"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." -John Muir. Happy Birthday John Muir. And thank you. So so much. Your legacy may very well be the grandest of them all.Read More
My first cover came from my 1st first! Huh? So I wrote a bit about my image Pole Position taking 1st in this year’s challenge category in the National Park Service ‘Spirit of the Mountains’ photo contest. Well, apparently they’ve decided to use that image for the cover of the new Winter edition of “Outdoors” magazine, the National Park Service’s quarterly publication covering events and hikes and news for Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains.Read More
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...
I made my first proper art print from one of my digital images.
When I attended Scott Kelby's "Shoot Like A Pro" seminar here in Los Angeles a few months back, one of the perks was that we got a coupon code for a free 16x20 print from one of the sponsors, Mpix, on some madness they call Fuji Pearl photo paper. Regardless, I couldn't bring myself to do it.
Despite the fact that I took photography in high school, my father taught it, we had a darkroom at the school that we'd use on the weekends, he had a darkroom at home that I wasn't allowed to touch, and hell, my first science fair entry was a shoebox pinhole camera, and from all of this, I spent a good chunk of time developing film and photos, all in black in white, none of which I still have before taking off to college where my time got eaten up by…ahem…studying, I held off for a while because I was nervous about how it would come out - perhaps dealing me a blow if it came back and thought to myself 'this is shite!' I had made 8x10s at Costco and they actually turned out fairly well (especially considering the price at $2 per), but twice the size? Never. Will the pixels and my processing hold up?
But I finally suppressed the nerves to a level low enough and for long enough to upload the image and hit 'checkout.' And boy am I glad I did! I got the thing delivered to my door in a few days, opened it and just stared. Smiling. Immediately hit up target and grabbed me a frame for the sucker. I've been so caught up in devices and screens and i this's and i thats strewn about from our pockets to our coffee tables to our desks, I forgot what it's like to hold up a tangible physical print. It felt great. And hanging it up on the wall felt good. Real good. Was actually a nice little confidence boost.
I don't need to say it, but it's pretty apparent photography has come quite a long way since them there high school daze. As has the paper. This stuff was slick, shiny, and elegant. I purposely chose an image (that you've all seen here before) that i thought would best do that sort of feel justice - my 'Slice of Yosemite Layer Cake', an image that has 3 starkly contrasting layers and textures; a background of slick snowy mountainside, a foreground comprised of a set of silhouetted pine trees, and a layer of rolling clouds that just hovered right in between them. Proved the perfect centerpiece for a few other 8x10s from that infamous winter Yosemite trip…
Onward and upwards!! Next stop...canvas?
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 word: frickin' brilliant!
Ok, that was two words. Well, one real word and one, eh…you get the point.
It was a common frustration for DSLR shooters such as myself that the only means of checking for focus and composition is on the LCD screen on the back of the camera, at least until you get home and look at them on your computer and then want to shoot your computer in the face because that critical point was actually in soft focus!
Sure, that's a huge step up from no screens at all and having to wait to get the prints back from a lab hours, or even days, after, but still, this is 2013, and we're demanding madness, so Eye-Fi has delivered, well, madness (optimized for mobile of course).
So I was recently sent to photograph some rental cabins on property in the National Forest bordering Yosemite, and I've been reading and hearing so much about this bugger that I figured it was finally time to make an upgrade to my camera bag that I can afford. Their new Mobi card was right within that budget. 50 smackeroos.
Best thing ever. Well, that and tacos.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the basics of what it is and what it does, the Eye-Fi is an SD memory card for you camera. The magic in it rests in what else it contains - wi-fi, effectively turning it into an adhoc wifi network between your camera and your mobile device, be it a smartphone or a tablet.
Why? Well, when you snap a photo, it automatically send the jpg version to your mobile device. GONE are the days of the 2 inch LCD monitor and RUE THE DAYS of excitedly uploading your recent batch of photos only to realize the BOOM one wasn't in focus. Now, you can immediately, no matter where you are, use your mobile device as the viewer screen for your shot as soon as you take it. Not only that, but if you feel so inclined, you can now immediately Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/smoke signal your DSLR images from your device as if you shot them on your phone...
For my process, I set the Nikon D7000's LCD screen to show just the histogram, and then used my iPhone as the viewer screen to check for critical focus and composition. It took me 5 minutes to set up in a taqueria parking lot, and now it never leaves slot 2 in my camera. While the Mobi is designed for mobile use, if you'd like a version where the RAW images can be sent directly to your computer as well, they have the ProX2 version that covers that base!!
The one thing that took me a minute to figure out was that I shoot in RAW in order to post-process later in Lightroom and/or Photoshop, so wasn't sure how that would work, but a quick Google search gave me the 'duh!' answer to shoot RAW+JPG. Then it beams the jpgs to your device, and you have your RAWs for later. The Nikon D7000 conveniently has two slots, so I set it to shoot RAW to slot 1, and JPG to slot 2, and that was that.
And the slideshow below is a selection of what happened.
For the full blog posts on my escapades in the Sierras (less fan-boy, more gushy), start here with part 1:
Now go and get your Eye-Fi card by clicking here.
And tonight…I write by candlelight…
So yeah, the power on the trailer went out so I'm left with a few candles and just enough charge to offload today's photos and jot down today's haps, so, again, I'll try to keep it as short and sweet as I can and hopefully let some of the images do the talking…
I must say, waking up to a symphony of birds singing, mist evaporating, and the soft golden sunlight beaming through decades old redwoods, bouncing poetically across wildflowers outside your window…does. not. suck.Read More
The stillness is a tad unnerving at first…but then the fact that there is absolutely no noise coming from anything other than the keyboard and an occasional distant howl, the source of which I've yet to determine, begins to quickly become soothing. Once your brain gets past the fact that you've decided, on your own will, to drive through the central valley during one of the most scorching heat waves we've seen in these parts (I watched my car thermometer climb from 103 and end up at 109 before finally beginning to gain elevation after passing through Oakhurst and winding my way up to the Far Meadow on tires that should have been changed 5000 miles ago), and you catch sight of the foothills of the High Sierras, and you start heading in their direction…everything begins to fall into place.Read More
So this is pretty neat! You may have seen me post this photo of Sentinel Rock in Yosemite before, but I got served a bit of awesome sauce today because of it! It was just picked to be critiqued for another popular photography podcast. Check it, it's the Digital Photo Experience hosted by ridiculously respected photographers Rick Sammon and Juan Pons, and they talk about the image at the 56:22 mark. That's the third image on three podcasts in the past few weeks, including a different image on this same podcast a few weeks back for one of my oak trees. People seem to be digging some of this stuff, now, hot dammit how do I turn this into something tangible!? Get me outta this shack!
Anywho…in case you're bored and at work, here's the podcast link: http://dpexperience.com/2013/06/03/dpe-podcast-06-01-13-all-questions-from-you/
While you can skip to the critique, I recommend listening to the full thing, and subscribing to these guys, especially if you're a photographer. They provide valuable insight and tips and information and ideas and inspiration in every episode. A good listen while you're in the lightroom.
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.