Solace – Xingping, China

After a month intermission from the website, internet and business side of photography I’m back in action. There’s nothing better than a nice long break to clear the mind. Over the break I was fortunate enough to visit Norway, Sweden, New York City, and Oregon.

The main goal of visiting Norway and Sweden was to step foot inside the Arctic Circle and see the Northern Lights. To do so we Flew into Kiruna, Sweden and rented a car. From there we took 10 days and drove over 2000 miles around the Fjords and into Norway. Due to a stagnant weather system with clouds that constantly followed us we kept an eye on the weather, finally finding some clear skies and the Aurora. Out of the entire trip we were able to see the light 3 times, all of which had some pretty nice activity.

I’ve included a few “snapshots” that I took while traveling below as well as a video. Currently the portfolio shots are in work and I’ll be posting a few in the coming weeks.

Beautiful Sunset in the Arctic
Sunset in Northern Norway
Coastal Mountains, Norway
Foggy Afternoon along the Norwegian Coastline
69 degrees North, Norway
Massive Peaks at 68 Degrees North
Reine, Norway
Reine Norway
Shooting Above Hong Kong
A Random Shot the Paul Weeks Just Gave Me. Taken in Hong Kong

The Shot
After returning from my trips I was really to get back on the computer and start post processing some shots. This shot comes from one of the best places I’ve ever traveled to, Xingping, China. We set out early one morning while it was still dark to take some shots of the fisherman at sunrise. After venturing up the Lijiang River in the dark/mist/rain the sun popped out for a few seconds and allowed us time to get some good shots.

Forbidden – Beijing, China

Paul & I just touched down in Seattle from a week long trip up the California Coast starting in Los Angeles on to Big Sur, and then San Francisco. The weather was nothing less than great. I’ve  never seen 6 perfect sunrises and sunsets in a row up until this point, add some amazing Milky Way action to the equation and you can call the trip a success.

Along the way we stopped at some really cool spots including Griffith Observatory, McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach, Garrapata State Park and one of my favorites Point Lobos Reserve. Our home base in Carmel / Big Sur was Carmel Mission Inn which is a great setup for photographers or anyone wanting to explore the near by beaches of Big Sur. They also have a hot tub and all your can eat breakfast buffet, so you really can’t go wrong there!

Here are a few of the Behind the Scenes shots I took with my Google Nexus 5 while out exploring. I like the camera included with the phone, but I find it to give some pictures a strange green tint once in a while. Not sure what that’s about, but hopefully there is a white balance setting I can change some where or another. Anyone else having this issue?

Paul Weeks / shooting sunset at McWay Falls in Big Sur, CA
Paul Shooting Sunset @ McWay Falls in Big Sur // Nikon D800
Sunrise in Big Sur // Google Nexus 5

After taking some Milky Way shots in Big Sur we drove through the night to San Francisco and stumbled upon an amazing sunrise overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge where the fog was perfection and the crescent moon was just starting to rise.

Foggy Sunrise at the Golden Gate Bridge under the Crescent Moon // Google Nexus 5

From there we checked into the La Luna Inn which I would also highly recommend to photographers staying in the area. It has great access to lots of awesome locations and comes with a cheap price. This isn’t a fancy hotel, but it is clean and provides some really comfortable beds with in walking distance lots of food and shooting locations + free wi fi.

I hope to post a few D800 shots from the trip in the coming weeks!

The Shot
After living in China for 3 months back in 2010, I was really excited to return with my camera and capture as much as the country as possible in a 10 day time frame. We started out in Beijing and stayed for 3 days getting up for at 4:30AM each morning to make the walk to which ever location we decided to shoot.

The Forbidden City, where this shot was taken, is located about 1.5 miles from our room at the Days Inn. We arrived an hour before sunrise to get some nice blue hour action and plan out the best spot to watch the sun come over the smoggy horizon. Here is one of the shots I took after the sun came up. There were some nice clouds in the sky but I added a bit of texture blending on my own! Enjoy.

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Silent Witness – The Great Wall of China, Jinshaling

I read an amazing blog post today from Patrick Difruscia, that I highly suggest to any artists that use social media. In the post he discusses how many photographers now value their photos only after seeing the response from social media networks & allow this social media response to change how they felt or really feel about this image or art. Fortunately and unfortunately social media has become apart of all photographers lives in one way or another. For some this global response truly matters, and without a great response, comes a feeling of worthlessness or self doubt for a picture they may have loved prior to posting it online. For others, they could care less, and will continue to use social media for what it is, a tool. I guess this is the risk we all take when sharing things we create, just remember, it can turn for better or worse, and only depends on how you twist it in your mind.

Picking up a camera in November of 2011 I’ve never known any world except that of social media for the purposes of photo sharing. In this realm I was able to find inspiration along with some great photographers that I could mimic as I learned the skills that were necessary for me to create my own style. That being said, there was a time when I really REALLY cared how many “likes” or “+1s” were placed on a certain photos that I posted online. Why, because when you pour your heart into something, you want everyone to see it and share in your enjoyment. This isn’t a learned behavior, but something we are born with, more of an animal instinct. As my experience grew, and I created a style of my own, the feeling faded and I was less inclined to put the value of my own work on the shoulders of millions that I didn’t know. I have  come to a realize, that keeping myself happy and creating unique photos that I love will in turn inspire others to do the same, and really, that’s the bigger picture.

Now don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate the response on photos and enjoy interacting with others all around the world. It is a truly unique and eye opening experience, but this is by no means what brings me to the table of photography.

Let’s just think about it, what drives you to do the things that your brain tells you “you love”? For me it’s the challenge of planning some adventure that will take place on the other side of the planet from where I am typing this sentence right now. Then comes the fun part, executing that plan, and with a little luck, coming back with some amazing photos, stories, and memories that will be hard to forget. That unknown challenge is why I enjoy taking pictures and love traveling. I think we all have something that makes us tick, sometimes it’s just hard to find.

No matter what you do, create, teach or love, take a step back and make sure you’re enjoying the ride, because in the end, that’s the only thing that really matters.

The Shot
From time to time I’ll post a picture that’s really special to me, this is one of those pictures. I think it’s something that happens as a combination of a great trip where you capture the picture and the enjoyment that comes from bringing back those memories while editing the photo on your computer later in time. Paul Weeks was nice enough to take this photo of me shooting sunset on the great wall earlier that night.

Sitting out there on the great wall watching the sun set and the stars appear one by one, it’s hard not to think back on the events that happened at the same location 10, 100, or 2000 years ago. When it comes down to it, not much has changed in that exact spot where I stood, even tho the world around it has in more ways than anyone could have ever imagined.  But one day when it’s all said and done, those stars, those same stars, they witnessed it all.