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Our earth and its infinite biological variations and geological formations in the finest hours.

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Genuine expressions and future memories of people and pets as seen through my eyes.

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Life snippets on farms and intentional communities along the N. American west coast.

Acro Yoga Photoshoots in Coloma & Lake Tahoe

In late July I had the opportunity to spend several beautiful days in northern California, photographing and learning acro yoga (a new practice for me), eating some incredibly fresh and healthy gourmet foods, soaking in the beauty of the natural surroundings, and enjoying the superb company of new and old friends. It was a spontaneous road trip that started with a reunion with my friend Allen in southern California. Cogs started turning quickly, and the next thing we know, we knew we wanted to collaborate, co-create, and have some fun. He and his acro partner, Kate, were about to an acro yoga workshop at Coloma Resort in northern California, and we thought it would be a killer way to see what we could do together. The results are truly incredible, in my humble opinion. The following photos and captions will walk you through the best acro and photoshoot bits from that long weekend.

Presenting our instructors/models… Kate and Allen!

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Kate spotting one of our friends trying out a new acro pose.

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

It was a gorgeous morning, with spectacular lighting under the oak tree.

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

There is no rule that the “larger” person has to be on the bottom. With proper technique, reasonable strength, and very importantly – TRUST – the heavier partner can be the flyer too.

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

We put on quite the circus act, attracting other folks of all ages from around the resort that morning. A couple people even joined in on the fun!

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Coloma Resort is right on the south fork of the American River – so it was tubing time for me after the morning session! GoPro comes out to play.

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Afternoon session – warming up on the rocks.

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What a place to be doing acro.

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Shanna found a spot in the river that was perfect for what we envisioning for the first photoshoot – a flat section where the waters were only a few inches deep.

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The warmup. This time, featuring Shanna.

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

And our setup… not to mention the spectators that floated by. I was probably 20-30 feet (7-10 meters) downstream from where Shanna and Allen were. I found a rock that was slightly exposed above water and perched myself on it for most of the photoshoot. My camera and lens were not in any waterproofing container, so I had to be very careful to be photographing just inches off the water surface.

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

“Side star” on the American River… love this one!

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

© Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

The lighting on that afternoon was essentially perfect, with some scattered clouds diffusing the sunlight slightly. While I think reflectors and/or flashes could have helped light the shadows and make our models “pop” a bit more, they were honestly not needed. I love working purely with natural light anyway! :) We had a ton of fun making this happen, and it was a superb learning experience for everyone to try new poses in a radically different setting for acro yoga.

Next destination.. beautiful Lake Tahoe.

A quick shoot on a deck got us the following. The rain clouds that had brought us an overnight shower followed us east to Tahoe, and they added a much-welcomed dramatic affect in the wide open sky.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Later that afternoon, we rented a stand-up paddleboard on the shore of South Lake Tahoe, and decided to turn up the difficulty level a notch or two higher.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

We were joined by our friends Brigette and Orion for this photoshoot. There is a section of South Lake Tahoe where the water depth is only knee-level for a couple hundred meters or so out. I had this image in my mind before the shoot to be able to have a completely unobstructed view of the landscape and lake behind us as we tried this relatively new (I’d imagine) sport: acro stand-up paddleboard yoga! The following couple shots were snapped with the GoPro.

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Slater the labradoodle came along too ;)

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First several – correction – DOZENS of tries were met with an equal amount of falling

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

With persistence and little adjustments to our setup, we were soon able to pull it off!

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

The waves got a little stronger as the afternoon breeze picked up, and we had to ask for Orion and Brigette to hold the board as Allen and Kate kept pushing the boundaries further. I snapped this one with the GoPro.

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And magic happened.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

The girls give it a go too.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Brigette flying beautifully on her second go!

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Of course, though, there were a few falls. All ending with good laughs.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

The “throne” pose – success!

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Here you can see how deep the water is where I was standing (left). I brought a waterproof sack along for the 2nd camera body, which I ended up not using. My primary camera was mounted to my favorite lens – the 135mm prime – and it worked for the shoot extremely well. Good thing the water was warm and the waves weren’t too large to potentially splash the camera as I (once again) hovered just centimeters above the surface.

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Two of the best shots as we got better and better at orienting perpendicular to the waves, positioning on the board, and other fine-tuning such as lighting and where I am standing to get the ideal backdrop.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Allen couldn’t resist being completely underwater as the base while flying Kate – check out how the curves on her body almost match those of the mountains! This one is a winning shot, I would say.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Best rental money and time spent for ONE paddleboard for a group.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Smiles all around from a fun and successful photoshoot.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

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After a nice break, we couldn’t wait to leverage the gorgeous clouds that had gathered in the region for an epic sunset and, you guessed it – a final shoot to end our day with a BANG.

So here is Tahoe at sunset and dusk, featuring our acrobatic stars:

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Brigette went for it too, and the results were mesmerizing. I really, really enjoy these almost-silhouettes against the deep dark blue and dramatic sky as the colors morphed and clouds danced in the panoramic view.

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Photo by Jonathan H. Lee / www.subtledream.com

Absolutely fantastic long weekend and fun photoshoots. Can’t wait to collaborate with more artists and good people in the near future!

I’ll be joining Allen & Kate once more in Seattle throughout the month of September for more acro, photoshoots, and nature-getaway fun. Contact us if you are in the area!

Connect with me @subtledream via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and 500px!

A little plug for Kate:

Kate Burkett is an inner-beauty expert, yoga instructor, and personal coach. Her website and contact can be found via kateinparadise.com
Twitter: twitter.com/Kate_inParadise
Instagram: instagram.com/kate_inparadise
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Kate-in-Paradise/302880503055950

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