That's right. In less than a week, we went from one extreme to the other: big city to national park. Before we headed out of San Francisco, we spent the day with my good friend and digital artist Bert Monroy. Bert is an incredible hyper-realistic digital painter (be sure to check out his latest "Times Square" piece) and all-around wonderful guy. We spent some time hanging chatting in his studio, and then he gave us a little tour of Berkeley, CA, as Karen had never been to the area before. She was excited to see the Pixar headquarters, and I was happy to visit the original Peet's Coffee, with mini museum and all. Later, we went to an amazing Thai place for dinner. If you've never been to the Berkeley area, there are lots of great restaurants worth checking out!
We were also able to re-connect with my friend Joe Reifer, who is a photographer who specializes in night photography. Our paths also crossed a few weeks ago during the Night Photography Festival at Mono Lake. I was happy to find that Joe is also a beer lover, so we spent some time catching up in a fun little beer bar in Berkely.
Karen's shot at Lower Yosemite Falls. You almost need something in there for scale!
We finally bid farewell to San Francisco and headed straight for Yosemite National Park. It might be hard to believe, but up until this past week, I had never been to Yosemite! We parked in a campground about 40 minutes from the entrance to the park, and have been driving in to explore every day.
Karen had been to the park before, so she's been navigating and the first place she took me to was Yosemite Falls. This giant double waterfall towers over the valley. It's so big that it's actually hard to see both the upper and lower falls at the same time. We did the short hike to the lower falls and spent some time shooting there. The size of this waterfall is so immense, that you almost have to have something in the shot for scale, as Karen did in the photo above.
El Capitan Meadow was also a great place to photograph from. Both sides of the road were picturesque and that giant hunk of granite that is El Capitan was just begging to be photographed. The hike to Bridalveil Falls was nice, though we both enjoyed shooting this one more from a distance. And then, of course, there's Half Dome. There are tons of places to shoot this from, and we've only explored a few so far.
What's unfortunate is that there is a lightning fire that started a few days ago that's still burning pretty strong up there. That makes for some hazy images, and so far, the images of Half Dome have suffered the most. It was, however, interesting to drive through the forest and see the burning embers along the roadway.
Here, I'm dwarfed by the giant sequoia tree in Tuolumne Grove.
The giant sequoia trees are a big attraction at Yosemite and we wanted to check them out. We did the hike to Tuolumne Grove, where a bunch of these big boys reside. They were fun to photograph and even more fun to stand next to. They make you feel like you're in that "Honey, I shrunk the kids" movie.
Me, Karen and Russ at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite.
While we were in the area, we got to meet up with a fellow bus nut! Our friend Russell Long lives near the park and we met for brunch at the Ahwahnee hotel. Russell even surprised me with the ORIGINAL spec sheets for my 1963 vintage bus. Awesome! We spent a lot of time chatting and then Russ tipped us off to a nice shooting spot called Fern Springs. We spent a while shooting this little waterfall before moving on.
We attempted some night photography, shooting car streaks and the full moon up by Glacier Point. This was mere hours ago, so hopefully the results of that should be posted soon!
For now, the plan is to spend a few more days shooting in Yosemite, and then book it to Reno, where Karen and I both have to fly out.
More to come…