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In memory of the US Gulf Coast - Grayton Beach, Florida

Winter 2008, here are the sparkling white sands of the US Gulf coast! (With tea colored water from an estuary flowing by.) This beach in the Florida Panhandle near Destin is still clean as of June 18, 2010, but the oil is creeping to within 10 miles (16km). This location is 150 miles from the well of the BP oil spill. No HDR.


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


Here are some aerial views:


See here for the latest as they prepare for the worst:


See the 1200 pixel version!



Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 17-40L @17.5

10-second exposure @F22

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm - 4x6in) 0.9 + 0.75

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

Bare feet and shorts

(People laugh, but fussing with trying to keep dry is a distraction!)



The Story



I was attending the annual North American Nature Photography convention on a cold winter day. I left early one afternoon in order to catch the sunset and I'm glad I did. I had to drive about 30 miles until the gradual curve of the beach allowed the sun to set over the water.


The Gulf coast has hundreds of miles (literally) of perfect white sand. Although the beaches are nice to walk on, every photo seems the same, so I found a stream for added interest. The dark layer is from a fire where the charcoal washed over the the sand during a flood and then was buried by more layers of sand.


It is sad to think the the beaches to the right starting about 50 miles away are now polluted by oil tarballs, and some beaches further away are completely covered in oil. I am worried that efforts to stop the flow may fail due to the fragile nature of the non-rocky layers where the well was drilled. The flow is eroding the sides of the well underneath the blowout preventer. That is why BP can not contain all the oil. The back pressure would make the oil come out the bottom and force a collapse. Just watch the videos and you can see it. If it collapses, things could get worse. The new wells are a few weeks from reaching the old well and that is the best hope for now. They are angling the new wells to intersect the original 2-ft. wide bore, 10,000 ft (2km) below the leaking wellhead!


Despite the enormity of the problem, this leak is still smaller than the 1979 Ixtoc I spill in the Gulf further south in the country of Mexico! But this spill could end up being bigger.


People are talking about using nuclear weapons to seal it off, but that would just fracture the fragile layers and send all of the radioactive oil and gas up at once. Not a good idea!


All is not lost however. If the well can be capped, the recovery will be quicker than the Exxon Valdez accident where there is still oil around 20 years later. The Gulf waters are warm and even hot in the summer (90f, 32c), and that breaks up the oil more quickly. (Do you wash your dishes in warm or cold water?) Also, about 2 Exxon Valdez-sized volumes of oil naturally seep into the gulf each year. So the ecosystem is set up to 'need' oil for survival. But not all at once and in such huge quantities!


Once again as with the Wall Street meltdown, corruption of the inspection process has allowed too much risk to be taken by the greedy. There needs to be INDPENDENT oversight into anything that could lead to financal or ecological disasters.


The map shows exactly where this is. It is an easy hike from a the side of the road



Other stuff



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!






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 February 29, 2008