We were in the Marina of Santa Barbara and I was looking for a cheap restaurant. Then I spotted On The Alley and rushed to the place. The song California Dreaming (a hit of The Mamas & The Papas) was playing and the attendants were dancing animatedly. When they saw me, they blushed. I just laughed and they immediately started serving me (and the service was excellent). I and my wife, Nina, enjoyed the food and left the place very happily after having a delicious raspberry pie with ice cream for dessert.
That was our experience in California…smiles, good service, good professionals, friendly people and wonderful places. I confess that, when Nina insisted to make that trip, I told her I had no intention to visit the United States, but when she mentioned Yosemite National Park, then everything changed. Ansel Adams had always been an icon, a reference for me, and Yosemite was in my list of places to visit. Since we had made a reservation and bought promotional air tickets, I planned to visit only National and State Parks and go camping there. We traveled for ten days, starting from Los Angeles, where we rented a car and drove to Yosemite NP, then to Santa Cruz California where we stayed in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, soon after which we headed for the Big Sur and finally went back to Los Angeles.
After deciding on the details of the trip, I started to think about making photos and shooting in the US. From the beginning, I decided not to get involved with anyone for publishing the photos, since I intended to rest, visit places and be free from photography work. We agreed to meet a friend couple at Yosemite. Although this kind of meeting limits the freedom of a photographer, I had no concerns about that. There was another doubt about the purchase of equipment; I needed some items, including an SB-700 flash and some accessories. It was difficult to decide between buying a Drone or a wide-angle lens. I talked to Nina and explained to her that I would buy a wide-angle lens instead (Nikon 20mm f/1.8G) because, although drones were fashionable, I had been planning for a long time to invest in such a lens. I already own a Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR lens, which is much heavier, difficult to carry and with lower quality, compared to the 20mm f/1.8G. I decided to take the following equipment with me: Nikon D750, 50mm f/1.8G, 85mm f/1.8G, 80-200mm f/2.8D, a Manfrotto tripod and accessories. The Nikon 20mm f/1.8G joined my camera bag right at the beginning of the trip.
As soon as I arrived at Yosemite NP, I felt the strength of that place and its tradition with photography. I saw photographers with modern equipment and solid expertise, but this has never intimidated me. On the contrary, it challenges me to improve my photography knowledge and skills. Another thing that also made me relax was the awareness that I could not photograph “everything”, so I tried not to be anxious, enjoy the place and have fun. That was my attitude during the entire trip, since we remained in each location for a short time; two days at Yosemite, almost one day in Santa Cruz and two days at Big Sur.
I recognize that I made some miscalculation. Yosemite NP, for example, is much larger than I thought and, even using a car, the distances between places were much different and longer from what I expected. However, the weather was great and we loved being in California. Although the cost is rather high for us Brazilians (everything is 4x times the price), the experience was worth it. American people are extremely polite and we were always treated with respect and good service (except for the customs office, but this is understandable). Now, the photos will tell the rest of the story, since I am not good with words. Maybe one day we return to Yosemite for a longer stay: 10 days or so to get the full experience.
Regards to all Photography Life colleagues, André Berlinck
This guest post was contributed by André Berlinck, a professional photographer from Brazil. You can see more of his work on his site.