Me and my girls, Skyy & Rain, embarked on our Mission MINT (Morning In New Territory) journey in September 2017 with the goal of exploring and photographing 10 dog-friendly locations in San Diego during the first few hours of the day. And with the purpose of: strengthening my photography skills by experimenting with unfamiliar lighting, equipment, and/or shooting techniques, as well as engaging the three of us in mental and physical activity. This month’s Mission MINT adventure took place at one of the few places in San Diego where you can enjoy a 360 degree view…Double Peak Park in San Marcos. As the highest peak in North County San Diego, Double Peak Park offers something for everyone to enjoy.
MISSION MINT 2 : Double Peak Park, San Marcos
I checked the weather report the night before to see if the sun would make an appearance that morning. It confirmed it would be cloudy, but I was determined to embark on our adventure anyways. I had heard about Double Peak Park and it’s magnificent 360 degree views from a few friends of mine, so my curiosity wouldn’t let me delay going any longer. Me and the girls woke up bright and early at 5:00am to ensure we got there in time to see the sunrise. What I thought would be a 45 minute drive only took 30 minutes…funny how there’s actually a time when there’s no traffic.
We arrived at 5:35am. Needless to say, we had a decent amount of time before the sun was expected to come up. While waiting for the sun, cars upon cars starting showing up. I was quite surprised to see at least 7 cars and a few people on foot eager and ready for their sunrise hikes. High school kids still wearing their pajamas, local home owners walking their dogs, and a few who preferred to relax in their warm car with their morning coffee.
The 200-acre area itself is pretty cool in that you can choose to hike around for hours or drive straight to the top to relax and enjoy the view. At the top of the hill is an amphitheater, restrooms, a playground, viewing areas, and picnic tables…perfect for a quick family trip, a romantic spot for couples, or an easily accessible location for seniors to enjoy. There’s 4.7 miles of trails that run up and down the hills, around the bends, and through secret brush areas. And there’s plenty of great little nooks to take a break and soak in the view.
Whether sunrise or sunset, you get them both at Double Peak Park. Even on a cloudy day like the one we had, the views are breathtaking and a must-see for any local San Diegan or tourist. We will definitely be returning to this cool spot, hopefully with some sunshine to play with 🙂
- Location: Double Peak Park, San Marcos
- Location Type: Trail, Paved Road
- Time: 6:00am – 7:45am
- Lighting: Mostly Cloudy
- Equipment: Canon 5D Mark lll, Canon 50m F1.4
CONCLUSION: Despite the lack of an actual sunrise, you can still make the best of the adventure. Mother Nature will do whatever she wants, and just because she doesn’t give you exactly what you’re looking for, that’s no reason to not enjoy the moment and find other ways to achieve you’re goal.
Join the adventure…follow #MissionMINT on Instagram @alipetersonphoto
As a professional photographer, it’s important to seek creative opportunities and invest the time and energy into personal passion projects. Doing so can:
- enhance your knowledge of your craft
- provide a fresh perspective that translates into new ideas
- push you to challenge yourself, which promotes growth
- fulfill your need to express yourself creatively
Not to mention, in the case of this personal project, it also provides an excellent excuse to get out in the fresh air and enjoy some quality time and exercise with my pups 🙂 So, what’s the project?
MINT : Mornings In New Territory
Goal: Explore and photograph 10 dog-friendly locations in San Diego during the first few hours of the day.
- Explore new locations in San Diego
- Strengthen my photography skills by experimenting with unfamiliar lighting, equipment, and/or shooting techniques.
- Engage myself and my dogs in mental and physical activity
Rules & Guidelines:
- The location must be somewhere in San Diego that I’ve never been to before
- I’m only allowed to bring and use my 50mm lens
- Shooting must be done within 2 hours of sunrise.
- The location must be outside (it can be a trail, park, beach, etc)
MISSION MINT 1 : Santa Margarita Trail, Fallbrook
To kick off the Mission, I decided to head somewhere not too far from home, yet still uncharted territory. So, I packed our bags and headed to the Santa Margarita Trail in Fallbrook. Or so I thought…
I’m not sure where we went wrong, but we definitely did NOT end up where we intended on going. Instead, we found a random trail that was about 1/2 mile long, running through a hilly neighborhood. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the “correct” location, we walked the path anyways. It’s all about the adventure, right?
The morning light was beautiful! Especially given how the last few weeks started off with a thick layer of overcast pretty much every single day. Naturally, I was quite delighted to see actual sun rays peaking through the clouds. Me and the girls took some photos along the trail. There wasn’t much of anything exciting, but the were a few spots that provided a decent photo opp.
A little discouraged, but not completely deflated, we drove off after walking the entire 1 mile roundtrip (not quite enough for me to consider it a workout, but at least it was a bit of exercise). I decided to just head home because I knew we at least got a few good shots from the trail. Not more than a couple minutes into the drive home, I realized I had taken a wrong turn and had no idea where I was. Full disclaimer – I’m REALLY good at getting lost!
Before I was able to get too frustrated with myself for getting lost, we came across a bridge. And where there’s a bridge, there’s likely to be water! And then I saw it…a sweet, little river nestled away behind some brush. It was calling our names! I immediately found a spot to park, got the girls out of the car, and headed towards the water. It took a minute for us to find a way, but we did. And when we got there, it was glorious!
If there’s one thing I LOVE, it’s water. It’s literally my favorite thing on Earth. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw this river. The girls were, of course, equally excited. I through off my shoes, grabbed my camera, and we all jumped in. It was heaven. They had so much fun splashing around, and I was loving the morning light peaking through the trees, reflecting on the water, and feeling the wet sand between my toes. I couldn’t believe we found this secret little gem.
- Location: Unknown (somewhere near the Santa Margarita Trail, Fallbrook)
- Location Type: Trail, Riverbed
- Time: 6:15am – 8:00am
- Lighting: Partly Cloudy
- Equipment: Canon 5D Mark lll, Canon 50m F1.4
- Notes: Shooting backlit through the trees works as expected. The morning light tends to give a magenta or red hue – not the typical yellowish tone of images with afternoon warmth. I may have slightly overcompensated for this in post-production.
CONCLUSION: When something doesn’t go as planned, keep your chin up and stay positive because you never know what might be waiting for you just around the corner 😉