Laguna Beach

My First Winning Photograph!


I’m so happy to share the news that I am a first prize winner for the “Beaches, Islands & Underwater” category in PDN MagazineThe Great Outdoors Photography Competition” for Amateur photographers.

This is my first participation in a photography contest and I was not expecting to be a finalist in the first place then I got the surprising news that I’m a first prize winner. I was so excited to know that I won and my photo will be published in the PDN magazine printed edition for August 2013 issue.

The fact that my photo will be part of a winners gallery in an eminent photography magazine in US is a great thing by its own, especially this is my first experience with a photography competition.

below is my winning photo, this edition is larger than the submitted version due to restrictions and guidelines by the competition.

PDN 2013 Great Outdoors Photography Competition - Winning Photo - Victoria Tower in Victoria Beach,  Laguna Beach in California

PDN 2013 Great Outdoors Photography Competition – Winning Photo – Victoria Tower in Victoria Beach, Laguna Beach in California

This might be my favorite place I have ever visited for photo shooting and seascape photography. I’m lucky to live only few miles a way from that location.

In each visit, I tried to take different photos from different angles and experiment different compositions in different daytime lighting . I loved the way the tower is blended with the beach cliffs and loomed over the ocean and how the entire scene is hidden and revealed only when you look around and further beyond the surrounding beach area.

This photo caused me trouble when I captured it, because in order to have good composition I had to cross a high tide area and I got late so when I was trying to go back I was thrown by a big huge wave and I got soaked completely, my phone got damaged! and thankfully my camera did not broke.

But all the soaking , loosing my phone and challenges had paid off at the end when I saw the resulted photos in Lightroom and especially when I received the news of my winning photo. I’m proud of it and mostly proud because I had the chance to be part of a contest that include hundreds if not thousands of photos taken by different kind of experienced and amateur inspiring photographers.

It is inspiring to view all the entrees. I learnt a lot from other contestants and definitely will help me to improve my photography skills and flood my mind with new ideas.

The contest has a separate track for professionals with the same breakdown of categories and prizes allocation.

click here to view the online winners gallery for both Professionals and Amateurs.

below is the list of amateur prizes , I much care about the print out and the galleries and the kind of exposure I will get, this is must more important than any physical prize. It gave  me a boost to sustain my passion for photography:

  1. ALL AMATEUR FIRST-PLACE WINNERS will receive a one year subscription to MatadorAccess.
  2. AMATEUR FIRST-PLACE WINNERS will each receive a $100 Adorama gift certificate.
  3. Winning images be printed and displayed at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show July 31 – August 3rd 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The gallery will be on display for the event’s 21,000 attendees which includes 1,000 outdoor brand representatives and related media players.
  4. ALL FIRST-PLACE WINNERS will receive digital cameras.
  5. All winning images will be featured in PDN’s August issue which has an additional print circulation to 5,000 photography industry creatives!
  6. SELECT WINNERS ACROSS ALL CATEGORIES will be interviewed and featured on CNN Photos blog.

I wish I have the time to visit the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah to see my photo displayed there, I have tight schedule in my work and I will not able to go 😦 but lets hope someone will get interested in my photo and contact me 😛

my only disappointment is there is a spelling error in the verbiage of the photo! that they could not correct it due to the printed edition timing issue and also they will keep the old caption while the latest caption and verbiage will be only available online, but that is not a big deal for me, all I care is the photo itself, it speaks itself and does not need a description.

Congrats to all other grand prize and first price winners photographers!

Victoria Tower – Laguna Beach, California


This is one of my favorite shots, I re-processed it here as monochromatic picture to give the scene a dramatic feeling and atmosphere. The tower in the photo is called Victoria Tower, it is built in 1926 in a Victorian castle structure style. It is located in Laguna Beach in California, hidden behind a residential area in a way that it looks like a private beach but it is for public and there is a stairs leading down to the beach. I posted the original photo shooting for the beach in another previous post. Click here for the original post.

Victoria Tower - Laguna Beach, California

Victoria Tower – Laguna Beach, California

Treasure Island Beach – Laguna Beach


I took some pictures today at Treasure Island Beach in Laguna Beach in California. I tried to capture various spots in the beach. I used my Lee big stopper filter for some of the photos to add a misty noisy feeling to the pictures. The clouds were perfectly laid out in the sky and made the photos dramatic.

I was photo shooting the beach shore then turned around and found the sunset beams breaking through the sky, the timing and light was perfect for the scene as it rarely happens, I set the aperture to F22 to emphasis the structure of the beams. Although there is clear noise in the low exposed pictures but I found it interesting and it gave it vintage mysterious look.

Photo #1 - Treasure Island Beach - Laguna Beach

Photo #1 – Treasure Island Beach – Laguna Beach

Photo #2 - Treasure Island Beach (sun beams) - Laguna Beach

Photo #2 – Treasure Island Beach (sun beams) – Laguna Beach

Photo #3 - Treasure Island Beach (noisy mist) - Laguna Beach

Photo #3 – Treasure Island Beach (noisy mist) – Laguna Beach

Photo #4 - Treasure Island Beach - Laguna Beach

Photo #4 – Treasure Island Beach – Laguna Beach

Photo #5 - Treasure Island Beach (Stairs to the Treasure) - Laguna Beach

Photo #5 – Treasure Island Beach (Stairs to the Treasure) – Laguna Beach

Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach, CA (Hidden Treasure)


Victoria Beach - Laguna Beach #9

Victoria Beach - Laguna Beach #9

Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach city in California is a hidden treasure behind residential area. There is a reason it is called Victorian because there is a 16th century lighthouse looking tower on the north side of the beach, it is buetifully placed looks like it is engraved in the rocks side of the beach. This is the third time I visit the beach to take photos for the tower, mainly for HDR processing. I think this time was the best specially I’m more into realistic HDR than before. The clouds were not bad (they could have been better) and helped adding dramatic effect to the photos.

I consider it as a heaven for photographer because it is rare to find a tower like that on a beach area sorrounded by nice formation of rocks and also modern residental homes that makes the scene a nice mix. There were photographers all over the place; all going crazy taking photos till the sun disappeared. I was the last one who left the beach, almost got wet. Photos are processed in Photomatix Pro for HDR output then PS for contrast, sharpening and color tuning. Below is the full set, please click on the image for actual size.

Door and Bricks


Wooden Door and Red Bricks

Wooden Door and Red Bricks

I found this backdoor of a bank while I was walking in Laguna Beach (Orange County, California). I liked how the red bricks framed the wooden door and the scattered leaves on the ground, it feels antique and old. I like shooting wooden doors specially when they are framed by bricks, I was lazy to take multiple brackets and instead took a single shot using a wide angle lens then did  some fine tuning in RAW converter and PS, I tried to straighten the image but it cut off the sides so I kept as is which somehow add imperfection feelings to it that match it is old style. The bank name is The Laguna Bank, National Association.

Fisherman’s Cove – Laguna Beach, California


(Click on the picture for full size)

Fisherman’s Cove in Laguna Beach is a quite small beach hidden behind a residential area. A site for scuba divingsnorkeling and also kayaking actually you can rent a kayak there, I saw many kayaks on the side of the beach. I got lucky to have some clouds that contrasted well with the rocks and sand. I liked the rocks formation and got the chance to took above shots using a wide angle lens. The sun was blocked somewhere so the light worked for me.