Just a few pics I got from a day hike in Kings Canyon this April. Nature is a pretty place. I love the tall trees, the red bark, the mossy rocks and tree trunks, the fungus that look like they belong in the shire, and upturned tree trunks whose scraggly roots are exposed, still housing the rocks and earth they once grew around. We also ventured into an area where a controlled burn had gotten out of hand a few years back, leaving the landscape a little surreal in its wake.
I did it! I’ve made a parallax site. For anyone who hasn’t noticed, parallax has exploded in the last year (or less?). It is such a wonderful way to create layers, animation, and add a sense of depth to a web experience. I have just barely touched the tip of the iceberg with what I’ve created here – the potential to add even more transitions and animations to a parallax site are boundless.
I was excited to experiment with this new technology with my long-standing client, that being the annual WooCamp invite. I’ve created 4 of them so far, alternating between print and web based invites. The event lends itself to themes of adventure, exploration, wilderness, and camaraderie, and this year, inspired also by my client’s recent trips to Antarctica, Patagonia, Everest, K2 (the list goes on), I settled on “Victorian Adventurer” for the invite’s theme. (Previous incarnations have been National Parks, Wild West, and something akin to Summer Camp).
I started with some fancy Victorian lettering, pulling inspiration from a Pinterest board I created that is full of Victorian/Explorer images. I also not-so-secretly admire Jessica Hische and all her beautiful lettering projects, and wanted to take a stab at one myself, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I also created a “ticket” that could be used for email, directing invitees to the website, which was another Victorian travel inspired piece.
In addition to some fun side graphics I created that illustrated the events of the weekend, I had to include in there somewhere an homage to the phrase, “Livingstone, I presume.” I mean, I had to.
My first iteration of the Livingstone portrait – I took my client’s face and photoshopped it into a portrait of Henry Morgan. I thought initially I might be able to make little Livingstone-esque portraits for all the attendees as part of their invitation, but realized I simply didn’t have enough time to do that.
Drawing inspiration once again from my Victorian source material, I wanted to include images or maps of the area. The beautiful botanical drawings that came from that era have such a wonderful tone and saturation about them that I wanted to emulate. Tempted initially to bust out water colors and paint up some background images, I instead came across a wealth of photos I had taken while I was at WooCamp one year. Taken when the sun was setting, the colors were ripe and with a few tweaks and filters I feel like I captured the essence of the place, while also playing along with the theme I had established, and created images that had a painted quality about them.
So the background parallax effect I borrowed the general look from this site tutorial. But I really wanted the background images to move slightly, so had to add that code in. Additionally, I wanted to include some more graphics that could tie into the “what to do/what to bring” section, so created another animation speed for those objects so they would appear to “fly up” the screen at a faster rate than the regular scroll. Kind of like how things scroll up the sides of a Pixar animations credits.
The potatoes are my favorite.
Last week I had the amazing opportunity to go on a wonderful road trip from San Francisco, down the coast and across to the Grand Canyon and back. I would not file myself under the label of photographer, but I know what I like and decided to take the chance on a fancy rental lens to see how well I could do while discovering the wild west.
I love painting landscapes, and I think I got a lot of great source material this trip. The colors were warm and vibrant. The sky was clear on most of the days, and even the days that were a bit hazy leant themselves to some wonderful atmospheric perspective.
Day 2 (uh, we got a late start on Day 1 – I have no photos): Carmel to Santa Barbara
Starting off from Pebble Beach and driving along 17 Mile Drive to Carmel admiring the rocky shores and wind blown Monterey Cypress, then driving down the coast to Big Sur. There’s a beautiful waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer beach that can’t be missed.
Day 3: Santa Barbara to Joshua Tree
Santa Barbara is a beautiful town full of lots of spanish mission style architecture and tons of sun. One of my favorite things to check out though, is the mural that’s painted on the walls of the courthouse. No photo I took will capture its entirety or magnificence, but I highly recommend checking it out. The other random highlight of Santa Barbara is the epic and ancient fig tree that resides just next to the 101 freeway. Planted in 1876, it is mighty. Per a 2010 measurement, the widest spread of the branches is 198 feet (60 m). The trunk diameter above the buttress roots is 12.5 feet. Huge.
After Santa Barbara we drove through LA (stopping for some amazing Korean BBQ in downtown first), we drove on to Palm Springs and then up to Joshua Tree just as the sun was setting. Our airbnb for the night was an amazing little “homesteader cabin” a good 6-7 miles off the main highway, off a dirt road. I got a couple night shots of the view from the porch, but it was nearly a full moon, so the stars were a little daunted by the bright light. Still, a really beautiful and serene evening.
Day 4: Joshua Tree to Sedona
Joshua Tree is a crazy place. It reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book. I also discovered that Joshua Trees are in the Yucca family. They came in so many shapes, appendage numbers, and sizes. We had seen a few of them as we traveled closer to the National Park and also throughout the rest of the Arizona/Nevada area, but there truly wasn’t the same concentration as in the Park itself. Quite stunning to see a forest of them line the road as we drove through. We caught them with a brilliant blue sky and wispy clouds that added another level of character to the landscapes.
And then there’s Sedona. We planned our entrance into the valley perfectly to catch sunset. The formations are beautiful enough in the middle of the day, but when the warm light of sunset hits the brilliant red rocks, they glow. We arrived at that night’s airbnb just as the light was prime for photos and we had a great view of the hills from the porch. After the sun set, I caught a nice shot of the moon rising in dusk light.
Day 5: Sedona to Grand Canyon and over to Kanab, UT
We woke up in Sedona and drove through town a bit to get some views of the wonderful formations. We also wandered over to the chapel that is built into the hillside. It was a pretty impressive construction. I was more amused by the view from the chapel looking down upon the gaudiest home I’ve ever seen. Yeah, check it out – you can’t miss it. I think they must have thought that by painting it red like the rocks it would blend in…
We moved on towards the Grand Canyon afterwards. It was cooling down at that point (it even snowed lightly a little bit), and we were greeted by a very overcast sky when we got there. While I was a little sad to not have the sun illuminate the striking colors and formations that the canyon makes, the diffused lighting did have a certain somber and powerful character of its own. I remarked that the whole thing just looked like a painting in some movie backlot. It’s really hard to believe it’s real even when you’re standing right in front of it.
We drove west a bit, then backtracked along the eastern side of the south rim to the “look out” which was a unique perspective – looking west you could still see the deep cavernous ridge line, but looking east, you could see the plateaus and flat land that extend beyond where the canyon gets shallower. We continued our drive going east towards Lake Powell, stopping at a reservation where they kindly let me take a few more pictures from their vantage point. We drove all the way around up into Utah and landed for the night in the adorable town called Kanab.
Day 6: Kanab to Las Vegas
Kanab is the most quaint little roadside town. Feels like it belongs on Route 66 and clearly gets frequented by people visiting the surrounding national parks. Lots of great neon and retro details throughout the town. It is considered the Little Hollywood of Utah. It definitely had a hay-day where lots of Westerns were filmed in the surrounding area – and movies of note, too. We just watched The Outlaw Josey Wales, a Clint Eastwood flick, that was filmed there to see if we recognized anything.
They have an amazing little movie museum with some sets that were used in films. It’s pretty much perfect.
We went from Kanab to Zion, only about an hour’s drive away. Zion is a beautiful canyon with more stunning rock formations. It has the longest tunnel I’ve ever driven through, carved straight through a mountain side, with only a few pockets of light streaming in as you drove through it. We hiked in the canyon at the end of the northern loop of the road which had a beautiful river running through it.
We left through the southwest entrance and headed on to Vegas for the night.
Day 7: Las Vegas to Death Valley
Being in Vegas was even more surreal than usual, having come from such natural wonders to the artificial wonder that is Vegas. We did the usual Vegas thing that night – dinner and a show, then headed out in the late morning towards Death Valley. We passed a little gas station/brothel on the way, too, on the outskirts of Area 51. Gotta love Nevada.
Death Valley was glorious. We have both decided that we’ll have to come back with more time to explore it. The colors, textures, and formations we saw were so surreal and like nothing I’d ever seen. It looked like something out of a Dalí painting. There was also a quaint little Inn tucked into the hillside that was quite literally an oasis in the middle of the desert. And then the sun was setting as we drove out, making such gorgeous colors: purple hills, golden tumbleweed brush, auburn red dirt, all against a fading blue sky. Such a treat to see. We ended our night in Lone Pine, on the Eastern foothills of the Sierra.
Day 8: Lone Pine & Alabama Hills
Lone Pine is another one of those go-to Western Film shooting locations. Not to mention a few Star Trek movies/episodes. I’ve always loved it. My family used to come up and camp in Onion Valley and surrounding areas, and my Aunt once took my brother and me up Mt. Whitney which you get a nice view of from Lone Pine. While it’s the tallest peak in the continuous US, it doesn’t look like the tallest from the valley. Fond memories, and of course, a gorgeous view. Snow still specks the peaks, and the contrast of the bright blue sky, light blue and gray mountains, with the rambling auburn Alabama hills in the forefront made for a great shot.
This was basically the end of our journey though. We decided to just drive back home via the 5, which isn’t as spectacular as what we’d just seen (unless you count the usual cow concentration camps). Or else I’ve just gotten too familiar with the drive to really notice it’s beautiful spots.
The company I work for, Sereno Group, began a charitable campaign last year called “One Percent for Good.” Our president and the company’s founder, Chris Trapani, is often inspired by Patagonia and wanted to emulate their “1% for the Planet” program. The goal: “In an effort to support the best of our community, Sereno Group has pledged to give 1% of our gross commissions to a charitable or community-minded group committed to making a positive difference in the communities we serve.” So saying, agents within each of the 6 offices of our company can choose to participate, donating toward the charitable-cause-of-choice each quarter. Each office works independently to choose their charity, and a committee of agents help choose charities, make contacts at those charities, and coordinate with me to have advertising made for their cause. Ads are taken out in local papers, posted on Facebook, and also sent out as emails and direct mailers to agent’s clients, friends and family. The purpose of the ads is two-fold: one to inform the communities about the campaign, and simultaneously to bring attention to the charities themselves, as often times the small, local charities can use as much help as they can get to bring awareness to their cause.
My role varies from project to project, but basically requires getting or taking photographs (either candid, on-site images, or setting up a photo shoot), creating ad copy, laying out the ad, and then scheduling the ad run dates with publications. We have a wonderful photographer we work with on a regular basis for such projects, but when he is unavailable, I have taken to filling in. I admit to not being a professional by any stretch, but have had the pleasure of making it work when time or logistics are strained. The last 2 ads I worked on had me on site at the Saratoga Senior Center, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America facility in Palo Alto.
The Saratoga Senior Center is a place that offers a variety of classes and programs for active seniors, as well as an adult-day-care center for seniors who need a place to come to where they can socialize, but also have assistance if needed. We were able to coordinate a day with them where they got to visit with pets; on this day, it was 2 very sweet bunnies.
The Bay Area & Wester Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America is a wonderful facility that provides services and social activities for paralyzed veterans and is on the same campus as the Palo Alto VA, so easy access for those who also require medical needs. They are fully independent though, and subsists on donations and grants. I was happy to meet and befriend Jessica, a member of the organization who utilizes the facility for recreation and is also one who gets sponsored to attend the National Wheelchair games. She was super helpful to me, being my model and showing us around the facility.
The biggest challenge in every ad we work on is expressing the feeling of hope and support with one captivating image, and giving a short and concise description of our program AND the goals of the charities we are supporting.
It is great to have a chance to work on projects that have an impact, are challenging, and require me to break out of my day-to-day routine.
This hotel was timeless, and by timeless, I mean totally dated. A relic from 1950 (60?), and loving it. I loved the typography of the name “Saga,” the two-toned peach paint job, the teal accents, cinderblock lattice walls, decorative concrete motifs, viking mosaic, and excessive use of palm trees. A total California retro gem. I was sad to see that they had attempted to update the interior of the rooms, so they weren’t nearly as cool.
My brother put me up here when I was down visiting in Pasadena, and I have decided it’s the only hotel I ever want to stay at again when visiting.
I spent the weekend in New Orleans, which was incredibly fabulous for many reasons. In addition to it being a fun town, it also has some of the most amazing architecture and atmosphere. When you see people trying to make “shabby-chic” look cool, NOLA is their muse, and frankly, is the only place that can get away with it and look authentic. The colors are vibrant, all the textures are perfectly weathered, and the wrought iron is delicate and intricate. It is genuine, rich, and chock full of its own history.
Last Friday I had the privilege of going on a fun bakery crawl sponsored by Scharffen Berger chocolates. I wrote all about it here on my baking blog, but while I was at it, I couldn’t help but enjoy the perfect October afternoon and evening San Fran was having, and took a few pictures of the places we went along the way.
Not sure I’m equipped for some of the night shots I took, but the colors were still pretty fabulous.