Best Photos from our Readers and Staff
December 31, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A photo is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. East County Magazine’s photographers and readers have compiled an impressive portfolio of dramatic images this year. These are our editor’s picks for the photos that create an emotional chord, from inspiration to anguish. We deeply appreciate our professional photojournalists and citizen photographers who helped document the images that defined the news and character of our region this year.
January 2, 2013 (Otay)--“Look out, Santee, here’s your future,” Tom Lemon writes, referring to the Quail Brush gas-fired peaker power plant proposed just outside of Mission Trails Regional Park. Curious to see what a peaker plant actually looks like – not just in drawings prepared by the developer—Lemon ventured to Otay Mesa, where a gas-fired peaker plant recently opened. Note: Peaker plants run intermittently to fill demand at peak power usage times. These photos were taken when the plant was not fired up. When in operation, the facility would include emissions visible from the smokestacks.
December 31, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- A blanket of snow envelops our local mountains and rural areas this New Year's Eve. Melody Ponchot arose early to snap sunrise photos as the morning's first rays illuminate snow dusting trees across her ranch in Boulevard (left, right, and below, right)
Julie Salmons also sent in an image of the Laguna mountains (below, left), viewed from Descanso, wearing a crown of winter white.
December 29, 2012 (Cuyamaca) -- While driving through Rancho Cuyamaca State Park last week, ECM editor Miriam Raftery spotted several groups of deer grazing in the sun-dappled woods, including this doe, which paused to pose for a picture-perfect moment.
The best time to see deer is in the last hour before sundown; this photo was taken shortly before 4 p.m. just two days after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
December 29, 2012 (Mount Helix) -- "Ring around the moon, rain is coming soon," according to an old saying. There is truth to the statement, since a halo around the moon is caused by high cirrus clouds and a reflection off millions of ice crystals high up in the atmosphere that creates this irridescent rainbow-like effect. Moon halos were seen by many people across the eastern U.S. before Hurricane Sandy, for example.
ECM editor Miriam Raftery took this photo last night from Mount Helix--and sure enough, rain is forecast for today and tomorrow.
Decenber 26, 2012 (Cuyamaca) -- Turkeys for Christmas may conjure up images of a holiday dinner. But photographer Tom Lemon spotted this flock on Christmas Day while driving through Rancho Cuyamaca State Park. He suggests these turkeys should be grateful that they're living in a protected area where hunting is not allowed--or, perhaps, hoping more folks will choose ham for their next holiday feast.
December 25, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- No, this isn't a preview of what East County might look like after a few decades of rising tides and global climate change. This image of Cowles "island" is in fact Cowles Mountain, surrounded not by water, but a sea of clouds.
Scroll down for a second image depicting the Grossmont Knoll and Cowles Mountain, adrift in early morning clouds viewed from Mount Helix. Both of these magical images were photographed by photographer Tom Lemon.
By Miriam Raftery
December 24, 2012 (Mount Helix) -- This Christmas Eve, enjoy Tom Lemon's gift to our readers. I've seen shadows cast by clouds on the earth below, but I'd never before seen shadow on top of the clouds.
Lemon snapped this unusual image from Mount Helix, looking down on pink-tinged clouds early in the morning to see the shadow of the mountain cast on the surface of the clouds.
December 21, 2012 (Mount Helix) -- Tom Lemon snapped this serene image depicting a sea of golden-hued clouds, taken from atop Mount Helix on a foggy mid-winter morning in San Diego's East County.
December 4, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – “Uncle Sam made sure everyone knew (well - everyone at Lake Murray on my 6 mile walk) it was their civic duty to vote today,” Greg Dunne wrote in an e-mail to ECM on election day, adding that he received enthusiastic comments from walkers, dog walkers, bicyclists, joggers and others. “Thanks to some great photography work from my walking buddy David,” he added. “Now it's off to vote,” said Dunne, who struck a “muscle pose” while modeling the costume made by his wife.
December 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Melody Ponchot has provided us with a dazzling set of photographs that are a study in contrasts, some shot in the snow-covered rural landscape around her home in Boulevard, others taken at Valley of the Moon, a boulder-strewn terrain east of Jacumba. In both places, there is tranquility in the rugged beauty of nature—from serene winter wonderland to jagged peaks in these wild and special vistas here in our own backyard.
November 11, 2012 (Ocotillo) – Tom Lemon sent in this photograph of pristine desert before the construction of the wind project in Ocotillo.
November 4, 2012 (El Cajon) – “Doesn't the "spirit" of those kids/young adults shine thru in the photo beautifully?” says Rebecca J. Williamson, who captured the moment at last month’s 3rd annual Chaldean Festival at Prescott Promenade in El Cajon.
October 28, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Construction of the Tule Wind project in McCain Valley has not yet begun, though developer Iberdrola has pledged to preserve the most scenic portion of views across the Carrizo Gorge. But photographer Tom Lemon stopped by McCain Valley’s famed Carrizo Gorge Overlook this weekend in McCain Valley, discovering to his dismay that wind turbines at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express wind project in Ocotillo are plainly visible across the formerly pristine vista, gateway to three designated wilderness areas.
BLM rules do not allow the agency to consider lost views when determining siting of energy projects, unfortunately for the many who cherish wilderness.
Above is the new view, with turbines across the horizon:
October 14, 2012 (Los Angeles)-- ECM photographer Ron Logan, in Los Angeles this week, snapped this historic image of the Space Shuttle Endeavor on its final journey to the California Science Center in Inglewood.
Astronauts, movie stars and political leaders were on hand. State Senator Roderick Wright concluded, that the reason for making the California Science Center the Endeavor's final home is "because we want you to know, every young person here in the audience, that the universe is your limit. You can go as high as you choose to go."
October 8, 2012 (Ocotillo) – Photographer Daren Sefcik visited Ocotillo in May, before construction began on the Ocotillo Express wind project, then returned on October 3.
Through still photos and dramatic panoramic videos that reveal 360 degree views, Sefcik documents turbines dwarfng mountains and looming in close proximity to homes. “The landscape has already been destroyed by Pattern [Energy] and it will never, ever be the same,” he said.
September 23, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Help tell East County’s story through photos!
The Far East Project, a print/multimedia anthology and performance project, is comprised of personal narratives, interviews and histories from East County communities and residents. This living history project for our region is sponsored by San Diego Foundation Arts and Culture Foundation along with So Say We All.
You’re invited to submit photos that “capture the soul of East County” as you see it. Deadline for entries is Sunday, October 7, 2012.
September 21, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- Parke Ewing forwarded these images showing transformation of the desert landscape in Ocotillo, where public outcry and seven lawsuits have thus far failed to stop the Pattern Energy's wind project.
The first image reveals excavation for just one of the 112 wind turbines; this hole measures 16 feet deep. In the sunset shot, towering wind turbines now replace the century-old ocotillo forest that once stood here, sacrified for "green" energy.
September 10, 2012 (Lakeside)--Billy Ortiz snapped this colorful image of the setting sun over Lakeside’s historic downtown district.
To submit a photo of the week, contact email@example.com.
August 14, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) -- Daren Sefcik photographed our own East County light show—the Perseid Meteor Shower illuminating the night sky above Blair Valley on August 11.
August 13, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- ECM photographer Jim Pelley shot this beautiful sunrise this morning from the yard at his home in Ocotillo.
Soon this dramatic landscape may be only a memory, vanished in the dust as towering ocotillo cacti are torn down and replaced by 112 wind turbines, each 500 feet tall.
By Tom Lemon
August 10, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) — When you're driving east on Interstate 8 past Jacumba and the Desert View Tower there's a sharp left turn and you begin to descend Mountain Springs Grade. You will drop about three thousand feet to the desert in ten miles, and can see the remains of Old Highway 80 in the canyons and some of the original concrete road just past the Mountain Springs exit.
July 23, 2012 (McCain Valley) - ECM reader Tom Lemon sent in these spectacular photos of McCain Valley, site of the proposed Tule Wind facility in San Diego's East County.
"I first visited McCain Valley around 1995 after reading Jerry Shaad's book Afoot and Afield in San Diego County. I began camping and hiking in the Valley and explored the trails and side roads to vista points where you can see the abandoned San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railroad tracks, the Salton Sea, and Castle Butte in Arizona. Yes, you can see all the way to Arizona," he wrote.
"My friend Brian getting into the spirit of McCain. Yeah, it does make you feel like that."
July 25, 2012 (Ocotillo) – No, this isn’t the mother ship that’s landed in Ocotillo. It’s another alien power – the first wind turbine foundation poured at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express project. Photographer Jim Pelley measured a single turbine foundation hole measures 286 feet.
More than 100 turbines, each 450 feet tall, are planned to invade this desert on public land--despite protections under state and federal law intended to preserve the habitat, wildlife and scenery.
July 19, 2012 (McCain Valley) – Tom Klimek of Lemon Grove shared these photos that he took of McCain Valley “as few have seen it,” blanketed in snow, isolated in its pristine beauty.
“On March 18, 2012 I drove to Laguna Mountain and then to McCain to enjoy the late winter storm that brought wind, rain, hail, and snow to the East County,” he wrote. “McCain Valley Road begins at about 3200 feet elevation and rises to 4500 feet near the end of the road. There were no tracks in the snow as me and my son drove all the way to Cottonwood camp.”
By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Jim Pelley
July 15, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- Photographer Jim Pelley captured this inspiring image of sunbeams illuminating the proverbial silver lining of this storm cloud over the desert in Ocotillo.
There is a tragic irony to this spectacular image, however.
June 20, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- Photographer Jim Pelley snapped this image of a horned desert lizard, whose camouflaged appearance blends right in with its desert surroundings. Pelley spotted the reclusive reptile on the site of the Ocotillo Express wind energy facility, which is now under construction.
By Miriam Raftery
May 30, 2012 (Santee) – ECM editor Miriam Raftery took a break from the hustle and bustle of news editing for a stroll at Santee Lakes.
May 22, 2012 (Mexico) – ECM correspondent Nadin Abbott and her husband, Tom are vacationing in Mexico and captured this image of Popopcapetl, a smouldering volcano 30 miles from Puebla (pictured) and 60 miles from Mexico City. An eruption could occur at any time.
“When it does go, they will have to test air at different altitudes to see if jets can come in...The ash has a bad habit of destroying jet engines. That would be a bad day for flying,” Nadin quipped in an e-mail to ECM.