Charley

A Very “Moving” Weekend. Lots of Fun in Monterey and Central California.

Rochelle and I love our Roadtrek Agile, because we can pick up and go at little notice, with only the barest preparations.  The last two weekends we threw our cameras, a change of clothes and a bag of groceries into Charley and headed off to some of our favorite California shooting locations.

Egret Reflection
A Snowy Egret, Standing Still Thank Goodness

If you’ve driven up or down California, you have surely seen our major highways, and you probably stopped at one of the numerous rest stops that show up every hundred miles or so.  But what you might not know is California is home to another, completely different highway.  One that offers some of the most picturesque rest stops you’ve ever seen.  Of course, this highway is for the birds.

And no, I don’t mean it’s full of potholes and run-down truck stops.  I mean it is “literally” for the birds.  It’s called the Pacific Flyway, and every year hundreds of thousands of birds make their winter migration up and down it through the State of California.  And being welcoming hosts, we’ve set aside vast tracks of land in the middle of the State for our feathered friends to sit back, rest up and grab a bite to eat. Continue reading

I Left My Heart, Just North of San Francisco

Rochelle and I have two things that get us out of the house on a regular basis.  One is our Roadtrek Agile Motorhome “Charley” and the other is our love for photography.  It’s a pretty cool combination.  Charley takes us wherever we want to go, without giving up any of our much-cherished creature comforts.  And our passion for photography gets us out of bed, and off to visit some amazing scenes that many folks might skip in favor of an extended breakfast.

Fog Covered Hills color
Early Morning Fog

Lately, we’ve been spending some of our long weekends north of San Francisco in what I’m going to call the “Great Photography Triangle”.  Our triangle starts at a point just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.  From there, we travel in a northwesterly fashion through the Point Reyes National Seashore to the second point on the Sonoma Coast.  From there, our travels take us directly west to the picturesque town of Petaluma.  And finally, we travel south to reach our starting point, which we merrily pass by on the way home.

Of course, no photography outing consists of straight lines.  In fact, our “Great Photography Triangle” looks more like a drawing from a two-year old, with lots of crisscrossed lines, smudges, hand prints, cereal spills and, well, you get the picture.  Photography isn’t so much about finding an exact spot as it is about finding the light.  And if the light isn’t there, maybe you can find a nice bakery instead which, by the way, is always my number one backup plan. Continue reading

It’s Fall Color Time in the Eastern Sierras!

We just got back from the Eastern Sierras and the Fall Colors are out in full.  You probably only have a few days left to enjoy one of California’s most popular photography events.

Charley on Aspen Road
Charley reflects the yellow aspen trees.

We began our journey by loading up Charley, our Roadtrek camper van, and heading over Yosemite’s Tioga Pass.  The pass tops out at 11,000 ft., but it’s a good road, and they’ve kept the really steep parts to a minimum.  The only problem with traveling through the Yosemite high county is how much will power you’ll need to avoid stopping at every turnout.  There are vistas that will simply stun your eyeballs with their size and grandeur, and then there are those lush Tuolumne meadows that might just beckon you to spend an afternoon lazily wondering about, or enjoying a secluded picnic.  But fall happens but once a year, so try to keep your eyes on the road and your mission in mind.  I know it’s tough, but nobody ever said photography was easy!

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Exploring the Grand Tetons

Charley and the Grand Tetons
Charley and the Grand Tetons

Rochelle and I recently returned from a wonderful road trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  It was one of those special trips where, on the long drive home, we already started planning for our return.  I can still hear the cry of the bear cub who “misplaced” his mom, and the excited voices coming from folks hunched over their scopes who spied wolf cubs romping in the grass.  And the wildlife was only part of the story.  The skies decided to grace us with a cloud show like I’ve never seen down here in dry, dry California.   And we were able to take part in it all, from the comfort of our little Class B Motorhome Charley.

I’m going to break up this story so I can give a little more detail about the two parks. That’s because most stories about the parks shortchange the Grand Tetons in favor of its big brother Yellowstone to the north.   But if you’ve ever visited the Grand Tetons, you already know that this is a park that doesn’t take second billing lightly.  In fact, it may be my favorite of the two, even rivaling Yosemite for that special “Photographer’s Dreamland” space in my heart. Continue reading

Ten Great Tips for Photographing Your Roadtrek

If you’re like me, you love your Roadtrek.  It’s your baby.  And, much like a new baby, you want to show it off.  And what better way to show it off than in pictures!  My wife Rochelle and I came up with some photography tips to help you showcase your Roadtrek Class B Van Conversion like it’s never been seen before.  So pick up your camera, or your smartphone, and let’s go shooting.

Trick #1

Play with scale.

Your Roadtrek is a pretty big beast, but we all love them because they’re so much smaller than the alternatives.

Charley looks huge next to regular cars.
Charley looks huge next to regular cars.

You can play with that size difference by photographing your van against a variety of backgrounds.  Want to show how big it is?  Then show it off against the typical passenger car, or shoot from a low perspective.  Want to make it appear smaller?  Nature is your answer.  A 10-foot tall motorhome is nothing compared to a 3,000 foot tall granite rock. Continue reading

Getting Out of Your Photography Comfort Zone.

When it comes to photography, most of us have special subjects that we love to shoot.  I love landscapes and trains.  Rochelle prefers portraits and abstracts.  So, it isn’t surprising that those subjects make up the “bread and butter” of our photographic experiences.

But you know what?  Shooting the same thing all of the time is boring.   And when you’re shooting “Your Favorite Thing”, your standards can become so ridiculously high, it’s easy to be disappointed by anything that’s less than an “OMG! THAT’s AMAZING!”  photograph.  And trust me; those types of shots don’t come along very often.Knights Ferry Civil War Reenactment-24

So, to relieve the boredom of shooting the same subject a million times, and also relieve some of the pressure from looking for that one killer shot, Rochelle and I often go out and shoot something entirely different, just for the heck of it.  And it turns out, that’s when we have some of the most fun.  So that’s why we spent all day Saturday at a Civil War Reenactment in Knight’s Ferry California.  Continue reading