May 312016

Manhattan, New York, Street Photography

Coney Island, New York Street Photography - handball courts

I made a quick trip to New York and DC last week to take meetings with editors and art buyers and also made a quick stopover in Lancaster, Penn., to visit with family. I never have enough time to really shoot anything of substance on these trips, but I did stop here and there while hustling around to different appointments. I did have one free afternoon in New York though and decided to spend it by taking the Q train to the end of the line to walk around Coney Island. I’ve lived a block off of the Venice Beach boardwalk for nearly 8 years and was interested to see how the east coast equivalent compared. Few of the businesses and none of the rides were open, apparently due to something the east coast refers to as “seasons,” so I can’t say got the full picture. However, I thought it was quite nice and seemed to be much improved since the days of the Warriors. I’ll have to go back sometime in the summer. Lancaster and DC were also fun. While the rain somewhat limited what we could do out in the country I was fortunate to only come across a brief moment of rain while walking around DC. Between meetings there I spent an afternoon in the National Portrait Gallery and the Renwick Gallery and also made time for drinks with some editors and photographers off of DuPont Circle. A good trip overall. More photos from the rest of the trip are below.

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May 062016

Ojai Wildflowers - Los Angeles Photographer

Lizard on a Rock - Los Angeles Photographer

Light through the trees - LA Photographer

I had a very busy start to this year shooting a variety of corporate, commercial and editorial projects, but as little of what I’ve shot has published yet I have practically nothing to share! So, let’s take a nature walk while we wait. Last week we joined some friends of ours for a weekend of camping and hiking in the Los Padres National Forrest outside of Ojai. The original plan was to go out to the San Bernardino Mountains, but a bad weather forecast had us looking for last minute alternatives. Our timing couldn’t have been better for where we ended up. We found a fantastic campground in the woods and on an afternoon hike ended up finding an amazing stretch of deerweed in full bloom along the Maricopa Highway. One patch had grown over the trail so thick it felt surreal pushing our way through them. I tried to capture the feeling w/ a slo-mo iPhone video I’ve posted below the jump. I also shot a video showing the seemingly endless stretch of them as we wound our way along the road. I’ve probably said this before, but one of the great things about California is that it’s so large that in our 8 years of frequent traveling and camping outings we rarely repeat experiences. We’re constantly amazed that we’ve found yet another gem of a spot and wonder how we could have missed it. I’m looking forward to more discoveries!

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Dec 082015

Anza Borrego Fonts Point Landscape

Joshua Tree Nighttime

It’s been an amazing and busy year. The only downside to that is that we’ve hardly had a chance to get out and do one of our favorite things, exploring the parks and wilderness that are only a short drive from Los Angeles. In the past few weeks we tried to make up for that deficit by heading out to Joshua Tree National Park and then, shortly thereafter, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We first visited Joshua Tree in 2009, shortly after moving to Los Angeles, but hadn’t been back since. Anza-Borrego was completely new to us. Considering how close it is to Palm Springs, we were amazed it hadn’t even been on our radar, but were happy our friends invited us out there on a day trip over Thanksgiving weekend. The highlight was Fonts Point, pictured in the first photo as well as below. It’s an amazing, craggy expanse of badlands that you don’t even see until you drive out along a 4-mile stretch of washboard road, walk up to its edge and suddenly see the earth drop away in front of you. At Joshua Tree we camped with friends and spent the days bouldering and visiting several of the park highlights. We were somewhat unprepared for just how cold it would get overnight, but managed to survive. I’m unsure of the actual overnight temperatures, but a two gallon jug of water was half ice when we awoke the next morning if that’s any indication. Still, we had a great time and I managed to make some nice landscapes along the way. I have nothing to complain about this year, but am hoping that next year we’ll get to do stuff like this more often.

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Jul 202015

Donuts in parking lot at the Trona Pinnacles - Nissan Xterra

Though visiting the desert when the needle’s pushing 107 degrees can be unpleasant, it does have its advantages. The primary one being that there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourself, which, assuming you have the right vehicle, permits you to whip up a mini dust storm doing donuts in the parking lot. That was how we saw it anyway on a recent outing to the Trona Pinnacles in early June. We had come over to the odd desert landmark after a couple nights camping along the Kern River, just south of Sequoia National Forest. After two days swimming in the river and hiking among the towering trees, we changed it up and drove east to check them out.

The pinnacles are a unique looking cluster of tufa (calcium carbonate) spires that formed at various times between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago under the water of what was once the Searles Lake. Now a dry lake bed, it feels quite literally like being in the middle of nowhere on an alien planet. If you’re a sci-fi fan you might actually recognize it as such, as it’s been featured in numerous shows and films like Lost in Space and Planet of the Apes. It is basically in the middle of nowhere, situated in the middle of a few thousand acres of BLM land about ten miles south of the small, borax-mining town of Trona, itself a fitting location for a zombie movie. I was excited to finally visit, having passed the site numerous times on my trips to Death Valley. But the heat proved too much and our visit was short. After a quick bit of fun in the parking lot, we got out and hiked around until we were all half-baked — probably about 20 minutes — and headed out to find ice cream and air conditioning. It turns out there was a reason no one else was out there.

Along the way, we passed the future dry lake bed (assuming the drought keeps up) of Isabella Lake, pictured below in the black and white panoramic. After making some images I looked up the lake on my phone and was amazed to see just how low the lake is right now. Much of what can be seen in my photo was covered in water just a few years ago. It’s a scary contrast and a visual reminder of how much those of us in California and the southwest need to conserve water right now.

Trona Pinnacles California Landscape

Trona Pinnacles California Landscape

Trona Pinnacles Garbage

Lake Isabella California Drought Panoramic Landscape

Camping at the Kern River Valley


Jul 032015

The Andaman Sea Thailand longboat at night

The Andaman Sea, the Andaman Sea, oogly boogly, the Andaman Sea…” – Fishing with John, Episode 5, 1991.

Alone under the moonlight, our long-tail boat cuts through still water, transporting us from the city of Krabi to the shores of the island of Koh Jum. Hearing each other is difficult over the sound of the wind and the constant hum of the diesel motor propelling us to our destination, so we speak little, taking in the stars, the treed outlines of other nearby islands and the flickering light on the water’s surface. We smile at each other as we sit on our wooden bench at the center of the boat, realizing we had made the right decision. It is a much better arrival to Thailand’s south than the one we’d anticipated.

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Jun 222015

Pang Mapha Cave exploration

thailand wedding in a cave pang mapha

Hustling down a wooded path along the Mae Lang river, we’re hoping to find the mouth of the Tham Lod cave before it’s too dark. Half an hour earlier we’d arrived by motorbike taxi to our teak bungalow in the woods after a 4-hour van ride on one of the curviest roads in the world, which from a map looks like a scrunched up worm stretching from the city of Chiang Mai to the rural district of Pang Mapha to the northwest, where we now found ourselves about 12 miles south of the Myanmar border. As quickly as possible we checked into our hut, transferred a change of clothes into a backpack, and spent a moment doing the best we could to primp. As she braided her hair and fashioned for herself a headdress using purple flowers she purchased from a market that morning, I walked out to our balcony, from where I could see the river poking through the trees, and composed photos of our rings using a bunch of the remaining flowers.

After a half-mile of hiking, wondering if we’re headed in the right direction, we arrive at the mouth of the cave and quickly pick the spot where we’ve decided to have our “ceremony,” a term we are using loosely as we’ve forgone having an officiant or any witnesses. This is fine though, as Thai law requires no ceremony to consider a wedding legal. The actual act of marriage is performed in a sparse administrative office in one of the major cities, a lengthy process we had initiated before this leg of the trip and would complete after returning. Before beginning, we take turns changing into our wedding outfits in a nearby, dark recess of the cave, in case any visitors should happen upon us. Hers is a beautiful, flowing white summer dress and sandals she’d picked out for the occasion. Mine, a blue shirt and grey shorts. I had pants too, but it was too hot and she gave me permission to stay in my shorts so I wouldn’t look like a wet rag for the pictures. Few words are spoken. We take out our rings, and I begin to joke “With this ring, I thee wed.” She stops me there. Short and sweet, we both say “I do,” and place the rings on each other’s fingers before sealing the deal with a kiss. We spend the next 20 minutes taking photos and amongst the stalagmites and stalactites and upon some bamboo rafts anchored in the river before a heavy rain begins to fall. Fortunately, it only lasts 10 minutes, freeing us to return home from the cave before nightfall.

That was it. April 29th, 2015. We were married. Well, almost. The legal side of the equation turned out to be much more complicated than we’d read beforehand, and an itinerary that kept us on the go combined with a couple federal holidays kept our legal marriage in limbo until the very last day of our trip. We managed to get it done though, signing the papers and having the official documents stamped and translated back to English with about 12 hours to spare before flying home from Bangkok. It was a relief to finally get it done and to know that we weren’t going to have to lie to people for the rest of our lives about how we got married in Thailand, when in reality we’d done it in an LA courthouse.

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