west coast

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As you’re reading this, I’m traveling from San Francisco to Palo Alto today to hang out with my cousins. I’m really looking forward to seeing them and catching up. It is also the beginning of family time for the rest of this trip.

I spent the weekend to myself in San Francisco. I’m glad to have met up with photo friends along the way but for the most part I found myself wondering the city with just my camera. I’ve always heard that you should travel alone. It’s a great way to “discover” who you really are. But to be honest, I feel like I already have a good sense of who I am. It came to me when I was in college and really expanded from there. I’ve always been a really decisive person where I know I like or don’t like something after trying it for the first time. But  to be honest there has been something that I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind since the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival.

The first talk that I listened to at the festival was by Maggie Steber and I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt more inspired in my life. Among the things that she had talked about was having a personal photo project. Sure, me taking pictures of cherry blossoms and the Washington Monument are all things that I love to do but what is that one thing that really resonates with me? What is that one thing that I feel so much that is just dying to come out? I knew what this personal project had to be ever since Maggie’s talk but I think I’ve just been too scared to start.

I’m writing this blog post in advance but I’m also writing it as a reminder to myself. Angela- just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect right now. Just start by writing down your ideas. While you’re away from everything familiar to you, jump out of your comfort zone.

My camera settings for this image is F8.0 at 1/8th of a second at ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, then you would know that I used to say three things I was grateful for every Friday. I’m not sure what happened to that because it just stopped. To be honest, I think I just forgot. But if you do remember that, thank you. I love you. You are one of my favorite people on the internet.

So I don’t know if I’m going to do this every Friday but I’m at least going to do it today because I have so many things to be grateful for.

  1. I’m grateful to be in Orlando right now with family having the time of my life. Tomorrow is my nephew’s 3rd birthday and I can’t wait to watch him blow out the candles on his cake. It’s one of his favorite things to do even when it’s not his own birthday and I’m so excited to see him happy 🙂
  2. I’m grateful for the DC photo community. I’ve met so many great people in the past year or two that I can’t believe it’s only been 1 or 2 years since I’ve started going to instameets and things. Regardless, I’ve met some really awesome, creative, nice people and I could not be more grateful for them always inspiring me to do more.
  3. I’m grateful for the sunrising everyday. Its probably my favorite time of day (minus the waking up so early part) because it’s just so still and quiet. I love getting out there with my camera and just knowing that I will have that moment to watch something beautiful happen before me. Sometimes it can be hard to balance the photography vs. enjoying the moment thing, but I’m having a great time figuring it all out.

This image was created in Point Loma, San Diego. Just a peaceful morning out on the water that made me so happy to be there. My camera settings for this image is F16 at 1/30th of a second at ISO 125 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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To be honest my personal life has been busy, espcially in the past week or so. So busy to the point that I almost forgot that we’re leaving on a short getaway tomorrow. Around Thanksgiving time, Andrew and I booked a trip to Orlando with our cousins and I haven’t really thought about it much since then. But at this point, I can’t think of anything better. I can’t wait to soak up the Florida sun and spend a couple days on rides and rollercoasters. I’ll have my camera and drone with me, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be shooting. I hope to get at least one cool shot of the fireworks at the Disney castle, other than that I have no real plans.

So if you have any Orlando, Disney, or Universal Studios recommendations, please let me know! It’s my first time visiting since I was a child. You better believe that I’ll be rocking Minnie Mouse ears though! I can’t wait <3

This image has nothing to do with Florida but it does put me in a relaxing mood which is what I’m looking forward to the most on our trip. I took this one morning in La Jolla, San Diego. There weren’t as many sea lions out but for some reason they were all gathered on this rock. So I sat down and watched them for a good 20 minutes. The sun was just coming up and I loved feeling the wind in my hair. I knew I wanted to place myself in this image some how so I could remember the moment and what it was like to be there. So out came my legs and I took a shoefy. Don’t yell at me, but I never remember to tie my shoes until I really have to. LOL.

My camera settings for this image is F9 at 1/50th of a second at ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Being a photographer, I’ve learned a lot of really random things. For example, did you know that the Washington Monument in Washington DC was built to sway with the wind? Yea, that’s just in case we get a really windy day and the tallest structure in our Nation’s Capitol won’t snap in half. Isn’t that crazy?

Well, staying in San Diego for two weeks was no different. I learned so much about the environment I was in. For example, tides. Living in Virginia, I’ve never had to be concerned with how high or low the water is but in California, this information is so crucial. After the first one or two sunsets, I found myself looking at tide charts and figuring out how all of this stuff works. To generalize, I found that low tide occurs around sunset. I don’t know if that’s true all year around, but it was true in January. So I planned all my photo ops knowing that if I wanted to capture full strength waves, it had to be at sunrise.

This image was captured right at sunset. The tide was low but there was still a whole bunch of water still on the beach from earlier in the day. It made for the perfect beach reflections. My favorite part of this image is the tallest palm tree on the right hand side. The top of the tree looks like it’s standing on a toothpick. It’s crazy because when I came here the next day at sunrise, the water was all the way up to the wall. There would have been no way I could have walked on the beach unless I had plans of getting wet in the water.

My settings for this image is F11 at 0.3 seconds at ISO 125 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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If I had to pick a place to live in San Diego, it would definietly be La Jolla. Not just because there are big, beautiful homes there but I just love the vibe of it. Everyone seems so peaceful and relaxed. It was a nice change of pace to just walk around the town and not have to worry about anything. I felt like I was smiling at every street corner. PLUS the seals and sea lions like to hangout on the beaches. But where I found most of my favorite photo places in San Diego.

Take this place for example, Salk Institute. I found out about it from this blog and I’m so grateful to have been able to visit. It is so aesthetically pleasing! Seriously when I walked for the first time I just stood there for a minute in awe of it all. The architecture, the lines, the space was all just amazingly beautiful. You know you love a space when you literally spend 30 minutes just photographing a staircase. LOL. Not even joking.

However, this image is not of the staircase. It’s just a portion of a hallway. Sooo cool, right? At the end of the hallway you would be able to see a full on orange tree if Andrew wasn’t walking by. So Cal, man you are amazing. Next time I visit and have more time, I’d love to attend the architectural tour at the Salk Institute. I’m sure theres so much more to see on this campus! I’m not sure how anyone could get any work done here. If I worked here, I’d be standing by the pool watching the clouds float by everyday.

The camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 1/80th of a second at ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Before leaving on this trip, there were a list of things that I definietly wanted to do while in San Diego (minus photography – that’s a given matter what). Fish tacos, carne asada fries, and a dog beach. Good list, huh? Well, the first two things were scratched off the list the moment we arrived in California but being here for 2 weeks, I was like ‘oh we have time to go to the dog beach. We have can go whenever.’

Now that it is Monday and our last week here, I’m so glad we accidentally stumbled on to the dog beach at Ocean Beach. I took this image as soon as we parked the car and I stepped out. I thought it was so cool to see the palm trees look so small but the people who were walking along the trail look so big. It’s a pretty cool play on perspective and I think the connection between the adult and child is really sweet. As soon as I captured this moment, it reminded me of Max Wanger. He does a lot with couples and huge skies. This image for example.

Anyways, if you find yourself with a dog in San Diego, check out the dog beach at OB. Frankie loved it! At first he didn’t really know what was going on. I don’t think he’s been to a beach that big before. But once he started sniffing a few dog butts, he was in puppy heaven! A good time for dogs and dog parents all at once 🙂

Oh and if you’re not following Frankie on instagram, you should. He’s been posting pics of his California vacation too.

My camera settings for this image F4.0 at 1/800th of a second and ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.