My Tour of the American West

When the world is in chaos, and you find yourself fearing checking the news feeds every morning, it’s time for a break.I took some time to go hit the road with one of my best friends. Our mission was simple, go see some places we’ve never been, and try to stay out of cell service as much as possible. We traveled about 3,000 miles in my Outback around the American West to go see some of our country’s greatest treasures, our National Parks.

Google Maps
Before starting our journey through these parks we took some time up in Coeur d’Alene Idaho for some R&R. We fished, sailed, kayaked all over the lake, laid out on the dock and let ourselves slip into vacation mode. On our 14 hour drive up to Idaho I looked up in the sky and noticed we were close to a new moon. I thanked myself right then for bringing my tripod. I’ve always wanted to take a stab at astrophotography. So I waited till I thought it was dark enough and set up my tripod overlooking the lake and you can see the results below. After a few more days of living the good life it was time to hit the road.

Our first park we stopped in was Yellowstone, it’s difficult to describe because I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like being on another planet, with barren features and bubbling mud pits, the smell of sulphur in the air – you almost expect to see aliens come around the corner any minute. Then you go through the other side of the park, see the great plains and the herds of buffalo you suddenly get transported to a western flick and feel like a real American cowboy. It’s truly a spectacular place. The next park we visited was my personal favorite of this trip.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

The Grand Tetons are something to behold, as cliche as it is to say, you really have to see them to believe them. Most of my backpacking adventures have taken place in the Sierras of California which I thought were truly rugged, then I saw the Teton Mountains. They stick up like daggers in the sky surrounded by boulder fields. A place I plan on returning to with my climbing gear.

The Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons

Our last stop on our tour of the American West was Zion National Park. It’s such a beauty, also with a very unique layout. I’ve never driven through a park and felt like I was on a Disney ride. It has an immaculate two lane red road through the park. It takes you through a huge tunnel to reveal a magnificent canyon that you begin the winding decent into. All to end up with you finishing at the gift shop/ranger station. With the Covid-19 situation going on, most of the Park was limited but it was just the taste I needed to get me to come back and do some real exploring.

Zion National Park

When I go on a trip my main goal is to take in my experience to the fullest. A lot of times that means leaving my camera at home. If I am taking pictures I use my phone for personal moments. This trip was different, I wanted to challenge myself to do something that I don’t normally do, landscape photography. It’s not something I’ve had too much interest in to be honest unless that involved me going full Ansel Adams and using a large-format camera. This year has been different though. This virus has tested my patience again and again, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s taught me to take it slow, be kind to myself. If you spend enough time locked in a house during COVID one of two things is going to happen, either you’re going to be better to yourself, or you’re going to be miserable. Part of being better to myself is forcing myself to do things I normally wouldn’t do to break habits. So that’s how we ended up with this black and white series. I hope you enjoy them.

First Commercial Drone Spot

I’m excited to share with you my first commercial spot as a drone pilot I concepted filmed and sold to PathWater. As some of you know I recently got my done license. It’s important during these COVID-19 times to not be tone-deaf to the situation were all living in. With some simple messaging, easy camera movements, and a tranquil vibe it was my hope that this spot could give the viewer some calm, compared to some of the scarier spots I’ve been seeing on TV. I hope you enjoy it!

My New Drone Pilots License

Recently I got my Part 107 Drone Pilots License. This is a fancy way of saying is that I can fly drones and use the footage for commercial purposes legally. I’ve been holding off on buying a new drone since my last one was stolen when I was traveling in Laos earlier this year. I told myself that if I was going to buy a new toy it has to be something more than just for the joy of flight. I would have to justify this purchase as a tool I can use for my business. So I took this time during Covid-19 to knuckle down and study. I passed the test the first try! So naturally, it was time to make a purchase.

I’m loving flying again and the new drone is significantly better in every way from my first one! From the way it maneuvers, to how you can grade the footage. I’m in LOVE, and I’ve been flying it at every opportunity. Here is some test footage from the maiden flight that I strung together. It’s been so fun concentrating on motion again.


Just because the business has been slowed down should in no way mean that productivity is. I’m not the type of person that can be content with sitting around and waiting for this economy to put me back to work. The silver lining this COVID mess for me personally has been treating this time as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Some highlights so far: I have given new life to my Hasselblad 500 system with my very own medium format back. I love those cameras dearly and the glass that accompanies them. However, in the digital age, they have become more mantelpieces than the workhorses they once were. Now they have a new lease on life and so far I’ve been very impressed with the results of the h20 back. From the amazing to color to the graduation from light to dark this seventeen-year-old technology can still outperform all the DSLR’s on the market today which is mind-blowing. I’m a Phase One certified professional and have worked with most of the newest backs but something about using this old system has been extremely gratifying. It’s nowhere near as fast or as flexible of a file as the new ones, but I love working with it so much. The photos attached to this post were created with the Hasselblad/Phase back combo enjoy!

Another thing I’m excited about is that I’m officially going to be able to start offering drone services to my clients! I just passed the Part107 test and after a month of studying, the testing centers reopened and I’m officially a licensed pilot. I’ve always treated drone photography and video as a fun hobby while I was on vacation. I loved flying them but always very cautious about posting or promoting that work as I didn’t have a license and didn’t want to promote a false expectation to a client that I could do it for them commercially. Until now! I just purchased a more professional drone and I’m going to start making a reel as soon as it arrives. So excited!

Lending a Hand During Covid-19

During this Covid-19 crisis a lot of businesses have had to pivot the way they normally operate, myself included. Unfortunately, just in my neighborhood of Temescal Oakland, I’ve seen some of my favorite businesses shutter. However that doesn’t mean we should batten down the hatches, stick our heads in sand, and wait for this all to be over before we start doing something to help our fellow neighbors. I spent the first few weeks of the pandemic focusing just on myself and my business, before finally realizing I should be doing something to lend a helping hand doing what I know best. 

Roses’ Taproom is my favorite beer bar in Temescal, and they have had to pivot from being a normal bar to a canning and distributing operation for their amazing beer. I was excited when they got back to me saying they had the perfect project for me. They were releasing a new beer, and wanted a photo of their bar for the label. I’ve done architectural photography before, but I haven’t crafted my portfolios around it. I took this opportunity to sharpen my craft in a different way, and welcome any and all challenges.

Roses’ has a beautiful bar, completely custom-designed by one of the owners who used to be a professional woodworker. It also floods with amazing light in the afternoon right around when happy hour is usually taking place. With this winning combination, I stitched 14 photos together, corrected the lens distortion, and made this beauty.

Roses Taproom
Roses Taproom

“Wish You Were Here” Hazy IPA comes out May 8th and I highly suggest you go and try their amazing beer.

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