In Frame: Karoline Gora

Karoline Gora is a Los Angeles based personal trainer and fitness model. She’s not only beautiful but also very personable and down-to-earth. I had an immediate connection with her and I believe it shows through my images taken at her recent cardio workout. Location: Vasquez Rocks, CA

Trona Pinnacles

Last month, my friend Jess from Washington was visiting California and we spent a day smack in the middle of nowhere. I suggested to meet at a gas station in Trona, because I wanted her to experience a desolate place and a semi-ghost town where nothing grows or happens. Luckily, Jess is adventurous and always down for anything so this proved to be the perfect plan for an adventure.

After catching up for a bit (the last time I saw her in Seattle), we drove out the Pinnacles. On our way there, we stopped by the decommissioned train tracks and had a field day photographing leading lines, symmetrical compositions and listening to the wild sounds of the wind blowing through the metal tubes. We had so much fun that it almost took us an hour to drive the 5 mile road in. By the time we got to the pinnacles, all the clouds have disappeared and the wind had intensified. We drove around the large tufa formations and popped out of the car a few times to take pictures, mostly to find other SUVs and trailers in our shots.

We drove further away and decided to look for a higher vantage point and if every story has its own weird happening, we had ours here. As we setup for our sunset shoot, Jess decided to use the car key to tighten the tripod plate on her camera and she bent the end of the key. Staying positive, we continued photographing the sunset but later her worst fear became true when the key wouldn’t fully insert into the ignition. After some brainstorming and trial-and-error work, we fixed the key by forcing it on the same plate but turning in the other direction until it looked somewhat straight. Suddenly the car started up and we were heading out of the park. What an awesome end to a great day!

I haven’t seen Jess for almost two years at that point and it was amazing to reconnect with her and to have a rad time with a friend who shares my love of photography. Until next time, sister!!!

In Frame: Sofia Cervantes

Sofia is a Texas based fitness trainer who’s been training pretty much all over the world. I met up with her on a rainy Sunday morning at the original Gold’s Gym, aka The Mecca, where I shadowed her with my camera for a couple of hours. As a true pro, her workout was seamless with perfect form and she was kind and patient with me and an absolute joy to photograph. I cannot wait to work with her again. I also would like to extend my gratitude to Mike Ryan for letting us use this iconic gym! Location: Venice, CA

In Frame: Ruben Arellano

Ruben is a young athlete who is currently training for the upcoming season of American Ninja Warrior. I caught up with him at the beach, where he spends a good amount of his mornings working out. Location: Manhattan Beach, CA

SONY #BeAlpha Event Los Angeles

By far one of the best photo events I have attended in the past few months was the Sony Be Alpha, Los Angeles meet. Hosted at the ROW in Downtown Los Angeles, it was large in scale, colorful in settings and with a wide variety of styles and genres. I loved seeing all the effort and attention to detail that went into the entire event and all the creativity that came out of it. I’ve never seen so many smiling faces and excited creatives in one place and the work that was later shared online was absolutely phenomenal.

As you may have guessed it, they had Sony cameras and lenses to loan, there were multiple sets to photograph (with various talent) and a selection of food and beverages to keep you fueled throughout the evening. The Be Alpha community event also included a couple of informative presentations, including the Alpha Female initiative.

Although it only lasted a few hours, I photographed so much that it felt like I was on a week-long photo shoot. I was excited to finally try out the Sony a7iii with a couple of fast lenses, first with a 50mm f1.4 and later a 24-70mm f2.8, and I love them. After importing my images to Lightroom, I was so impressed with their quality (mostly the dynamic range, sharp details in all areas and the color information in the shadows and blacks) that a couple of weeks later I purchased the Sony a7iii body.

This event truly inspired me to focus more on portraitures and to push my work creatively. Of course, much of the credit goes to the production team for setting up these elaborate sets and also to the acrobats, skaters, models and dancers and lastly to Sony for making it happen. Some of my best images came out of their Be Alpha events and these ideas had ignited my creativity. Here some of my favorite shots and would love to hear what you think of them!

Shine Your Light

I’m big fan of continuous education and even just the general advancement of one’s skills. I believe that learning new things and acquiring new skills should never stop, even when we’re done with school and we have our diplomas to wave in the air. In film school, my main focus was cinematography and I spent a semester on learning how to light a scene, create different setups and light patterns with a variety of lights, flags, screens, gels, etc. Early on, I learned how important it is to create a mood, or feel, that is appropriate for a scene and why lighting is an integral part of the cinematic language.

As I’m slowly transitioning to studio photography I felt it was time for a refresher, which is why I signed up for an advanced lighting workshop at FD Photo Studio in Downtown Los Angeles. I felt my biggest shortcoming was not having enough experience with strobes. I’m accustomed to using continuous light, when you can actually see what you’re creating, and strobes are a still more of trial-and-error for me… but I’m slowly adjusting.

At any rate, regardless of what you use you should know how to light for classical portraiture. There are several things to control and think about to create a flattering portrait, including: lighting ratio, lighting pattern, facial view, and angle of view. Below are my attempts of a singe light source shot, a few classical Hollywood 3-light setup (key, fill and rim) and some split pattern variations. I have much to learn and I can’t wait to compare these to the ones I’ll be creating months from now.

Angeles National Forest

The Pacific winter storms in Southern California had created some interesting and beautiful conditions up in our beloved San Gabriel Mountains. Only about 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles, these pictures were taken along California State Route 2 North, aka Angeles Crest Highway.

Wimbledin

Fun shoot with Wimbledin, a young band that is set to release brand new material and an EP soon. I loved the band’s energy and collaborating with them was a breeze. Going into this project I was hoping for gloomy weather conditions (as it was forecast) but at least we had some soft light for the earlier part of our session. Not a bad compromise…

Classy styling with a touch of 50s by Melissa Chiaro-Eggerling. Location: Irvine, CA

SONY #BeAlpha Event San Francisco

Sony really pulls out all the stops when it puts on an event and this was no different. They had everything: Sony cameras and lenses to loan, models available to us to stage our own photo shoot and a selection of gourmet food and beverages throughout the evening.

The Be Alpha community event also included a beautiful and very informative presentation by the talented Cristina Mittermeier, a panel discussion about the Alpha Female initiative along with some surprise gifts and more photo opportunities. I felt like I was on a three-day photo adventure… in just a matter of a few hours! Haha! Once I checked out my gear, a Sony a7riii first with a 50mm f1.4 and later a 24-70mm f2.8, I was in heaven. Here are some of my favorite shots from the event.

Yosemite in One Day

Although I don’t recommend doing it, there's just so much to see and do, it is still possible to endure a grueling drive from Los Angeles and enjoying a shorter winter day in Yosemite.

My departure time was around midnight, which got me to Tunnel View just in time for sunrise. On my way in I noticed that Glacier Road was still open, so I made a mental note to make it up to Glacier Point for sunset. Side note: The road is scheduled to close around mid-October but it’s not unusual to find it open, or even reopened, if weather conditions are favorable. It mostly means no snow. 

It turned out to be a cloudy day in the park, which made me hope for a colorful sunrise and when it didn't happen I crossed my fingers, wishing for a prettier sunset. Don't get me wrong, the view at Tunnel View is always spectacular, it just wasn’t any different from the majority of my previous experiences. You still take the pictures though! Seeing the park completely covered by clouds I got in my car with some new ideas for the day.

I stopped by Bridalveil Fall, took the easy hike in from its parking lot, only to find out that the water wasn’t flowing as strong as I had imagined from a distance. Bummer, because just minutes before I decided to photograph all the waterfalls in overcast. That was going to be my entire day. Anyhow, I revised my idea of hiking up to the falls to staying in the valley, walking around, shooting whatever catches my eye and just enjoying the scenery.

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First, I pulled over at to my favorite little path that drops you right down to the Merced River. The water was so quiet and still that I had to shoot the Three Brothers in their beautiful glory. For me, usually the peaks are either blown out by the sun, or covered in fog and clouds. I was excited to see this scene in a perfect reflection... it even felt a bit surreal. 

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Next, I ditched my car at the Chapel and decided to walk around to find a new perspective. This plan kind of backfired on me, because as I walked onto the grass to photograph some dry plants` I got viciously attacked by wasps and had to flee the area. I was stung repeatedly and I had a real hard time getting away from them. My assumption is that I must have stepped on, or walked into, their nest when I headed towards that interesting looking plant. My head was throbbing, my neck and hands were stinging but I kept photographing and walked quite a bit before returning to my car. 

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There were road closures in the park and the new traffic flow prompted me to go in different directions from the usual. That’s how I ended up at Stoneman Bridge and couldn't get over how still the Merced River looked. The reflection of the bridge looked like it was off a sheet of glass and when I saw Half Dome in the distance I knew immediately that I had to incorporate it into my shot. I tried to frame it from both sides of the river, making my way in by hopping on rocks, until it became clear to me that I could only have what I wanted if I stood in the middle of the river. Found a fallen tree where I set down my gear, took my shoes and socks off, rolled up my pants and I walked in. The water was freezing cold and walking on the river pebbles was difficult but I finally got what I wanted, along with some weird looks from the shore. I couldn’t feel my feet for a while, but pulling my socks on my wet feet and putting my boots back on felt really good. This whole exercise also diverted my attention from my pulsating wasp stings, so I guess it wasn't a bad thing. 

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On my way up to Glacier Point I came across a controlled burn site which is always heartbreaking to see (they are burning bark beetle infested trees that had to be chopped down) but the smoke created some interesting photo opportunities.

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Prior to leaving the valley, I also had to take a quick peek at Valley View, which is another one of those visual treats where no matter how many times I see it it’s always an amazing experience.

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Now if you ever plan on driving up to Glacier Point, then you must know that nobody should ever skip the 2 mile hike out to Taft Point, so I did just that. Luckily, it wasn't crowded with tourists and I really loved that late afternoon diffused light that was waiting for me up there (it is usually very strong and literally blasts through the mountain peaks). It also revealed more details in the entire scene and made photography a bit less challenging.

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The hike itself isn’t a spectacular one but I did find a few beautiful spots along the trail.

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Sunset at Glacier Point not only made up for the 'uneventful' sunrise but was an absolute treat! The clouds added so much drama to an already fantastic view of Half Dome and on top of that the sun decided to go down with a bang… I still have no words for that sunset, so just please enjoy the image below.

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I kept shooting as the sun was setting when I suddenly found myself alone in the dark. I packed up my gear and decided to boil some water for some soup and tea before heading home. As I looked up I saw the clouds moving rather quickly, revealing more and more stars, so I got my camera and tripod back out of the car. By the time my food was ready the sky was crystal clear and I was able to capture the stars while I finished my dinner. Shortly after that, I counted me blessings and headed home... It ended up being a one of those days that I won’t forget any time soon.

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Instagram Recap of 2017

  • Jan - Northern Lights, AK
  • Feb - Tufas, Mono Lake, CA
  • March - Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, CA
  • April - Venice Canal Historic District, Venice, CA
  • May - Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
  • June - Vasquez Rocks, Acton, CA
  • July - Snoqualmie Falls, WA
  • Aug - Trona Pinnacles, CA
  • Sept - Los Angeles, CA
  • Oct - Glenn Highway, AK
  • Nov - Eklutna Lake, AK
  • Dec - Milky Way, Trona, CA