Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Photography Instructor--who knew?!

My venture into formal photography instructing has begun…  For many of us, “instructing” is just a natural thing we do each day when conversing with people.  We tell them something we know, they do the same with us, and when questions arise, they are matched with explanations…learning occurs.  In our photo club, there is a certain amount of “instructing” that comes across through this somewhat organic process, whether that’s listening to a critique, watching another photographer during an outing, or simply getting answers to questions from fellow members during social time.  This is all good stuff, informal, unstructured, sometimes applicable to our interests, sometimes not.

I’d been approach a couple weeks ago by a friend whose wife was getting more interested in photography, and in some ways getting more frustrated that results weren’t matching expectations.  Joining a photography club at some point may help, as would reading countless books or watching endless videos, but this friend has specific questions, and specific desires and interests.  For her, the most efficient and effective way to boost her knowledge and skills is through one-on-on instruction.  I’m made many instructional presentations, written articles, etc…but where all of those exchanges conveyed a body of information to a varied audience, this new instructing role will be specific, targeted, custom tailored, and most importantly, paced to match the rate of absorption.

Much as the old adage “Luck is where Preparation meets Opportunity”, this luck of mine to become a one-on-one instructor/mentor was a result of much preparation.  Like many of you, hours spent reading, watching videos, practicing and experimenting have now begun to bear fruit.  This preparation was not purposeful with this instructing result in mind, but rather was a labor of love, based on following my own interests and passions in photography.  Now I have the opportunity to share with some else on their own journey and path—and hopefully accelerate them in the direction they are charting for themselves.

Another of my favorite saying helps articulate the exploration and mystery for many of our journeys, and in this case our photographic journey... "if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there...".  The road is less important than the act of simply being on a journey...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Showing off what a successful business looks like!

When I’m not shooting real estate or portraits for clients, my “fun” photography typically involves birds, trees, gardens, parklands, architecture, or one of many numerous landmarks around Orange County, the State, and beyond… But my outing yesterday was a very different, and very special unique opportunity—and it was practically in my own backyard…   (I’m going to have to add business production process photography to my list of services!)

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing for the first time the Cla-Val foundry and manufacturing complex in Costa Mesa.  You may have never heard of Cla-Val, but what I came to learn is that they produce the world's highest quality automatic control valves for a diverse array of industries, from military ships to offshore oil platforms to high-rise office buildings.  Just as their clients rely on the quality and performance of their products, we too depend on them indirectly.  According to their website (http://www.cla-val.com/company-overview.php), Cla-Val was established in 1936 in South Pasadena with just five employees.  Cla-Val moved to its present home, a twenty-acre property in Costa Mesa, California in 1954. The Costa Mesa facility, which serves as the worldwide headquarters, features two in-house foundries as well as a manufacturing operation with more than four acres under roof--and we saw it all!  Cla-Val also has state-of-the-art production facilities and warehouses in Canada, Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The company’s president was the gracious host for the morning tour of a California State business and economic development official, and I was the lucky tag-a-long!  I felt like I was part press-photographer and part tourist photographer…all I know is, I had fun!  One of the highlights of the tour was watching the end of shift for the foundry operations as they poured molten metal into casting forms.  It’s not often that you get to see what I like to call “real work” getting done…and this was some serious work!  These guys have to be at the top of their game every day…no distractions, no mistakes.  We also got to see the wide range of supporting manufacturing, engineering, and quality control processes throughout the facility, from high-speed machining to investment casting using the lost wax process to state of the art 3D prototype printing.  It was easy to be impressed with the diversity of products and the sophistication needed to develop and produce them.  I was also impressed with the number of workers, all whom were friendly, yet diligently focused on their work…seemed like the vast majority of jobs were very high skilled, high-tech positions.  When it seems like all you read about these days is jobs leaving California for other states or countries, it was really refreshing to see so many jobs right here at home…and good manufacturing jobs.  This was clearly a very successful company, and the ingredients are no secret…great people, great leadership, great products, and superb customer service.

At the end of the morning, I got a really cool hat with the company’s logo on it…I’ve already worn it and was reminded of the great time I had!  I hope you enjoy seeing some of my photographs!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bolsa Chica--Huntington Beach

Just when I think a return trip to Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach can’t reveal any more beauty or variety to me…  Actually, I knew my trip today would bring me at least one new thing …owlets!  A photography friend had posted pictures a week ago and after inquiring where they were found, we scheduled an outing for this morning so I could see them!

I arrived before sunrise to see what action I might find before our scheduled rendezvous.  Dark overcast skies were a bit of a departure from the last couple of days.  It later burned off and gave way to the sunshine though.  From where I parked it would be about a half-mile walk to where we were to meet.  I took my time, and along the way saw California seagulls, Willets, Long-billed curlews, hummingbirds, Double-crested cormorants, Great blue herons, and Red-tailed hawks.

And then there was the star of the morning—the Great horned owl and her three owlets!!  Couldn’t ever get a “family portrait” of all of them together looking towards me, but got a variety of shots of the owlets and a couple shots of the mother.  What a wonderful morning!

According to the Amigos de Bolsa Chica website,  In 1973, as part of a controversial land swap, the State of California acquired approximately 300 acres of wetlands adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway. A portion of this was restored by the state in 1979 to become the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The remaining acreage was retained in private hands. Planning for the construction of a massive marina, commercial and residential development was quickly underway. The plan was drastically reduced in 1989 through the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Amigos.  In 1997 the state acquired 880 acres of Bolsa Chica wetlands and another 41 acres was acquired in 2005, bringing public ownership of the Bolsa Chica to over 1200 acres. Wetland restoration of nearly 600 acres of Bolsa Chica was begun in 2004. In the summer of 2006 seawater flowed into the restored wetland for the first time in over 100 years. The Bolsa Chica wetland restoration was the largest coastal wetland restorations ever undertaken in Southern California.
I give you this historical background to make a point today… it took great courage and vision (and public expense) to acquire and set aside these wetlands from what was inevitable development.  You can imagine the pressure against these so-called “environmentalists” who worked tirelessly on a simple goal…preserving open space.  Even today, Bolsa Chica isn’t much to look at to the uninformed eye (swampland some might say) as thousands of cars whiz past it on Pacific Coast Highway.  But Bolsa Chica is indeed quite special and as time goes on, gets even more special.  Opportunities to preserve open space around us are few and far between, and like a door that swings only one way, pass up the opportunity and you’ve lost the chance forever….takes courage, takes perseverance, takes leadership.  As growth and congestion increase throughout Southern California, these open spaces are even more important to our quality of life (and that of the natural environment).

Queue music…

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Photography at Yorba Linda Regional Park

I’ve been so busy lately photographing real estate projects and portrait head-shots that I’ve fallen behind in my personal photography.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to go out shooting with another photography friend and our destination was Yorba Linda Regional Park.  This was the first time I’ve ever photographed in this location, but I’m not at all unfamiliar with it.  In fact, Yorba Linda Regional Park has for many years been my turn-around point for weekly bicycle rides up the Santa Ana River Trail.  As the crow flies (or the bike rides), Yorba Linda Regional Park is about 18 miles away from Costa Mesa.  The park has several small lakes which are surrounded by a scattering of benches—the perfect place to sit and rest, eat a banana, drink water, and just enjoy the beautiful and peaceful scenery.

I really didn’t know much about the park in terms of its history until I searched out information on it after yesterday’s shoot.  At nearly 140 acres, and over 1 mile long, this somewhat linearly-shaped park is situated in the mouth of Santa Ana Canyon in the city of Anaheim and runs parallel to the adjacent Santa Ana River. Because the park is in a historic setting in an area where such names as Yorba, Peralta and Dominguez were common, the Orange County Board of Supervisors recognized the 1976 opening of the park site by designating it as the official Orange County bicentennial project.  Yorba Linda Regional Park has been developed to provide an abundance of family and group picnicking facilities. More than 400 picnic tables are situated in the park, many with permanent shade structures. A series of four lakes with connecting streams offer a pleasing aquatic environment and provide opportunities for fishing and model boat sailing. Bicycle trails meander through the park, and connect to the nationally recognized Santa Ana River Trail, leading some 20 miles to the Pacific Ocean--a stretch of trail I’m intimately familiar with!!  Playgrounds and restrooms can be found throughout the park as well as volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, two ball diamonds, a physical fitness course, and some 200 barbecues.


So what was I there to photograph you might ask?  Birds of course—and lots of them!  There were a variety of species that I was familiar with having photographed at numerous wetland locations around Orange County, but there were additional sightings which were new to me.  The weather, like today, was perfect and made for an enjoyable morning of photography.  I hope you enjoy seeing this handful of photographs.  My full collection from yesterday can be viewed at:  http://www.costamesaphotography.com/OC-Orange-County/Yorba-Linda  (this is where prints/enlargements are ordered).