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Sandpiper Sunset Clouds

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Sandpiper Sunset Clouds
Sandpiper Golf Course is one of the best places I can imagine to spend a few hours, especially this time of year when the sunsets are really getting spectacular. There is something about their beautiful little slice of our coastline the clouds seem to do particularly magical things just as the sun hangs low in the sky to highlight their amazing texture and beauty.

-Bill Heller


Savanna May Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Savanna May, Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Harbor is one of my favorite evening walks. The shops and restaurants along the side of the harbor are always quite busy in the evenings, and the walk out on the breakwater offers a variety of wonderful views on the city. This was one of the last shots of the evening on one of those walks.

-Bill Heller


Andree Clark Sunset Reflections

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Andree Clark Sunset Reflections
The drought has been hard on all of the natives and visitors of California, the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and its visitors have been no exception. But standing there on a beautiful peaceful evening like this enjoying the sunset with the ducks offers a wonderful break from all the cares of the day.

-Bill Heller


Night Fishing at the Harbor

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Night Fishing
On warm days I like to take a walk out the breakwater at the Santa Barbara Harbor. It’s always cooler out there and any time of day it’s a beautiful walk. At sunset, and just after, it’s absolutely magical. This evening I was enjoying the beautiful view of the last colors of the setting sun in the company of an amazing Great Blue Heron (in the center at the edge of the water). Of course I think he was more interested in the fishing than the sunset, but we were both happy to patently stand there and take in the wonderful evening.

-Bill Heller


Clock Tower View Closed Soon for Renovation

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Clock Tower View, Closed soon for Renovations

I’m often surprised at how many locals have never been to the observation deck at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clocktower. It’s a wonderful experience, even for those of us who may be used to looking at the beauty of Santa Barbara all the time. A wonderful experience that is, if you can easily navigate the tight metal stairways winding up the last story from the top of the elevator.

But that is all about to change for the better. Thanks to the caretakers of the courthouse a new project is underway to extend the elevator the last story all the way to the observation deck. But unlike some of the accessibility stories you hear where someone sued or complained to get action, the story behind the project is very positive. The courthouse has had ADA accessibility plans in the works for some time, but this particular project was accellerated by the people who forged ahead, rather than let it stop them. Even though the climb to the top was tough there are many who make the trek apparently even in the face of extreme difficulty. Inspired by the people who felt the experience was worth the effort, the Courthouse Docents urged the powers that be to fast track the project. Led by a guy who’s love of the history and heritage in his care is quite apparent when you talk to him, the County Architect Robert Ooley, the project got the green light this week.

Of course, extending the elevator another floor is no easy task. Starting January the Clock Gallery and the observation deck will be closed to the public to allow for construction, which is slated to run through July 2015. So if you’ve never been to the top because you’ve just never got around to it, now is a great time to go before construction starts! Of course if you’ve stayed away because of the climb, your wait is almost over. Either way, during the construction I’ll do my best to bring the wonderful views right to you.

You can find out more about this project and others in the works at http://www.santabarbaracourthouse.org/

-Bill Heller


Butterfly Beach Wedding

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.

Butterfly Beach Wedding
Not long ago I was out at one of my favorite spots trying out a new lens. This beautiful Cypress tree watches over all the weddings and dog walks, and people just enjoying this beautiful stretch of the California Coast called Butterfly Beach. And on this particular day, he just happened to be watching over a newlywed couple enjoying the first moments of their marrage down below on the beach. One of countless amazing moments this wonderful tree has witnessed I’m sure.

As for the lens, if you’re interested. A while ago Canon replaced the 15mm fish-eye that I love with a zoom lens. An 8mm-15mm fish-eye. This circular picture is what results from the 8mm end on a full frame camera, which when used sparingly in the right situation can give a beautiful and unique point of view. -Bill Heller


Santa Ynez Grapes

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Grapes on the Vine

Wandering through the vineyards of the Sant Ynez valley. Thanks to our extreme weather this year, it’s been an early grape harvest throughout California. I love to watch the grapes develop for photo opportunities like this and just because I’ve always loved plants in general. This year I noticed early in the summer the grapes looked unusually advanced for the time of the season and with a bit of research online I found that vineyards were expecting a particularly early year. Early, but no less impressive and beautiful from the looks of things.

-Bill Heller


Shoreline Bluff

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Shoreline Bluff
Just after sunset the colors are beautiful this time of year. This is looking east from Shoreline Park, one of the best places in town for a nice evening walk.
-Bill Heller


Santa Barbara Marine Layer

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Santa Barbara Marine Layer
Although nothing like our friends to the north in San Francisco, Santa Barbara is a favorite hang out for something the weather man calls the “Marine Layer”. It’s basically a layer of air cooled quickly by the water making it hug the ground under the lighter warm air above. This cool layer has a tendency to slide into the coast as the sun is setting, bringing with it some beautiful swirling fog. Once in a while the effect is so pronounced that from the right vantage point you can see it rolling in like a beautiful blanket.

If you take the time to watch it, you can almost imagine an animated living breathing thing the way it swirls and moves so gracefully. This year we’ve seen a little less than usual of our beautiful fog friend, but there are still some amazing moments!

-Bill Heller