Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some Favorites...

Here are some of my favorite photos from the past couple of years! It's always fun to take a look back at the work we created and to remember the great moments that made these photos possible! Enjoy!

Bangkok, Thailand
St. Helena, California

Urubamba, Peru

Montara Mountain, CA, United States
Lisbon, Portugal

San Francisco, CA, United States

San Francisco, CA, United States

Highway 1, CA, United States
Togian Islands, Indonesia

Montara Point, CA, United States

Muir Woods, CA, United States

San Francisco, CA, United States

Paris, France

Pacifica, CA, United States

Loreto, Peru

Cataract Falls, CA, United States

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Bako, Borneo

San Francisco, United States

Hanoi, Vietnam

Monday, January 28, 2013

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

On Sunday, we hiked some of the trails at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. Las Trampas is a 5,342-acre regional park located in Alameda and Contra Costa countries in the Bay Area, and it is part of the East Bay Regional Park. The best part about Las Trampas is that is offers many miles of hiking trails, all of which are dog friendly!

I found out about this area using my Sierra Club app. Yes, this app is very helpful if you like hiking and are not completely familiar with the hikes in your area. You simply have to look for hikes close to your current location and you’ll find every hike that exists around you. Just wonderful!

It takes about an hour to reach Las Trampas from San Francisco, so we went to bed early Saturday night in order to wake up early on Sunday and hit the trails before they got crowded. Little did we know that this trail system is so big that it can absorb lots of hikers without a problem and without ever feeling crowded.

In fact, we reached the trailhead around 9 in the morning and there were already several cars in the parking lot (about 10-15). However, we barely saw anybody while hiking!

I think I have mentioned this before but, one of the best pars of starting a hike early in the morning is that you get the most beautiful light you could ask for. As the sun rises, the trees become lit up with the gentle rays of the rising sun. The light peaks through branches and leaves, turning everything a bit golden.

Every time we went downhill, the sun got lots behind the hills. Every time we went up again (which we did a lot!), we would see the sun once again, peaking from behind the hills.

Another thing that was great about this hike, and this area in general, was the diversity of the geography. We walked through forests, open fields, on ridges, on fire roads, footpaths, and more. Regardless of what the terrain was like, one thing stayed the same throughout the entire hike: it was NEVER flat!

The trails were very green and lush for the most part, however, there weren’t many flowers. I guess that, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, it is still winter. I did manage to find some flowers and was very excited with each and every find!

I feel that in hikes like this, where the scenery can appear to be the same, it is important to keep a creative eye out for fun photos. I have particularly become interested in photographing moss and lichen on branches, as well as mushrooms on the dead tree stumps that sit right next to the path in many stretches of the trail. As a photographer, you must work with your surroundings and that’s what I try to do!

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see yellow lichen on some of the tree branches. It was so fun to try to capture it and to try to turn it into a work of art, to frame it right.

Oh yes, and there were also the views! Because you end up climbing lots of vertical feet, and summiting a peak or two, your reward is presented with gorgeous views of the East Bay, Mount Diablo, and the surrounding wilderness area.  

Climbing the mountain is a big part of the experience, but the views, they truly nurture you by providing perspective about the world around us.

At one point, when we got out of the forest and started walking on an open path lined up with bare trees, we started paying attention to the noises we were hearing. They belonged to woodpeckers. These little peckers were all around us, pecking away on the trees.

If you have a dog, you know how hard it is to not scare birds away when you are hiking. Every time I walked towards the trees to try to take photos of the birds, Bomber would also run towards the trees, looking as much as a predator as he possibly could and, next thing I knew, all birds would fly away.

I did manage to get a few photos of a woodpecker after patiently waiting for them to come back to the trees that were closer to us. I even caught one flying away. I really love that photo!

At the end of the hike, we had walked on over 5 different trails, clocked about 7.5 miles and had done over 2,000 feet of elevation change in total! That is what I call a perfect day!!!

Back at home we all relaxed and gave our 2 feet (or 4 for Bomber!) a break. Nothing beats spending over 4 hours out in nature!

I hope you enjoyed the photos on this post. If you love hiking and you are in the Bay Area, please, go check out Las Trampas. You will not be disappointed!

For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorldPhotosByPaola

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Waves before Maverick’s Invitational and More

Recently, Maverick’s Invitational, the world’s premier big wave surf contest, took place south of San Francisco in the town of Half Moon Bay.  We didn’t make it to the day of the contest, but we did drive to Half Moon Bay the day before.  However, we ended up turning around because the traffic jam in town was simply crazy!

Before we headed to Half Moon Bay, the three of us hiked up Mount Montara, a gorgeous 7.8 mile round trip hike up Montara Mountain with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.


We had done this hike before on a cloudy/foggy day and had totally loved it. The very steep climb up the mountain is great exercise, and the second half of the hike, going down, makes for a great time to relax, chat and enjoy the views of the ocean. Of course, because of the fog, the first time we were not able to see much of the scenery around us.

This second time it was completely different as the skies were clear and the sun was shining. It was just a beautiful winter day California-style, in the 60s!

As we went up, we could see the town of Pacifica, Mount Diablo and even the Golden Gate bridge up in the distance!

While on the hike we also saw huge ripples on the water. When you are up 1,800 feet, the huge waves in the ocean looked like ripples, giving the water a very interesting texture and live. The waves were big but they were only going to get bigger for the next day’s surf tournament.

The first time we hiked Montara, flowers were blooming. This time, we only saw very few flowers, but we saw lots of moss. Moss, with its fun and unique texture, color and shapes, make up for great photos and for great photo editing as well.

Back down at the parking lot after a bit over 3 hours and with an exhausted dog, we jumped on the car and drove south towards Half Moon Bay to look for a place to eat lunch.

When we arrived to Half Moon Bay, the line of cars was too long and this was when we decided to head back and look elsewhere for a place to grab some fish tacos to go. While on the hunt for tacos, we found a Mexican/Peruvian restaurant in Pacifica called El Toro Loco (http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-toro-loco-pacifica-2). I couldn’t resist it, so we stopped there for lunch (one things I LOVE about CA, you can just stumble upon Peruvian restaurants, just like that!).

After lunch, we headed into the town of Pacifica, where we walked back and forth on the beach boulevard, watching gigantic waves crash on the pier, the shore and far in the ocean. I don’t think I have ever seen bigger waves than these.

We watched the waves for an hour or more. The sun was still shining and we were having a blast trying to capture the magnitude of these walls of crashing water as they rolled into Pacifica beach.

After hiking up the mountain, we were happy to just sit down and relax, enjoying the view, the sun and the energy of the people around us as well as the uniqueness of every single wave coming in.

Even though we didn’t go to the tournament, we got a good preview of what the waves must have looked like then. Maybe next year we’ll go…

At the end of our day in Pacifica, I had over 300 photos to choose from for my blog and for my Etsy store! I love days like that.

This past Sunday we also went on a daytrip to St. Helena, a cute town in Napa Valley, to go meet the artist that had made a painting based on my photograph of a door in Chinatown.  I wish I’d had taken more photos during our daytrip to St. Helena, but I did capture a very magical moment during our drive back to San Francisco.

It currently is low season in wine country. The vineyards looked bare and, some of them, have been completely covered with tiny bright yellow flowers. As the sun was starting to go down, these fields of yellow were glowing under the light. It looked simply beautiful! We pulled over and I was able to snap some photos of this great moment. Talk about being at the right place at the right time!

And that was our weekend. Today is another warm day and we are going to head out to enjoy the sun very soon!  I guess I shouldn’t complain about it being cold here because, after all, we do get days in the 60s in the middle of wintertime!

I hope you enjoy this week’s photos. For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorldPhotosByPaola