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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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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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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.

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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.