San Simeon: Wrath and Wealth by Brenda (Hartshorn) Licitra

San Simeon

The different terrain and wildlife along California's coast has a lot to offer for exploration.  I stayed at San Simeon Creek Campground which has reasonable prices and clean faculties.  The campground itself has a variety of habitats of its own, ranging from being able to listen to the roaring ocean, croaking frogs, or the calls of many different types of fowl in the fields.  If you're a light sleeper, I would recommend the east end of the grounds as the frogs are quite loud and the waves crash all night.

Elephant Seals


These beasts are completely outrageous and I can't believe I had waited so long to see them.  This month the juvenile males are sparring by throwing their faces into each other's bodies and going in for the occasional bite.  They are getting ready for the big winter fight to become Beach Master or Alphas.  The sounds on the beach are completely ridiculous as they practice their battle roar.  All the while, the females and their pups are close by attempting to sleep.  They need to conserve as much energy as possible since they fast for months while molting their winter coat.  However, prime beach spots are hard to come by with all the commotion the sparring causes, so the females also get rather aggressive.  Not only towards each other but also any pups they see as getting in their way.  Taking children to see the ruckus during this season is a great for having a good laugh.

Architecture and Scientific Photography

When using photography for non destructive analytics of architecture, UV or thermal infrared are the methods that are normally used. UV can be utilized to show what parts of the building have been remodeled by showing different reflected amounts of the same material which changes over time from sun exposure.  Thermal infrared can be used to show many different problems, including water damage behind walls in civil engineering, finding buried structures in archaeology, verify temperature sensitive materials used for conservation of artifacts and artwork, and even in medicine to find abnormalities in circulation that can be caused by different health conditions or cancers.

After visiting Hearst Castle with my near infrared camera, I stumbled upon some interesting technical observations.

You can see in the image above of the front of the Castle with the detail of flowers on the stone barrel that reflect back a vibrant yellow.  I was perplexed as to what non-living things would reflect that high amount of near IR radiation.  In Optics, aluminum, silver, and gold are used to increase the transmission of a different wave lengths.  Gold reflects 96% of radiation from 750nm - 1500nm, which is perfect illustrated in the photo since near IR ranges from 750nm to 1400nm.

I had also finally pinned down the cause for the increased annoyance of flare while shooting in IR opposed to the visual spectrum. Scatter is the answer, and I only figured that out when reading more in depth about optics and gold.  In addition to vignetting, the center of the frame for some images has an even higher transmission of IR.  For scenes that had large amounts of foliage or natural uneven terrain, there does not appear to be an increased transmission of IR for the center of the lens.  However, in the landscapes with water or around buildings with large flat surfaces were acting like a reflector and bouncing larger amounts of IR back into the lens like lens flare even though the lens was shaded.

The estate of William Randolph Hearst is mind boggling.  His collection of artifacts and art make the "cottages" of the estate mini-museums.  What Hearst described as a cottage, is larger than most single family homes.  Hearst never finished building Casa Grande.  He was constantly buying, remodeling, and expanding on his estate for no apart reason other than he wanted it and had the means to get it (for a while.)  Eventually, Hearst hit some financial trouble and had to give up his polar bear and other zoo animals to get out of debt.  The estate is something worth witnessing as proof that it is important not to look for happiness in the wrong places (as it can lead to more dissatisfaction and possibly even trouble in the future.)


California Coast Conservation by Brenda (Hartshorn) Licitra


On Saturday, I took part in the California Coastal Cleanup.  My ministry found a disgusting amount of trash in our water ways.

The top 5 things we found were:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Snack packaging
  • Beverage bottles (water, juice, and beer)
  • Fast food containers
  • Indistinguishable pieces of paper

Perhaps the most offensive were the cans of spray paint. Not only were people being lazy about cleaning up after themselves, but they were actively disrespecting the environment.  I understand that teens need to test boundaries to define their independence, or looking for acceptance from the wrong people, and I even get that sometimes they forced into situations where gangs become a false sense of security.  I really do, I get it.  But that being said, I still find it just sad that they have something that could be really beautiful yet they choose to destroy it.  The water is something that has the power to give people peace just by listening to the sounds that it brings: the ripple of water, the birds calling, the rustling of the wind through the tullies..  Or it can be that of the stagnating trash transport.

With the help of about a dozen people at our site, we were able to get the place cleaned up again with just a half days work.  This was a state-wide event with 54,124 volunteers.  Of the 75% information cards have been tallied from the volunteers, these are the results so far:

576,571 pounds of trash
109,494 pounds of recyclable materials
686,065 pounds or 343 tons total

Update on results can be found on the California Coastal Commission site.


On Sunday, I decided that it would be fitting to take a day to relax and enjoy the coast.  I took my IR and UV cameras out to Santa Cruz to observe what our tide pools had to offer.  I've done UV film photography before, but this would be the first time I did a proper test run with my recently UV converted DSLR.  I think the most surprising thing I saw was that the images from my UV camera showed color from the yellow and red ranges peaking though.  At first I thought that there was IR showing through in the exposures until I took photos of the same subjects with my IR camera.  The obvious difference with the IR and UV can been seen in the mussels.  In IR,  the shells of the mussels look black while in UV, they glow yellow.  I'm not sure how to interpret this information, but the two light spectrums definitely have a different reaction to the environment.  I do know when looking at skin cancer, it will show up as red with UV.

I also found what I thought was a trilobite, which upon discovering I couldn't help but think, "this is the beginning of a very bad SyFy movie..." (not to be confused with actual Sci-Fi movies, which are great.)  Photographer casually out with their camera, takes close up of thing that is suppose to be extinct, with confusion decided to inspect further and gets face eaten off: cut to title screen: Trilo Bite! (yep- it would be that bad.)

This little guy hanging out with the mussels is actually a type of Chiton called a Mopalia Muscosa which is native to the Pacific Coast from BC, Canada to Baja, Mexico.  Although he may look beetle-like and trilobitesk, it is actually more closely related to a garden snail as it is a type of mollusk.

It's Big Bird!  I'm really enjoying the play in perspective where the heron on a much closer rock looks as large as the surfers in the background.