Tag Archives: joshua tree

I <3 Joshua Tree

11 Mar
Key's View Sunrise

Key’s View Sunrise


Welp, almost exactly one year ago, I was dragging my butt out of a comfy-ish bed to yawn my way out to Key’s View in Joshua Tree National Park.  It was one of my better decisions in life. 🙂

I’ve finally gotten around to editing this pano and I’m not gonna lie…pretty darn proud of this. It turned out very close to what I envisioned when I was setting up for the series (aka, trying very hard not to slide down the scree with my tripod and camera!).

Hopefully, you guys enjoy the view!

Salvaging a Sunrise

11 Feb
Joshua Tree Sunrise

Joshua Tree Sunrise

You ever take a photo, look at it in-camera, and think “Damn, that’s a keeper!”??  Well, I did.  With this guy.  Little did I know how difficult the journey of this edit would be.

There are some moments, some memories, which will always be branded into my brain.  This sunrise, taken in Joshua Tree National Park is one of them.  Watching the sun light pour over the desert was magical.  We had decided to make our way to Keys View so that we could watch the sky turn over the Salton Sea, but as we made our way through the desert, we saw this and pulled over.  I had to have a photo.

After a few snaps, our little photo party (David, Beth, Monica and I) made our way to the outlook and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise.  I am grateful we all agreed to the early morning wake up call, it was definitely worth the effort.

Now…..as for this edit….it was a beast.  The longest exposure shifted slightly, so the fine needles of the tree were difficult to line up/keep sharp.  In retrospect, I also would have done some more mid-exposures.  I believe these were -3, 0, 3.  I should have taken some -2 and 2 as well.  Also, the color cast was not what I remembered and the only way to correct the foreground was to lighten the overall exposure, making it much brighter than the dim pre-dawn I actually remember.  Again, in retrospect, I probably would have tried some light painting. At the time, it was rush-rush-rush to get a few shots before driving up to Keys…but if I had known it might have saved me a years worth of edits and re-edits, research and input from a few of my photo-peers…I would have found a few minutes to try it.

That all being said, despite this not being what I envisioned when I took the shot, I still enjoy the image.  As I said, that sunrise was incredible and I’m grateful to have this image to remember it by.

We Never Stop Learning

12 Sep
Snow Clouds in the Desert

Snow Clouds in the Desert

I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk. – Tony Robbins

Technology evolves, and to survive as artists, so must we.

One of the things I’ve struggled with for a long time – something I suspect most photographers struggle with – is coming up with a well-defined plan for success in the photo industry.  In my case, specifically, the landscape/nature photography genre.  There are so many angles that need to be considered…  How does one define success?  Is it simply being able to do what one loves?  To some degree, I think the answer is yes.


Love of what we do doesn’t pay the bills though, so monetary compensation needs to be considered as well.  How does one make a living as a landscape photographer?  Generally speaking, it seems you can pursue a living as a teacher/guide (running workshops, writing tips books, running blogs and G+ hangouts, or in the world of publications – magazines, travel guides, etc.  Or both. Haha


So, how do we break into either world?  First, you absolutely need quality images.  You need to educate yourself, practice your photo skills and be an editing champ.


But that’s not enough, is it?  The world is filled with many many many amazing photographers, and chances are, you’ve only heard of a fraction of them.  Just like any other company or business, you need to market yourself.


But then…is that enough?  From my perspective…that of a female…seems like it might be.  But then again, it might not be.  Fstoppers put out a little editorial a few years back that broke down the disparity between salaries (men vs women), the numbers based on what type of photography your pursue, and the overall numbers of photographers by gender.  According to FStoppers, as of the date of publication, yes…photography is still a man’s world (though the numbers of female photogs is growing).  For the whole article and its references, go here.


So, while I’ve always felt that landscapes tend to be a bit of a boys club, and sometimes struggle with how difficult it is to find a toe hold in the genre, the MOST interesting part of the whole read was the commentary at the end.  One of the readers mentioned that men are more gadget and math brained, therefore more interested in the technicalities of photography versus “making pretty pictures”.  This, as you can imagine, offended some of the ladies out there.  Personally though, I took it as a challenge.


Truly, we can never stop learning….there is always something to improve upon.  So rather than be offended at the potentially offensive view points expressed at the end of the article, I used it to fuel my educational fire.  These last few weeks I’ve been practicing my edits, trying to find new ways to attack problem photos that I had been putting off editing.  (At least one of those will be coming up in a future post, in which we are doing a group edit challenge between myself, David Pasillas Photography, WhereToWillie and Will’s photographer-in-training, Britta.)




 The finished edit (left) versus the RAW (right).

This particular image was one of those that required a little more work than just your standard curves and levels.  I took this bad-boy in Joshua Tree Nat’l Park in March, just as it was about to snow.  YES!  I said SNOW!  The sky was flat, so I took this image intending to change it to a black and white and rely on the texture of the rock and the interesting trees as points of interest.  The problem I was running into was that I wanted to adjust just a particular tonal range to make the trees pop without laying on heavy contrast throughout the whole image.  Now, there are a lot of time consuming, inaccurate ways to go about this that require a lot of work.


Or, there are luminosity masks, a super genius invention.  While I have used them before, I was not proficient in them.  I took my FStopper’s go-get-em attitude and applied it to practicing and playing with this image.  In the end, while I still don’t love the flat sky, I’m much happier with the tonal adjustments throughout the image and feel much more confident using luminosity masks.


So where am I going with this?  Don’t be afraid to try things that are intimidating, or outside of your comfort level.  The more tools we have in photo-tool-bag, the higher our chances of success become, by whatever definition you use.  🙂

I’m a Photographer (And So Can You!)

13 Mar

Well, I did it.  I survived a quick (wonderfully awesome sleep deprived) trip to Cali…and boy are my arms tired!  It’s going to take a while to download and edit all of the photos from the long weekend, but if you follow my instagram, you’ve gotten the sneak preview.

For those of you who are late to the IG party, here is a post to catch you up.  Of course…you coooouuulllddd just hit the follow button on my IG profile (seeingspotsphoto).  That would pretty much put you in the know, real-time.  Who wouldn’t want that??

For those of you like David Pasillas who think, “This Instagram thing will never catch on”…………………… Pffft.


Travelgram - Airport People Mover

Travelgram – Airport People Mover


Travelgram - Sea Lion Beach Bums

Travelgram – Sea Lion Beach Bums


Travelgram - Joshua Tree National Park

Travelgram – Joshua Tree National Park


Travelgram - Pacific Sunset

Travelgram – Pacific Sunset