Tag Archives: photography

(s)mitten

Tucked against the foothills of the San Bernadino National Forest, Redlands is a hidden gem sprinkled with independent coffee roasters, vibrant wall murals, a striking juxtaposition of trees (pine and palm alike) and a charming small town vibe. This is where Lauren and I found ourselves on a recent Sunday, there to accompany a pretty rad couple on their wedding day. We had such an amazing time photographing Mel and Danny’s quite perfect ceremony and reception at the Mitten Building, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to join in celebrating their love.

 

Here are a few favorites to share:
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Be cool and pop over here to stay up to date with Lauren’s beautiful work.

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Happy Birthday, Babycakes.

We recently celebrated a dear friend’s birthday on a Sunday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, situating ourselves amongst the tombstones to nosh on cupcakes and bagels. All reservations aside, the afternoon was incredibly peaceful and surprisingly joyful as we loved on our birthday girl. Despite a near-death experience with an aggressive swan, I walked away feeling like cemeteries might actually be the perfect locales for a quiet afternoon with friends.

I guess I’m 2 for 2 with cheerful jaunts through cemeteries!

 

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Happy birthday, babycakes.

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Scottish Highlands | Day 2

After a quick breakfast at our loch-side hotel in Ft. William we were off to the nearby train station for the start of our second day in the highlands. This was when my brother and I came face-to-face with a very significant part of our childhood: The Hogwarts Express. Jacobite Steam Train Ft WilliamIn reality, this is an extension of the West Highland Railway that runs from Ft William to the coastal town of Mallaig. Dating back to 1901, this steam train was built to allow for easier access to the Scottish Atlantic coast. By 1967 all regular services were halted and steam trains would be replaced with modern locomotives. Nearly 20 years later, British Rail brought the steam train back to life to encourage tourism and generate income. For the next several decades the lined continued to operate under several different names, finally settling on The Jacobite as a nod to the local connections to Jacobite political events. I am sure that with the use of this line for the Harry Potter movies this train has experienced an incredible surge in activity. The company in control of The Jacobite actually provided Warner Brothers both with the train used as the Hogwarts Express for each of the films and with the Ft William – Mallaig line for filming.

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The views from this journey are absolutely spectacular. Harry Potter fan or not, this is such a worthwhile trip and an amazing way to experience some of the more remote corners of Scotland.Jacobite Steam Train Ft WilliamJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig Glenfinnan ViaductJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig Glenfinnan

In Mallaig we had the opportunity to spend about an hour and a half exploring the little town and grabbing a bite to eat (fish and chips, of course).Jacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig Glenfinnan

Then it was back aboard The Jacobite for our return journey to Ft William…Jacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig GlenfinnanJacobite Steam Train Ft William Mallaig Glenfinnan

Back in Ft William, we began our journey back down to Edinburgh with a few stops along the way — including a chance to see that stark, gorgeous, eerie stretch of the A82 used in Skyfall when Bond and M drive up through the highlands to Bond’s childhood home.

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Looking at these pictures again makes me seriously long to be in Scotland again!!! The highlands are like nothing I’d ever seen. If you ever have the chance to go definitely make time to see this if at all possible. The tour we took was hosted by Highland Experience Tours and we could not have asked for a better time.

Ahh, Scotland, you’re just so beautiful!

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Scottish Highlands | Day 1

I’m not usually one to chase after a large, group-style guided tour. I usually prefer to take things at my own pace, allow experiences to unfold in an organic way, and have a general rough framework for a trip but allow the rest to fall into place naturally. However, I will be the first to admit that there are some situations and places that call for a guided tour of some sort. Knowing that my family and I wanted to get up to the highlands and Loch Ness and such, I began searching for a tour we could take from Edinburgh. After some internet research I came across Highland Experience Tours. This company had tons of options to choose from, but I was particularly drawn to one of their 2-day tours that would take us on…the……Hogwarts Express.

Yep. The Hogwarts Express.

Okay the tour actually included a ride on a Jacobite steam train from the 18th century, but this also happens to be the train that is used in the Harry Potter films during the students’ journey to Hogwarts.

Harry Potter aside, this tour looked like it promised to show us everything we wanted to see. We’d start from Edinburgh and make our way Northwest through Cairngorm National Park, Inverness and Loch Ness, the severe yet breathtaking landscape of Ranoch Moor and everything in-between. This ended up being the absolute perfect way to spend two of our days in Scotland. Our tour guide was a wealth of knowledge and Scottish history, and he would narrate our drives through misty mountains and sweeping vistas with stories of warfare, gore, and folktales. I would definitely call this a highlight of our entire trip.

We began at the Forth Rail Bridge, which dates all the way back to 1890. This bridge was constructed at a great cost – 7 years, 10 times as much metal as the Eiffel Tower, and a jaw-dropping 98 lives. One man fell beyond retrieval, and the only solution for his comrades was to lower him poisoned food in order to grant him death as humanely as possible. (His body is still somewhere in the depths of the bridge…!)Scotland Forth Rail Bridge

Our first stop was Dunkeld, a small town north of Perth. We walked to the Dunkeld Cathedral and learned about the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689, when the outnumbered Cameronian Regiment fended off the Jacobites by securing themselves within the cathedral. The Jacobites sought shelter in the abandoned thatch-roof homes of the village. In the middle of the night, the covenanters went around to their former homes and quietly locked the doors. They proceeded to set fire to the village and miraculously won the battle against forces that had been so superior to their own.Scotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands Dunkeld

Next was a quick stop at the ancient burial ground of Clava Cairns. Very few of these centuries-old structures have remained in-tact in Scotland due to the Victorians taking a great interest in these sites and claiming their contents for themselves, however this particular one is well-preserved. Dating back 4,000 years, Clava Cairns is an example of a circular burial chamber exhibiting prehistoric rock art. We then hopped over to the battlefield at Culloden, the site of another battle between Jacobite and government forces.Scotland HighlandsScotland HighlandsScotland HighlandsScotland HighlandsScotland Highlands Culloden BattlefieldScotland Highlands Culloden BattlefieldScotland Highlands Culloden Battlefield

Our last stop of the day was probably the biggest. Loch Ness. No, we did not see Nessie 😦Scotland Highlands Loch NessScotland Highlands Loch NessScotland Highlands Loch NessScotland Highlands Loch NessAfter a short catamaran trip on the loch we arrived at Castle Urquhart, originally a medieval fortress but used between the 13th and 16th centuries as an important stronghold in the Scottish Wars of Independence, then as a royal castle, suffered quite a bit of destruction in the 17th century to prevent use by the Jacobites, and is now one of the most-visited castles in Scotland.

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We then made our way to Ft William for the night, passing Scotland’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, along the way.

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Few! We covered a lot of ground and this is only the half of it! I know I mentioned the Hogwarts Express, but I just don’t think I can fit everything into one post. That’s up next, I promise!

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Edinburgh | Arthur’s Seat

On one of our first mornings in Edinburgh we decided to bundle up and make our way past the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace to climb Arthur’s Seat. I have to confess that this has been a dream of mine since reading the book One Day by David Nicholls. It was a blustery, COLD morning, but we made it to the top despite the wind’s greatest efforts to blow us off the surface of the earth!

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I loved the sense of unspoken camaraderie at the top. Though we were all strangers to each other, there was something to be said for the shared accomplishment of making it to the pinnacle of Arthur’s Seat. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to climb an actual mountain…

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Edinburgh

Well Edinburgh, you’ve officially done it. You’ve captured my heart. I was highly intrigued by you on my first visit, but after our getting re-acquainted last week you’ve really won me over. There’s something about the way your ancient cobblestones daily collide with this modern world of smartphones and Smart Cars. The way your people seem to be built of a heartier stock; people who took one look at us wimpy Southern Californians donning North Face and scarves to fend off the windy, 59° weather and said “This is summer!”

Above all, though, I think what I am most captivated by is the way your city seems to float. My mom pointed this out after our first few days and I’ve been fixated on this idea ever since. Anchored by Princes Street Gardens, Old Town rises majestically and effortlessly up to Edinburgh Castle. On the opposite side, New Town provides a strong contrast with its austere and uniform Georgian townhouses. The result is two halves of the same city somehow suspended both in time and space. Ah, I just love it.

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Buckle up, blogosphere, I have so much more Scotland to share…

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Oxford

Oxford is a city that inhales knowledge and exhales intellect. What can you expect, really, from a city where dons and scholars weave through the streets alongside mere civilian folk, and where the little pub around the corner is not just the nearest watering hole but the former gathering place of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. On this visit to the great mecca of wisdom and scholastic thought, my family had the privilege of seeing the city through my brother’s eyes, as he had just finished a two-month study abroad program at Oxford’s New College. From our AirBnB flat we established a home-base and did our best to squeeze as much Oxford into two days as we could.

Our home away from home in Oxford was down a quiet street on Osney Island, just a short hop skip and a jump over the bridge from the rail station. When we walked through the front door I was immediately squealing with delight (on the inside…and a little bit on the outside) over the LIGHT in this SPACE!

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Oxford England Flat

Oxford England Flat

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Although my family had visited Christ Church before, I don’t really think it’s acceptable to go to Oxford without stepping inside this breathtaking part of the campus. Christ Church dates back to 1524 and has housed students like Lewis Carroll, W.H. Auden, and John Locke. I mean, really.

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It’s no small secret that Harry Potter was partly filmed at Christ Church, but it certainly bears repeating nonetheless!

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I did a little research and learned something interesting about this graceful bridge ^ Posted it on my Instagram shortly after passing beneath it 😉

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On our last evening in Oxford my brother took us for dinner at The Eagle and Child near his former residence in St. Giles’. THIS was pretty cool, because it was at this pub that C.S. Lewis presented his initial drafts of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to J.R.R. Tolkien and other members of their writer’s club, The Inklings, in the “Rabbit Room,” where they all convened for lunch on Mondays or Tuesdays.

Oxford England The Eagle and Child

Gosh, I just don’t feel like I’m doing these cities justice! Again, I feel like I barely scratched the surface of everything we saw. In all honesty, though, we breezed through London and Oxford because our main destination on this trip was Edinburgh, where my brother is now living until December. But I do have oonnneeee more post in store before we make our way north to Scotland…

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