Travel – Paris à pied

Frail ankles, Paris

First snow of the year - Montmartre, Paris

Eiffel Tower at night - Double Exposure

The best way to see a city is off season and on foot. This is a belief held and practiced by both my wife and myself, sometimes to our own discomfort, but usually more to our benefit. In the past few years we’ve sweat our asses off in Bangkok and New Orleans, frozen our asses off in New York, racked up some serious kilometers in Vancouver and most recently, strolled throughout Paris and, for a day or so, nearby Beaune in Burgundy. In short, the advantages of the off season are that it’s cheaper and less crowded, allowing us to see and do more with less money and time. The downside? The weather. It usually means very hot or very cold conditions, which is of course what keeps the tourists away. However, living in Venice Beach, the 2nd most visited place in California next to Disneyland, we’ve come to appreciate visiting places when most others wouldn’t. We also both grew up in the midwest and somewhat pride ourselves in being able to tolerate extreme temperature swings on both ends of the spectrum. Therefore, in late November, we found ourselves somewhat freezing as we put in roughly 6-12 miles a day walking throughout Paris.

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East Coast

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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Walk in the wildflowers – Ojai, Calif.

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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On the road again in Southern California

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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The Trona Pinnacles

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


Adventures in Thailand 3 of 3 – Krabi and Koh Jum

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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