Orange Juice, ETC

The blog of Elias & Theresa Carlson

Tag: Joseph Carlson

A Redwood Wedding: Gabe & Bri Cortez


As you may recall, weddings aren’t typically my thing. If I’m gonna break a sweat shooting a camera I’d rather it be the result of elevation gain and not a button-up & tie. I’ve learned to love them, but they’re a lot of work. And as the photographer you kind of miss all the fun stuff because you’re so busy trying to get the next shot.

But under the right circumstances I’m game. This time around my brother Joseph sweet-talked me into helping him out after he committed to act as photographer for his pal Gabe Cortez. Having never shot a wedding before, Joseph quickly realized he was in over his head and called for backup (that’s me). It wasn’t a hard sell. Gabe and his then-fiancé Brianna had reserved a spot at Stones & Flowers, a little retreat nestled beneath towering Redwoods near Santa Cruz, California. They also wanted us to shoot the entire wedding on film! Since I much prefer shooting film to digital, the opportunity was too tempting to pass up. As an added bonus Joseph and I would be driving up the California coast with our friend Ryan Tuck – who you may remember from Rivers & Roads – and the three of us had already conspired to sneak in a little fly-fishing on the way back should time allow.

I’d met Gabe briefly earlier in the year when he manned the studio drums for Joseph’s in-progress EP. He’s a dapper guy, with an excellent beard, bright eyes, and a quick intelligent way about him. I get the impression he’s “the cool one” in whatever crowd he finds himself, but not in an aloof, douchey way. It’s the result of his confident, direct manner more than any conscious effort. Cliche as it may sound he’s one of those guys that just seems to effortlessly exude cool. Maybe it’s just the beard, I dunno.

Prior to the wedding I’d never met Bri, but it didn’t take her more than a couple seconds to win me over. She’s adorable, kind, and sweet in the most genuine sense. She’s clearly a match for Gabe in the cool department, in fact as a graphic designer in San Francisco she may well have the market cornered; I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of cool these days. However, what I appreciated most about Bri was her ability to focus completely on whoever she was with in a given moment. Several time throughout the weekend she would stop to chat with Joseph and I and each time I was struck at how personable and thoughtful she was. Even on her wedding day it never seemed to be about her.

Needless to say it was a delight to spend time with Gabe and Bri over the weekend, and a joy to shoot their wedding. The location was incredible, the people were beautiful, and it was a complete honor to witness the outpouring of love and support from the community of people who gathered to celebrate them.

Shooting the entire wedding on film proved to be a delightful challenge. I’ve always enjoyed how film forces you to slow down, and while it didn’t make covering the wedding any less hectic, it certainly made the results more rewarding. As for Joseph? Well, he did great, and came away with a new appreciation for all the works that goes into covering a wedding. He even had enough energy left to dance the night away.

I’m pleased to be able to share a few of my favorite photos with you here. Many thanks to Gabe and Bri for welcoming me so warmly on this special day.

NOTE: All Black & White photos + opening shot by Joseph Carlson.


























Kings Canyon in Three Parts (3/3)


Part 3 by Joseph Carlson

“Good poetry has layers that take time to perceive and enjoy. So a person who reads a lot of good poetry has often learned patience and comes to take joy in growing slowly.”
–Tommy Givens

The forever-maddening part is being able to see them, the trout that is. The crystalline waters of the Kings River are particularly unforgiving in this respect. The aquamarine depths of even the largest pools yield themselves easily to an eager and educated eye. Similarly the clear, quick currents of the shallower runs were hosts to the shimmering’s of smaller trout. Beyond that, Kings Canyon just feels fishy. Like you should be getting into trout right and left. Tucked between Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, the LA Times once called it the “forgotten National Park”. To be perfectly honest, I’ll be more than happy if it stays that way; more trout for me and mine.

Anyway, back towards the trout. Long ago, I recall reading in a book, “If you can see the fish, they can see you.” Maybe, that was the reason Kings humbled us. Those clear mountain waters are surely a two-way window. Or, maybe it was the heat, or that last glass of whiskey the night before, or the extra sleep. Abandoning deep runs as dusk descends and choosing instead the evening hunt for prime spots to take photographs certainly doesn’t get one any closer to a full creel. Magic hour applies for photography just as much for fishing. Regardless, we saw plenty and caught few, and I’ve been haunted by the place ever since.

The Brown Trout I caught was the biggest I had ever hooked, nothing to brag about, but a healthy 17 inches. The one I lost after him was the biggest trout I’d hooked on a fly rod. He laughed at me after a bated-breath, ecstatic, and tremulous-1-minute stroll he took up the pool I hooked him in. I thought I was doing an exemplary job ‘playing’ a trout that was clearly out of my league when, with a flick of a palm-sized tail-fin he snapped my 6x tippet like it was gossamer and left me weakkneed and love-stricken. His nonchalance was the hardest part to swallow. Grieving that loss as I was for the rest of the trip did nothing to diminish my gratitude for each decidedly smaller fish I gently cradled, thanked, and relinquished back unto the river.

Granted, I never truly got into “fish-mode”, where one is fully baptized into the present moment, abandoning human cognition to adopt trout-like perspective. But, I doubt it would have made a difference; to catch fish on the Kings in those conditions you have to slow waaay down, and this trip was about brotherhood more than it was about fishing. It meant just as much to sit on the bank untangling knots for Jeremy, or rigging up two and three fly set-ups for Elias, or smiling to myself after they let me “coach” them on how to effectively nymph. Such are the layers of slow poetry. I’d be lying if I said that I’m a patient man when it comes to flyfishing, and so many other things, when measured against those who have dedicated themselves to the art. Yet, the prospect of being able to take joy in growing slowly when it comes to trout, mountains, rivers, and my brothers (either by blood or time), is a joy I’ll gladly sacrifice for.
















For the photography nerds: All photos taken with a Pentax Spotmatic on 35mm film.

Joseph is a man of many talents: singer-songwriter, fly-fisherman, writer, and deep-thinker. When he isn’t writing clever, thought-provoking blog articles he can be found over on tumblr waxing theological, sharing the latest great music, or spreading some form of truth, beauty, or justice. If he’s not there, you’d best check the nearest river.

Rivers & Roads Trailer

I’m quite pleased to share the official trailer for the upcoming short film that my brother and I have been working on. It’s the story of a 5 day fly fishing road trip from Seattle to LA with my brother, our friend Ryan, and a burgundy Buick LeSabre. We have submitted it to the 2012 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T), and are hopeful that it’ll make the cut, and go on tour. Whether or not that happens we will be releasing the short film version of this video in the near future. So stay tuned. We hope you enjoy the trailer (make sure HD is on!)

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for more videos from Theresa and I in the future. Now that we have our 5D, the sky’s the limit.

Director of Photography – Elias Carlson (me)
Narration – Joseph Carlson
Original MusicTyson Motsenbocker

The Great Oregon Coast Adventure: Part 2

As promised, here is the second installment from our recent adventure to the coast. I still can’t quite believe that I got to do this project with KAVU. Theresa and I figured we should share a few of our favorite photos here on OJ for you guys to enjoy, but you should really head over to to catch more of the story, and a whole lot more photos.

Full blog post here.

For those of you that enjoy technical stuff, all of these were shot on film using an Olympus OM-1n, a Mamiya 645, a Rollei 35TE, and a Contax T2. Films used include Kodak Portra 400, Ilford FP4, and Kodak UltraMax 400. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

Instagram Assassins: The Great Oregon Coast Adventure

Joseph atop an ocean spire. Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

My brother Joseph has that look in his eye. The one he gets right before he’s about to do something awesome. “I’m going to climb that” he says. Theresa and I, along with her sister Andrea, and my friend Jeremy are halfway around “The Point” at low tide in Lincoln City, Oregon. The sun is nestling gently into the horizon line, wrapping the Pacific Ocean around itself like an oversized quilt. Behind us, “The Knoll” towers over our little group, awash in golden light.

Fifteen minutes later Joseph and I are both seated atop a craggy ocean spire, seventy feet above the ocean, watching the last few rays of sun flickering across the face of the sea. I’d like say this was an idyllic close to a perfect 30th birthday weekend. The crazy thing is we still had the next day to enjoy at Cape Kiwanda, twenty minutes north of our epic perch. So much goodness was packed into our three short days I can only begin to share it with you here.

For our first installment, we thought it would be fun to share a few highlights from the trip using only Instagram photos. My good friend Jeremy Spyridon shot the entire weekend using just his iPhone, capturing some fantastic moments. Naturally I was burning through rolls of film on a mission for our upcoming KAVUpulse blog post. However, I still managed to squeeze off a few rounds with the ol’ iPhone. I’ve compiled a selection here for you to enjoy. As you’ll see, we spent the weekend in epic fashion, hiking, climbing, relaxing, and generally marveling at the beauty of the Oregon Coast.

More to come…

All of these photos were taken using Instagram by either Jeremy Spyridon (@jspyridon) or Elias Carlson (@eliascarlson).

Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Photo by Elias Carlson

Elias and Theresa together

Three - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Sea Cave - Photo by Elias Carlson

Balance - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Theresa Sunset - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Sperrys above the ocean - Photo by Elias Carlson

Joseph Carlson - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Drift Creek Falls - Photo by Elias Carlson

Silhouette - Photo by Elias Carlson

Tiny Figures - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Backflip - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Clifftops - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Joseph atop the spire - Photo by Elias Carlson

Leapers ETC - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Pacific Sunset - Photo by Elias Carlson

Arms Outstretched - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Cape Kiwanda Cliffs - Photo by Elias Carlson

The Ascent - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

California drownin’ out the windowside

I arrived in Pasadena late. 2am approximately. I’d successfully navigated the labyrinth of LAX, picked up a rental car, and snaked my way up the 110, obsessively checking the GPS display of my “space phone” to ensure I hit the Pasadena exit. Theresa was happily off to Hollywood as 1/4 of a quartet of giddy, giggling girls, and I was looking forward to a weekend of adventure with my brother.

Joseph greeted me at the door of his tiny apartment me with a big hug, and a glass of Bruekelen Distillery’s finest Whiskey. He told me that he’d recently finished a new song, that I had to hear it, and that the only place he could play it for me was in the lower level of the parking garage. Ten minutes, three flights of stairs, and two cigarettes later this happened:

There are few things quite as grand as watching the people you love blossom into the fullness of who they are. Joseph is my best friend, but it wasn’t always so. Once upon a time I tried my best to stifle the glorious qualities that now enchant the people fortunate enough to call him a friend. It’s not an unusual story. I, the older brother, often cruel and belittling. He, a fiery upstart, unwilling to give an inch. Thank God, my sabotage failed. I’d have missed out on so much.

I’m not sure how it happened but somewhere along the way we became friends. I suppose I matured, and as I did he graciously forgave. Perhaps, as we let our guards down and learned to appreciate one another, we discovered that our hearts were tuned to the same frequency. Deep calling to deep.

We spent the weekend together in epic fashion. Our first adventure was a jaunt up Eaton Canyon to the top of Eaton Falls. Finding the normal trail too easy, we clambered up the side of the canyon and followed a ridge around until we came to the top of the falls. Our thirst for adventure slaked, we headed South to Huntington Beach for a bonfire, where Joseph serenaded a rapt group of friends with his latest songs. The following day we drove deep into the San Gabriel mountains, on the lookout for scenic views, marveling at how different the terrain is from our native Washington ranges. Our time together was filled with conversation, good music, and a welcome splash of sunshine.

While I can’t say I have any desire to live in L.A., or Pasadena for that matter, I’m glad I’ll have an excuse to visit for the next three years. Far more than that, I’m glad I have a brother like Joseph with whom to share life. I’ll leave you with a small piece of writing that came tumbling from my pen shortly after my return to Seattle. It is an ode to friendship and brotherhood. It’s simple, and probably a little sappy, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

What joy it is, the fellowship between brothers. Once enemies, striving, wills clashing like flint and steel. Now at peace together. Shoulder to shoulder. The one knowing the other as well as himself. Over mountains and through woods, their conversation flows like silver streams. They grow up together in strength and wisdom like two trees intertwined.

Note: All photos of me (Elias) except that one self-portrait were taken by Joseph.

Far from home where the ocean stood

Today 25 years ago a rather spectacular event occured; my brother Joseph was born. Unfortunately he is currently in Pasadena, likely bemoaning the Golden State’s lack of Autumn, trout streams, and adoring nephews. Since we can’t have him here in person we decided the next best thing was to curl up with his cover of Johnny Cash’s “The Long Black Veil” and look at pictures of him being epic (his most frequent state of being).

Joseph we love you and we miss you. We can’t wait until you’re back in the Northwest where you belong. In the meantime we hope our presents help to take the edge off when grad school gets rough. Happy birthday beloved brother.

Video by the talented Kurt Daniels