Joshua Esponda

Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x

In South Florida 🇺🇸 from Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 Sony Photographer (& Sony employee) Urbex, Travel, Landscape, etc. Currently shooting: Sony α6000, α7, α7RII
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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A white peacock butterfly (A. jatrophae) in Everglades National Park shot with the 70-200mm 2.8 GMaster lens.

5 Hours ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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At the very edge of the Florida Mainland is Flamingo, a part of Everglades National Park that is a gateway to Florida Bay... and countless mosquito bites. This area also goes to show Florida’s amazing diversity with life and ecosystems with the drive down to this area taking someone through all sorts of systems including marshland, prairie, and hardwood hammocks. Flamingo itself is part of a mangrove forest environment of brackish water full of seabirds and manatees along with a massive population of mosquitoes to the point of a special meter being used to warn visitors of how bad the biting conditions would be.

1 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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While everyone else was busy taking the same image of a wide angle aligator body I set my sights (and the Sony 70-200 2.8 GMaster lens) on capturing something different. The α7RII and GMaster combo is a match made in heaven- or Sony’s engineering lab at least- that enabled me to produce an image that reminded me of Jurassic Park. (I was seriously expecting another gator to pop out of the brush while lining up my shot and my final words to be “clever girl”)

2 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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American Backroads Tour Part 5: “The Road at Night” (1 of 3, see other posts!) My favorite time to drive is at night, specifically right after the sun sets. This is during the twilight where the last of the daylight fades and the darkness of night envelops the sky..

4 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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American Backroads Tour Part 5: “The Road at Night” (part 2 of 3 see other posts!) ...On one hand I feel used to this time to drive since I head home shortly after capturing the sunset anyway but on the other I look forward to this time to drive as maybe even the reason why I wait for the sun to set. There have been times where I even head out late at night just to enjoy a drive in the dark and sometimes just drive with no destination in mind...

4 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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American Backroads Tour Part 5: “The road at night” (part 3 of 3 see other posts!) ...There is something about the road at night which makes me feel more at peace. Perhaps it is the soft glow of the street lights that go by with every mile, or the lack of light and calm of the quiet darkness when I am out in the middle of nowhere. No matter the case, my favorite of time to drive is at night where the last of light fades and darkness envelops the sky.

4 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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American Backroads Tour Part 4: “St Anne & the 12 Hour Drive” Built in the 1920s by French Catholics, St Anne Shrine in Lake Wales, Florida is an interesting site off of a Central Florida roadway (SR 60) that is worth seeing as a quick stop. However, for me it was a stop that lasted almost two hours with exploring the woods and the rest of the beautiful stone structures that included an alter, bridge, and smaller shrines. St Anne is an often overlooked hidden sanctuary surrounded by nature that can make time slip by when caught in its serenity. So that will partially explain why my trip from Tampa back home to South Florida took over 12 hours- a trip that normally takes about 4 hours. The other reason is that I prefer to take my time and explore everything along the way rather than rush off through the highways. For me this is almost as peaceful as that forest surrounding the shrine; it took me a long time to realize that. While the road is nothing new to me the experience of taking it easy is; I spent years driving the roads between places with time pressuring me to be faster and with that came more stress (and more fuel costs). While I can’t exactly say what got me to give it a try I feel that road travel should be an adventure that can take up as much time as needed to make it enjoyable. Although this isn’t for everyone on a regular basis taking to the road while taking your time and seeing all that is really around you should be something everyone experiences at least once.

5 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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American Backroads Tour Part 3: Somewhere in Pennsylvania. “Where are we?” This is the question that is often asked by sleepy passengers suddenly waking up from road trip naps and whether their awakening was caused by a bump in the road or an equally sleepy driver the answer to that question (as vague as it may be) is always adequate so as long as there is some idea that you are still on the same continent. What if the answer, though, was simply uncertainty or worse: the driver begins asking the very same question? Well, for me being lost is all part of the adventure and in the end it may lead to places much more interesting than your destination. I get lost once in a while either on the road or on foot (or horse) but it just becomes another story for me. I am always confident that I will find my way and at most l feel only temporarily out of place. Meanwhile, my passengers won’t ever know that I am lost as my calm state and answers to our location are always at some level of certainty being near a certain city, lake, or otherwise knowing the road I am on. However, there can be times where that certainty thins out. This photo, for example, was taken while traveling the Pennsylvania backroads. I honestly have no idea where I was and my knowledge of the area was based on lines and numbers on a map that I know I needed to follow. I could not answer where I was to a city or even a county level so therefore my location was at a “state level” of certainty: Somewhere in Pennsylvania.

11 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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American Backroads Tour Part 2: Florida’s Other Castles. Let’s face it, when people hear of castles in Florida they immediately think about that one set of spires of the literal Cinderella Story that remains the centerpiece of Disneyworld (if not the whole state). Do people even realize there are other castles in Florida? Have they heard of Coral Castle? What about Castle Otttis? (Note: If you are considering a spelling correction in removing an extra “T” in “Otttis” then I will assume that you really have not heard of it) Castle Otttis was built in 1984 by Ottis Sadler and company and is located North of Saint Augustine by Vilano Beach on the way to Jacksonville on A1A. Think of A1A as Florida’s main coastal roadway. If you took it straight through you would go from Amelia Island by the FL/GA border and be able to take it all the way south to Key West. Along the way the name changes into the many streets that Floridian locals know all too well. I personally find a lot of the route to be scenic and enjoyable- especially along the beaches. Incidentally, along the southern edge of the route where it becomes U.S.-1, one may find the other Florida castle known as Coral Castle. I will be covering this wonder of coral block built by one man in depth very soon in a future post. As for Castle Otttis (which the three “T’s” symbolize the three crosses on Calvary) it goes to show why taking the backroads can be so rewarding. If you plan to visit make prior arrangements if you wish to tour the interior as it is closed to the public unless such arrangements are made.

26 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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American Backroads Tour Part 1: U.S. Route 17. As the automobile became the backbone of the American Family and the age of the road trip dawned this modest road was one of very few ways through the U.S. East Coast. Motels and other stops dotted the course of the route but by the Florida/Georgia border one of the first state welcome centers opened up on the Florida side as a new concept to raising tourism to the pre-Disney state. Businesses on this stretch of roadway were thriving as more and more Americans were keeping up with the Joneses and hitting the road in larger numbers. However, the Golden Age of Travel would come to a close when a victorious Dwight D. Eisenhower would bring back a key spoil of war from WWII Nazi Germany: the modern interstate as we know it. I-95, the road that replaced U.S. 17 and other roads like it, was one of the first of these modern highways that would not only get troops deployed across the country faster but also get civilian travelers between the states in a lot less time. Today these roads are the ones less traveled and are still dotted with the reminders of that Golden Age where the American road trip actually meant something.

32 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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Even if I am happier in the countryside I can still miss the city.

36 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


Comment from Joshua Esponda:


To my Uncle: You know, my first memory of you involves lobsters. I know it is an odd start but you were delivering them in New York City back then and, meanwhile, I was only 4 and lived on the opposite side of the state in the countryside of rural New York. Needless to say I never knew such multi-legged, pincer-wielding creatures existed and the point is that moment had a big hand in sparking my desire to learn more about marine life. Years later after moving to Florida I would go to a school all about the marine sciences and along the way you told me more stories of the things you’ve seen along the shores you ventured down through your life and the nature beyond that you liked to see. I would search for these things as I dove beneath the waves and combed the beaches but it would be the elusive “nature beyond” that would grasp my attention enough to explore on land. When you moved to Central Florida years later I was already obsessed with finding new places and investigating history and nature. By this point I had camped and seen places all over the state and our conversations were typically about the places we saw and sharing tips on what to see next. I’ll never forget tales of odd trees and bugs and things that seemed like a scavenger hunt when I set out to see them for myself: ruins and beaches, forests, and lakes- I have yet to see some of these spots you told me about. I promise I will, and I will tell you all about them when we meet again. Until then, I thank you for keeping my curiosity alive and filling my life with a spirit of exploration with that sense of humor that runs so commonly well in the family. I will miss you and your stories and the oasis of love and light you shined in an area of Florida that could also characterize some darker times in my life. As you know I don’t really do “Goodbye” so I’ll see you later. Rest in peace.

42 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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6:30am The road to adventure begins to brighten as the sun wakes and rises.

46 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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My recent trip to Puerto Rico was an interesting experience to say the least. It was no vacation, though, as it is still a hurricane-devastated disaster zone but in a nutshell it kinda felt like camping but with the gentle sounds of a nature-filled night being replaced with the mechanical choir of humming generators. I feel I had a solid slice of daily life, though, as I endured waiting in line for food and gas and ended up on the side of the road like so many others one night to find a cell phone signal. I had running water but found myself with anxiety over the possibility of losing it. So in answering the question to the curious: yes, I saw devastation but what matters more is that I saw progress and hope. There were tons of linemen from around the country replacing downed poles and lines, trucks and drivers as diverse as their supplies speeding off to wherever the roads would lead, and the sky was full of fliers from all branches of the military and more as they headed out to the isolated interior. Of all the things I saw I did not see the hopelessness that was so well described in the allegedly unassuming mainland media and their ratings drive campaign. I instead, saw quite the opposite with all I have described. Then again the mainland coverage has been as predictably wrong and biased as a certain Puerto Rican mayor in putting personal attention and ego fuel ahead of the true needs of the people. Where the local government has [expectedly] failed, the locals have done more, along with volunteer and mainland groups, than the bureaucrats who seem to still be filing and amending the paperwork on who is in charge. This is part of my story of what I saw and although I was reluctant to bring a camera along I was convinced to do so (thanks @desielaff) in order to help tell that story as a photographer. I also felt I had a mission in needing to “capture positive shots that help our people see the beauty of our island and how much it needs to get back to what it was.” (thanks @throughapurplelens) The island will recover stronger like the nature on its lands which is already returning with brighter greens and bigger flowers.

56 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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Well back to another adventure as I head off to Puerto Rico to help out and do what I can. I don’t expect much beyond a signal just strong enough for a phone call when it comes to phone use out there but the time off the grid should be great along with seeing family and working to rebuild the island. Guess I will update this with a new post whenever I can. Cya Florida.

66 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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...Because someone always did love my reflected sunset shots. Shot with the a7rii and a Canon FDn 28mm 2.8 in the days that followed Hurricane Irma. The parking lot was completely flooded but gave an opportunity to take this shot.

75 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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The calm that follows the storm is much more beautiful than the calm before it. Shot with my α7RII

83 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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As Hurricane Irma joins the list of storms I have been through since Hurricane Andrew I found myself thinking about the legend of hurricanes. The word for these storms stems from the word Juracán, the phonetic spelling of the word for storms of the great Pre-Columbian Taíno people who natively inhabited the island of Puerto Rico. In their mythology the zemi, or diety, of the winds named Guabancex was entrusted to a ruler named Aumatex. While this granted him the title of "Cacique of the Wind" it also left him the difficult task of appeasing the short-tempered goddess for when Guabancex felt offended she would become enraged and leave with the desire to punish the Taíno. When this happened Guabancex would swirl her arms to pick up the water and entrusted it to her assistant Coatrischie to devastate the land with violent rain and waves while her other assistant, Guatauva, led her arrival with thunder and lightning and summoned other storm deities to join in. To complete the trio of destruction Guabancex would rotate her arms again in a spiral to summon a fierce swirling storm of wind and tornadoes. This was the Juracán. The Taíno seemed to understand the storm's swirling nature and thus often depict Guabancex's face in the center of her arms in a rotating "S" pattern- much like our modern symbol for a hurricane. In the end the fate of Guabancex's rage would be decided with a fierce battle with the supreme God Yúcahu atop of El Yunque's peak on the east of Puerto Rico. Surprisingly, they were somewhat right as we now know that tropical cyclones weaken with land interaction, especially from the mountains of the islands. Today, of course, we know the truth about these storms and their violent fury but legend has it that those who forget their Taíno roots will incur the wrath of Guabancex and her Juracáns. This photo shot with my NEW α7RII!

86 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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Sometimes it is best to look at the big picture but other times it is best to just focus on what is directly ahead. To the right and left of this shot were towering thunderstorms and rain pouring down in the distance. However, even with that weather approaching it was worth the chance to capture this moment in between and enjoy some bit of calm despite the havoc which surrounded it. So even when things look bad try to focus on what is directly ahead and take it all little by little; you may end up with something great in all of that chaos.

96 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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Make the night shine beautifully with color and light. A very patient @desielaff shot with the α7 and the Canon FDn 50mm 1.4 at 1/10 (no tripod 😬) and f1.4 (ISO 6400 😓) Sorry for the [extreme] lateness on posting this, Des!

102 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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Major shoutout to my friend Carissa ( @scrappo_) for reminding me to visit this awesome place. These ruins are some of the oldest that I have visited dating back to the mid 1700s. The short story is simple: built (1745-53), burned down (1779), rebuilt (1826), and it was originally thought to have been burnt down by Gen. Sherman in 1865 but new evidence suggest it was simply gutted for materials after the Civil War. Anyway, exploring places is my thing: plain and simple. However, I love gaining new perspectives and trying things that others would not do so when it came to the Old Sheldon Church Ruins I knew I had shoot it at night. Creepy cemeteries in the dark are honestly nothing new to me and some of my more interesting shots have come from being in these and several other odd places. Aside from the need to look over my shoulder a bit more than usual it all felt the same to me day or night.

108 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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Being in the path of totality for a full solar eclipse is an event that feels beyond anything we could ever imagine. It is a fascinating moment when during those few minutes day becomes night and the sky cycles through some of the most beautiful sunset colors ever seen; this much we can envision but at the same time it feels worrying as the temperature drops and the wind dies down unexpectedly. With that it is dark and foreboding yet peaceful and inspiring; in those precious moments there is a conflict in the feeling of stillness as everything is thrown into chaos yet everything is still serene. However, just as you feel that you are finally in a state of tranquility with full comprehension of the wonders of the universe the sky lightens, the wind picks up where it left off, and the warmth of our star reaches your skin once more as it, in a cruel trade, also deprives you of your moment of total peace.

110 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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(Sony α9 pic 6 of 6) The night was a striking mix of storm and star as the roadside glistened from the puddles of water on the pavement as a reflection of the sky. My night with the new Sony α9 was drawing to a close but the shots I managed to capture really put the camera to the test and made me realize not only do I need $4500 (plus the $1700 for this amazing lens) but that the α9 is a camera for just about anything and not just sports.

116 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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(Sony α9 pic 5 of 6) Bracketing shots to form HDR images are something I tend to [ab]use on my current cameras. However, the dynamic range on the α9 was outstanding to the point that I did not have to use a bracketed shot but instead could get my shadows and highlights from the ranges I needed from one shot alone! Also, to top it all off I used an older A-mount Zeiss lens for this shot.

118 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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(Sony α9 pic 4 of 6) A peahen caught in the moment just minutes before the sunset thanks to the α9 and the 70-200mm f2.8. While the α9 can shoot a whopping 20 frames per second I still prefer to shoot single shots at a time (thanks to my days of shooting film). Also, considering the time of day when the light has almost entirely faded away the α9's low light ability is amazing as it is but the 70-200 2.8 made a difference in the depth and better shutter speed (to shoot without a tripod)

120 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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(Sony α9 pic 3 of 6) Into the night I went shooting the storm that loomed overhead and off into the distance. The risk grew larger with each passing minute as the storm moved closer but the risk was worth it all in the end.

121 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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(Sony α9 pic 2 of 6) The Florida swampland/marsh environments are just amazing and were the perfect testing grounds for the α9/12-24mm G f4 combo. Of course, with the α9 running at $4500 and the lens at $1700 getting this cam combo over the water was a huge risk.

123 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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(Sony α9 pic 1 of 6) Behold! The amazing low light and quality that is the new Sony α9 and 12-24mm f4.

124 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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What could be better than spending a couple of days working at Sony's Miami office to gather with some of the best Sony users in South Florida and learn from one another while using the latest and newest Sony Alpha camera gear firsthand? This was a total blast and an amazing opportunity that I'm thankful for- especially knowing that I am part of such an awesome team of ELITE Sony shooters. My shots featuring some of this great new camera gear is coming up next!

124 Days ago
Joshua Esponda (umbral_x) Instagram Photos and Videos

Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


Comment from Joshua Esponda:


As a photographer always exploring places my chances for getting the same shot again decreases with the time and distance from wherever I first took it. That being said the typical philosophy is that my shot needs to be right the first time. However, there are such things as second chances sometimes and those opportunities (usually by luck) never become wasted even if I feel satisfied with the original shot. This shot is an example of that luck where I managed to revisit Sanibel Island and shoot the same subject with similar cloud cover and the same time of night. I was not satisfied with the first shot and I feel I made up for it all with this one at last. If you're curious you can find the original further down my feed.

127 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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9 days, 3200 miles, 1 amazing adventurous road trip. A shot from each day is up on my page, each from a different spot and different style; have you seen them all yet?

129 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

@umbral_x


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Day 9: In the hidden world of dreams Where nothing is the way it seems I went walking through the mists of morning. . Passing by a sunken plain, I wandered into new domain, But voices whispering from the trees surrounded me.

130 Days ago
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Joshua Esponda

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Day 8: Being in a familiar area can be good or bad as our past experiences will often dictate how we will feel. For me it is no different as certain places are full of times I'd like to forget but at the same time I am open to creating new and excitingly different stories in those places rather than reliving the past.

132 Days ago