california

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Yesterday my friend, Geoff Livingston launched his podcast Show Me. In each of the episodes he discusses famous photographs and why they worked.. or did not work. Then he asks each one of his guests to give their opinion on their own photographs.

I’m so honored and grateful to have been a guest on his show and to have been one of the first 4 people he sat down and talked to. We discussed a few Ansel Adams’ pieces before talking about some of my own images of the cherry blossoms, US Capitol and more. It’s always a good time to hang out with Geoff. I’m just glad there is actual documentation of it now. LOL.

There’s also a video recording of the podcast so you can see each of the images we’re discussing as we’re talking about them. You also get to see how much I talk with my hands when I speak so there’s that too!

PS At the end, I call him Gerry. That’s totally an inside joke. LOL I definietly know his name is Geoff.

So I figured the most appropriate image to post to honor Geoff and I’s conversation is to post my version of Half Dome. It’s been almost 10 years since I first visited Yosemite but it was such an amazing experience that I still remember it like it was yesterday. To this day whenever anyone asks me about my favorite national park, I always say Yosemite (besides the National Mall of course). I would go back in a heartbeat. I never doubted why Ansel Adams spent so much time photographing this extraordinary place. Props to him for doing it with a medium format camera and wooden tripods though!

My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 1/320th sec and ISO 100 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 24-105mm lens.

 

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This was captured on the same day after this image. Probably just 1 or 2 hours after the sunrise image was captured,

You know it’s so funny when you visit a place for the first time before the sun actually rises, everything is so dark and you can barely make out what’s in front of you. Neither Andrew or I had ever been to Joshua Tree and we had no idea what’s was really going on. But once the sun came out and you can actually see, it’s always so shocking and beautiful. Like, “I missed out on all this?”

So this image was taken on our way out of the park. I know we drove down this road during sunrise, but didn’t really know what it looked like. It just took my breath away once I could actually see it. I love the way the shadows are crossing the road. I believe they were created by some Joshua Trees but I am not completely sure. It mimics the clouds in the sky so well, almost as if it were a reflection. And nothing more says the American Southwest to me than those huge wide open spaces. I made Andrew pull over so I could capture it really quickly. Luckily we visited during the government shutdown and in the middle of winter when there weren’t as many people around. It made it really easy to just pull over and hop out real quick for the picture. Looking at this image definitely makes me want to go back soon but I’m not sure which is better, the extreme cold (wind) or the extreme heat that Joshua Tree experiences.

My camera settings for this image is F 4.0 at 1/5000th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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I haven’t been taking as many pictures around DC lately. Mostly due the fact that it’s been raining so much. Also I feel like I still have so many images to go through from this year. When I come home from travel, I get really excited and look at all my images. I’ll pick a few that I like the best and spend some time editing those. But for the most part, I’ll leave most of the other images just sitting there.

Sometimes I feel like I just need a break from them or I’ll end up getting really excited about a photowalk I did at home and those images will distract me for a bit.  Either way I always find it better after I have spent a little time apart from the images that I’ll be really happy with the edits. Now that I think of it, when I go back to look at those travel images after some time, it instantly brings me back to all these great memories and I think it’s easier to edit them after I can figure out how these places and experiences made me feel.

For example, this image was taken on our very first morning in Joshua Tree at the very end of December 2018. It was the best sunrise we had the entire trip but for some reason I was never extremely happy with the way I edited them. 5 months later, I had some time over the weekend and looked through a lot of my Joshua Tree images. I almost forgot about this sunrise and I can’t believe it. It reminds me of the morning when we woke up really early, even without alarm clocks because we were still on east coast time and hoping into the car. Since we were on our way to Joshua Tree, I felt like the only appropriate thing to do was to listen to all the U2 songs I could think of off of the top of my head. It ended up being so fun and we were cracking up over the littlest things. Aww so fun!

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/250th sec and ISO 2000 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 16-35mm.

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If you had asked me last year, I would have said no to anything that had to do with getting in the Pacific Ocean in the winter time. There’s something about really cold water that scares me and I didn’t even want to put my toes in it. Seriously.

But this past trip was different. Our cousin, Vincent actually signed up for surf lessons while we were in San Diego and asked Andrew and I if we wanted to join him. We both immediately said no. I don’t know what Andrew’s reasons were, but mine was definitely because of the cold. I mean, it was cold enough at night time in the regular, above water air I can’t imagine what the water was like swimming in it.

Well Vincent finished his lesson and I asked him about the temperatures. He said it wasn’t even cold at all and I didn’t believe him. He kept on going on about how fun it was and that he wanted to do it again. I must admit that I wanted to surf but it really was the cold water that was holding me back.

So it turned out that the next morning I was out photographing the sunrise at Windansea beach in La Jolla and I got splashed by a huggggeee wave. I wasn’t paying attention and I got soaked. I packed up all my gear and went immediately back to the car. But before I got back to our airbnb realized that Vincent was right. The water wasn’t that cold. LOL. So Andrew and I ended up taking a surf lesson and it was so fun. LOL. I would totally do it again but only if the water is warm.

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 1/4000th sec at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II with my 70-200mm.

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First of all, shout out to my friend, Zack for telling me about this spot. I’m so grateful our friendship and that he is such a detailed planner about his photo explorations. He actually left for a 2 week trip to California a week ahead of me which started and ended in San Diego. LOL he would post some amazing images of Southern California and I would immediately message him asking him where that was taken from. Thank you, Zack for telling me about this one!

One of the best things about California in general is all the hills. Obviously northern California is known for all the steep hills and has much more of them but the ones in southern California are just as cool. If I had to guess, we’re looking at the Point Loma Marina with downtown in the background. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I captured this image at sunset which was amazingly beautiful even for a cloudless sky. The warm tones that came in while the sun was dropping was amazing. I especially liked what it did for the buildings in the very back. I remember while I was taking these pictures it was really windy. Maybe because we were on the very top of the hill but in between shots I would run back to the car for shelter. Andrew came with me this time and he just sat in the car the entire time because it was that cold. LOL. I would just wait in the car for 2-3 minutes while the light changed and hopped out when I saw something that interested me. The advantages of being able to park right by your photo location!

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/500th sec at ISO 1250 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm handheld.

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One of the places I was looking forward to the most while visiting Joshua Tree National Park was the Cholla Cactus Garden. From the pictures, I could tell that they were like cacti that I’ve never seen before. What surprised me the most was that some of them were taller than me! Andrew is 6′ and it looked like some of them were almost as tall as him! That’s insane.

One of my favorite parts about the garden was that it was right in front of these beautiful mountains. They made for an amazingly beautiful background at sunrise. More of those images soon but while I was looking through my images, I was really drawn to this one. I really liked having the photographers in the middle capturing the scene but still being able to see the cacti in the foreground and mountains in the background. The depth of this image is really interesting and perfectly describes what it’s like being in the garden.

If you’ve never been, the garden is a little bit out there but worth the drive. Probably 15-20 minutes outside of the other trails and attractions but I liked it so much that I actually went twice on our trip. One time with just Andrew when we went out for a solo sunrise adventure. The second time was when our cousins joined us later on in the day and I wanted to show them what it was all about. The sunrise adventure was a little bit better. Andrew and I were the only ones there and I loved when the sun rose a little bit and you could see the sunlight poking through the spikes of the cacti.

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/800th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.