Scouting in Yosemite

Since we moved to California in April of 2017, I hadn’t had a chance to visit the world renowned park which is nearly in my backyard (if you consider 4 hours drive your backyard ­čÖé ).

I spent 3 nights in and around Yosemite mostly scouting an area I have never been to. Much more to see and photograph, but here are a few to start. Aerials coming soon ­čÖé

Multiple exposures near twilight at Tunnel View, Yosemite

Multiple exposures near twilight at Tunnel View, Yosemite

A classic view of the reflection of late evening light over Half Dome

A classic view of the reflection of late evening light over Half Dome

A serene cloudless morning at Lundy Canyon

A serene cloudless morning at Lundy Canyon

An elevated view into the valley exposes layers of aspens, pines, and granite rock in late morning light

An elevated view into the valley exposes layers of aspens, pines, and granite rock in late morning light

The full moon shines light on granite under the blue, early night sky filled with stars

The full moon shines light on granite under the blue, early night sky filled with stars

The sun sinks beneath high peaks and casts color across the valley

The sun sinks beneath high peaks and casts color across the valley

Light peeks through clouds and on high crags near Yosemite

Light peeks through clouds and on high crags near Yosemite

Escape to Maui

Last month we went back to Hawaii – this time the island of Maui. A relaxing trip for sure. But since I was still on Pacific time, I was waking up around 5a every morning. So I spent my time exploring and photographing nearby. A few shots to keep me going, but I hope to have more time to devote to photography…

A blast of color at sunset under the crescent moon at Lahaina, Maui

A blast of color at sunset under the crescent moon at Lahaina, Maui

Striations and patterns carved in lava rock

Striations and patterns carved in lava rock

Rough seas cut through lava rock at Ironwoods beach, Maui

Rough seas cut through lava rock at Ironwoods beach, Maui

Bright lights and fast water converge in an abstract representation

Bright lights and fast water converge in an abstract representation

The sun rises above the shooting seawater of Nakalele Blowhole

The sun rises above the shooting seawater of Nakalele Blowhole


An abstract from the color and movement of the sky and waterAn abstract from the color and movement of the sky and water

An abstract from the color and movement of the sky and water

Return to Shark Fin Cove

Last week, I took a trip back to Shark Fin Cove which has been an early favorite for me along the Norcal coast. I find myself returning again and again to the coast for my evening shoots – an hour drive away from the suburban bustle of Silicon Valley.

This time though, I got a chance to experiment with a new toy, a DJI Mavic Air. I wasn’t convinced that videography is for me for so long, but I am happy I finally made the leap. The technology itself is worth the experience. It’s really crazy how much smarts are packed into this small device, as well as ability to capture a compelling image. I have some ideas in mind to experiement with different types of photography/videography with the Mavic… hope you’ll stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’ll give you the clip from my maiden shoot. A little rough on the edges, but still a lot of fun. Oh, and also some still images I had to capture at lands end.

 

Intense waves crash up the coast at sunset at Shark Fin Cove

Intense waves crash up the coast at sunset at Shark Fin Cove

The namesake sea stack of Shark Fin Cove reflects in tide pools at the shore at sunset

The namesake sea stack of Shark Fin Cove reflects in tide pools at the shore at sunset

Sunset over Pacifica

Last week, I shot sunset over Pacifica and Mori Point. The sea stacks of Sharp Park beach are awesome, and this vantage point would especially be nice during wildflower season. After the cloudless sunset, Venus and early evening stars began shining brightly — mimicking the formation of the 3 large sea stacks in the ocean.

Threes Tango - Sea stacks dance with Venus and early evening stars over the rough Pacific

Sea stacks dance with Venus and early evening stars over the rough Pacific

Symphony Shore

We visited Monterey and Big Sur over the weekend, and finally traveled down to Bixby bridge and McWay Falls! Just before sunset, dappled light hit the cliffs and made for a very peaceful scene

Dappled light over the cliffs over fields of flowers at the coast near Big Sur

Dappled light over the cliffs over fields of flowers at the coast near Big Sur

Sunset at Shark Fin Cove

Things have been super busy since we moved to California in April of last year. But now, we are finally settling into our new home and I was able to spend some time continuing to explore the coast. I know I promised I would move away from coastal photography, but I couldn’t resist.

A blast of color through rough surf during an otherwise gray evening at Shark Fin Cove near Davenport, CA

A blast of color through rough surf during an otherwise gray evening at Shark Fin Cove near Davenport, CA

Dreamy Drama

Another coastal shot! Made it out to natural bridges state park just north of Santa Cruz. Cold water but I quickly got acclimated to it as I stood waist deep to get some good wave action…with another earth, sea, sky shot — maybe time to explore a little inland.

Strong currents and soft light at sunset at Natural Bridges State Park, California

Strong currents and soft light at sunset at Natural Bridges State Park, California

Exploring Cali

In the 6+ months we have lived in the Bay Area, shooting opportunities have been very few. Recently though we took a trip to Lake Tahoe and I had a business trip to San Diego.  I did my best to get back out there and in the elements. 

Finally I feel like I’m starting to explore this beautiful state we live in!

 

Lake Tahoe Sunrise

 

A peaceful sunrise after snowfall at the north shore of Tahoe

Crashing Waves at Tahoe

 

La Jolla Sunset

La Jolla Sunset

La Jolla Sunset

Finally… SF Sunrise

It’s been so long but getting back to the swing of things. My first trip up to SF for sunrise. No clouds – all good. 2 hour commute back to South bay – all bad

Crashing waves at Marshall's Beach

Crashing waves at Marshall’s Beach

A Trip to Paradise

We have been living in the bay area for almost 6 months now… crazy how time flies! In the months since we have been here, we have been busy getting settled. After several months of the grind, we finally got a chance to get away to Hawaii for our 5 year anniversary and my wife’s bday. One of the advantages of living in the west coast is that 5 hours later, we can plop down at a gorgeous beach like we did at Waikiki.

While I really have not spent much time at all in the last 6 months on photography, I had to get a sunrise shoot squeezed into our relaxing time on Oahu. This is my take on the sunrise from Lanai Lookout, just near Hanauma Bay. The sun rose through the haze and highlighted sparkles through the crashing water coming to the lava rock shores.

I hope that in the coming months I can spend more time exploring California through photography. But for this vacation, it was nice to just get back in the swing of things.

Waves crash as the sun rises at Lanai lookoutWaves crash as the sun rises at Lanai lookout

Waves crash as the sun rises at Lanai lookout

Solar Eclipse 2017 in Walnut Creek, CA

I took a few hours to check out an amazing celestial display in the solar eclipse. The experience was really amazing even as I did not witness “totality”. Maybe in 2024 ­čÖé

 

The moon shrouds the sun over the Diablo range

The moon shrouds the sun over the Diablo range

A dark filter reflects the hills of Walnut Creek under the solar eclipse

A dark filter reflects the hills of Walnut Creek under the solar eclipse

Peak Color Peak Bloom

Last evening, storm clouds caught some nice color at sunset. A long exposure streaked the clouds and calmed the water over the Jefferson memorial and still peaking blossoms 

A long exposure streaks clouds during a colorful sunset at the Tidal Basin

A long exposure streaks clouds during a colorful sunset at the Tidal Basin

Pinks and blues over the city and cherry blossoms below at the Washington Monument

Pinks and blues over the city and cherry blossoms below at the Washington Monument

Peak Bloom Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC 2017

Over the weekend, we hit peak of cherry blossoms. After a warm winter followed by a cold spell while the blossoms were partially exposed, many were worried if we would see Cherry Blossoms as we are accustomed to. I think the bloom is actually really nice! I personally can’t tell a difference between this and previous years. This morning was a beautiful calm fog over the scene, which allowed some beautiful blue tones in the clouds with the pink of the blossoms and allowed for a peaceful mood.

Cherry blossoms line the Tidal Basin during a foggy sunrise

Cherry blossoms line the Tidal Basin during a foggy sunrise

Cherry Blossoms and fog surround the Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms and fog surround the Jefferson Memorial

Cherry blossoms line the Tidal Basin during a foggy sunrise

Cherry blossoms line the Tidal Basin during a foggy sunrise

Cherry Blossoms and fog surround the Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms and fog surround the Jefferson Memorial

Frozen Blossoms

This morning, I was hoping for a little more photogenic and more snow than what we got. But I made the most of it while touring the Tidal Basin. The blossoms were covered in ice while still delicately blooming. Here’s hoping they will last…

 

Jefferson Memorial Frozen Blossoms

Jefferson Memorial Frozen Blossoms

Washington Monument Frozen Blossoms

Washington Monument Frozen Blossoms

Return to Iceland

Last week I returned to Iceland after an amazing trip in October left me wanting more. For this trip, my goal was to capture winter scenes, in particular ice caves and hopefully some aurora. As it turns out, the rainy weather I witnessed in October stayed for the months I was away, and Iceland is continuing to go through a wet and warm winter. There was no snow on the ground when I arrived and in fact the ice caves were in jeopardy of melting due to intense rainfall. We were not even sure if we could visit as we had hoped. Ultimately, we lucked out on one day where we had no rain and less wind which allowed us to hike 10 miles up and down the glacier, capturing photos and flying the drone all the way! Thanks to my new friend Stephan Mantler, who leads amazing small group hikes here. My short trip was highlighted by that arduous and sometimes intimidating trek — where a slip here or there could mean real trouble and a possible slide all the way down the glacier. My friend Bernard Chen, a very good photographer and videographer, documented our hike below. Besides that hike, I also visited Gulfoss, Vik, and some mountain scenes near Pingvellir. Another nice, short trip to Iceland and I appreciate your thoughts on my work!

Gulfoss Abstract - The most violent section of the Gulfoss waterfall captured under overcast skies

Gulfoss Abstract – The most violent section of the Gulfoss waterfall captured under overcast skies

Edge of the Glacier - Glacial streams and massive shapes take form at the edge of one of the fingers of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Edge of the Glacier – Glacial streams and massive shapes take form at the edge of one of the fingers of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Massive shapes at the edge of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier trail far into the valley during a somber sunset

Edge of the Glacier Panoramic – Massive shapes at the edge of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier trail far into the valley during a somber sunset

Here on we started our trip up the glacier! Here’s the documentary our trip up via Bernard Chen and his DJI Mavic Pro.

Call of the North from Bernard Chen on Vimeo.

Ice Hills - Undulating hills fade into the distance atop the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Ice Hills – Undulating hills fade into the distance atop the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Ice Canyon - A closeup of an ice canyon crevasse atop the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Ice Canyon – A closeup of an ice canyon crevasse atop the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Shark Fins - An abstract of the sheer shapes of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Shark Fins – An abstract of the sheer shapes of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Ice Land - Late afternoon light hits rolling hills of ice atop the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Ice Land – Late afternoon light hits rolling hills of ice atop the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

What Lies Beneath - A massive crevasse canyon created by meltwater on top of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

What Lies Beneath – A massive crevasse canyon created by meltwater on top of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Glacier Lake Reflection - The still glacier lagoon reflects light and the distant glacier and mountains at Vatnaj├Âkull

Glacier Lake Reflection – The still glacier lagoon reflects light and the distant glacier and mountains at Vatnaj├Âkull

Under the Cave - Melting water rushes out from the glacier into the lagoon under a translucent ceiling of glacier ice

Under the Cave – Melting water rushes out from the glacier into the lagoon under a translucent ceiling of glacier ice

Stained Glass - Light streams through cyan ice that resembles stained glass in a massive ice cave under the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Stained Glass – Light streams through cyan ice that resembles stained glass in a massive ice cave under the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Glass and Ice - Clouds and the sun reflect in the calm glacier lagoon at sunset in front of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

Glass and Ice – Clouds and the sun reflect in the calm glacier lagoon at sunset in front of the Vatnaj├Âkull glacier

The next day after our hike, we headed back east towards Vik. While in Reynisfjara, I finally was able to scamper over the rocks during low tide and get a full-on view of the impressive sea stacks (the second shot in these two):

Shimmer Beach - Sunlight reflects the shadows of Vik's sea stacks and bright sparkles of shimmering volcanic rocks that make up the black beach

Shimmer Beach – Sunlight reflects the shadows of Vik’s sea stacks and bright sparkles of shimmering volcanic rocks that make up the black beach

Enter Darkness - A long exposure at sunrise creates a moody scene upon full view of the impressive sea stacks at Reynisfjara beach

Enter Darkness – A long exposure at sunrise creates a moody scene upon full view of the impressive sea stacks at Reynisfjara beach

On our way to Pingvellir, I noticed these massive mountains that were partially reflected in a frozen lake. It was an impressive show of size even in grand Iceland:

Moody Mountaintops - Overcast skies cover the peeks of massive mountains above a frozen lake in east Iceland

Moody Mountaintops – Overcast skies cover the peeks of massive mountains above a frozen lake in east Iceland

Sunrise at the Vietnam Memorial and Lincoln Memorial

This morning I led a very cold workshop at the Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials. Not a cloud in the sky and 20-ish degrees, but still a beautiful sight!

A clear and cold sunrise at the Vietnam Memorial

A clear and cold sunrise at the Vietnam Memorial

Sunrise on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Sunrise on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Top Shots of 2016

Another year in review! I’m actually surprised at the amount of shots I captured this year, given that next year’s resolution is to shoot more. Here are my fav 10…Which one is your favorite? 

 

Snow and the surrounding American flags fly towards the Washington Monument during the first night of the 2016 blizzard in Washington DC

Snow and the surrounding American flags fly towards the Washington Monument during the first night of the 2016 blizzard in Washington DC

The late winter's "snow moon" rises over the Memorial Bridge, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial

The late winter’s “snow moon” rises over the Memorial Bridge, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Rain and mist in the high mountains off of ring road in southern Iceland

Rain and mist in the high mountains off of ring road in southern Iceland

A long exposure as the tide creeps on the Stokksnes beach before the Vesturhorn mountain

A long exposure as the tide creeps on the Stokksnes beach before the Vesturhorn mountain

Light shines through the violent waves and translucent icebergs of the ice beach

Light shines through the violent waves and translucent icebergs of the ice beach

An abstract of light and color turns to sensual lines at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

An abstract of light and color turns to sensual lines at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Wildflowers rise from a rocky hillside in the badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Wildflowers rise from a rocky hillside in the badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Stars shine brightly over a pathway of cracked mud at Panamint Playa

Stars shine brightly over a pathway of cracked mud at Panamint Playa

Vibrant flowering trees and calla lillies line the architecture of Oia, Santorini as the sun warms the sky and landscape

Vibrant flowering trees and calla lillies line the architecture of Oia, Santorini as the sun warms the sky and landscape

Cold Sunset in DC

Last night I spent some time down by the memorials. I wanted to get a shot of the wreaths against the Vietnam memorial, but the beautiful clouds started gathering more westward. I did a few long exposures facing the Lincoln Memorial before turning back east to the Washington Monument where the sky had turned a deep pink. A pretty nice and unique sunset despite the cold!

Long Exposure Lincoln Memorial Sunset

Long Exposure Lincoln Memorial Sunset

Pink Sunset at the Reflecting Pool

Pink Sunset at the Reflecting Pool

Fall Foliage in the Washington DC Area

As we finally are seeing cold weather we regularly expect in late November, the autumn leaves — several weeks later than normal, are finally falling off of the trees. This past Saturday was a particularly amazing day. It started at 70 degrees on an afternoon we decided to take our baby to the zoo. By 3pm, a cold front arrived with 40 degree weather and crazy wind! Leaves of all shapes and colors flew across the sky. We may have a week or so left to witness the fall color. I’ll perhaps have a little more to share, but here are a few from the past two weeks:

Great Falls Autumn Panorama

Great Falls Autumn Panorama

Lower Senate Park in Autumn

Lower Senate Park in Autumn

Lower Senate Park in Autumn

Lower Senate Park in Autumn

Supermoon over Washington DC

This evening, we saw an amazing supermoon rise over Washington DC. We chose the Constitution Gardens to allow us a view eastward to the rising moon while also seeing the peaking fall foliage. Enjoy!

The stunning supermoon rises over a cloudless pink and blue sky at the Constitution Gardens of Washington DC

The stunning supermoon rises over a cloudless pink and blue sky at the Constitution Gardens of Washington DC

The stunning supermoon rises over a cloudless pink and blue sky at the Constitution Gardens of Washington DC

The stunning supermoon rises over a cloudless pink and blue sky at the Constitution Gardens of Washington DC


Autumn Panorama at the Constitution Gardens

Autumn Panorama at the Constitution Gardens

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day on this beautiful fall morning… As shown by some amazing color at the Air Force Memorial this week

Air Force Memorial in the Fall

Air Force Memorial in the Fall

Air Force Memorial in the Fall

Air Force Memorial in the Fall

Adventure in Iceland

I was lucky to spend 3 amazing nights in Iceland. Though there was a lot of rain, I made the best of the situation and had a great time. I will be updating this page with details of my trip!

Icebergs line the shore of the black sand beach near J├Âkuls├írl├│n

Icebergs line the shore of the black sand beach near J├Âkuls├írl├│n

Violent waves smash icebergs around and apart during a seredepitous and rare moment during my trip when the sun peeked through the clouds to color the scene

Violent waves smash icebergs around and apart during a seredepitous and rare moment during my trip when the sun peeked through the clouds to color the scene

Being constantly barraged by water, Icebergs form beautiful shapes during a gorgeous sunrise at the black sand beach

Being constantly barraged by water, Icebergs form beautiful shapes during a gorgeous sunrise at the black sand beach

Light shines through the violent waves and translucent icebergs of the ice beach

Light shines through the violent waves and translucent icebergs of the ice beach

The moon peaks through clouds at sunrise at J├Âkuls├írl├│n

The moon peaks through clouds at sunrise at J├Âkuls├írl├│n

A short break between storms allows beautiful light on the Vatnaj├Âkull ice cap of iceland

A short break between storms allows beautiful light on the Vatnaj├Âkull ice cap of iceland

Rain and mist in the high mountains off of ring road in southern Iceland

Rain and mist in the high mountains off of ring road in southern Iceland

A long exposure as the tide creeps on the Stokksnes beach before the Vesturhorn mountain

A long exposure as the tide creeps on the Stokksnes beach before the Vesturhorn mountain

A moment of color at sunset at Vesturhorn mountain

A moment of color at sunset at Vesturhorn mountain

Peaks and waves rise in the distance at Vesturhorn mountain

Peaks and waves rise in the distance at Vesturhorn mountain

As the tide rises up the beach the sun sets creating a moody scene at Vesturhorn mountain

As the tide rises up the beach, the sun sets creating a moody scene at Vesturhorn mountain

In search of food, a seagull soars across the massive Sk├│gafoss waterfall

A seagull soars across the massive Sk├│gafoss waterfall in search of food

Huge waves crash towards the shore over misty skies and dramatic seastacks at Vik

Huge waves crash towards the shore over misty skies and dramatic seastacks at Vik

Basalt columns wind in beautiful shapes at the shores of Vik

Basalt columns wind in beautiful shapes at the shores of Vik

Basalt columns, soaring birds, crashing waves, and dramatic seastacks make the signature of Reynisfjara beach in Vik

Basalt columns, soaring birds, crashing waves, and dramatic seastacks make the signature of Reynisfjara beach in Vik

A long exposure at the beaches of Vik highlight the dramatic shapes of volcanic rocks and seastacks

A long exposure at the beaches of Vik highlight the dramatic shapes of volcanic rocks and seastacks

Blackwater Falls Autumn 2016

This past weekend, the family and I went to check out the fall foliage at Blackwater Falls State Park. It has become a little tradition for us! Some locales were past peak, and others hadn’t quite reached peak. An interesting year for sure as leaves are usually fully peak by the end of September. Here are the few images I captured from this year

Fall Foliage in the Canyon

Fall Foliage in the Canyon

Autumn leaves, dramatic clouds and mountains in a back country road in West Virginia

Autumn leaves, dramatic clouds and mountains in a back country road in West Virginia

Sunset at Lindy Point

Sunset at Lindy Point

Sunset at Lindy Point

Sunset at Lindy Point

Air Force Memorial’s 10 Year Anniversary

Last week, the Air Force Memorial celebrated its 10 year anniversary and I had the honor of photographing the event. The event included an amazing performance by the Air Force Memorial Band, a former American Idol contestant, speeches by distinguished guests, two flyovers, and a video presentation by former President George Bush. Also, Deborah James, the Secretary of the Air Force, was named an honorary Tuskeegee Airman for her role in supporting the group’s objectives. It was a really good time, and I was glad I was there to capture it for this important memorial.

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Air Force Memorial 10 Year Anniversary

Full Moon over the National Museum of African American History and Culture

On Sunday night, I captured the rising full moon as it rose beautifully over the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I used the lit path to lead the viewer into the image and used two exposures to capture the foreground and moon.

The full moon rises over the African American History Museum in Washington DC

The full moon rises over the African American History Museum in Washington DC

Sunset at the Memorials with IGDC

Last night I met up with the IGDC crew for the first time! Nice to finally meet some of the photogs I had been following on Instagram. The sunset wasn’t too bad either. I tried some new angles and some other more traditional ones… hope you enjoy!

An ND filter warms colors and softens textures at sunset at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool

An ND filter warms colors and softens textures at sunset at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool

Cool and warm tones at sunset at the World War II Memorial

Cool and warm tones at sunset at the World War II Memorial

Late evening sun illuminates the pillars of the Jefferson Memorial

Late evening sun illuminates the pillars of the Jefferson Memorial

Serenity Now

Yesterday’s Sunset may not have been much compared to the previous days, but still was beautiful and serene as seen from great falls

Peaceful colors over a tranquil section of the Maryland side of Great Falls

Peaceful colors over a tranquil section of the Maryland side of Great Falls

Seattle Skyline

We recently returned from a family trip to Seattle! This makes two years in a row that we have traveled for my mom’s bday! We had a blast and have this takeaway from a late afternoon visit to Kerry Park. A gorgeous view to Mt. Rainer, surreal like the mountain is superimposed over a picture of the city! The park was kind of small, but sissy and I had fun pretending we were kids. Till next time…

Late afternoon sun illuminates Mt. Rainer as seen from Kerry Park in Seattle, Washington

Late afternoon sun illuminates Mt. Rainer as seen from Kerry Park in Seattle, Washington

Washington DC Union Station Photography

Last week, I met up with friend and photographer Angela Pan and two new photog friends Dave an Zack at Union Station! After checking out the sunset from the parking rooftop, after Dave asked for it, we were granted access to a cool perspective from behind the statues that adorn the elegant and historic transportation depot. I captured a straight on view to the U.S. Capitol and toyed with the intersection of lines in the ceiling of Union Station. Hope you enjoy em…

Union Station Washington DC

Union Station Washington DC

Union Station Washington DC

Union Station Washington DC

Union Station Washington DC

Union Station Washington DC

Lightning Storms in Washington DC

Last night I went shooting with my friend Angela Pan to capture storm photography near the city.The storms arrived right around sunset, which allowed for some nice light and color as the bolts struck. After the sun set, continuous bolts highlighted clouds behind the Air Force Memorial. While I would have loved to see some fork-like bolts, it still was a nice sight to see.

The moon peeks through clouds right before a torrential thunderstorm in Washington DC

The moon peeks through clouds right before a torrential thunderstorm in Washington DC

Lightning strikes over the U.S. Capitol and Jefferson Memorial in this composite of several lightning strike images

Lightning strikes over the U.S. Capitol and Jefferson Memorial in this composite of several lightning strike images

Lightning strikes behind dark clouds, revealing their shape and color over the Air Force Memorial

Lightning strikes behind dark clouds, revealing their shape and color over the Air Force Memorial

Summer Sunset at the Washington Monument

Tonight I met up with my friend and photographer/workshop extraordinaire, Michael Chinnici of Photo Workshop Adventures. After hanging for a bit, we headed to shoot sunset at the White House and Washington Monument. Just past sunset, some interesting clouds rolled in while subtle pinks took towards the horizon. A center comp seemed to be in order.

Enjoy the rest of summer!

Cumulus clouds surround the Washington Monument during a classic summer sunset

Cumulus clouds surround the Washington Monument during a classic summer sunset

Sunset at the Vietnam Memorial

A long exposure at as sun basks the Washington Monument from the Vietnam Memorial

A long exposure at as sun basks the Washington Monument from the Vietnam Memorial

I had planned this shot for a while and finally went out to capture it. Usually this is a spot for sunrise but I was looking for the monument to be basked in light and looked to use the crowd to add mood. Might try this one again still.

In Living Memory

Landscape Photography of Santorini

In June, we went on vacation to Greece. This was a leisurely trip to Greek Islands Mykonos and Santorini and a stop over in Athens before flying home. Through 8 nights, the trip proved to be a fair amount of time spent traveling. If I were to do it again, I’d maybe cut out Athens or spend more time overall.

During vacations, I don’t usually spend much time photographing. I like to keep photography trips and vacations with family as separate as possible. They have such different daily routines and sights to see, that I find it to be hard to concentrate on both. But, I bring my camera along nonetheless and see if there are opportunities to add to the portfolio.

During this trip, I took mostly portraits of us having fun.┬áI mixed that in with a little shooting in Santorini –sunrise and midnight shoots in Oia, where we were lucky enough to stay, and some shots from the boat tour of the Aegean Sea from Santorini. Ultimately, I only have landscape shots from Santorini – and more than I thought I would come away with! Hope you enjoy them and my views from a beautiful island destination.

 

Vibrant flowering trees and calla lillies line the architecture of Oia, Santorini as the sun warms the sky and landscape

Vibrant flowering trees and calla lillies line the architecture of Oia, Santorini as the sun warms the sky and landscape

The sun rises over a cloudless landscape from Oia in Santorini, Greece

The sun rises over a cloudless landscape from Oia in Santorini, Greece

A panoramic shows the layers of cave houses as they wrap around the ends of the island of Santorini at sunrise

A panoramic shows the layers of cave houses as they wrap around the ends of the island of Santorini at sunrise

Rows of cavehouses bathed in early morning light as seen from a view also including church bells and docked boats

Rows of cavehouses bathed in early morning light as seen from a view also including church bells and docked boats

A panoramic of early light streaming onto the cliffs of Oia, Santorini

A panoramic of early light streaming onto the cliffs of Oia, Santorini

Flowers adorn the edges of the walls near a church in Santorini

Flowers adorn the edges of the walls near a church in Santorini

An unassuming corner is adorned with vibrant orange paint and blooming, flowering trees

An unassuming corner is adorned with vibrant orange paint and blooming, flowering trees

The moon rises over the twilight landscape of Oia, Santorini

The moon rises over the twilight landscape of Oia, Santorini

The rows of cave houses as seen from the tip of Oia at midnight

The rows of cave houses as seen from the tip of Oia at midnight

Light reflected from rock shines in the Aegean Sea off of the coast of Sanorini

Light reflected from rock shines in the Aegean Sea off of the coast of Sanorini

Light reflected from rock shines in the Aegean Sea off of the coast of Sanorini

Light reflected from rock shines in the Aegean Sea off of the coast of Sanorini

A sailboat full of people witnessing the cloudless sunset in Santorini

A sailboat full of people witnessing the cloudless sunset in Santorini

A pan motion of a speeding sailboat just after sunset in Santorini

A pan motion of a speeding sailboat just after sunset in Santorini

A classic Santorini sunset with a twist. This is a blended image of one exposure for the sun and another, pan motion shot to create a interesting texture in the water

A classic Santorini sunset with a twist. This is a blended image of one exposure for the sun and another, pan motion shot to create a interesting texture in the water

Preview from Greece

A preview from Greece… more to come ­čÖé

The sun rises over a cloudless landscape from Oia in Santorini, Greece

The sun rises over a cloudless landscape from Oia in Santorini, Greece

Flashback Friday

#fbf to a more attractive Capitol dome under post sunset pinks and reds. Restoration should be finishing soon, thank God. Definitely less nice than the monument scaffolding froma few years ago. I right now I avoid shooting the Capitol like the plague

#washingtondc #dcweather #dcfocused #focused #exposeddc #igdc #dctography #instantdc #instagood #dccool #mydccool #uscapitol #dc #monuments #acreativedc

A spotlight illuminates the U.S. Capitol under pink and purple post-sunset clouds

A spotlight illuminates the U.S. Capitol under pink and purple post-sunset clouds

Photography for ABC 7 News Washington DC

Several months ago, I shot a scene on the Memorial Bridge for ABC 7 News’ dynamic weather background that viewers see during every forecast. After being Facebook friends with super TV personality and weatherman Steve Rudin for 5 years, I finally visited the ABC 7 studios in Rosslyn to meet Steve and the weather producer, Alex Liggitt and other notable personalities like Brian van de Graaff and Doug Hill. Everyone was super nice — especially Steve, who gave me the grand tour of the facility!

Check out the shots… woops about my collar ­čÖé

Next time you watch the weather, look out for my shot!

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Death Valley National Park & The Alabama Hills

Last month, I flew out to Las Vegas for 3 nights of photography. It had been a long while since I took a trip dedicated to photography! As a new father, my world turned upside down and I found it to be much harder to spend extended time away from home. Every moment is so special and I find it hard to be away to miss even the slightest thing. But being out in the environment and doing photography helps me clear my head and mind when the rush of life overwhelms me. Taking the time to travel and explore is worth it for me.

I had considered several locations but settled on Las Vegas and Death Valley National Park. This was because of the really convenient flight out there and the fact that wildflowers were seeing a rare superbloom hadn’t seen for 10+ years. But, a day before I arrived at the park, a massive windstorm swept away the most prominent patches of wildflowers. No worries… I still had myself a great time.

I tried to stay flexible and free during my 3.5 days/3 nights in the area. I used a great field guide for Death Valley by Ron Coscorrosa and Sarah Marino that helped me triangulate on locations to hit. Though it was a blast, I think I stretched myself a little too thin and across too many places! I started further east at Death Valley, took a 1.5 day excursion west to the Alabama Hills, and circled back to Death Valley before departing. A lot of driving, a lot of hiking, a few beers, and even fewer hours of sleep — and these are the shots I have to show for it.

All in all, it was a really great trip. It helped that I was able to stay in contact, for the most part, with my wife and baby back home. Google hangouts from Alabama Hills – the best of both worlds being in an alien-like, grand landscape but still connected to those I love back home.

As for Death Valley itself, honestly, the first day or so underwhelmed me. I was wondering what the appeal was of this much-discussed National Park, where mud flats and distant mountains were the most prominent features. However, as I spent more time at the park, its subtleties and more grandiose parts of the environment showed themselves to me. The park itself is massive – so making a rush call on its entirety based on one location and evening was mistake #1. Also, it’s a place for all its scale that is so different from mile to mile. Take for example the Cottonball Basin or Panamint Playa, both of which I spent evenings photographing. As an outsider, I took for granted the formations in the salt and mud playas that were so distinctive in shots I had seen from this place. In truth, finding those photogenic locations is extremely difficult. After 5 hours searching on Panamint Playa across several square miles (hiking and by deplacing by car), I found a section I liked but not nearly as deep or graphic in nature as I had sought. It became clear to me that hikers and photographers have spent hours, days, weeks, months combing this park for gems that can be found with time and effort. And finding those gems was not only a photographic accomplishment but a true sight to behold.

Just this vignette about Panamint Playa reflects my thoughts on the park — there is so much diversity that can be found in relatively small spaces within this massive area. One really just needs to spend the time to find it. Couldn’t the same lesson be applied in most life situations?

On to the images. I am usually one to say “quality over quantity”, but in this case I find myself with almost too many images for 3.5 days. Nonetheless, each speaks to me in a different way and also serves to tell viewers about the different aspects of Death Valley National Park and the nearby landscapes in the Eastern Sierras. What an amazing stretch of natural beauty in this earth! Here they are in chronological order. Your thoughts are appreciated:

Dante’s View: a nice place to see the expanse of a section of the park. I shot this area in mid-day and was able to see some abstract shapes in the creeks that seep into Badwater Basin.

An abstract of salt flats and flowing creeks that sliver through the valley from Dante's View

An abstract of salt flats and flowing creeks that sliver through the valley from Dante’s View

Mountains lead to the arid salt flats of Badwater Basin

Mountains lead to the arid salt flats of Badwater Basin

Cottonball Basin: Talk about misunderstanding a place. When I arrived here, I was pretty underwhelmed. I found the edges of this salt flat to be a little boring. A few more minutes in and steps toward center, and the otherworldly nature of this spot took hold. The delicate salt formations were foreboding but fragile. I immediately noticed that my footprints were affecting the crusty surface of the salt flat. Treading lightly, I searched for cool formations that reflected the sunset light.

The sun reflects off reflective salt flats at Cottonball Basin

The sun reflects off reflective salt flats at Cottonball Basin

Pink light shines off of high clouds just past sunset at Cottonball Basin

Pink light shines off of high clouds just past sunset at Cottonball Basin

The moon is reflected in a creek leading into Cottonball Basin

The moon is reflected in a creek leading into Cottonball Basin


Zabriskie Point
: One of the most popular spots in all of Death Valley. I spent some time before sunrise here to capture twilight and some of the waning starlight. Beautiful formations but a little too crowded.

Predawn blues, stars, and venus shine over Zabriskie Point

Predawn blues, stars, and venus shine over Zabriskie Point

The beautiful shapes of badlands at Zabriskie Point before sunrise

The beautiful shapes of badlands at Zabriskie Point before sunrise

Twenty Mule Team Canyon: I found a section of cool badlands in this canyon and set out on foot, deeper and deeper into the canyon. The badlands were interesting in texture — a crumbly sort of mud that fell away as I drove my boots up the mountains. With such a texture, it seemed to me that each mountain of mud existed precariously and could wash away in a rainstorm — kind of reminded me of the quality of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon in the way the oxidized volcanic rock had been reduced to mounds of red ash just crumbling away. I followed faint footpaths on the edges of the canyon peaks, getting higher in elevation, and suddenly found a rock quarry peppered with desert gold wildflowers. Just past sunrise, it was a perfect complement to the waves of badlands, bathed in warm sunlight, looking towards the valley.

Wildflowers rise from a rocky hillside in the badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Wildflowers rise from a rocky hillside in the badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Alabama Hills: I booked it West for 3 hours, past the town of Lone Pine, CA to visit the amazing Alabama Hills. Wow! Such crazy formations in rock — varied from those organic shapes close to me in the Alabama Hills, differing to a pillar form closer to the Sierra Nevada Range, and ending with the massive range itself topped by Mount Whitney and still covered in snow. The hike around the hills was just amazing. The ground was covered of loose, soil-like, sepia sand. Within the sand grew tiny flowerbeds of varied colors blue, yellow, green, and white. I had to tread lightly to not damage those flowers or the equally frail cacti and other shrubs that hung onto life in Alabama Hills. I did not have the best lighting against the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, but made do with the view – which was spectacular to say the least. I stayed overnight at a motel (finally – a bed and a shower) and hoped for some better light come morning. No such luck, but the clear skies allowed some continued twilight/starlight photography that I appreciated.

Delicate flowers line the loose sands of Alabama Hills at sunset

Delicate flowers line the loose sands of Alabama Hills at sunset

Miniscule, multicolored flowers, dried shrubs, and stark peaks adorn the desert landscape of Alabama Hills

Miniscule, multicolored flowers, dried shrubs, and stark peaks adorn the desert landscape of Alabama Hills

The moon shines brightly through stars and just-forming clouds at Alabama Hills

The moon shines brightly through stars and just-forming clouds at Alabama Hills

The sierra nevada range under stars before sunrise at Alabama Hills

The sierra nevada range under stars before sunrise at Alabama Hills

Panamint Playa: Back to Death Valley after sunrise, I decided to stay at one location to maximize the photographic opportunities and spend less time traveling. That said, it took a lot of time to scour the playa to find a good composition for sunset. I was determined to find some deep (say 6″ or more) cracks in the mud, but couldn’t find it. Instead, I found some interesting variations in the color of the cracked mud as it seemed to lead towards the beautiful Panamint Range, with its multicolored sandstone midsection that is so photogenic. The high clouds — that lingered throughout the day and teased me with promises of a colorful sunset — dissipated completely right before the sun started towards the horizon. So, not much color to be had but staying through sunset allowed me some twilight work. While many photographers cringe at the moon being present for night shots, I used it to help illuminate parts of the foreground and contribute to the blue skies that are lacking at night during moonless evenings.

Cracks in the mud lead to volcanic rock and the Panamint Range

Cracks in the mud lead to volcanic rock and the Panamint Range

The endless cracks in the mud at Panamint Playa resemble lizard scales

The endless cracks in the mud at Panamint Playa resemble lizard scales

Radiant light shines on cracking mud at Panamint Playa at sunset

Radiant light shines on cracking mud at Panamint Playa at sunset

An elevated view shows color and texture variations in the Panamint Playa

An elevated view shows color and texture variations in the Panamint Playa

Stars shine brightly over a pathway of cracked mud at Panamint Playa

Stars shine brightly over a pathway of cracked mud at Panamint Playa

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: In September, I got the chance to spend a morning at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Instantly, I knew that dune photography came very naturally to me, likely because I have been shooting a lot of abstracts lately. There’s not much better than a rising sun against rolling sand dunes when you love abstract photography. My flight was just near noon, so with not a whole lot of time, I hiked out to Mesquite Flat pre-sunrise and was able to capture a few shots before the fast hike (run) back to the car and onto Vegas. All that done, I still missed my flight home, but all was OK as I made it back just slightly later that evening.

Cool, pre-dawn tones shine over the dunes at Mesquite Flat

Cool, pre-dawn tones shine over the dunes at Mesquite Flat

Cool, pre-dawn tones shine over the dunes at Mesquite Flat

Cool, pre-dawn tones shine over the dunes at Mesquite Flat

Sunrise highlights textures and shapes at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Sunrise highlights textures and shapes at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Light, shadow, and shape at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Light, shadow, and shape at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

An abstract of light and color turns to sensual lines at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

An abstract of light and color turns to sensual lines at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

This was a strenuous, action-packed, and fun excursion. Not everyone’s idea of a “vacation”, but a cathartic experience for me. I learned some things, as I always try to… in that I do think I covered too much ground with too little time, expending myself too much and perhaps not allowing enough time for mindless exploration and art by osmosis. Also, I reminded myself to COMPARTMENTALIZE when it comes to packing and using gear in the field. When I throw everything together, I can’t find my items as quickly and ultimately lose or forget something. Yes, the light could have been better too, but such is life and I saw some amazing things. I can’t complain.

I hope you enjoyed visiting Death Valley and Alabama Hills through my experience and art. Till next time!

Sunset at the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial over Tulips

Last night, I led a private workshop at the Navy Merchant Marine memorial to see the willows and tulips that adorn the site in early spring. We were treated to a beautiful pink and orange sunset that made the view that much nicer. Your comments are appreciated ­čÖé

Vibrant pinks at sunset through the draping of willow trees that adorn the Mount Vernon Trail

Vibrant pinks at sunset through the draping of willow trees that adorn the Mount Vernon Trail

Oranges and pinks of sunset converge with the red and green tulips at the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial

Oranges and pinks of sunset converge with the red and green tulips at the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial

Pinks and blues on the horizon past sunset over tulips at the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial

Pinks and blues on the horizon past sunset over tulips at the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial

In Review – 2016 Washington DC Cherry Blossoms

This year, I probably went out for cherry blossoms more than I had any previous year that I can remember. I woke up for a few sunrises, stayed for a few sunsets, and spent some time exploring during the day. As a landscape photographer, there is a fine line between capturing what is presented to you (in weather, blooms, people) and creating something with what you have. Lately, I have been focusing on the latter — trying to create an image given the available elements. Sometimes those elements are inherently beautiful, and therefore popular. Think a blazing orange and pink sunrise – not many people wake up for those, they aren’t very common, and very rarely can one get it framed right above some photogenic elements such as cherry blossoms and the Washington Monument. It’s easy to see why those shots are so popular. Sometimes, the environment doesn’t give you the inherent WOW factor so you have to try to create it yourself. It’s a good exercise in creation that I always enjoy. The practice also helps for when the elements do line up perfectly – I find myself more able to capture shots I find unique and fulfilling.

This year, the cherry blossoms themselves were very nice — as they are most years. The weather we had was also nice, but not stunning. We had a few clear days, a few cloudy days, but no real days of stunning colors. I still had a very nice time shooting at primarily the Tidal Basin, avoiding crowds by going at select times, and shooting solo with friends, and workshop participants.

So here I present to you my cherry blossom shots of 2016. Following these images will be more of the city, some long overdue Air Force Memorial shots, and some images from Death Valley I captured last month:

Tidal Basin Sunrise Panoramic

Tidal Basin Sunrise Panoramic

Cherry blossoms begin to bloom during the 2016 cherry blossom festival

Cherry blossoms begin to bloom during the 2016 cherry blossom festival

Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossom Long Exposure

Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossom Long Exposure

The full moon rises over the Tidal Basin over peaking cherry blossoms

The full moon rises over the Tidal Basin over peaking cherry blossoms

Air Force Memorial Cherry Blossom Long Exposure

Air Force Memorial Cherry Blossom Long Exposure

Air Force Memorial Cherry Blossom Long Exposure

Air Force Memorial Cherry Blossom Long Exposure

Sunrise at the Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms

Sunrise at the Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms

Sunrise at the Tidal Basin

Sunrise at the Tidal Basin

Sunrise at the Tidal Basin

Sunrise at the Tidal Basin

Cherry Blossoms over the Martin Luther King Memorial

Cherry Blossoms over the Martin Luther King Memorial

Cherry Blossoms over the Martin Luther King Memorial

Cherry Blossoms over the Martin Luther King Memorial

Cherry blossoms draping over the Tidal Basin

Cherry blossoms draping over the Tidal Basin

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

A ghostly figure under the hollowed out, stunted but still blooming cherry blossom tree

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Petals fly off of peak blooms during a blustery afternoon

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms 2016

Fallen petals as seen in the Tidal Basin as it reflects the blue sky

Fallen petals streak within the Tidal Basin's rough waters during a blustery afternoon

Fallen petals streak within the Tidal Basin’s rough waters during a blustery afternoon