God Likes Jerky.

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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

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.

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

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.

more than just a pretty picture?

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One of my best friends, who shoots a completely different style than me, mostly street photography with human subjects, asked me a few days ago…what do I see when I look at one of my pictures? Is it just a pretty picture? Or is it more? I knew what i wanted to say, but had to think about it for a little while before figuring out how to say it. I had to think mostly about what I was trying to capture. Then it just started coming out…

What I’m trying to capture is what seems to be pushed in the background more and more and more as technology begins to take over our lives in a singularity-esque fashion. While most people are so narcissistically involved in themselves and their cell phones and their tablets and their computers and their feeds and posts and status updates and whatnot, they’re increasingly becoming less and less aware of theirs surroundings and those things that are outside of their little bubbles…just outside of their little bubbles. We are forgetting more and more those things that are bigger than us, those that are more magnificent than any blog post or new app or making sure everyone knows what they’re having for lunch.

My intentions with my subjects and photography are to try to do what I can to counter-balance that to the best of my abilities. What I’m trying to do is bring attention to those very things that we’re paying less and less attention to, and those things that have been here long before us, and will be here long after we’re gone.

The natural world.

I’m trying to document nature and life in its magnificent glory to the best of my abilities and hope that maybe, one person that sees it, will be inspired enough to unplug for just a little bit and look around them. see and feel and experience these things that we so take for granted. all these things that are more incredible and more amazing and more vital to our lives and our well-being and our survival as a species than any tablet or feed or pair of glasses we can ever find ourselves engrossed in. none of that stuff…NONE of it…matters in the least. but all the stuff around us that we selectively ignore…that stuff does. that is the basis of our existence. that is the source of our happiness and our relief. and that is what i’m trying to bring attention to.

So with that, here’s another one from last week’s snowy trip to Yosemite. The peak of El Capitan peeking through the clouds. The grandeur of that chunk of granite is so ridiculously awe-inspiring that it has galvanized scores of ridiculously strong-willed people folk to climb the bloody thing with nothing but their bare hands. It’s like that.

a slice of yosemite layer cake.

a slice of yosemite layer cake.

So I just got ‘fired’ from my job. Long story, but it is what it is. I truly hope the best for the company, I wholeheartedly believe in the product and plan to work with them on a freelance basis for sure. But I suppose I lost a bit of enthusiasm over the past few months. Probably has a lot to do with my personal situation. Not good financially, coming off a long and arduous year of a rocky relationship that ended in epicly hurtful fashion, live alone in the hills so don’t really have much interaction with humanity these days. But something about getting fired was ok with me. Granted I haven’t been fired from a gig since Trader Joes in high school, but still, I was okay with it.

Not sure what I’m going to do, so some would say I’m crazy. I had a job where I was getting paid while working from home on what was supposed to be photography with close to no oversight at all. Yeah, sounds crazy, but for some reason I’m slight relieved. Felt I was getting dragged into a certain energy that I was around before and didn’t want to go back down that route…an energy where most of what is important is lost in the capitalistic non-stop no-end pace that only leads to ulcers, heart attacks and cancer. Have seen it too many times, don’t want to end up there, and I know there are more important things in life and I’d rather be around the energy that will nurture that. And right now, the only energy nurturing that side of me are the photos and the processing.

It’s truly a blessing when you’re doing something that actually feels right and you get to a point where you can start to discern what feels right and what doesn’t for yourself…you can actually pay attention to your gut and not pass it off. This Yosemite trip was a blessing and I can truly say that I haven’t felt as ‘in the zone’ as I have the past few days in the moments I’ve had a chance to sit and play with and process some of these images. The feedback from G+ and FB and 500px are just fueling my fire and it feels good to care about something like this again. And the fact that some of my images were accepted into Dreamstime.com stock photo site were just another little boost of confidence. Then that mention of one of my images on This Week In Photo podcast was a high for sure. And the fact that Megan Racing was happy with my work and will be hiring me for more photos is a boost. Hell, I look back and it’s actually been a damn good month for me in the photography regards. If I didn’t write all this down, I’m not sure I would have recognized that there’s some momentum behind some of what I’m doing.

I actually feel better now than I did before beginning this post.

Ahh…the power of the blog.

Anyhow, here’s one from the Yosemite trip that made me feel good while processing today. ‘a slice of yosemite layer cake.’