Road Trippin’ with the Boys

My friends and I started 2019 with a road trip exploring mostly Utah while passing through Arizona and back into California. The excursion was filled with lots of good laughs, a bunch of great views and we captured some awesome memories along the way.

We left on New Year’s Day and headed up Interstate-80 into Nevada, through Reno and into the high desert country where we hopped out for a few shots. It wasn’t long before a Nevada State Trooper stopped and told us that “standing in the highway was a good way to get smushed”. 

*As a note, all the photos below are in chronological order in when they were taken*

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/640 sec f6.3 ISO 100

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/2000 sec f2.8 ISO 100

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/2000 sec f2.8 ISO 50

We made it to our hotel after sunset, which was a dud, so we got some sleep and set our alarms early to catch sunrise the next day. We headed to Capitol Reef National Park before the sun came up when the temperature was still in the single-digits. Hand and toe warmers only work so well in conditions like that, so using the car heater to thaw out is really your saving grace. 

After sunrise, we left Capitol Reef and headed towards Arches and Canyonlands National Park to only find out that both were closed after a full day of driving. It had recently snowed and this was still during the government shutdown, so the roads hadn’t been plowed. We ended up calling an audible before sunset and dashed over to Dead Horse State Park to catch the last bit of light.

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 640

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f16 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/640 sec f6.3 ISO 160

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/13 sec f13 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/13 sec f14 ISO 50

The next day consisted of driving in the direction of Monument Valley, since it’s not a National Park being at risk of closure at this point. On the way there we stopped at Gooseneck State Park, which was blanketed in snow. The San Juan River sweeps through these massive rock formations in Mexican Hat, Utah - one of the coolest names for a town in my opinion. Felipe drove his Jeep on the trip so we had to get some beauty shots along the way, of course.

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/160 sec f13 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/200 sec f2.8 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/640 sec f6.3 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/3200 sec f2.8 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 1/400 sec f2.8 ISO 100

Arriving at the famous Forrest Gump during golden hour allowed us to snap a few photos before heading into the actual park for sunset. After putting our suitcases in our room at The View Hotel, the boys and I went out for some astro before calling it a night. We captured sunrise the next morning from the balcony of our room (seventh photo below), which was worth the price of the hotel in itself.

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/8000 sec f2.8 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 0.5 sec f16 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 15 sec f2.8 ISO 5000

Sony A7II w/ 85 FE 6 sec f1.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 5000

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 175 sec f2.8 ISO 1600

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/320 sec f11 ISO 500

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/3200 sec f2.8 ISO 100

It took us most of the day, but we got to Zion National Park before sunset and stayed up to see the stars. We took turns driving the Jeep in the canyon while the other two guys snapped long exposures while communicating on walkie-talkies. Sunrise the next morning was the first time we saw clouds since Nevada, so you could imagine how stoked we were to get color in the sky.

Sony A7II w/ 24-700 GM 6 sec f16 ISO 50 using Haida 10-stop ND Filter

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 15 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 2000

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 30 sec f4 ISO 100 using Haida 10-stop ND Filter

Death Valley National Park was our last major stop as we knew a major snowstorm was brewing in the Sierras and we needed to start heading home. We were greeted with moody skies that lit up a bit during golden hour as Jeff skated into the sunset. It is such a huge park and we only had about half a day to spend, so I’ll be back to check out the other cool spots we had to pass up.

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 30 sec f13 ISO 50 using Haida 10-stop ND Filter

Sony A7III w/ Canon DT 70-200 1/500 sec f4 ISO 400

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 1/640 sec f/2.8 ISO 200

Sony A7III w/ 85 FE 1/200 sec f1.8 ISO 2000

Sony A7III w/ 85 FE 1/320 sec f1.8 ISO 2000

You could see the storm clouds closing in as we got to Alabama Hills, so it wasn’t long before we were in the Jeep as Felipe drove through the night back to Sacramento. We had a great group of guys and creators on the trip, including Felipe who has been like a brother since he taught me how to shoot in manual mode almost four years ago. Our good friends Will and Jeff, who took his Subaru, were also in the main calvary and we eventually met up with talented shooters, Neil and Josh, in Utah. Adventures like this one are great for the soul, but they become unforgettable when you’re with the right people.

Check out my friends accounts on Instagram using their handles below…

Felipe (@the_lost_coast)

Will (@goodthompson)

Jeff (@jeffhook_)

Neil (@neilbennett3)

Josh (@j.snow_photo)

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 30 sec f2.8 ISO 4000

Bruce Munro at Montalvo

My incredible wife always finds the coolest adventures and ‘Stories in Light’ at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California, was certainly no different. It’s a truly unique light exhibit and British artist Bruce Munro is the mastermind behind the gallery, his first on the West Coast. It is a total 10 different installments that will fascinate and inspire all ages. 

I had first seen photos of Munro’s lumens in action from the other side of the world - in Australia when the Sony Alpha Imaging Collective explored the Outback and ‘Field of Light’ at Uluru, Northern Territories. The concept is essentially illuminated ‘lilies’ that have spheres at the top and fiber optics that allow them to glow in rhythm. This was my favorite part of the exhibit because I was able to incorporate Astrophotography in the shots you’ll see below. 

15 sec f4 ISO 4000

10 sec f2.8 ISO 1000

13 sec f.28 ISO 2500

15 sec f4 ISO 50

The next set of photos are a mix of the other visuals you can see spread throughout the Montalvo Arts Center. From a huge, fiber optic wave, to color-changing flamingos and unique light fixtures that all captivate your imagination. 

According to the, “Works on view are inspired by Munro’s experiences reading C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia as a child, drawing on imagery that stayed with him over the years. They also reflect on personal recollections and society’s collective memories.”

30 sec f5.6 ISO 100

15 sec f5 ISO 250

5 sec f6.3 ISO 100

10 sec f11 ISO 100

10 sec f6.3 ISO 50

5 sec f6.3 ISO 200

Along with what you’ve seen so far, there are even more cool pieces to check out and viewing will be through March 17, 2019. Adult tickets are $27 while both seniors and children are $20. Parking is set up at West Valley College with a frequent shuttles into the Montalvo facility. Hope you enjoyed this write-up and get a chance to visit for yourself!

**All photos were taken with the Sony Alpha A7ii and 16-35 G Master lens**

Beacon Season 2018

Beacon Season in San Francisco is in full effect as the holiday’s approach as a special appearance is made by a famous lighthouse that is also the City’s most recognizable building. (Keep reading below…)

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 160

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 15 sec f11 ISO 100

The ‘Crown Jewel’ of the Transamerica Pyramid is a 6,000-watt beacon that coincides with a 1,000-watt high-voltage, red neon lamp which is mandated by the FAA. There isn’t a published schedule as to when the power gets flipped on in the beacon, but you can usually see it during big holidays and special events. 

It adds some zest to what already is a great skyline and as someone who shoots in the City often at night, it adds some excitement to getting certain shots. You need to move quickly to get multiple frames because like Cinderella, the beacon’s magic vanishes at midnight.

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 100

A7ii w/ 85mm GM 30 sec f16 ISO 320

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 20 sec f11 ISO 100

I first heard the phrase “Beacon Season” from my friend, Brandon, over a year ago and it instantly stuck in my mind because it fit so perfectly. He told me that he had made it up on a whim and it was one of those sayings that I would repeat to others who would recognize its natural ring as well. 

Fast forward to a couple weekends ago, some buddies and I went out looking for some choice views on what were clear nights. Our friend, Matt, was in town to visit from Jacksonville so Jude, Marcus and I showed him around San Francisco on two different nights. Too bad he didn’t have more time because there is so much more to see than two nights of shooting could ever cover.

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 100

A7Riii w/ 100-400mm GM 30 sec f16 ISO 500

It may go without saying for experienced photographers, but a quick tip when shooting the beacon is to set your aperture to f11 or higher (I prefer anything from f11 to f16) to create a flare with the light. Hopefully you enjoyed the photos and can check out the lit up beacon yourself in the near future. I’ve tagged my friends’ instagram handles below, so please check them out!

Marcus -

Jude -

Matt -

Brandon -

A7Riii w/ 100-400mm GM 20 sec f11 ISO 320

A7ii w/ 16-35mm GM 30 sec f11 ISO 160

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