Long Days

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 100-400 mm, ISO 200, f/8 @ 1/400 sec.

After three weeks of sunrises before 6am, sunsets around 9pm, and scouting or hiking in between, I am tired. I took a few days with less photography and recouped. I napped, went to the library, ate in town and hung out by the campfire with my neighbors – two teachers from Boise. The highlight of this area was definitely Luna Sea Fish House. Rod and I ate there last year and it is still the best clam chowder so far and the halibut and chips are outstanding.

View from the top of Cape Perpetua

For these three nights camping, I did not have a campground chosen, the one I wanted didn’t take reservations, so I lived on the wild side. I ended up at a different campground then I had planned and it was better. Leaving it to fate worked. Cape Perpetua forest service campground is lovely with a creek next to every camp spot and endless trails around. I hiked the St. Perpetua trail to the top of the Cape, a 600ft elevation climb in under 2 miles. With clear skies, the view was astounding. I also hiked down to the tide pools and photographed crashing waves. At the end of the day, my phone said I hiked 77 stories and completed almost 20,000 steps. No wonder I was tired!

Cape Perpetua

This area is known for its beauty and crashing waves. It does not disappoint. Although I was tired part of my stay, I enjoyed the tide pools, crashing waves and patterns in water. There are never enough sea star images! Every sea star has a personality, whether they are “cuddling” with others or look like they are “dancing,” I smile at the sight of them. Low tide was a negative tide early in the morning, so very few people were there, it was an ideal time to photograph them.

Messages in Water

This water is almost whimsical. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 400, f/6.3 @ 1/4000 sec.

At one point, my husband Rod asked me, “Why photograph water? What interests you?” I have thought about this a lot. As I capture images of water, I love how emotions can be expressed in water from raging mad to serene and calm. As I came to this conclusion I started a new book I purchased a year or more ago and haven’t had time to read, The Hidden Messages in Water. In the book, Masaru Emoto, studied water crystals and how they formed differently depending on their environments. When the water was subject to classical music beautiful crystals emerged, when subject to hate words no crystals formed. Then, he makes the relationship to humans being 70% water. No wonder water makes me feel emotions. After starting this book, I recognize water energizes me and brings me different emotions. It sure is fun photographing.

This crashing wave causes concern. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 200, f/5, 1/500 sec.

Teardrop Travels

My Renegade and teardrop trailer in Yachats, Oregon.

So many people are curious about the teardrop, so I thought I would share it with you. This bed on wheels has a queen mattress, battery with 10 volt and 110, stores camp chairs and REI folding table, with a back hatch to cook out of (or I cook at any given picnic table). We have a tray on the front of the teardrop that holds our “bear proof” cooler and with two bags of block ice, I keep my items cold for 5+ days. Not to mention, I can make a U-turn and if my parking is so dismal, I can disconnect and move it myself since it only weighs 1000 pounds! I keep one box of food in my car, mostly nuts, easy to boil Indian food and rice and Austin’s suggestion – mashed potatoes. I often eat rice cakes with almond butter and honey for breakfast or settle for a Lara bar.

Bottle wine is better than box wine.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 100-400 mm, ISO 400, f/8 @ 1/1000 sec.

One of my past conversations with my sister was about wine. Not an uncommon conversation between us and when I told her I was buying a box of wine to have on the trip because the box would store better and easier when drinking from my plastic tumbler. She said, “You are in Oregon get a bottle of Oregon wine.” So, I bought both. And without a doubt, bottle wine is better than box wine. Now, I need to find a wine glass to replace the tumbler.

For the Phototogs!

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/16, 1/320 sec.

One thing I have been serious about is cleaning my gear daily. Wiping it down with a damp cloth to remove sea spray and using a blower and wipes on the lenses. The sea spray gets everywhere! If I am not wearing my gear, I keep it in the car, covered or in a tub. After a few days rest and a shower, I am ready to tackle on Newport, Oregon.


Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 200, f/22.0 @ 4 sec., with circular polarizing filter.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 200, f/13 @ 2.5 sec., with circular polarizing filter.

The whole reason I chose the next campground because it was located near Florence, OR. Last summer, Rod and I hiked Sweet Creek Falls and I wanted to go back. I did have my camera and tripod with me last summer, but we arrived after the sun was hitting the creek, so the images were not what I wanted. So, I planned a trip back. And not just one, but two. I went both mornings while camped outside of Florence. It was a 45-minute drive to the creek and I was the first one there, I had the place to myself for at least an hour. Once the sun hit the trees above, the reflections hit the water below and it was magic. This hike has many different waterfalls, some larger and some smaller. All exquisite!

Jessie M Honeyman State Park campground was much busier than any other I stayed in. Sand dunes are attached to the campground and many families were there with the four-wheeled sand vehicles making it much busier and louder. I was happy to spend more time at Sweek Creek Falls!

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 400, f/8 @ 1/5 sec.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 400, f/18 @ 2.5 sec., with circular polarizing filter.

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 400, f/16 @ 4 sec., with circular polarizing filter.

Florence is a nice little town along the river and I continued my taste testing of clam chowder soup here as well. This time I went to Mo’s – the Oregon favorite. It was good, better than any so far.

Humbug Mountain

12-100mm, ISO 400, f/14 @ 1/15 sec.

7-14mm, ISO 400, f/16 @ 1/500 sec.

Arriving at Humbug Mountain State Park on July 4th was great. I went to Port Orford (nearest town) before I checked into my campground to preview the holiday festivities. Scouting for the fireworks launch was easy, so I ate fish and chips at a local restaurant. It was ok, but not Taco Temple from Morro Bay (see Morro Bay blog post). Once settled at camp, I walked to the beach, a short .25 mile walk and mostly empty. Although it was cloudy, the patterns in the clouds were stunning. I ran back to camp for my wide-angle lens (7-14mm). The spot I chose to photograph was the intersection of Brush Creek flowing into the ocean. The lines from the creek and the clouds intrigued me and I visualized this image in black and white.

As evening drew near, I faced the decision to drive the 7 miles to town for fireworks, or to catch sunset at the beach. In the previous two hours, the clouds were breaking and I suspected a decent sunset was in the making, so I stayed. The sunset did not disappoint. What stunning colors, reflecting off the sand and lighting up the clouds. This beat fireworks any day!

Too Talkative

Camp at Humbug Mountain

It is not uncommon for campers to inquire about my teardrop trailer. Several are intrigued with the size and ease of use. So, I wasn’t surprised when a woman approached me at Humbug. What did surprise me was the look she got on her face after I talked to her for a while. The look was, “please stop talking and let me go!” I realized after she left I have not talked to anyone for some time and I was talking her ear off. I probably gave her my life story…yes, I did. Maybe if I found a “Wilson” like Tom Hanks had in that movie – something to converse with so I don’t bore future campers.

Ho Humbug!

iPhone photo

My last full day, I hiked Humbug Mountain! This trail was 6 miles round trip, summit with an elevation of 1748 feet (I was at sea level) and views were spectacular. The morning was cloudy which meant fog at the top and the overgrown trail with moist ferns soaked my pant legs. The view at the top was uneventful and I was drenched. The trail was a loop and I went up the moister western side with one small ocean view. The drier east side on my descent included many flowers and even a snail. Both trails included a lot of

over/under fallen trees. A highlight of my trip so far.

Heading north from Humbug, I spent the day in Bandon (always a favorite town) and then arrived at Sunset Bay Campground outside of Coos Bay. Although I am staying 3-4 days in each location, I wish I was staying a week in every spot. There is so much to see, photograph and enjoy. The best part of Sunset Bay Campground – it is only a 5-mile drive to get to two more state parks, all part of Cape Arago. From crashing waves, whale & seal watching to rose gardens and sunsets, this 5-mile stretch has it all.

60mm macro, ISO 200, f/5.6 @ 1/125 sec.

The highlight for me at this location was Shore Acres State Park Gardens. It was cloudy and the rose garden was unbelievable. Every time I see beautiful rose gardens, I think of my mom; she loved her roses. Luckily for me the sprinklers just sprayed the garden so I followed the sprinklers to capture water drops on the plants. At least I can say I did not place the water. I shot at the gardens until my batteries ran out!

60mm macro, focus stacked, ISO 200, f/4 @ 1/30 sec.

Back at camp, another camper stopped by to say I had the “other” teardrop trailer in the campground. We chatted for a while and he invited me to their camp. I did stop in and met his wife, parents and their teardrop. Their trailer is a bit fancier than ours with many built in shelves and many amenities. It was a great happy hour visit and I discovered he knows a rock climber we know! Isn’t it funny, traveling so far and someone else knows Frank Sanders! Another evening, I ventured into the closest town of Charleston to check out the harbor and watched several sea lions fishing.

For the Photogs!

12-100mm, ISO 200, f/20 @ 1/80 sec.

Since sunset is averaging at 9pm, I eat dinner around 4:30pm and then head out. I haven’t shot a lot of sunrises mostly because it takes time for the sun to hit the coast. There will be a sunrise or two in the future though (or more). My “go to” lens is still the 12-100mm (24-200 full frame equivalent) unless I am capturing macro objects. Like the Shore Acres State Park Gardens, I use the 60 mm (120 mm) or my 40-150mm lens for close-up images.

The Sunset Bay photo was captured at ISO 200, f/20, 1/80 sec, and if you look closely, you will see a silhouette of a person next to the trees! Of course, I did not see the person until I downloaded my photos.

Driving Details

I am currently at 2049 miles driven with an average 21.2 mpg for the first 2.5 weeks. My internet service is minimal as I move up the coast and my next location is only 40 miles north! I scouted that area last summer and am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

12-100mm, ISO 400, f/5.0 @ 1/2000 sec.

12-100mm, ISO 400, f/4.0 @ 1/60 sec.

Fighting My Fears

Patrick’s Point

Evening Fog at Patrick’s Point

Some locations are so magical you are drawn to return. That is the case with Patrick’s Point State Park, CA. Being my third or fourth time at this campground I just can’t get enough. When I routed my trip, I intentionally planned a night to stay at this memorable spot. Our family discovered this spot a few years ago when Austin toured Humboldt State University in Arcata. He didn’t choose the school, but we still love the location. The camp sites are great, there are showers and beautiful beach access to Agate Beach. The reward for the steep path is this beautiful beach. Morning and evening fog is common and the agates are plentiful. This year, I came prepared and carried my full pack of lenses ready to shoot anything my heart desired. I started photographing waves. Tide was coming in and the crashing waves were mesmerizing. I spotted two loudly chirping, juvenile peregrine falcons. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what they were at first, so once I captured a good image, I sent it to a friend to identify (thanks Mary!) What I thought was a mamma bird with the juveniles was really a pair of turkey vultures. The falcons appeared nervous even though they aren’t on the food chain for vultures. One of the vultures did “fly by” very closely and maybe it was to intimidate these young falcons.


When one of the falcons landed on a snag not too far away, I slowly inched closer taking a few shots along the way. I stopped easily 10 times before I feared going any closer. It appeared I made it nervous. It’s head twitched more, it defecated and I knew it would fly off soon. I zoomed my Olympus 40-150mm lens wider to allow room for the wings in the frame and sure enough, it took off. Still using burst mode, I got off four shots that were sharp but it flew toward me FAST and I couldn’t keep up with it’s movement. It was almost dusk, so, I switched back to capture images of the crashing waves. I took several with fast shutter speeds and as it darkened, I switched to slow shutter speeds.

Solo Footprints

The next morning, I returned to the empty beach. Imagine having a beautiful beach to yourself. In the past, I have photographed many banana slugs on my way to the beach, but there were very few that morning. So, I enjoyed waves and the solitude before returning to camp for breakfast and packing to move on up the coast.

Trees of Mystery

Hidden Beach

On many occasions, we have stopped at the tourist attraction, Trees of Mystery in Orick, CA. Mostly we stopped to use the restroom, look at all the touristy things and buy fudge. Never have we toured the trees. And I didn’t this time either. But, I found a great trail to Hidden Beach across the street from the Trees of Mystery. I read about it before my trip and despite the trail feeling secluded, I ventured to the beach. It was a ½ mile hike to the beach on a closed in “rainforesty” trail. I set up my running app so I could follow the distance. This is not a trail I would normally do on my own. But I read many reviews, carried my pepper spray and hiked FAST. After .10 miles, I told myself, “Before long, you will be at .20 miles” Then at .15 miles, I told myself, “only .10 more and you will be halfway.” And that continued until I arrived at the beach, which really took .60 miles! This beach was amazing. Driftwood covered the edges of this pristine beach and there was one other family enjoying the tranquility as well. I spent an hour taking it in and then returned to the teardrop. On the return hike, I only looked at my running app twice. Progress.

Me at Hidden Beach


Finally, I made it to Oregon! Our family has driven through many of these southern Oregon towns but never had time to stop. So, I stopped at Harris Beach State Park just north of Brookings and spent three days. What a gem. Oregon State Parks are tremendous with clean bathrooms, free showers and great prices. Not to mention gasoline for my car just dropped .60 a gallon when I entered the state. I arrived just in time to check in and parking has been mastered! I backed in superbly to this spot, I took a photo and sent it home! My skills have progressed

Harris Beach State Park

and I back in the trailer like I know what I am doing.

I have come to realize I can’t see or do it all. So, I am focusing on the spots around me and only venturing further off the path if it seems worth it for my study of water or my own personal interests. The beach was .35 miles from my camp spot and I spent a lot of time there. Tidepools and crashing waves kept me very busy. Clouds and fog settled in each night, so I didn’t go out for sunset, but after two weeks in, I have mastered campfire abilities and enjoy the

introspective time to myself.

Beating Fear

At the trailhead of the Shrader Old-Growth Forest

In addition to researching online, I bought the book, The Photographer’s Guide to the Oregon Coast. This book has every (well, maybe not) photogenic spot along the coast from North to South. Of course, I am traveling South to North, so I am reading the book backwards. I read about a great trail 13-miles inland from Gold Beach, just 40 miles from my camp. The Shrader Old-Growth Trail is a 1-mile loop of old-growth Douglas firs, Port Orford cedars, a stream and ferns. It sounded like a great trail and a nice change of pace. So, I went. The anxiety that overcame me at the trailhead was alarming. With not a car in sight for the past 13 miles, I feared the isolated trail. Immediately, I thought of my sister-in-law that hikes avidly and always chooses the trails most frequented. This was not that trail. My heart raced and breathing was difficult. I tried relaxing by photographing a few flowers at the trailhead and walked 25 feet down the trail. I just couldn’t keep going. Fear got the best of me. I returned to camp and my campfire.

Shrader Old Growth Forest

After a lot of soul searching, a new day, and counseling by my husband and sister I am proud to say I returned to the Shrader Old-Growth trail. I told myself, “a 1-mile loop should not be difficult.” I completed the loop and even took a few photos along the way. Of course, I did hear every leaf falling, branch breaking and trickle of water from the stream. But, I finished the hike. It took several hours to feel relieved and proud of my accomplishment. As a matter of fact, at first, I thought I lost 10-years of my life, but now I am ready to take on the next challenge.

Stay tuned for Fourth of July at Humbug Mountain State Park.

Bodega Bay

Edith-E boat

Edith-E. OMDIMII, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1250

After leaving the San Jose area and visiting with family, I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge heading for Bodega Bay. Outside Petaluma, there is a boat on dry land that has seen better days. We stopped by it last year, so I made this my lunch spot. The Edith-E is not any more seaworthy.

When I was young, my parents drove up Highway 1 and I remembered them talking about Bodega Bay. Those memories placed Bodega Bay on my map. Although we have traveled up to the Redwoods several times in my 26 married years, we haven’t driven this stretch of Highway 1. My campground was in Sonoma Coast State Park – Bodega Dunes. Most of the camp spots were individual alcoves. Very cozy. Except for what I am confident are ticks. I found one walking on my arm and it didn’t live another day. Backing in at this campground was successful. I think the practice with my Uncle Ron in the San Jose area did the trick, I’m ready to do it again – tomorrow.

View from Kortum Trail. OMDIMII, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/16, 1/60

I arrived early afternoon, so as I often do in new towns, I went to the tourist center. This lovely woman has lived here most of her life and was more than willing to highlight “must see” areas on a map for me. The Sonoma Coast State Park includes 16 beaches, some which are only accessible at low tide plus many hiking trails and vistas. I headed out quickly, hiking a few miles along the Kortum trail scouting for a good sunset location. This time of year, it is common for fog/marine layer to settle in morning and night, so I tend to look at shooting early

photo of sunset

Sunset captured with iPhone

evening light as much as sunset. With the sun setting at 8:30pm, I found my spot at 7pm. When the sun finally set, I went to a different pullout to watch. Of course, when the light was spectacular, I pulled out my iPhone for a quick snap. Sometimes, I get so engrossed in capturing the image I forget to enjoy the moment. So, I enjoyed. When I got back to camp, I made a campfire and relaxed.

Shell Beach

Starfish worth falling for! OMDIMII, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/125, 12-100mm

Low tide was at 7:30am at Shell Beach, a wonderful location with a short steep hike to the shoreline. My camera gear included two camera bodies (Olympus OMD1MII and OMD5MII) with my 12-100mm and 60mm macro lenses. I did have more lenses in my pack, but these are my “heavy lifters.” This time, I even took a black matboard with me in case the tide pools were too reflective. The board would be used to shade the pool. As soon as I stepped on the beach I saw a handful of people searching tidepools and heard one say, “There’s a starfish.” I got so excited, I almost ran over there. This was a negative low tide, so more slimy rocks were exposed than normal, so I am sure you are not surprised when I slipped and fell on my back like an upside down turtle. The only damage was to my pride. For the next 2 hours, I photographed starfish. At one point, I saw movement in the rocks, furry movement. It was a momma sea otter and 3 of her young. They were avoiding me, but I got one shot off without moving closer to worry them.

photo of otter

Sea Otter. OMD5MII, 60mm macro, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/80 sec

After Shell Beach, I took a short drive to Bodega Head. Again, many great trails to hike with stunning views and grabbed fresh halibut tacos from a local restaurant. They were good. The highlight of my day was walking to the beach from my campground. I saw on the map there were several beach access spots, so I went for a look. After hiking .3 miles on a deep sandy trail, seeing a road surprised me. I thought the trail would lead me to the beach. So, I walked the road. There were very few cars and only one other pedestrian on this road. I did confirm that I was heading in the right way to the beach though. Little did I know it would be another .7 miles walking the road before I would arrive at the beach! If I had known that, I might have driven. The beach was worth it and I walked awhile and got my feet wet. All in all, a great day with many hikes and a little down time too. Next blog will be from Oregon.


Big Sur/Asilomar Beach

Plaskett Creek
Big Sur in sunlight

Big Sur in sunlight

After leaving Morro Bay, I drove along internet-less Highway 1 to Plaskett Creek Campground. Since the road is not open between Morro Bay and Big Sur, I drove around the closure for 4.5 hours to end up 60 miles north of Morro Bay. The beautiful drive along Big Sur gave me a great chance to scout and pull off at several vistas while it was sunny. One regret… next time, when I pull off at a vista I will take more than just iPhone photos instead of thinking, “Oh, I will come back tomorrow.” I did go back the next day, but the fog/marine layer never lifted and the images were completely different. So, here is an iPhone shot of the Pacific Coast at Big Sur and one of the marine layer/fog. My campground was perfect. Plaskett Creek Campground is a secluded spot with Sand Dollar Beach walking distance away, fire rings and a nice slanted driveway to back into. I did make a campfire but that was odd, with all the fire restrictions in Flagstaff and Arizona.

Big Sur in Fog

Big Sur in Fog

Parking in Carmel

90 degree parking job with assistance!

I spent one night at an RV park in Carmel. That was fancy. But the worst parking so far. My dad told me if I couldn’t back in, relax and drive around the park and try again. Well, after twice around the park, an employee finally helped direct me to back in. In my defense, it was a 90 degree turn I had to back the trailer into. Current backing up tally – 2 and 1 (one fail).


The 24 hours I spent in Carmel was mostly at Asilomar State Beach. What a great place. I stayed for sunset and returned early in the morning for low tide. A sea star caught my eye and while scrambling to it, I had visions of me getting wet, but I stayed dry and got the shot. The kelp intrigued me as well.

Sea star

Sea star

Some days, I am out “shooting” until after sunset, so I make simple meals. So far, I have added chicken to cup o noodles and made my own potato and veggie soup. I have not made Austin’s famous mashed potato and jerky burritos – nor will I! Lunches are often turkey jerky, fruit and a boiled egg. Keeping it simple allows for more time shooting. I’m off to civilization for a few days visiting family in Los Gatos and catching up on photo processing. Then I will be on the road for three weeks by myself.

Morro Bay

photo of sunset

Morro Bay at sunset

For four days, I toured around Morro Bay with my good friend Joni. It was a perfect transition for my solo trip.

Morro Bay is a relatively quiet area with so much to see. This is my second time there and I chose to start my trip here (even before Joni decided to join me) because it was familiar territory. For some reason, I feel safer in places I have been before. I know, that is a false sense of security. My favorite location was Montano de Oro State Park. The Bluff Trail came highly recommended in our research and it didn’t disappoint. Many of these coastal locations warn users about poison oak, I googled a photo and saved it to my phone before the trip. Shortly after starting the walk, I mentioned poison oak to Joni and -almost instantly she spotted a three-leaf vine. I pulled up my google image of poison

Joni after saving her phone.

oak-it was a perfect match. Check. One item off my list of what to identify, now, I can avoid it.photo of poison oak

We continued along the bluff trail taking every side trail possible to take in the rugged view of the Pacific Ocean. I was scouting for sunset shots when I heard a scream. Looking at Joni (where the sound came from) sitting on a ledge, I thought she was calling to the cormorants. Then she exclaimed, “I dropped my phone!” That is one of those stomach dropping moments. She pointed down from the ledge to a 25+ foot drop to where it had fallen (not visible) and asked, “Do you think I can get down there?” It was a good 25+ foot scramble down to the area but the route looked doable. So, she did. Safely, she scooted on her butt and found her phone. It landed face down on rock and did not appear to be damaged. Good ole iPhone! Now for the difficult scramble up but not before I took a few snapshots of her! She scrambled up like a pro and had her phone. I have to admit, while she was scrambling for her phone, I thought, this is when people call 911 to be rescued… I’m glad we didn’t have to call.

photo of rocky shore

Bluff Trail

We spent hours walking Bluff trail and I found a spot to photograph sunset. After hiking many miles, we came across a ground squirrel in our path. He was running ahead of us until he stopped in his tracks. There was a stick in front of him…wait, no, it was a rattlesnake. I live in Arizona and never see rattlesnakes, but come to the California coast and we found one on our second day. I grabbed a photo while he scurried off the trail. We took a short break in the car for snacks and then returned to the tidepools of Corallina Cove for low tide.

photo of crabI could have spent hours at the tide pools. Even more than the images, listening to the waves crash with the incoming tide and watching the ebb and flow of the pools mesmerized me. Photographing sea urchins, barnacles and a crab kept me entertained for two hours. When photographing the crab, I broke all the rules and hand held my 60mm macro lens with my arms extended to position the camera closer to the crab. Extending my arms away from the body increases the chance of camera shake which could result in blur, but when I moved my body closer to the crab, he hid in his hole. The only

photo of heron

Heron at Sunset

choice was to extend my arms and use the LCD panel to frame my shot. It worked.

This was my first photo journey with a non-photographer. Most of my photo journeys are with my husband who has an art degree, or my good friend and fellow photog, Vicki Uthe. I can stop anywhere for photos and they join me or entertain themselves in the nature that surrounds them. I wasn’t sure how it would go with Joni, but she was prepared. When she remembered her book and a blanket, she found a nice spot to relax, or she found a rock to sit on and enjoyed the view. I was free to photograph to my hearts content. During the rest of our camping in Morro Bay, we walked the boardwalk of the Elfin forest to view pygmy oak trees, ate spectacular Mexican food at Taco Temple…twice. With food that good, you may as well go twice. Took a day road trip to Monterey to visit Joni’s friend. This prompted another great meal but instead of Mexican, we had clam chowder and fresh fish. Yum. Here is the tally on backing in my teardrop trailer – I am 2 and 0, meaning I’ve had 2 successful back-ins and didn’t have to drive around the campground for a new attempt at backing up.


Hit the Road

After much anticipation, I left my wonderful home, spouse and kids for a two-and-a-half-month road trip to photograph water as part of my sabbatical project. It was exciting and a little scary to leave the relaxation of my home and family this morning for such a long trip. As I drove today I reflected on many conversations from the past week regarding my trip. I got questions like, “Why take such a long trip away from your family? Aren’t you afraid to go alone?” My answer is simply, “I need to do this.” Don’t get my wrong, I would love it if they could join me, but, they have work and school, so I am traveling solo.

Answering the question “Aren’t you afraid to go alone?” is a harder question to answer. Twenty years ago, I would not have considered taking a trip like this alone. When I was sixteen years old, my mom and I were kidnapped at gunpoint from a Phoenix mall. The ordeal could have been much worse; we were lucky. As a result, I spent many years fearful of being alone whether it was hiking or traveling and allowed that ordeal to limit my life experiences. Since then, I found a new awareness of my surroundings and only in the past few years taken solo trips scouting for new photo workshops. So, back to my answer, “I need to do this.” This trip, I will experience it all while overcoming those fears that limited previous travels. Now if I can just master backing up the trailer.

Photo Scouting

Scouting for a Photo Trip?

San Diego Harbor

Recently I spent several days in San Diego scouting for a future Women’s Retreat photo workshop. As many of you are making summer plans, I thought you might like to know how I scout and prepare for a trip.

First is research. Using websites like Facebook, Instagram, Google images and Pinterest is a great start. I often search general locations like, La Jolla to see imagery from the area. By clicking on a specific image and reading the metadata, I learn times of day (sunrise or sunset) and exact locations (Hospital Reef). Now I can search on even more specific locations. Local resources are even better than searching online. If you know someone or reach out to a Facebook group in the area it’s great to get the local perspective. When I was in San Diego, I contacted a few of my students from the area. They told me of a few areas I had not discovered. Throughout the day, I talk to many locals and ask them about their favorite spots to view a sunrise or sunset. If they have lived there a long time, their information is valuable.

One Note screen shot

One Note allows me to gather all my scouting information.

Once I gather the information, I need to put it all in one spot, so I use Microsoft Note. Microsoft Note is a great application on a computer and mobile device to compile this information. Tabs organize your notes so links, images, and text can be added to each location tab. It saves instantly and is always at my fingertips. A few other apps that are crucial to my scouting include the following.

Scouting Applications

Shelter Island Sunrise from scouting

Shelter Island Sunrise

Photo Pills is a mobile app with endless options. I use this app mostly for planning trips and viewing the direction of sun at different times of year. Sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset times are listed and with the augmented reality mode, you can raise the phone in the sky and see the path the sun or moon will take. Locations are saved for planning purposes for a later date. For example, in the middle of the day, I visited Shelter Island. I loved the view across the bay with boats in the foreground. I pulled up PhotoPills and identified the direction the sun would rise the next morning. When the next morning came, I was ready for the sunrise photo.

Scouting at Hospital Reef

Hospital Reef, La Jolla, CA

Tides mobile application is great for knowing high and low tides. This app is a necessity if traveling near the ocean. The application identifies the time of day when tide is highest and lowest and to what significance. For instance, a negative tide is best when viewing tide pools, so in this app you can pick the day and time for the best negative tide. The app includes temperatures, cloud cover and wind speeds and direction. I used this app to time a low tide at Hospital Reef in La Jolla.

So, next time you are heading on a trip for photography, spend a little time scouting. Your images will thank you!