US region or use your fave website)


Tide charting and preditions: (chose your area in US, other countries have similar websites)


Wave Heights (I choose 'North Pacific from Global')

Or Here:


Photos of every inch of the California coastline from a small plane. Excellent for close in detailed views.




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Taken on May 30, 2010