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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’ve spent that last few weeks or so getting ready for my next trip. And by getting ready I mean getting new photo gear! How else would you prepare for travel? HAHA!

My girlfriends and I will be leaving for a few relaxing days in the Caribbean next week and I can’t wait! It’s been so long since I’ve had a proper beach vacation. My legs are as pale as a ghost and I’m not even exaggerating. So knowing that I’ll be in the water a lot, I got my hands on a GoPro Hero 5! Shoutout to my friend, Larry for gifting me his. He wasn’t using his and I casually mentioned how I was in the market for a GoPro so the next time I saw him he hooked it up! I appreciate it so much, Larry.

Since then, I’ve purchased all kinds of mounts for the tiny camera. One for my backpack strap, one that floats in the water when you’re using it, and looking into a couple more. I love versatility you have with the camera. I used to have the original GoPro which has basically just turned into my brothers camera now. He’s really into cars and sometimes on the weekends will go driving on racetracks. He has borrowed it a few times over the years but the last time he borrowed it, I never bothered asking for it back. He was using it way more than I was so its his now.

PS If you haven’t seen this already, Frankenstein made a GoPro video a couple of years ago! LOL.

This image was taken at Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County, Virginia at sunrise. My camera settings were F8 at 0.3 seconds ISO 200 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 17-40mm wide angle lens.

Man, I really need to update my gear list. Note to self!

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If I could go back anywhere in the US from our epic cross country road trip last year, it would have to be White Sands National Monument. Hands down, no questions asked. I need to spend more time in this place. We only had one night here. So we were able to shoot sunset and early morning. Park authorites were pretty strict about making sure that everyone left right as the sun was setting so I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked here. Plus they didn’t open at sunrise and I had to wait later in the day to get back in the next day. I didn’t go on any of the hikes or trails. We basically just parked our car, walked up to the highest sand dune and took a few pictures and sledded down the sand dunes. That was so much fun all on its on.

What first attracted me to visiting this place were all the beautiful lines that the wind created in the sand dunes. I thought they were so interesting and would be great for leading lines. But when I arrived, I quickly found out that you probably have to walk more than just the sand dune that was in front of your parking spot because those lines are probably covered by other people’s foot prints. LOL. To be honest, I photoshopped some of the footprints that are in this image because there are just sooo many of them. But the best part about this park is that shoes are pretty pointless. Unless you are wearing sneakers or something and plan on doing some serious hiking, it’s totally normal to be walking around barefoot. I love it!

My camera settings for this image is 1/40th of a second at F7.1 and ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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If you haven’t checked it out already, I posted a new vlog on my youtube channel last week! Just a few clips of our trip to San Diego plus I added some of footage I captured from the drone. I’m having so much fun flying now and becoming a lot more comfortable with it. Over the weekend I flew a little bit with my cousin, Brian and he taught me how to take off and land from my hand! SOOO COOL! So if you haven’t checked out the video yet, click here to watch our trip to San Diego. Let me know what you think in the comments.

This image was taken on one of the many foggy mornings we had in SoCal. I will admit it was a little difficult to find compositions at times with all the fog and not being able to see too far ahead, but I love the way this one turned out. I think my favorite part is seeing the bird’s reflections in the sand. It’s so simple but I just can’t stop looking at it. The lines in the sand really help draw you in as well. I don’t know about you, but I always associate southern California with sunshine so it was interesting to see the other side of it. However next time I go, I would like some sun. This is the second time in the row when there was a whole bunch of fog. You’d think I was in San Francisco or something!

The settings for this image is F18 at 0.6 seconds with ISO 125 on my Sony A7II and 16-35mm lens.

PS I heard we’re expecting some snow this week in Washington, DC. plus the super moon! I’m really looking forward to going out and shooting this week. Good times ahead!