Journal Entries

Hungtington Gardens, Cacti and Succulents

I've been doing a bit of gardening lately, and considering California's drought and my travel schedule, have been trying to focus mainly on species that are well suited to the dry climate here.  So I've been potting things like succulents, aloes and agaves that will continue to do well even if they're not watered for a few weeks. Some of these species are really odd looking, like something out of the mind of Dr Suess or Tim Burton.  If you're in Southern California one of the best places to see some of the… Read More »

NAMM 2014 (Musical Instrument Conference)

While my main job at the moment is managing web development for Guitar Center / MusiciansFriend.com, this year I volunteered to do some photography for them at the 2014 NAMM Music Instrument Retail Conference, which takes place in Anaheim, CA.  Shooting a convention like this was a different kind of photography than what I've been doing lately, since I've been much more focused more on environmental work rather than people & products, but the basic principles of lighting and composition still apply reg… Read More »

To Oregon, Thru Yosemite

For all the exploring I've done over the years throughout the American west, I'd never been inside of the central valley of Yosemite National Park, which next to the Grand Canyon is probably one of the country's most photographed natural places.  Years back I'd done a backcountry trip south from Tuolumne Meadows, but being stuck in traffic jams from the droves of tourists that flood into the valley was always a bit of a turn off.  Millions flock here every year, with numbers peaking the summer. That's not … Read More »

Sea Elephants of San Simeon

One cool thing about getting into sea kayaking is getting to spend a lot of time on the water getting to know some of the coastal ecosystems. Encounters with harbor seals and sea lions have been common, dotting rocks and secluded beaches along the coastline, occasionally circling my boat while trying to figure out what to make of it. The two species are related, descending from an ancient land mammal that returned to aquatic life.  Biologists classify them under the same superfamily or Clade of Pinnipeds. … Read More »

Pigmy Foxes of Santa Cruz Island

Thought I'd share some pics from this weekend's kayak camping adventure along Santa Cruz Island, the largest of California's Channel Islands.  The highlight of the trip was definitely getting to see the endangered Island Fox. Smaller than the mainland species, it's a good example of island dwarfism, where a species may grow smaller over the generations due to a constrained food source.  Getting to paddle through a few of the many sea caves out there was also pretty cool :)  Read More »

Returning to Sequoia

Back during my college years, when I was first delving into photography, I started spending my summers working within national parks. The first of these was at Grants Grove of Kings Canyon National Park. I worked the front-desk, doing reservations and check-ins for their lodging and campgrounds.  Situated only about 20 minutes drive from the adjacent Sequoia National Park, it was a great jumping off point for exploring the Sierra Nevadas: the snowy high alpine passes, the oak covered lowland valleys, and… Read More »

The Desert Bighorn of Black Canyon

Since moving down to California I've been wanting to kayak the slow moving waters of the lower colorado river, down stream the grand canyon. The stretch below hoover dam seemed like a good place to start, where the water moves slow enough for doing a loop trip with a touring boat, where it's flat enough to shoot the wildlife from the water. The country got a little carried away with our dam building back mid-century. A whole chain of dams run up the colorado. The were on the verge of damming the upper part… Read More »

Thoughts on Australia

So i just finished up a tour through Australia, about to fly down to New Zealand for the second leg of my trip. I had an absolute blast. It was my first trip back down here since i was 8, which i barely remember, so it was almost like visiting a new country. As a half-kiwi myself, Australia holds significance due to the close connection with New Zealand. A lot of New Zealanders end up living here, including a few of my old mates from Tauranga, attracted here by it's warmer/dryer weather and opportunities … Read More »

Tips for Photographing Wildlife

For the best shots you normally want to get as close as they animal feels comfortable, enough to fill the frame while still letting them relax into natural behavior. Ive been having good luck with a 70-300vr since it allows me to typically frame the shot faster without a clumsy tripod. For all but the most habituated creatures, getting too close will cause them to flee. Once that flight happens your unlikely to get any more good shots since it'll be of their backside. Get a clean shot as quickly as possi… Read More »

Joshua Tree - Eagle Mountains

This weekend was a much needed retreat in the desert of Joshua Tree National Park.  It had been a bit of a rough week as I just found out my granddad had passed away. My flight to head back down to New Zealand a few weeks from now to catch up with family had already been booked, so you can imagine it was a bit upsetting to learn that I'd never be able to see him again. Sometimes it can take a while to work though big life events like this, but for me I tend to pull inwards to work through such things.… Read More »