Carlsbad Magazine: November/December ’13 Issue

Here’s my first feature photo spread in Carlsbad Magazine!

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The story, written by Jenna Sampson, was about the new Green Dragon Tavern & Museum. “The unique, modern-day replica of the original Freemason lodge [in Boston] … is meant to celebrate early American history.”

The photos were captured over two shoots: a night shoot for the building’s interior and exterior, and a day shoot for the food.

The full-page exterior and the interior ceiling shots were just my cup a’ tea. I used my standard real estate/architecture photography workflow: shoot 5+ images with different exposures, develop them with Adobe Camera Raw, fuse them with Photomatix Pro (an HDR processing program) and tweak the composite in Photoshop.

[Click on the thumbnails below to view large sizes of the images.]

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The food shoot was scheduled for the following day. While I’ve shot real estate and architecture hundreds of times, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve shot food. I’ll write about that experience in an upcoming post.

Several other stories in this issue, including one about a pair of mother and daughter triathletes and another on a newly opened cafe in the village, feature my photos.


I wrote a story for this issue (for which I shot the photos, too) about a local florist shop. Read the PDF version here. The First Words department, which features a letter from the magazine’s founder/publisher, used one of my photos as the background.


The next issue, January/February 2014, will include many more photos and my first feature for which I was both writer and photographer. ?


Summer Throwback Part II: Wisconsin

This post is part two of two. Read part one here: Summer Throwback Part I: Canada, Michigan & Chicago.

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Last post, I left off in Chicago. After checking out a potential investment property for Kirk (who was back in California), I hopped on the Metra train north to Wisconsin.


My parents and I went out to dinner at Taylor’s People’s Park, a (relatively) new restaurant occupying a three-story brick building in downtown Waukesha. We dined on the roof.


I celebrated Fourth of July twice — on the actual 4th in Michigan — then again in Wisconsin because Big Bend held their fireworks show the following weekend.



Dad taught me how to change the brake pads on his car.


This book, about a woman terrified of the ocean but determined to join the love of her life crossing it on a sailboat, was a fun read.


Every time I visit my parents’ house, I try to get rid of some of my old stuff. I still have books, some clothes and a bunch of childhood stuff that my mom has graciously not thrown out — even though it’s been nearly a decade since I moved out. I found my junior year prom dress which I converted into a Halloween costume for my freshman year of college: “Miss California.” Never would have thought that six years later I’d be living there.


Talking with Kirk on FaceTime.



The 2/2 condo on Greenleaf Ave in Rogers Park had received my blessing. Kirk’s offer was accepted, and he swiftly scheduled an inspection. I made another trip to Chicago to accompany the inspector and take more photos of the place for Kirk.


I rode the Metra once more. It felt like traveling back in time four years. Riding the Metra and the L rouse up lots of memories from living in Chicago. The rail system there is akin to my beach cruiser in California; both are more important to me than any car has ever been.


Davis Street platform, Evanston, IL.



My sister lives ‘up north’ in Eau Claire, four hours from our parents’ house in Waukesha. I took the Greyhound up to visit her for a few days.

She had a things-to-do list just for me.


Unfortunately Kelly end up feeling sick the first night/next morning I was there, so while she slept, I played her lovely kitty, Robert.


Soaking up rays.


Trying to comfort the sick one.


Kelly perked up by the afternoon, and we went out for a pedicure.


We drove a few miles further north to Chippewa Falls, home of Leinenkugel Brewery. Chris, Kelly’s boyfriend, joined us.


The tour guide taught us dozens of historical facts about the brewery. I don’t remember one. What I do remember is how to pronounce Chippewa Falls like a local. It’s not CHIP-eh-wa, like it’s spelled. It’s CHIP-wa, two syllables. Time isn’t wasted on a third.


I spent just over $25 at the Leine’s gift shop, which entitled me to a free 4-pack of Big Eddy Baltic Porter. Score. The Leinie’s Big Eddy is a line of robust, limited-release beers aimed at the craft beer drinker. (San Diego has turned me into a beer snob, so that was right up my alley.)


On Friday night, Kirk flew in early from San Diego for a business meeting the following Monday near (of all places!) Milwaukee. He altered his trip to arrive in the Twin Cities, and we picked him up at a rendezvous point in Eau Claire.

Dinner at Stella Blues. Schroeder sisters and significant others.

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My dad’s mom, my Grammie, grew up on a farm in Pittsville, Wisconsin. Her grandmother and grandfather (Frederick and Catherine) purchased the original land for the farm in 1913. The farm is still in operation, run by my dad’s cousins.


Over 400 descendants of Frederick and Catherine attended the party. Biggest family reunion, ever.




That’s all from the Midwest for now. ☼

Summer Throwback Part I: Canada, Michigan & Chicago

Now that it’s winter, time to remember the warm days of summer…

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For three weeks in July, I traveled the Midwest. Kirk and I started the trip together in Michigan and Canada spending the week of the 4th hanging with his family, sailing Lake Erie and celebrating with our friends who got hitched at Michigan State.


Enroute from Michigan to Ontario, just before crossing the Ambassador Bridge, we stopped to provision at the duty free shop. Kirk sadly doesn’t match my enthusiasm for ogling 10-pound Toblerone bars.

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Friends of the Berrymans, Jamie and Miriam Garnier, own a cabin on Point Pelee, a peninsula jutting into Lake Erie (and the southernmost point of mainland Canada). The Garniers, avid sailors, graciously took us for a daysail aboard their newest vessel, Odessey, a beautiful 31-foot cutter.

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Val, and me at the helm.

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The Berrymans drinking rum punches and other hydrating beverages.

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The morning after returning from Canada, Kirk and I drove to East Lansing for our friends Kyle and Dana’s wedding. In between the ceremony held at the campus chapel and the reception held at Spartan Stadium, Kirk and I wandered around campus, drove past our old student housing and the Communication Arts & Sciences building (where we spent countless hours working on projects in the video production studios and editing suites), and reminisced about our college years.

Below, my sophomore year dorm, Yakeley-Gilcrest in West Circle; my room was the bay window above the entrance.

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The house on Sycamore Lane that I lived in my senior year, my room again was the window above the door.

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And, the infamous house on Dorothy Lane that Kirk lived in his junior year; the city of East Lansing condemned the property the year after Kirk moved out.

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Walking through the horticulture gardens on campus.

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Kyle and Dana are both MSU alums just like Kirk and me, but their school pride is tenfold. Everything at the reception was Spartan themed. Their table number cards were football tickets, the butter pats molded into Sparty heads. Kyle’s dad, a longtime MSU employee, managed to swing sneaking the wedding party onto the field to take photos!

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The newlyweds (:

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Kirk flew home, and I hopped a bus from Michigan to Wisconsin. I stopped in Chicago for a couple days to visit my longtime friend, Andrea, who let me crash at her place in Wicker Park.

While Andrea was at work, I went running in Humboldt park.

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Pretty, no? For a bit there I forgot I was in Chicago. It wasn’t all tranquil, however.

My Facebook status update made post-run:

Memorable run in Humboldt Park this morn: 3 miles turn into 6 after I realize I’ve run circles around the same damn pond; see a group of kids standing under a tree holding fishing nets while a guy repeatedly tries throwing a basketball 20 feet up at a kitten stuck on a branch; a red-wing blackbird dive-bombs my head — beak got scalp!; half mile later ANOTHER red-wing blackbird tries to attack, it screeches in my ear and I duck while flailing my arms… audacious little efers. — at Humboldt Park.

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It started pouring halfway through my run, and I was soaked by the time I made it back to Andrea’s place.

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That night, Andrea and I went out to dinner. First, we stopped in at DavidsTea, Andrea’s latest guilty pleasure. Tea? A guilty pleasure? With flavors like buttered rum, red velvet cake and salted caramel, yes.

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We ate at Bluebird, a winebar/restaurant with a contemporary American menu. Artisan cheeses, roasted veggie appetizers and steamed mussels paired with a delicious bottle of white blend. Marvelous.

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After dinner, we grabbed another bottle of wine and headed for the roof of her condo building. We talked, drank and talked some more. The view of Chicago’s skyline was almost as good as our conversation.

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The next day, I rode the L downtown to meet up with my friend from college, Andrew, a fellow Telecaster. When Kirk and I lived in Chicago, I loved riding the L. Rail transit never ceases to delight this suburban born and bred kid.

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That afternoon, I met with Kirk’s real estate agent to see three condos Kirk had his eye on for investments. Since moving from Chicago, Kirk’s interest in its real estate market hasn’t waned, and it’s no matter that we live on the other side of the country.

This 2 bed 2 bath second-floor unit with southern exposure, located just two blocks away from Kirk’s first condo, was the winner. I loved the exposed brick and dining area by the windows. Kirk put in an offer, and is — to this day — still waiting on a response from the bank. Ugh, short sales. ☼

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Next: Summer Throwback Part II: Wisconsin.

Real Estate Photos: Solana Beach Vacation Rental

The real estate market is slowing down, and so is my shooting schedule. It’s funny; all I wanted this summer – when I was buried under a full calendar of real estate shoots and magazine assignments – was more time to surf and write. Now that I have the time, I’m paralyzed with opportunity overload. Not with surfing opportunities; lately the ocean has been pretty flat, and it’s rained quite a bit (more rain = more runoff polluting the sea). This blog, on the other hand, has yet to see anything from my birthday trip to Malibu, my epic dozen-property shoot in La Jolla, snapshots from my three weeks in the Midwest this July, and both trips to Catalina Island.

Kirk is off to London tomorrow on a business trip for 10 days. I’ll have some down time to be productive.

Here’s my favorite property as of late: a 2/2 vacation condo in Solana Beach with private beach access. ☼

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