And Summer Begins …

Unprecedented weather along the middle coastline of California just about an hour north of San Francisco brought us to spend a couple of days outside. Car camping, camp food and good company, getting a few camera wielding people to enjoy the outdoors doesn’t take too much “arm-twisting”.

After a shoreline shoot, we get ourselves into position and wait for sunset to appear … it was definitely worth the 1/2 mi. hike to the spot I had envisioned from photos online.

With day ending and the sun breaking the horizon for the day, the fun begins as the golden light develops.

Love this composition of the two bodies of water on each side of the land mass.

Nighttime shoot session until 1am (photo coming soon from camera).

Sleep.

Then, catch early morning light amongst these leaning giants.

Then, head home for the time being … we’ll be back again.

Nature & Music Collided

Peace.

Sitting amongst the crashing waves and settled sand underfoot under the early evening hours waning light, sitting in surrounded circle while being treated to a private and personal piano concert (that’s mic’d up to our wireless headsets, is something I’d not thought I’d find myself ever doing. Actually, I was lost in the surreal sounds of a masterfully played piano while ably wandering aimlessly on the sand in the semi-dark closing of the day.

Wow.

What a concept to be uplifted through a musical journey where the distractions of external sounds are blocked out. All that can be heard are the delicate notes being played by a lone pianist, hearing even the slightest flawed notes in transition from one rift to the next. It doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of it. Non-perfection. One solid continuous hour, unbroken by anything except your own passing thoughts … I didn’t want it to end.

Transformative.

Here are a few silent snaps …

Because it’s all Important.

After having recently completed a nearly 3 week photo junket in southwest China, I came away (as always) learning much to refine future visits with western tastes in mind from a photographic sense. Yes, there are differences – very different. The idea of what’s photographically appealing is likely a cultural issue rather than an esthetic one. If you ever want to know these details, which I can’t get into in this post, hit me up and I’ll gladly pour over them while sipping tea or coffee.

In case you’re thinking … well, that’s just not fair! I wanna’ know right now! How ’bout I show you what I captured from this one location, which for some, may give rise to more questions than answers.

The location, in particular, is a wondrous place somewhere between Shanghai and Hong Kong along the coast of the South China Sea called Xiapu. In the last 10 years of so, it’s been a featured location in Asian National Geographic and ever since has been a mecca for Chinese with cameras. It is little known elsewhere in the world as a photographically appealing destination for some reason I cannot explain.

Xiapu is a 3rd-tier type of city with one industry. Seaweed. It accounts for the lion’s share of this rich green crop for China and beyond. It’s full of detail, abstracts, impressionistic and idyllic photographic opportunities, but it comes with a price … Ready? Here it is …

You may be asking yourself … what’s wrong with this images? Why wouldn’t I want to capture these for myself? The short answer is, there’s much more to any photograph than the image itself. What is this you may ask? How about considering attending one of my upcoming photo workshops to magical places that are designed to inspire your mind, heart and spirit to see more of this wondrous world in which we live in.

Whether it’s you or someone you may know who wants to see a different part of the world through fresh eyes, wide open, leave me a message, email and hit this website to see what’s next this year!

www.intrepidphotosojourns.com

I’ll see you on the other side of the world on our next adventure together!

Bloom or Gloom?

With all the hype around the unusually wet winter here in Southern California this past season along with (typical) dryer years during the same time, the inter webs have been blooming over wildflowers blanketing the eastern hills with sprays of orange, yellows, purples and green. Viewing with envy, the many posts & pics from the past month, I finally had the chance to venture some 2 hours from where I now live to the eastern slopes of the much talked about Walker Canyon.

From the time you exit the freeway, you get a sense of the zaniness from all of the commotion going on in the movement of cars and people … and this was at 3:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon! I can see why the weekends are an absolute nightmare for an area that’s usually not frequented by the masses and not setup for this type of adoration for wildflowers. Anyhow … upon parking, the mild leisurely stroll up the canyon on nicely carved roads makes for easy navigation throughout the canyon itself.

Is it a love for the flower, outdoors or just a seen and be seen to instagram or facebook that brings out the best and worse in events like this? Bad (human) behavior is shows itself along the roads as pink and yellow plastic tape with closure signs in attempts to ward off folks traipsing through sensitive or overrun areas on the hills themselves. Even with these friendly reminders for good behavior, witnessing several on the other side of the tape proves that … well … people suck! It’s me me me me, I’m an (self-imposed) important ‘grammer that has to go beyond the rules to get whatever pic that they think is different or sic, just to get ‘likes’ on social media. Ugh. From young to older, singles and groups and peeps wearing fancy dresses for photo ops, it’s great that the appreciation from nature is alive and well in the day of video games and the like, but c’mon people – respect the place will ya?

I digress. As we walked further in to the canyon, we began to ask ourselves … where are the huge blooms and pop of color (other than the green hills) that we’ve all seen on social media? Was it too late in the season and they’re withering away? Was it the wrong time of day? Golden Poppies do open and close to grab sunlight and go dormant during the nighttime, so perhaps that was the reason for such little orange coverage on the hills. I’m no horticulturist so I have no idea. Nonetheless, it was well worth the ride out here – if not to walk around outside to get some fresh air!

Happy Windsday!

Power of the flower lives on.

The Other Blue Angel …

… It’s been awhile since I shot fast moving things, so it was time to brush up on slightly different camera settings. It took a bit of trial and error, but I think I had it dialed in for what I had (lense-wise). I wanted to rent the Tamron 150-600mm beast of a lens, but my bad planning didn’t allow for its arrival in time, so I just went with my 28-300mm, turned my Nikon D850 into a DX machine, which gave me 450mm at the long end. I could’ve used 150mm more, but I can’t complain. Just to be there was a thrill. Luckily, there was a CVS across the street from where I was shooting as I forgot my earplugs – a highly recommended accessory – these things scream and roar that’ll keep your ears ringing for a couple hours afterwards.

(Click on images above to enlarge them)

It was a perfectly clear day. Blue sky. No wind. Lots of sunshine. And … lots of people! The latter was manageable and didn’t really get in the way as I was pointing skyward most of the time. There single-props, skydivers, Boeing 777, C41, a flight squadron called the Patriots and of course the Blue Angels.

Fleet week is one of those celebrations where you can think what you think about war machines, but in the end, you can’t dispute the raw power of these awesome machines that defy gravity, not to mention human tolerance in the amount of G-force one can sustain without blacking out.

Enjoy the results!

Entertainer by …

IMG_1727

… any other name, but much more than that. Last year whilst roaming the streets of Gion, Kyoto it was raining pretty hard, thwarting any chance of seeing the famed female entertainers scurrying about throughout the evening. Today started out no different as it again started off with several threatening sprinkles of rain – even late into the day. Feeling bummed, I gave up on any chance of being ‘rained out’ again. But, as luck would have it, Continue reading

A is not for Apple

Some think it morbid to want to go to such places as these. Some rather spend their holidays lying on the beach or spending time in some swank place … me? Wherever I can, I try to make time to visit off the beaten path places, places of cultural or world significance. Finally making it to this site (and city), has been a longtime Bucket List … check.

The enduring city of Hiroshima hosts (unfortunately) the Peace Memorial Museum which displays a memorial around the ill-fated August 6, 1945 event that would forever change the world as we see it today. Especially in light of today’s warring rhetoric b/n two chest-beating people in high positions to (yet again) change the world … or destroy it altogether.

Right now, the museum is undergoing a major renovation, so the main building isn’t accessible, but they did a good job at displaying things in their temporary home quite well. From a photographic sense, it didn’t feel right to make images of the havoc and devastation the A-Bomb had on personal human life, so documenting objects and the land around them was powerful enough to convey the loss. Will we, as humans, ever learn that disputes over (anything) are just small slivers of the larger more important things in life? This writing can easily take a political turn – it’s hard not to go there. But, the bottomline in all of this is living peaceably amongst ourselves. I know this is too rosy of an outlook on the many things we as humans fight about, so I would go there.

Imagery is powerful. Imagery teaches. Can imagery help to change some of our evils ways? In one of my images above, I couldn’t help but to simulate the ghostly blast on that ill-fated day …

How fitting to have gone to a peace event on August 6th in a nearby city be The Bay:  https://intrepidsojourns.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/peace/

 

Peace.

8:15am, August 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan was struck by the first atomic bomb that shook the country and the world testing both human invention and how tragic some of these innovations can be on human life and the human society around the world.

Held virtually every year since then, Japan and the world calls out for world peace with a ceremony of peace to mark remembrance of the over 140,000 irreplaceable human lives lost as a result of human conflict. Along with a solemn moment of silence, lanterns are set afloat along waterway shore where both the Peace Memorial Park and one the last surviving building stands to pay homage to these people and to look forward to a more forgiving future.

heiwa taiko

Remembrance & Celebration. The Heiwa Taiko drum group led the heart pounding beats. The man in blue is a survivor of the bombing; he was only 14 years old at the time.

A few years ago, the San Francisco Bay Area Peace Lantern Ceremony was started to commemorate this tragic event located at Aquatic Park in Berkeley, CA. This is my first time attending and was quite surprised at the attendance – both in numbers and in diversity. Asian, white, black, latino, young and old et al, all congregating under one common theme: peace. Even in today’s current crazy world political and societal misgivings, people seemingly still crave for this most basic of all things … to live harmoniously with and amongst each other. From all appearances, 2 to 3 thousand were on hand as night fell with the guidance of ceremonial Taiko drum performances, survivor testimony and buddhist prayer led us towards the lantern launching. The glow of the lanterns began to release their messages that were personalized by many in attendance. As the gentle current of the water picked up ever so slightly to give life to the lanterns, somber Japanese themed music could be heard along the shoreline. It was a surreal event designed to touch the soul and (hopeful) in renewing the good in the human spirit.

Here are a few images from the lanterns … amongst all of the lanterns, there were a few that struck a cord with me, you can’t miss them when viewing them individually. Maybe there is hope for humankind … (click on any of the image below to view in full screen)

 

 

 

Get off the Strip

vofa1

The Las Vegas Strip that is. Not far away, about an hour+ drive from all of the glitz, glamour and craziness of the commercial city of sin lies Nevada’s first state park. Upon taking the exit from the main highway from town, you begin to drive down a long straight away single lane paved road. Off into the distance, you can see mountain formations as you pass desert-like flat terrain. As you near these mountains, the road take a drastic (and very drivable I might add) turn … literally. The road becomes windy as you make your way for about 15 miles through this vast nothing-ness. At first, I thought to myself as I was driving along was, “… I hope this car doesn’t breakdown … cuz’ I ain’t seen anybody since I left the highway … I have some water, but not days worth …” This kind of thinking, yes, is self-preservation induced, but you have to think of these things as you scenery changes to complete remoteness – I’ve been there several times and yet, I’m still here!

 

Anyhow, making one last turn off from this road, a small sign reads, “Welcome to the Valley of Fire”. Encouraged to continue. Since the forecast (in July on this day) was supposed to be in the upper 90s to low 100s(*F), I wanted to arrive early enough to where the sun would be beating down on me straight overhead. Even at 8am, you can just feel it was going to be a toasty day – good thing is is that you’re out and away from the concrete and asphalt jungle which retains at least 20*F so it shouldn’t be too bad. After self-paying entry, make a few turns down the main park drive and you’re immediately transformed to another world.

The landscape turns to a rust colored wonderland of strange formations that (from movies) look like a scene from planet Mars – definitely not one that resembles Earth as we typically see it. The blacktop road undulates through this valley of fire colored pock- marked vermillion rolling hills. Along these roads are well marked vista points that point you towards the more structures such as Arch Rock, Elephant Rock with the Fire Wave not but a mile from a parking lot. This park, more than many others of this type have several easily accessible natural wonders to enjoy and marvel at. What’s even nicer is human traces around these wonders were far and few – I have seen the worst of human visitation in our grand state and national parks of the western part of the US. While setting out for one of the scenic areas, I happened upon a young couple making their way to the same spot. Being that they had been photographing it the night before, they knew the way – thankfully they helped lead the way.

 

Because of recent travels to places where heat is a factor, I have come to seek out lighter and lighter camera kit while upholding a certain amount of image quality (better than a quickie snap from my trusty iPhone), leaning towards a kit that has been making great strides in the digital area of photography over the past 4 or so years – Fujifilm. This trip was sort of an experiment for me to see what I can come up with with only a single focal length … ok, perhaps a screw on lens attachment to allow for a wide angle, I had two  lengths 27mm and 35mm. For the most part, the 27mm was on most of the time. I found myself not being bogged down by a zoom lens, let alone the carry weight. It was liberating in a way. For those of you who have ever lugged around a DSLR, you know where I’m coming from – especially those pro-type kits that border on 7lbs! This may not sound like a lot, but trust me, it begins to tug and tire you out more than you know when it’s strapped to you for more than 5 hours. My camera carry weight was around a pound and a half now. Heck, I schlepped more water (a definite must in these conditions) than I did in kit weight. Billed as a street photographers tool, I am becoming overwhelmingly convinced that the Fujifilm X100F is an all-around camera for most genres. Highly mobile. High image quality. Bonus … it’s whisper quiet shutter has allowed me to stealthy fire off frames in such forbidden places as monasteries …. shhhh.

 

We were lucky this day – weather wise. Although the sun was fully out and heating the desert, we were gifted a fair amount of cloud cover to filter the suns relentless beatdown allowing for a bit more exploration than usual for this time of year. It being just past high noon and the clouds beginning to disperse widely, it was time to leave and head back to the (even hotter) concrete jungle of the Las Vegas Strip. I highly recommend visiting this magical place for a day to give yourself a break from the one-arm bandit (and possibly from losing $$ too). Viva Las Vegas!