Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Indian Summer Days

Last weekend, my friend Jenni generously invited me along with some of her other friends to spend the weekend at a vacation house that her parents have rented up in Calistoga. The house was out of this world, an incredible 60 acre wine country estate with a pool, vineyards and apple trees. I brought my digital SLR (Nikon D90) with a 50mm lens and spent the weekend taking a lot of photos. It felt good and reinforced the conviction that photography is my one and true passion, as well as fueled the desire to shoot more.

All the photos below are straight from the camera, completely unedited. I changed the light temperature and color balance in the camera to obtain this green-yellowish color cast.

We spent the entire day on Saturday making brunch, picking and eating tons of apples, sunbathing, swimming in the pool, making and drinking all sorts of cocktails. By sundown we were tired with too much sun and alcohol, but we manage to sneak in a little photo shoot and take advantage of the golden late afternoon light.

This is the only photo in this series not taken with an iPhone, not the DSLR. Again, no editing. The sky is just as blue as it was in reality and the pool just as sparkling. The water was cold, but refreshing. And the best part about this pool was the fresh, non-chlorinated water. It felt like swimming in a mountain lake.

View from the kitchen patio. You'd probably never guess, but these were plastic flowers.

This weekend I had the opportunity to meet or get to know better some of Jenni's friends,  such as the lovely Katie above.  Katie and her boyfriend own a double sleeping bag/mat contraption and they slept both nights outside in a hammock. We didn't have enough beds for everyone, so thanks to their love of outdoors sleeping, I got to rest in a real bed.

This is Megan, one of my best friends, right after she got her hair cut short by Elliot, with a kitchen scissors, while eating brunch. Megan can't stand long hair and girlie looks and she was restless the whole time up until we got it chopped off. It doesn't matter, she's just as beautiful.

A classic image of Jenni with her coon hat and vintage bathing suit.

And this is beautiful miss Bart, former gymnast, who later delighted us with summersaults and other crazy acrobatics, such as hauling 2 other babes on her back. This is one tough lady!

Above: Mr. Ortiz, enjoying one last dip in the pool. We were wondering if this would be the last time we get to swim in a pool this year.

Above: Jenni and Elliot.

Above: Elliot Ortiz. I'm really into shooting overexposed and with the sun behind these days.

Above: Lynda with coon hat. On Saturday afternoon we went on a photo walk through the vineyard and the photos from now until the end of the post are from this walk.

Above: Jeanette and Penny, one of the sweetest and funniest dogs in the world. Penny loves to chase shadows and reflections of metallic objects. I thought that was something only cats are into, but Penny seems to like it just as much.

Vineyard shoot.

I love how the light outlines Lynda in this photo.

A photo of me by Megan.

Above: Lynda and the enchanted forest. 

A few days after this magical weekend,  someone I knew, a beautiful young girl, died a sudden death caused by a brain aneurism. She was flown to a San Francisco hospital, went through a surgery but sadly didn't make it. It was a shocking and completely unexpected turn of events. 

I didn't know her very well, but it still affected me quite a lot. The death of someone young and healthy always comes off as unfair and tragic. But what stuck with me the most is the helplessness of us humans and the impredictability of such events. If one was to skydive or ride a motorcycle on a freeway, then die as a result of such activities, there would be an implied amount of risk assumed. And death would come off as less tragic. But when your own body turns up against you so abruptly and without forewarning, you're nothing but a leaf in the wind. 

Kelly's tragic death is a reminder that we have to live each day of our lives to the fullest, strive to do the things we really love in life, not take anything for granted, tell the people we love that we love them, cherish your friends, not procrastinate and not waste time. From the little I knew of Kelly, she did all of those things right. And so at least, even if her life was cut off short, it was full of adventures and beautiful experiences. There is some sort of comfort in knowing that. It can happen to any of us, and that second when you die, you don't want to regret not having lived a rich, meaningful life.