Saturday, May 24, 2014

California Finale

Alison and I adored our time in Northern California, and we have my brother-in-law Tim, my sister Jen, and Tim's parents to thank for everything. Paul and Julie were wonderful hosts with an amazing home. In tribute to them, here's a picture of the lanterns in their backyard, taken from a chair where I melted and let the world run its course. 

California, Part 6 - San Francisco

This marks the conclusion of our California trip and my subsequent posts. After experiencing the beauty of national parks and monuments, hugging a redwood or two, and nearly falling off enough cliffs, it was time to do the only thing you can do to pass the time in San Francisco -- touristy bull.

We stood here and made a lot of Sean Connery/Nicholas Cage jokes.

People don't always eat their bread bowls. 

We had a lunch here. (What is this, Instagram?)

Best House Paint

Best Led Zeppelin playing street performer, 12-string and all.

Of course I rode a trolley. I love trains and anything that falls under their general classification.

Upstreet shot from the trolley.

The loving smirk of a person who knows just how excited I am to be on a trolley.

Downhill from the back of the trolley.

And then we left San Francisco for our perfect beach home. In the morning I packed my bags and headed to the airport and back home to shoot Blowout 17, while Alison stayed in Sonoma for a week, working. We both loved our time in California, and I think one last mini-post will serve as a thank you to our hosts.

Friday, May 23, 2014

California, Part 5 - Muir Woods

My wife found Muir Woods. When we were heading for California with the family, and she knew she'd be staying an extra week for work, a picture of redwoods popped into her head, and our fate was sealed. Seeing the woods was our main goal -- nothing else about the time spent in the Bay area mattered. We disregarded San Francisco -- yes, we went there, but that comes later, because our whole stay was centered around seeing amazing trees and nature. Muir Woods.

We stayed nearby in Muir Beach, in a cottage that was absolutely perfect. Here's the view from our deck that morning when I woke up.

Muir Woods gets crowded fast, but when you're already north of the bridge and down the road from it when you wake up, you can beat the crowd. We barely dealt with anyone during our three hours in the monument. Instead, we just spent time with this:

Wife for scale.

Thank goodness for John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. This was the most impressive, significant, powerful place we visited. If you've ever put it on a list of things to do in life, then move it to the top.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

California Part 4 - Napa and the Coast, Highway 1

After five days together in NorCal, my family took off for home, while Alison and I took the long ride to San Francisco. You see, we'd decided to stay in Muir Beach thanks to giving us a better rate on paradise than we could have gotten on a cruddy San Fran hotel room. You'll see that paradise and the reason later -- first, let's talk about the way we got there.

We stopped in Napa city, picked up a map, and settled on the Frank Family Vineyards up in Calistoga. It was our destined location.

Beautiful grounds and a reprieve from driving in the rain were enough for me, but then we went in for a tasting and mentioned we were headed to Muir Beach. The man behind the counter informed us there was one truly spectacular way to get there: Highway 1.

We had the time, and he had a pen, so with a makeshift map we left the fields and headed through Napa and Sonoma valleys, all the way to the western edge of the state, country, and continent. Once we were past the petrified forest and through the fields of vines, it was us and the Pacific.

This is what the road looks like in front of you, all the time. It's difficult to focus on, however, because of everything on your right. 

Along this drive, we pulled off the road countless times, and my wife said some of the most pertinent advice about life I've ever been told. "If you want to be a photographer, you need to get out of the car." I jumped out at every stop that day, and I've been living according to those words ever since.

I really need to take one last opportunity to thank that man in Calistoga that drew a map for us, because it led to one of the greatest and most memorable times in our life together. What an adventure.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

California, Part 3 - Hiking about

Being in Northern California was amazing because there was always so much to see. At first I really did not care for driving, because I'm from a place where we flattened out everything and paved it twice to make getting from point A to B as simple as possible. This is not true of Sonora and its surroundings, where a winding road leads to another and everything takes twenty minutes to get to, at least. Along these roads, however, you can pull off to the side and see some truly amazing sites. This post is dedicated to the world I had to see just by parking on the shoulder and wandering off.

That's me, on a cliff. For the first time, I mean that literally. 

I didn't get a ton of night/long-exposure work done, so here's the only one. 
Edit: I got a request for how I did the above photo, so here's the details: Tripod is a must, and I used varied exposures of 8 to 30 seconds until I got what I wanted. Set your ISO to 1600 (or as high as it goes without getting grainy) and then put all your adjustments into Aperature -- open it up (low f/stop number) and make that your only variable for a bit.

This was an amazing time. My wife took the first one (of me), but the rest are all me. As I've said with all California posts, if you are interested in a full resolution for a print, just shoot me an email. Thanks!


Friday, May 16, 2014

California, Part 2 -- Small Towns

We went to a lot of small towns throughout Northern California, and I took some pictures. The whole area of Sonora and surroundings is referred to as the Mother Lode, due to the gold rush, and the remnant mining towns are tourist-friendly without being overbearing on price. Actually, everything I saw was free.