Friday, May 6, 2016

California In Photographs From A To Z

Today is my last full day in California. I've got a lot going on, juggling all sorts of things and working hard to get this move done. Soon I'll be in my new home in Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City.

I wanted to say a special goodbye to California, my home since 2011. It's been good living here. It's been good photographing here. I'll miss California, for sure! I hope that life allows me to visit from time-to-time. I'm looking forward to the many opportunities that await.

For my tribute to California I decided to go through the alphabet, beginning with A and ending with Z. I found a photograph of mine that fits each letter. Some of these are locations and some are subjects (and some might be stretches, as some letters are difficult to match an image to). I thought this might be a fun exercise--fun for me to put this together and fun for you to view it.

These are not necessarily my best photographs. Some might be. Many of my best photographs were not included because either 1) a different photograph was selected for the letter that it would be represent and 2) I only included color images in this article and not monochrome (a whole lot of my favorites are black-and-white).

Without further introduction, here's California in photographs from A to Z.

A - Anaheim
Colorful Mickey Mouse - Anaheim, California
I've photographed Disneyland more than once, and there are tons of picture opportunities there. It's colorful and whimsical. It's a fun place to have a camera. But it's far from the only place in Anaheim that's worth capturing. This is one place that I wish I'd visited once more before my move.

B - Barstow
Flare & Flag - Barstow, California
A dusty desert town along old Route 66, Barstow seems to always provide photographic opportunities. It's far from the nicest town in California (and a place to avoid in the blistering summer months), but it's certainly interesting. And interesting means the chance of creating interesting images.

C - Cambria

Red Chairs - Cambria, California
The quaint coastal town of Cambria is my favorite place in all of California. It is a must-see! It's photogenic, it's charming, it's the perfect outpost for exploring the Central Coast. I really love Cambria! I've captured some of my favorite images there, and I hope to return sometime in the not-too-distant future.

D - Daisies
Daisy At The Wood Fence - Cambria, California
I don't think that I'd ever photographed a daisy until I moved to California. Since then I've photographed dozens of them--they seem to be everywhere! Flowers are not my primary photographic interest, but it can be hard to resist pointing my camera at a beautiful and delicate blossom when I encounter one.

E - Energy
A Bakersfield Sunset - Bakersfield, California
California is one of the top energy producing states in America, and a big chunk of that is oil. There's also hydro and wind and solar and such, but oil is what's big. In fact, California produces more oil than Alaska. So it's no surprise that it has made its way into my pictures.

F - Farming
Red Field, Green Field - Tehachapi, California
One thing that California might be best known for, aside from endless summer sun, is agriculture. So much produce is grown in this state, on small family farms and large corporate farms. In a way, California feeds America. And on a few occasions I have photographed it.

G - Giant Trees
Sequoia Forest - Yosemite National Park, California
The largest trees in the world (by total volume) are the Giant Sequoia found in California. These trees are massive! They're so big it's extraordinarily difficult to capture an entire tree in just one frame. Instead of capturing an entire tree, I framed a small section of a grove in the image above.

H - Hearst Castle
The Hearst Castle - San Simeon, California
William Hearst built the massive Hearst Castle complex on a hill near San Simeon along California's beautiful Central Coast. He began construction (along with architect Julia Morgan) in 1919 and continued building until his death in 1951, leaving some parts unfinished. Many celebrities visited Hearst Castle in the '20's, '30's and '40's. Now it is a part of the California State Park system, with tours open to the public. 

I - Ice Plant
Ice Plant Blossom - Cambria, California
There are well over 100 different verities of ice plants in the world, and many don't look anything like each other. The type that I'm referring to here is called Sesuvium Portulacastrum, or sometimes Sea Purslane. It grows along the Pacific Coast, and even inland in some places. If you go the beach you are sure to find it. It has large pink or purple blossoms. In the Philippines people pickle the leaves and eat them. 

J - Joshua Trees
Joshua Tree Morning - Rosamond, California
Joshua Trees are not technically trees, but a plant that's a part of the Yucca family. They look like a cross between a tree and a cactus. They're mostly found in the Mojave Desert in California, and sparingly in a few other southwestern states. They can turn a boring desert landscape into something more interesting.

K - Kelp
Kelp Close Up - Avila Beach, California
Kelp, a type of seaweed, washes up constantly on California's vast beaches. Many beach-goers find it unsightly, there are kids who like to play with it, and some sushi fans might even want to eat it. But I like to photograph it.

L - Lenticular Clouds
Lenticular Sunset - Cantil, California
Some people mistake these for UFO's, but Lenticular Clouds are not out-of-this-world. They're created when mountains and valleys disrupt the airflow. In central and southern California I see them often, perhaps because of all the mountain ranges here.

M - McWay Falls
McWay Falls View - Big Sur, California
Along the Pacific Coast Highway in central California, just a little south of Big Sur, is one of the coolest places in the state. McWay Falls drops 80' to empty the McWay Creek onto a sandy beach below. It's all in a scenic cove that's inaccessible. There's a trail that leads from the highway to an overlook where the waterfall can be seen and photographed.

N - Newberry Springs
Lazy River Bend - Newberry Springs, California
You might pass Newberry Springs on Interstate 15 and Interstate 40 just a little east of Barstow and not even notice. It's a lonely desert town that's seen much better days. But once upon a time it was home to one of the very first modern waterparks in the country, Lake Dolores (later Rock-A-Hoola). It was a vacation destination! However, the old waterpark now sits completely abandoned, slowly succumbing to vandals and the harsh desert environment.

O - Ocean
Pacific Sunset - Morro Bay, California
There are only two more states with more coastline than California (Alaska and Florida, in case you are wondering), so it's no surprise that I've photographed the Pacific Ocean many times over. It's incredibly vast and hypnotic to watch, and the absolute best place to catch a sunset. It's a big part of what makes California special.

P - Pasadena
Colorful Umbrellas - Pasadena, California 
There are two things that I think of when I hear Pasadena: the Tournament of Roses Parade each New Years Day and massive flea markets. Both offer fantastic photographic opportunities--some of my favorite images were captured in Pasadena--and that's the reason I've included it here.

Q - Quiet
Sleep Silent Child - Valencia, California
My youngest son, Joshua, who is now two-years-old, was born in California. When he was an infant his sleep was incredibly quiet and peaceful. And everyone else was quiet because they didn't want to wake him. It was a time that I'll always remember and cherish. It's also a stark contrast to now--with a toddler, everything is loud and rambunctious.

R - Roses
Red Rose Sky - Bakersfield, California
Roses are a lot of people's favorite flower, and so I encounter them often. They're found in commercial and residential landscaping, as well as in homes and stores. With delicate and silky pedals and a vibrant variety of colors it's easy to understand why it's a favorite, and why I've photographed them on numerous occasions.

S - Sun Rays   
Rays of Hope - Stallion Springs, California
California is known as "The Golden State" and for good reason. The gold sun, which seems to shine endlessly, produces fantastic sunrises and sunsets here. The sun's rays reach out like arms stretched across the sky. And I have pointed my camera towards the sun to capture it.

T - Tehachapi
Sunrise At The Wind Farm - Tehachapi, California
My hometown while living in California has been the mountain community of Tehachapi in the middle of the state. It's a quaint place with local shops and fresh air. And it's best known for two things: railroads and wind turbines. I'll miss it.

U - Urban Exploration
Oh, Well - Boron, California
Before moving to California I had never heard of the "urban exploration" genre of photography, which is going inside of and capturing images of abandoned buildings. But I soon discovered that I love doing it. I have a fascination with the dilapidated, a curiosity as to why these places ended up like they did, and a wonderment of what it was like before abandonment.

V - Vistas
Gold Above The Valley - Stallion Springs, California
With all of the hills, mountains and valleys in California, there are tons and tons and tons of great vistas all over. This is the state that coined "million dollar view." And it doesn't take a million dollars to visit and photograph these sights, just a sense of adventure and a camera in hand.

W - Wildflowers

Field of Bloom - Tejon Ranch, California
Each spring in California the winter rains give way to amazing patches of wildflower blossoms. In some spots it's nothing short of breathtaking. In particular, the historic Tejon Ranch is known for epic wildflower blooms, which is where I captured the image above.

X - X-Factor
Sunset At Morro Rock - Morro Bay, California
I would call the Central Coast in California the X-Factor for this state. It's nothing short of amazing (and full of surprises), and it's what sets California apart from every other state in my opinion. From Pismo Beach to the south to Monterey Bay to the north, there is so much natural wonderment to experience, as well as man-made marvels, that you could spend a lifetime here.

Y - Yosemite National Park
Half Dome Reflection - Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park would be next up for the X-Factor, so perhaps I'll call it the Y-Factor (as in, why aren't you there right now?!). It's breathtaking and grand. It's nature at its finest! No wonder it is one of the most visited and photographed National Parks in America. It's a place that I'll miss and I regret not visiting it more often. I think a road trip to Yosemite National Park is going to be high on my to-do list next year.

Z - Zebras

Zebras Below The Castle - San Simeon, California
Wild zebras in California? Absolutely! If you have a good eye, they can be spotted along the Pacific Coast Highway in San Simeon below Hearst Castle. They were once a part of William Hearst's private zoo, but now they run wild on the coastal hillsides. Typically you need a long telephoto lens to photograph them, but occasionally you can find them closer to the highway.

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