Today was a slushy day in DC, with 4+ inches of snow everywhere. Plenty of people were out to enjoy it, including this guy! Here are a couple shots from around town today.Read More
I heard a snowball fight would be going on tonight at Dupont Circle. I got there just a few minutes before the snowballs started to fly. I didn't come with gloves or a helmet, and my cameras didn't deter anyone from pelting me head to toe. It was a good time though.
Leaving from Downtown Washington on Sunday evening, the road to Miami is a straight shot down Interstate 95 for about 1000 miles. Passing through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and the cities of Northern Florida, Chris and I take turns at the wheel while blasting Macklemore with the windows down hoping the cold breeze coming through at 75mph keeps us awake. At 3 AM we are desperate to find any place still open that is not a Waffle House. At 6AM we sleep through sunrise in our car seats before grabbing breakfast in Savannah and heading out again. The weather becomes warmer the further South we go, and by the time we reach Jacksonville we are putting down the windows because it is now too hot. The drive though Florida is a long one, taking about 6 hours from the top of the state to Miami. We arrive just in time for rush hour and miss our exit before doubling back and crossing over the Dolphin Expressway to Miami Beach where we are staying.
The Stadium was built in the 60's for boat racing and other sports. In the 1980's it faced a decline in revenue and was eventually shuttered after Hurricane Andrew damaged its foundations in 1992. Now its paradise for tag artists.
The next day we meet up with my friend Danielle for some awesome Cuban food somewhere around Little Havana. We order all kinds of plates the names of which I can't remember for the life of me. We later meet up with Maria again for a bike ride through Shark Valley, a trail running through the everglades located about 40 miles from Miami. It's well past sunset when we get there, so we ride the 7 mile trail in darkness, with only a small light on Maria's bike to guide us. Shark Valley is infested with American Alligators, many of which spend the day sunbathing on the trail. At night they retreat to the water. We happen to spot one at the very beginning of the trail, his eyes reflecting the glint of the flashlight. The stars shine bright and the trail is alive with cranes and owls. At the end of the 7 mile trail is a 5 story open air watchtower overlooking the surrounding landscape.
We stop a couple times, once for Key Lime Pie and another time for edgy looking selfies.
The drive to Key West is incredible. The road stretches for miles and miles over a long series of small islands, climaxing with the long stretch of road known as 7 mile bridge. The road is a highway over the ocean, rising and falling gently as though taking a cue from the waves underneath it.
We step onto the long dock as dusk is coming on. It is still light enough to see through the shallow water.
But we don't sleep once there. Instead we meet up with our Friend Maria who lives on Key Biscayne. She is super cool in showing us around. She knows a lot of awesome places including the abandoned Miami Marine Stadium
We leave the stadium behind for some great views of downtown from the edge of Virginia Key, just before the Rickenbacker Causeway. We end our night on a beach back on Key Biscayne.
The view from the top is truly a sight to see. The moon has risen in the sky enough to illuminate the Everglades in a pale glow. Entire flocks of cranes and egrets can be seen sleeping in the shallow marshes, away from the water where the alligators rest. I feel like I should have brought my camera for this ride, but there are some things better left unrecorded.
The next day Chris and I head out for Key West, the Southernmost end of the line of the continental United States
Stepping out of the car in Key West, the first thing you notice is all the hens and roosters running around the place. I half wanted to grab one and save it for dinner. Gotta save money where you can!
The weather in Key West today is not favorable. It rains intermittently and the clouds completely block out what little sun is left for the day. I'm further put off by the signs warning that Portuguese Man O' War may be present. But I will not be deterred. I dive into that 4 feet of water like nobody's business.
As we are walking back to the car along the dock, I notice a very large fish swimming underneath us, followed by numerous smaller fish. It is very clear we are looking at a shark. Super cool!
For the last part of the night we head into downtown for a couple of drinks and some dinner. The place has a lot of middle aged tourists (big shocker) but the locals who work there are really cool people.
It may sound silly, but a personal goal that I have is to see and experience all 50 states by the time I am 25. I am proud to say that Florida brings me up to 31. In every state I go to, there is a particular city, and in that particular city is a place that I make a point to visit. Sort of like how people say you haven't been to SF if you didn't see the Golden Gate, Empire State building in New York, and all that jazz. For me, that place in Florida was Sloppy Joe's Bar. You can read about the history of the place if you like here, but long story short is that it is an icon of Key West with a lot of history. The bar was owned by a close confidante of Hemingway's, who was himself a fixture there until he moved from Key West.
We constantly scrounge for change to feed the meter and visit some bars before grabbing pizza and heading back to Miami.
Well that just about sums up Florida. We headed out the next morning around 10AM, and didn't make it back to DC until around the same time the next day. Florida was more than worth it, and I can't wait for another opportunity to drive down there. Maybe after this trip to New Orleans I'm planning....
I spent two weeks in California, starting in San Diego and ending in San Francisco. In those two weeks, I went from one end of the state to the other, from El Centro to the base of Mt. Shasta. These are some of the images that I was able to take along the way.
The Imperial Valley, located a mere 60 miles or so from the heart of San Diego, is a living testimony of what makes California so great. It is just as much the places that are unknown that uphold the legend of California in the minds of so many. While the Valley is not as visited or as well know as Joshua Tree or Palm Springs, it is in every way just as beautiful. Spread througout this vast area are multiple landforms and climates. From the tiny town of Julian tucked into the Laguna mountains where snow still cakes the ground to the winding pine filled valleys that must be zig zagged through to get to the miles of desert flats and badlands leading to the Salton Sea.
The drive into the valley begins two ways. You can take the faster road of Highway 79, or the more scenic route of the Sunrise Highway. Because I'm starting out this trip at 10 30PM, I opt for the 79. The road is a curvy, straight up drive. After about 20 minutes, the road flattens out and you reach the plains surrounding Mt. Laguna. During the summer, temperatures rarely drop below the 70s even at night, climbing even higher during the day. But in Winter, this entire area is encapsulated in snow and freezing temperatures. Just think, you can go from lounging on the beaches of San Diego to throwing snowballs at your friends in a matter of 120 minutes. That's California.
The road to Borrego Springs and the Salton Sea is Highway 78. On approaching the mountain, 79 hugs the shore of Lake Cuyamaca, for which the town is named after. It is a serene place, especially in winter when surrounded by a snowy landscape. Cuyamaca itself is not really a town, more a vacation community for the summer crowd. Still, it is a picturesque place.
The drive continues on 79, snaking around Mt. Laguna as the elevation climbs higher and higher until you are driving along the ridges of the Laguna mountains to Julian. About 6 miles outside of the town, there is a scenic overlook where you can see the surrounding landscape for miles and miles. On a clear night, one can see the moonlight faintly glimmering off of the Salton Sea. To the immediate left beckons Julian, tucked away into the surrounding hills.
Highway 79 comes to an end on the town limits of Julian. There are two roads, one leading into town and down the mountains to the coastline, and the other turning directly East, descending into a series of valleys that eventually reach the flatlands of the Anza-Borrego desert. This is Highway 78, the road to the Salton Sea.
As you turn on 78, the road quickly takes a sharp turn downward into a series of ravines. The dark outlines of the surrounding cliffs appear menacing at first, their sheer size and magnitude are almost overpowering as they appear ready to fall on you at any moment. A strange fearful feeling comes over you about now, and you start driving faster and faster to get out of there. The smell of pine sticks to you like sap and the cold pockets of air are crisp, snapping you out of any tiredness you might have been feeling up to now. Depending on how quickly your car reacts on turns it can be quite a ride, albeit not the safest one. Theres no cell service out here, and rarely will you see another person on this road late at night. The ravine eventually opens up into a wider valley, and for some reason you feel happier than usual seeing most of the sky.
Eventually, Highway 78 reaches the bottom of the valley, and passing through it you suddenly find yourself in a completely different environment, driving on a straight path through the vast openness of land that is the Anza-Borrego desert.
After driving in a straight line for an hour I came over a rising and saw in front of me hundreds of blinking red lights in the almost total darkness. It very abruptly dawned on me that I had definitely taken a wrong turn a long time ago, and that I may be driving right into Mexico. I expected at any second now to have spotlights on my car and to hear a large blaring voice over an intercom telling me to stop my vehicle. Continuing forward slowly, I found that the blinking lights were literally hundreds of windmills turning silently in the desert night. It was quite a sight to see. Accelerating forward, I knew i was bound to hit Interstate 8, the last major road before the International border. Seeing the city of Mexicali in the distance, I stopped the car and took one more picture before flooring it to the 8 toward San Diego. It was about 3 AM at this point, and had quite a drive to go before making it back...
The road here stretches onward for miles and miles, dipping and rising through occasional slopes in the terrain but otherwise unbending. Stopping to take pictures, the silence is almost overpowering, with not even the sound of a breeze coming through. Everything is absolutely still.
Following 78, I near the sign telling me that I am entering Borrego Springs, the last town before the Salton Sea after another long stretch of desert. Not knowing it, I take a wrong turn that will eventually take me all the way to the border of Mexico.
Leaving San Diego behind, I took Amtrak North past Los Angeles to visit my family for Christmas in Oxnard. While there, I was also able to spend some time in Santa Barbara, Ventura and an evening photographing the Santa Monica Pier.
Three days, a rental car and unreasonably ambitious plans are what I had in the Bay Area this time around. I had a list of places in mind I had to see, and I'm proud to say I saw them all. From the SF Embarcadero and the hills of South San Jose to downtown Santa Cruz . I stopped my car to see friends, have a bite to eat, go to the bathroom and not much else. Now that's vacation to me.
The gates to the park were still open, and we drove through until we were at the base of the trail leading up the mountain. It was there I photographed the panorama of Shasta and the stars. I was quite a sight to see, with shooting stars arcing across the sky at least once every minute.
On to the Bay Area...
On Sunday the 29th, I took a road trip with my good friend Kayla to see Northern California. We started out around 6AM on Sunday from San Francisco and made it back by 10AM the next day. Taking 101 across the Golden Gate and cutting across the Headlands via Route 128, we hit Mendocino and the surrounding beaches before continuing North on Highway 1.
Highway 1 eventually cuts back inland where the Lost Coast begins. We drove through the redwood forests and spent some time exploring the Avenue of the Giants before again continuing North just before sunset.
getting to Trinidad Beach just North of Eureka after dark. We backtracked to Arcata for Pizza before cutting across the state via 299 to Redding. It was about 2AM and a moonless night before we finally made it to Mt. Shasta, driving around for about an hour trying to find it in the total darkness.
I'm looking forward to being back in the Bay Area long term for the Summer. Yosemite, Death Valley and Mono Lake are just a few of the places on my list to photograph next. Till next time!
Well guys, my shenanigans finally caught up with me. I can't remember the last time I spent an entire day in bed, but here I am, listening to Samuel L's "Go the F*ck to Sleep" and wondering how many shots of robitussin one can take before becoming incapacitated. Anyway! I thought I would take the time and get caught up on some things, like putting out this blog post I said I would for the last couple of weeks. Here is is, enjoy, and if you got something you want to say, leave me a comment or message. I always appreciate that.
Two weeks ago I took a quick trip up North to see some old friends from the Eddie Adams Workshop, which was just about to happen again in a couple of days. My friend Chad is a great guy, and opens up his place to the people who will be going so they have a place to stay before its time for them to take the bus up to the Barn.
I spent some time along the Brooklyn Waterfront, and as the sun was going down I knew I had to take some photos from the pedestrian path on the Manhattan Bridge. I made my way up there just after the sun had already set.
Afterwards I went for a long drive around the city, heading out to Roosevelt Island and through Midtown to the World Trade Center. Took some time walking around Lower Manhattan until I felt it was time to head further north to Connecticut. I looked up the directions for Old Glory Park, a beautiful vista along JFK Blvd that a friend had told me about in Weehawken, NJ. I took the Lincoln Tunnel over and made it there as the sky was clearing. It was about 3 AM at this point, and the lights of the Empire state building had already been turned off. I liked that though. I think it added a playful jab to the whole "city that never sleeps" thing.
Around 3:30AM I headed North, moving along the gorgeous piece of asphalt that is the New Jersey Turnpike with no traffic. I made one more pit stop at the last service station, filled up my tank with that unbelievable number of 3.29 a gallon and crossed the George Washington Bridge. The Highway to Brewster is gorgeous. the smell of the trees is overpowering, combine it with that incomparable smell that is the early morning, and you have a natural drug as far as I'm concerned. I was hanging my head out the window, taking deep breaths of it to stay awake as I got closer to my destination-East Branch Reservoir, the same place I took my photo of the sunrise in July. This time, I was going for stars. But once I got to the place, I couldn't help but think about how easy it would be for Jason Vorhees to come out of that water and kill me. Hey, it sounds stupid now, but why don't you go stand by a lake at 4 am in the middle of nowhere with no light and tell me how long you stay sane! I got about two shaky and blurry shots before I ran like hell back to my car, and took some photos around safer places, including a nice sunrise!
A few days later, I was off to California to celebrate my 21st birthday in the city that means the world to me-San Francisco. I managed to grab a nice window without any smudges or marks, so I was able to get some cool aerial shots along the way.
Even though I spent most of my time having a good time with my friends, I still went and visited some of my old stomping grounds, including the beach in my hometown Pacifica and Corona Heights in SF. It was great to be home, even if only for a little while. I look forward to being back in the Winter.
Whenever I visit California...
I'm often asked by people how long I'm visiting for, and every now and then when I respond that I'm around for just a couple of days, a strange look comes across their face. Almost as if they are thinking "only a couple days? what's the point of that? It's so expensive flying back and forth!"
Sure thing. The price is pretty high, but at least for me, the cost of not visiting is even higher. Not merely because of the family and old friends I get to see after not doing so for months, but because of how California (forgive the melodrama) moves me. Maybe it would make more sense if I put it this way-California is the reason that I became a photographer.
Growing up in Pacifica was for the most part like growing up in any suburb. A lot of the same thing and little of anything else. Your hangout choices were somewhere between Frontierland Park, Linda Mar Park & Ride and (if you were feeling really adventurous) Chit Chat Cafe in Manor. We did have one thing though that set us apart. We had land. And not just any land, but the kind of land that people pay millions of dollars to live next to, the kind of land that Midwesterners (and a whole lot of people on the East Coast) cannot imagine. But for some reason, most of us never really talked about that, let alone appreciated it.
Around when I was 13, I'd often take the commuter bus in the morning from Pacifica to San Francisco, and coming back in the evening while coming down Highway 1, the sun could be seen just hovering over the horizon line with the Faralones, making all sorts of beautiful shades of crimson as that mother went down to light up China. I always loved it and could hardly look away. But when I did, I couldn't help noticing how almost no one else was looking out the window with me. People were looking at their phones, reading books, listening to music with eyes closed, indifferent to this incredible view unfolding right next to them.
So when I was given a digital camera for my 8th grade graduation present, I started taking pictures around the city. I'd take walks down Linda Mar Blvd to the back of the valley, and keep going until I was at the back of San Pedro Valley Park. I'd take hikes along Sweeney and Milagra Ridge, and spend a lot of sunsets around Linda Mar, Mori Point and Lands End. A lot of those photos were pretty terrible, but sometimes I got lucky, and when I did, nothing made me happier than to show someone one of my pictures and hear them say "wow, where is that?". Like they had no idea that they lived right next to that picture.
And that's where all of this started.
A lot of professionals take up photography because they have a desire to change the way that people think, whether it is about the people around them through social documentary work, or swaying their political opinion on a current event through a thoughtful and emotionally provoking photo essay. For me, I was able to experience that power in a very direct way, and that was the ability to change the way that someone see's the world around them, and not merely in some vague notion about "the world" being a beautiful place, but influencing the way that they see the very enviornment that surrounds them on a daily basis. I fell in love with the power of that idea, became addicted to it. And my fix was sharing that with as many people as I could. It drove me to photograph the rest of the Bay Area, It drove me to Washington DC, and it's what drives me to travel to as many places as I can, because I want to be the one that takes a picture that I can show to someone who's city Iv'e never been to before, and hear them say "Iv'e never seen my city like that before", or even better-"yeah, that's MY city"
Well guys, school is starting up for me again, so I thought Id make one last trip to the Bay Area before I start getting really busy for a couple of months. I started in San Diego and from there took Amtrak North to LA, and after seeing family there for a few days ventured up Highway 1 with my travel buddy Jake to the Bay Area, stopping a couple places like Point Lobos along the way. We saw the lightning storm that had come into the Bay Area as we were driving into San Jose from Highway 17, and made it to Pacifica just as the storm was moving out over the Ocean. I spent a couple days bouncing back and forth between friends houses and places I missed, dropping a grand on new lighting equipment that I was happy to try out on my friend Katrina and my buddies Chris Alonso and Justin as their band Pounders played at the Gilman in Berkeley. Other than that it was a lot of Escape from New York Pizza and late city nights! Hope you enjoy the photos. -Craig H