Sightseeing in San Juan Bautista, California

A lovely day-trip destination, San Juan Bautista delights with a blend of history, culture, small-town charm, and delicious culinary adventures.  After thoroughly exploring the mission, being sure to peek around corners into less-explored rooms and taking the time to absorb the architectural and historical details, stroll down to the adjacent and very walkable main street where classic old-town Californian architecture and the mom-and-pop local businesses provide a low-key backdrop to an aimless afternoon.  Wandering from shop to shop, be sure to pause for a signature apricot margarita in a beautiful garden patio setting.  Or for a dining experience that the locals would probably rather keep secret, leave the main avenues and go a block further from the mission, for some unassumingly wholesome and satisfying family-style basque cuisine.

The avenues were quiet on this mid-winter day, and as the gardens of the mission come into bloom, the warmth of this inviting town will draw more spring and summer crowds, including motorcyclists enjoying a ride through the pastoral countryside, and families seeking a sunny and simple getaway.  From Monterey, Santa Cruz, or the greater San Francisco bay area, San Juan Bautista can be an easy weekend adventure, and beyond the attractions in town, there are extensive hiking trails and geological sites of interest providing even more accessible and active experiences.  I am looking forward to returning later in the year, to further explore the charms of this classic California town.

To see these images in full-resolution and to view the complete gallery of photographs from my exploration of San Juan Bautista, check out my California Travel Photography archives.

Happy Holidays from Monterey Bay, California

One of many local holiday traditions, the Lighted Boat Parade brightens up the Monterey Bay from the harbor to Cannery Row, offering a colorful celebration of the season’s cheer.  Families with small children and longtime community residents enjoy the camaraderie as they line the piers and beaches to view the parade of boats decorated with Christmas lights, while music plays and sailors shout holiday greetings to shore.  See the full gallery of the 2014 Monterey Lighted Boat Parade here!

Client Work: Fringe Outerwear

Luxurious materials, bold colors, creative details, and that priceless handmade touch that true artisans bring to their work; Fringe Outerwear is a one-woman operation, and I recently had the pleasure of photographing some of her lovely knit and crochet items, some ready for sale now, some prime for personalized customization.  She even blogs!  Find a little something for yourself or someone you love, and see more of my lifestyle product photography in the Fringe Outerwear Etsy shop.

if you only knew…

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I have long loved seeing familiar landscapes from unfamiliar perspectives, and an aerial view of the earth always invites the eye to pause and take in the details. Sometimes the effect is as if a map has come alive, and our minds seek to become oriented within the relationships of geographic features and man-made structures.

For me, the most captivating details are the ways in which the effects of time are made visible on the landscape, and to really see the larger features and their accompanying textural details, one must take to the air. This image is one of many in an ongoing series of fine art aerial landscape photographs, ‘time will tell‘, in which I am exploring the nuances of the North American landscape and the subtle stories it may have to share.

Harbor seal mothers and their playful pups

On the sheltered beaches of Monterey, Carmel, and Point Lobos, one can catch a lovely glimpse into the lives of harbor seals.  This time of year, the cute harbor seal pups are beginning to explore their watery homes, and their mothers keep a watchful eye as they swim through the swaying kelp forests and quiet coves.  Some of the pups are particularly plump and round, and as they get brave enough to swim away from their mothers, there are moments of playful freedom in the surf.  Once a pup realizes that they can no longer see their mother however, they will cry, short sad little calls that bring their mothers quickly to their side.  The pups only have 3 to 4 weeks before they will be weaned, and witnessing this precious time that they have with their mothers is quite a special sight.

See more harbor seal interactions and behavior in the APK Photography Harbor Seal gallery.

Curtains: newly released abstract photography prints

curtains, rain and passing landscapeFrom recent travels in California, this short series of abstract rain and landscape photographs was shot from a moving train.  I’ve released them as fine art photography prints, offering a quiet and moody visual experience.  As light is captured and scattered by each water-drop caught on the window, the lush green and warm earth tones of an agricultural landscape softly fill the background, occasionally interrupted by the gray concrete and distinct lines of urban infrastructure.  Travel, and particularly train travel, can be a very contemplative undertaking, and I created these images while thinking about the recent challenges of a very transitional time in my life.  It is my hope that these photographs may speak to others as well, and offer an opportunity to reflect on life in it’s abstract, fleeting beauty.

Find the full set of “curtains 1-5″ in my archives, with new fine art abstract photography print galleries to be added soon.

The best camera…

…is the one you have with you.  If you’ve been anywhere near the internet in the past several years, you’ve heard this phrase.  If you’re a photographer of any sort, from hobbyist to professional, you know without a doubt that it is true.

I’ve worked with SLRs since the age of seven, when my father entrusted me with a 35mm Minolta SLR body and a few lenses, providing an endless supply of black and white film for my early photography explorations.  I also had a Kodak point-and-shoot through which I must have run hundreds of rolls of color print film.  When it came time for me to start building my own SLR camera kit, it came in the form of an upgrade to an entry-level Nikon FM-10, which I still keep handy for those opportunities when a return to 35mm film for a few shots might be worthwhile.

With each camera, I learned very quickly to work with whatever equipment I had on hand.  Didn’t pack the right lens for the occasion?  I’d work with what I had thought to bring, and never regretted the lessons learned in those moments of artistic and technical problem-solving.

In the digital era, I once again found myself playing with the freedom and spontaneity of a newer Kodak point-and-shoot, while the bulk of my photographic work was created with a Nikon D80, which I managed to make effective in a wider-range of shooting circumstances than the manufacturers may have intended.  I worked with the D80 well past the reported limit of actuations, and as the image quality began to degrade, I knew my beloved DSLR body had helped me to build an extensive portfolio as I explored different shooting styles and challenges.

I have now made the ultimate upgrade, working with a Nikon D800, and the creative flexibility and power it provides has opened up new paths for me, through visual and technical experience.  It is an incredible piece of engineering, and I hope my photography will continue to evolve as I learn to make use of all that it offers.

What inspired this post, however, is a recent, smaller upgrade.  For nearly 4 years, I’ve carried around an iPod touch as my “pocket computer”.  I tend to be a late-adopter on principle, and did not see the need for an expensive data-hungry phone, when any wi-fi connection could connect me in an instant to the online world.  With the iPod, I started an instagram account and enjoyed the spontaneous world of snapshot sharing.  As the years have gone by, I have been keenly aware of how the quality of my low-resolution images compare to those made by newer smartphones and mobile devices.  Yet I continued to share my world and in-the-moment photos in low-resolution, because in many instances it was the only camera I had with me, and therefore it was the best camera for that moment.  I’ve now upgraded my phone, and while the camera can not compare to my DLSR, it offers me new creative opportunities as I share higher-quality images and may find myself even further inspired to capture those candid and intimate moments that every day has to offer.  Join me on the journey!

Allison Kendall is a freelance Fine Art & Editorial photographer based in Monterey, California apkphotography [at] gmail.com 831. 204.2268

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