The Calm

The Calm on Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f4 l, b+w ND 10-stop, 19mm, f/22, iso 100, 124sec // buy print)

I’m dedicating this photo to my buddy Chris DeAngelis, who let me borrow his 10-stop B+W filter and made all of this possible. He loaned it to me a few times at Bombay Beach, while Rick Young loaned me his over on the west side of the Salton Sea. Thank you guys.

Yes, I’m getting my own. Soon.

Normally if you are by water and pull out a 10-stop, you are hoping to pull off a long enough exposure so that the water becomes a misty looking cloud-like substance hugging rocks, sand, piers, whatever.

But when the body of water you are shooting is already about as calm as glass…the filter enhances that stillness and creates a beautiful, almost mirror-like reflection.

This is an abandoned, calcium-laiden old pier extending out from Bombay Beach. The entire beach area makes for one of the spookiest, weirdest places I’ve ever been. If it hadn’t been for the people I was with, the other tourists and even some photographers shooting models with beauty dishes amongst some trashed buildings, I’d have been pretty frightened about being here solo.

I may have said this on Monday’s blog post, but the Salton Sea is a lesson in contradictions. The water was so still, the horizon so smooth, the clouds blended into the water and you felt like you were in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Until you looked down at the fish carcasses or heard the occasional mysterious bubbling from the deep. Or you’d spot these beautiful, white pelicans glancing across the water’s surface as they flew by, which made you think about the dead bird laying between all the rotting fish you saw a bit ago.

I had a few people, like Heath O’Fee or Rick, tell me what the place was like before arriving, but you really have no idea until you are standing there yourself.


The Edge of the World

The Edge of the World - Salton Sea

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 0.6 sec // buy print)

This past Friday and Saturday I was part of a whirlwind trip that took me through Joshua Tree National Park and ended at the shores of the mysterious and disturbing Salton Sea. My good friend Heath O’Free was visiting Palm Springs from Canada, and had invited me to meet up with him on Friday. Also along for the journey was some other buddies…Rick Young and Chris Frailey from Phoenix, and Chris DeAngelis and Doug Wise from California.

Together we braved camping out in Joshua Tree despite lows in the mid-20’s (resulting in little to no sleep) and the strangeness that is the Salton Sea. I have an amazing assortment of images from the trip and can’t wait to share them over the coming weeks, but I had to start off with this one.

The Salton Sea is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The minute you see the retreating shoreline and the dead fish…you know you are someplace unique.  And creepy.

But at sunset on the eastern shore of Bombay Beach, the place had an almost epic beauty. The calm waters, the beautiful colors, the way the sky blended in with the lake out on the horizon. It was majestic and amazing, while at the same time you walk along a beach of fish and fowl carcasses and constantly have an odor of decay lingering in your nose.

This particular spot immediately called out to me when I saw it from the car. The closer I got to this old pier, the more it reminded me of something out of the Lord of the Rings. An ancient dock at Minas Tirith as my buddy DeAngelis said. My wife thinks it looks like the scenes at the end of the movie Titanic.

Either way, I knew I wanted to shoot the sunset from here. We were blessed with gorgeous clouds and such calm, reflective waters.

More to come!


Point Break

After the wedding we shot a week and a half ago in Malibu, my buddy Rick and I took the Pacific Coast Highway back to Los Angeles. We were both exhausted from an early morning flight, a lot of shooting outdoors and just a long day in general. We had just enough energy to make one stop off the highway and walk down some worn-down stairs to the beach far below.

It’s another edition of Movie Title Wednesday and this week the film is Point Break for obvious reasons I think. I’ve seen the movie and I remember liking it, but I honestly don’t remember much more than Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, a bank robbery and masks.  I know a lot of people who dig this film, curious how many of you out there liked it? I’ve always been a Reeves fan even though most people don’t think he can act. I think he’s a fine actor, the problem is, he has one style that works and that’s about it. Speed is one of my all-time favorite action films and of course you have The Matrix.

I rarely get to the ocean despite living fairly close to California, so I was excited to at least shoot a few images during our day-trip. The ocean is awe-inspiring and frightening for me at the same time. I hope someday to do more of this and have a nice, fat 10-stop ND filter on me so I can really make the images I want to, but in the meantime, I liked how this turned out. I don’t always put a lot of time into processing my images these days, but I spent plenty on this . Phototools was especially useful to help create a nice color contrast between the water and the rocks.

I hope Rick posts his sometime soon because he had a 10-stop and I loved the way his looked right out of the camera.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 20mm, f/25, iso 100

Candice and David

Showing up to shoot a wedding is interesting. You are worried about making sure you have all your equipment. All your gear. Batteries. Cards. Lenses. Flashes. Everything. Then you worry about getting the shots and what’s next on the agenda.

But in the middle of it…you realize that this day has nothing to do with you. It’s all about them.

All this kind of hit me on Sunday during Candice and David’s wedding. Three pictures below is a photo of Candice from behind right after they finished doing her hair. She was about to get up, but I had spotted this shot a few minutes before and so I asked her to sit back down just for a moment. Her mom was standing right by me, I think she saw what I was trying to get…and she started to cry.

I wasn’t expecting that at all. And it moved me big time. What an amazing thing to be able to record a day like this for a family. All I could do the rest of the day was think of my own daughter someday. And how I don’t know if I can get through that!

My buddy Rick Young, who helped me shoot Dee and Yulia’s wedding earlier this year, asked me to second shoot with him for Candice and David’s wedding on a beach in Malibu. We flew out on Sunday morning, shot the wedding, took a nice drive back to L.A. along the Pacific Coast Highway and then caught a plane back home that night. A long day. Sunburns. Hard work. But fulfilling work.

The images below are the ones I took, but Rick and I did a joint blog posting today for Candice and David, so please check out his point of view when you are done here!

I really loved this couple. They were so relaxed and fun. David was classified as a goofball by one of his friends, but he was hilarious. I had a ton of fun joking around with him as we walked around the beach and the hotel grounds getting shots of the newlyweds. He also was working hard to make sure this day went well, which included having to help setup 50 chairs on the beach and go find knives to cut the wedding cake when the time came.

Candice was absolutely beautiful and looked amazing. Such a happy smile on her face all day, it was amazing to see how calm she looked in the middle of such a crazy day. They were both such a treat to photograph.

A great family, awesome friends…and a beautiful setting. Not to mention lucking out with overcast, gray skies for a noon wedding! Thanks so much guys for inviting Rick and I to capture this day for you. Hope you have a great honeymoon and enjoy the images when you return!

(You can scroll down to look at all the images, or click on the one below  to pop up a little manual slideshow! Just click the next arrows to see all the photos)



The foggy beach of Oceanside

Over the weekend we moved to a temporary residence on the California coast for a little rest and relaxation. I have a feeling a lot of people would have been bummed by the foggy skies that persisted most days until at least 4pm, and on Sunday they never left. Being an Arizona desert boy, hating the heating and loving weather, I obviously didn’t mind the fog, and was soaking up the chilly, breezy air in the Oceanside area.

I was so relaxed most of the time, I ended up with no desire to find some cool tidal pools to do some long-exposure sunset photos. But I snapped a few on the beach close by us and on one of the mornings the fog was really thick and these shots were all taken then.

Fog is cool obviously, I’m nowhere near the first to photography it nor love it…but it’s amazing how it kind of pulls you into a scene and creates a weird, quiet mystery about what you’re seeing.