From the end of July through September, there have been so many little trips and gatherings that I wanted to put on my blog. The photos below are from various activities through the end of summer. I was able to accept an opportunity for a new job, a pivot from what I’ve been doing over 9 years and able to (hopefully) grow many more career benefiting qualities while applying my experience to help others. With the job change, I took a week off and visited family in the Bay Area, that’s where the park playground activities took place. We got to celebrate a birthday for our friend Molly in Malibu with almost all of the attendees wearing blue and walking out to Pt Dume. Mia’s college roommate Laura and her husband Shaun and their black lab met up with us for breakfast and some chill time in El Segundo at a park. I bought a used longboard designed in a way that I’ve been wanting for a long time, to re-learn surfing in the longboard, nose riding style. I got to go to Half Moon Bay and walk around town and the Ritz golf course with my mom as an escape from the summer heat inland. There was a quick trip to SLO and I finally tried some long-exposure beach shots. There was another special birthday for our friend Kait which was celebrated at a rental house in Carpenteria right on the sand. Then, for my first week of work at the new company, I got to travel to Denver to their headquarters. I was able to arrive Sunday afternoon and walked around downtown, which is super cool and photogenic with perfect summer heat-wave weather. As you can probably tell, there’s been a lot going on. Hope you enjoy the wrap up in pictures.
We got to go to a wedding for a friend, Caroline (picture below with the dogs) which was in Cape Cod, MA. We were even luckier that we had a couple days off to extend the trip and hang out with Nick & Jen in Boston (again, we visiting a year ago). We took a red-eye which was dragging us down a little upon arrival until we started to meet up with friends - it was a great crew attending this wedding - and the celebrations lasted for 2 straight days. Cape Cod is a wonderful place, especially in the summer. The town was old and the houses were huge, the beaches were very different from Southern California (trucked-in sand, lots of open space), and most things about the time there were charming and fun. The day after the wedding we drove back to Boston with Kait and Kevin, stopped in Plymouth for food - and as the hangovers wained we reached Nick and Jen’s place. They took us to the waterfront on the Charles for sunset and enjoyed a local beer / home-baked bread picnic on the docks. It was picture perfect. That night Nick and Jen taught us all about mezcal from their recent trip to Oaxaca, and unknowingly convinced me that I need to go. We all sampled mezcal from their trip and caught up. They took us up to a lake north-west of Boston before our flight back to LA the next day.
Now, a month later, I’m still processing some of the activities and fun that was able to be packed into about 3.5 half days.
I got to go up to Lake Tahoe with Mia and her extended family for the wedding of her cousin, Russel who married Deborah. We hung out a lot in Incline Village in north Lake Tahoe and the wedding was held at Deborah's fathers house on the lake. It was a beautiful setting and a ton of fun being there. The weather was perfect all weekend and I took advantage of it as much as I could. Sure I might have left sleep deprived, but at least I packed a lot of activity into 2 full days.
Below are photos in order of events - We flew up Friday afternoon, rented a car in Reno and got to the house rental in Incline Village and quickly got over to the rehearsal dinner. After that, we had to get in the lake for a late-night dip. I actually couldn't sleep that night, so I was up before dawn and drove around taking pictures and getting eating by bugs, followed by a hike up the State Line fire road overlooking the California and Nevada border in north Tahoe. Saturday was wedding day, obviously an awesome setting for it on the water with a dock. The newlyweds even went out for a fast speed boat loop between the wedding and reception. There's a photo of Russel stepping in as bartender at the end of the night, which was basically my last non-fuzzy memory... thanks, Russel.
Sunday was off to a slow start and we hung out at Incline Beach in perfect summer lake weather. Mia and I drove to the Ritz Carlton at Northstar in Truckee just to make the most of our short weekend trip and walked around the grounds and had a nice early birthday dinner celebrating Mia at one of the restaurants there. Being at a ski resorts in the summer is awesome, it's not crowded, the air is fresh and the views are spectacular, but we definitely want to make a trip back now in the winter. We got up before dawn Monday morning to hurry to the airport and catch a 7:20am flight. The last picture was in Truckee during the sunrise, of an unusual looking thin layer of fog settled in a valley.
Record high temperatures were forecasted for Los Angeles, hovering around 96 at the beach - which is insane - and 118 in land. We knew there was no escaping it and staying on the beach would have been unbearable. Luckily, we got to to Ojai and meet up with Mia's family. This was my first time back with my new camera so I made sure to get up pre-sunrise Saturday and I hike up a trail overlooking the Ojai valley. There were intense devastating fires throughout this area in December but the valley and many of the homes were spared. We saw evidence of this when we camped here a couple months ago at Wheeler Gorge. The sunrise wasn't great but photos are below. It was 80 degrees at 5:30am and I spent the rest of the day trying to stay cool inside and by a pool. I was so lucky for the opportunity to get away from the boat for the weekend and enjoy a little vacation.
This is actually the first time I tried taking nighttime photos with my new camera and the different is remarkable compared to the older smaller camera sensor. I’m pleased with it. Can you spot the rabbit in the night photo?
In the slideshow below, it shows some of the events in the last few weekends. The highlights were that Mia and I celebrated a 5-year anniversary since we had out first date. We went to Laguna Beach, hung out at thousand-steps beach and stayed at the Laguna Beach Inn. I didn't take a lot of pictures except for in a really cool bell-tower on the property of the Inn. The weather was pretty gloomy after a sunny beach day, which was perfect.
Another weekend, Matt, Julia and Andy flew down from San Francisco and we all met up at my dad's. It was the first time my dad got to meet his grandson and a really special weekend hanging out both Saturday and Sunday. There was a weekend to visit Sierra Madre and celebrate Mia's cousin, Sydney, graduation from UCLA with her PHD. It was a big all-day party with friends and family. For me personally, it felt like two worlds colliding with Mia's family and our friend group all in the same place hanging out, it was a ton of fun. There are some photos of people throwing the little parachute-men from a balcony, but I promise there was a lot more fun activities going on all day, I just didn't have my camera out for very long. The following day was fathera day and Mia’s dad drove up to have lunch with us and we hung out at the nice open-area around the restaurants in Manhattan Beach just to tak and catch up as well as make some summer beach day plans.
Additionally, I got home early enough a couple times on a Friday to see the weekly Redondo Beach car show at Ruby's. It's more of a community meeting than any official car show, just people parking in the lot and telling stories for a few hours. But I've learned that I have an interest in more automotive photography, picking out the critical design pieces of era-specific cars, and finding interesting compositions with all the tiny details that made people fall in love with these vehicles.
This most recent weekend I had no plans, I took advantage of that by replacing the insulation for the refrigerator lid, replacing a lightbulb in the v-berth and a much needed boat cleaning. Mia and I went kayaking (her) and rowing (me) Saturday and Sunday I kayaked solo. I also drove up to the top of Palos Verdes to get a glimpse of our weather situation - all weekend, the South Bay was cloudy and gloomy, but I could see sun inland. It was all divided by Palos Verdes, so I was able to get some nice pictures of the fog rolling over hills and burning off for a few minutes, until the afternoon clouds were blown in.
Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend. These were the targets of my second ever photo-based trip (the first being Yosemite a couple months ago). I left LA at 2pm Friday with my buddy / basically pro-photographer, Leif. The trip was his idea and given the itinerary and opportunities to excel my experience in photography, I obviously had to go. It was about a 9 hour drive to Page, AZ. The entire area is in Arizona along the Utah border, and the highways take you back and forth over state line, between Friday and Sunday we crossed state lines 16 times.
Another major driver to go on this trip and get more serious about photography is to expand my portfolio on my other website, philipskinnerphotography.com . I'm testing the waters of what potentially could be done to spend time working on my hobby while sharing the results with others.
There was a last minute plan and an attempt to fit in the most hang-out time evenly with my family which ended up being super successful. I drove to northern california for mother's day weekend and got to hike with my Scott, Nicole and Sophie in the Berkeley hills. We were greeting with perfect weather and views of San Francisco bay. After growing up here I was probably sightly desensitized to the views but once I go back there is a new appreciation for the sweeping views of the city and bridges.
After the hike I drove west to Sausalito and got to hang out with Matt, Julia and Andy for the afternoon. I stayed there and on Sunday went with Matt to surf Fort Cronkite. It was cold and rugged surf compared to the LA surf scene I've grown comfortable with. Followed that up Matt and Julia hosting a Mother's day afternoon gathering to celebrate new moms and grandmas.
Friday night I hiked down the short path at Bluff Cove down to a rock reef. I've sailed around this rocky point in the Catalina 30 and sailed over and through it one summer day on a 15' sailboat. The amount of land to take pictures from drastically changes depending on tide levels.Friday night, just as the sun was going down, I was able to walk around the tide pools and get a close picture of the horizon and tried using the pools for reflections. It was a dull sunset but I was content to get back in time to use my camera and try out the wide angle lens.
The next morning I was up at 4:45 and drove up to Del Cerro park, located at a good lookout point on top of Palos Verdes and facing Catalina Island. Here's some pictures of the shipping traffic, the moon high above, and the sun coming up over the channel and over Los Angeles to the north.
To round out the weekend, I finally went kayaking again, leveled the v-berth bed with some Dri-Deck that I had to wash the scent of plastic off of, and did other random projects around the boat.
There was a corvette club car show in the parking lot next door on Saturday. I was pretty dang excited to try my new wide angle 17-35mm lens which is perfect for getting right up close to the classic cars and the lens distorts how they look which produces interesting results.
Also a first for my blog, trying a slideshow (below) of photos. Hope you enjoy!
Mia’s friend Laura flew down to visit and they stayed in the Redondo Beach Hotel just across the street. As a special event for the weekend we went to Justin Timberlake’s show at the Forum on Saturday night. We also checked out Eatily in Century City which was a huge open seating room which about 15 different restaurants and shops all for good Italian food.
Welp. I made a significant investment into this photo hobby of mine that I've been gradually learning since the beginning of last year. You might remember how it all started, last winter I dug out a Pentax film camera from storage and shot a few rolls. This camera had some risks of losing precious film in the mail and limits to 24 and 36 exposures that must be perfectly done or were a waste of money. I loved taking pictures and that shutter click, though. So I got the most sensible bang-for-my-buck entry-level camera in June which is the Olympus OM-D EM-10 mark II. Many good reasons to justify that, but it left me wanting a couple of things. Better photo quality from a larger camera sensor, better feel of the camera and quality of images. Now that I've taken some more trips and learned a lot more about photography, and thanks to my brother for an Adobe subscription, I kept rolling my eyes at the limitations of the micro four-thirds mirrorless system. I missed the cler-chunk feel of a real shutter opening and shutting and how much more information a full-frame camera can gather. There are pros and cons to everything and I was tipping the scales back and forth for a long time to determine if I should get a full-frame DSLR.
I finally did. The Nikon D750. It's been around for a few years but it's a workhorse and powerful camera with solid reviews and the right price range. A user can use an endless variety of lenses to it and it's likely not to change for a long time. The other front-runner was a new Sony A7iii which is a mirrorless camera but it's full-frame and offered a ton of technology like my Olympus. Some of that worried me, because I feel like the mirrorless cameras are kind of delicate, but what worried me more is the cost of native Sony lenses... most are more than the camera itself and it would've brought a bundle out of my budget. I could go on, trust me I was fully engaged in thinking about these two cameras for weeks.
For now I still have the Olympus and if nobody wants to buy it then I guess I'll keep it. It's funny because the complete setup I had for that is less money than an *inexpensive* lens for the Nikon. So I guess you could say this hobby is getting serious. I am excited to learn even more as I go on.
Back to my adventure. Mia was out of town which meant I had some boat chores to do, including hoisting up my kayak on extra dock line and (hopefully) the last time I had to scrub the bottom of it. Midwaythrough SaturdayI was antsy and decided to pack a cooler with lunch and my backpack with some hiking clothes and go for a drive. I went up north of LA into the Angeles Forest on the winding 2-lane roads. These are popular for car and motorcycle enthusiasts who speed around the corners so I found myself pulling aside at turn-outs at least 20 times. I was on an entirely different pace for my day. The point was to see what's up there because I was always curious, and to find some good vantage points to try out my new camera. I eventually made my way to the Mt Wilson summit which overlooks the LA basin and could see all the way to Catalina even through the haze and clouds. I then hiked on a trial that was once used as a railroad from 1902 - 1938 wrapping along cliffs and through tunnels on narrow trestles - It's actually insane that they built this. It looks more like a frightening wooden roller coaster nailed into hillsides from the black and white pictures online. As things go, there was a devastarting wind at the observatory that it served, which knocked it down. So someone turned the land into a tavern to keep people coming up but then that had a fire and was never rebuilt. It was dismantled a few years later.
Sometimes I want to take these far trips to find hikes, views, and a feeling of the outdoors along with some interesting history. I think of Death Valley, Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Big sur, Lost Coast, etc. But this was basically in Los Angeles and checked off all the boxes, albeit they'd be smaller check marks.
Mid-March, in the final official days of winter, storms took shape and hit California as a whole. I was invited last minute by my buddy Leif to tag along for a quick trip up to Yosemite with the purpose of getting epic pictures. He rented a car with awd and we fortunately stayed inside the valley at the Majestic Yosemite hotel. This allowed us to drive around with heated seats and to different viewpoints and hiking trails. The park was probably as empty as it could ever be.
Took a trip back around Palos Verdes and stopped at the lighthouse. It was a super clear day after rain and wind the day before and it was enough to see the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and San Nicolas island, way out there. From this spot a group of people track whale migration and we were fortunate enough to see some grey whales breach between us and Catalina Island. I’m
There was a Holi celebration across the street from our boat at the Lagoon. I was actually waiting for this since last year because I wanted to get pictures of it. Got some! I saw a photography documentary series, Tales By Light, essentially a 2-season long Canon commercial, but one photographer was immersed in India for the holi celebrations and although I didn’t even enter the lagoon area I’m happy I got to get a better look at and photograph the activity. There’s hundreds of people covered in color powder who attend over 2 days and it’s a nice reminder of the local diversity and pride in culture.
People usually don’t prefer their birthdays to be on a weekday but I saw an opportunity: use both of the weekends surrounding it to celebrate.
Mia and I went up to San Luis Obispo the weekend before and her family made me an insanely good cake on Sunday, I got to drive a 911 turbo S as well as some scooters, and we hung out and watched the olympics.
On my birthday, our friend Molly hosted a small dinner at her apartment and I was totally blown away by the generous and really awesome birthday presents. I felt really lucky to have spent the evening with such solid friends.
And the following weekend, Presidents’ Day weekend, Mia and I went to Newport to hang out with Dante and Jenn who I’ve known since college and a new crew of friends I met for the first time. We cruised electric Pedego bikes around and then took a Duffy boat out during sunset. epic celebrations all around!
I got bored on this past Saturday night so around midnight I grabbed my mirrorless camera (olympus em10 Mark ii) as well as Mia’s DSLR (Nikon d3300) and my little tripod, I hopped on my bike and just went out In search of photos to test the differences.
It was fun, I felt like I was in some stealth mission and my experience so far with these two cameras is that the Nikon feels better to carry, the grip is Bigger and feels sturdier, but at a cost of being large and taking up more space than my olympus. The olympus has more user friendly shooting modes and longer open shutter speed to gather more light, which is necessary because it is a smaller, weaker sensor size. The Nikon I think has stronger colors but can only stay open for 30 seconds which means it can’t gather as great of information in the sky, then again it’s a much larger camera sensor and stores larger files so the image is more clear if magnified. Theres also something satisfying about the cler-chunk sound of a SLR mirror flapping up and down that is missing from the shutter sound on the mirrorless camera. Luckily I can still take one or both around whether than have to choose. There’s Obviously a lot i need to learn but it’s fun to realize that picture taking doesn’t have to stop when it gets dark out, just have to be creative with the surroundings.
January 24 & 25 was our second weekend in a row to be stuck home on the boat. It's been awhile between travelling and seeing family/friends that we have found ourselves with the opportunity to.... um, well... we didn't know what to do. I always have boat work but the weather was heating up and I didn't want my maintenance list to get in Mia's way (this time). I woke up and made coffee, "What do you want to do?" "I don't know, that thing that you wanted to do." sarcastically reply. A few minutes go by. "What should we do?"
This questioning bounces around between us for a couple hours until I'm restless and make us get up. We get coffee out, I check surf because last weekend (pre-back-injury) I bought a new longboard fin to try and it's been taunting me all week, Mia's equestrian side has been resurfacing and she's been looking at sensible places to board a horse. Palos Verdes has a few places so we decide to go up there, I know there's good views and trails so I bring my camera... the afternoon is finally planned. After some successful and unsuccessful visits to the horse stables, we hiked down to the shipwreck in PV.
Sunday was even warmer, mid-80's and dead calm. Mia went to the store for beer and snacks and I went and prepared the dinghy for us to cruise around on. I rowed us around the harbor, we got the usual comments from people about chivalry not being dead and how classic the dinghy looks. The tide was so low that people were beaching their skiffs in the middle of the channel and having a big hang out on the shoal. Although the wind was supposed to be strong and it was a small craft advisory, it was basically the most unexciting and safe, warm boating weather we could get here.
Long story short my back went out and the pain was significant enough that I gained another new appreciation to be able to walk without wobbling and sporadically losing strength in my legs. I took advantage of it by walking...slowly... with a limp... from the boat to the breakwall just in time for sunset and took these pictures.
Mia’s cousin Sydney came up with a great idea to invite a group of good people to stay at an Airbnb in St Lucia. Who could say no? We went for 6 days and spent them in the house pool, at a couple different hotel / “public” beaches (the hotels make it very difficult to access the beaches on purpose) and we even chartered a 45’ catamaran and snorkel tour, then I rented a 16 foot Hobie from a resort. Overall it was a perfect balance of lazy relaxation and physical activities that were unique to the location.
The Airbnb was just outside of Soufriere which was a small town with a natural harbor which yachts were rotating through each day.