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Field Notes Archives

Periodically I'll post excerpts from my field journal. Log-in from time to time for the latest posting, or send me an e-mail and request to be put on my mailing list.

September 2009

New Camera Technology Provides Broader Media Impact

As a filmmaker and photographer that works mainly with non-profit conservation organizations, I'm continually looking for ways to create higher quality programming while keeping production costs down, especially in this economy. So I'm excited to tell you about the new Canon 5D mark II camera system. It doesn't replace professional video cameras for some situations but is perfect for the type of programming I typically do for conservation organizations. This new DLSR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera technology makes it possible to capture both high resolution still images and high definition video with the same camera system. There are a number of advantages to this system that will make your next media project more effective and economical.

Multiple uses
This single camera system can provide spectacular media for HD presentations, wall murals, large prints, photo books and promotional material.

Lower production costs
Having one system for both still and video reduces the amount of expensive gear needed in the field. The cost of this system is considerably less than an HD camera with equivalent image quality.

A multitude of lenses
Lenses for this system range from extreme wide angle to extreme telephoto and everything in between. HD footage shot with this camera and lenses provide stunning images with a filmic quality.

Having a single lightweight and compact system that can shoot both still and video dramatically reduces the amount of gear that has to be portaged. This reduces the need (and expense) for a second camera person or assistant.

Creative Freedom
There are times when a still image tells the story better than motion video and vise versa. This camera system allows me to make creative decisions in the field, getting the shot that captures the moment best.

The bottom line is that your media project can have a much broader impact with lower production costs. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about our photography and video services using this DSLR system. We would be happy to present a custom demonstration and discuss the possibilities of creating a multimedia presentation program for your organization. Feel free to call or email us to set an appointment.

Use the power of embedded online video
to tell your story

Now more than ever is the time to use every tool available to inform people about the importance of conservation efforts throughout the state of California. One new and highly affective tool is viral video. This is video that is uploaded to the internet using a site such as Vimeo. Once uploaded you can share it, embed it into your site or have others embed it into their site. This sharing and embedding can have a viral affect with the potential of reaching millions.
- Viral Video Sample

An online mini-documentary created for your organization can tell the story of rare species & sensitive habitats; share secrets of past civilizations; profile important conservation efforts and the dedicated people behind them; encourage others to get involved.

To help you get your story online we're offering a special package that not only includes the production of a video but also uploading, hosting and online distribution. In addition your video will become part of the Fieldnotes California Series. Fieldnotes California covers stories related to protecting, preserving and restoring wild places in California. It is an effort to make quality nature conservation programming accessible to everyone with high-speed internet access, and for fieldnotes.com to act as an on-line media resource for science and environmental educators and their students. Fieldnotes California provides organizations, researchers and resource agencies an important portal through which to share conservation and research stories.

December 2007

Rose Canyon Habitat Restoration
For the last couple of months I've been documenting habitat restoration in Rose Canyon, San Diego. Heavy equipment was used to move tons of soil from disturbed wetland areas to upland areas, creating contours that will help in the success of these habitats. Once irrigation is installed planting of species for several habitat types will begin.

I'm filming this project for Friends of Rose Canyon, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving this special canyon park.

Owl Specimen Preparation
A couple of weeks ago a Long-eared Owl was found perched on a log in Rose Canyon. It was ill and died within a short time. Debby Night from Friends of Rose Canyon contacted Philip Unitt at the
San Diego Natural History Museum to see if there was an interest in this bird for their collections. Since this bird is rare in coastal areas, Debby asked if I could film the process of preparing the specimen for the museum's collection. It was an interesting procedure that was also very informative due to Philip's extensive knowledge of birds. We are in the process of editing the footage from this procedure and plan to have the video available to view on-line through Fieldnotes California in the near future.

September 2007

My focus lately has been on expanding my photo portfolios of natural landscapes, Italy and San Diego. I have several new outlets for my work including Art and Accents in La Costa, California. I also displayed photography at the Leucadia Art Walk on August 26th. To view my portfolios click here.

8x12 prints mounted in 16x20 8ply museum quality mats are available for $48.00 plus shipping. Email for details.


December 2006 Fieldnotes


WILDERNESS THEATER ­ Kaweah ­ Winter in Sequoia
Winter in the Sierra is truly magical and if you can't experience it first hand the next best thing is to view Kaweah on-line. Relax and enjoy Sequoia's winter splendor at your home, office or favorite internet café. Let Kaweah ease you into the holiday season and soothe the stresses that come with it. (Click here to view film. QuickTime 7 required)

2006 Production Update

Tucked in the hills of the Laguna Canyon Wilderness is the newly constructed James & Rosemary Nix Nature Center. Set to open in early 2007, the center will feature a number of interesting exhibits that tell the story of the land and the people who lived, worked and played on it over the centuries. I was privileged to be a part of this wonderful undertaking by providing audio, video and photographic elements. In addition to producing a short presentation video titled Inspired by the Land, I was also contracted to create two large photo murals. The murals of rock outcrops and sandstone caves required digitally stitching together up to 30 images to produce large high resolution files for printing.

This 18 minute presentation film tells the story of how the introduction of non-native plant and animal species into sensitive natural systems can throw them off balance, pushing already sensitive species closer to the brink of extinction. In the case of Agua Hedionda Lagoon a highly invasive plant (Caulerpa taxifolia) was discovered in 2000. Successful eradication of Caulerpa taxifolia was due primarily to the quick recognition that this invasive species could have devastating ecological impacts. (View film on-line)

Coastal wetlands have suffered greatly over the last 150 years. Impacts from encroaching urban development have resulted in as much as a 90% loss of salt marsh habitat along our coast. Los Peñasquitos Lagoon is no exception. The health of this valuable wetland is constantly under pressure from year-round runoff from nearby developments that has created increased sedimentation flows into the lagoon. Los Peñasquitos Lagoon and Its Watershed is an 18 minute film that demonstrates the importance of preserving and restoring this lagoon for its ecologic and aesthetic value. (View film on-line)

2007 FOCUS

I plan to dedicate more time to Fieldnotes California in 2007. This series of on-line video segments covers field projects related to protecting, preserving and restoring wild places in California. I'm interested in stories about: Habitat research and restoration efforts; wildlife monitoring, protection and reintroduction; grassroots efforts and their successes and failures; environmental and conservation solutions. Fieldnotes California is an effort to make quality nature conservation programming accessible to everyone with high speed internet access, and for www.fieldnotes.com to act as an on-line media resource for science and environmental educators and their students
(Click here for more information)

If you would like to be notified when new Fieldnotes California and Wilderness Theater segments become available on-line, please respond to this email and/or sign my guestbook at www.fieldnotes.com

Enjoy the holidays!

May 2006 Fieldnotes

On-line video coverage of
nature conservation and research efforts
throughout California

Introducing Fieldnotes California, a new series of on-line video segments being produced to cover stories related to protecting, preserving and restoring wild places in California. This special series also profiles parks, reserves and wilderness areas throughout the State. Each 3-5 minute video segment is viewable on-line at www.fieldnotes.com.

Over the years, natural history filmmaker, Jim Karnik, has produced numerous video programs on California's wild places. Some focus on particular habitats and species, others discuss important conservation issues including preservation, and restoration. Most were produced through non-profit conservation organizations and present an important conservation message.

Jim's goal with Fieldnotes California is not only to repurpose many of these previously produced programs but to create a new series of short informational pieces as streaming video content.

Topics include:
- Habitat research and restoration
- Wildlife monitoring, protection and reintroduction
- Grassroots efforts
- Successes and failures
- Environmental and conservation solutions

Fieldnotes California is an effort to make quality nature conservation programming accessible to everyone with high speed internet access, and for www.fieldnotes.com to act as an on-line media resource for science and environmental educators and their students. Fieldnotes California provides conservation organizations, researchers and government agencies an important link through which to share their nature conservation stories.

As development of Fieldnotes California progresses, links are being made with San Diego City & County School Districts and The San Diego Science Alliance, to establish Fieldnotes California as an on-line resource. Schools and libraries will also have the opportunity to purchase DVDs of some programs for a nominal fee.

January 2006 Fieldntoes


I'm excited about developing a new series of DVD's and photography called "Impression - A Sense of Place." I've been working on this format for some time under the "Wilderness Theater" series title, but wanted to expand it to include World Heritage Sites and other scenic locations. These "environmental pieces" are designed to provide an audio/visual experience through enhanced natural audio, dramatic widescreen cinematography and acoustical music. Impressions draws you into the environments of Earth's spectacular wild & scenic places. Each Impressions location video will be complimented with a collection of note cards and prints created from images from the video.

Much like a fine art photograph of a dramatic landscape, "Impression - A Sense of Place" can turn the latest flat panel widescreen monitors into a form of kenetic art, creating relaxing environments that transports the viewer to spectacular wild & scenic locations. Of course you can enjoy these DVDs on any TV but the cinematic 16:9 image really projects on a widescreen monitor.


Produced for the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation Invaders of Agua Hedionda Lagoon tells the story of how the introduction of non-native plant and animal species into sensitive natural systems, like California's coastal wetlands, can throw them off balance, pushing already sensitive species closer to the brink of extinction.
One species in particular posed a tremendous threat to both Agua Hedionda Lagoon and the open coast of southern California. The highly invasive strain of the saltwater aquarium plant Caulerpa taxifolia was discovered in Agua Hedionda Lagoon in June 2000, where it was rapidly invading large areas of native habitat after its release from a saltwater aquarium. Upon its discovery, tremendous efforts were undertaken to eradicate Caulerpa taxifolia from the lagoon.
The eventual success of the eradication effort was due primarily to the quick recognition that this invasive species could have devastating ecological impacts, leading to a rapid response to stop its spread.
The high economic and biological expense of the invasion presented in
Invaders of Agua Hedionda Lagoon highlights the critical role the public can play in preventing future infestations of non-native species, by NEVER releasing plants or animals into the wild.

You can view a QuickTime version of this video at http://fieldnotes.com/IAHL50.html . You are welcome to link to this page.

October 2005 Fieldnotes

I recently returned from a trip to Europe where my wife and I visited Hungary, Austria and Italy. We traveled to Budapest first with our daughter who is attending a study abroad program through UC Santa Cruz. After a couple days there we traveled by train to Innsbruck and then to Italy for the bulk of our trip. 

I captured some wonderful images of Milan, Rapallo, Portofino, Cinque Terre, San Gimignano and Florence. As we hiked trails along the coast and in the countryside there were many photo opportunities. I selected several images for a series on the region that can be viewed on my website at http://www.fieldnotes.com . Prints and note cards are available for purchase.

Much of this region of Italy is now designated a "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO- (http://whc.unesco.org/en/about/). One of the main goals of this organization is to ensure the protection of natural and cultural heritage.


"LOS PENASQUITOS LAGOON & ITS WATERSHED" is in post production. Just last week Mike Hasting and I paddled a kayak through the lagoon to get footage from water level. Filming from a kayak allows me to get within 10 feet of birds that I would only get 100 yards of if I were on foot. It also gives a unique perspective of the lagoon rarely experienced by most people. We were hoping to get some footage of a Light Footed Clapper Rail and as we were paddling the last channel I panned over from a snowy egret to find and film a lone rail feeding along the edge, totally unaware of our presence.


May 2005 Fieldnotes

Scouting the Sierra's for Wilderness Theater filming - I recently returned from a brief tour of the Seirra's, filming new locations for my Wilderness Theater DVD series. This trip included footage of Mono Lake and The Feather River in the Northern Sierra. The drive up 395 along the Eastern Sierras was spectacular. The entire ridgeline was still capped with snow.

Batiquitos Lagoon Restored now airing on Local Cable

The Nature of Buena Vista Lagoon Approved for Airing

The Feather River CRM 20 year Commemorative video in post production

"Birding San Diego" is now available on DVD. ORDER IT ON-LINE


  • Ecopsychology - Reconnecting With Nature
  • Paleoclimatology -The Last 10,000 years
  • Outdoor Careers - series


April 2005 Fieldnotes

"The Grasslands & Wetlands of California's Central Valley" There are several state and national wildlife areas here that provide habitat for many migrating birds and protected tule elk California's Central Valley. I recently visited a couple areas and captured some great widescreen footage of wildlife. In Merced County near Los Banos, over 160,000 acres of Grassland Wetlands support more then 550 species of birds, animals and plants. Most of this area is privately owned and is actively used by hunting clubs. However, San Luis National Refuge is a protected area with driving and hiking access to wetland areas. Visitors can also drive around a large fenced area that encloses a small herd of tule elk. I was a bit disapointed at the lack of birds seen during my visit. I was under the impression there would be multitudes of migratory species. I hope to spend more time here in the future.

Yosemite - Grand as Ever. I was planning to get some winter footage in the valley but it was warm and dry during my visit. This, however, ment the waterfalls were quite spectacular. While there I captured some great footage of a coyote hunting rodents in a meadow. He would carefully survey the field with all his senses. Then, once he zeroed in on his prey, he would take a few steps and pounce head first into the ground. He caught one critter while I was filming. Yosemite is always such an inspiration. The widescreen footage I aquired during this visit will be used in the Wilderness Theater DVD on the Sierra Nevada Range.

"The Nature of Buena Vista Lagoon" nears completion. It will provide a visual feast of the lagoon and its wildlife. It will air on local cable in the Spring of 2005. Hundreds of birds use this freshwater lagoon throughout the year. A recent fire opened up some views to the lagoon. Within just a few months new vegetation has taken hold. The expanding growth of bullrush and cattail threaten to overtake the lagoon. Eventually something will have to be done to prevent it from becoming a swampy meadow. Historically is was a tidal flushing saltmarsh. One option is to restore it to that state.

"Batiquitos Lagoon Restored" is now airing on Adelphia Cable in Carlsbad, California. This half-hour cable program presents the story of the restoration of Batiquitos Lagoon to a fully tidal flushing coastal wetland. DVD copies will be donated to the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, Carlsbad City Library and the City of Carlsbad.

ORDER VIDEOS ONLINE - I'll be adding more on-line order capability of old and new programs. Check the VIDEOS page to see which are available.

"Birding San Diego" - A 30 minute cable program produced for Nature Festivals of San Diego County provides and intorduction to bird watching and birding hot spots in San Diego County. Go to ctn.org for the

February 2005

"Batiquitos Lagoon Restored" to air soon
Through on-location interviews with Tim Dillingham of California Department of Fish & Game, Rachel Woodfield from Merkel & Associates, and Mona Baumgartel from The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, this half-hour cable program presents the story of the restoration of Batiquitos Lagoon to a fully tidal flushing coastal wetland. The lagoon has experienced a dramatic change over the last few years and has become a healthy, vibrant salt marsh habitat. "Batiquitos Lagoon Restored" will air on adelphia cable in Carlsbad, California.

Camera Upgrade
I recently upgraded my video camera to a Canon XL2. This camera not only provides a higher image quality it also allows me to film in the widescreen 16:9 format. This format is ideal for cinematic small theater presentation programs that can be displayed on the latest flat plasma and LCD screens. For wildlife filming, I can use a variety of telephoto lenses that make it possible to film wildlife that is difficult to get close to.

Videos Available On-Line
You can now order nature programs on-line, including "Birding San Diego". Throughout the year I will continue to add old & new programs as I reformat them to DVD. Check out the Videos page on my site to see what films are available at this time.

Wilderness Theater Production
Now that I once again have widescreen production capability I am planning several tours in the Pacific Southwest to film Wild Places for the Wilderness Theater series of DVDs. An added feature on the DVDs will be interviews with rangers & naturalists from the various parks and reserves I visit. The interviews will give an overview of the location's human and natural history. Suggestions for wild place filming and interview contacts are always welcome.

Filming Continues on both Buena Vista Lagoon in Carlsbad, California and Los Penasquitos Lagoon near Del Mar, California. Although the wet weather we are experiencing this year has provided an opportunity to get great shots of waterhed issues, such as urban runoff, it has made filming wildlife a bit more challenging. Doesn't seem to bother the ducks though.

November 2004

A SECOND CHANCE FOR WILDLIFE - A half-hour program produced for Project Wildlife to air on CTN. Go to ctn.org for the latest scheduling.

BIRDING SAN DIEGO - A 30 minute cable program produced for Nature Festivals of San Diego County is complete. The program provides and intorduction to bird watching and birding hot spots in San Diego County. Go to ctn.org for the latest scheduling.

Wild Places and Primal Landscapes - is a series of images on rugged landscapes, from the sandstone bluffs of Torrey pines State Reserve to the red rocks of Sedona.


  • Los Penasquitos Lagoon
  • The Restoration of Batiquitos Lagoon
  • The Nature of Buena Vista Lagoon
  • The Feather River CRM

July 2004

I'm in the process of developing a proposal for a documentary on watersheds: what are they, why they are important for both humans and wildlife, and what is happening to them. There are many factors that effect watersheds. Human impact from development and logging probably has the greatest effect. Global warming (also human related) is already having an effect. It's a complex issue but one that has an impact on all of us.

Your input about watersheds would be appreciated. I'm looking for organization(s) to partner with and suggestions for possible funding. Please contact me if you are interested in getting involved.

Please note: Phone number change
I'm phasing out 760-436-2308 and will be using 760-525-6045 as my main business line. Please use this number if you need to contact me. You can also reach me at 760-436-1886.

Project Wildlife ­ Wildlife Emergencies is in final edit. It was a great experience working with the staff and volunteers of this organization. "Wildlife Emergencies" follows rescuers as they assist injured or trapped wildlife. The film covers wildlife rescues, in home rehabilitation and release of creatures back into the wild. This half-hour program demonstrates the extreme dedication of Project Wildlife volunteers and their love for wildlife.

Batiquitos Lagoon Revisited is in the editing stage and should be completed by the end of August. I was able to capture some great footage of nesting herons. Their success and the popularity of a eucalyptus grove for numerous wild birds is a direct indicator of the vitality of the lagoon.

Birding San Diego is in production. Several interviews are scheduled with birding specialists and park rangers to discuss the techniques of bird watching and identification. At the same time the program will explore several of San Diego County's birding hotspots.

April 2004

Red Rock Country
I recently returned from a brief visit to Northern Arizona where majestic red rocks dominate the horizon. This is truly spectacular country. My main interest was in capturing some still images of this rugged landscape and, if I had time, shoot some video for a Wild Places segment on Sedona.

Friend and associate Brent Jones moved to the area a little over a year ago. Brent has been exploring and photographing the landscape of Sedona to create a series of fine art panoramas. Not only did he and his wife Cathy put me up for several days, Brent took me to several locations that provided outstanding views of the country. I highly recommend that you contact Brent if you're in the Northern Arizona area and would like an experienced photography guide. His website is http://www.ransomjonesphoto.com or e-mail brent@ransomjones.com.

Project Updates

Batiquitos Lagoon Revisited
I'm well into production on this 30 minute program funded through a grant from the Carlsbad Cable TV Foundation. "Batiquitos Lagoon Revisited" takes a comparison look at the lagoon's ecology before and after a restoration project was completed some eight years ago. The lagoon is now teaming with plant and animal life and appears to be much more diverse then it was before restoration.

I've been getting some great wildlife shots of wintering birds and nesting herons by adapting my 300mm still lens to the Canon XL1S. Doing this gives me a telephoto equivalent to a 2,100mm still lens. What this means is that I can stay a safe distance from wildlife and still get very close shots.

Birding San Diego
A county grant has been approved to produce a half-hour program on the popular activity of bird watching for San Diego Nature Festivals. San Diego is a hot spot for both resident and migrating birds. This attracts people from all over the nation to San Diego specifically for bird watching. "Birding San Diego" is an informative program that will teach the tools and techniques of birding, as well as were and when to view avian creatures in San Diego County.

I covered the San Diego Bird Festival in February to get footage to use in "Birding San Diego". Bird festivals offer people an opportunity to experience and learn about the many birds that visit and live in wild places.

The Nature of Buena Vista Lagoon
Buena Vista Lagoon does not function like other coastal wetlands. A weir was placed at the mouth of the lagoon many years ago, effectively turning it into a fresh water lake. Since then tule and cattails have slowly choked the lagoon. "The Nature of Buena Vista Lagoon" will focus on the wildlife of this habitat as it is today. Eventually something will have to be done to keep Buena Vista Lagoon from completely filling in and forcing wildlife out. This program will review some of the proposed options.

Filming Buena Vista lagoon is difficult due to the thick vegetation that blocks water level views of the lagoon. There are only a few spots that allow access. When I produced "Field Notes on Buena Vista Lagoon" 13 years ago, there were many more opportunities to film wildlife from the shore. This time, I will rely heavily on long lensing to capture the wildlife of Buena Vista Lagoon.

Wildlife Rescue
Each year literally tens of thousands of wild creatures, from tiny humming birds to full grown deer, find themselves in deadly situations when they come in contact with humans and their cars, homes or buildings. Project Wildlife is an all volunteer organization that rescues wildlife that is sick, injured or wonders into populated areas. If at all possible, captured animals are rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Through funding from the San Diego County Cable TV Commission, "Wildlife Rescue" will be a half-hour program that gives an overview of Project Wildlife and the sometime dangerous work volunteers do when on a "Wildlife Rescue".

December 2003

Season's Greetings!

It is hard to believe another year has come to an end. 2003 was an interesting year. I completed a number of video projects including "A Legacy of Stewardship" at Torrey Pines State Reserve and I renewed my interest in natural landscape photography creating a series of photographs on Torrey Pines. But for many of us the wildfires that scorched so much of San Diego's backcountry will be on our minds for some time. Beside the incredible loss of human life and property, many wildlife habitats and species have been heavily impacted. Some species that were already endangered are now that much closer to extinction. But we will also see a rebirth in many areas, for fire is an important part of the ecology of southern California. To help understand the human and natural issues related to these wildfires a coalition of resource agencies, environmental professionals and scientists have come together to form The San Diego Fire Recovery Network. I hope to be involved with this organization over the next year or so, documenting research activities and creating programs for public outreach.