I decided I was ready for a break so I took off and spent a couple of nights down in Morro Bay to unplug. It was also a chance to beta test how well I travel since I’ve changed to taking insulin (answer: everything worked fine, thanks, although I think I want to start packing a thermometer to test the room fridge with, since freezing the insulin would be really bad).

I went down just for two nights, but it gave me a chance to take in one sunset (the second night the light was poor), and spend part of a day on the harbor with the sea otters — the second day they headed to the outer harbor and away from the tourists. I was hoping I might see one of the otter moms with her pups, and in the raft near the rock that first day, there were five, all with fairly older and larger pups. Just amazing. The reports have been this colony has been doing well and growing, but that’s a stunning number.

Sea Otter with pup

I was also hoping for a chance to photography otters spraying water during their grooming, and again, they cooperated. Otters spend a lot of time grooming, which helps them draw water out of the fur and add air, which helps insulate them from the cold water. It’s an important survivability tool for them and one reason why oil spills are so devastating to them (and birds) when they happen: not only do they ingest the oil while cleaning themselves off, which is toxic, but it destroys the insulation capabilities so they often die of hypothermia before the poisons in the oil can kill them.

Sea Otter

You will often see otters holding their paws out of the water. This is another way they manage their body temperature in cold water because the hands and feet can be a major area of heat loss. You’ll often see sea lions do the same. So it’s not only functional, it looks cute:

Sea Otter with pup

Lighting conditions where challenging with the animals being backlit. Modern sensors can do wonders there, although it’s not as good as great light would be, but in those conditions, even 3-4 years ago the cameras would simply have stayed in the bag. Today, we can get good images out of them.

Sea Otter

I made some technical mistakes during my sunset shoot the first night. The first was trying to connect my shutter releases, only to realize the Fuji X-T2 uses different connectors than the X-T1 so I couldn’t use them. Serious pilot error, since I should test that before I travel, but I assumed wrongly they were the same. And second, there was a fairly brisk (and cold) wind stirring things up, and I decided to pull out the ND filters and go to long exposure shots to smooth the water out. That worked fine, but I’d forgotten about the boats in the water, and so in most shots they came out blurred or badly ghosted. I still ended up with a few usable shots, but, um, ooops.

Morro Bay Rock at Sunset

That shot was done without ND filters early in the process. Compare the water to this:

Morro Bay Rock at Sunset

and you can see why photographers like playing with long exposure shooting — as long as there aren’t things in the frame moving around.

Overall, I had a great, relaxing time and came back with a number of pretty good photos. Not bad for a couple of days of R&R. And as always, the photos from the trip are over on my photo site.