Sunday Scenery

Paradise has never been about places. It exists in moments.
In connection. In flashes across time.
Victoria Erickson

“Even the Devil was once an Angel”

Road Trip by Debra

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My husband works every other weekend, the weekends he is home we love to go exploring and take a day trip just to get away.  This weekend we decided to visit some wineries in Brandywine, PA.  We went online and found one that we thought looked really lovely.  We drove 90 minutes to get to the Brandywine area in Pennsylvania, stopping on the way for breakfast.

We arrived at the winery, the vineyards were completely bare, not even a hint of color in the vines, looking as though they were a prop from a horror movie.  After driving such a long distance, we decided to get out of the car to walk around hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  I grabbed my camera and jacket, as I closed the car door, I noticed the building door was opened a crack, a woman proceeded to walk out of the building to greet us.  I asked her if they were open, she said yes and invited us in, Brian and I look at each other, not sure if we should go in or get back in our car, but feeling obligated, we followed the woman inside.  Once inside there is a wood stove burning with an overwhelming smell of smoke, then she closed the door to keep the wind out.  I think our hearts skipped a beat, looking nervously at each other, Brian asked if they had wine tastings, she said yes.  We are then asked to step into the wine tasting room, which was the size of a large closet, wine bottles and chocolate covered pretzels laid out on the table. A second older woman introduces herself and begins to explain the process of grape growing and how wine is made.  Still unsure about the entire winery, we ask if there is any scenery for photos, she says yes. Then leads us outside to a very unkept area where there are the most adorable sheep.  I think that was the highlight of this winery, not the wine!

While walking around the property I came upon this birdhouse, which I thought described the essence of where we were.  I knew once I photographed it there was something oddly special about it.  This particular birdhouse expressed the entire mood of the winery and described everything we had been feeling since we stepped out of the car. To add to the eery and creepy feeling, the sky was very overcast and the day was damp and bone chilling, which enhanced the overall feel of.   While driving to the next winery, I was thinking of the strangeness of the place we had just left.  It was a true experience and not a good one.   Not every experience is good but I do believe we always come away with feeling something from each experience we have.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time … Debra

Photo Session at the Mission
by Carolyn

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It was a cold and dreary day when we pulled up to the old mission in San Miguel. Not a bit of blue in the sky and the threat of rain. There weren’t too many people at the mission, just a few wandering about, looking at the work of those who lived there once upon a time.

We were there for a different purpose. I arrived with a family of six and we were set to do a family photo session. The mission is a great location for family photos or just for visiting. The beautiful adobe building was built more than 200 years ago. It was named for the Archangel Saint Michael. It is the 16th of the California Missions and is located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The twelve arches are a variety of shapes and sizes. At first glance, it isn’t noticeable, but with a further look you can see that they are indeed different.

On this cold November day, we started out front near the large archway opening with our photo session. We moved in to the plaza and took some photos near the fountain. As we continued on, we headed around the back to the cemetary and got a couple of unique shots near the bell tower. The old church doors made a perfect backdrop for the four adorable children. If you click here you can see some of the photos we took that day.

We ended up getting just a bit of rain on us … the clouds overhead didn’t produce much, but it was the beginning of a very rainy season for us here in California.

Thank you so much for stopping. We’d love it if you followed along on our journey as we share our lives coast to coast.



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Eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides.

by Debra

Friday brings a certain freedom as the clock strikes 4:30.  The work week is ended and the weekend has begun!  Today was another cold and blustery day in NJ, but I had it in my mind all day to head home, tend to Kenzie then head to the beach.  I gathered my equipment, grabbed a heavy coat, put on my Uggs and headed south on the Parkway. Ocean City is approximately 20 minutes from my home.  I’m not sure if I was truly prepared for the amount of wind at the beach, praying for warmer days to arrive soon, but there I was, on the beach, camera on tripod, ready to shoot.

I haven’t been doing much landscape photography lately, and the fact that Carolyn and I share a scenery photo each Sunday has reignited the landscape spark in me. I wanted to do a long exposure, not realizing how cold my hands would be, even with gloves on.  I was a lone soul on the beach today, there were people walking on the boardwalk, but I was the only crazy person on the beach taking photographs.  Even though it was extremely cold, I enjoyed myself immensely.  This photograph was taken with a 10 stop neutral density filter, which is a filter that is completely black, reducing light transmitted by 1000x.  This photograph is a 45 second exposure taken at 24mm; ISO 100; and f/16.  The idea behind long exposures is to keep the sensor open for a long period of time allowing light in and anything moving will blur.  So, with the sensor open for 45 seconds, the rushing ocean waves were blurred creating a silky, almost satin effect.  The top of the water looks almost like fog or smoke, creating a very serene and peaceful image.  The sun enhanced the color of the water adding a beautiful pink and purplish tone to the sky and silky water below. After about 30 minutes and frozen hands, I decided to head home.

For anyone who lives near Ocean City, NJ they know Manco and Manco pizza.  It is very well known in Southern NJ and most times you can’t leave the boardwalk without getting a slice of this yummy pizza.  I arrived at my car, loaded my equipment and headed to 12th Street to bring home a pizza pie for dinner.  As I walked up the stairs towards the boardwalk, I could smell the familiar aroma of their famous pizza.  Needless to say, the weekend is off to a good start.

I hope you enjoyed my Friday adventure and a bit about how my weekend began. Have a great weekend and I hope you find a fun spot this weekend to enjoy before Monday arrives. Until next time .. Debra

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As you leave Morro Bay, heading north, there’s a small opening in the fence that leads you to Estero Bluffs State Park. There isn’t an actual park, but a gorgeous almost untouched and unused part of the coastline. As I walked out on the narrow wildflower-lined path and got further from the highway, I could hear the waves crashing and soon got a glimpse of the almost empty beach.

The beauty of this place is just glorious. The recent rains have caused streams of water to flow from the landscape down into the ocean. The sand is almost perfect with very few footprints in it. The mountains rising up to the north surrounding the little town of Cayucos do nothing but add beauty to this enchanting scene.

Once I got my shots down on the water’s edge, I decided to follow the path right along the cliff’s edge. Because it’s March and we’ve just had so much rain here, the yellow wildflowers were blanketing the landscape. This short little walk with the bees buzzing and waves crashing gave me just enough time to relax and quiet my soul.

It’s pretty incredible that I’ve lived on this part of California for pretty much my whole life and this was my first stop at this section of the coast. I’m pretty certain that I’m not the only one who hadn’t discovered this little gem yet.

Camera Settings: 75mm, 1/1000, f/11, ISO 400

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Sunday Scenery East to West

“Always Look for the Rainbow” – Winnie the Pooh

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March came in like a lion, as we anxiously await the arrival of Spring, it feels more like winter than it did in all of January and February.  The weather plays havoc with your mood sometimes, and I am hearing so many people wishing for the warm weather to finally arrive.  So, when I woke up Saturday and the sky was gray and raining once more, I knew where to go and what type of photograph I wanted to take to express how the weather has been influencing the mood of many people on the east coast.

Ocean City and the beach seemed like the perfect place to venture to on a damp, cold and rainy morning.  My husband and I headed south on the Parkway and arrived in Ocean City to find much construction on the boardwalk.  It’s almost twice the size it was a few months ago.  I haven’t been down to Ocean City for a short while and it’s coming along quite nicely, it will be beautiful when summer arrives.

The unofficial start to summer begins on Memorial Day weekend, by that time, the weather should be sunny and much warmer than it has been in the past few weeks.  Even though the weather has been a bit dismal, it seemed like a perfect day to capture its mood by photographing the ocean.  Once we arrived and began walking on the beach, the wind whipped around our heads, reinforcing the cold and damp of the day.  As we walked for a bit, we decided to head back up toward the boardwalk, which is where I noticed this bicycle sitting, waiting for it’s owner to continue their journey.  This bicycle seemed to be yearning for warmer days but we get what Mother Nature gives us, and today, it was anything but warmth.  I felt as though the clouds captured the spirit of the day very nicely.  The dark tones of gray swirling around the bits of white peeking through emphasized the raw feeling my husband and I were experiencing.

Even though the weather was cold and damp, this bicycle seemed to tell a story, that I felt needed to be captured.  Maybe it’s owner would ride the length of the boardwalk enjoying the cold upon their face, savoring the quiet of the last few days of winter before the craziness of the spring and summer season begin. Maybe they would head home hoping for a cup of hot cocoa once they arrived.   This story was mine to imagine, or maybe it’s yours?

Thanks for stopping by, until next time … Please visit me here to view my galleries.

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The long windy road, taking you past little ranches and beautiful orchards and vineyards just out of the north end of Paso will eventually take you to Halter Ranch Vineyard. It’s 24th Street that you start out on and Paso Robles is the town … locals shorten it to ‘Paso’. As you leave town, you’ll pass by the cemetery on Mountain Springs Road and then Jardine Ranch on the right. We use to go out there and buy almonds and big boxes of oranges. I haven’t done that in years, but have gone out to Halter Ranch a couple of times to do photography sessions.

As I said, the road is long, but the scenery is well worth the drive. Adelaide Road is speckled with old ranches, almond orchards, orange groves, vineyards, adorable little houses and more! As you get further back in on Adelaide Road there are a few spots where you can pull off to the side and get out of your car to see the incredible long view north-west towards the ocean. You’ll want to make sure you have your camera with you as the photo opportunities are many!

Deeper on the oak lined, two lane road, you’ll finally come to Halter Ranch on the right. Such a gorgeous spot! The old yellow ranch house has enough character all on it’s own to draw you out to this excellent wine tasting location. Once past that, you’ll see the old white barns and rustic bridge you that take you to the state of the art new buildings that are now for wine tasting and more.

If you’re ever in the area, this is a spot you won’t want to miss!

Camera Settings: 85mm, 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 200

Thanks for stopping in … click here to see my California gallery.


Sunday Scenery from NJ to CA

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The earth has music for those who listen.  –  George Santayana

Memories by Debra

Remembering the past is so important, not just for our own personal experience, but for prosperity.  My photograph today was taken on January 2, 2012 at 7:23 AM in Ocean City, NJ.  I had read much about the 59th Street pier and could not wait to photograph this treasure for myself.  The pier had been just a skeleton by the time I photographed it, but there was a certain charm about this old structure, that drew photographers from near and far to come and have their chance with it’s beauty.  The reason for photographing it at this precise time of year is because of the Winter Solstice.  During the winter months, the sun is so low in the sky, I was able to catch the sun just coming over the horizon as it peeked through the pilings.  To create the sunburst effect, I set my f-stop at 22, which created the star effect in the sun.

This pier drew people from wedding parties to family portraits, to photographers such as myself, to come and have their photographs taken by it and of it.  Sadly, Super Storm Sandy destroyed the skeleton which you see in my photograph.  The pier is a mere memory now, in our minds and in print, but if you wanted to visit this end of the beach, the pier is now gone and the jetty that led up to it is no longer there.  Man came in and redid the entire beach area and it is not even recognizable anymore.  The charm and history, however, live on in our memories and in what photographers chose to represent in their photographs.

So, remember the past and document it.  Photography is so much more than a snapshot, it is history and it’s meaning is more than just a picture hanging on a wall.  This photograph does adorn my family room wall in a life size 30×40 print.

Thank you for sharing in my memories.  Until next time …

Rolling Hills

My photo today is of a portion of the rolling hills I mentioned on Friday. This is actually a dip between the hills. As I leave my home, heading down the dirt road, I drive for just under a mile before I get to the highway. Once I’m there and I turn towards town, this is the view off to my right. The green normally doesn’t last for long. This year, because of all the rains we’ve gotten, I’m really hoping it stays green longer.

Just to the south of these hills, there was an old almond orchard. It’s long since dried up and the trees that remain standing are so close to dead. They do get some blossoms in the springtime and some leaves but don’t produce any sort of crop.

Some people feel these rolling hills are boring. It’s difficult for me to see how someone could think any part of God’s creation is boring. They are actually a huge part of the landscape here in California. We can note the changes of the season by the variation of color in these hills as they go from this emerald green, to golden, to the deep brown of the dirt when the ground is tilled.

Special techniques to get this shot … None … I basically just pulled over to the side of the road and snapped. Sometimes they turn out amazing that way! 🙂

Have a happy Sunday! To see more of my California photos you can click here.

Camera Settings: 28-135mm at 44 mm, 1/350, f/9.5, ISO 100


California to New Jersey … a Glimpse

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Young Love by Debra

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

Author: The Bible: 1 Corinthians 13:4

I took this photograph on 8.5.14 and exactly two years later, my daughter married her high school sweetheart.   As a parent, we sometimes think, maybe they should date other people, just to be sure they are choosing the right person.  However, I know that my daughter chose the right person.  He is sweet, caring and always has her best interest at heart.  He always puts her first and makes sure she is taken care of.  Honestly, what more can a mother want for her daughter.  We are fortunate to have a  wonderful son-in-law and look forward to them enjoying many happy years together.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day.  Until next time … Debra

 Hearts in Harmony

Along the pacific coast highway between Cayucos and Cambria you’ll find the sweet little town of Harmony. With just one street turning into this place, boasting a population of 18 you have to be on watch or you’ll pass right by it.

I always enjoy stopping in and always find so many photographic opportunities. The little chapel, the glass blowing shop and a few other unique businesses all add to the charm.

If you find yourself anywhere near this little gem on the Central Coast of California I encourage you to stop in and take a look.

Have a lovely week!

To see more of my California photos, click here.


Local Landmarks – east & west

“There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.”

Today, Carolyn and I share a local landmark from each coast of the USA.  It’s interesting, since I’ve never been to California or the west coast, to see how different that part of our country is.  I imagine Carolyn might feel the same about NJ and the east coast.

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First, some history of the Ocean City Music Pier.  The Ocean City Music Pier dates back to 1928 when construction began to create a new concert hall for the community that had just lost a large portion of the boardwalk to a fire in 1927. The Music Pier that you see today was dedicated on July 4, 1929 with much fanfare.

Today the pier is known for stand up comedy to musicals, and from soloists to the Ocean City Pops orchestra.  The Ocean City Pops has a summer concert series from July through October that showcases the beautiful music of the orchestra.

During the summer months, Ocean City is always crowded with local visitors and beach goers from afar.  Although we visit Ocean City during the summer months, we truly love to visit after Labor Day, when all of the visitors are long gone.  Once the crowds have returned home, locals have the beach all to themselves.  The photo I am sharing with you today, was taken on Wednesday evening at 6pm.  For a November evening, it was unusually warm, but as we walked along the boardwalk, you could feel a chill in the air.  The sun was just setting, my how quickly the sun sets this time of year.  The sky was just beginning to display beautiful shades of pink, purple and various shades of blue.  The music pier is a building of quiet beauty, painted in a beautiful shade of pink with accents of tan which seem to represent the color of sand.

I don’t know if the music pier is an “official” landmark in NJ, but it’s a landmark very well known in this area.  I hope you have enjoyed the brief history and my sunset photograph of the Music Pier in Ocean City, NJ.

Until next time . . . Deb

California has 21 Spanish missions, established by the Catholic priests. The idea was to expand Christianity among the Native Americans and colonization into this north western state.

The mission that I’m sharing today is Mission San Miguel Archangel. It’s located on Highway 101 in the town of San Miguel, about 20 miles north of where I live. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you come to the mission. The structure made of adobe, stone, tile and huge rustic wood is beautifully laid out on about a half an acre of land.

While the mission is open daily holding mass for locals, it is also a place for tourists to stop. I personally have used it as a location for photo sessions. The beautiful arches, stone walls, fountain and so much more provide striking backdrops.

The bell wall, which I chose to share with you today, is the first thing you see as you approach the mission coming from the south. If you ever visit California I encourage you to visit the missions, as they are incredible to see and experience and a wonderful part of our history.

See you on Sunday … Carolyn