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Monache Meadows

Over the weekend, my brother and I took a short camping trip to the Kern Plateau in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The place we chose was into Monache Meadow where the south fork of the Kern River makes its way through beautiful mountains and forest.

Monache Meadow and Olancha Peak at sunset

We chose this area to visit because it is only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles by way of the Monache 4-Wheel Drive Trail (Road 34E38). I wanted to put my 4Runner through its paces and really test out the new auxiliary lights. Other bonuses to this area of the Sequoia National Forest are that it's dispersed camping, campfires are allowed and there are no fees required to camp there. I'm used to campsites where you have to pay a $15-per-night fee, you have to supply all your information short of a urine sample, the campsites are pre-designated and your only scenic view is of the back of a Winnebago. That's why I've always preferred backpacking over car-camping.

But with a little bit of research, I found Monache, which I figured would carry all the benefits of seclusion that backpacking brings with all the convenience and fun of having a car with you. And it definitely delivered. It's a great place to camp if you have a 4x4 to get you there.

After getting settled in to our campsite along the Kern River, we headed out to the huge Monache Meadow to catch the sunset. I played with some lichen-covered rocks, reflections and the river in the foreground of my shots with the gorgeous Olancha Peak in the background to catch the sunset colors.

Monache Meadow and Olancha Peak at sunset

Monache Meadow and Olancha Peak at sunset

Monache Meadow and Olancha Peak at sunset

We stayed until twilight before heading back to camp...

Monache Meadow and Olancha Peak at twilight

After some grub, we were in for a cold night. It got all the way down to 27 degrees. Some of you out in the midwest may be chuckling right now, but that's pretty damn cold for this Southern California kid! But despite the painful cold, I got up before sunrise to catch the morning light on Bakeoven Meadow. I was pleased to see the entire meadow was covered in frost, which made for some real fun subject matter.

Bakeoven Meadow at sunrise

Frosty Plants in Bakeoven Meadow at sunrise

Frosty Plants in Bakeoven Meadow at sunrise
^ Click for a larger version

Frosty Plants in Bakeoven Meadow at sunrise

Fence in Hessian Meadow at sunrise

Fence in Hessian Meadow at sunrise

Overall, the trip was a fantastic experience and I'm pretty pleased with the shots. Feels like it was a productive 2 days. I'll definitely be returning to this area in the future. I'd really love to see it in the springtime.

Featured Testimonial: Private Lessons

One of my long-time private lesson students, Cheryl McClusky-Chavez, was kind enough to share a glowing testimonial with me that I wanted to pass along to you. Cheryl is the artist behind Sadie James Photography, specializing in family portraits, maternity, children, boudoir, senior portraits and more. Her work is fantastic and she is truly a great, creative mind. Cheryl hired me to help her out in the technical aspects of photography (understanding shutter speed, aperture, ISO and all the rest) as well as streamlining her workflow so as to reduce processing time behind the computer.

Photo by Cheryl McClusky-Chavez - Sadie James PhotographyAfter Private Lessons

I've been doing photography recreationally for over 12 years. Five years ago, with the birth of my twins, Sadie and James, also came the birth of my professional photography career. They were born extremely premature at 29 weeks and spent 10 weeks in the NICU. Out of necessity I had to take portraits of them as they were not able to go to a commercial studio. The doctors warned us that their weakened immune systems could not handle being around all of the potential germs. With each passing day, I found myself documenting their miraculous journey. I always had a baby in one arm and my camera in the other. As they grew and got stronger so did my passion for photography. A few months later, what used to be a hobby had grown into a part time job, I started doing portraits for family and friends on the weekends. It was at that time that I decided I wanted to hone my photography skills and bring my photography to the next level. I went in search of books, photography courses, and anything that I thought would help me expand my knowledge.

I was so very fortunate to find Nick at Nick Carver Photography. At the time, I don't think I realized just how fortunate I was. Looking back now, over 3 years later, I can honestly say I do not know where I'd be without Nick and all of his teachings. Sometimes when people are experts in the field they are just that...experts. They do not have the ability to teach what they know to others. That is not the case with Nick, he not only takes amazing shots but can also explain how he did them in a language that everyone can understand. In all my years of working with him there has never been a technical question that he was not able to answer. More recently, as my business has grown from a part time job to a full time one, Nick has been instrumental in helping me manage and streamline my workflow. He has helped me shorten the time I spend editing and helped me organization my images more efficiently, which cuts down the time it takes me to get sessions processed for my clients.

I cannot say enough great things about Nick and his work. He is friendly, easy to work with, and has a wealth of knowledge well beyond his years. I would highly recommend him for private tutoring sessions or any of his classroom/online courses. His courses are well thought out and he has spent an immense amount of time developing and fine tuning them for his students. Whether you just got your camera or you have been shooting for years, there is always room to grow your photography knowledge and skills. Having a resource like Nick to support that growth is priceless.

- Cheryl McClusky-Chavez

Here are a couple pictures from right before I started with Cheryl:

Before Private Lessons

Before Private Lessons

Here is the kind of work Cheryl is doing today (and see the image at top):

Photo by Cheryl McClusky-Chavez - Sadie James Photography
If you're in Southern California and need some portraits, check out Sadie James Photography. You won't be disappointed.

Sunset(s) in Corona Del Mar

My dry spell of new pictures has finally come to an end!

Corona Del Mar Landscape

I took two students out to Corona Del Mar last week for some sunset landscape sessions (two different days, two different lessons). Both evenings served up great sunsets, so I couldn't resist breaking out my tripod alongside my students.

The first sunset was a bit of a surprise because the clouds didn't form until the last minute...just in time to pick up some nice pink hues from the setting sun.

Corona Del Mar Landscape

The next day, the cloud cover was pretty well established at least 2 hours before sunset. I could tell from the atmospheric conditions and the position and shape of the clouds that the sunset was going to be a winner.

As you can see from the pictures, the main focus of both nights was the interesting rock formations and I played with a few different compositions to highlight this land feature. There are only so many angles from which you can attack this subject, so some of the compositions here are pretty similar to those from previous visits. All in all, though, I'm pleased with the results.

Corona Del Mar Landscape

Corona Del Mar Landscape

It felt great to get behind the camera again. Good riddance, drab summer weather!