Three Mind-Blowing Places to Visit This Summer Part 1: Underrated Gems

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to leave the country in order to see some amazing places. These three gorgeous places do not disappoint when It comes to scenic beauty.

#5: Mount Shasta

No your eyes aren't lying, this is a real place. Go there. Go Now. Just start walking south from the Oregon border, you'll see it, trust me, its nearly 15,000 feet tall.

 Mount Shasta as seen from Lake Siskiyou

Mount Shasta as seen from Lake Siskiyou

#4: Page, Arizona

Arizona may be known as the Grand Canyon State, and for good reason, but did you know that there's a party just as compelling near the AZ-Utah border,  just an hour and a half from the big hole thingy. 

#3: Devil's Tower, Wyoming

America's first national monument. I just got back from visiting it nested in the Wyoming Black Hills. I'm still not convinced its real.   

Don't Die Taking Pictures of Sand Dunes

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are amazing. Truly mesmerizing. I could spend a year there and not be bored.

 Sunrise brings the largest dune, known as Star Dune, fresh drama. A7rii 900mm F8

Sunrise brings the largest dune, known as Star Dune, fresh drama. A7rii 900mm F8

However, getting  to the big dune takes a LONG time. At least an hour of trudging on unforgiving wavy sand dunes, it's definitely not for the faint of heart. Here are a few logistical tips for photographing them.

Tip #1 - BRING A LOT OF WATER 

Remember, your in the fucking desert, it's trying to kill you. Water can help you not be dead. 

Tip #2 - DONT GO ALONE

 Rob looking cool on Star Dune. He's being absolutely blasted in the face with an unreasonably high-powered flashlight by Agustin whose just out of frame.

Rob looking cool on Star Dune. He's being absolutely blasted in the face with an unreasonably high-powered flashlight by Agustin whose just out of frame.

So you can see the big dune from your car right?

"Everything's dandy, I can just head out there alone,  I mean I just gotta walk dead straight for a few miles and I'm good." 

famous last words

As soon as you get over the first little dune, guess what?  You can't see your car anymore! And if you get too caught up shooting like I ALWAYS do,  you'll soon be disoriented and then you'll die. And it won't make for a cool obituary. "In a tragic sand dune accident... Jimmy couldn't find his way out." Everyone will just be like "Why didn't he just leave the sand?" They'll never understand. 

You can really only see your tiny lil car from the very top of star dune, so if you get lost, I guess go to the big dune and try to get un lost. 

My advice:

go with a group. Hopefully they are a sensible bunch, and you'll be less likely to be munched on by coyotes. 

Tip #3 - BRING ALL YOUR FUCKING BATTERIES

I guess this ones not super related to your survival, but it's important.

Don't be that guy/girl whose completely out of batteries because you shot 8000 pictures through the night. When the epic sunrise comes, AND IT WILL  you will hate yourself. 

(My battery died directly after taking this last shot. It got way more epic but I missed it) 

 

 Epic sunrise you missed because your an idiot. A7rii 16-35

Epic sunrise you missed because your an idiot. A7rii 16-35

That's it for now, there will definitely be a part 2 coming soon. 

Planning and Shooting the Golden Gate Bridge

 Sony A7rii with Sigma 24-105 Art at 28mm 30 seconds at f/8.0 ISO 125

Sony A7rii with Sigma 24-105 Art at 28mm 30 seconds at f/8.0 ISO 125

Last year in April I made a drive from Portland to San Francisco. I had a early flight scheduled out from San Francisco to Las Vegas to shoot a music video. I drove all night and made it there a several hours before my flight. I used this opportunity to scope out a location for a sunrise shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge.

I had a few criteria when selecting a location to shoot the bridge: 

  • I wanted a perspective well below the bridge
  • It needed to be close enough to the bridge so that even if I shot really wide the bridge would still be prominent in the frame
  • Foreground elements (in this case rocks)  near the water to show motion
  • I wanted to get a few different shots, One before sunrise, where the lights of the bridge were still lit up and hopefully a nice contrast with the blue water. And Also I wanted one later on where the sun had risen a little more and that golden light illuminated the scene

I did a bit of research and found a perfect location, Marshall Beach

 

As luck would have it, there was an abundance of sea foam present that I focused on for the blue hour shot, as I figured the blue water would contrast nicely with the white foam. I was extremely lucky with the location of the sunrise as you can see it's sun star as it rose through the bridge. 

 

  Sony A7rii with Sigma 24-105 Art at 33mm 10 seconds at f/10 ISO 200 Formatt-Hitech 10 Stop Firecrest Neutral Density Filter

Sony A7rii with Sigma 24-105 Art at 33mm 10 seconds at f/10 ISO 200 Formatt-Hitech 10 Stop Firecrest Neutral Density Filter