God Likes Jerky.

photo 1

So this is a short and sweet one, but every now and then it’s nice to see things like this…I suppose it’s a bit of a validation that perhaps, finally, I’m on the right track. To have two of my images used on a billboard and a label is pretty satisfying encouragement to keep going with this thing. It’s a damn good feeling to know that others are appreciating what you do.

Anyway, so I know a few weeks back I brought up that the two beef jerky companies reached out to use some of my images for various purposes…the local gluten-free jerky company, Topanga’s Finest Jerky, and then there was Oh Oberto. Well, worked out a deal with Topanga’s Finest and here’s a version of the label below. Crazy stuff!

And the billboard…that was interesting…it’s in Scotland of all places, surrounding a town of about 40,000. Yeah, I know…it’s for a church…but still, it’s pretty neat to see one of my images on a  BILLBOARD.

Ok then…

photo 3

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Scott Kelby, The Metro, and The Ranch.

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metro rail by iphone.

So was a pretty good last few days. Did the whole Scott Kelby’s “Shoot Like A Pro” workshop/seminar here in Los Angeles on Friday, and I’ve got two thoughts:

One, he’s the MAN! I learn more from a one day session with him than I can on my own in months. He simplifies things so much to the point where you start asking yourself, why the hell did I ever think that was complicated to begin with? I had a great experience at his Photoshop seminar last Winter, was hoping for the same with this one, and I got it.

Two, WHY DIDN’T THE METRO RAIL EXIST WHEN I LIVED IN LOS ANGELES!???? Damn…parked my car in Culver City, made it down to the Convention Center in 20 minutes on the train, and just as easy on the way out. No traffic, no rush hour, no gas, no driving, no cell phone ticket, no 20 dollar parking, no hassle. Frickin’ insane. Right in my stomping grounds…L.A. almost felt like a (gasp!) real city!

Anyhow, after spending 8 hours in the workshop and trying to absorb as much as I could, I figured I’d try out some of the new techniques the next day. Had an opportunity to grab a Nikon 18-200 for SUPER cheap from someone in San Diego that didn’t know what they were doing, so had my cousin pick it up, who lives down there, and figured I’d make the journey down on Saturday to pick it up, hang with the family a bit, and play with the new bugger. Love it!!!! And as if that wasn’t enough, my cousin’s husband is a working professional photographer, so he was able to provide me with many inspirational and valuable tips as well.

So here’s a bit of what happened around the cousin’s Lakeside property using a mix of Scott Kelby techniques/ideas and my cousin’s husband’s wisdom, all rolled up into one neat new remove-everything-else-from-my-camera-bag lens, the Nikon 18-200 VR.

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Twice In One Week!??

a slice of yosemite layer cake.TWICE IN ONE WEEK!

This is crazy exciting for me on the inside…so earlier in the week one of my favorite photography podcasts picked one of my images to critique. That was my oak tree image that I was using to bring attention to the non-native borer that is threatening to rid california of all of it’s oaks. It was featured on the April 1 episode of the Digital Photo Experience podcast and that blew my mind.

Well, earlier today, I was sitting here editing photos for work, listening to another of my favorite photography podcasts, this one is the April 5 episode of Frederick Van Johnson’s ‘This Week In Photo,’ and all of a sudden, at about the 51:04 mark, I hear my name (butchered, but they gave it a good effort) when they announce their first ever photo critique on the show. They picked my image ‘a slice of yosemite layer cake,’ and they dug it. They had professional photographer guests Jeffrey Totaro & “Fro Knows Photo” Jared Polin all give their thoughts, and it was all positive. Frederick went so far as to say that he could see the image printed large and framed on a wall with a nice light. I mean, I can’t think of a higher compliment.

I know it may sound like I’m boasting or whatever, but I’m not. I’m just genuinely hyped. Please understand, this is the first time in my life that I’m doing something that I actually feel I’m supposed to be doing. Like everything I’ve done before has been leading me to that thing that just feels right and it’s starting to come together that way, and at age (almost) 36, that’s pretty damn exciting for me. While the next steps once, very recently, felt ridiculously daunting, they’re all of a sudden starting to feel exciting and encouraging instead.

It’s always been an ultimate goal to help people that need it and be able to lend my skills to try to help make things even a little bit better than they are for those in unfortunate situations and regions and areas in life, and I feel that I’m getting closer to a point where that can become a reality. Using the skills I’ve honed over the past 15 years – video, writing, publishing, and photography – and somehow bringing it all together into something that actually makes some sort of a difference. I don’t know exactly where and what this is going to lead me, but for the first time in perhaps, well, ever, I feel like at least a path, albeit a rocky one, is being laid out in front of me. So long as I don’t think about it too much and just keep paying attention to doing what I feel is right in the moment – right now – perhaps, perhaps, the rest will sort itself out.

There I go thinking about it too much again. Ah hell.

DP Experience

watching.So I’m kind of hyped. The new episode of one of my favorite photography podcasts was released today, and every week they choose a few photo posts from their Google Plus community and talk about and critique the photos. This week, they chose one of mine, the second time that’s happened, and I couldn’t be happier about which one…it’s the oak tree from the earlier post about Malibu Creek State Park and the borer that’s threatening California’s oaks. Any attention I can bring to that I’m happy about…it would be an incredible tragedy if we lose those iconic oaks.

Anyhow, check out the podcast, it’s called Digital Photo Experience (http://dpexperience.com) and it’s hosted by two extremely well-respected names in the photography industry, Rick Sammon and Juan Pons. If you download it, I highly recommend listening to it all, it’s the April 1 episode, but if you just want to skip to the photo critiques, they start with mine at the 1:02:45 mark.

Pines to Palms

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So spent Easter with the family. Was really nice. We don’t get together all that often, and decided this time we’d take a day trip and just kinda cruise around. Headed to Idyllwild up in the Anza Borega Mountains (I think…), had some coffee and beef jerky (don’t ask…my love for the stuff got revived in Yosemite earlier in the month), then headed through the mountain range along the Pines to Palms Highway just south of Mount San Jacinto. After a crazy Jurassic landscape drive through mad boulders and twisty madness along the Pines to Palms Highway sobriety test., it threw us out into Palm Desert, where we continued into Palm Springs and ended up at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

We got to the ticket center and all of us were deciding whether or not it was worth the 21 bucks each to ride the thing. We’ve never even heard of it, but apparently it’s been around since 1963, some crazy rich guy’s dream and he made it happen. I figured if we were to look back on this day in 10 years, this would probably be the thing that we’d remember, so when I said that, everyone agreed. Let’s do this thing. A rotating aerial tram that climbs up about 6000 feet in less than ten minutes up through the craggy rocky prometheus looking mountain to the peak of San Jacinto Mountain, overlooking the entire Coachella and Palm Springs Valley from the peak of a snowy mountain top. Had dinner, watched the sunset, snapped a couple of photos, including the one you see in this post, and headed back down. Easter with the family was a success. And discovering this aerial tram thing was a heck of a bonus. Well worth it and will definitely be back.

And I think I may have had a bit of a photographic breakthrough on this one…while we were driving through that valley, it was some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen in Southern California…like a time machine into old ranches and half lit trees and mountain tops and crazy cloud formations…usually, I’d be pulling over every half mile snapping away like a madman, and still filled with anxiety that I’m not getting anything. But not this time. The folks even said, if I wanted to stop at any point, let them know, but something inside of me was telling me that I didn’t need to snap everything I saw, sometimes I’m allowed to just sit back and enjoy and appreciate it. This time, I just wanted to appreciate it the same way the rest of my family was appreciating it.

The other thing was, I like to think it’s my confidence building as a photographer, but I figured that no matter where I ended up, I’d find something that I can make a photograph out of. I didn’t have to think about the shots I was ‘missing,’ and was more focused on being in the moment…and then when I had an opportunity, I can think about the shots that I was getting. Sometimes it’s just nice to just be. This was one of those times.

Anyway, in the midst of this post is the crazy Pines to Palms Highway road, and at the top and bottom of this post were the views from the top.

try the salmon.

prometheus

beware the borer!

watching.

So after all that, they didn’t even remember to have us present our projects…but that didn’t stop me from moving with it. Not because I felt I needed to prove anything but because I truly want to do what I can to help out the park system. Budget woes are apparent all over, but that’s driving the passion of the volunteers, myself included, to make sure people are aware of the parks and these public spaces. They’re frickin’ insanely beautiful and they’ve basically saved my sanity and I know that anyone that shows up will feel the same. It just does that. So I created a Google Plus page for the Malibu Creek State Park Docent program, started posting to it, and plan on getting it going. So if anyone’s reading this and is on Google Plus, add us to your circles. If you’re not on Google Plus, well, you should be…just sayin’.

Also began the process of making some prints of some of those shots that I posted in the gallery on that Google Plus page that I can present at the visitor center on the park grounds to help bring up to date some of the shots hanging in there now.

While you ought consider yourselves warned…there are plenty more Yosemite shots coming, in the spirit of the first week of spring, I’ll break from those for my Spring 2013 shot. Solstice Canyon, California. There’s a reason it’s an oak tree…and that reason comes from something disheartening that I learned last weekend at the interpretation…apparently, not only are the budget woes getting worse for the park system, but now there’s a non-native pest that is threatening to literally take out all of California’s oak trees, and it’s no joke. The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer. This thing has already started attacking trees around California, including an iconic oak at the Huntington Library Gardens grounds, and is causing sequestration of a lot of these infected trees.

Anyway, ok, enough of the hippie me for now. Hope you enjoy the shot…

working better under pressure.

riding in.

It’s strange how my life has turned into a series of photo taking and processing. Sure, not getting paid for all of it, so can’t really call myself a true professional, but all of my income is coming from this stuff, which is actually kind of…eh…neat. For the first time in my life, I’m actually feeling like I’m doing something I’m supposed to be doing. 36 hot damn years old and now I’m figuring this out?

Anyway, woke up with the intention of spending all day today working on editing the Megan Racing videos and processing those photographs so I can get a paycheck before rent-time creeps up in a hurry, but remembered that my docent project is due tomorrow at the final interpretation I’m required to go to as a new Malibu Creek State Park docent.

Yeah, started the process over a year ago as a means of staying outdoors and being involved in the California Park system after my attempts at becoming a park ranger two years ago were thwarted by…well…a story we’ll get into at a later date, but as part of my requirement, I was supposed to create a project for myself to help better the park and docent program and I had a year to create it and am supposed to present it tomorrow at the Spring Interpretation.

Well, I tasked myself with the project of taking new fresh photos that we can present in the Visitor Center and creating a Google Plus page to help bring the docent system into the internet age to help attract a fresh crop of park-goers and outdoor enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I remembered this was due tomorrow. I spent an hour trying to convince myself that it wasn’t, even though I knew it was, and so replaced my train of thought from trying to think of excuses, to getting at it.

Luckily, I have spent a lot of time in the park over the past year photographing all over, so I had the files, just had to get through them and process the better of the bunch, so that’s what happened today. Got it all together, even got a Google Plus page started (add us to your circles: gplus.to/mcspdocents), and am now uploading the photos to an iPad to present when my turn comes up tomorrow. So after having a full year to get this done, culled it all together in a day. Another example of how I work better under pressure I suppose.

Anyhow, will also get prints of some of them made so we can present them in the Visitor Center. That’ll be my next part of the project. Hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks so they’ll be there for Spring and Summer park attendees. So with that, above is one of the photos, as is one here below (this one actually got mentioned on This Week In Photo podcast, which I was gloating about a few weeks back). And here’s a full gallery: http://goo.gl/uE2wi

Ok then.

century lake. a portrait.