Baja, Mexico is full of surprises, so it was definitely a shock when I was told about a famous wine route only two hours south of San Diego, near the city of Ensenada. Valle de Guadalupe is Baja’s little viticultural treasure, nestled in the rural village of Guadalupe. The last place I would think to find the Napa of the South would be in the vast desert-like landscape of Mexico, where the temperatures keep the landscape arid and sparse. However, with my first few sips of real Mexican wine, I could tell why this place was the region’s hidden gem and I knew it would be a great place to capture some shots with my Samsung NX300.
Wineries range from ranchero style cookouts offering tastings over a mini bar complete with Native American music in the background, to impressive chateau style tasting rooms that put some Napa wineries to shame. However the contrasting landscapes of lush green vineyards in the midst of isolation were what struck me the most. To capture the distinction I set my Samsung SMART CAMERA in “Landscape” mode, which helps emphasize the different values of greens and blues between the foreground and the sky.
Half of the fun lies in getting to these different vineyards, which requires navigating some obscure signage onto even more obscure dirt paths. One such detour led to a mysterious collection of cow skulls. Whether it was there as a type of warning or Mexico’s take on street art, we’re still not sure, but I knew I had to whip out my Samsung SMART CAMERA to capture the mystery. However, with a bunch of bones come a frenzy of flies ready to attack the nearest passerby, so this is where zoom came in handy. I extended my 50-200mm lens as far as it would go, avoiding the fly fest, and jumped back in the car for our next pit stop.
Surprisingly I was able to keep this skeleton theme going, since when returning to Ensenada, one of the major cities in Northern Baja, I was able to catch a glimpse at some of the locally curated art—a giant statue made of whale bones. Standing tall in Ensenada next to the biggest Mexican flag I’ve ever seen, it echoed as a message encouraging others to be more environmentally conscious.
One thing I love about photographing sculptures is that you can play with your lenses and angles to create something new out of an existing artwork. I swapped to my 50-200mm Samsung lens to isolate different elements of the sculpture and create more of an abstract image.
Ensenada, while somewhat on the grungier side, definitely has its moments of charm, which is quite apparent when you wander along the seaside. Seafood is plentiful down here, and it shows since you can get a satisfying feast of ceviche (a mix of raw fish with lime and salt) for only a few dollars. After chomping down some of Ensenada’s best and washing it down with some Tecate—a Mexican staple, it was time to head back home.
Growing up in Southern California, Ensenada was always seen as a major tourist locale. I was glad to take a trip and snap some of the more hidden sides of Baja, uncovering it’s hidden wine routes and even getting a glimpse of local art.