Category Archives: Photography

Life Lessons Photography

Throw Back Tuesday: Our Hawaii Vacation #TBT

This week is Ryleigh’s first official spring break. My family and I haven’t had a real vacation in probably 5 years. Working for yourself does that to you, but that changes this week. We are in Hawaii. My first trip to Hawaii was in 2008. We celebrated my 30th birthday on the big island at an amazing restaurant in downtown Honolulu. The experience was life changing.

This week we’re returned to Hawaii with Ryleigh in town but are spending the week in Kauai. I’m looking forward to sharing some photos, but first, I thought I would share some of my own photos in this throw back Tuesday special blog post from 2008 and our time on the big island of Hawaii.

botanical garden in hawaii

 

The photo above was from a nature center Greg and I visited just as soon as we landed on the island. I loved taking photos of all the beautiful landscapes, flowers and foliage.

 

view from boat in hawaii

 

Each time we visit a beach, we love to hop on a boat and see the island views from the water. This time was no different and during our visit we saw dolphins, whales and even did a little snorkeling.

 

dolphins in hawaii

 

We encountered some dolphins on our boat trip. Just look at the water. I am beside myself to get in that beautiful blue water and gaze upon it this week.

 

waterfall hike in hawaii

 

One of the most memorable parts of our trip was a hike up to the waterfall. Greg, myself, Greg’s dad and mom as well as his 80 year old grandma hiked with us several miles and in a beautiful Hawaiian rainforest soaking wet.

 

Copy of sunrise in waikiki copy

 

When travelling to a beach location, you have to walk along the ocean. This photo above along with below are taken as we watched the sun rise along Waikiki beach. It is my absolute happy place.

 

sunrise and surf in waikiki

 

Another view of Waikiki before the roller bladers, tourists and hustle and bustle.

 

hawaiian luah

 

When in Hawaii you must enjoy a luah. The fire and hula dancing was beautiful. I can’t for Ryleigh to try her hand this year on stage.

This year I have my Nikon D7000 with me and I can’t wait to see the beauty I capture this week.

Life Lessons Photography

The Window Seat of Life

In February, I’m traveling for the first time in 4 months. On one hand it feels good to get away from my home office and my job as the professional chauffeur. On the other hand, it’s weird because it’s also something I desperately miss especially on my trip earlier this month to San Francisco when my daughter lost another tooth. She’s growing up, and I hate missing those moments. She only has so many teeth, and this time she took it upon herself to write a letter to the tooth fairy. I wasn’t there to make sure the tooth fairy wrote back to her. This one simple thing made me feel very guilty.

This week I’m traveling to the east coast, and I woke up this morning in New York to snow. It fell for most of the morning. My view this week also happens to be amazing. I’m up on the 18th floor. My hotel room has wide expansive windows and a snow filled balcony. That didn’t stopping me from snapping some pictures of my view. It’s views like these that make traveling worth doing. That and the business meetings and activities I also have scheduled in New York this week.

See how magical a snow does this city make…

During my recent fly time I’ve also witnessed some of the most beautiful sunsets and cloud formations in my entire life. I don’t buy the research that says that people who seat in window seats are less creative. I purposely sit by the window so I can enjoy the beauty of the earth that surrounds me. It doesn’t hurt that the window also doubles for a place to lean on. I always travel with a long scarf that doubles as a pillow for sleeping and a shield from those over zealous middle seat guys and gals that are always trying to start a conversation about the weather with me. 

This photo is my current favorite. It looks exactly like the ocean except that I’m flying from 20,000 feet. Don’t the clouds look like sea foam and waves? Amazing! 

This sunset’s not half bad either. I’m just leaving Las Vegas heading to back home from my trip to San Francisco. I just wish I had a nice red Merlot in hand to fully enjoy this beautiful view.

I’m not about to sit on the sidelines of life or in flight. I want always want a window seat to truly enjoy the view.

Life Lessons Photography

Elephant Crazy in Salinas, CA

One of our most favorite trips while we lived permanently in California was our visit to The Vision Quest Ranch just outside of Salinas California. Our family was able to tour the property and spend several hours getting to know the elephants there. We got so up close and personal on the tour, that we were able to give one of the largest male elephants a bath.

My daughter was beside herself the entire trip. And thankfully, the elephant was patient and gentle. I’ll admit I was beyond nervous when she curled up next to the elephant. It was an adventure we will never forget.

The Vision Quest Ranch trains animals for Hollywood movies and also serves as a sanctuary for large unwanted animals. Prior to our up close and personal visit with the elephants, we toured the property and learned about jaguars, tigers, zebras and a number of other animals, but it was all about the elephants for us. Here are a few pictures below.

family-photo-elephants

The cloud porn in itself is pretty amazing, but when you add into the elephants, it makes for the perfect family photo.

Santa-Cruz-elephants

One of the reasons we like Vision Quest is how they treat their animals. These elephants are not caged and are allowed to roam a large part of the property. This was important when we visited the Oakland Zoo and our own Oklahoma City Zoo. Again, look at that cloud porn!

feeding-elephants

We were able to get extremely up close and personal with the elephants. Ryleigh was ecstatic that she was able to feed the elephant and even bath them. I was most blown away by the precision the elephant had with his trunk. He was able to grab our carrot almost like he had fingers and place it in his mouth.

Above is a short instagram video I took while Greg and Ryleigh washed their elephant friend. Ry didn’t want it to end.  


One of the things I like most about Northern California are the roadside markets where we snagged a ton of amazing really fresh produce and at ridiculous prices like $6 for an entire flat of strawberries. The strawberries there are out of this world. The roadside markets cater to all age groups which you see above.

Photography

Fall Spectacular in Napa

Since taking my digital detox this summer (read about it here), I’ve made an effort to focus more on passions including photography. Last fall during one of our exploratory trips to Northern California, we visited Napa and I snapped some great photos there that over the summer I finally got to really take a look at.

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I love wine but I’m not someone who is really adventurous with wine. I stick to mostly white sweet wines. California isn’t known for their Rieslings so I was outside of my comfort zone. The clouds were amazing that day in Napa and my creativity was flowing like all the wine were tasting.

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Since we were flying home, we had to ship some of our wine home and Oklahoma is not wine shipment friendly. I opted to mail my wine to a friend in Dallas just 3 hours away in exchange for a nice bottle of red for her. Not a bad trade if I say so myself.
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Ryleigh and Grandma who we call Gimmie came along for the trip, and luckily Gimmie snapped this nice family pic at one of the beautiful wineries. It was only a quick second or two that Ryleigh actually stayed in one place. She was just shy of 4 years old in this picture and is a busy body running from place to place.

 

 

Photography

City Views of San Francisco

I’ve always loved photography. While I have a Nikon D70 that I use for most of my photos, my iPhone is with me wherever I go which lends to lots of fun and funny photo memories on the go courtesy of Instagram. You can follow my account, @jmillermerrell as I share a quirky balance of my life, family and business from my point of view.

Just a couple weeks into our house hunting trip in the San Francisco Bay Area and I’ve snapped quite a few photos of the city of San Francisco. Ryleigh loves the city and calls it “her town.” When we made the decision to move here after spending a couple weeks here in November, Ryleigh began telling everyone including her teachers, doctor and random strangers that we were making the move.

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The city peaks through the fog. This photo is taken from the window of our master bedroom at the rental home we’re staying at in Saulsalito, CA. Breath taking!

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This photo was taken near the Coit Tower in San Francisco. That area offers beautiful views.

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The view of San Francisco from Berkeley is quite amazing. Greg, Ryleigh and I toured the University of California’s football facilities. This pic is taken from the football stadium.

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In our temporary rent house in Sausalito, I travel across the Golden Gate Bridge nearly every single day. The view of the city from the park though is beautiful especially when the sun shines through and reflects onto the ocean.

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