Welcoming a Baby, My Niece is Born

Early Monday morning Krystal woke me up to tell me my brother, Chad, and his girlfriend, Amanda, were going to be having their baby girl! They had already been admitted to the hospital in Los Angeles. We quickly got up and made plans for Aria to be cared for before driving up from San Diego. Chad and Amanda welcomed Aliyah at 2:48p February 19th. 

We spent Tuesday morning with Chad's little family at the hospital. Aliyah is such a cute baby - the amount of cameras and phones that were in front of her taking pictures would have driven anyone else mad! It was so hard to resist. 

Unfortunately, upon uploading photos I encountered software issues. For some reason my Lightroom catalog crashes when it tries to open. No obvious error message. The good news is that all the photos are still on my memory card, but sharing is going to require a bit of patience. (If anyone is a Lightroom guru, I'd love some help!). 

In the meantime, here's a single image that I transferred to my phone. There's no doubt this little one will be a favorite subject of mine!

Downtown Date Night

Krystal and opted to avoid the crowds for Valentine's day this year. We stayed in and I cooked dinner for us both. This was easiest since Krystal was traveling for work the next morning. We chose to delay going out until Friday afternoon when we headed to downtown San Diego for dinner and video games (huh?! haha). 

After walking a block from our parking spot, we made about 3 trips back to the car individually (drop off glasses, grab a cell phone, make sure we knew when the meter would expire). I stopped to snap a quick image near an intersection.

After walking a block from our parking spot, we made about 3 trips back to the car individually (drop off glasses, grab a cell phone, make sure we knew when the meter would expire). I stopped to snap a quick image near an intersection.

We started our early evening at Searsucker, a newer restaurant on 5th avenue in the Gaslamp. We're generally on an earlier time schedule than most people and got to the restaurant before they even started serving their dinner menu at 530p. Being early has perks, though: we ate and drank off the happy hour menu. The food was awesome. We shared a few plates: caesar salad, duck fat fries, shrimp and grits, and fish tacos. Each one I'd get again!

Our entertainment for the evening was a block away at the new Coin-Op in downtown. I expected the full bar, but wasn't expecting a full kitchen serving food. It's relieving that an establishment built around the theme of an arcade only allows adults (however, my thoughts on this may change when we have children). They have a couple of locations in San Diego - I'm almost certain they have more games at their North Park location than Downtown. I could be wrong, though since it's been so long since I've been. I'd recommend it if you're looking for a bit of nostalgia or trying to do something new.

Nashville: Our First Trip of the Year

Nashville's been on my shortlist of places to visit for a long time now. My parents have gone, my brother has gone separately. My uncle lives out that way so it isn't even as though I'd be lost without help, or a guide. 

In my mind, before going, Nashville was a hotbed of music, primarily Country. That style of music isn't my preferred genre, but there had to be enough instruments in the city that someone knew how to play something else. I was right! We saw so much good music in the few days we were there that it would've been a good idea to have earplugs on me.

Krystal and I traveled out last Wednesday afternoon, and a great friend from way back, Joe, and his fiancee, Clari, were meeting us the following day. We were lucky enough to be able to crash at my uncle's place that was walking distance to great food and drinks on the outer edges of Downtown.

Our trip began rough: San Diego's terminal 2 at the American Airlines entrance was evacuated due to security concerns and we nearly missed our flight. We were those people running through the terminal to our gate. We made it on the plane and made our connection in Dallas.

While we're on the topic of travel, our return wasn't so easy. Bad weather in the midwest re-routed a bunch of flights and delayed some coming in and out of Nashville's BNA. Our flight out was delayed and our tight connection in Kansas City would've been missed if we got on the plane. We decided we'd rather be stuck in Nashville than Kansas City and crashed one last night with my uncle. (Joe and Clari booked a separate flight and made it back no problem).

When we weren't enjoying adult beverages and music, we were browsing around the city, and even outside. We went south through Brentwood and on down to Franklin. While there, we took the Carnton Plantation tour and learned about how the house there was transformed into a hospital during the Civil War. I can't say I learned a ton, but it was crazy to be in that space understanding how primitive medical attention was back then.

It was a great trip. A big thanks to Joe, Clari and Krystal for being great travel buddies. And a big thanks to my Uncle Scott for welcoming us in, letting us stay, giving us unofficial tours and for playing chauffeur while we were out there! I truly enjoyed all your company during the many meals, drinks and songs we socialized over!

Signal & Noise

Zack Arias is a photographer based out of Atlanta. I've followed his work for a long time - I own his Photo Q&A book. I recently stumbled across this video of his was was produced for Scott Kelby. It's called Signal & Noise. It's funny how sometimes the message you're most open to receiving any a singular moment finds your attention (amongst all the noise). 

I like this a lot and want to share it. Have a watch, if not for the awesome 8x10 camera he uses as the subject (~5 minutes).

Favorite Places in San Diego: Coronado

Coronado has always been my go-to photo spot. It's close to my home and there's always something going on there. Of course, it isn't known for big surf, but you're bound to find people in the water taking advantage of the water.

I've recently been motivated to collect some of my favorite images at well-known San Diego attractions and I've pulled together a few to share here. I'd be hard-pressed to not include one of my most popular images in this bunch: a wave barreling over with the Hotel Del in the background!

Super Blue Blood Moon

Yesterday was an event of celestial proportions! Literally. It has to do with the moon. 

It was the Super Blue Blood Moon and the last time it was visible from North America was in the 19 century. It won't happen again for 20 or so years (I think). 

I set my alarm at 3:15a to meet a fellow photographer friend of mine to witness the event that began around 4:30a. It was odd: the moon went from white to partial/half moon status to red-orange. It lasted for about an hour or so, but since sunrise was following right after moonset, we decided to hang out for a bit longer. 

We started the morning at the Torrey Pines Glider Port and moved to Scripps Pier. The pier was more crowded than I've ever seen it. I know this is a popular spot to shoot photos, but the crowd that amassed in the area was incredible. Unfortunately, nothing overly interesting aside from the moon events was happening so I'm certain most everyone's photos look the same, only differentiated by the perspective change as we lined shoulder to shoulder on the sand.

I noticed some surfers had began to take advantage of first light. I figured a shot of a surfer with the moon in the background might be cool so I moved south away from the crowds and was the only one in this section of beach for 100 yards or so. 

My images of the surfers are my favorite of the bunch. I think it partly because I wasn't seeing anyone else shooting in the area - I felt like I was doing something different. Generally, though, I wasn't excited about my photos.

I feel like something's missing every time I use something otherworldly as a subject. I think the fact I don't have a super long lens is part of that - I simply don't have the equipment to get a reach that brings the details of the moon out. I also think the subject itself is largely unexciting. This event is rare, which made me interested to get out and see it, but the moon isn't doing anything I wasn't expecting. It's predictability makes it ordinary to view. I'm more interested in having a conversation about space than shooting the stars within in, I think. 

I'm inspired to go get good photos now, though. A little dissatisfaction does that I guess. I have some travel coming up and will make it a point to seek out, and shoot, great images.

Walk in the Park

I want to get better about shooting things that I'd normally see as ordinary. There's a comfort that I want to find in taking images of life as it happens around me, as opposed to waiting for an event or special occasion. 

Generally walks with Aria fit that bill: an uninteresting "chore" that's done daily. This time, I asked Krystal to take hold of the leash and I brought my camera along looking for photo ops. I can see myself getting better at this - both feeling comfortable and in the quality of picture.

News Break

When I was younger I can remember sitting at the dinner table watching the news on TV. I can remember hearing the news in the background as my mom came to wake me up for school in the mornings and then eating breakfast near the living room, only interrupted by the news that broke overnight and the traffic report. If for some reason I was home sick from school my grandparents would watch me and we'd be within eyesight of the TV watching the news - or People's Court, to be honest. 

I've grown and become fascinated with the news - I became more in tune with the surrounding world and I was better able to understand what was being shared. It doesn't take long to recognize a theme within news. It seems like it's at its best when it brings stories for you to point and laugh at, or stories that bring fear and a general sense of unease. With crews on the ground, viewers are expected to believe whatever makes the first half hour of news coverage is what is most important in any given day. 

Last week I visited Torrey Pines when San Diego experienced some big surf (check my previous post). I figured the double-overhead swell might attract some good surfers so I wanted to take a look. As I ventured toward the cliffs I was greeted by a Coast Guard Helicopter at the Glider Port. I thought it was pretty cool to see and thought it was stationed here at-the-ready in case something went down in the water. I snapped this picture of it on the hill and shared it with Krystal since it's not something you see everyday. As I continued I saw a firetruck, ambulance, a few lifeguard trucks and I grew uneasy - the view was great but it couldn't be a coincidence they were all there to just watch the surf. 

I quickly learned there was a rescue mission happening on the cliffside. Obvious thoughts occurred in my mind, but I was also curious if I'd be able to see anything. I turned a corner and saw no less than 15 onlookers and 3 news crews. I got close enough to learn that nothing could be seen and likely would not see anything until the person needing rescue was pulled via rope and rescue to the top of the cliffs. I was then struck with a thought: are all these people just waiting at the top to see this person after they're rescued?

It's strange. Given the amount of professionals there, not everyone could be hanging around to provide medical assistance. And then my focus shifted back to the giant news cameras with big tripods hanging on just behind the yellow caution tape. Are they really going to try to capture footage of someone who is most certainly injured, not to mention embarrassed if they have their capacities just to share on the evening news? I think about how dumb I feel when I do something as simple as trip on uneven concrete on a public street. Or about last week when a woman slipped and fell in the sushi restaurant and how silly and hurt she must have been as everyone glanced (read: stared) at her while she got bags of ice from the wait staff. 

It's interesting to think that our curiosity and desire for entertainment can sometimes lead to the uneasiness of another person. I consider times when I wish public my faux pas would be quickly forgotten. I think it's more important than ever to remember people are just like you and I. Some are better at hiding and suppressing feelings than others. But I'd bet most would be better off if their unfortunate circumstances would stay off new stations who only care about appeasing their viewership.

The Infamous San Diego Beach

In the surf world, winter generally is synonymous with big swell. I'm not sure what is happening scientifically, but much of the coastline of the Pacific Ocean tends to get huge surf during this time of the year (think Mavericks, Jaws, and Hawaii's North Shore). 

In San Diego, there's plenty of popular beaches that are situated well enough to take advantage of surges. One of those is Black's Beach. Positioned between Torrey Pines Reserve and La Jolla, it's probably one of the more difficult beaches to access due to the cliffs that sit more than 300 feet above the shore. I'm almost certain this was a consideration when clothing became optional here in the 70s. 

It had been a long time since I visited the beach but decided to check it out last week and made a couple of trips. What's really nice is how easy it is to get to the cliffside for a view - you really don't even need to get near the water but the steep hike is an option if you're looking for a workout. At the glider port parking is plentiful (although UCSD students seem to take advantage of the free parking), and if wind conditions are right you'll catch the gliders soaring along the coast. Below are a few photos I shot from the cliffs over a couple of days (you'll see there is no consistency).

Do you know of any other easy-access views near the water in San Diego? I'm looking to dust my long lens off for some more work.