From National Park land to downtown streetscapes, hillside perches to coastal lighthouses, HI hostels are located in some of the most beautiful settings Northern California has to offer. So perhaps it's not surprising that so many staff members across our hostel network are talented (and prolific) artists: they've got a lot of inspiration to work with! And now they're sharing their inspiration with you in our new interview series, "Artists in Residence." First up: Lacey Bediz, a Front Desk Agent with a passion for travel and an eye for photography at HI-Point Reyes.
Lacey Bediz has been working at HI-Point Reyes for nearly two years, and when she's not behind the front desk, she's often out on the trails, in the forest, or on the beach with her camera. A longtime world traveler, Lacey's found plenty to inspire her right here in Northern California, especially around Point Reyes.
"A lot of times, I'll just say to myself, 'All right. Go see something new, take your camera, and see what happens,'" she says.
And guests at HI-Point Reyes can now see the area the same way Lacey does: several of her photos of Point Reyes have been blown up and hung around the hostel, providing guests at this former ranch house with a little preview of everything there is to experience just outside their front door.
"It's cool to have the pictures up," Lacey says. "Ever since they went up, guests have been coming up and asking me about them. We get into these big conversations about photography and Point Reyes."
We recently caught up with Lacey (just before she skipped town to spend two weeks taking photographs in Croatia) to talk landscapes, lighting, and those magical moments that, with a little luck, you can only capture on film in West Marin.
How did you get started with photography?
I had traveled the world for about nine years, and I started a blog because I was traveling. It sounds funny, but there were so many words that I needed something else, so I started taking pictures for the blog. People kept telling me that the pictures were awesome, so I just kept buying the next camera up and the next camera up. People started asking me to shoot weddings and events for them, and it all just snowballed from there.
What are some of your favorite places to shoot around Point Reyes?
Tomales Point is one of my favorite places to shoot because it's where the elk are. Also, I really like shooting in the fog because it creates a really nice light, and Tomales almost always has fog.
I also really like to shoot on the Bolinas Ridge Trail out by Olema. I find a lot of wildlife, like hawks, there. It's a ridge with all kinds of pastoral farmland; it's very wide open without a lot of trees, so I can get a good perspective. And I like to get up early in the morning and shoot on Tomales Bay when there are a lot of animals, and a lot of boats, out.
What's the best time of day to take photographs in the area?
A lot of people like the "golden hour," which is an hour before sunset. But here, with the hills, I like to do an hour before that. This time of year, I'll go around 6:30 because the sun's not behind the hills yet – I just like to give myself a little extra time before sunset. Also, the early morning – like, 6:30 or 7:00 – is perfect if you can get yourself out of bed!
What's the best place to shoot…
The Coast Trail on Limantour Beach. Keep going towards Sculptured Beach and go a little bit off trail, then follow the Deer Trail up to the top of the cliff and you can get a really good perspective of the waves.
That's something people really love – surfing pictures! I go to Bolinas Beach a lot for those.
The Estero Trail is really great – people don't really know about that one. It's along the estuary, so there's a lot of bird life that hangs out there, and sometimes you'll see the harbor seals with their babies. Also, Bolinas Lagoon near Stinson Beach. There's a lot of amazing wildlife there, a lot of different birds. It's right by where the Audubon Society is.
I've been meaning to go up and shoot in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, where all the redwoods are. Shooting the redwoods is difficult, because you don't necessarily need sunrise or sunset. But when I drive through at 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning, it's always a really magical light.
What's something that's come out of nowhere or surprised you while shooting in the area?
One of people's favorite photographs that we have hanging up here at the hostel is one of a hawk. It was just sitting on a wire fence and I was just shooting it, and then the person I was hiking with stepped closer to it and scared it. So I was able to get a picture of it in flight. You never get pictures of hawks like that, with their wings all spread out. So that was really lucky.
Also, I remember one time there was one of those big bicycle tours of California going on and it came through Point Reyes Station. I was in town and just happened to have my big lens on me, and I got all these great shots of the cyclists. That's the thing – I guess you just always have to have your camera on you!
Is there anywhere in the area you'd like to shoot that you haven't made it out to yet?
Alamere Falls. Everybody talks about it and it's supposed to be amazing, but I've never been there. You could get there from the hostel on the coast trail; it would be an all-day hike. Or you can go down to Bolinas and park at the Palomarin Trail Head, then it's a little bit of a climb to get down to where the waterfalls are.
To see Lacey's favorite settings through your own lens, base yourself at HI-Point Reyes, the only accommodation within the boundaries of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Then, grab your camera and get hiking! And don't forget, you can Tweet us your own Point Reyes snapshots @HIUSANorCal.
All photos in this post ©Lacey Bediz. To see more of Lacey's photographs, from Point Reyes and beyond, check out www.laceybediz.com.