Cathedral Cove @Anacapa Islands

5 frames on the Anacapa Islands with the Nikon FM2 – By Srinidhi Aithal

During one of the longish weekends late 2019, we made an impromptu drive down to Santa Barbara. The plan was to rest the night, and then drive onwards to Oxnard to reach the Channel Islands. I decided to just grab my trusty old Nikon FM2 with a couple of rolls of Kodak Gold 200 film, and relied completely on the iPhone for all things digital. The 5-6 hour drive was uneventful, save for the beautiful sunset. We got off the freeway to take some pictures.

Trip Sunset Anacapa Islands with the Nikon FM2

The Channel Islands consists of 8 islands, but only 5 islands are part of the Channel Islands National Park: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. At roughly 699 acres, Anacapa is the smallest of Channel Islands. It is just made up of 3 small islets. Boats usually travel only to East Anacapa, but I have heard that they arrange special trips to West Anacapa. Boats to reach Anacapa leave from Oxnard, and boats to the other 4 islands leave from Ventura. The boat ride took about an hour, and we spotted many dolphins which swam up our boat to catch the current. As the dolphins kept everyone on the boat busy, a faint outline of the island appeared in the far distance. One hour went by quickly.

Outline of the Anacapa Islands with the Nikon FM2

The boat docked in a cove. We disembarked and climbed about 150 steps to reach the top of the island. Everyone was busy clicking pictures of a Seagull right at the top of the stairs, thus crowding the entrance. It was funny though because if anyone had cared to turn around, there were birds, EVERYWHERE. And there was bird poop too, EVERYWHERE.

Thousands of seabirds use these islands as a nesting area, and they thrive due to the relative lack of predators. The steep cliffs of West Anacapa are home to the largest breeding colony of endangered California brown pelicans, all the islets of Anacapa host the largest breeding colony of western gulls in the world.

Seagull Anacapa Islands with the Nikon FM2

With only about 2 miles of trails, and 5 hours until the boat left, we walked around the island and spent plenty of time at each spot. The National Park visitor center had some exhibits, and there were some picnic tables with wind-dials right outside to keep the birds away.

We started walking on the trail and stopped at the Cathedral Cove viewpoint on the north side of the island (the featured image) from where we could spot some sea lions. The next stop was probably the best viewpoint at Anacapa islands called Inspiration point. Sadly, the 50mm f/1.8 E-series lens I was carrying on my Nikon FM2 was not up to the task of capturing that view. The iPhone clicketh away.

Trails Anacapa Islands

After a couple of short stops to look at old buildings, we returned to the visitor center. About a quarter mile from the visitor center is the lighthouse. The lighthouse was closed to the public due to the Foghorn which could cause permanent hearing loss. The birds did not seem to care and there were plenty of nests close to the lighthouse and on the trail.

Lighthouse Anacapa Islands with the Nikon FM2

The harsh sun, the stench and the extra time we had to spend on the island irked a couple of people in the group. It seemed like time passed at a much slower rate here. When they finally announced the boat departing, there were happy faces all around. Anacapa is not the fanciest of the Islands, but the size of the island makes for a nice day trip. While I enjoyed the day, it is definitely a one-time-visit kind of place. I do not need to go back.

Thanks for reading.

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You can find more posts on 35mmc featuring the Nikon FM2 here

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7 thoughts on “5 frames on the Anacapa Islands with the Nikon FM2 – By Srinidhi Aithal”

  1. Lovely places. I must visit next time I may it to Cali, Color seems desaturated, lighting off and images magenta-hued. Was it the scan of has the film expired? Which lens(es) are used?

    1. The other islands are more vibrant and fun I’ve heard, definitely do give a visit post the pandemic crisis.

      Regarding the image scans, I haven’t had the best of luck with local labs, and the result of my self-scan attempt is what you see here. I’m checking out other labs, so stay tuned 🙂

      All shots captured with the 50mm f1.8 E-series lens

      1. It might be that too many kayakers freak out the seals. In 1975 kayakers were rare on the coast. There are lots of caves in Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. Two books are great for references: “Sea Caves of Santa Cruz Island” and “Sea Caves of Anacapa Island” by David Bunnell. I generally dislike tours because they cram too many noisy people in a protected space.

  2. Thank you for sharing these lovely images. And thank you for reminding me that I also once, a while ago, shot the Anancapa with my Nikon FA and Nikon 35-70 lens – both of which I still have!

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