I am in love with the desert. I can't stop thinking about it, as silly as it sounds. For me, the desert is a place where you can go to feel free. I'm not talking about big hoards of people in trailers with off-road vehicles tearing up the landscape. I'm talking about a preserved wilderness, with the only human intervention being the occasional hiker, and the lone SUV or Jeep that travels down a sunken wash. It is here that solitude exists, and rises to glory. Conditions can be rough. It can get pretty cold at night, and dangerously hot during the day. But in the desert, you've gone back to an earlier time. Camping out, you live like people centuries ago went about their daily lives (to a degree). You're alone with yourself, and it is marvelous.
I'm lucky enough to have amazing friends who will go with me on crazy adventures to this vast and unpredictable wilderness. And they're even more amazing for putting up with my constant need to snap another photo. If I could change anything, my only wish would be to get out there more often, and for longer periods of time. Whether you've brought an entire expedition's worth of supplies and equipment, or you're simply living off of what can fit in a backpack or the trunk of a car, every excursion into the desert is truly an adventure for me.
In most circumstances, photography is 10% skill, and 90% luck. I've been saying that for years now. The main difference between an average photographer and a truly good photographer is how he/she reacts when luck does finally present itself. Those who have trained and practiced instinctively know how to respond in most any situation, allowing them to capture these rare scenes when they finally occur. Though I don't claim to be a truly good photographer by any means, I often find myself in circumstances where I am given an amazing opportunity to capture a moment. And when all the elements collide, I know I am in for a treat.
The photograph above is one such occurrence. Quite frankly, this photograph should not have happened. My original plans to go on an adventure last night were first challenged when I couldn't find anyone to take with me. Instead of letting it stop me, I went ahead and decided to go alone. Though my original destination was an overlook that looked quite promising, I was blocked by a series of closed gates and "Private Property" signs. My plans had changed, and I figured my chances of getting any photos that night had gone down the drain. Instead of turning around and going home, I checked the map on my phone, and found that I could keep going down the road I was on to eventually get home. The narrow and windy road took me on an awesome adventure down the side of a hill, where I decided to pull over at the spur of a moment and set up my tripod. After capturing a couple of fairly uninteresting starlit shots, I set up my camera for one last exposure. When I pressed the shutter button, there wasn't any trace of a car in sight. But right after the exposure started, I heard the faint sound of a lone car speeding down the switchbacks. As luck would have it, it entered the frame about halfway through the exposure, and exited the shot right as my shutter snapped shut. It was incredible and impossible to predict timing, and it resulted in a shot like nothing I had even expected.
Sometimes life surprises you. When I set out that night, I wasn't even sure if I was going to get a single interesting shot. But all of the factors aligned just right, and the outcome was far better than I could have ever imagined.
A strange phenomena called "rain" happened today in San Diego, and it left a sight to behold. I almost missed this scene entirely, and were it not for a quick trip to the kitchen, I would have never glanced out our large windows and seen the majestic beauty of the sky. Sprinting for my camera and quickly switching to my ultra-wide lens, I ran back and snapped as many shots as I could before the clouds shifted just moments later, and the saturated pinks and oranges of the setting sun disappeared into ordinary gray clouds once more. For a few minutes today, my world was bathed in a shimmering and surreal shower of gold and red light, a scene usually reserved for a painter's imagination. But it was real, and it was beautiful.
Sunsets have a bad reputation in the photography world. Just about anyone can pick up a camera and take a half-decent sunset shot that's sure to impress both friends and family. Serious photographers, however, stay away from them like the plague. Nevertheless, sunsets have a special place in my heart. And if done correctly, it's still possible to photograph them in stunning and unique ways.
Photographed on a Pentax K-x body with a 16mm Zenitar lens.
This is my submission for the obligatory fourth of July fireworks photo of the year. It was shot from my backyard, looking northwards from Poway, California. It was shot on a Pentax K2000 with a Promaster 70-300mm lens at 100mm, f/4.5, 15s shutter at ISO 100.
The photo above was taken at Angelo's Burgers in Encinitas, California. This little drive-through fast food joint is literally a "drive-through." The building is separated in two, with the drive-through lane down the middle. Though it looks moderately dirty and unmaintained from the outside, this is part of its charm. The food is big, greasy and messy, beckoning to a distant past when people weren't so obsessed with over-cleanliness and the practice of soaking every last surface with a flood of antibacterials. And the overwhelmingly wide variety of food types offered, all placed on a visually crowded and somewhat unorganized menu, results in the haphazard photograph above.