Hank Chen in Loot & RiotRead More
Megan Lawless for The Daily Shuffle Magazine
Check out my photoshoot of Thomas Barbusca, published in Crookes Magazine!
Click on the photo to see the interview of Mark Jackson in The Hedonist.
Click on the cover to see my recent shoot with Thomas Barbusca in Loot & Riot Magazine.
Sometimes I film for clients. And sometimes I film just for the fun of it. It's important if you want to be a professional photographer or film maker to remember to make the effort to go out and create, even if you aren't getting paid. Maybe even especially if you aren't getting paid. Personal projects allow you the freedom to try new things, to learn new techniques, and to remember why creating images became your passion in the first place, all without the pressure of producing for a client.
In this particular case, I was lucky enough to spend a day sport climbing at Echo Cliffs with a couple of friends. Since I always bring a camera along, I took the opportunity to practice filming with a glidecam while hiking, and to experiment with filming in 4K on my Fujifilm X-T2. Without a client that needed specific deliverables I was able to test out the classic chrome profile film simulation, to see if I liked it. Bringing my files back home also gave me the chance to practice editing and color grading on the newest version of Davinci Resolve. Do you like the results?
Have you ever found yourself wanting to take your car and drive off into the wilderness? Perhaps you want to go on a grand adventure and drive all the way down to the tip of South America. Or maybe you have small kids and want to enjoy a secluded and private camping spot without needing to carry all of your gear, plus your child, on your back to find it.
You want to take your car off the beaten path, but without proper training that can be very intimidating. Is your vehicle built for it? How do you properly navigate the terrain and obstacles? What happens if you get a flat tire? How do you get un-stuck? You have questions. Fortunately, I know a man who has answers.
I was recently lucky enough spend a weekend getting some off-road training with Tom Severin and his team at Badlands Off Road Adventures. Tom is an International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association© certified professional 4WD Trainer and a Wilderness First Responder. With major clients including the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, The National Park Service, and the US Marine Corps looking to Tom to train their drivers, I felt confident that he was eminently qualified to teach me how to take my XTerra down some rough terrain. To top it all off, he is an incredibly friendly and easily approachable guy.
Saturday morning I drove myself up to the Hungry Valley State Recreational Vehicle Area outside of Gorman, CA to start my instruction with Badland’s “Getting Started Off-Road” driving clinic. Designed specifically for novices, this clinic begins in the classroom where Tom covers the basics of how 4WD vehicles work, their various operating modes, safety, trail etiquette, and of course driving techniques. Tom also inspects each student’s personal vehicle to make sure it is capable, and helps you understand the limits it might have due to characteristics like clearance and weight. After a morning of flooding your brain with more knowledge about off-roading than you might expect, the afternoon is spent in practical application on the nearby obstacle course.
Driving up to the course felt very intimidating at first. Tall, steep, rut filled dirt hills to climb (and safely descend;) deep troughs to traverse; boulder-strewn paths to navigate. Let me say, all of my fellow classmates and I started off driving very cautiously. As Tom and his team successfully led us through progressively difficult obstacles however, our confidence rose, and we all started driving more decisively. I, for one, definitely finished the day off feeling much more comfortable about taking my car off-road.
Sunday that confidence was put to the test. For part two of the clinic I drove up to meet the team at Jawbone Station, about twenty minutes north of Mojave, CA. I had the pleasure of re-uniting with some classmates from the previous day, as well as meeting some new friends. After a quick check in, we proceeded into the desert for a morning’s practice session on tire placement, picking lines, and recovering stuck vehicles before finally doing what we were all so anxious to do: take our vehicles out on a real trail!
Heading East from Jawbone Station we all drove up a series of trails into the high desert. After all of the instruction we had received, it was time to put our skills to the test. Let me tell you, while Tom and his team do a great job of guiding everyone through the obstacles, this was not a trail for those nervous about scratching their vanity project SUV. The trail they chose isn’t the most difficult out there, but it’s still a rugged jeep trail chosen for its variety of obstacles for us to experiment on. The rest of the afternoon was spent happily playing follow the leader up steep and narrow ledge trails, using high angle embankments to skirt around boulders, through sand bottomed stream beds, past narrow rock wall squeezes, and down slickrock slabs all while enjoying beautiful views of our rugged surroundings.
This of course is just the beginning, and I can see how people get sucked into this hobby. With fun gadgets and exciting places to travel to that very few people get to see in person, not to mention bragging rights to claim for world-famously difficult trails, the off-roading lifestyle appeals to the adventurous amongst us. Don’t worry though; Tom has more advanced classes too.
It's always a huge thrill to see one of your images on the cover of a magazine. All the hard work and team effort on display for the world to see.
And shooting a magazine cover is most definitely a team effort. Editors, publishers, consultants, publicists, talent, hair and makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, assistants, designers, and of course photographers all have to work together to define and then create a unified vision. I can never express enough gratitude for all the hard work and time that is put into these shoots. Thank you all!!
Emily Wickersham photographed for Southern California Life Magazine.
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to get a job going to Hawaii with Michael Williams of Imagista to film the Hurley Surfing team for the Triple Crown of Surfing. While Noa Ginella was not competing in these events, he presented a very compelling personal story as a young stand-up paddleboarder and artist. Here is the short film that we created.
You'll hear it over and over again: The best light, especially for landscapes, is right around sunrise, or sunset. But unless you have a client paying you to do so, or you have a very specific shot in mind, it can be very difficult to motivate yourself to get out of your warm comfy bed before the sun is up. Sometimes though I find that it's worth doing so, just to remind yourself that you can. Just so that it comes natural when you do have that very specific shot in mind. It's our extra effort that sets us apart from the crowds.
Here are the results of my deciding to make the effort to wake up extra early on a Sunday morning just to play with my camera. I wasn't disappointed.
Recently I had the pleasure of taking a backpacking trip down California's "Lost Coast."
Rugged and undeveloped, the most beautiful areas of coastline are inaccessible to anyone unwilling to travel on foot, and carry all of their own gear.
When you're hiking for miles, especially in loose sand, weight quickly becomes an issue. As most serious backpackers will tell you, we go to extreme lengths to lighten our loads. Every ounce counts. The lighter your bag, the farther and faster you can go in greater comfort, and the more pleasurable your trip is. That is one of the major reasons that I have embraced the Fujilm X System. With my basic Canon kit weighing in at 3lbs 14oz, and my equivalent Fuji kit2 weighing only 1lb 10oz*, the discrepancy is obvious. And when you start adding lenses into your bag, it becomes exponential. Anyone who has cut the handle off of a toothbrush or dehydrated their own food to save weight will understand how this is a no brainer. And while I lose some resolution moving to the smaller camera*, I gain an estimated 2 stops of dynamic range, bringing more detail to my shadows and highlights, and creating an overall more pleasing image. Saving weight without sacrificing image quality is a winning proposition for me.
In the end though, the debate over which camera is technically superior is somewhat meaningless. The best camera in the world is the camera that you have ready in the crucial moment that you want to take a picture, and the Fujifilm X-E2’s size and weight allow me to have it comfortably accessible all day while hiking, instead of being tempted to pack it away in my backpack while I hike.
*: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with 24-105 F/4L IS Lens vs Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 18-55 F/2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens
* The Canon 5D Mark III boasts a 22.3 Megapixel sensor, while the Fujifilm X-E2 has a 16.3 Megapixel Sensor
Recently I was lucky enough to direct a video, produced by Sea to Summit Productions, featuring Nicole Pellegrini, her brand NoSima, and a few select rock climbing friends. In the film, Nicole discusses her motivations, the origins of her company, and the joys of climbing.
Sometimes all it takes to rediscover an old friend is to see her under a new light.
I've been hiking Mount Baldy for years now. Mostly I've used the hike as a decent local training hike, to work with some fairly steep terrain and to get a little bit of altitude acclimatization before heading off to higher, tougher mountains in the Sierras. This weekend however reminded me of the value of climbing Baldy for it's own sake.
I joined a group of friends Saturday afternoon for an easy overnight backpacking trip on the summit. While they were training to hit the four peaks of the Palisades next weekend, I was just enjoying the company. We hit the summit just in time to watch the sun set and set up camp before dark. Hunkering down to take shelter in one of the several wind breaks, we toughed out the cold continual high winds to trade stories and pass around snacks, a couple of beers and a flask until it was time to head to our sleeping bags.
Sunrise was stunning. While I've hiked Baldy at least 10 times before, I've always gone late morning to mid day, just out of convenience, and it has never struck me as a particularly pretty mountain. Under the warm glow of a clear sunrise though, the true beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains is revealed. It starts with the soft blues and purples appearing in the sky. Then as the sun peaks its face over the far ridges, the sky blazes orange, while the shaded mountains in the distance take their turn at the royal colors. As the sun streaks through the valley mists, ethereal gradients and shapes present themselves, fleetingly, before they are lost to the heat. Even as the sun rose higher into the sky, on the morning hike back to the trailhead, the ridges created shadows that highlighted the trail back.