About 2 weeks ago my wife and I took an mini-vacation out to Cali.  The primary reason was a close friend of ours was having an engagement party then, but we decided to extend our visit for a little escape of our own as well.  This was my first time in California.  Actually, I’ve never gone further west in the US than St. Louis, Missouri before, so it was quite a trip for me.

I recently picked up the Canon 5D Mark II in anticipation for 2010, so I decided to take it for a spin on this trip.  I also brought a couple primes with me instead of my standard zooms…they are smaller and challenge my creativity.  I’m already loving it, and had a blast doing video with it as well…AMAZING!  At the bottom you can watch the little Cali trailer I made from the trip if you haven’t seen it before.  (For the record, I am still ONLY a wedding photographer…I do not do wedding videography.)

A view from above:

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

I didn’t have a lot of plans as to necessary places I needed to go.  But one thing was for sure, I needed to make at least 1 In-n-Out trip (I actually made 2!)

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

After we landed, we drove out to Fisherman’s Wharf and took a nice walk around the area.  First, we didn’t realize how cold it really would be in San Fran.  Coming from Chicago, we felt anywhere in Cali would be 80’s…boy were we wrong.  But the weather was great when we stood in the sun.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

I’m not going to lie, my wife is hot.  :)  She doesn’t let me shoot her too often, so it’s always fun when she gives me an opportunity.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

We saw this place called TCHO, and being the chocolate fiend my wife is, we had to go in.  I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate, but the chocolate covered cashews were AMAZING!  I actually bought a tin to keep at my desk while I’m working.  It’s got the perfect amount of chocolate- not too much for me to be overpowered by the dark chocolate taste, but just enough that I won’t eat the entire thing in one sitting.  GENIUS!

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

All over the walk there are many different street performers…I wish Chicago had some areas like this.  We spotted a group of b-boys getting ready to put on a show, so I definitely made sure I got a front row seat.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

Here’s the video clip I took on the 5D of their show…no editing.

We met up with some of our friends and continued our walk through some of the shops.  They’ve got some interesting stores here!  Part of me loved seeing this place.  (Being that I am left-handed)  But then, I spent the past 25 years teaching myself how to use right handed tools and such that it would be near impossible for me to switch to left-handed equipment.  Ah well, it’s the thought that counts, I guess.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

The next morning, our college friends decided to grab some breakfast at a little dive that got some great reviews called Fifth Wheel Food

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

The bad news was they only seat 16.  And we had 9 people.  And the wait would be about 30 minutes and we wouldn’t sit by each other.  Fail.  So then we took option #2:

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

The engagement was an all out dance party, and I did video instead of photo there, so you can see that in the trailer below.  It went for almost 4 hours of dancing too!  I decided to sneak out a bit early to get some shuteye in the car because we were doing the drive down Highway 1 early in the morning.
For those of you who have never done this before, I truly recommend it!  This was by far one of the easiest and most beautiful 8-hour drives I have ever done in my life.  I’ve gotten tired doing 5 hours from Chicago to Detroit, but I was wide awake during the whole trip!  We only stopped off at one of the vista points, but it was seriously a beautiful getaway.  Recommendation:  Go during the day (there are no lights in many places on the 2 lane highway), and make sure you’re on a full tank of gas- there are no exits!  We also had no cell phone signal which was a blessing in disguise since we were just able to sit back and enjoy the wonderful scenery.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

We reached Santa Barbara where we just relaxed.  We got a bed and breakfast at the Casa Del Mar Inn, which was just a block away from the beach.  Beautiful weather, but we just decided to chill that night.  We upgraded our room, too!  Gotta love having a fireplace and kitchen, even if we’re only there for a night! :)

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

Oh, here’s proof that my wife is more addicted to my iPhone than I am.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

The next morning, we made the drive over to Hollywood to see the stars for a bit.  I think I had an impression that the place would be a lot more exciting that it really was, but it was a nice walk.  Got to see a few stars on the ground and such.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

After a quick snack, we decided to take one final walk before heading out, where I noticed a huge crowd in front of DSW Shoes.  We slowly got closer, and we hear Bob Saget on the mic!  John Stamos was getting his star on the walk of fame at that moment, and there were tons of stars there- from Bob Saget and Candice Cameron to the Beach Boys!

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation
chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

side note:  I LOVE REFLECTIVE MATERIAL :)

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

We ended up near Los Angeles to meet up with an old college friend out there.  They took us to Kabuki’s Japanese Restaurant.  Now, I’m a very simple person- all I really need is a good burger and fries.  And I can normally find some equivalent at any restaurant.  But they insisted, so (after ordering a dish that I knew I’d like) I also tried a few of the sushi rolls and calamari the rest of the table got.  And it wasn’t that bad!  I think I deserve a round of applause and a pat on the back.

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

My wife deserves one too.  That thing is called “Lotus on Fire”, and she got the whole thing in her mouth!

chicago wedding photographer. san francisco, santa barbara, los angeles vacation

It was a great first trip to California.  A bit rushed spending at most 24 hours in any given city, but definitely a fun time.  I’m looking forward to making more trips out west in the future- give me a reason to come there! :)

Here’s the video trailer I made from the trip.  Enjoy!


California (San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Hollywood, Los Angeles…)

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Interested in booking? Head over to the contact page or shoot me an email to info@natemathai.com

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