Moss Point

Moss Point | Laguna Beach, California

Moss Point | Laguna Beach, California

Moss Point is one of Laguna Beach's many hidden little coves. A short side street off of Pacific Coast Highway takes you to a steep stair case down to the little hide away beach. Lately the tide has been high at sunset around this part of California, which doesn't leave me with a whole lot of time to work with. The ocean was already creeping up to the base of the staircase when I got there and I knew right away this was going to be a wet evening. Once high tide rolls in, the waves turn into shore breaks that pound the sand with curtains of water consuming everything around it.

Before I head out to the shore line, I always try to time the sets of waves so I can go in during a lull to get everything set up without getting too soaked. It's an old trick I learned back when I used to surf. If you paddle out during a lull, you won't have to put up as big of a fight getting out to the line up. The same principal works well with seascape photography too. Well, I thought it was safe and headed out. I had my tripod all set up, my camera perfectly level, and my new Zeiss 21mm wide angle lens mounted on my camera; then out the corner of my eye I saw one final wave in the set start rolling in. It happened so quickly I didn't have much time to react. I grabbed my tripod by the legs and lifted it as high above my head as I could while the wave drenched me from the chest down. Soaking wet, thankful that my camera was still dry, and freezing my butt off, I quickly set my tripod back up and waited for the next set to begin. The water started receding back to the ocean and I could tell a wave was forming. I quickly fired off the shutter as the water swirled around the rocks, then grabbed my tripod and ran back as far as I could to avoid getting hit by the incoming wave. I took a glance at my camera's LCD and feeling satisfied with the results, I packed it up and called it a night.

The Mirrorless War against DSLRs

I don't intentionally go against the grain. It's just that I question everything. Call it a blessing or a curse, you decide. I live my life for me and by standards that coincide with who I am and who I want to be. I don't typically follow current trends unless it makes sense for what I want to do. I'm intrigued by mirrorless cameras, but at the moment, it doesn't make sense for me to incorporate one into my work flow.

Before I start, I'd like to clue you in on a very important fact that few people outside of the technology and photography blogosphere know or realize. Social media superstars receive free kick backs from companies for "reviewing" their products. Remember that next time your favorite blogger starts heavily promoting something.

Large companies like Sony are very eager to get their product into the hands of those who have a large following. The idea is, if you can get your product into the hands of the influential few who represent a mass following, large scale adoption will occur. It's a very power marketing strategy that a lot of companies are quickly catching onto. Consumers tend to trust the opinions of influential public figures whom they admire and look up to.

It seems everywhere I look I'm reading something about how mirrorless cameras are the wave of the future and how the DSLR is going the way of the dinosaur. Quite frankly, I don't get it with this war that's going on between the two crowds. To give you a more down to earth analogy, it would be like saying Honda is going to overtake Porsche. Both companies build great products that serve a common purpose, yet cover a completely different market.

In the end it matters very little what camera you use. What matters is the art you create with it. The style of your photography will dictate which type of camera is best to use.

Since I have an assortment of DSLR lenses and filters that I use, adding all this bulk to a mirrorless camera negates the primary advantage of using a small form factor mirrorless camera. There would be no point in me switching to the mirrorless format only to bulk it back up with my Lee filter system. If you aim to travel as lightly as possible with the notion that corrections and adjustments will be made in Photoshop, then a mirrorless camera is absolutely the way to go.

Sony did not manufacture its line of mirrorless cameras with the intent to overtake the DSLR market. Sony is targeting photographers who specifically want a highly portable 35mm format camera that will take great photos.

The traditional DSLR and the mirrorless cameras are aimed at serving two very different types of photographers. Perhaps one day the two paths will cross. Until that happens, expect the DSLR to stick around for awhile.

The Tides

The Tides | Laguna Beach, California

The Tides | Laguna Beach, California

Every day is a good day to be at the beach. I like to grab my favorite pair of flip flops, throw on a pair of cargo shorts, a t-shirt and just go. After a long day at work and three hours on the road, being able to kick off my shoes to feel the warm sand between my toes and the tide rushing past my feet is such a relaxing way to unwind from the day.

Table Rock Beach

Table Rock Beach | Laguna Beach, California

Table Rock Beach | Laguna Beach, California

I love exploring the coastline throughout Southern California. There are so many hidden beaches to find, all with a different view of the sunset. I get so excited when I discover another staircase that leads down to the ocean. Table Rock beach is a quiet little cove I found in Laguna Beach just off Coast Highway and Table Rock Drive. It's unique location and colorful sunsets make it really popular to shoot photos from and have weddings on the beach. Fun fact I discovered after researching this place, turns out crazy people like to climb to the top of the surrounding cliffs and dive into the ocean.


SoCal | Corona Del Mar, California

SoCal | Corona Del Mar, California

Rich golden colors flood a barren cloudless sky to produce some of the most beautiful sunsets you'll ever see. This is the quintessential SoCal sunset. On a warm winter afternoon, we can still be found laying back on the sand in board shorts on palm tree lined beaches, oblivious to the world around us. The lifestyle is an experience unlike any other. This is my home.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island | Laguna Beach, California

Treasure Island | Laguna Beach, California

My life growing up has always revolved around being by the coast. I can still remember mornings with my dad as a little boy, walking along the pier and watching all the surfers below us. As I got older and learned to drive, I bought my first surf board and would head out to the Huntington cliffs in my Mustang with my friends to catch waves every chance we got. After I bought my first DSLR, my time spent at the beach evolved into photographing the waves while watching the sunset. That's about when I embarked on a project to photograph the many landscapes of the pacific coastline. I don't expect the project to take anything short of a lifetime to complete. Watching the sunset along the coast is so much a part of who I am that my love and fixation will not subside. My goal is to further my journey up the California coast into the Pacific northwest. For now though, I'm focusing on the coastal regions throughout Southern California. Which brings me to my recent explorations into the many hidden beaches throughout Southern California, especially within Laguna Beach.

Treasure Island is among my favorite beaches in Laguna. A nearby stair case takes you to the top of the neighboring cliffs where you are greeted with a park that's just amazing for a romantic sunset picnic with the one you love. The Montage resort overlooking Treasure Island reflects a small glimpse of high society that leaves you dwelling on what it must be like, as you pass by in awe. The rock formations are absolutely stunning and around this time of year the position of the sun in relation to this beach is perfect for watching the sunset. It's not uncommon to see couples out on the rocks with their arms around one another enjoying the sounds of the waves crashing while watching the setting sun transform the sky into a beautiful light show.

Mexican Riviera

Mexican Riviera | Ensenada, Mexico

Mexican Riviera | Ensenada, Mexico

I recently went on a quick two day cruise to Ensenada aboard the Carnival Imagination. We disembarked from the Port of Long Beach and arrived in Ensenada, Mexico the following morning. Ensenada is a well known little town within the Mexican Riviera, which runs along the pacific coast from Ensenada at the northern end in Baja California, all the way down to Puerto Escondido near the southern tip of Mexico. The most popular cruise ship ports within the Mexican Riviera are typically Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta, all of which are beautiful cities, each with their own unique character.

I was surprised at how Americanized parts of Ensenada have become. While visiting the small town, I encountered several 7-Eleven stores, a Burger King, and a billboard for a nearby Walmart. On the other hand, the street vendors along the main drag were as authentic as it got selling all sorts of hand made goods at very affordable prices. Determined not to eat at Burger King while out there, I carried onward looking for a food joint that was a little more traditional and a whole lot less American. We found a small hole in the wall stand on the corner of a street that was grilling up authentic Mexican street tacos. It was the perfect example of how street tacos got their name. The stand wasn't even what you could call a restaurant. It was a completely open 3 sided shack with a chintzy little roof on top. I don't think California's food service grading system would even know how to rate this place. It was exactly what I was looking for. The owner grilled up the Carne Asada right in front of us, which was probably just purchased from the carniceria, then topped it with fresh pico de gallo and freshly squeezed lemon. Now that's something you just don't see anywhere else.

Technical Details:
This twelve shot panorama of Ensenada was captured aboard the cruise ship during the twilight hour. I unfortunately didn't have my tripod on me so I attempted to use my Gorillapod by wrapping it around the hand rail. That ended up being a disaster because my Gorillapod doesn't have the ball head, which would have made capturing this panorama a cinch. I was losing light and had to do something quick. I couldn't slow the shutter down any more than I already did without the photos being a blurry mess, which left me with no other option than to bump the ISO up. Noise levels were surprisingly at a minimum thanks to the excellent high ISO performance of the 5D Mark III (If you've ever considered upgrading to a full frame camera and like to shoot low light photography, this would be an excellent reason to upgrade). All twelve shots were stitched together in Photoshop CC with minor color correction applied.

Victoria’s Sunset

Victoria's Sunset | Laguna Beach, California

Victoria's Sunset | Laguna Beach, California

Victoria Beach is one of the most well hidden beaches in south Laguna area. It's not directly accessible via Pacific Coast Highway like how most beaches are in Orange County. Accessing the entry point requires a bit of searching around within a residential neighborhood that does not accommodate public parking. Once you find it though, the peaceful and down to earth atmosphere at this beach is worth the trouble.

Whenever I'm driving out to the coast to watch the sunset I always get so impatient because I just want to be there already. The steps leading down to Victoria Beach seem to go on forever too. It can be a little difficult getting to the tower during high tide, such was the case when I captured this photograph. I never let a little water get in my way though. If a lot of my coastal photographs look as though I'm in the water, it's probably because I usually am. Seascape photography for me usually involves being at least knee deep in water with my tripod planted in the sand. The best way to spot me among a mob of seascape photographers after a rainy afternoon is to look for the only dude crazy enough to be wearing shorts and flip flops while standing in the freezing water. Sometimes you need to be willing to go to extremes to get that one shot you came out for. When I come home completely soaked with pockets full of sand, I know it was a good night.


Imagination | Carnival Cruise Lines

Imagination | Carnival Cruise Lines

My wife and I went on a 2 day cruise to Ensenada aboard the Carnival Imagination last month. The grand atrium inside the ship was all sparkle and shine with neon lights every where and gold accents throughout.

I spent quite a bit of time in the Grand Atrium exploring each of the floors for an interesting point of view. I finally decided going wide to capture as much as I possibly could was the only way this type of photo was going to make any sense. My previous attempts where I zoomed in to capture the details, ended up looking like a crazy psychedelic head trip with Pink Floyd being the only missing element. The processing on this photo is a slight departure from my typical approach. Tonemapping the single image in Photomatix worked perfectly to reflect the Imagination's embellished experience.

Op/Tech Super Classic Camera Strap

I've always wondered how it is I can pay several thousand dollars for a camera with precision engineering and the strap that's included with it is about as useful as a box of rocks. The oem camera strap is too short, uncomfortable to wear around your neck, cumbersome to remove, and they make me feel like a walking billboard for Canon. They're only long enough to wear around your neck like a tourist, and they're not short enough to be used as a hand strap.  The funny thing is, it never really occurred to me that there were aftermarket options to fix the shortcomings of the stock strap.

Then, I stumbled onto a message forum were someone was showing off their new strap. That's when I discovered the wonderful world of OP/Tech camera straps.  I'm not affiliated with OP/Tech in any way, so, buy one or don't buy one, I get no kickbacks either way. If you prefer the stock camera strap, by all means continue using it. Since installing my new OP/Tech strap I've decided that this is how my Canon strap should have come out of the box.

The system I purchased was the Super Classic Strap with the Pro Loop side straps and an extra set of Pro Loop XL side straps for when I want to wear the camera diagonally across my chest.

The OP/Tech strap comes in 3 pieces, the main pad that goes around your neck and two adjustable side straps with quick release buckles.

The OP/Tech strap comes in 3 pieces, the main pad that goes around your neck and two adjustable side straps with quick release buckles.

The side straps thread through the strap mount eyelets on the side of your camera.

The side straps thread through the strap mount eyelets on the sides of your camera.

When you unclip the main pad, you can buckle the side straps together and use it as a hand strap.  Genius!

When you unclip the main pad, you can buckle the side straps together and use it as a hand strap. Genius!

If you're shooting with a tripod on a windy evening, you can unclip the main pad from the side straps. The side straps are light enough to let dangle without having to worry about camera shake. If you must remove the side straps, just unthread them from the eyelets. Doing so will not cause you to miss the sunset, such would be the case if you were using the oem Canon or Nikon strap that you get with the camera.

After having played with mine for awhile, the strap feels very well constructed and comfortable to wear. I did not expect such a strap to cost as little as it did. The main pad is made of neoprene and feels slightly stretchy when you pull on it, which I've noticed provides added comfort when wearing it for a long duration. The main pad is not too stretchy that it makes the camera feels less secure. The material on the main pad is soft and squishy, unlike stock camera straps that are very rigid and irritating against your skin for prolonged amounts of time. The thing I like best about the OP/Tech strap is that it does not say "Hey I'm a Canon 5D Mark III, come steal me!" across my body when I'm wearing it. Best thirty bucks I've spent on my camera to date.

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