Wrightwood Mountains, Mitsubishi Evo X and Snow

This past Sunday was such an awesome day to go explore a familiar place that I have not visited in some time but the twist was fresh snow.... well that is what I was hoping for anyways. But even bigger than that was to photograph the Mitsubishi Evo X in the snow and come out with a photograph that I could add to my portfolio.

Right away I knew the expectations of finding a good location to shoot at was gonna be tough. Mountain roads usually lead to a small town and small towns do not have a lot of room of "exploring". Usually small town people all know each other and pointing out people who do not belong is so easy to do. I guess finding a spot was apart of the "fun" of exploring. 

The biggest thing I was looking forward to was, it was Calvin's (my one and only boy) first time experiencing real snow so his enthusiasm was getting me excited! The joys of experiencing something old with a new pair of eyes. Perhaps that can be a future project :). 

So back to planning. It had been raining all weekend and forecast said that it would rain for the next two days. So what does any photographer do with a dirty car? I go and wash my dirty Evo in the pouring rain. Yes! I can knock that one off the bucket list lol... 

I love getting weird stares from people walking their dogs

I love getting weird stares from people walking their dogs

Gear prep: So Hector and Nancy gave me their old camera bag the other day. Coincidently, I was on Amazon the other day and liked this bag. As I considered buying it, Hector tells me he has that bag and he would give it to me. Now I knew this bag was meant for me. Outside of the rental shop gear, I don't own too much or my own gear anymore. So I stuffed the bag with all sorts of misc stuff that I always need. Such as allen wrenches, remote triggers, memory cards and such. I own an old school Canon 1Ds mark II and a Canon 5d Mark III and a Canon 24-70mm 2.8 Mark II plus a borrowed Canon 40mm 2.8 from the shop. I brought along a monopod that doesn't get much use in the shop and I found my old Gitzo G2227 Carbon Fiber Explorer tripod. I didn't want to lug around my heavy RRS BH55 ballhead for this shoot so I brought my arca swiss monopod head which I will regret up in the mountains. FML. But this is all I packed for the day trip.

I need to spend time on getting my personal gear in order. This was not ideal

I need to spend time on getting my personal gear in order. This was not ideal

Ideally I would like to have left the house at 5:30am but I know my wife and son weren't down to play that game, so 7:30am was a good compromise. We didn't do much planning. In fact, with Hector and Nancy, we actually agreed on going the night before at dinner. So we were a bit unprepared with clothes but that should never stop anyone from going on an adventure, right?

We didn't have time for no breakfast, so a quick stop to the donut shop is in order. 4 chocolate bars and a ham/cheese/jalapeno croissant was scarfed down quickly.

This photo got more likes on my Instagram page from that day than the photos of the Evo and Snow. Maybe I should just start a donut page

This photo got more likes on my Instagram page from that day than the photos of the Evo and Snow. Maybe I should just start a donut page

It was a glorious day and the combination of clouds and mountain was stunning. I was trying so hard to drive and shoot at the same time but that was a huge fail. So I had Nancy shoot some shots as we drove by this awesome view of Wrightwood.  

Looking at the mountains from a distance, we knew we were in for a treat. The severe drought that we have been faced with has been a constant reminder of climate change. 

The Evo's MPG is pretty crappy. I usually don't drive freeways cause I take the streets but my average MPG is about 14-15 mpg's. So I did a quick pit stop for fuel. California fuel prices have spiked over a $1 in the past week! Almost $4.00 a gallon for 91 octane. Sigh.

Rear shot cause rear shots are always nice ;)

Rear shot cause rear shots are always nice ;)

Side shot just for good measure.

Side shot just for good measure.

So many of you know the benefits of a car like the Mitsubishi Evo is it's turbo and AWD (All Wheel Drive) capabilities. However I was nervous because I had summer extreme Advan tires meant for dry weather performance. For snow, probably not a good idea under icy conditions but luckily the roads were covered with gravel for additional traction. Yay Caltrans!

Lots of cloud coverage... meaning hopefully lots of snow coverage

Lots of cloud coverage... meaning hopefully lots of snow coverage

We took the Lone Pine backroad and this was the first glimpse of snow and it was so awesome!!!

We took the Lone Pine backroad and this was the first glimpse of snow and it was so awesome!!!

When we finally got to the residential area of Wrightwood, I was faced with the concern that was bothering me the night before. Where can I find a nice spot to photograph that is not fenced off, have homes in the background or is not by the side of the road. So we slowly drove around and found this spot. It wasn't ideal but Calvin was so excited for the snow, I made a stop here and this is where he first met snow and made his first snowman with Nancy (who is originally from Canada). Love all of the welcoming signs... "stay off", "private property", "no trespassing". 

Just a few miles down, we found our second location where we were greeted by more welcoming signs so I just parked as close to the signs without actually encroaching on to private land. Luckily it seemed a lot of people weren't home. As I was backing up into this location, I noticed the foul smell of my clutch burning. FML. 

The location was not ideal but once again, as photographers we do what we can with the circumstances we are given. So I played around with shots from the front and a few behind the bush. (Note that I will post the final edited photos in another blog post.)

As I started to setup my tripod and such, everyone else decided to have some fun in the snow. I felt torn because I want to be out there playing too but I also wanted to capture the moments of Calvin interacting with snow. So hard being a parent. lol. In the end, it was worth capturing it. 

As we ventured off to our third location, it started to hail and then we finally got snowfall. It was both Hector and Calvin's first time seeing snow falling. It was so cool to witness two people watch snow falling for the first time. As we were driving deeper into these residential streets, I quickly stopped when I found an empty lot in between two occupied houses. I quickly popped the car into reverse and parked the car into the lot. It wasn't what I wanted but was better than the previous two locations we were at. Since everyone has "welcoming signs" posted everywhere, I wanted to be quick. When a neighbor was in his backyard looking at us, I asked if it was ok to be on the land. All he kept telling me was that it was private property. I asked if the owner was around and he said "no" so I said let's be quick and get out. Don't want angry mountain people getting at us. lol. Here is the only behind the scenes shot from this location.

One of the best things that happened when Calvin saw all that snow. He immediately jumped on the ground and started to make a snow angel. I got to tell you the things that kids learn nowadays from watching shows is amazing but here she is in all her glory

Please watch over my son Calvin for all his life. 

Please watch over my son Calvin for all his life. 

The rest of the locations were filled with spots close to Mt High Ski Resort. It was good to see how busy they were that day. I heard reports that they were thinking of closing down early this season cause they lacked real snow. We spent time being silly, throwing snowballs, falling down and just being young at heart. It was such a gorgeous day!

I got to go back soon before all this beautiful snow melts away. I hope that in the future I can take better documentary type photos to give you guys a better view of the small intricate details from the day. I was organizing and driving so I was not able to document the way I wanted. 

Stay Tuned.

Andrew Manley

Gear rented from:
IE Photo Rentals
Canon 5d Mark III
Canon 24-70mm 2.8 Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark II