Monday, February 25, 2013

Think Nature, Love Nature, Be With Nature

The title of this post comes from a sign I saw on the road leading to Semegoh Orangutan Reserve in Borneo. I deeply relate to the sign because I love nature, I love being with nature and I find most of my inspiration in nature.

The reason why I’m including the photo of this sign on this post is because this past weekend had a lot of natural components that inspired me, despite the fact that the weekend was quite active.

Overall, we had a pretty busy weekend. My show was on Friday and I’m happy to report that it was a big success! My pieces looked amazing and I received many compliments about my photography, which is always nice! Perhaps, the best part of the evening was the incredible support I received from friends! Thanks again to all of you who came to the show!

Even though it was pretty busy, we still managed to get out and play. I think that’s one of the best benefits of having a dog: having to exercise him! Yes, because we had to be gone for most of the day on Saturday, we took Bomber for a 2-hour walk to tire him down a bit.

Early on Saturday, we started heading to the Ferry Building to check out the Farmers’ Market.  Once at the Embarcadero, the scene was lively and fun, there was a young kid playing the trumpet and dancing to the beat of his own songs (he also plays the trumpet around Union Square on busy weekend evenings).

Outside the Ferry Building were many vendors selling fruits, vegetables, flowers, just to mention a few of nature’s finest that were being sold there. One stand was selling tulips, tons of tulips. In Minnesota I used to see tulips grow after the snow had melted and the temperatures had warmed up. I haven’t seen tulips in their natural environment since leaving MN about 3 years ago and, I have to say, I miss seeing those pretty flowers!

As I stood in front of buckets and buckets of flowers, I started snapping photo after photo of these colorful flowers!

The rest of Saturday was spent with a new friend in Calistoga. I didn’t carry my camera while walking around because I knew the visit would turn very very long if I started stopping for photos along the way, and we had to come back home at a reasonable time to let our dog out. The only photos I took where of some mustard flowers growing in the middle of wine orchards on our way out of Napa.

On Sunday we helped friends with their move in Oakland.  Before we headed across the Bay Bridge, we took Bomber to Crissy Fields so he could run, play and enjoy the sun. Once again, we were trying to tire him down before leaving him alone for a couple of hours.

We walked on the beach, the Golden Gate Bridge in front of us, glowing the morning sun, while our dog ran freely. Nothing like a morning walk on the beach to get your day started the right way.

Before heading out to Oakland, we made a stop at the Palace of Fine Arts in SF. Here I took some great photos of birds, especially of swan. Seeing the swan reminded us of Portugal, Sintra, where we saw our first (and my only one) black swan.  I also took a few shots of the awesome architecture of the Palace.

Over in Oakland, I regretted not having brought my camera with me as I saw magnolia tree after magnolia tree, covered in flowers and new blooms. I was especially disappointed when I saw a tree that had flowers low enough for me to touch. Oh, the photos I could have taken!

Oh well, some things are just not meant to be, right?

I hope you enjoyed this week’s photos. I really liked them! For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at:


Monday, February 18, 2013

Playing with Light

This past week was all about playing with light.  More and more I’m getting a better understanding of light. I’m also getting better at capturing light in the right ways or in the ways I want to capture it. It’s quite the process, but it only makes me that much happier when I see the final results in my photos.

Because the days are getting longer, our evening walks have taken place around the time the sun was setting, which provides a great (but narrow) window of opportunity to capture the golden light from the sun as it gently touches everything that’s around.

On one specific day, we were walking down a street and saw the sunlight, which was somewhat orange at that time, coming through the pink flowers of the trees that decorated the street. Of course, I stopped and took some photos.


Right as we were leaving, we heard, above our heads, a cat’s meow, and we looked up to find this cute white and golden cat looking down at us from his/her balcony.

Bomber fell in love immediately and was desperately staring at the cat. The cat too was very interested in our dog. I told both of them that their romance was not meant to be. They were like Romeo and Juliette and were supposed to hate each other instead.

While all of this happened, I snapped some photos of the cat, which looked golden under the setting sunlight, and was beautifully framed by the blue wood trimming of the balcony it sat on. If taken out of context, it would be hard to peg this photo as a San Francisco photo, which I really liked!

Over the weekend, as temperatures got very close to reaching 70 degrees, we went for long walks around the city.  We must have covered over 10 miles total between Saturday and Sunday. It was great!

We went to the beach, to the wharf, and to several parks.  The bulk of photos on this post are from Fort Mason’s community garden. This is a lovely spot nestled in the middle of Fort Mason and open to the public.

We arrived to the garden early in the morning (we left the apartment around 8 a.m. that day!) and I was able to capture the light of the sun as it rose and went through the flowers at the garden.  To make things better, the flowers were covered in morning dew, which added a lot of texture to the photos I took of them.

After the garden, we started heading back home, walking up on the very steep Taylor Street. We stopped on Vallejo for a quick moment to soak up some sun. There, I shot the purple flowers I’ve included in this post. Using a quick shutter speed, I was able to capture the light and the way they really looked. I personally love these photos!

On top of the hill, on Vallejo St., we also were teased by a humming bird, who I was only able to capture once during flight.

This is a great time to be in San Francisco if you are into flowers. Everything is blooming. The trees are covered in flowers and blooms. The gardens are turning green and everything is coming to life! I feel so lucky to already be enjoying spring…

In other news, I’m all ready for my show on Friday, I think. I have settled on my final 5 photos to display and, following the show’s organizer advice, I have gone big with my prints. I’ll post pictures of the photos next week and, hopefully, I’ll make some sales at the event—wish me luck and send me good vibes, pleeeease!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s photos. For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at:


Monday, February 11, 2013

Big Sur: California Condors and More

This past weekend, Joe and I went to Big Sur. This was our 4th year going camping to Big Sur, and our 3rd year camping at Kirk Creek campground. We both really love that place!

There were many reasons why I was excited about this camping trip. The most important was having the chance to get away, into nature, to enjoy the simple things in life with my love and my dog. The second most important one was to go on my first nature adventure using my new camera.

Over the weekend I learned lots about photography, about light, and about many of the components that make a good photo. Practice does make perfect, and I sure was practicing. As Joe pointed out, now we don’t stop for me to take one photo, but we stop for me to take as many photos as it takes to get the photo I want!

Big Sur never disappoints me. Even the drive there is quite amazing, especially after you pass all the resorts of Carmel and the traffic of the main cities. Once you pass the state parks, it’s usually you, the road, the Santa Lucia Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean.

Of course, there is the occasional slow driver. Fortunately, most of them usually pull over so you can pass them and enjoy the road at whatever speed you like most.

This was the coldest camping trip we’ve ever had in Big Sur. The temps went as low as the mid 30s at night and never really went over the mid 50s during the day. The sun can make a big difference when it comes out and shines on you. In fact, two of our 3 days were quite sunny and we got suntans just like that!

The first night we camped, we stayed up later than normal and we braved the cold in order to capture some photos of the star-filled sky. The night was so clear, you could see the Milky Way without any trouble. When we were done with photos, we all snuggled in our tent!

It rained on and off all day Friday, but we managed to still have fun. After getting up with the sunrise, we jumped on the car and drove about 10 miles to Salmon Creek to see the waterfalls. This is the biggest waterfall in Big Sur and it’s beautiful! Every time we are in Big Sur, we hike there to check it out and, every single time, we are filled with happiness by seeing the falls.

Just a few yards before reaching the waterfalls, we noticed there was a group of youth (with a dog) camping by the falls. Big Sur is in Los Padres National Forest, so you can camp anywhere you want as long as you follow certain rules regarding fires and human waste. When we saw the group, instead of heading down, we went up the trail, all the way above the trees. From up there we got amazing views of the ocean and of Highway 1.

Right as it started to rain a bit again, we started our descent, and noticed that the group was now on the side of the road, waiting for someone to pick them up and take them to their next destination. Hitchhikers are a normal sighting in Big Sur.

We spent some time around the falls, skipping on rocks, climbing around and having lots of fun. Bomber was really having a blast! For a 12-pound dog, he sure can handle any situation that comes his way!

In the afternoon, we walked across Highway 1 and started walking up Nacimiento Road to a trailhead located about 2 miles up the road. As you reach the trail, you go into Kirk Creek’s canyon and, after going down on the trail, you reach the creek. It was still raining a bit when we got there but, with the tree cover, we stayed dry until the rain stopped. In the meantime, we enjoyed the magical feeling of being in the forest, surrounded by giants and hearing the water flow on the creek and fall on the trees.

On Saturday, we woke up early again and, once again, walked across Highway 1 and reached a trailhead for a trail that goes up the mountains all the way into a canyon and into the forest. We love starting our hikes early because we usually end up getting the trail to ourselves. This time it was not different and we ended up seeing only 2 people (who passed us!) as we hiked all the way to the campsite where we turned around.

The best part of this hike is the view! From up in the mountains you get the most amazing and breathtaking views of Highway 1, of the turquoise-aquamarine-blue ocean, and of the rest of the mountains. The contrast between the blue and the green is something only nature can achieve and it’s just beautiful!

After clocking 8 miles under our shoes, we ate lunch and headed to Sandollar Beach to soak up some sun and to relax before going back to our campsite.

Kirk Creek campground might just be my favorite campground ever. It is perched on the ocean cliff, it provides the most stunning views, the crashing waves can be heard from any campsite, you can walk to amazing hiking trails, and you can even walk to a small beach. All of this without ever having to get into a car, or having to walk more than a few yards!

We were down at the beach several times and,I think I got some awesome shots of the gorgeous rock formations that adorn the shore. For the second time, we saw sea otters at this beach! The morning we took off, we went down to the beach and there they were, 4 or 5 otters, playing on the water, eating their food and floating around in the rough sea! Just beautiful!

On Sunday morning we started making our way back to San Francisco. We took our time coming back and stopped in many spots to take pictures, to grab coffee, and to simply enjoy the views.

As we passed Julia Pfeiffer State Park, we stopped at an overlook where people were attentively looking at the ocean. Whales, we thought, and we immediately pulled over too. 

We didn’t see any whales here, but we did see 4 beautiful California Condors flying over our heads for a while! Snap snap snap, I captured the moment with my big lens, and felt very grateful for having the opportunity of seeing such amazing animals, knowing that they went almost extinct some years ago. There are only about 100 left and we got to see 4 of them!

The rest of the drive into the city went without any trouble. We stopped at the Bixby Bridge once again to take some photos, and then at a state preserve, where I got the best photos of poppies I have ever taken!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. For more fun photos, visit my Etsy store at: