In Borrego Springs CA, just an hour and a half drive from San Diego, there are metal art sculptures overrunning the desert. In the Galleta Meadows Estate, owner Dennis Avery decided to add some standing art to his desert oasis. He enlisted the help of Ricardo Breceda, who let his imagination run wild with full-sized metal sculptures ranging from local Desert Big Horn sheep to Sea serpents.
I have wanted to photograph these beasts for some time and in May the galactic center of the Milky Way has finally returned as a perfect backdrop to the sculptures. I headed out late in the night in order to time the rising of the Milky Way with the setting of the last quarter moon. Which proved to be a mistake. The metal sculptures are easy to find in the day, but once night falls there are no surrounding lights or signs to indicate their locations at all. Borrego Springs is a dark sky community which means they regulate light pollution from the town. Good for night time photography, not good for looking for desert sculpture art. After digging into a few maps online and stopping at almost every turn-off on Borrego Springs Road I finally found what I was looking for, the Desert Big Horn Sheep. I had previously run across a sunset photo of these sculptures that blew my mind. They looked so real backlit in the sunset that I was fooled for a moment wondering how someone could capture such a unique moment at sunset. I wanted to photograph them with the Milky Way rising in the background.
Next, I set up my 8" Celestron telescope and try to photograph some galaxies. The night was so clear it could not have been easier to set up and find my targets. It was my first attempt at the Whirlpool and Pinwheel Galaxies. I took about 60 images of each and staked them using REGIM star stacker for each to produce these photos. A good start for my first attempt, but not quite the detail I was looking for.
Finally after the Milky Way started to rise, I played with different compositions and lenses until I was happy. I went with my Canon 50 mm at 10 sec, F2.8 and ISO 4000 and I was so stoked I did. The 50mm allowed for the detail of the Desert Big Horn Sheep to stay sharp with enough detail of the Milky Way to stand out. I spent the rest of the night looking for more metal sculptures and playing with different settings. Finally at sunrise I was able to test out my new DJI MAVIC Pro drone on the giant Sea Serpent metal sculpture. I can't wait to go back and experiment with a few more of those metal sculptures.
My wife and I decided to go on a California road trip in celebration of all the rain gracing California this past winter. Starting from San Diego to the Sequoia National Park, we hit the road heading to Yosemite National Park. After another long yet beautiful leg through the central valley farmlands, we entered the mountains once again. Almost immediately we were greeted with a herd of deer crossing the road into a beautiful green valley. I felt like we were in a living post card.
After more twists and turns through thick forests we charged through a mountain tunnel and emerged onto one of the most famous views in California, the tunnel view. We were so surprised and astonished with the amazing view overlooking the entire valley. We had arrived! From the vertical cliffs of El Capitan, to the famous Half Dome, and Bridal Veil Falls.
This was the start of an amazing adventure. I knew the next few days would be full of amazing imagery like the one above. Before coming here we were really unsure about where to stay to maximize our proximity to the many hikes and vistas in the park. Little did we know, you could stay almost anywhere inside the park and be completely surrounded by nature and the beauty of this place. Over the next fews days we went on many hikes on and off the trails (mostly off to avoid the crowds).
We went on this trip in the beginning of April which coincides with the return of the Milky Way galactic center and a New Moon. This meant we had the darkest and clearest skies one could ask for. It was difficult to plan where exactly to set up for some nighttime photography until we were actually in the park. It wasn't long until I learned that the Milky Way would be rising right through the valley perpendicular to the famous Half Dome. I could not be more excited to head out and scout the best location to capture what would be one of my favorite photos of all time.
Once night fell I hiked through lots of cold soggy meadows and various campsites until I finally found a spot that would capture the Milky Way rising alongside the Half Dome. The night seemed to fly by as I was experimenting with different exposure time and settings, occasionally capturing some shooting stars streaking across the scene. Eventually the sun rose drowning out the Milky Way. This was a photographer's dream and I can't wait to return and explore more of the park and try different compositions at different times of the year. Yosemite is truly one of nature's most amazing gifts.
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
This has been unbelievable in the state of California. Thanks to much needed rain and snowpack California finally came out of over a 5 year drought. My wife and I decided to celebrate by taking a road trip to California's famous National Parks, the Sequoia National Park and the Yosemite National Parks. Leading up to this journey we had been checking the weather almost daily to ensure we were prepared to make the most out of the trip. Everything from snow storms and 22 degree lows at night to bright and sunny 70 degree days was in the forecast. We packed up and hit the road.
After a three hours of grueling LA traffic we were finally off on the open road. We headed out to The Sequoia National Park bright and early and were greeted with empty windy roads surrounded by some of the most colorful mountains I had ever seen. All the hillsides were green and lush with pockets of flowering purple trees. We ascended through the thickest fog I have ever driven through into the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove. We were quickly met by the ancient giant Sequoias.
We were absolutely amazed by the sheer girth and size of the trees, especially the largest of them all, the General Sherman tree. At over 3000 years old I could not stop thinking about all the amazing things this tree has lived through and will continue to live through. Not long after exploring the grove, we were getting plummeted by a downpour of ice cold sleet. This meant we only had a few moments to capture some photos of these majestic giants and head back down the mountain before it got too dangerous. This was truly an experience I will never forget.
With the unbelievable amount of rain this past winer and recent bursts of spring sunshine, wildflowers are blooming all over Southern California. The eastern part of the region is experiencing a “super bloom” unlike anything seen in the area since 2005.
With family and friends I had the chance to explore the Anzo Borrego desert and experience this rare event. It was really amazing to explore the different fields, canyons and hikes that the Anzo Borrego state park has to offer. We got to see fields of desert sunflowers, desert evening primrose, parish's poppy, desert lilies, ocotillo cactus, sphinx moths, and big horned sheep! I ended up going for two weekends because the first weekend we went saw unprecedented crowds. The second week I went was much more mellow and offered up a different variety of flowers and wildlife to see. I was grateful to be able to see how this amazing natural event changed in just a matter of weeks!
The Women's March in San Diego was truly monumental. Over 40,000 people showed up to voice their passion for women's rights. The peaceful march was full of positivity and unity for women's rights. It was the largest demonstration in San Diego's history and I was grateful to witness it!!