I Love Chihuly

Seattle is known for several special things.  It’s the birthplace of grunge rock (Nirvana and Soundgarden, among others) and everyone’s favorite overpriced-hot-milk-disguised-as-a-latte cafe, Starbucks.  There’s the quirky Space Needle and even quirkier dedication to all things Yeti.  The Public Market is the embodiment of all things farm-to-table and the vast woodlands surrounding the city pay homage to the art and culture of the Pacific Northwest Native Americans.  Seattle has drizzly rain, majestic mountains, fuzzy flannel, and a vanguard vibe all uniquely its own.

It also has Dale Chihuly.  If you have never heard of this artist who has (legitimately) earned the right to go by the singular title of “Chihuly,” then allow me to introduce you!  Less of a diva and more of a legend, Chihuly has dazzled the public for decades with his larger-than-life sculptures of vibrant spun glass, installations that defy physics and excite the senses with their incandescent color and impressive scale.  So delicate, yet so accessible, each piece is displayed openly, inviting the viewer to get up close and personal with the art.

I have to say, it is SO TEMPTING to reach out and touch the jade, aqua, and plum orbs that hang tantalizingly in front of you, or to pluck a sapphire spiral from a 14′ tall chandelier.  I repeat – it is SO TEMPTING!  But this is what makes Chihuly’s work wonderful.  We can step into a room filled with neon flowers and galaxy-swirled beach balls and experience art in a way we rarely get to: by becoming it.

The grandaddy of art glass, the man with the electric shock of curly hair and the pirate’s eye patch, began life in Tacoma, Washington.  While studying interior design at the University of Washington he was introduced to glass blowing and clearly (get it??  bah dum dum) developed a passion for it.  Later, on a Fulbright scholarship to Venini, Italy, he learned the technique of team glass blowing that would forever change his approach to the craft.  Upon returning to Washington, Chihuly established the Pilchuk Glass School and began his lifelong pursuit of elevating glass blowing to a fine art.

I was first introduced to Chihuly’s genius in 2012 when I visited a traveling exhibition at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.  I was so taken by the dream-like beauty of the vibrant glass sculptures that I purchased a museum membership for the sole purpose of returning and enjoying it as many times as I liked.  Finally, someone who understood how I feel about color!  I tend to have a “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” approach (gratuitous shout out to another favorite artist of mine, Michael Jackson) to color management and prefer to teeter on the edge of dazzling reality, while avoiding technicolor garishness, in my own work.  Some people think achieving balanced, rich color tones is easy because the artist makes it look easy – but in fact, it’s anything but!  Managing color in photography is a challenge all its own, but managing color in an amorphous liquid tinted with a cocktail of chemicals, spiraling out of a kiln at 2000 degrees F?  Yeah.

On my trip to Washington last week I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit Chihuly’s permanent installation, Chihuly Garden and Glass, housed in Seattle under the spindly shadow of the Space Needle.  While many of the indoor pieces where ones I was familiar with from the San Francisco exhibition, the Garden Gallery and Glass House were something completely new and exciting.  I spent a fun hour or so photographing the glass in creative, inspired, and colorful ways.  So did everyone else: there wasn’t a single person who didn’t have a camera or cell phone in their hand, trying to capture a little bit of the Chihuly magic.  I’d like to think that somewhere between my eye, my camera sensor, and my editing technique, I was able to replicate the experience of dramatic composition and luminous color that Chihuly does so well.

You be the judge!  Scroll down to see the art of photographing art.

Cheers!

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Yosemite Winter in Black and White

No matter how advanced digital photography gets in color capturing and printing technology, there will always be a special place for black and white photography in Yosemite.

John Muir was spot-on when he christened this natural gem the “Range of Light.”  The rugged 2,000+ foot granite walls sheltering the narrow Yosemite Valley, with its northeast-southwest orientation, make for spectacular plays of reflected light and deep shadow all through the year.  Anyone who photographs in Yosemite is aware of the challenges that such hard contrasts in light can bring to a full color image.  But when viewed in black and white, these hard stops reveal texture, form, gravity, and emotion that aren’t immediately obvious in the full color scene.  There is a sensitivity and richness that comes through when the color is stripped away and the landscape laid bare.

Ansel Adams was, of course, the king of black and white Yosemite photography.  If he were alive today and had the option to record his vision in color, I wonder if he would see things differently?  I’m secretly glad he didn’t have a palette of technicolor tools at his disposal.  There’s a reason why, despite having access to advanced technology, millions of photographers continue to emulate his style.  Adams’ images are so clear, so honest, so strong yet delicate in their handling of light and darkness.  It’s like watching a ballet unfold frame by frame.  Without the beautiful distraction of color, a whole new world opens up that invites a new kind of contemplation.

This January was my first winter camping trip to Yosemite.  Although I did not approach every scene with the intent of capturing it in black and white, I found that I was often pulled that direction in my editing.  White snow, black shadows, bare tree branches outstretched against a pale gray sky…all lent themselves perfectly to the black and white approach.

What do you notice first in each of these images?  Would you see something different if they were in color?

Cheers,

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Fall in Love with Yosemite

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Pssst…I’l let you in on a local’s secret: Yosemite National Park is horrible in the summer.  When the waterfalls are raging and the days are long and warm, there is no place I’d rather NOT be than Yosemite.  During this extremely popular time of the year, there are throngs of people and cars clogging every walkway and road, dirty air fed by forest fires and Central Valley smog, and a dry, sweltering heat that leaves me pining for air conditioning and a freezer full of Mint Oreo ice cream.

Pretty much every month outside of June, July, and September is better for visiting, although I think Fall is the best. There’s a cool crispness to the air…mmmm, that pristine mountain kind filled with the fresh, lung-scrubbing fragrance of damp pine needles and joyously littered with a colorful confetti of falling leaves.

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There’s also that glowing, golden sunshine that bathes the Valley Floor during the day, a luscious light that only comes at this time of year.  It’s warm and beautiful, especially as it illuminates the face of Half Dome in the mid-afternoon.

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A face I never tire of.
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I always say “I won’t photograph Half Dome this time!!”  But that’s lazy-talk.  All it takes is challenging myself to look at this classic image from a new perspective.  There are a million ways to “see” Half Dome, and I intend to capture them all!

This past weekend Steve, Mila, and I went “glamping” (i.e. tent camping, but with enough kitchenware and bedding to stock a Macy’s Home Store) in the shadow of the world’s most famous monolith.  What ensued were several days of peace and rejuvenation in this idyllic park.  Although I said I’d go easy on the photography  this trip (really, how many pictures of Yosemite Falls do I need??), I scrapped that idea once I immersed myself in the splendid beauty of Yosemite.

A recent rain storm had erased the memory of summer, wetting the soil and refilling the High Sierra watershed, bringing the famed waterfalls to life again.  The fall colors were peaking, the light was amazing, and I just couldn’t help myself!!  Scroll down to see more of my photos from our Yosemite Fall “Glamping” Trip.

Have you been to Yosemite?  If so, when is your favorite time of year to visit?  Litter my my blog with comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers,

Jessica

P.S. – One of these days I’ll post on the finer points of “glamping.”  Mila still doesn’t understand it – like why would you take all the comforts of home to someplace that’s NOT home – but believe me, it’s kind of a thing these days!

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There is a certain moment at dusk when the warmth of sunset blends into the coolness of twilight.  It only lasts a minute, but it’s worth every second!
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Three of the best things in life: My two favorite traveling buddies and a hot thermos of coffee.
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You’re my best friend.
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I was taking a picture of the berries on the dogwood tree when this little robin hopped in front of my lens – a much more interesting subject!

 

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Curious things happen at the intersection of darkness and light.
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Sooooo refreshing to see Yosemite Falls flowing again.  It always breaks my heart when the water runs dry.
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When your humans take you camping, and you’re like “meh”.
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The secret forest.
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Camping is fun, no?
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You know how hard it is to take a handheld macro shot of a patch of mushrooms in the shade?  Next time, I’m bringing a tripod. :-p
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Mirror Lake…aptly named.
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Serenity at Valley View.  It’s easy to miss this gorgeous vista on your drive out of the park – but trust me, it’s well worth the stop.

 

 

 

Gothic Kicks and Country Licks in Good Ol’ Nashville

When I travel, I look to photograph images that capture the traditional flavor of a place, as well as the quirky side dishes and amuse-bouches that make a destination unique, intriguing, and surprising!

Maybe it was the proximity of this trip to my favorite holiday of the year (Halloween), maybe it was the moody change in the weather (hello, Fall), or maybe it was the influence of the spirit of Nashville (whiskey!), but whatever the case my photography of this city took a decidedly gothic turn.  Yes, I obliged myself in some very traditional Nashvillian images, but when it’s all said and done, I’d say that Tennessee took a page out of the Hunchback of Notre Dame when designing its capital city!

Before We Go Country…Let’s Go Gothic

From spooky old train stations to dilapidated antebellum mansions to any number of ornate edifices made from iron or stone, Nashville has a corner on the quietly creepy market.  Click an image below to see the emo underbelly of this town in intense detail.

 

Now For the Guitars, Glitter, and Good Times

If Nashville is known for anything the world over, it’s for producing some darn fine country music and Tennessee whiskey.  (They make some especially good spirits at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, just outside of downtown, BTW.) Good thing you can have your fill of both at any of hundreds of establishments across the city!  And, if you’re lucky, you may get treated to a free concert by a music legend.  Thanks Garth Brooks, we’ll take a live concert and fireworks show along the Cumberland River any night of the week – but it was especially nice of you to liven up a Monday night so nicely.

 

Nashville definitely gets my vote for music, architecture, history, and buttermilk biscuits.  Mmmmm, you haven’t lived right until you’ve eaten a Big Nasty (a heart-stopping delight of fried chicken stuffed inside a buttermilk biscuit and topped with sausage gravy) at the aptly named Biscuit Love.  I must say that downtown Nashville seemed to lack cultural diversity in its restaurants, night life, and historical attractions, which was a surprise for me when I compare it to one of my favorite southern towns, New Orleans.  However, that won’t stop me from going back and searching out local life outside of my 3 mile walking radius and getting a real pulse on what Music City is all about.

And no.  I did not see the ghost of Elvis.  But I did see this incredibly cute dog keeping time to a Jack Daniels guitar on Broadway.  Only in Nashville, folks.

Cheers,

Jessica

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Beel Family Portrait Session

There’s nothing like photographing people in one of their favorite places.  Last week’s family session in Yosemite Valley with the Beels was certainly a prime example of that.  Brett and Lindsay Beel share a love for Yosemite, born of their passion for rock climbing, so it was only natural that they introduce their new little man to the mountains as soon as possible!

Nolan made his first national park visit at the tender age of 1 month and 1 day.  Yes!!!  You heard that right.  For a newborn, he weathered the outdoors unbelievably well and was quite content to be held by Mom and Dad as we played around in Cook’s Meadow.   Judging by how comfortable and relaxed he was, I’m thinking this is just the first trip of many!  Babies everywhere: the bar has been set, and it is HIGH.  🙂

Congratulations Brett and Lindsay on the new addition to your family.  I know you’ll miss Yosemite when you move to Pennsylvania, but here’s hoping that these photos remind you of your special time in California.  Thank you for inviting me to share in these memories with you.

Cheers!

Jessica

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Real Estate Photography: It’s Not Just Pictures of Pretty Houses

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Spoiler alert!  There are many genres of photography out there that don’t fit the stereotypical mold of glitz and glamour.  Not all professional photography involves smiling happy families in matching sweaters, five-star weddings, sunsets over Santorini, or following around beautiful people in designer jeans as they strike funny poses in exotic places (if only…). One of these lesser-known, but increasingly lucrative, genres is real estate photography.

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Know this: Real estate photography isn’t just pictures of kitchen islands and master bathrooms!  As millennials enter the home-buying market, real estate is taking a surprisingly “real-life” turn, and one of the ways it is doing this is by depicting neighborhoods and cities as locals see it.  In fact, the Sacramento Bee just published an article about the changing landscape in real estate marketing, highlighting a trend that is focused on advertising the homeowner lifestyle and experience vs. farmhouse sinks and travertine floors.

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My love for travel and street photography has given me the opportunity to work for several real estate and relocation firms, most recently Jane Gray of Jane Gray Real Estate.  Jane is an experienced businesswoman with her finger on the pulse of the Sacramento housing market.  To give her clients a real feel for the area and differentiate her brand from the competition, she knew she needed unique, fresh, and authentic imagery.  When she reached out to me to develop the visual content for her website and blog, I jumped at the chance!  I love this kind of work because I get to explore a city from the inside-out and fully indulge my passion for architecture, landscape, and candid street photography.  I also get to tap into my storytelling skills as I weave a visual narrative of a city.

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The goal in this type of real estate photography, which I’ve started calling “environmental photography”, is to show people so much more than the four walls of a house.  We all know that it’s not the 800 square foot media room, but the surrounding community that really turns a house into your “home.”  Want to see what it’s like to call Roseville and Sacramento home?  Keep scrolling…

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Thank you Jane for the opportunity to create exclusive content for you!  I can’t wait to see how you use your images for Jane Gray Real Estate.

 

Katie & Brent’s Maternity Session

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Katie and Brent’s shared love of nature inspired them to pick Point Reyes National Seashore for their maternity session, which was just about as perfect as you can get.  It may have been 100 degrees in Modesto but it was a balmy 72 on the seashore – something that any woman at 38 weeks can be thankful for!

Katie was an absolutely glowing mama, a natural beauty surrounded by the beauty of the sea.  I had so much fun capturing her and Brent’s love – both for Baby B, and for each other – in some very special places within this national park.  There’s nothing like the calm serenity of a quiet oak grove or the gentle lapping of the ocean waves to center us and bring out all those happy smiles!  Nature is central to my photography, so I love it when I get to work with people like Katie and Brent who share the same love for the outdoors that I do.

Congratulations Katie and Brent on the upcoming arrival of your little one!  I can’t wait to see him in all his cuteness.  Thank you so much for inviting me to document this special event in your lives.  And thank you Steve for being my assistant – you did an excellent job of keeping my gear sands-free!

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Lake Tahoe by Boat

A couple of weeks ago Steve and I embarked on yet another camping adventure – but with a twist!  We dusted off Steve’s classic Ski Nautique, dumped all our gear into water-proof totes, and hit the road for a boat camping weekend on Lake Tahoe.

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Ahoy!  Our classy (and classic) waterski boat may be small, but she is mighty.  This little lady can still turn heads – and some tight turns! – on the water.

A few things to know about boat camping:

  1. All the stuff that used to fit in the back of your truck now needs to fit in your boat.
  2. All the stuff in your boat needs to stay dry (easier said than done).
  3. Your boat still needs to FLOAT once loaded down with all your stuff.
  4. People who aren’t used to seeing tiny boats loaded 4′ high with ice chests and fire pits are going to stare at you.  Wave and smile, wave and smile…
  5. Once you get to your campground, you need to unload your stuff and get it to your campsite.  Enter wheelbarrows and very bumpy dirt trails.
  6. After you unload your stuff, you have to moor your boat.
  7. After you moor your boat, you need to get back to shore.  Oops, this is where an inflatable kayak would have come in handy…

When condensed like that, boat camping can sound like a drag!  But it really is a lot of fun. Especially at Emerald Bay, which is hands down one of the prettiest places in all of Lake Tahoe.

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Emerald Bay sunrise.  Not all that glitters is green.

Camping at Emerald Bay gave me a good excuse to get up at dawn for sunrise photography.  Actually, I had zero excuse NOT to get up, as the bay was right at my feet every morning, beautiful and serene, beckoning me with bright colors or placid waters.  I had so much fun documenting its many different looks and moods in the few short days that I was there.

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Hey, that’s ME!  I’ve started to “put myself in the picture” on my photography adventures.  I like how this image reminds me of my place in this moment.
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Sunbursts.  I can’t help myself.  🙂
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Stand-up paddle boarding is big on Lake Tahoe.  Nothing like a sunrise stroll around the bay to bring life into perspective.
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When I woke up and saw that there were no clouds in the sky, I was bummed.  But then I realized that there is beauty in what is not there, too.
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Every day, something different.  Maybe the clouds aren’t as dramatic, but the lake is freakishly calm.  I like how these dead branches seem to melt into the sublimely smooth water.

Sunsets, by the way, weren’t too shabby either!  Although the sun sets behind the mountains that encircle Emerald Bay, afternoon storm clouds sometimes reflect the colors of a glorious sunset, giving us a window into something that we cannot see.

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Boat camping at Emerald Bay is quite remote, as there are no markets or restaurants within walking distance.  You can’t just casually jump in your car to head to the store to pick up some ice, or go for a tour around town.  What you CAN do is jump in your boat and head to the nearest marina for food, supplies, and good ol’ lakefront entertainment.

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On the road again…heading to The Beacon for goods and grub.  And maybe an ice cold pint in their Sand Pit.  Lake living at its finest!
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Getcha motor running’…
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Just some starlings on the dock that caught my eye.

The Beacon is known for its tropical cocktail, the Rum Runner.  Perhaps señor had a few too many?

While we sipped libations in the Sand Pit and listened to live music from local bands, a rumble of thunder echoed in the distance.  I checked the weather forecast on my phone and saw a storm warning for the lake for the next hour or two.  A quick pitstop quickly turned into a dinner break as we waited out the weather.

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A serious storm sweeps across Lake Tahoe.  Not unusual for summer, but you want to avoid being on the lake when weather like this blows in…

I ordered the fish and chips.  Yum yum yum.  And waited.  Midway through my third filet, I looked outside and saw light breaking on the water.  My heart skipped a beat as I registered what sunlight combined with retreating storm clouds means.  Steve’s heart skipped a beat too.  Except what he was looking at was our boat, which had broken free of its mooring.  We both ran out to the shore and got to work.

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A double rainbow!  One of the most vivid displays I have ever seen.  Thank you, thank you storm and the unscheduled dinner break that kept us here for THIS.
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That happy feeling you get when you successfully photograph a double rainbow.
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I chided myself for leaving my tripod back in camp.  Still, I managed to get this panorama by holding my breath, steadying my camera, and twisting my torso 210 degrees.  Oouf.

While heading out on the boat to explore the lake is fun, it’s also nice to explore Lake Tahoe from land.  Good thing there are plenty of opportunities for that right from our campground.  One day we hiked the Rubicon Trail, another day we walked around the south end of the bay, and one afternoon we toured the famed Vikingsholm Castle.  Sometimes we just chilled on the beach and read a book while the waves lapped at our feet.

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The Vikingsholm Castle is a fixture on Emerald Bay.  This beautiful mansion was built at the turn of the 20th century and is a study in Scandinavian art and architecture.
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I think the docent said this was a peasant chair.  Um, seriously?
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Meals were shared in this dining room.  Although the hostess was gracious and welcoming, it was imperative that everyone show up at the appointed hour(s) to dine together.  Yes, there were four daily meals on the schedule, and you must be present for all!
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Hood ornament from one of the vintage Dodge Rams that was used to chauffeur guests to and from the mansion.
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There’s something ghostly about this “sun” room…*shivers*
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Fannette Island, part of the Vikingsholm estate.  The little stone structure on the top is a tea house that was used in the summer.  Now abandoned and crumbling, it sure looks creepy under a threatening sky…
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Hit the trail!  Rubicon Trail is one of the prettiest in all of Lake Tahoe.
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Whoever built this bridge…rocks.
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You can’t fully appreciate the bold green and blue hues of Emerald Bay unless you hike above the water.  The views from the Eagle Point Trail are especially stunning.
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This guy totally gets the Dad of the Year Award for power boating this kayak (and his kids) back to shore during a serious cloudburst.  Fierce.

We even got treated to a 30 minute show by one of the resident osprey of the Emerald Bay.  These birds build their nests in the tops of the tallest trees, close to the shore, so that they can scan the water for fish with their insanely sharp eyes.  Then they swoop down and it’s like, sayonara fishie.   Such is the harsh reality of life in the wild.

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Those who camp with us know that, well, we don’t really “camp”, it’s kind of more like “glamp.”  As in, dehydrated veggies and meals-in-a-pouch don’t even come close to our meal kit.  Here’s an especially tasty 2014 Tolosa Central Coast Viognier that we paired with, I am not ashamed to say, bacon mac ‘n cheese.  Chowzah!

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What’s in your igloo?

Would I boat camp again?  Absolutely.  Would I do it immediately?  Probably not.  It’s definitely a more expensive way to travel, if you don’t already have a boat docked on the water, and you certainly aren’t as mobile as you are on land or foot.  Some of the peace and quiet of the outdoors is, understandably, shattered when you combine outboard motors with alcohol-fueled party boats.  But on the positive side it gets you out on the water to enjoy a new perspective, and isn’t collecting new perspectives the main reason why we travel?

Until next time…here are a few more images of water fun to whet your appetite for a lake adventure.

Cheers!

Jessica

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The M.S. Dixie II on her nightly dinner cruise around Emerald Bay.  If you don’t have your own vessel, this steamboat is a fantastic way to see the lake!
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Two paddle boarders strike a pose against the Nevada mountains as they cruise by the mouth of Emerald Bay.
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Wheeeee!!  Who wouldn’t want to try THIS on their next trip to Lake Tahoe?

Santa, all I want for Christmas is a 400mm lens…

Last month’s trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park already feels like last year!  I edited some images and then shuttered the gallery for awhile as I focused on other photography jobs.  Today I dusted off the cover and dived in to my wildlife photographs – and boy, was I amazed.  Not necessarily amazed at myself, even though it took some definite skill to compose and take the shots, but amazed at the lens I used to capture them.  And that is why I am telling Santa…

All I want for Christmas is a 400mm lens.

A Canon 400mm f/4.0 DO IS ii, to be exact, although I know that if my accountant has anything to do with it I’ll be settling for a gently used copy of the version i lens, which I hear is just as good.  And that $4K in price difference between the two (yes, we are talking G’s here) will take me on many a wildlife safari, so I think it’s a fair bargain.  Ahhh, but I had to go ahead and rent the EXPENSIVE one, and many of the images you see here would not have been possible without it.

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Baby pronghorn and mama (400mm)

It’s true, renting lenses is the way to go if you a) can’t afford the investment yet, b) want to try before you buy, or c) both.  I have rented through BorrowLenses.com many times and have always had a great experience.  Renting a lens has helped me decide on which ones I need to add to my arsenal and which ones I can pass or hold off on.  BorrowLenses.com even shipped the 400mm lens directly to Yellowstone, so I avoided having to pay for the rental during our travel days.  Other than a slight hiccup on the part of the lodge I shipped it to (which nearly cost me my composure…oh, just nearly…), it was smooth as silk and I enjoyed all 10 days of my “vacation” with this beautiful Canon lens.

Why a 400mm lens?

There are several reasons why a 400mm lens – at least – is a MUST for wildlife photography.  Probably most importantly is that it allows you to get close to the animals without disturbing them or endangering yourself.  At least 25 yards is recommended, which is a distance that even a lens this long can barely cover.  Another reason – and this is for THIS Canon lens in particular – is that it is incredibly lightweight for its size and has image stabilization to cancel vibration.  These two things enable you to handhold your camera and still get razor sharp pictures.  I was just blown away.  I’m very much a “shoot when I see it” kind of wildlife photographer, and the thought that I could miss a great shot because I was setting up a tripod to hold a heavy lens pains me to my core.  With this lens, a monopod or tripod might help, but it isn’t always necessary.  In fact, most of the photographs here were taken without one!

Lastly, and most importantly, this 400mm lens is just a supreme piece of glass.  Sharp.  Saturated colors.  Beautiful bokeh (blurry background).  Everything you could want in a quality piece of glass, and then some.

To be honest, not all of these images were captured with the 400mm lens.  Some were taken with my trusty Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS ii.  Also an amazing piece of glass!  I wanted to include all my wildlife images in this post.  However, if you’re wondering, most of the close-up shots of birds and large game were taken with the 400mm lens.

So, should I get a 400mm lens?

You tell me.  Or petition Santa.  I promise I’ve been very good this year! 😀

Wishing on a star,

Jessica

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P.S. – If you see something you like, all images are available for purchase, starting at $15 for an 8″x10″.  Message me to find out how to buy.

 

Bison

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Birds

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Bears

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Pronghorn

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Mountain Goats

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Marmots & Ground Squirrels

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Deer, Elk, & Moose

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Insects

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Sacramento Proud!

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Hair cuts now come with hair of the dog.  Bottle & Barlow is what happens when an old school barber shop mashes up with a happenin’ bar.  There’s a new zeitgeist brewing in Downtown Sacramento and businesses like this one are at the forefront.

Last week I had the opportunity to work with Dwellworks, LLC on a Sacramento Street Photography project.  My assignment?  Photograph neighborhoods throughout the Sacramento metro and capture the essence of what it’s like to live and play there.

I had a bit of a home field advantage, having lived there for 2 years while I was in graduate school.  Still, there was plenty of new stuff to do and see as I traversed this large and very diverse region.

As those of you who follow me on Facebook know, I had a HOT time in the city (literally!).  The temperature soared as high as 106 degrees some days as summer gave the city a nice, warm hug.  I walked for miles through residential areas and retail centers with 25 pounds of camera equipment in tow, sleeveless shirt to keep me cool and visor tipped down to block the rays, sunglasses in place and a look of focus on my face, cameras swinging from my sides and looking every bit the part of a modern-day Mad Max(ine).  IF you still think photography is all travel and glamour…enter this sweaty photographer with sticky hair and a mild case of dehydration. 😉

Nevertheless, a job like this is always waaaay more FUN than it is exhausting, and I came back with a collection of images that show the many similarities – and differences! – of these NorCal neighborhoods.

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The Tower Theater in Midtown is hot gathering place for Sacramento locals.  Having the amazing Tower Cafe next door with its eclectic world menu and inviting garden patio certainly doesn’t hurt.

But do you want to know what the coolest thing is?  No matter how hot it was outside, the people of Sacramento kept on living and doing their thing outside.  Never missed a beat.  Check out the pictures below to see what’s kicking in Sacramento’s hottest/coolest neighborhoods.  You just might find your next road trip stop – or neighborhood!

Downtown Sacramento

Anchored by such icons as the State Capitol building, Tower Bridge, and Old Town waterfront, there’s not a whole lot not to like about this part of the city.  It’s the heartbeat of Sacramento and on the Friday night I visited, it was definitely ticking.

 

Midtown Sacramento

The hip-i-center of night life, arts, and culture for the Sacramento area.  Lots of color, food, and sometimes colorful food can be found here.  Always a scene worth seeing and a favorite home base for young professionals and entrepreneurs.

 

East Sacramento

With one toe tickling the East end of Midtown, culture and entertainment is easy to come by.  But there’s a quieter, more old fashioned feeling to this section of Sac that makes it a place you’d want to grow up – and grow older – in.

 

Fair Oaks

It’s fair to say (haha, can I say that?) that Fair Oaks wears its quiet quirkiness as a badge of honor.  Chickens run amok in the quaint downtown square and really, nobody cares.  It’s an oasis of semi-rural charm surrounded by the hustle and bustle of urban life and the calm of river living.  In Fair Oaks, life moves just a little slower…and they like it that way.

 

Folsom

Nowhere else in Sacramento does local history, urban comforts, and excellent outdoor recreation blend better than in Folsom.  Better buy a kayak and a paddle board, dust off the golf clubs, and lube up that bike chain if you move here – because out here, the people MOVE!

 

Roseville

If all you have seen of Roseville is the Galleria (guilty as charged), then dig a little deeper.  There’s a historic downtown with an impressive rail yard and plenty of mid-century architecture.  Restaurants and retail options abound in this town, making it a major entertainment magnet for the Sacramento metro and Sierra foothills.

 

Elk Grove

This large suburb to the south of Sacramento has a lot to offer: a tidy historic downtown with tempting restaurants, parks and plazas around every corner, family recreation options everywhere you look, and a semi-rural feel that welcomes you home after a long day downtown.  It’s this All-American quality of Elk Grove that makes it a favorite for families.

 

North Natomas

To the north of Sacramento is a community that blends the best that city life and suburban living has to offer.  Kids play soccer in the evenings in neighborhood parks and people pack the local library and cafes to read and socialize.  The Sacramento International Airport is just a few miles away, making it the perfect landing place for business travelers.  Plus, nature is right at your back door.  Need I say more?

 

Thanks for stopping by, neighbor. 🙂

Jessica