Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos


Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

This past Saturday, I decided to check out Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in Del Mar, CA. I'd never been there before and I'd only seen a few pictures of it online, so I didn't really know what to expect. But with gorgeous weather prevailing and some free time on my hands, I figured it would be a perfect time to visit a new location for potential photo ops.

After spending the whole day there, hiking/running about 5 miles of its trails and then taking pictures through sunset, I can safely say that Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve will be one of my most frequented parks from here on out. In fact, I'd say it's going to give my favorite place to shoot in Southern California, Crystal Cove State Park, a run for its money.

Home to America's rarest pine tree (the Torrey Pine, which is only found in this park and on Santa Rosa Island off the California coast), Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve has some of the most unique geology and flora of any park I've visited. As I ran through the winding, narrow trails, I felt like I was transported to someplace further north - where pine forest meets the ocean. The eroded hillsides and cliffs at the edge of the water are reminiscent of San Onofre State Park, but even more beautiful.

Wildflowers were already blooming and I'm sure this place will absolutely explode with color in the next few weeks. It was quite crowded through the first half of the day, but what do you expect when you combine such a beautiful day with such a gorgeous park? The sunset turned out to be fantastic - just as I predicted. Some great clouds drifted in just in time to give the sunset some color. I also found a Torrey Pine tree with limbs shaped in such a way that they were just begging to be photographed. I took several similar shots of it but couldn't decide which was my favorite.

Here are the rest of my shots from the day:

Well, there you have it. My pictures from my first encounter with Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. I hope you enjoyed them and expect to see more where those came from.

Feb 23 Laguna Beach Workshop Results

Due to a last minute unforeseen change of plans, my recent Winter at Quail Hill Workshop on February 23rd had to become a Winter at Laguna Beach Workshop. But it worked out great anyway because the rocks and low tide down at the beach turned out to be a blast to shoot. Here's my shot from the evening:

As always, thank you to all my students for attending! I hope to see you again!

Get more information on all of my workshops including Spring Wildflower Workshops at!

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

I recently discovered the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve near Murrieta, CA and, I have to say, I am extremely excited for all the future photo opps I have to look forward to. The terrain is classic California with rolling hills, meadows and oak trees dotted throughout. I personally love this type of landscape both for hiking and taking pictures. And I can already tell this place will be exploding with wildflowers in the Spring - I can't wait to get out there on a beautiful Spring day with billowing cumulous clouds drifting overhead.

This first picture was taken in January before any major rains hit the area so the terrain was quite dry. Nevertheless, the hike out there was fantastic and the oak trees, lighting and clouds refused to let me leave without taking a picture or two.

The following week, Southern California experienced some of the most severe storms since El Niño way back in the 90's. The rainfall was like nothing I've personally ever seen before. It was coming down hard, fast and relentlessly. It caused havoc at my home by choosing to seep under the walls and soak my carpet, but it made for some interesting scenery (and anyone who knows me knows I love inclement weather, so I was happy). The following two pictures were taken during a very small break in the rain. In fact, I was out there with an umbrella over my camera for some of the shots.

This first shot is a natural pool that formed in this meadow. The clouds reflecting off it were begging for a vertical composition.

There was also a creek flowing in between the hills that was quite interesting to me. It was like no creek I'd seen before - obviously a very rare one - because it wasn't in a typical creek bed with rocks and sediment. It was just water flowing through the valleys between these hills, right on top of the grass and finding the path of least resistance. I wouldn't consider it a beautiful creek and I wouldn't even consider the following picture a beautiful picture, but it was just too interesting to not photograph and share.

My time out there in the rain among these beautiful hills and meadows all by myself was beyond words. But as if all the amazing scenery and peaceful solitude wasn't enough, I was lucky enough to spot two coyotes traversing the hills on the other side of the creek. Seeing them in their natural habitat was truly breathtaking.

The craft of photography is always fun, but it's experiences like these why I really go out there and take pictures.