Friday, July 17, 2009

Wrapping up in Monterey

Hello all,

Our On Assignment projects are wrapping up here in Monterey. Marine Biology and Conservation students have been exploring more beaches, the high-tech research world of MBARI, and now the nitty gritty accumulation of observations and information for the final projects.

All groups joined on a whale watch excursion yesterday morning. Our boat, the Sea Wolf, left the harbor into a thick fog that slowly lifted as we made our way to the Mariana Trench. We saw dolphins and then, just before having to turn around, a humpback surfaced and we watched it for a half hour.

Back to Monterey for lunch on the wharf in the sunshine. The afternoon was spent working on projects briefly before heading to Point Sur Lighthouse. If anyone has driven the Big Sur coast, you might have noticed a massive sea stack barely connected to the continent. A road snakes up the side and a stone house lives on top. A working lighthouse operates on the ocean side. We got a rare tour of the lighthouse and keeper's house. It was cool and slightly haunted.

The Photography students have been documenting everything in addition to a collaborative project on the town of Castroville, the Artichoke Capital of the World. We've visited Main Street a few times and taken various trips to the strawberry and lettuce fields of the surrounding Salinas Valley. We are approaching it like a National Geographic assignment, trying to capture the sense of place by engaging with the people and the landscape. The photo essay should be a good window into a small agricultural town of the Salinas Valley.

We hope you enjoy these photos from Año Nuevo, a State Park north of Santa Cruz where we watched a beach full of massive elephant seals basking in the sun, from the artichoke fields, post-sunset, outside Castroville, and from Point Sur...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Castroville, a quinceañera, and a kelp forest

Hello all!

Saturday morning was split here in Monterey by the Bay. Marine Biology and Conservation students cruised the famous 17-mile drive then roamed the streets of Carmel before returning to campus to research specific projects. The students are growing excited about developing their On Assignment projects for the remainder of the week.

The Photography group had a major editing/archiving/work flow session with Ed Kashi. Then the students showed four selects from their previous days' work and Ed and the instructors led a critique session. Nothing like having one of the world's best documentary photographers offer advice on how to improve our images! In the afternoon they headed to Castroville to photograph a day in the life on Main Street. Highlights included a quinceañera, a five-piece band setting up on the sidewalk, and many interactions with locals.

Then to the big show... the whole group met, after eating a tasty Mexican dinner at 'The Whole Enchilada', at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for roller coasters, funhouses, funnel cakes, deep-fried twinkies, a beach sunset, and a heavy dose of West Coast Americana!

Sunday began early for the Marine Biology & Conservation On Assignment group. They suited up and dove into the kelp forest of Monterey Bay for an 8 AM snorkeling session. The visibility was decent and the wet suits thick so the group spent plenty of time in the watery jungle.

Photography students slept in and rolled down the coast to Big Sur with Ed Kashi. We made great images in the quickly changing fog and sun and wind. It was quite a dynamic landscape. Next we curved all the way to Andrew Molera State Park for a short hike and a windy beach session. In the afternoon we said goodbye to Ed who was inspiring, energetic, smiling, and full of stories and lessons that go far beyond photography. We'll miss him.

More soon,
The NGSE crew at Monterey Bay

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Artichokes, Point Lobos, and National Geographic Expert Ed Kashi

Two big days in Monterey. After the Aquarium tour, individual On Assignment groups went their separate ways. Marine Biology took off for a jetty in Monterey to scope out the marine wildlife then hit the streets of Monterey for some urban exploring. One Photography group cruised the streets of Monterey looking for portraits while the other drove into the Salinas Valley and scouted Main Street of Castroville, a vibrant farming community and self-proclaimed "Artichoke Capital of the World." No fried artichokes yet.

On Friday we split into On Assignment groups again. The Dawn Patrol Photography crew (6:30 am departure for an hour of shooting when the light is best), returned for a second day to the old military warehouses near our campus. After breakfast, the Marine Biology and Conservation students headed to Moss Landing for a tour of a field biology research station and some hard core beach-combing (ie: scanning for interesting - often dead - marine species along this beautiful stretch of beach north of Monterey). Photography students downloaded their first batch of images... the stationary side of photography.

This afternoon, Ed Kashi, National Geographic photographer and international visual storyteller, joined us for a walk around Point Lobos, south of Carmel. He then wowed us with a variety of images from his work in the oil fields and towns of the Niger Delta and other multimedia and still photo projects he has put together over 30 years of exploration.

That's all for now!
David, Brianna, Kim, Peter, and the whole crew

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Greetings from Monterey Bay!

Hello family and friends,

NGSE Monterey Team B arrived safe and sound and just in time for a sunset on the beach. We even got our feet wet.

(Note: Not pictured in group shot - Barbara and Lily, who arrived later in the evening.)

This morning we got our behind-the-scenes tour of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and almost saw an octopus eat a large crab.

More soon!
NGSE Monterey Bay leaders-- Kim, Brianna, Peter, and David