In honor of Apple’s latest operating system announcement, OS X Yosemite (which, if you know me, that word alone gets me excited) I figured I’d rehash some of my images from my Yosemite adventures last year. In case you don’t want to (or can’t) wait until the fall for the official release, after the 'read more' break below, you'll find a few of my favorites optimized for your desktop backgrounds, and below those are the iPhone-optimized versions. To save them, just right click and choose ‘Save Link As...’Read More
So I threw a couple entries into this year's "Spirit of the Mountain" photo contest, a contest sponsored by the National Park Service for images taken within the Santa Monica Mountains. Being as how I live in Topanga Canyon, right in the middle of that mountain range, I spend a lot of time exploring and making images around these hills and peaks and valleys. Anyhow, this past weekend was the opening exhibit so I headed out there with a couple of friends and to my surprise and elation, I walked up to see both of my images placed. One of them, "A Set Path," placed 2nd in the competition's challenge category 'Shadows & Highlights,' and the other, "Century Lake - A Portrait," came in 3rd in the 'Scenic' category.Read More
This is just a quickie...so I entered a couple photos into a contest sponsored by the National Park Service. The opening exhibition is tomorrow, November 2 at 1pm and it will be open through November 24 for viewing and voting. You should go vote for my images. It's nice out there. Grab some wine, a sandwich, and some Oreos. Have a picnic. These below aren't the ones I entered but were taken within a half mile of the place just a few days ago. Voting and the exhibit are at the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center located at King Gillette Ranch at 26876 Mulholland Highway, in Calabasas, California, 91302
Oh yes…it was incredibly striking how the landscape changes immediately…literally immediately once you cross the border from Utah into Colorado. The golden red sand and tan desert hues that were the prominent feature for the past 5 days begin to melt away within mere miles of crossing over that invisible line, and they're replaced with a green, lush, and seemingly more oxygen friendly palate. It was striking how quick and abrupt the transition was. After about an hour of climbing up a mild grade along increasingly green roadside fields and streams and rolling hills filled with meadows and rivers that could compete with the Palouse, it started to get steeper and steeper. After shaking off the plains of the desert behind us, it was hard not to embrace the fact that we were headed into arguably the most magnificent mountain range in the country…the Colorado Rockies. Not a bad introduction to the second half of this trip.
Being a huge mountain and running water and tree and forest guy, this is the point when my intuition coerced me sit back and just marinated in the environment that we were floating through. I immediately felt at home.
Our first proper stop in Colorado was about 3 hours in. My friend that joined me on this trip was itching to go fishing from the moment we left Los Angeles, and as we rode alongside a grand rushing river, it was killing him not to stop. Granted, I had no complaints, so we found a small town called Hot Sulphur Springs that ran right along the Colorado River. While he pulled out the tackle box and the rods and set up shop along the banks, and I decided to wander the town a bit - get a feel for this seemingly mythical landscape.
What I found in Hot Sulphur Springs was the kind of place where the local children tube down the river that connects their backyards, where the remains of an old 'mercantile' store sit beside the ancient whitewashed brick building that still serves as a post office, where children's bikes are left strewn about in front of the 'Town Hall,' where the trout run rampant and the sheriff stops in just to say hello. The sort of place where a stranger sees you walking in the streets, asks where you're headed, and then offers you a ride (yes…that happened…not once, but twice. Coming from L.A., I had no idea what to do with that).
This sort of place. Is Colorado.
After a little more than an hour of hanging out in this charming town, it was time to get back on the road. We still had to make it through Rocky Mountain National Park, over the 'hills' that divide the East and West of our great country, down through Estes Park, and finally into Loveland, Colorado, along the front range of the Rockies, where a mutual friend that was putting us up for a few days lives and was waiting for us with a fresh home cooked 'supper.'
Now, if the day ended at this moment, it would have been a perfect day, but it didn't, and what it still had in store for us blew my hot damn mind into stratospheres I have only thus far read about and admired from calendars and picture books and vague recollections of out of print geography class text books. The next leg of our trip was taking us directly through Rocky Mountain National Park, and as soon as we entered that gate, it was like Mama Nature's magic wand went ballistic.
We rode into the official park entrance along the 34 highway, otherwise known as Trail Ridge Road, just as the sun began it's decent over the western range of the valley, and we couldn't have been in a more perfect position. The centerpiece of this part of the park is an insanely stunning elk and deer-laden meadow that stretches a solid couple of miles through the center of a valley flanked by aspens and Douglas firs and purple ponderosa pines. When the sun is setting in a flawless meadow, and everything starts to glow pink and purple and gold, there's only one thing you're required to do - hit the bloody brakes and get out of the car.
We parked alongside the road, I grabbed my camera, and ran directly out into the middle of the meadow. By now, my buddy knew the drill…I was gonna be a while. So he gave in and gladly grabbed his fishing pole, and jumped into the stream. He did his thing and I did mine. I felt like a frickin' child running around and ducking and hiding and frolicking in the 3-foot tall blades of grass, grabbing every angle and light beam and cloud formation I can in my viewfinder before the sun disappeared behind the range. This went on for a good 45 minutes where nothing. Else. Mattered. And this was the sight where I made some of my favorite images of the trip.
However, there was still a good drive ahead of us to get through the park and over onto the front range and we knew that. What we didn't know was the surprise that awaited us just a few miles up the road…I don't know why it didn't even occur to us until we were in the midst of it, but all of a sudden, we're driving, the trees begin to disappear, we realize we're way above the tree-line and that's when we saw it…the sign: Continental Divide - 11,000 feet. We were literally at the top of the Rocky Mountains, the dividing line where the East meets the West, the top of the fence from which the waters flow east into the Atlantic and west into the Pacific. We were driving along a ridge line where we were simultaneously watching the sun set on one side and the moon rising on the other. The timing was psychotically impeccable. And in this situation, when you're literally on top of the world, there's only one thing you're required to do - yup…you guessed it, hit the bloody brakes and get out of the car!
This is where I'll let the pictures in the gallery at the end of this post try to do the talking/typing…they won't nearly do it justice, but, well, it might just be one of those things you have to experience for yourself. It's like that.
Now the sun was down, the moon was up, and we hunkered back down in the car for the 2 hours that lie ahead of us through Estes Park and into Loveland, Colorado. We rolled in to our friend's casa, exchanged hugs and pleasantries, and did what any group of long-separated friends do when they get together…ate and drank. We popped open a bottle of wine, settled down on the table outside with our plates of fresh salmon, asparagus, and grilled vegetables and laughed and drank and merried til' we passed out, one by one, in the warm summer air - the sounds of Coloradoan crickets and distant rush of the Big Thompson river lulling us to sleep.
Til next time...
So we made it out of the Narrows, and with that, our days in Zion National Park come to a close. Under normal circumstances I'd say this was a shame, but these aren't normal circumstances. We still have two National Parks to go on the way to a week in Colorado to celebrate a good friend's wedding, so if we're going to leave Zion, might as well do it on a high note, and if you've been following along the last several posts, we're definitely coming out on top. Our next stop was Bryce Canyon National Park, so after our Narrows and rodeo adventure and a late night arrival and camp setup, there was no doubt that sleep was going to be no problem at all.Read More
I'll keep this one short and sweet...so all that madness I've been blabbering on about the past few posts about this Far Meadow business? Well, the whole purpose of that trip was to photograph a new A-Frame cabin as well as their 'Glamping' facilities. Well, those pics have finally been published! Below is a gallery of those images.
Enjoy. Book. Go. Trust me.Read More
"Our backyard is the National Forest," she says. Their back-yard…IS THE NATIONAL FOREST!
That part of this whole thing didn't really hit me until I walked across the gate into the meadow and saw the sign that said, "Property Line - Entering National Forest."
Literally…I grabbed an iced tea, walked across a mini field of wildflowers that took all of 16 seconds, and there it is - the property border, and the beginning of...the National Forest.Read More
In a strange sense, I feel like I'm preparing for something. I spend a lot of time alone, very little social interaction - isolated from the constant deluge of stimulation and media saturation. I'm left alone in my thoughts, in my being.
And I do it to myselfRead More
So it was one of those days, the thought process just goes into overdrive and begins to cloud any reasoning and logic. The past comes up, the future comes up, all of the baggage surrounding both start to rear their nosy and intrusive little lizard heads. Sometimes this would last for hours, then days, then weeks, but more and more you begin to see that there's a way out…well, at least temporarily.
You recognize it.
You realize it.Read More
Just another small reminder that patience, adaptation, and going-with-the-flow can pay off. Finished a gig yesterday and turned to get on the freeway to get home. It was packed. Nothing but an endless sea of red brake lights. My only other option was to add an extra 15 miles to my trip by driving through the hills on a side road that runs parallel to the freeway. So I said screw it…that's what I'm doing. Would rather look at the hills than a million other cars on the 101. Not only that, but the sun was getting ready to drop behind the mountains…and that's enough to turn on any photographer.
So there I go, drove past the freeway entrance and into the hills. As soon as I was out of sight of the freeway madness, the initial frustration of adding time and distance to my drive home melted away…immediately! And when I say immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY - I went from frustrated and tense, to calm and relaxed in significantly less than an instant. Told myself that I had to somehow document the day and moment with an image to remind me of that mental transformation and how powerful a simple trigger can be to the mind.
So with that...this is what I found just as the sun was getting ready to drop behind the hill. I know it's nothing special, and hell, I don't know what Fox Creek Farms even does, but the lighting, the fence, and the situation made it seductively charming to me. And taking that picture made me smile. And standing outside in that sunlight made me smile. And quite honestly, that's what this photography thing is to me - a reliable impetus to get in a good headspace, no matter what's going on outside that viewfinder. Sometimes it's the process, and not the image, that's important.
Plus, sure as hell beats sitting in traffic.
A few recent gradual revelations are telling me that perhaps part of me feels like I'm coming into my own in a lot of respects as far as photography is concerned. And I suppose it's really just a matter of perspective and paying attention rather than just letting life happen and allowing the monotony to take charge of the psyche. Day in and day out I'm editing photos robotically for a website, and many of the photos are photos I'd never think to take myself - small, close-up details, seemingly devoid of context.Read More
One, he's the MAN! I learn more from a one day session with him than I can on my own in months. He simplifies things so much to the point where you start asking yourself, why the hell did I ever think that was complicated to begin with? I had a great experience at his Photoshop seminar last Winter, was hoping for the same with this one, and I got it.
Two, WHY DIDN'T THE METRO RAIL EXIST WHEN I LIVED IN LOS ANGELES!???? Damn…parked my car in Culver City, made it down to the Convention Center in 20 minutes on the train, and just as easy on the way out. No traffic, no rush hour, no gas, no driving, no cell phone ticket, no 20 dollar parking, no hassle. Frickin' insane. Right in my stomping grounds…L.A. almost felt like a (gasp!) real city!
Anyhow, after spending 8 hours in the workshop and trying to absorb as much as I could, I figured I'd try out some of the new techniques the next day. Had an opportunity to grab a Nikon 18-200 for SUPER cheap from someone in San Diego that didn't know what they were doing, so had my cousin pick it up, who lives down there, and figured I'd make the journey down on Saturday to pick it up, hang with the family a bit, and play with the new bugger. Love it!!!! And as if that wasn't enough, my cousin's husband is a working professional photographer, so he was able to provide me with many inspirational and valuable tips as well.
So here's a bit of what happened around the cousin's Lakeside property using a mix of Scott Kelby techniques/ideas and my cousin's husband's wisdom, all rolled up into one neat new remove-everything-else-from-my-camera-bag lens, the Nikon 18-200 VR.
I almost didn't do it, but I'm sooooo glad I did. So every now and then, I shoot photos for Airbnb.com, the vacation rental website where people can rent out their unused spaces for extra income. Sometimes it's a guest house, sometimes it's a room in a house, sometimes it's a tent on a roof of a house. Luckily, since I'm in Topanga Canyon, my radius of 30 miles for assignments covers some of the most ridiculous places ever. I live in a 600 square foot shack of a house, but the hills around me are surrounded by Malibu, Pacific Palisades, that sort of thing...so you don't have to work your imagination too hard to understand what exists in these parts.Read More
TWICE IN ONE WEEK! This is crazy exciting for me on the inside...so earlier in the week one of my favorite photography podcasts picked one of my images to critique. That was my oak tree image that I was using to bring attention to the non-native borer that is threatening to rid california of all of its oaks. It was featured on the April 1 episode of the Digital Photo Experience podcast and that blew my mind.
Well, earlier today, I was sitting here editing photos for work, listening to another of my favorite photography podcasts, this one is the April 5 episode of Frederick Van Johnson's 'This Week In Photo,' and all of a sudden, at about the 51:04 mark, I hear my name (butchered, but they gave it a good effort) when they announce their first ever photo critique on the show. They picked my image 'a slice of yosemite layer cake,'Read More
Ok...so this is not my usual forte, but when this shows up in your yard, how can you not snap a few (hundred). Enjoy the slideshow...don't say I didn't warn you...
So I'm kind of hyped. The new episode of one of my favorite photography podcasts was released today, and every week they choose a few photo posts from their Google Plus community and talk about and critique the photos. This week, they chose one of mine, the second time that's happened, and I couldn't be happier about which one…it's the oak tree from the earlier post about Malibu Creek State Park and the borer that's threatening California's oaks. Any attention I can bring to that I'm happy about…it would be an incredible tragedy if we lose those iconic oaks. Anyhow, check out the podcast, it's called Digital Photo Experience (http://dpexperience.com) and it's hosted by two extremely well-respected names in the photography industry, Rick Sammon and Juan Pons. If you download it, I highly recommend listening to it all, it's the April 1 episode, but if you just want to skip to the photo critiques, they start with mine at the 1:02:45 mark.
So after all that, they didn't even remember to have us present our projects...but that didn't stop me from moving with it. Not because I felt I needed to prove anything but because I truly want to do what I can to help out the park system. Budget woes are apparent all over, but that's driving the passion of the volunteers, myself included, to make sure people are aware of the parks and these public spaces. They're frickin' insanely beautiful and they've basically saved my sanity and I know that anyone that shows up will feel the same. It just does that. So I created a Google Plus page for the Malibu Creek State Park Docent program, started posting to it, and plan on getting it going. So if anyone's reading this and is on Google Plus, add us to your circles. If you're not on Google Plus, well, you should be…just sayin'.
Also began the process of making some prints of some of those shots that I posted in the gallery on that Google Plus page that I can present at the visitor center on the park grounds to help bring up to date some of the shots hanging in there now.
While you ought consider yourselves warned…there are plenty more Yosemite shots coming, in the spirit of the first week of spring, I'll break from those for my Spring 2013 shot. Solstice Canyon, California. There's a reason it's an oak tree…and that reason comes from something disheartening that I learned last weekend at the interpretation…apparently, not only are the budget woes getting worse for the park system, but now there's a non-native pest that is threatening to literally take out all of California's oak trees, and it's no joke. The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer. This thing has already started attacking trees around California, including an iconic oak at the Huntington Library Gardens grounds, and is causing sequestration of a lot of these infected trees.
Anyway, ok, enough of the hippie me for now. Hope you enjoy the shot…
So started a new gig this week. It's just a part-time thing, and I've only been there 3 days, but I must admit, it's kinda nice to be doing something robotic that I know how to do and an competent in. I'm the new photo editor for a boutique-home rental website, so basically editing and sizing photos of rich people houses around the world. Does nothing for my extreme wanderlust other than add locations to the list, but perhaps it's getting me closer to that goal of making a career of traveling and making photos and telling stories. Who knows.
Cool crew, cool location in the hills of Topanga, the hours and everything about it are extremely flexible, the bosses are avid travelers and artists and have made a life and career of it, and from what I can tell so far, super cool and down to earth, so can't complain.
I can also get a vibe that the bossman knows I have more to me than just being a robot-drone at a computer, so it should be interesting to see how he decides he can utilize me and where and how tightly I can fit in. But not going to get ahead of myself. Just keep stepping on each stone that's put in front of me and see where the path leads me I suppose.
Ok then, today was a light one. But I'm tired. But not to worry, won't leave you without another image. This one, as you have probably already guessed, is from this month's winter trip to Yosemite as well. My closeup take of tunnel view.