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Weekly Recap #3: "Big Smiles, Big Cats & Bikes"

So this last week was quite an eventful one, & because of that, this post will involve quite a few photos & will also be separated into little categories.

Highlight #1: "Cougar Crossing" If I had to pick one hobby that I like the most, it would have to be riding bikes. While some may consider my job a hobby, photography & video are in fact what I do for work, so they don't count. So, back to this favorite hobby of mine... Around 90% of Mondays in a year you'll catch me on one of my bikes. You could probably add around the same percentage of Saturdays to that, although it actually might be a little less. Mondays are my day to ride now mostly due to the fact that my bike club/team, Linked Cycling, meets every Monday. In the summers, the Linked crew meets at a trail-head at Black Mountain Open Space Park, & in the winter we meet at our current bike shop sponsor, Black Mountain Bicycles. This past Monday however, my team mate & buddy, Jonathan & I ventured out east to the trails out in Mount Laguna. These trails start at a higher elevation & are actually out in the MOUNTAINS of San Diego County, so its cool to actually have some semi-local single track trails that aren't just fire road climbs that we can hop on about 30 minutes away. I had my GoPro Session 5 mounted on my bike & did run a couple of videos & snapped a few photos during our ride. However, I regrettably did not run video the entire time, & man I wish I could go back & change that. I say this because a very rare event happened while we were riding. As Jonathan was riding a little a head of me on a trail that goes alongside Big Laguna Lake, a MOUNTAIN LION crossed right in front of his path running back up toward the tree line! It must have come down to get a drink of water & we just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. Fortunately this brief encounter was just that, very brief & involved no type of "scary moment" where we felt like our lives were in danger by this very BIG cat. Unfortunately, we have no photo or video files to share with you of that moment, but it was definitely cool to realize how closely we share these trails with such beautiful creatures.

Often times, we have to ride through a large group of cattle out in Laguna. I honestly was more worried about riding through the cattle and upsetting one of the herd more than I was scared of the mountain lion, seeing that I didn't even realize the mountain lion was there before it was gone. The tranquility & beauty of the big meadow always makes me want to come back.

Great place for a JoJe' Bar break!

Highlight #2: 4th of July

On the 4th of July, we had some cousins over for a BBQ. My boys ended up having so much fun, they were too tired to go watch fireworks at night. Talk about "#DadLife", I ended up staying home with them while my wife took our eldest, Ellie, out to watch fireworks with our cousins. Sara has been the one home with the babies the past couple of years, so this time I volunteered to stay. My wife, being the considerate person that she is, of course offered to stay, but I told her the only thing I would really be bummed about is the opportunity to capture more photos of the kids :) I did get to capture a few photos of them during the day though. The following photos are actually completely unedited photos straight out of camera using the Canon Camera Connect app. These photos are particularly interesting to me because I captured them with my Canon 5d Mark IV & the Sigma 18-35mm Art lens I picked up the week before. What makes them interesting is the fact that the Sigma lens isn't meant for full-frame camera bodies. If I were to capture photos with that lens at anything but the 35mm focal length you can observe major vignetting in the corners & at 18mm, a major crop of the entire photo happens. I'll have to post two examples of that another time, but basically what got me so excited was the fact that these two pieces of equipment are actually capable of working together at one focal length & the photographs turn out beautifully. As previously stated, these photos are unedited & I feel like the overall color tone of them has a different feel than what you would get from other Canon glass. Its definitely a lens I intended to use more with my Sony a6500 & a6300 cameras as well as shooting with crop sensors found on cinematic level video cameras such as the Red Epic, but I'm excited to basically now have a beautiful 35mm f1.8 prime lens for my 5d as well.

Still a soft vignetting on the edges at 35mm, but nothing that can't be fixed in Photoshop by brightening the edges or a simple crop.

Highlight #3: Family Photos

Later in the week I got to bust out the handy 5d again to capture photos of the Lyons-Pardue family & their newest member, baby Iris. The Lyons-Parudes are actually my wife's cousins & some of the closest family members that live in town, so its always a pleasure to see them. Taking pictures of families with little ones can be tough sometimes because not many kids between the ages of 1 & 7 really like to sit still & look a a man behind a lens for too long. So most of the time these sessions turn into a big hang out time, with a "go with the flow" vibe & an afternoon of play. We had so much fun just hanging out & I would pick up the 5d with a 70-200mm lens from a distance & try to just capture as natural of a moment as possible. I remember when I was younger & seeing some photographers use this technique, but thinking they really just want to show off the fact that they own nice glass, when in reality, the convenience of giving the family space & having a zoom lens that adds more depth to your photos is the real plus.

Big sister, Zoe, entertaining us all by pretending to be a statue.

Highlight #5: Spiderman, podcasts & A6300 & 6500 testing

It's always an honor to meet up with my buddy Chris Davis, & I got to see him 3 times this past week! Once at church, once to watch the latest Spiderman, & once to let him try out the a6300 & a6500 & talk about a potential podcast. Chris & I have been talking the last few months about starting a sort of tech podcast with our friend, Ian, where we can geek out on all the latest offerings from the companies that provide us with the equipment we use in our perspective industries. Chris is a creative dad that has run a lot of web development, web series, & podcasts for companies over the years & we both have this thing for trying to watch every super hero movie the day it comes out.

Chris is also a dad of teens on summer break & they're all about to take a family trip to London & Paris. This gave me the opportunity to share even more thoughts from the cameras I talked about in my last post, because all of those cameras are great for travel. Chris already owned the previous model to the Sony a 6300 & 6500, the Sony a6000, and he & his kids also own previous GoPro models. The upgrade of the microphone jack on the a6300, ability to shoot 4k video, & more auto-focus points definitely gave Chris reason enough to upgrade to the a6300 over the a6000. However, we concluded, for the amount of money he would save between the a6300 & the a 6500, it wasn't really worth the upgrade for a touch screen, in-camera stabilization & even more auto-focus points. With the potential 400+ dollars he would save by getting the a 6300, he could buy an upgraded GoPro5 & allow his daughter to now use his older a6000. Overall, I think they're going to be set for capturing great family photos this summer & look for a link in the near future for a podcast where we discuss these sort of subjects in more detail.

Highlight #6: SPNDX Stampede

On Friday the same buddy I rode with at Mt. Laguna got a new gravel bike, jussssst in time for us to do the SPNDX Stampede the next day out in Temecula. "Gravel-Bikes" aren't necessarily a "new" concept or bike, but it is a type of riding that is definitely opening up an opportunity for a new style of bike event. Typically people would ride either a style of road bike or mountain bike for certain events, and even "Cross-bikes" or "CX" bikes for a mixed terrain sort of short race series. The "Gravel-Bike" is basically a bicycle that takes on the concept of "lets make events & bikes that can do it all". This particular bike event happened on what felt like one of the hottest days of the year & went through some sections that were so sandy, we were forced to walk. What I like about these bikes though, is the sense that you really can ride almost any type of terrain & with a decent efficiency. If one were to take a typical mountain bike on a road bike ride, you would feel sluggish because of the heavy tread the tires have, & if you were to take a road bike on mountain bike trails you would feel like you didn't have enough tire & tread to get through the terrain. The gravel bike is the answer to that because these bikes are made to tackle both scenarios. They're tough enough for the trail, yet agile enough to keep up on the asphalt as well. In spite of the very toasty temperatures & tough sandy trails, I was definitely excited to explore some new terrain, but also see some potential new places to capture photos for clients. The heat, definitely didn't completely blind me of the beautiful wine country that we rode through at times.

Highlight #7: Logo development

The last two pictures I want to share are part of my process for coming up with a logo for this new adventure. The idea behind this whole "Creative Dad Network" is to share ideas on how to manage this crazy balancing act of being a father. All the aspects of being a creative person are already overwhelming at times, & I know for me, being a father has completely changed the way that I think about my creative work, but it also inspires me to get better & to try new things. My kids have added a entirely new level of inspiration & curiosity for me to explore my creativity & I'm so thankful for that. I'm excited to see how my buddy Todd interprets my chicken scratch that I came up with after putting my kids to bed & I will definitely be sharing the results on the blog soon.

As seen in the last photo, we're currently exploring the idea of making the logo look like a sort of merit badge. I thought this idea was fun because of the fact that being a dad is like entering into a new club, or fraternity of sorts. Also, since I am from Southern California, the logo definitely needs to be able to be thrown onto a trucker hat. Everyone knows a good patch always looks awesome on a trucker :)

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