These days I continued to make photographic hay while the permit sun is shining since additional Covid-19 lockdowns seem to be looming. The target for last weekend was the R Pond complex starting south of Bedwell Bayfront Park in Menlo Park and continuing down to the Facebook Headquarters. This set of fallow salt ponds has always presented photographically interesting colors and textures – testimony to residual salt dating back to their production days. However, change is coming as the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project has construction underway in the area.
Sometime next year, Salt Pond R4 should be once again connected to the tides and this will start its slow transformation back into marshland. R4’s neighbor, Salt Pond R3 will be managed to provide a dry, exposed pond suitable for Snowy Plover habitat. These two ponds were once separated by a brine distribution canal. Construction is currently underway to fill that canal thus creating an impressively wide levee with a shallow slope facing R4.
The weather made this photo session doubly challenging due to an overcast sky and highly variable winds. After hiking out to the R3/R4 levee, I found myself in a dead calm. When the wind began to stir out of the north I was able to launch my 8.5-foot, lightweight Rokkaku and this marvel was able to lift the Canon M3 cradle in an almost imperceptible wind. Unfortunately, the wind continued to build and the 8.5-foot kite was considerably overpowered about 20 minutes into the photo session. The phrase “pulling like a mule” comes to mind as in these conditions the principal concern is kite spar failure, which might strand my camera gear somewhere downwind. So, I swapped out for the 7.5-foot Rokkaku at the southern end of the levee which, of course, prompted slack wind from the breeze gods. The answer here was waiting patiently for 15 minutes anticipating the return of the breeze. When it returned, I continued the photo session and by the time I walked back to the northern end of the levee the 7.5-foot kite was overpowered. Again the mule.
In terms of light, it was a predominantly overcast day with generous hints of smoke due to an inversion layer. Now and then, the sun would peek through a gap in the clouds and this was delightful. But, for the large part it was a hazy, sober light. I look forward to reshooting on a brighter day.
I am taking these documentary photographs under a Special Use Permit from the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. Kite flying is prohibited over the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge without a Special Use Permit.