These two people live far away from me, but somehow distance doesn’t separate us. I’m from Georgia originally. Will and I were in our first band together. We went to high school together. So when I heard that Will and Jenn got engaged I was beside myself with happiness. Will was one of my groomsmen just 4 short years ago, before I even started shooting weddings. I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world. It was a grand evening catching up with old friends and making some new ones.
I traveled light on this one and although I brought an umbrella and a softbox, I was unable to use them due to the wind and lack of proper sand bags or assistant. So it was all about bounce flash, or fill flash and for this I used and promptly lost my beloved Rogue Flashbender. Ill definitely be buying another one of those. So I ended up shooting the whole thing without modifiers, something I haven’t done for about two years. All shots are with either 10-22 or 70-200IS II and Canon7D. I did get to shoot two bodies, I usually shoot one. I thought it would be too cumbersome, but it turned out to be quite convenient and I didn’t miss fumbling around and changing lenses, that’s for sure. Glendalough Manor turned out to be one of the most accommodating, photographer-friendly venues I’ve ever worked< I can't to shoot again in Georgia, I'd love for it to be there again. In a shocking coincidence, Winslow Thomas, an old buddy from my days at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, turned out to be the officiant. I've been in California since 1998, but I return to shoot this wedding and I ran into two old friends in a town of millions. What are the chances?
It felt amazing to catch up with old friends, take some photos and visit the state I grew up in. As I flew West, I must have been polluting the heartland with contrails of nostalgia. Click here for the full set of high resolution images.
It was a beautiful day, one I won't forget.
I’ve decided to merge two posts here. One is about a trip down Route 66, the other about a San Gabirel Mountain hike. It was an adventurous weekend that reminded me how fun and exciting being a phtographer can be. You don’t even need a camera really, all you need is a sense of curiousity and adventure. You’ve heard me wax poetic about being an observer before, but this is meant to be a wake up call.
Get off your ass and live a fun life. Find that interesting thing in your town that you never did. Do you know how many New Yorkers haven’t been to the Statue of Liberty? I don’t either but it’s a lot. Did you ever get that downer feeling when you return home after a long vacation? You’re returning to work, to the same streets you’ve become numb to and the thought of returning home becomes a drag. This is all mental. This is all in your head.
Having had enough, my hiking buddies and I decided during a trip home from the Sierras that we weren’t gonna put up with it anymore. We bought a book on our little Mojave desert city and became tourists in our own town. The trick is to not let your surroundings get by you. Its too easy for a callus to form; too easy to get used to the smell of your job that eventually you just don’t smell it anymore. Its way too easy to be underwhelmed by the ordinary.
The ordinary is amazing. If it isn’t, you’re not looking hard enough. You don’t have to lower your standards, you just have to see better. Take a walk. Go to a museum. Open your eyes wider and drink a milkshake. Make love on the kitchen counter this time. Offend someone and don’t be sorry about it. You can start by commenting below.
For a slide show of these images, click here.
Heather and I took the majestic highway 395 North to Bishop to take in the changing color and too much good bread from Eric Schatt’s Bakkery. A few friends who shall remain nameless once made the five hour journey just for bread and turned back and headed straight home.
Fall in California is elusive for Angelenos or those in the Southern and desert regions. Some might argue that autumn and spring simply don’t exist in the Southwest. For a few lucky Californians, fall is an explosion of weather, color and trout.
In spite of having the most comfortable bed ever in history, we woke up reluctantly each morning hoping to catch just the right light. We headed to 3 separte alpine lakes: Lake Sabrina, North Lake and then South Lake on the following day. Each location was packed with hopeful anglers and a smattering of photographers here and there. We even ran into a group called the Nikonians, who happened to be on the same picture-taking circuit that we were. Heather and I sported the only Canons around and tried to represent as best we could.
On the way, home we stopped at all of the photo-ops we could including the Volcanic Table Lands, and Fossil Falls. We also took a turn towards nearby marshy Klondike Lake to get better shots of CalTech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory.
Our last stop would be Manzanar, the site of an American concentration camp. Japanese-Americans, some born in the U.S. and having no connection to Japan, were given a week to liquidate their belongings and get to the train station whem Japan declared war on the United States. This visit shook me like I knew it would. I was ashamed at what we were capable of. It was a sad chapter in history, taking place in a harsh but beautiful climate that attracted the likes of Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange. It also attracted two A-10 Warthog attack planes and an F-16, I couldn’t help but think of my brother, the a-10 pilot, and if that could be him up there tumbling around through the clouds at 500 miles an hour.
The Canon 7D still seems to be meeting every one of my expectations. Even my biggest issue, no assignable AEB button, has now been overcome simply by editing a Camera User Setting. There are still many things I need to get used to on this camera body, but I am loving the feel and the results. I honestly believe that my best work is ahead of me and thats in no small part due to my new acquisition.
I’m going to leave this one short and sweet. Thanks for reading and I hope you come back next time.
We have been very, very slack in our hiking lately. Its really shameful. Last Sunday, we tried to find our way back. We normally scoff at 10 and 12 mile hikes as with thousands of feet of elevation change; last weekend, we barely topped 2 miles.
This isn’t for lack of trying. The Station Fire, according to the media has laid waste to 160,000 acres of our playground, the Angeles National Forest which is essentially the San Gabriel Mountains. From where we are, the burn doesn’t look so dramatic, so we are anxious to get up there to survey the damage. We decided to grab our favorite hiking guides and our maps and head as far in as we could get before we were stopped. We didn’t get very far. We did see some burned out post-apoctalyptic landscapes in the distance, but nothing that anyone living in Southern California for a while hasn’t seen before. Fires are a part of life here just like earthquakes and avocados.
We didn’t expect the roads to be closed here. We continued around the northernmost range of the San Gabriels in hopes to find our way up a fire road for a peak. All roads into the forest were blocked and it looked serious. We continued to drive East to the Devil’s Punchbowl, a natural sincline that we have hiked more often than any other local site. The fire was one entire range away, so we figured we would at least head out to the Devil’s Chair, one of our favorite spots. The geology around these rock formations is dramatic and exiting. Everywhere you look there is evidence of fault activity. The San Andreas runs directly underfoot here and makes for some lovely desert terrain.
When we arrive at our home trail, so to speak, we throw on our packs and walk to the nature center as we always do, only to be greeted with a sign that informed us that, ” ALL TRAILS CLOSED.” Damn. We walk inside and inquire as to when our playground, the Mojave Desert’s backyard oasis, my church will re-open and the 5d Mark II wielding attendant stated that it was up to the U.S. Forest Service and there was no possible way to know when they’d open it again. “It could be a day, it could be months.” We started to speculate hopefully that it could’nt have burned everything. The trails here must be closed because they don’t have the personnel for a search and rescue operation, right? The map of the burn read like a laundry list of our favorite mountains and hiking trails. They always have a rattlesnake, an owl or a tarantula along with other flora and fauna for the public. There was a Boy Scout group there, taunting the rattler who sound like he couldn’t possibly rattle any faster or louder to get his point across. Ruth, the barn owl, was there as she was last time so we said hello.
We retreated to the valley floor and away from the San Gabriels, leaving the USFS to its work.
The first time I saw a shuttle landing it was STS-4 and Roanld Reagan was there. That was July 4th, 1982. I’ll never forget how amazing that day was. There were American flags everywhere and what seemed like millions of proud Americans, baking in the hot Mojave sun. I saw the president speak from a podium in front of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. He seemed so small to me – dwarfed by the orbiter. Twenty seven years later lor last Friday, I returned to Edwards Air Force Base to watch another.
Before I moved to California from Georgia, it seems like the shuttle landed at Edwards Air Force Base just a couple of times after they built a runway at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They now try to avoid the cost of flying the orbiter across counrty on the back of a Boeing 747. Since, I moved here, the weather in Florida has conspired to allow me to see 4 landings now. None of them were as good as this one. My friend and reliable geek, Jonathon Redman drove us out to the North side of EAFB where we located an elevated train trestle, which would serve perfectly to elevate our line of sight above some sandy burms between us and runway 22. We had to drive down an access road of questionable density, bringing about the fear that after this was all over, we may have to get towed out of the sand and back to civilization.
We brought everything but the kitchen sink to help view/record the event: Celestron 20X80 binoculars on a paralellogram mount, Heather’s new Canon EOS 50D, Jonathon’s Sony video camera, Jonathon’s scanner with antenna to hear shuttle communications, two pairs of 10X50 binoculars and some water and snacks to power the eyeballs. Soon after we set up, I noticed that a radar tracking facility on the case had come online and had begun tracking an object. Taking our cue, we assumed that that object was Discovery and started to look in the general area at which the dishes were pointed. By the time we saw the inside of the dishes angled slightly toward us, we knew it must be overhead.
Every landing I’ve seen, someone always catches sight of the shuttle before I do or no one knows where it is until you hear the sonic booms associated with the craft breaking the speed of sound. This time, for a few short seconds, we spotted Discovery even before the sonic booms.
It was glorious. The partly-cloudy sky provided a reference to actually view the movement of approach instead of seeing the shuttle floating in a sea of blue sky, which provided for a much more dynamic viewing. The shuttle glided silently over a throng of tilted heads, over the desert and over it’s mother Earth. We couldn’t have asked for higher visibility or contrast. There, for the world to see, was proof that we can still achieve amazing things violently descending through the air. I wanted to catch it so that it wouldn’t break, the old man. I wanted to show the world how we’re not over yet and here is the proof. My eyes were locked on the shuttle. I switched from Binoculars to camera and back. At one point, through my trusty bino’s, I could actually read ‘the United States’ on the cargo bay doors. Our gamble with the train trestle paid off when we witnessed the puffs of smoke from landing gear touchdown, unobscured by the buildings that plagued viewers closer to paved roads. It was the best landing I’ve ever seen.
On the way home, I was wishing that Heather could’ve made it (she was working). Jonathon and I sat replaying the event in our heads, driving down the desert highway. The sun was moving on to Wester pastures but left a trail of clouds on fire in its wake. The windmills in Mojave served as reminders that there are forces much larger than us at play all around us.
The Space Shuttle program is coming to an end. The last launch is scheduled for May 2010. For several years, we will rely on Russian technology to reach the Internation Space Station. This is embarassing. I witnessed the construction of a single stage to orbit vehicle only to be canceled by our former president. There is no reason why we shouldn’t have some sort of active manned spaceflight program at all times. The science justifies it and we need it as our frontier. I look forward to the future of manned space flight, but I can’t help but think that we are taking a lateral step.
All images taken with Heather’s 50D and 28-135mm USM. I couldn’t help but snap a few shots of this guy riding his bike along highway 14. The images all had great blurred backgrounds invoking a ton of motion. I plan on really doing a shot like this correctly in the near future, so this is an informal sketch.
I’ve been very busy lately with classes at Cal State Northridge, so I haven’t been updating as much as I’d like. I’ve already got more Pin-Ups images to post before too long and I’ve got to get caught up before Canon releases the EOS 7D, my future new camera. I’ve spent many hours researching and I hope this is the right choice. The word is Bust Buy should receive shipment on October 11th. I just hope I can wait a month. I’ve already started to read the manual and it seems like it’ll be our goto machine for most of our work in our new photography business. We’ve also turned in our application for the Arbor Lofts mentioned in an earlier post so cross your fingers. All in all, things are going very well so stay tuned for much much more to come.
We usually don’t repeat trails since there are so many around here, but we love Mt. Waterman. It has the feel of the Sierras on the summit plateau, its a nice and easy 6 miles or so and its not too far from home. The visibility wasn’t what we had hoped and we couldn’t even see the Antelope Valley through the smoke from a wildfire; however, towards the end of the day, we did see all the way to Catalina. We’ve been flaking on our hiking lately so this short day made for a great return to the trail.
Artist lofts in Lancaster? Your stimulus dollars at work. A few weeks ago, my wife Heather went to downtown Lancaster, where once a month they shut down the street and have a small street fair. Heather went to image the fire dancers. They happened to perform right in front of this great building. Curious, she went in for more info. It turns out that this a low-income artist housing project that is part of the federal stimulus package.
After some inquiry, yesterday I went for a walkthrough. It is now my mission to move into this building. Complete with a well put together art gallery on the first floor facing Lancaster Blvd. , this place seems more contemporary than the town it sits in. Balconies, natural light, reasonable rent. I’ve actually never been in such a well designed building in Lancaster. It was inspiring. I should have rubber banded my jaw shut. I only hope my art is good enough to get me in there. Cross your fingers for us.
At the end of our week in the first place ever set aside for preservation of beauty we had seen bears, pheasants and our lives flash before our eyes. Animals, danger, peace, vertical miles, food and digital images. What else could one ask for?
Eli, Russ and Heather waiting for the free hybrid shuttle bus, anticipating a long day of hiking.
Vernal Falls. While climbing down to this view, I slipped on a moss covered rock and landed right on my ass. Any closer to the Merced River and I may have been a goner. Two weeks to the day before this shot was taken, a woman fell into this river and has not been found since. Signs asking the public for help could be seen all over the park.
The Mist Trail is the most popular trail in the park and the one that turned Heather and I into hikers. The weather on this day left much to be desired and the trail was packed. The light for photography was very low, but we had a great time taking it all in.