Home . Articles . News . Features . Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

2023 April 1

A charter cruise through the Sea of Cortez in Baja California is filled with wildlife above and below the water. Photography by Mark Albertazzi and Eddie Frank

Eddie and Gary return from a sunrise photo session on Isla San Francisco.


Out in open water again, we transit to Isla San Francisco’s idyllic Crescent Bay. Located on the island’s southern flank, this protected anchorage offers refuge from the Coromuel winds that blow up from La Paz, and overnight westerlies. The explosive sunset show over the mainland’s towering mountains, schools of reef fish circling the boat, and a sumptuous feast prepared by Macrina, gives way to an effervescent night sky draped in a curtain of stars.

The author captures a sunrise over the mangroves of Isla San Jose.

In the early hours of the following day, three of us take the dinghy to the beach and hike up a tall spiny ridge to shoot time lapse images of parading clouds. From here, the east side of the island drops off precipitously, with birds riding the thermal lifts of these steep seaside cliffs. Our day is spent testing new underwater housings JR brought for our cameras and smartphones. Over and under shots of Dakota and Hannah diving off the boat, paddling SUPs, and walking along the beach. Shelly and I escape to the other side of the island, across dried salt flats, to a sweeping bay where we find ourselves removed from reality, studying plants, remnants of dried puffer fish and a treasure trove of seashells and coral. Night follows day with another blazing sunset, an incredible meal and reviewing images from the day. Dakota entertains us with his guitar, Gary shares photo adventure stories to Namibia and the Faroe Islands, and JR relives moments as a swimmer in the Barcelona Olympics and setting a world-record, that would stand for 6-years, in the 400 relay.

After a breakfast of freshly baked spiced bread and Huevos Rancheros, we raise anchor and head for the large island of  San Jose. As I pull the dinghy filled with our crew over a shallow sand bar, a vast Cardon cactus forest sweeps up the hillside to our left. The outgoing tide is running a few knots through a narrow channel that deepens enough for us to tilt the engine back down. Entering the massive mangrove on San Jose’s south side, schools of fish rush to the protection of the dense tangle of roots that make the trees look they’re standing on stilts. The air is quiet and the water mirror smooth. For reasons unknown, our voices drop to soft whispers, and our movements slow. With the rush of spooked egrets, the rapid burst of camera shutters breaks the silence. Back at the boat, half the crew slides away again to the delight of dolphins dancing on the bow of the dinghy.

Dakota and Hannah enjoy yoga on the bow.

The next morning, we head to the beach for one last look at hundreds of towering cactus, topped by a dozen vultures posing like gothic gargoyles, sunning themselves in the rising temperature of a new day. Much to our chagrin, we learn about the infamous no-see-ums of San Jose, products of brackish water, which Macrina had warned us about. 

Ready for a quick exit, we make our way a few miles north to a derelict salt factory. The mining of salt has a deep history in the Sea of Cortez, dating back to the arrival of the Jesuits in the late 1600s. This outpost is now a skeleton of its former heydays, littered with rusted hulks, decaying buildings, piles of shoes, and large evaporation ponds. We’re left to imagine what life here is like in the heat of summer. For photographers, it’s a playground of contrasting elements, natural and manmade.

Continue reading: Prev | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Next