If you have ever wanted a severe case of California nature wanderlust, look no further than Juan Arreguin’s Instagram feed. As a digital product designer, Juan has a keen eye for seeking out great shots. Juan is also an avid rock climber and hiker based in San Francisco, which means that he's always exploring new unique spots around California. He captures vast nature scenes and mixes up his editing styles between clean and bright vibrant sunsets and moody, foggy scenes with deep green tones using the Priime app to edit all of his shots. Download the Priime app on the App Store here.
Juan's dreamy captures will make you want to hop in a car and explore every bit of the scenery that California has to offer. We talk with Juan about his photography and showcase his captures below.
You travel a lot and find great unique places. What are your favorites spots to explore around California?
I love California, not only because it’s a beautiful state, but also because there’s just so much to explore within hours of San Francisco. South Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places to go in California; the scenery, rock features, and the lake itself make it a phenomenal place to visit all year round. South Lake Tahoe not only has amazing views, but there are a lot of trails to hike on, places to camp, and, of course, places to rock climb. I’ve been to a few locations to climb in South Lake Tahoe like Phantom Spires, Luther Spires, Wrights Lake, and Lover’s Leap, which is a must for climbers.
My visit to Wrights Lake was the most amazing experience; after a long day of hiking and seeking out our next spot to climb the next morning, we found ourselves above a mesa in Wrights Lake at night. There was a clear view of the stars and the Milky Way galaxy, since everything else was below eye-level. The views captivated us and left us in awe. There was no visible moon that night which allowed us to stare at the starry night for hours while counting the many shooting stars.
Besides Lake Tahoe, Yosemite has been on my checklist for a few years, and every time I try to go, something falls through. Recently though, it finally happened; I went to Yosemite! Yosemite in the fall is amazing. There were a lot of thunderstorms, and growing up in the Midwest, I actually miss thunderstorms. It was great to fall asleep to the sound of the thunder and rain. The rocks were too slippery the next morning for us to do any rock climbing, but the views were amazing. We hiked up to Half Dome which was a full 18 mile hike through mist, wind, and night hiking. The elevation and the valleys in Yosemite allow for amazing views of the rocks and the trees. Although I wasn't able to rock climb in Yosemite, it's next on my list.
How does rock climbing play into your photography? Are there limits to the photography gear you can bring along?
Rock climbing isn’t just an activity where you can jump out of your car and start climbing-- it’s a part of the adventure. You usually hike in for a few minutes to hours into intense grades usually above 800 feet in elevation.
Many of the routes are empty since they are usually hard to get to, or at least not for the faint of heart. When considering bringing extra gear aside from your already-heavy rock climbing equipment, you have to think small and compact. I was using ExoLens for a while until I broke one of the lenses. A lot of times with climbing, you don’t have much time to capture the moment, as someone can rip off the wall in a split second. This is when switching or putting on lenses becomes difficult. I’ve just managed to capture action shots by just using the default iOS shortcut on the iPhone. You sometimes don’t always get the best shots, but it definitely secures a higher chance that you will capture the moment as it happens.
I like to document everything and create journals as I go. I’ve been using Wander, an app that allows me to track my routes, and it keeps track of the shots I've taken along my adventure. This is where Priime comes in; I make my edits then compose a journal from my trip, and then each day or every week I post an Instagram photo series of three continuous shots, which composes a panoramic of my adventure.
So at the end of the day, our hikes, our climbs, and all the photos taken have a place to live which all come together as a story, or in this case a journal, published on Wander and is posted to Instagram with the hashtags #LTSxPLR (Let's Explore), inviting others to do the same, and #NeverStopExploring, something that I always tell myself to do.
The panorama 3 post photo series on your Instagram is visually intriguing. What made you want to set your feed up that way?
Panorama shots are great to capture a wide view in a single shot, but the problem is that there isn’t a good way to share them. I had seen some Instagram accounts posting a series of shots that were photographed in similar environments. That’s when I started playing with the idea of splitting panoramas, and turning them into a series of three shots, which mirrored the approach of posting similar photos in a series from those Instagrammers.
Am I stuck into always posting panoramas? Probably not, but it would break the alignment. It doesn’t always work, since there are some splits that don’t look that great, and some people miss the point unless they just go directly into my profile rather than just looking at every post individually.
I love taking panoramic shots, and so far, splitting them into threes and sharing them on Instagram has been the best way to upload them from my iPhone.