My Results – Focus Awards 2017

Gold Award in Landscape Category.

This year for the first time I entered the Focus Awards.  I believe that they started out as Flickr and Facebook groups for landscape photographers and have just gone from strength to strength over the years supporting and nurturing a budding fellowship of photographers.  

This years awards were judged by three of Australia’s better know photographers Tony Hewitt, Christian Fletcher and Peter Eastway and do those guys deserve medals!  Picking out the winning images amongst all of the great photographs submitted, and I’m just talking about the top fifty in each category that I’ve seen.  If you have the time, please head on over to the results page and see for yourself.  The open section is open to amateurs and professionals while the other categories are open to just amateurs.

I entered two images in each of the Landscape, B&W, Seascapes, Urban Landscapes, Sunrise & Sunset categories.  I came away with one Gold award (3rd Place), 6 Silver awards and 3 Bronze awards, I’ll include images of the Gold and Silvers below.  One of the great things about this competition is that we receive feedback on our images.  They are just standardised comments but they give a good indication of the primary item that is lacking in taking your image to the next level.

While the comments on my images were quite varied for the majority of the images, one thing that was mentioned 3 times was my composition.  Something that I will definitely have to work on.  The majority of the other comments noted were in my development of the images.  Things like tonal control, midtone contrast, more contrast etc.  I’ll be reprocessing these images now, with these things in mind and hopefully will see an improvement.

Thanks to all those in the Focus Facebook group for your support and a big thank you to the Focus committee, the judges and the sponsors.

Dune 44 Namibia

Dune 44 Namibia

Misty Mountains

Kolmanskop

 

 

San Ignacio to Loreto

San Ignacio to Loreto

I took an early morning walk into the town square before the ride today.  All was quiet with just a few locals sweeping the streets outside of their shops.

The following excerpt from our tour paperwork explains today.  “Ahead of us this morning is the massive ‘Volcan Las Tres Virgenes’. Which tells us the origin of recent lava flows around us. We descend Devils Grade, seven miles of switchbacks that take us down to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. We ride along the shores of beautiful Bahia Conception, whose deep-blue waters, volcanic islands, and isolated beaches are real Baja delights. In the afternoon we reach Loreto, the oldest Spanish settlement along the West Coast. The town offers a picturesque central plaza, shopping, and an array of excellent restaurants.”

We had a rest day upon arriving at Loreto.  Our van driver took 4 of us up the mountain to San Javier Mission.  Founded in 1697 by Jesuit Missionaries, it’s the oldest Spanish settlement on the Baja peninsula and one of the best preserved.  Beats the hell out of me how or more importantly why they would want to create a settlement up in the mountains like they did. It was a challenge getting up there with a paved road, how did they manage without one? 

San Ignacio to Loreto

A local

 

Mission San Ignacio to Loreto

San Ignacio Mission

Prime waterfront realestate

San Ignacio to Loreto

Warming up before their performance

 

Day 3 Catavina to San Ignacio

Catarina to San Ignacio

A hot ride through the Vizcaino Desert today, also dry and dusty and windy in a few areas.

Stopped at a food van in Guerrero Negro for the most delicious fish tacos.  Deep fried fish fillets in a soft taco and topping of your choice. 

Our stop for the night was a true oasis in the desert.  Riding into town past date palms and water, did I say water!  Was nice to see some water apart from the ocean.  Dinner in a little restaurant in the town square.  We wanted to sit outside so they moved the tables out onto the street for us.  Celebrated Robyn’s birthday tonight, Tom celebrated with a few too many Margaritas and didn’t feel the best the next morning.  A little toast with butter and my vegemite and he felt he could go on.

 

Catavina to San Ignacio

A rest stop in the desert

Fish Tacos for lunch

San Ignacio Kadakaaman

Cross tucked into the corner of the mission

 

Los Barriles to Loreto

Los Barriles to Loreto

We had a rest day in the resort at Los Barriles, it was great to sit back and recharge the batteries.  I tried my hand a SUP (Stand up paddle boarding).  I didn’t fall off which disappointed Andy but it’s a little boring by yourself.  They have a great little pizza/hamburger window by the pool.  The burgers were great and a welcome change.  I spied a workers cleaning up the palm fronds around the pool so that made for some interesting photos.  Other than a couple of quick snaps of the resort I didn’t take photos today.

Back on the Road.  A lovely cool start to the day as we head north on our return back to Los Angeles  Once again into the mountains, it then warmed up in the desert a little later.

The views coming down the mountain in Loreto were stunning as were the twisties or curves in the road. We arrived in Loreto just early enough for me to head to the marina, my aim was to capture the Magnificant Birds which have been flying around, unfortunately it was not to be.  I had to be content with the Brown Pelicans and the feeding behaviour.  Unlike our Australian Pelican who dip their bill in the water to catch fish, the Brown Pelican will dive for their meal.  Interesting to watch.

 

Palmas Hotel

Palm tree pruning at our hotel

Palmas Hotel

View to the Sea of Cortez and Loreto Golf Course

Winding mountain road

Brown Pelican

Los Barriles to Loreto

Brown Pelican Fishing

Day 19 Loreto to Guerrero Negro

Loreto to Guerrero Negro

The usual morning ride into the mountains, the twists and turns that Andy loves, then once more we see the Sea of Cortez.  Riding along Conception Bay enjoying our last day with these stunning views.

A short break at Mulege Mission Santa Rosalia which is small but rather nice and sits on a hill over the town.

We head a little further up the coast back on the water for our lunch stop at a little taco place in Santa Rosalia.  Awesome soft shelled beef tacos.

The afternoon sees us head towards the Pacific Ocean and the town of Guerrero Negro.  Not much here but a nice meal at a local restaurant.

Due to the nature of the roads (mountainous with tight curves etc) and not very strict road rules (people still allowed to ride in the back of utes) we have seen lots of little (and some not so little) roadside shrines where people have lost their lives.  The example below is the largest we saw but they do range from a simple cross to a small building.

Sea of Cortez

Moulage Mission Santa Rosalia

Build your home around the palm trees

Camping at Concepcion Bay Sea of Cortez

Roadside shrine

Day 20 Guerrero Negro to San Quintin

Guerrero Negro to San Quintin

What a great cool temperature today for riding, but a little windy.  We were riding at high altitude again so up and down and around mountains etc, then through the Valle de los Cirios with the Cardon Cactus and Cirios Trees.  Most of the day was spent riding through desert like landscape.

Berry growing is a major industry in the Baja.  Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry, I’m guessing that the majority gets exported as we didn’t see too many in our travels.  A little here and there in the fruit platters at breakfast.  Watermelon and rockmelon were common place.  Many of the fields were protected by the elements like in the picture at the end of this post.  Tomatoes are grown in abundance also, with San Quintin being one of the world’s largest tomato growing regions in the world.

Curio Tree at Valle de los Cirios

Cirio Tree

Cardon Cactus at Valle de los Cirios

Cardon Cactus

Motorbike riding

Berry growing

 

Day 21 San Quintin to Ensenada

San Quintin to Ensenada.  

I had the opportunity finally, for some serious photography from our balcony and on the beach this morning.  Nearly missed the lovely colourful sunrise due to time changes messing with my timing.

Another lovely ride though the hills then a long straight stretch, still up rather high so cool.  Passed through another agriculture area.

There’s a huge military presence in the Baja.  Stopped at about 5 checkpoints on the way south and passed through another couple which were unmanned.  They’re looking for drugs and guns.  Sometimes the first couple of bikes were inspected and other times we were just waved through. 

We’ve been passing a number of Off-road racing vehicles heading south to prepare for the Baja 1000.  After seeing some of the areas they’ll be racing through it would be fantastic to watch.

We had the best spicy shredded beef tacos for lunch at El Trailero, a very popular place in Ensenada.  You order your food, get a drink, then pay after you have eaten.  Works well, great turnaround but I do have to wonder if everyone pays?  

Got in a little souvenir shopping this arvo at Ensenada and then a little quiet time before our farewell dinner.

Sunrise from our room

Military Escort

Ensenada Food Stall

A popular street food stall

Full ute load Ensenada

Fully loaded ute

 

Day 22 Ensenada to Los Angeles

Our Last Day. 

And so it comes to an end, the last day of our tour today with our final ride from Ensenada to Los Angeles.

We headed to the border via the  Valley of Guadalupe and the wine making region. Mexican wines are growing in quality and becoming a trend among wine enthusiasts.  Stopped for a break at a Government run wine museum, Museo de la Vid Y El Vino, which would have been interesting if the information was written in English instead of Spanish.  Onward to the town of Tecate and the border crossing, much quieter here than Tijuana.  Within 15 mins we were all through and it was not long before we were once again heading down a mountain range with all of it’s twisties (our tour guides term for the winding roads and switchbacks).

 

 

Fences here are usually made out of big sticks here it’s wooden pallets.

Colourful garden pots and assorted ornaments

Just one of California’s concrete freeways