Yolo Bypass is a fabulous area for bird photography, although there’s also some opportunities for other wildlife photography including bugs and mammals. It is a key migration site on the Pacific Flyway, and the wintering site for literally thousands of waterfowl. The majority of the area is seasonal, manmade wetlands, primarily flooded rice fields with some interspersed rushes. There is also some varied grassland and forest habitat scattered throughout.
Death Valley has some of the most unusual colors you’ll ever see in a landscape, and the Zabriskie area is no exception. It’s an alien landscape of maze-like canary yellow ridges tiger striped with chocolate browns. It has ravines of pistachio green rock topped with pink gravel—bizarre and wonderful. You don’t need clouds to make a beautiful photo as the surrounding mountains can make a dusky red, brown or even blue background depending on the light.
You’re going to want to be in moderate health to climb Mission Peak, as you will climb from either 300 ft. trailhead up to the 2500 ft. summit in about 3 miles; I’d set aside ~ 1.5-2 hours to make the top. I’m not an early morning person, so I typically go for sunsets. As the sun sets, you’ll get beautiful texture from the Calaveras and Pleasanton range. Further north you’ll see the mighty Mt. Diablo and to the south…
Muir Woods is fantastic year round – depending on the time of year, it can be damp and cool or warm and dry – rarely hot. Tripods are allowed and recommended due to the dim light when entering the canopy of tree’s. During sunset, you may catch god-rays splaying thru the tree’s if you follow the sun’s progress later in the afternoon.
Pt. Reyes has a collection of places to visit – you can go down to the beach and see stunning ocean colors banging off the ragged coast or travel to the Lighthouse and visit its history. Wildlife includes hawks, deer, sheep, big cats, Elk, seals, whales and sea lions.
Cypress tree trail is the most popular. Free tours with volunteers are available during the day. Also famous spot especially for photographers is China cove where wild life rests. Zoom lens will be useful to spot whales and wild life. There are some volunteers with large scopes that will spot wild life and let you even see through their scope.
Yosemite is one of the original national parks, and is really the birthplace of modern landscape photography. It’s hard to take a bad landscape picture in the valley, but because it’s so popular it’s also hard to take a truly standout shot. Any season will yield good photos, but the winters are pretty harsh which can be good or bad depending on your perspective.
Rainbow Falls is a short hike in the Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Although the area around the falls has been severely burnt, there was still plenty of water in the falls in late May.
The Scripps Pier is photographers’ favorite in San Diego at sunset. The beach crowds have left and there is ample, free parking on the road with a short walk down to the beach. Sunsets can be random, though. My unique approach – and old surveyor’s aluminum tripod with a thread adapter (easily available) to convert from 5/8″ to 1/4″ ball head. Certainly heavier than a carbon fiber model, but easier to clean and I don’t worry about getting it in…