The Post Ranch Inn at Dusk

Last Month’s Facebook Fan Page Impressions

HDR PhotoI just saw the stats for the past month on our Facebook page.  It’s really crazy how much traffic that place gets.  Since there are so many people there, let me know if you have any ideas for fun things we can do there.  I still keep this blog as the “main cruise ship” of my online life, but the FB format does have a few nice things going for it…  It’s seems like another great way for you guys to meet one another on Facebook too!  Make new friends with each other and stuff… that is cool.

Suggestions from Locals

You would think I have a very sophisticated way of picking out hotels and places to stay, yes? Well, no, I don’t. I wish there was a bullet-proof system. I’ve tried many websites and I sometimes get good suggestions, but you never really know, you know?

I’m often most happy when I get a suggestion from a clever local person. This was the case with the Post Ranch Inn below. I was at the EG Conference in Monterey, and I mentioned to a fellow there that I was going down to Big Sur for a few days. He immediately recommended this place, and it was a slam dunk.

I mean, I guess I do have a blog and I can just ask you guys… maybe I will in the future. You guys really know a bunch of great places, and I should use this as a resource more… also, it ends up being valuable to other people too, since there does end up being a lot of cross-pollination as a lot of us travel around from time to time.

Daily Photo – The Post Ranch Inn at Dusk

How awesome is this room? Each of the rooms here at the Post Ranch Inn (nice time-lapse on that website, eh?) are cool, so I don’t think this one was special in that regard. In fact, I have another photo I processed last night of one of the little tree-house-rooms I saw on the way to dinner.  I’ll post that one soon…

Whenever I check into a hotel, I always feel like a dork because I say, “Hello, you don’t know me but I’m a photographer, so having a really good view at sunrise is important.” I don’t think this ever amounts to a hill of beans, except for here! The nice lady that set me up said that the mountain-view had the best light for photography. She said this with such authority that I did not question it! And she was right…

I took this one evening at dusk before walking up the path to an amazing dinner.

Monterey Fun!

EG Conference

High Dynamic Range Photo

This is the first print release of the new year. This is the stunning azure blue pool in Hearst Castle.

I know we’ll have a few people attending the EG Conference in Monterey next week, so be sure to come up and say hello! If you’re not coming to the conference but are in the area, maybe you can join us at the PhotoWalk on Sunday (see below)!

Free Monterey Area PhotoWalk

This will be on Sunday evening on April 10th at 6:30 PM. See and contribute to the details at PlanCast! I don’t have a path figured out yet… so please drop your ideas there into the PlanCast!

Carmel Area suggestions for lodging?

After the conference, I’m staying a few extra days and wondered if you had some suggestions? Perhaps a few nights in Carmel and one down in Big Sur. I usually find my own places, but I find that YOU are such a tremendous resource for suggestions, that I should ask your opinion!

New Print Available!

This is the first print I have released in 2011. As you can see on the Prints page, these are all available in unique numbered series on paper, canvas, and metal.

This photo, like the one below, was taken on a trip up the California coast. I stopped in Hearst Castle for an amazing private tour of the facility. While there, I visited the indoor pool area and had to sidle along a wall to get to this spot. I had a feeling it would splay out some nice shapes for me.

Daily Photo – Off the PCH at Sunset

Whenever I go to California lately, I have meetings in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Rather than fly between the two, I like to take my time and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s such a famous highway, but it’s usually fairly empty. There is always a beautiful sunset… it’s pretty much a guarantee. I popped out of my car and hiked through the brush a bit to grab this one so you can see what it looks like.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Great Room at Hearst

Yet another Book Contest!

Michael over at PetaPixel (he is a good Tweeter – I rewet a lot of his stuff @PetaPixel) is running a contest to give away the book. Head over there to see how to enter! 🙂

Continue Discovering New Photographers and Artists!

Be sure to look at the Smugmug Portfolio Contest to see some of the nice entries there. I think you will see some stuff that appeals to you… and it will be a good way to discover some new photographers!

The Great Room at Hearst

I was able to get up through a somewhat secret door into the upper area of this room. It was a little sketchy up there with a sharp dropoff, so I had to keep my wits about me!

The greatest challenge at Hearst is getting set up, composing, and executing all the shots before the next wave of tourists come through. I was usually able to get this done, and there was always a gentle pressure to shoot fast and then move on! One time, however, I just could not finish in time.

They strode in and began randomly shooting away. I think it is so interesting (and somewhat depressing) to watch how tourists take pictures. Really, they are just “documenting” and “collecting”. Why? This is an interesting question! These people are not dumb or vapid… They are not doing it because everyone else is doing it. But I do think people like to softly record their lives. They do the best they can, and I guess that is okay. I do get flummoxed that people don’t go out of their way to take “better” pictures. They seem satisfied with lackluster, predictable, “scientific-documentary” shots that are just not interesting. Not that every photo has to be a work of art, but why not try a little? Why not do a few things here and there to improve your personal photography. It’s not that hard to improve, and anyone can improve! I suppose I just get bummed out that people don’t even try to improve… they just expect and then become satisfied with mediocrity.

Also at Hearst there is a “no flash” rule. Thank goodness! Of course, they do it to protect the works of art there, but I am happy that people do not use their flash because I normally see people do it in silly conditions. As far as I know, this “no flash” in Hearst Castle (and other museums) is a good policy. I always hear that flashes can damage paintings and whatnot — is this scientifically true? Maybe it is. I know if you leave art in bright light all day that it can become discolored… but are a bunch of instantaneous flashes the same thing? I don’t know… I’d love to see a full study on it if anyone has a link. As with all things, the policy certainly sounds solid, but I am skeptical about “common wisdom”.

Personally, I would institute a “no Dumb Use of Flash” rule, which would tell people not to use their flash to take photos of things that are over 15 feet away. Like, for example, did you see the opening ceremonies of the Olympics? Thousands and thousands of clueless people using their flashes! Aren’t any of those thousands of people somewhat curious — wondering if the flash actually does anything? Or maybe this mass flash-delusion is only negatively reinforced by seeing all the other flashes going off? I don’t know…. but it is interesting to think about.

Driving Up the Pacific Coast Highway

Destination Google!

On Monday Feb 1, I’m speaking at Google for their [email protected] program. The whole thing will be recorded, so I’ll be able to share it back with the world here once it goes up. You can find out more by following @GoogleTalks. And thanks to Mike Wiacek @MikeWiacek who is the head of the Google Photog Club and to Cliff Redeker @mcrsquared for getting the whole thing set up… I am excited!

Later that afternoon, I’m giving a private photography workshop to people at Google back in one of their secret rooms… That should be a lot of fun too. I’ll be going through, in person, what I have in the HDR Tutorial here on the site.

There is a public photowalk on Thursday, Feb 4 at Stanford.  We’ll meet at 4 PM at the The Oval. There may or may not be a talk after — it depends on if we can secure an auditorium!

Private Tour at Hearst Castle

I’m driving up the coast towards Silicon Valley, and I decided to take my time and leisurely drive up Highway 1.  I’m doing my best to fill the trip with planned and unplanned adventures.

I spent a big chunk of the day up at Hearst Castle.  I was given a private tour whilst guarded by one of LAPD’s finest, who is now a security guard at the castle.  I had carte blanche to go anywhere and shoot everything – it was totally amazing!  I got into the wine cellar, into the top two spires where there are tiny bedrooms, and all over the place.  It was just amazing — I have not had time to process the photos yet… but… you won’t believe it!

Daily Photo – Big Sur in the Morning

5:30 AM.  Alarm goes off.  It’s always painful.  People that say they are “morning people” — I think they are lying.  But, when in a beautiful place, I always force myself, military style, to pop out of bed.  There are hikes to be made and photos to take!

I stayed at the Ragged Point Inn.  My room had a little fireplace and everything (which made it even harder to get out of bed!).  After I got downstairs, I started a little hike to get a good vantage of the coast and the sunrise.  Of course, there was a fence blocking the best bit, so I jumped over it like Carl Lewis (a much older, whiter, and less jumpy Carl Lewis), and edged along the rocky coast to get a good spot.  I forgot to put on my hiking shoes and mistakenly donned my Cole-Haans while in the dark.  Big mistake.  Those don’t make for good hiking shoes, especially after five minutes of getting soaked in morning dew from the foliage I was ripping my way through.

But, I had on my earphones and was blasting away music…  all was good… the sun came up, the clouds were perfect, and I took this photo.

Big Sur in the Morning

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