California

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This image was taken on my way out of the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park at early morning just after sunrise. The sunrise was particularly colorful but unfortunately we weren’t able to capture it from the Cactus garden. The sky was starting to explode with color while we were on our way over there and ended up taking pictures somewhere along the side of the road to capture the Joshua Trees as foreground instead.

Its funny to me that all my recent trips and memories of Southern California has been in the winter time. I feel like it’s a totally different experience than if you visited in the summer. I bring that up because I was actually talking to Andrew this morning and we were trying to recall if California had a lot of mosquitos or not. To be honest, I don’t even remember seeing a lot of bugs in general. I’m sure if they did, there would be a lot in the summertime but because we have been there in the winter, I can’t even remember. Can anyone shine some light on this question?

Anyways, I got side tracked. Joshua Tree is an amazing place to visit if you’re ever planning a trip. I hope to go back sometime soon and see more of the park cuz it’s huge. Maybe in the summertime so I can see for myself about the bug situation? LOL. But I know the temperature difference is going to be extreme. While we were there it was super windy and so cold that at times it was difficult to be outside. I imagine it to be the same in the summer but with the heat.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/1250th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.

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Guess what, y’all? I brought my film camera to Joshua Tree! LOL. Most exciting news you’ll hear on a Monday.

It was fun having two cameras with me. It’s even funner when I forget what I shot and pick up the roll of film to find all these images.

The above image was on our hike along the Arch Rock Trail. Our first taste of boulders in Joshua Tree NPS and I thought they were so cool. I love how massive they are and the beautiful formations. It sort of felt like you were on another planet.
PS. None of these images are edited. They’re all straight out of the camera.

I love all the brown tones in this image. Although this was taken at different times of day, check out my digital version of this.

Another little cacti action for the love of texture.

This image was captured on New Year’s day at sunrise along the Baker Dam Trail. The sun had come up a little and made the rocks glow in orange.

This morning was honestly one of the coldest mornings I’ve had in recent memory. It may not look cold but it was so windy, it felt fridged. I remember feeling the cold air through my shoes and thinking I did not wear enough on my feet. That was even through hiking socks and boots.

Out of all the images I captured, this is the only one I managed to take of the Joshua Trees on my film camera. I distinctly remember taking it because it reminded me of a heart. I <3 Joshua Tree and can’t wait to go back again.

Let me know what you guys think of these images. Shooting film is so nostalgic for me and I really enjoy it from time to time.

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I was so lucky. The first morning of our adventures in Joshua Tree was a beautiful one. We arrived in our airbnb the night before. It was already really dark out so it was difficult to see anything around us. We really had no idea of our surroundings. So Andrew and I woke up super early the next morning (no alarm clock needed due to jet lag) and made our way to the park. Being up before sunrise, it was still dark but it was so fun to watch the sun slowly come up as it revealed the landscape. I honestly think that’s the best way to see any new place. As the sun rises and slowly reveals what’s around you. It’s like a fun surprise and your mind is blown by all the things you missed out on. LOL.

This image was taken along the side of the road. It was not a designated stop but with the sky exploding with color, it was difficult to not want to pull over at every mile. I was literally like a kid in the candy store, pointing in every direction and making mental notes of places I wanted to go back to as Andrew drove around.

While capturing this image and landscapes in general, I remember I wanted to keep my subject in the image a simple as possible. I did not want a lot of plants overcrowding the image but I also made it a point to make sure the Joshua Tree limbs were not touching any other part of the landscape. The separation helps single out the Joshua Tree and making that the focal point of the image.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/25th sec and ISO 2000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultrazoom lens.

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Just an early morning view of some surfers at La Jolla Shores in San Diego, California. Is it me or if you glance at it real quick, it just looks like some little bits of rice that has fallen down? LOL. This was my only successful attempt of actually getting footage of my cousin, Vincent surfing. All other times he was already in the water and I tried using my drone to find him but with everyone in all black wet suits with white surfboards, it can be really difficult to find the person you’re looking for. It finally worked out that I had my drone ready to go when he was getting into the water and followed him while flying. I told Andrew to also keep a lookout just in case. But I’m so glad I was actually able to find him this time.

While trying to capture him, I had it on video for a majority of the time. But this image was taken in the part of the ocean where it is a bit calmer. You can sit on the board and relax a little bit before swimming out deeper to get the big waves. So while they were taking a break, I took a few pics. I loved the really calm water with the gradient of blues. I purposely waited for a little wave to come up so that it looked more like ocean water and I could highlight Vincent a little more. He’s the guy on the green surfboard kicking up towards the top of the image. The whole time I was editing this image I was channeling my inner Mark Rothko and imagining what he would do. Either way, I love the way it turned out. It just oozes with calmness.

My camera settings for this image is F2.2 at 1/100th sec and ISO 196 with my DJI Mavic Pro.

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Being from the east coast, I love our annual getaways to the west. Sort of like how birds migrate to the south for winter, I like to migrate the west and soak up the California sun and surf. Plus any excuse for a fresh acai bowl, amirite?

To be honest though, San Diego is one of my favorite places to be. I love the vibe of the city, everyone is super friendly and there’s no shortage of things to do. You have the beach life but also a fun downtown area if the city is more of your scene. It’s all of that plus a super dog friendly city. Frankie loves taking his morning walks on the beach, you basically have to drag him off the sand.

This was our second year in a row visiting around the start of the new year, but I have visited many times in the past too. This will definietly not be our last time visiting so keep checking back as I update this guide.

So if you’re heading to San Diego, here are the best places to take pictures:

The Beaches

This past trip we stayed at this beautiful airbnb right at the tip of Mission Beach. It was the perfect place for us because we were able to enjoy the beach in a less crowded environment but still have views of the water.  (If you’ve never stayed at an airbnb, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re going somewhere for an extended stay. It’s all the comforts of home while you travel.) Morning runs were peaceful on the boardwalk and Mission Bay was right behind us which made it fun to fly the drone for a satisfying perspective of land and water. But if we wanted to check out some of cool restaurants on Pacific Beach, we were just a 15 minute scooter ride away.

One of my favorite parts about Pacific Beach was standing at the end of Crystal Pier. The pier allowed for unique, overhead shots of the wave riders and definietly provided a lot of great photo opportunities. And you can usually find the bubble man around sunset. I love watching the huge bubbles fly in the air and can’t resist trying to pop some if they float in my direction. The kids love them too!

(left) view from Crystal Pier (right) bubble from the bubble man framing a palm tree

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I love La Jolla. Out of all the places that we have visited in San Diego, La Jolla is my favorite place to be. I love the beaches, the views and how photogenic that little part of SoCal is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it also seems a bit quieter than the neighboring Pacific Beach and just an overall cool place to hang out.

This image was taken after a night of rain. It actually rained a couple of times while we were out there which was so weird because I thought it never rained in southern California? Anyways, Vincent was taking another surf lesson at sunrise so Andrew and I decided to tag along. We figured we could bring Frankie and let him run around on the beach before a lot of people got there and I could also take some early morning shots too. It turned out to such a quiet and beautiful morning of just walking in the sand and flying the drone. But after awhile both Andrew and I got a little hungry. We found a cafe close by that we could walk to but along the way we had to walk across the parking lot. It was like hitting the puddle jacket pot. I also distinctly remember saying out loud “oh snap, reflections ahead”. LOL. Who does that? It must have been my way of warning Andrew that we were going to be in the parking lot for a little while.

But honestly, if I had to pick one place with the best palm trees in San Diego, La Jolla Shores has to be it. There’s nothing special or different about them. The only difference is that there’s a lot of them on area.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/5000th sec at ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.