Sometimes I stumble into a moment so powerful that I stop to soak in my surroundings with the hope to remember the feeling of it forever. Have you ever felt like this? You find yourself in a place so overwhelmingly beautiful time slows down and you are left only to marvel at the landscape in front of you. You know in that moment you are writing the history of your own life in a point of time you will always reference. I wish I could bottle the warmth and life of that feeling. I wish I could leave a small piece of me in that place so I can always recall the memory. In photographs and small audio recordings I take the power of a location with me as best as I can so I can listen and remember the quiet foggy walks in the Redwoods, the sound of the wind whipping our hair with the windows down on a road trip, the barking of seals on a dock in Oregon, the waves crashing against the California coast somewhere on highway one, rainy days at home in Maine. I go to sleep with these recordings on loop with the hopes I'll dream about life's perfect moments and when I wake up I'll be there. That's what it was like in San Diego for three magical days in March.
I was invited by Sony to head out west to test out their Alpha line of cameras, and more specifically the Sony Alpha A7II. I was thrilled for the opportunity to leave Maine with the one hundred or so inches of snow fall that season to head to the sand and sun of the west coast. There is nothing quite like Spring in California, I was incredibly grateful for the invitation. Winter's cold grip was still in my bones as I stepped onto the plane starting my journey on the 25th. Fears, social anxiety and self doubt all left behind at the Portland airport, I was ready for a new adventure and this was the start of what would be six weeks of travel.
I landed in San Diego at 11AM after two flights and seven hours in transit. My hotel room wasn't quite ready so I wasted no time heading down to the ocean to feel the warm sand between my toes. I couldn't stop smiling. I think California has that effect on people. That morning I woke up to hills of snow and now, seven hours later I was across the country with my feet in the sand about to meet so many new creatives, all I had to do was jump on a plane. The flowers were blooming. The weather was warm. Life was beautiful.
I headed to my room for a shower and quick nap before meeting the group. We were given our gear for the week and set off to the beach to test the equipment and to get to know each other. We watched surfers and children play in the waves as the sun set, before walking to a local Mexican Restaurant. Dinner was a delight. Over drinks and burritos I listened to everyone's stories and passions. It amazes me that although each of us enjoy the same craft, our paths are all so vastly and uniquely different, but each of us embodying that love for adventure and photography I know we all feel. It's the common thread that opens so many doors to a lifetime of chasing your dream.
Regardless of the lack of sleep, I couldn't help but drag my tired eyes to the ocean to spend some quiet solo time shooting the waves after dinner. I absolutely loved the low light capability of the camera! Even at 2000 ISO the photos were clean and crisp. I longed for a sky with more stars and less light pollution to really see what the camera could do.
For the photography buffs out there the kit was as follows:
I woke up early the next morning excited for the day with a breakfast to go and hopped on the bus to Balboa Park for a morning of exploring. The architecture was incredible and the company was even better, we got to walk around the park in groups photographing every thing we could. We took a tour of the bell tower climbing the stairs to get a better vantage point of the city. I loved watching the planes coming in so close to the city, I could imagine the people on board looking back at us too, before landing. After a few hours of exploring, tower climbing, and wandering we all piled back into the bus to head to Ironside seafood restaurant where piranha heads decorated the walls. One of my favorite parts of the experience was the intimate meals I got to share with the other photographers and the Sony team. We would lose hours talking about photography, passions, dreams and goals. But we had a hot air balloon ride to prepare for so we headed back to the hotel.
We were given a couple of hours to rest so I used that time for a quick nap and to reflect on the excitement of the day. Here I was three thousand miles away from home in a city I've never been, having the most amazing time with so many talented photographers. It's funny how life turns out the way it does, that's the joy of living a freelance life. Every day is an adventure. Sometimes just opening your email whisks you away to places you've never dreamed of filled with opportunity and joy. I feel grateful to be able to live my passion in this crazy dream filled existence. I'm reminded every day how much of a precious gift this life can be.
Our next item on the agenda took us floating over the San Diego coast at sunset. I took more photos than I could ever possibly edit but I didn't want to miss a single heartbeat. We drank champagne as the balloons inflated and we were all ecstatic when they let us walk inside them. Up we went, for over an hour we glided along enjoying the views, often so amazed by the sights the only noise was the click of the shutters and hiss of the gas firing the balloon. You could see the sun set for miles and miles. It's something I'll never forget. We came in for a soft landing in a field and were met with more champagne and vans to take us to dinner. With all of us flying out the next morning, myself headed to Hawaii, we said our goodbyes around drinks and a buffet style dinner with city light views.
Having the opportunity to test out the gear helped to reignite my passion for the craft, I was able to step out of the comfort of my own equipment and get to know another brand's capabilities. I loved everything about the camera, from the live view viewfinder to ISO capability, to the focus peeking, to the mobile app that allows you to use your phone as a remote! I couldn't get over the wifi feature that allows you to send photos straight from the camera to your phone, that feature alone cut down on so much time in my process of uploading photos. With it's mirrorless technology I loved the size and weight of the camera allowing for ease of transport on long hikes as well as the quality of images I was able to create with it. And can we talk about the Zeiss lenses? The first I ever heard about Zeiss was our Neuro microscope the brain surgeons used while I was working in the operating room. Image that precision in a lens. I noticed a difference in the quality and sharpness of my images immediately. Sony truly is upping the ante so to speak, when it comes to DSLR capabilities. I was throughly impressed with their products.
I am sincerely thankful to Sony for the experience. I learned a lot about myself this trip. I found a strength in self sufficiency and happiness that would last me for the weeks to come. The memories will last a lifetime. And as with all other trips, I wish I took more photos. Even if I take three thousand photos in three days, I wish I took three thousand more.
Next stop is Hawaii!