Roadtrip_Oregon & Washington

Outdoor and Adventure Photography In My Travels

When I was younger I always thought the perfect job would be one where I'd get to travel and be paid for it. Well, I've had that opportunity recently and I never would have expected it at my current job. It's allowed me to do my outdoor and adventure photography along the way. 

So this post covers my road trip from Los Angeles through Oregon & Washington and back. I currently work, though not for much longer, at a signage company and we've been rebranding for a client nationwide. As their main installer, I've been able to travel the U.S. doing these installs. This OR & WA trip was the first of numerous. 

First let me say this, I'd call this a true road trip because I never slept in a hotel; I lived out of my car and camped. I have a Subaru Forester that I've transformed into my little adventure home. I put down a pad in the back, have Tupperware to organize food and cosmetics, a large cargo bin on my roof for storage, and installed curtains on the inside for sleeping. If there is an interest, I can go into more detail on my setup later.

My first install was in Eugene, OR, so my trip really began there. Installs for my work always take place in the morning and evenings, leaving the day open for either driving or exploration. After Eugene I went up to Portland, then over to Spokane, WA (Side note, I don't know why anyone would live out there). From there I cut back west to Seattle and Tacoma. After finishing those installs, I was finished and had some time to explore, so naturally I went to Olympic National Park. It was here that I chose to do what the park deemed one of the 'hardest but most rewarding' hikes; Lake of the Angels. It is a 6 mile hike with almost 4,000' elevation gain. What I didn't realize is that most of that elevation gain is in the last 2 miles once it shoots off up the mountain. It was the hardest hike I've done. Every step was like doing lunges or squats or something. I've never had a cramp on a hiking trip, but in the last (and steepest) 400', one thigh was cramping with each step. But I pushed on and rounded the corner to see my camp spot next to the lake. At that moment, I realized it was all worth it. A beautiful lake surrounded by peaks, trees, and small streams. It was also at that moment that it started to rain (welcome to the Pacific Northwest). So I very quickly set up my REI Quarter Dome 1 and got inside. Most of that night I slept cozily in my tent while lighting storms illuminated the peaks around me. 

The next morning I woke up to hear grunting, snorting, and chewing outside my tent. The mountain goats had come down to eat around the camp area. I enjoyed greatly the photo opportunity from my tent door for a solid hour before I scared them off to make breakfast and begin my decent. If you're in the southern section of the park, I'd highly recommend this hike (so long as you are up for an exhausting hike). The rest of the day was spent traveling back down the coast to California. 

I've inserted a gallery of images from this entire trip below so you can enjoy the beauty with me.  

Adventures in Michigan and Chicago

Have you ever been out to Michigan during the summer? It's beautiful! I was out there this last weekend for a friend's wedding and it was the furthest East I've been thus far and I didn't want to leave. I also had a layover in Chicago so I have some awesome shots from that exploration as well. I just wanted to share some of these photos with you, because I think they turned out beautifully. In the words of Jim Richardson, "If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more beautiful things." That's how I felt about my photos from this trip. I left on Thursday morning, had a small layover in Chicago which wasn't long enough to go explore the city, and then, after our plane had a brake mechanical issue, I finally made it to Traverse City, MI at 12:45am. It was in a smaller town to the north that we had a rental home for the family of the groom and his groomsmen  (of which I was one). It was there that I spent a few days enjoying their company, sipping coffee on the dock in the early morning, and canoeing around the lake. Below are some of the photos I loved most from this area.

The steep hill in Sleeping Bear Dunes, that you can see people climbing up, my friend and I decided to time ourselves and push for a record. After nearly killing ourselves due to a heart attack, dehydration, passing-out, etc., we made the top in 16 minutes and 16 seconds. So difficult, but so rewarding and memorable. It only took about 3 minutes to run down it though at full speed and for me, I choose not to stop and just ran straight into the cold waters of Lake Michigan.

Then on Saturday, we had the wedding, which went splendidly, and although I wasn't the main wedding photographer, I was able to grab a few shots before and after and at the reception.

Then I had most of Sunday to relax as well before I left in the evening. My flight got into Chicago at 8:30pm and my flight to Los Angeles wasn't till 7:15am the next morning. So I took advantage of that spare time and I rode the "L" into downtown Chicago so that I could go visit Millennium Park and see "Sky Gate", or better known as "The Bean."

After almost getting lost trying to get back to the train station, I finally got back to the airport at 11:30pm to find that the security check-in closes at 10:30pm. So instead of spending the night on the carpeted floor of my boarding gate, I spent the night on some chairs by baggage claim. Aside from a crying baby nearby, I slept great! Fun fact, I can sleep most anywhere, and in this case I did. The chairs had armrests that didn't move, so in order to lie down and had to slide in underneath them and then couldn't move once in position. I had an armrest above my head, my stomach, and my legs; regardless of these 'annoyances' I slept great only waking up once at 3:00am because the baby again. I wish I had a picture of my on the chairs, but I don't... lame!

I woke up at 6:20-ish and went through check-in and got to my gate with an hour to spare. Then I slept some more, boarding the plane, then slept almost the whole way home. Once I was back in LA at 10:00am, I grabbed my car and headed straight to work. Needless to say, returning to my apartment, a shower, and my sweet loving bed at the end of the day all felt so great. My adventures in Michigan and Chicago however will remain fond memories and I have the pictures to prove it.

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Strangers Project - "15 Strangers, 1 Canvas"

This project was a collaboration project between me and my friend and classmate, Beau Morris. We went down to Long Beach one sunny, Wednesday afternoon with just my camera, a canvas, and some paint. As people passed by on the boardwalk, we would ask them if they wanted to take a moment to be a part of our project. If they agreed, then we'd have them pick a color of paint and their only requirement was to connect, in any way they chose, two sides of the canvas. Afterwards, I would take a picture of them holding the canvas so as to see their contribution. In the spreads below, the dot on the opposite side of the spread is the color they contributed. Our hope is to make this into a physical, perfect-bound book soon. Thank you to all those who were a part of this project.

10 Fun Facts about Me

1.       To this day, I've never broken a bone in my body. This may not be as amazing as some facts, but it is amazing considering all the tree's I've climbed, hikes I've done, sports I've played, etc.. I'm an active person that doesn't take to sitting on the couch much. That's what makes this all the more amazing.

2.       I've been skydiving! And loved it! I am active, as I mentioned above, but also have a wild side. I like to have crazy adventures in the wilderness as well. I'm always down for an adventure.

3.       I love coffee! To my shame, I've been addicted to it since the beginning of high school. Thankfully, I'm not willing to spend $4 every day for a cup of coffee; we make our own pot at home. However, this being said, if you want to meet with me or hang out, coffee is great for sharing a conversation over.

4.       I have traveled well over 506,000 miles in my life just up through high school and just in a car alone (yes, I took the time to calculate that). Now, I've probably traveled thousands more miles, but my calculations are based off solely what I can guarantee. I lived 1 hour away from town all my life. So when I went to school in town from 5th grade through high school, it means I traveled an hour to school and an hour back every day. These are what I based my calculations on alone. I didn't count my life up to 5th grade, or vacations, etc. Nonetheless, I've spent a lot of my life in a car.

5.        I love sports. Growing up I played mainly soccer and one year of baseball when I was a little tike. I played basketball for my school in 6th and 8th grade. Soccer I played for about 11 years. City league when I was young, 5th through 8th grade was my school team and then in high school I played all 4 years for the team as well. I mentioned only playing baseball one year when I was young. Playing for a city league, I had a bad experience with it due to a poor coach that cared more about winning than encouraging and teaching us. So I quit baseball for a long time, but when Freshman year of high school came around, I decided to try it again. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn, but I had an awesome coach and playing came naturally to me. So I was a starter for my high school team all 4 years and was team captain the last 2 years. Even though those were the only sports I played for school, there isn't a sport I won't try. Through means of school, for fun, trying it out, and intramural sports, I've played/play volleyball, volley-tennis, tennis, dodgeball, football, wrestling, lacrosse, swimming, softball, ultimate frisbee, frisbee golf, rock climbing and I'm sure many more that I forgot to mention. I love to be active. I also enjoy watching sports. Generally, I won't sit by myself and watch sports or even keeping track on a certain team throughout the season, but if there is even one or two other people watching, I will gladly join watching them.

6.        I love music and music of all kinds. From celtic, to instrumental, classical, to dance, dubstep, hip-hop, rap, to classic rock, modern rock, etc. The only genre I don't like is screemo. I can't even understand what they're saying, so whats the point. On my computer I have over 10,000 songs in my iTunes. Yet, I have only been to one concert in my life that I remember. Weird, right?

7.        My mother's maiden name is Fraser. This is the same Fraser as the clan in Scotland that we can trace back to. Both of my brothers have actually been to the Fraser castle in northern Scotland, sadly I have not. I love all things celtic including one of my favorite movies, Braveheart.

8.         I grew up without TV. We definitely didn't want to pay for cable and where we lived the bunny ears didn't even pick up any channels. Plus, with all our travel time, we didn't have time to watch anyway. Not having TV all my life probably played a lot into my development as a person. Because of this, I played outside and developed an active personality as well as a great sense of imagination. Now, let me clarify, I had a TV and DVD/VHS player, but I didn't have TV.

9.         I really love animals of all kinds. I have done a fair amount of horse back riding including some packing trips in the mountains. I enjoy all types of animals, but my favorite animal ever was my dog growing up. From about age 8 to 17 we had a part wolf, part malamute dog named Buck. He was my companion in all my adventures outdoors.

10.       The only time I've been outside the U.S. was a family vacation to Cozumel, Mexico the summer before 6th grade. Thankfully, I was just old enough, that I remember it well. It was a blessing and a great memory with my parents and two older brothers. I haven't gotten to do it much, but I love to travel.

5 Tips For Taking Pictures of Cars - MGA Photos

 Alright, it's not quite my normal wedding and portrait photography, but I still had fun taking these photos. My dad is trying to sell this MGA and so I offered to take the pictures, because if it involves a camera I knew I'd probably enjoy it. So here's a few photos.This was my first time taking pictures of a car, so I know they're not award winning, but I can offer a few tips for taking pictures of cars (whether I was able to implement them myself or not. lol).

1) Get different angles and perspectives

 - Enough said. If you always take pictures from the same angles you're going to eventually get bored of your own shots. People are used to seeing cars from a standing viewpoint. But the may not have seen it from the ground or from directly above. Get high, get low, get creative.

2) Use a longer lens -

The majority of the time you'll want to use a longer lens. I just said above to get creative, so yes, you can use a fish eye or another wide-angle to get creative. But as a rule, the longer lenses will give you a more accurate account of  the size and lines. A wide angle is going to distort the perspective, but a longer lens will keep it looking in proper perspective.

3) Shoot in Shade if possible -

 I know that my shots have a lot of reflections, but I couldn't really avoid that too much. But even so, the majority of the car was in shade. As a photography rule, we should already understand that shooting in shade is nice because it's more diffused light.

4) Make Sure To Get The Important Angles -

If you're trying to sell a car there are 5 angles you want; from the front, from the back, from both sides, and then one where you capture both front and side (like my first image). Now obviously you want more than just those shots, but they are considered the "must have" shots according to Cars.com.

5) Have Fun! - 

Always have fun. At least, that's my rule. If you're not having fun taking pictures, then... I don't know. But have fun.If you saw these photos on Craigslist, would you look twice? Or, anyone want to buy it? :)

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7 Elements of Photography We Can Learn From The Hobbit.

7 Elements of Photography We Can Learn From The Hobbit.

1. Dramatic Lighting

You will notice that in the majority of good portraiture, dramatic lighting is often a key element. It’s not too often you’ll find ‘flat’ lighting in a great picture (not to say it can’t be done however). It will either result in the lighting that appears directly on the person or dramatic lighting between the subject and the foreground or background. For example, in the images of Bilbo and Thorin Oakenshield, there is dramatic, directional lighting on their faces. There are many ways that dramatic lighting can manifest itself or be achieved.

2. Deep Blacks and Good Highlights

You may also notice in images created by someone who knows how to process their images, they’ll have excellent tonal range. The images from The Hobbit capitalize on this. Proper images have some deep blacks and some highlights as well. This is also another way to avoid having your image appear ‘flat.’ It doesn’t necessarily have to be a great deal of each, just so long as you’re touching on both ends of the spectrum. Some photographers like to use filters or they have a style of slightly muting everything which minimizes tonal range. This is fine. There are times when the photographer can make a decision not to have a high contrast image. They still produce a great image, however this style is to be intentional and purposeful.

7 Elements of Photography We Can Learn From The Hobbit.

3. Interesting Foregrounds and Backgrounds

Another element that can really enhance an image is including interesting foregrounds or backgrounds. These are two things that always need to be considered one way or the other. It’s very easy, especially if you’re new to photography, to forget about these and end up with distracting backgrounds or foregrounds. However, do not simply avoid them; they are useful tools to achieve a stronger image. Look at every example image from the movie. Don’t the backgrounds give interest, setting, and help tell a story? That’s what we’re wanting.

4. Find Unique Angles

Don’t be afraid to try new angles. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of taking pictures from the same angle or height. Try spicing it up some; you may be shocked. Get high. Get low. Back away. Get close. This can add some variety to your shots and help you find a real keeper.

5. Be Color Smart

Be very aware of how your colors and image temperatures are telling a story. Are your colors too bright and vibrant or too muted? How does this affect the mood? Is the image temperature cold and moody or warm and cheerful? These are things that can be fined-tuned to help narrate your image. If you're wanting a dramatic image like Gandalf’s photo, then a warm temperature would not be desired. Chances are you could put more thought into these details to improve your images. So often we take the picture concerned only with composition, lighting direction, and subject when the color can be considered more thoroughly.

7 Elements of Photography We Can Learn From The Hobbit.

6. Mind the Sky

If shooting outdoors, instead of allowing the sky to be a blown-out nuisance, view it as a resource, and use it to your advantage. Now, this may not always be possible due to equipment, desired effect, or setting. But there are ways that you can properly capture the clouds or the blue of the sky. You could either expose for the sky and light the subject with additional lighting, use HDR, or find a proper exposure with natural light that works for both your subject and the sky. But don’t always avoid the sky; learn to tame it. Notice the drama it adds to Gandalf and Bilbo’s images.

7. Don’t Use Shallow Depth of Field Every Time

Using a very large aperture and creating a shallow depth of field can be a great affect for portraiture and many other types of photography. This doesn’t mean, however, that it is the only effective use of DOF. Use a large DOF every so often, especially if your background could amplify the effect of the image. Make the image sharp throughout the entire image. Play around with both and learn in what situations it works best.

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