santa monica mountains

My Homage To The Mountains That Made Me 'Me.' In All Its 360 Video Virtual Reality Glory!

My Homage To The Mountains That Made Me 'Me.' In All Its 360 Video Virtual Reality Glory!

This one is very very dear to my heart. When I made the choice to move up to the Pacific Northwest a few months ago, I knew that I had to pay homage to the Santa Monica Mountains - the mountains that made me ‘me.’

So I figured during my final weeks living in the Santa Monica Mountains, I’d take along a 360˚ VR video camera on the remainder of my hikes and excursions and cut together my gift back to the mountains…

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That First 1st Led To My 1st Cover! Thank You National Park Service!

That First 1st Led To My 1st Cover! Thank You National Park Service!

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.

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My First 1st - 'Pole Position' Takes Top Spot In National Park Service Photo Contest!

My First 1st - 'Pole Position' Takes Top Spot In National Park Service Photo Contest!

So this is a quick one, but wanted to post an update to the National Park Service's annual "Spirit Of The Mountains" photo contest I threw a couple entries into last month. Well, on November 2, they announced the winners. There were 4 categories, and my image "Pole Position" tied for 1st place in this year's challenge category, "Variations On Light." It was quite thrilling to see that ribbon and hear renowned photographer Tom Gamache's positive critiques. Thank you to all who showed up and all those who supported me in this thing. I can't express how happy I was to get my first 1st place ribbon in a photo contest. (And special thanks to my Arcanum cohort for

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The Spirit Of The Mountain Calls Again - Here're This Year's Entries!

The Spirit Of The Mountain Calls Again - Here're This Year's Entries!

I can’t believe it’s been a full year since the last one. That photo contest that I was honored to place 2nd and 3rd in last year, the National Park Service sponsored “Spirit Of The Mountain” photo contest? Well, it’s back. I just submitted my two entries, the two you see above, "Family Time" and "Pole Position,” two images taken within the past 12 months in the Santa Monica Mountain Range.

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A Monday Motivational Kick In The Yahoo – July 21, 2014

Wasim Muklashy Photography__Samsung NX30_Topanga Beach_Monday Motivational_July 21
Wasim Muklashy Photography__Samsung NX30_Topanga Beach_Monday Motivational_July 21

“Instead Of Trying To Be The Mountain,

Be The Valley Of The Universe.

All Things Will Come To You.”

-Tao Te Ching


From me to you, There's This Week’s

Monday Kick In The Yahoo!


Be Inspired!

A Few More Summer Solstice Gifts From The Hills - A Phone And A Desktop Background

A Few More Summer Solstice Gifts From The Hills - A Phone And A Desktop Background

Here are a couple more images from the Summer Solstice sunset in the Santa Monica Mountains last weekend. Perfect for your mobile phone, tablets, and desktop computer wallpaper. Figured I'd throw 'em your way! Just right-click on the image, and choose 'Save Link As' for the 2400px version.

Happy Summer 2014 everyone!

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A Santa Monica Mountains Summer Solstice Sun Sets

Just wanted to share a couple of images of this year's Summer Solstice sunset from the Santa Monica Mountains and wish everyone (in the Northern Hemisphere...) a happy wonderful Summer 2014. Thank you all so much for joining me on this online photographic journey over the past 18 months. I am forever grateful. To learn how to get shots like these, check out my post How To Photograph Sunsets, Silhouettes And Starbursts For Your Summer Snaps!

For more of my madness: Instagram: @wasimofnazareth Twitter: @wasimofnazareth Google+: Facebook:

Pole Position On The Pacific Coast Highway.

So this one is not a big story or intricate post, just a quick and simple one with an image I thought was pretty neat. A friend and fellow photographer was over this weekend and we figured to take a little drive through the hills above Pacific Coast Highway in the late afternoon to see what we might find. I've lived in and explored these mountains for half a decade, yet, somehow, have never run across this vantage point. This is overlooking a small portion of PCH just south of Point Dume State Beach, California. We got there just in time for dusk and managed to snap a few images. The above image is a 30 second exposures taken on my now trusty Samsung NX30. I likey. I hope you likey. Bye.

Bluegrass And Treetops On The Topanga Trails

Bluegrass And Treetops On The Topanga Trails

T'was a perfect day in Topanga Canyon, and to stay inside would have been a crime, so I grabbed one of my cameras, the Samsung NX300, threw on the 'summer' outfit, and headed out into the hills. As I was hiking through this, live bluegrass echoing through the canyon in the distant background served as my soundtrack. Don't know where it was coming from or what it was, but it was perfect.


Click past the break for a few images from that Topanga Canyon hike.

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It's Official! I've Been Labeled! And I'm Totally OK With It!

Worth The Climb_Topanga_Canyon_California_Sunset
So this is kinda neat! Remember that beef jerky company from last year that licensed one of my images for their label? Well, they're now at market!!!
If you're a beef jerky fan (as I most certainly am), you'll love this stuff. I've had several batches of it and it's the perfect consistency and toughness. None of that soft madness, and not so tough it's like biting through leather, it's right in between.
And tasty.
And juicy.
And spicy.
And gluten-free.
And you even get a free flosser with each pack (clever...).
If you're around Los Angeles, you can pick it up at Topanga Fresh in Topanga Canyon and a few more stores that I'll list here soon.
If you're not in the area here in Los Angeles, you can order directly from the website,, where you can also see the image on the label!!
Can you tell I'm sorta excited about this...

I Win I Win!! (Sort of...) - The Results (And Lessons) Of My First Ever Photo Contest

I Win I Win!! (Sort of...) - The Results (And Lessons) Of My First Ever Photo Contest

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.

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Vote For Me!

This is just a 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 Just Another Typical Backyard Caboose - Or Not!

Oh Just Another Typical Backyard Caboose - Or Not!

Some of you know I shoot for every now and then. There are a lot of nice places in the area that I'm fortunate to check out, but the ones that truly stand out are the quirky funky unique ones…the one-of-a-kinds. Those are my absolute favorite. I don't write about a lot of these shoots, but sometimes one comes along that I just feel begs for a few words. I wrote about the charming yurt on the organic farm in Malibu a few months back, and today I ran across another gem that compelled me to share: a caboose…on Mulholland…in the hills of Agoura.

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Late Night Fun With Photo Filters…and Scotch.

So had a house I had to shoot this week for Airbnb. It was actually the second of two units on a property I shot before, but I hadn't seen the second unit as it was occupied that first time. Anyway, not important…so after I was done shooting the interior, I figured, no one was here, I was going to take advantage of the moment and just kind of chill for a minute. When you're standing on a deck with nothing in front of you but a gorgeous canyon that opens up to the Pacific Ocean (see image at bottom of this post), it's hard not to force yourself to take a break and soak it in. So as I sat down and took a few gulps of my warm ice tea that had been sitting the car since I showed up, I saw this ridiculously quaint and charming little candle holder with a pile of little rocks alongside it, being draped PERFECTLY by a grapevine. And when I mean, perfectly, it's as if it was staged. For some reason, my imagination took me to the Mediterranean coast, perhaps Spain, maybe Italy, I don't know, but my wanderlust got the best of me and I started snapping a few shots of it as if I was actually on that coast. So when I got home and started processing, I began doing what I normally do…Lightroom…Develop pane…etc…and I just wasn't feeling it. None of it. To top it all off, my favorite shot as far as composition wasn't exactly exposed too well. But I figured, let's see what we can do with it anyway…let's hit the 'reset' button.

First step..grab a glass of scotch and a chunk of smoked gruyere cheese (hot damn, if you haven't had smoked gruyere cheese…you haven't had cheese!).

Second step…lean back a bit and let's look at this from a different set of eyes.

Third step…NO! Not a different set of eyes…let's look at it exactly with the eyes that I was looking at it with when I snapped the shot…my imagination.

Fourth step…refill scotch.

Fifth step…get crazy.

And what you see up above here is what came of the madness.

Yeah, it has a lot of filters, yeah, it's super processed, and yeah, I added a flame! But I had to remind myself that it's okay!

So my favorite composition of the thing was one of the poorer exposed shots. So I felt the need to do something to 'cover up' what otherwise would have been a throwaway. But that's only one way of looking at it...

The other way is that, if I processed it the way I normally do with my normal workflow, then perhaps it wouldn't have worked, and if it did, I would have had a decent image, but not the image that was in my mind as I was taking that picture. It took me having to find a way to 'cover up' a poorly exposed photograph to tap into the creative side of me and find a way to get closer to that visual I was envisioning as I was shooting it.

I guess my lesson here is to not be afraid and not really give a mouse fart about what anyone might think or what any purist might criticize. I get so wrapped up in what's 'right' and what's 'proper,' I often forget that, well, there's really no such thing in art.

I suppose certain things do happen for certain reasons. This time something happened to remind me not to take things too seriously and to do what got me so passionate about photography to begin with…have fun.

And c' have to admit, that final version of the image above is kinda Mediterraneany...


From Frustration to Elation - Photography Therapy

Fox Creek Farm. Mulholland. Calabasas, California. Wasim Muklashy Photography 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.


Twice In One Week!?? Yosemite You Gone Done Spoiled Me!!

Twice In One Week!?? Yosemite You Gone Done Spoiled Me!!

TWICE IN ONE WEEK! This is crazy exciting for me on the 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,'

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DP Experience

watching. California Live Oak Tree. Malibu, California. Wasim Muklashy PhotographySo 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 ( 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.

Beware The Borer!

watching. Borer. California Live Oak Tree. Solstice Canyon. Wasim Muklashy Photography 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…

Working Better Under Pressure - A Malibu Creek State Park Docent Story

riding in. Malibu Creek State Park, California. Wasim Muklashy Photography It's strange how my life has turned into a series of photo taking and processing. Sure, not getting paid for all of it, so can't really call myself a true professional, but all of my income is coming from this stuff, which is actually kind of…eh…neat. For the first time in my life, I'm actually feeling like I'm doing something I'm supposed to be doing. 36 hot damn years old and now I'm figuring this out?

Anyway, woke up with the intention of spending all day today working on editing the Megan Racing videos and processing those photographs so I can get a paycheck before rent-time creeps up in a hurry, but remembered that my docent project is due tomorrow at the final interpretation I'm required to go to as a new Malibu Creek State Park docent.

Yeah, started the process over a year ago as a means of staying outdoors and being involved in the California Park system after my attempts at becoming a park ranger two years ago were thwarted by…well…a story we'll get into at a later date, but as part of my requirement, I was supposed to create a project for myself to help better the park and docent program and I had a year to create it and am supposed to present it tomorrow at the Spring Interpretation.

Well, I tasked myself with the project of taking new fresh photos that we can present in the Visitor Center and creating a Google Plus page to help bring the docent system into the internet age to help attract a fresh crop of park-goers and outdoor enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it wasn't until I woke up this morning that I remembered this was due tomorrow. I spent an hour trying to convince myself that it wasn't, even though I knew it was, and so replaced my train of thought from trying to think of excuses, to getting at it.

Luckily, I have spent a lot of time in the park over the past year photographing all over, so I had the files, just had to get through them and process the better of the bunch, so that's what happened today. Got it all together, even got a Google Plus page started (add us to your circles:, and am now uploading the photos to an iPad to present when my turn comes up tomorrow. So after having a full year to get this done, culled it all together in a day. Another example of how I work better under pressure I suppose.

Anyhow, will also get prints of some of them made so we can present them in the Visitor Center. That'll be my next part of the project. Hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks so they'll be there for Spring and Summer park attendees. So with that, above is one of the photos, as is one here below (this one actually got mentioned on This Week In Photo podcast, which I was gloating about a few weeks back). And here's a full gallery:

Ok then.

Malibu Creek State Park, California. Century Lake. Wasim Muklashy Photography