California Road Trip: San Francisco and Yosemite

May was a pretty hectic month for me! Almost as soon as I returned from the mini-conference in Antigua, I found myself on a flight to America as a +1 for a friend’s campaign with Visit California. I was able to tag along for the ride and capture my own imagery, in between the many miles spent driving! It was my first time in California and we spent a total of 5 days there, covering a mostly nature-themed itinerary through Yosemite National Park.

Venice California

Flying initially into Los Angeles, we had a short layover night and an early flight to San Francisco the following morning. With about an hour available in the evening after arriving, and an hour at sunrise the following day, I definitely felt like we made the most of the light available.

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Venice California
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Santa Monica Pier, California
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Am I in Los Santos or Los Angeles?

It was weird seeing Venice beach and Santa Monica Pier for the first time in real life, as I honestly felt like I knew them already, having played countless hours of GTA and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater!

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Golden Gate Bridge at the tip of San Francisco

From San Francisco, we spent the rest of the trip driving around Northern California, covering a lot of nature spots, such as Point Reyes, Sonoma Redwoods and of course Yosemite National Park.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any urban locations such as downtown San Francisco, except for a scenic helicopter ride over the bay on our first morning.

Helicopter flight over San Francisco, California
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San Francisco has been high on my list of cities to visit in the US, so I guess I’ll just have to plan a trip there some other time!

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I could honestly wait around by the Golden Gate Bridge all day long, waiting for the perfect lighting!

On a typical day, this view is often covered in fog. Unfortunately for us, the weather was actually perfect. Perfect for everything but photography, ha!

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URBAN CHROME Lightroom Presets

URBAN CHROME Lightroom Presets

All of the urban shots within this post were edited using Lightroom presets from my URBAN CHROME collections. Some of the nature shots are a teaser for some potential future nature-inspired presets…

Download URBAN CHROME combo

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Exploring Yosemite National Park

I was the sole driver on the trip, and with a backlog of content still to edit from previous trips, I thought it wise not to burn myself out by trying to create further vlogs and extra work for my future self. That being said, on one of the days, we had a tour guide do all the driving for us, so I  decided I’d make a vlog covering our time in Yosemite National Park.

This vlog purely covers our experience in Yosemite, with a valley floor tour on the first day, followed by a scenic flight the following morning. The views and scenery were truly epic, with waterfalls flowing at high volume due to the active glacial melt.

Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get updates on future vlogs!

Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the itinerary and the tour we were booked on, the timing was pretty tight without much flexibility. We spent a large amount of time shooting at high noon with an extremely bright midday sun creating harsh lighting for photography.

The tour itself though was indeed spectacular. As an individual, I felt in-awe at the breath-taking landscape. I just know that as a photographer, the potential for capturing those scenes in different lighting would have translated beautifully into the final images.

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

The scenic flight we took on the final morning of our Californian road trip was utterly magical. The lighting was truly incredible and the hour-long flight offered a nonstop opportunity for capturing images.

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Yosemite National Park, California, USA
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Yosemite National Park, California, USA
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Post-winter, pre-summer

I’d say May was a pretty great time to visit, especially following a long winter, as you’ll get spectacular waterfalls throughout the whole park. However, I did notice a lot of winter specific images throughout the lodges we were staying in that had me considering a return visit during the colder months!

I’m incredibly keen to return to California and explore more of the state, including spending even more time in Yosemite at peak golden hour times!

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