California has many things I love. The beautiful west coasts, majestic mountains, and artistically rich cities make California one of the top travel state. For these reasons, I started my digital nomad journey at Santa Monica, California. I spent most of my time working remotely. When I am not working, I go out and explore beaches and mountains nearby.

Recently, people often ask about the cameras I used. That’s not a question I can give good answers to because any decent camera today can produce images on my blog. So instead, I will write a bit about my process in addition to the cameras.

Venice Beach

I don’t like crowded cities like Los Angeles. When I landed at LAX, I got out and stay at Santa Monica. I was able to walk to Venice Beach from my room. The beach is very clean and beautiful. It has unique characters because of its close proximity to the second largest city in the US.

A Morning at Venice Beach
The beautiful coastline inspires people to live a healthy lifestyle.

When I go a beach, I often expect tourists. But in Venice Beach, I get to see how ordinary people live along the beach. I was envious of how these people can just wake up in the morning and just go surf. But then I remember how much upkeep these people have to pay to stay here.

Sunrise at Venice Beach
I wouldn’t mind waking up to this. Sunrise at Venice Beach
Surfer at Venice Beach
A Surfer being Fabulous

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the US. I can see this from walking along Venice Beach. For pictures of people, I emphasize on candid. Most modern M43 cameras can shoot silently using an electronic shutter without any loss in picture quality. This feature combines with the compact size of the cameras make me less visible. People are themselves when they are not watched.

In one afternoon, the wind was very strong such that the sand flies in the air. I had to cover my face and eyes to stay safe. The camera I used (Olympus E-M5 II and 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens) worked flawlessly in tough environment.

The wind smoothed the sand very quickly. Looks like I'm in a desert.
The wind smoothed the sand very quickly. Looks like I’m in a desert.

Travel Photography

I do my best to capture all the images that tell stories about my travel. When traveling, I can run into beautiful landscapes, stunning architectures, exotic wildlife, and interesting people. I need a camera system that captures all these subjects well without being too large and heavy.

Olympus E-M5 Mk.II with premium standard zoom lens compared to Nikon D700 with its own premium standard zoom lens. Image from http://j.mp/2d3X5pB
A professional standard zoom lens is the to-go lens for many photographers. Here is how it looks on M43 and full frame DSLR. Olympus E-M5 Mk.II vs Nikon D700 Image from http://j.mp/2d3X5pB

The kit I usually carry includes a professional grade standard zoom lens, a telephoto zoom lens, a bright normal prime lens and two camera bodies. With traditional DSLR cameras, the weight and size of this kit would be heavy and big to lug around all day. But with M43 cameras I can carry it all everywhere I go. These cameras are not as good as full-size cameras, but they do the job for my use cases.

My travel cameras kit
My travel cameras kit

The cameras I used for this post are:

  1. Olympus E-M5 Mark II
  2. Olympus E-M5 mounted with Olympus 12-40mm f2.8
  3. Olympus 40-150mm f2.8
  4. Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95

Many people do not consider weight to be a factor when choosing cameras to travel with. For me, weight is the biggest burden. When I carry less weight, I have more energy to keep exploring and take more pictures. Plus, traveling light is always more fun than traveling heavy. It’s like being in shape as opposed to being fat.

Santa Monica Mountains

While driving around Santa Monica Mountains, I found a trail that leads to one of the peaks. I wasn’t sure how long it was but went with it anyway. I started very early in the morning to catch the sunrise from the peak. The trail was very winding and I was not able to guess when I’ll be at the top. But when I made to the top, I didn’t feel tired carrying all the cameras.

Nature does not always work on photographers’ side. But this time, it did. I made it to the top just before the sunrise above the mountain range.

Sunrise at Santana Monica Mountains
Sunrise at Santana Monica Mountains

I can only see mountains covered with fog around me. The weather was just perfect. I can’t believe such a place exists not far from Los Angeles.

Santa Monica Mountains covered with fog
Santa Monica Mountains covered with fog

Conclusion

Santa Monica is a special place that has a little bit of everything. I didn’t have time to explore the city and nightlife as much since I enjoy nature and solitude more. This is one of the places that has something for everyone.

I hope this post is useful for those looking to visit Santa Monica as well as those who are looking to take photography more seriously.

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Exploring Santa Monica with Micro Four Third Cameras

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