A Maya in a Tree

Maya Radcliffe snapping a pic in San Jose, CA. Image captured by Jessica Kurihara January 1, 2020.

Well Stan State students, here we are, with just a few more days of spring break. We may not be doing the “typical” spring break activities like barbecues, football games on the beach, and wet T-shirt contests (or maybe we are doing some of these things, just not together as we once did), but there are still plenty of COVID-conscious activities that are totally spring-break appropriate!

Whether you’re taking a much-needed trip or full-sending the staycation, one thing you can always do to make your break enjoyable and memorable is to take lots of photos. We’ve got some photography location suggestions for you as close as inside your home or, if you’re down for a little day trip, some beautiful areas within two hours of Turlock.

With its plethora of hiking trails, Yosemite is a perfect spot to grab your camera or phone and snap some landscape shots. 

Currently, the national park is not requiring reservations to enter the park, but those visiting are still complying with CDC social-distancing guidelines. 

Stan alumna, Alex Williams, describes her recent trip to the park and the photos she captured there.

"It was really refreshing to be somewhere so big and open after being in my house day after day," Williams says.

In regards to photography, Williams explains, "I more so snap pictures of the views for memory's sake, the people I'm with to capture little moments... I find I later gravitate more towards the simple pictures of the 'little things,' rather than a perfectly framed picture of Half Dome."

Yosemite also hosts various photography classes for anyone interested!

About one hour and 45 minutes from Turlock, Pinecrest hosts gorgeous lake views. Hike around the lake or take the trail up to the waterfalls in Cleo's Bath. 

Makala Loomis, Marine Science major at CSU Monterey, claims, "You can't take bad pictures at Pinecrest."

Loomis usually sports a film camera, and she recommends working with film, especially if you're new to photography.

"I think film is the best way to start. It makes you appreciate the photos in general," Loomis says.

Located in Oakdale, California, Knights Ferry is a popular spot for photoshoots. We have seen many a graduation and engagement session in this park. 

The Stanislaus River, rolling fields, and the remnants of an old mill make this an ideal location for portraits about 45 minutes from Turlock.

Turlock and its surrounding towns may not host forests of redwoods or pines, and they may have canals instead of rivers, but there are tons of places "just around the corner" to explore with your camera.

Turlock resident and photographer Cameron Swanson states that one of her favorite places to take photos in Turlock is on Sierra Street, near Turlock High School. 

She also suggests checking out Fahrens Park in Merced and Mavis Stouffer Park in Ripon. 

Another local photographer, Rachel Cherenson, also recommends Fahrens Park. She includes Fox Grove in Hughson and McConnell State Park in Ballico. 

Both photographers state that you can find areas for photography near you if you are willing to look.

"Honestly, it's a lot of just driving around to very random places," Swanson says.

Other popular locations near Turlock include our very own Stan State and, of course, the almond orchards.

Whether you're driving, biking, or simply taking a walk, bring your camera or your phone with you. See if there are any spots you want to study through a lens. You never know, you might see familiar things in a different light.

You might even be able to do this without leaving your house.

At Home

The Magic of Reading

Connor Radcliffe flips open a book in this long-exposure shot by Maya Radcliffe in August 2020.

Backyard Fire

A small firepit in the backyard is perfect for s'mores and for pictures. Image by Maya Radcliffe in August 2019.

For all you staycationers out there, taking photos in your home or right in your backyard can be fun and rewarding. 

Take that camera, play around with the settings on your own or look at some photography tutorials like the ones @bleachfilm on Instagram posts and give it a shot (literally)!

And now... to the coast, because what would spring break be without at least looking at some pictures of the beach?

Half Moon Bay

Horses in Half Moon Bay

A group of horses and their riders work their way across Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. Image taken by Maya Radcliffe in January 2020.

Well-known for its verdant, green cliffsides dipping towards the ocean, one of which sports the picturesque Ritz-Carlton hotel, Half Moon Bay is an ideal spot for clean, open beaches. 

Half Moon Bay State Beach and Poplar Beach are some great locations for relaxing beach days and photo-ops. You might even get to watch the horses trot down their usual trail.

In addition to awesome beach views, Carmel has a collection of unique and camera-ready houses and condos.

The rocky areas of its beaches are ideal places for photoshoots with friends and even (I've seen it before) recording music videos.

Santa Cruz 

A NorCal staple, Santa Cruz presents many areas for photography. Aside from its beaches, its boardwalk, and its classic downtown, Santa Cruz hosts beautiful hikes and botanic gardens.

Wilder Ranch

Wilder Ranch State Park. Image taken on an iPhone 6 by Maya Radcliffe on June 10, 2017.

In Wilder Ranch State Park, you can hike along the coast gazing at farmland and cliffsides. Just make sure to take a look at your feet in between pictures to check for a snake that's come to say hello.

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

UC Santa Cruz invites guests to walk through its arboretum and botanic gardens. Image taken on an iPhone 6 by Maya Radcliffe in July 2019.

UC Santa Cruz's Arboretum and Botanic Garden hosts a large variety of beautiful flora divided into sections based on their native lands. According to the Arboretum's website, the garden "maintains collections of rare and threatened plants of unusual scientific interest."

The Arboretum is still accepting visitors in compliance with CDC guidelines. Tickets for adults are $5 and tickets for kids are $2. Check out their hours and admission here.

If you happen to have time for a spring break overnight trip, Lake Tahoe is a photographer's dream. 

About three hours from Turlock, Tahoe provides numerous hiking trails and lake excursions. Relax or adventure, and take some photos while you're at it.

Whether taking photos is second nature to you or all those camera settings make you scrunch your eyebrows, you can be a photographer this spring break. Take a drive to one of our suggestions or check out your home and your town. This spring break, take some shots, shots, shots!

And finally, an ode to the Turlock night sky.

You might not even miss the beach if you take a peep at the sunsets right in your backyard. Images taken by Maya Radcliffe.

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