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Escondido Canyon Falls

My brother and I took a hike yesterday in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Malibu, CA to see Escondido Canyon Falls.

Upper Escondido Canyon Falls - Malibu, CA

We'd never been here before and I've never even hiked in Los Angeles County before, but I read great things about this waterfall, so we decided to take a chance on it. There are an upper and lower falls that both consist of a long drop where water clings to the cliff in its descent. It's not a ton of water pouring off these crests, but the waterfalls are impressive nonetheless - especially for being tucked in this wealthy, densely populated area of the country. You really wouldn't expect to see waterfalls of this size here.

The lower falls is about 60' tall and is easy to get to. I didn't get any pictures of the lower falls because the light was ugly. But the second falls is an adventure to reach with very steep rock scrambling - part of which necessitated using some pre-tied ropes to assist your climb - and tight squeezes through brush. The reward, though, is worth it.

Most sources I find online say the upper falls is 120'-150'. I call foul on that. Can't be more than 80'. But still very impressive. Check the second picture below for scale (I'm on the left and I'm 6'2"), just keep in mind that the extreme wide angle I had to use for the shot distorts sizes and actually makes the falls look much smaller than it is.

Upper Escondido Canyon Falls - Malibu, CA

Upper Escondido Canyon Falls - Malibu, CA

Overall, we must have hiked about 6 miles. Great work out, but I was beat by the end of it.

Becoming a Professional Photographer

A lot of people nowadays have great aspirations to become a professional photographer. They just picked up some professional equipment, they got themselves a professional website, they had a professional logo designed by a professional graphic designer, they have professional business cards all ready to go and, most importantly, they already have some paid gigs under their professional belt.

Well, if they are getting paid to take pictures, then they must be a professional photographer, right? Sure. No doubt about it. Because if you look under "professional" in the New Oxford American Dictionary, one entry is as follows:

professional
adjective
(of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime

So, yes, they are technically a professional photographer. Technically. But most people seem to overlook another entry you'll find under "professional" in the dictionary. It's a definition that I think says much more about a person. It's a title one must earn through hard work, practice and patience. It's not something one earns with a cleared check. It's the definition we should all strive for over the latter:

professional
adjective
having or showing the skill appropriate to a professional person; competent or skillful

Having or showing the skill appropriate to a professional. Competent. Skillful.

These are the things every photographer should strive for. Not just the ones looking to make a buck with their photography - everyone. We should all strive to be competent and skillful. Whether you collect payment for applying these skills is irrelevant. Family pictures, travel shots, party pictures...doesn't matter. If you are competent and skillful, you will enjoy photography and you will have great pictures to show for it.

If you do want to make money from your photography; great! There's never been a better time than now to do it. The sky is the limit and you can create a successful photography business faster than ever before. But don't be just another paid amateur. Be competent. Have the skills appropriate to a professional photographer. Know how to operate your camera with your eyes closed, be able to rattle off the shutter speed that will lighten your exposure by 2 stops, know exactly what depth of field you need, don't ever forget that a smaller f-number is a larger aperture.

Be competent. Be skillful. Be professional.

Regardless of what your financial goals are in photography. Earn the title. Earn it through training, experimenting and tons and tons of practice. Collect payment or don't. But never stop striving to be professional.

Learn How to Shoot in Full Manual

I'll be back again at Shutterstories in Riverside on May 1st to give my  "Manual Exposure and Filtration for Nature Photography" seminar!

In this $39 one-day seminar, I'll teach you how to shoot in full manual the right way. I'll also reveal the secret behind my landscape photography and what filters I use to get the dramatic shots.

Here's what one participant had to say about the seminar:

I attended Nick's seminar at Shutterstories in Riverside in order to make the move to real, calculated photos. Let me tell you, it changed my photography forever. As a result of Nick's clear concise presentation I have transitioned from a "shoot and hope for the best" mentality to a "how should I design this shot" approach...I am getting photos from my inexpensive kit lens that I would have thought could only come from high end glass.

- Mike

Who's it for?
Photographers of all skill levels

When is it?
Sunday, May 1, 2011 from 1:00pm - 4:00pm

How much is it?
Only $39!

How can I reserve my seat?
Call Melissa Tippie of Shutterstories at 951.318.1574 or 951.683.3444 or visit the Shutterstories website

More information can be found here. Don't delay! Reserve your spot now!