Death Valley & Joshua Tree National Park (Sneak Peek)

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I just got back a few days ago from a really cool trip with a few shoots in California, starting in Los Angeles, then driving up to Death Valley and then swinging back around to Joshua Tree National Park. I shot primarily film, so it’s going to be a couple of weeks before I get those shots back, but I figured I would post a little bit of a teaser in the meantime.

As we got closer to Death Valley, there was this cool Catholic Church, St. John’s the Baptist, with some mountains as a backdrop and a few palm trees to keep it company. How could I not stop for a picture? Little did I know the little road I turned off to get the shot was actually a tiny airport. No doubt somebody was watching me and wondering why this idiot was driving a Ford Fusion onto a runway – to my credit there were no signs and once I realized it I parked off the side of the runway before plopping down to get the shot. Had to hold my reflector up in front of me to shade the lens since I didn’t want a lens-flared look.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church from Shoshone Airport near Death Valley, California. Behind-the-scenes.

The main objective that evening was to get a great sunset panoramic for my running series which can be seen in the Fine-Art Panoramic Landscape Photographs section of my website. While waiting for the light to be where I wanted it, I met Stuart from Scotland who was taking an epic road-trip all over the USA with his dad and brother. Here he is checking out the landscape at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, California… then a photograph of me behind-the-scenes getting setup for my panoramic sunset image.

Death Valley Zabriskie Point Hiker Watching the Sunset. Stuart from Scotland.

Death Valley Zabriskie Point. Behind-the-scenes for panoramic series of landscape photographs.

What do you do when you’re in a part of the USA with some of the darkest sky you can find? Well you go out and shoot some astrophotographs (nightscapes) of course! I didn’t really pack my gear with the intention of doing this, so there was only one spot that I thought worked well, not to mention it’s sort of hard to find more good spots in pitch black darkness!

Death Valley Nightscape - Astrophotograph of Milky Way at Twenty Mule Team Canyon in Death Valley, California

Back to Joshua Tree for a little bridal session action! Didn’t shoot any of this on digital but my assistant managed to capture a BTS shot on their phone. Can’t wait to get the film back!!

Joshua Tree National Park Boho Bridal Session with Flower Crown. Behind-the-Scenes.

If you’ve never been, Joshua Tree National Park is a pretty cool place. And there are suuuuper-cool Airbnb options if you want to stay somewhere with lots of style and character. (I also took some film shots of the interior of the place we stayed… didn’t do any exterior though.)

Joshua Tree National Park

Alright, last image for this post… Does Mirelle look amazing in this red dress out in Joshua Tree, or what? We had so much fun, and there was this really nice breeze the whole time so it wasn’t even really that hot, considering it’s a desert.

Joshua Tree National Park Portraits in Red Dress. Behind-the-Scenes. Desert Portrait Red Dress.

Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come!

Behind-the-Scenes : Corey + Jenna Oahu Engagement Edit

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I’m in the process of doing yet another pass at editing the full set of images from a recent wedding, as I prepare to create the album. This must be the fifth or sixth pass I’ve made, and each time I find that I see some of the images a different way or find things that could use some tweaking. While the actual process of shooting engagements, bridals, and a wedding may take 12-18 hours, there is so much more that goes on besides just capturing the image. To illustrate this, I just thought I’d post an image that I just spent a good 2-3 hours editing to show a before and after. There’s actually an in-between as well, more of a quickie-edit to get it in the general direction which I’d previously blogged.

Straight from the camera. Looks pretty blah straight from the camera, doesn’t it? Not the beautiful sunrise we’d hoped for, but I exposed this to retain detail in the highlights of the image, and you’ll see that clearly in the final edit. As for the composition, I shot a lot of close-ups during the shoot but I needed to capture some great, wide, landscape shots. After all, when you’re shooting an engagement session in Oahu, Hawaii (or doing wedding photography in Hawaii, for that matter) you’ve GOT to show the environment. Otherwise what was the point of going somewhere exotic, right?


Quick edit for blog. In hindsight, I made this edit appear a bit too ‘cool’ (that’s blue in photographer-speak). When doing the initial passes on images, it just doesn’t make sense to spend an insane amount of time on an image as it may not make the cut to begin with, so here you have it.


After a couple hours of editing this one image. I’ve gotten pretty much exactly what I saw in my mind when I captured that plain looking thing you saw straight from the camera. So what do you think? Worth all the extra effort? (I think so!)