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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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

at the end of the tunnel.

rolling in.
So started a new gig this week. It’s just a part-time thing, and I’ve only been there 3 days, but I must admit, it’s kinda nice to be doing something robotic that I know how to do and an competent in. I’m the new photo editor for a boutique-home rental website, so basically editing and sizing photos of rich people houses around the world. Does nothing for my extreme wanderlust other than add locations to the list, but perhaps it’s getting me closer to that goal of making a career of traveling and making photos and telling stories. Who knows.

Cool crew, cool location in the hills of Topanga, the hours and everything about it are extremely flexible, the bosses are avid travelers and artists and have made a life and career of it, and from what I can tell so far, super cool and down to earth, so can’t complain.

I can also get a vibe that the bossman knows I have more to me than just being a robot-drone at a computer, so it should be interesting to see how he decides he can utilize me and where and how tightly I can fit in. But not going to get ahead of myself. Just keep stepping on each stone that’s put in front of me and see where the path leads me I suppose.

Ok then, today was a light one. But I’m tired. But not to worry, won’t leave you without another image. This one, as you have probably already guessed, is from this month’s winter trip to Yosemite as well. My closeup take of tunnel view.

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.’