A much-needed Los Padres Sunset – Pt. 1

Posted April 14th, 2016 by
Categories: California, Clouds and Sky, Outdoors, Photos, Travel, Winter

Photo: Storm clouds over road in Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, California

Image: Storm clouds over road in Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – 160107_CMT-0013)

Just after the New Year holiday had passed, I had a chance to join a friend for a quick trip to the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County. These are the mountains that form the spine of the Big Sur coast and includes at its heart the Ventana Wilderness. To put it simply, this is one seriously steep, rugged, and remote stretch of land. We arrived just as a winter storm was passing, and the sky was a solid blanket of clouds. Driving into the mountains at over 4,000′ elevation, we were soon traveling on a snow-covered dirt forest road. It felt like we were a thousand miles from civilization, but there was a joyful feeling knowing we were all but a few hours outside the Bay Area metropolis.

Photo: Tire tracks through fresh snow of road through the Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, California

Image: Tire tracks through fresh snow of road through the Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – 160107_CMT-0074)

Each of us in our respective 4WD vehicles had moments of snow-induced sliding as our trucks grappled for traction. While it would have sucked getting stuck in the snow in such a remote place, at that point I was having so much fun, I don’t think I would have cared too much if that happened. For the entire latter half of 2015, due to personal and household reasons, I just didn’t get out to take any photos just for the sheer joy of doing it. It was an activity that had been missing from my life for nearly five months. Now I was finally able to be out driving, enjoying nature, and maybe if I got a nice photo or two, that would be sheer icing on the cake. But the weather looked far less than promising, but it was more than enough for me to breathe deep in the fresh mountain air.

Photo: Dark storm clouds over the Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, California

Image: Dark storm clouds over the Los Padres National Forest, Monterey County, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – 160107_CMT-0112)

About an hour before sunset, a small crack of light appeared underneath the clouds hanging over us. The opposing ridge line on the mountains across the valley slowly started to emerge. At first it was as if the landscape was Read the rest of this post »

Off the Beaten Path Point Reyes Workshop May 4-6

Posted April 8th, 2016 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes, Travel, Workshops

Picture: Trees at sunset, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Trees at sunset, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Join me for a wonderfully intimate photo workshop called “Off the Beaten Path” in early May at the magnificent Point Reyes National Seashore. This mid-week workshop is guaranteed to avoid the crowds. It starts on Wednesday, May 4th and concludes on Friday, May 6th. In the immortal words of Star Trek, we’ll be going “where no one has gone before.” OK, maybe not that extreme, but we’ll definitely be exploring a few of the less crowded locations in the park, and learning about photography on a more active seek-and-explore mode.

If you are passionate about outdoor photography, and want to push your skills and vision, come explore less-traveled Point Reyes locations. Field session focus will be on visual assessments of subject and lighting conditions, or working creatively in situations where compelling or dramatic landscapes might not be available. Class will involve light hiking over uneven terrain. Accommodations provided at the historic Life Boat Station. The class have several slideshow presentations, and will conclude with an image review and critique of photos taken by all the participants.

This course is being offered by the non-profit Point Reyes Field Institute and the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. For more information or to register, visit the PRFI “Off the Beaten Path” course web page.
Read the rest of this post »

Intimate Details & Personal Visions – Point Reyes Workshop Class photos

Posted April 5th, 2016 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes, Travel, Workshops

In mid-February I was delighted to teach a one-day workshop at the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore. This class focused on developing a stronger personal photographic vision by seeking out beauty in more intimate details to be found at a location. Finding intimate visions of beauty at a scenic beach seems like it’s a given, but I also challenged students by taking them to one of the old historic dairy farms where beautiful scenes weren’t immediately apparent. What follows is a selection from half the students who choose to send me a few images for me to share with you. I hope you enjoy what they created. I’m sure they would love to hear any comments that you’d care to leave.

*** SPECIAL NOTE *** I have another 3-day class coming up early next month at Point Reyes called “Off the Beaten Path.” This will be a special mid-week class (May 4-6) where we’ll venture off to some less-often visited locations. Click the link if you’d like more information or to register.

Read the rest of this post »

The Near-Death of a Local Photographic Icon

Posted March 14th, 2016 by
Categories: California, Coast, Newsworthy, Photographers, Photos, Point Reyes, Rants and Raves

Picture: Stars over the wreck of the Point Reyes, Inverness, Marin County, California

Image: Stars over the wreck of the Point Reyes, Inverness, Marin County, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – 151002b_BA2-0250)

The Near-Death of a Local Photographic Icon

or … Bad Photographers & Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

A few weeks ago, a local photographic icon known as the Wreck of the Point Reyes, an old abandoned shipwreck on the Marin County shoreline in the small hamlet town of Inverness, caught fire and was partially destroyed. The back of the boat burned. But what really raised the ire of local residents and photographers alike was an image from the day before the fire that was shared on the social media photo site Instagram showing people spinning burning steel wool on the back of this very same old wooden boat. The photographer’s single word caption: “Lit.” Needless to say, the firestorm that swept through the comments section of that image post were perhaps hotter and even more inflamed than the fire that burned the actual shipwreck, and much of that venting was spewed towards photographers in general.

The burning of steel wool — a technique known as Spinning — is one of these photographic ‘cliche-tricks’ that became highly popular in the last couple years due to the ever-increasing popularity of such images shared across social media sites. Admittedly, like the explosion of a firework mixed with the giddy child-like fascination of playing with sparklers, it’s understandable that as more photographers see a popular and dramatic effect, the more who will be drawn to becoming Spinners as they’re called. It really is the proverbial “like a moth to a flame” effect.

But as people play with fire, some will be smart, careful, and considerate, while others… not so smart. And a shower of sparks tossed around an old wooden boat sealed with tar… well, it’s Read the rest of this post »

Sunset from Mount Diablo – A quick tip for shooting panoramas

Posted February 23rd, 2016 by
Categories: Bay Area, California, Panorama, Panoramic, Photos, Sunset

Picture: A panoramic sunset spreads sunbeams out over the East Bay Hills as seen from Mount Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, California

Image: A panoramic sunset spreads sunbeams out over the East Bay Hills as seen from Mount Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, California
(Click here to see a larger 1200-pixel version.)

A few weeks ago my daughter had to complete an assignment on shooting landscape photos for her high school photography class. One day after school we went to Mount Diablo State Park, which has great potential for some wonderful landscape photography. Being a typical teenage girl, she wasn’t into getting too much help from her dad, other than me pointing things out and saying “try this, or look at that.” From a parent’s perspective, it’s good that she follows her own muse.

As sunset approached, I noticed these beautiful sunbeams spreading out over the valley below. Having taught Panoramic Photography workshops for a number of years, I quickly recognized this was a perfect situation for shooting a panoramic landscape photo.

Photo Tip: When it comes to creating panoramic photos; Don’t over-think it. I’ve had a number of workshop students over the years who are very Read the rest of this post »

Photography Experience Not Required

Posted February 18th, 2016 by
Categories: People, Photographers, Rants and Raves

Picture: Photographer at work on the beach at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Photographer at work on the beach at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Begin < !-RANT-! >

This one just left me shaking my head. Sure, there are probably times when you think the words “Photography Experience Not Required” might be completely applicable or acceptable. But how about in a job listing for a camera store?

I got an email saying that a local camera store near me was looking for a customer services sales clerk. This isn’t a professional photographers type of store as much as it is your classic consumer-oriented small camera store that has survived places like Best Buy moving in down the street. So just for giggles I skim through the want ad listing. All standard fare yada-yada until I get to the part that says “Photography Experience Helpful, but not Required.” Say what? Excuse me? A camera store not requiring it’s employees to have photography experience? It may be a bit extreme, but could you imagine an Engineering position saying “Knowledge of Mathematics Helpful, but not Required,”?

I’m sorry, but a camera store not requiring photography experience seems like yet another Read the rest of this post »

A few spots remain for my Intimate Details & Personal Vision Photo Workshop at Point Reyes Feb 13

Posted February 2nd, 2016 by
Categories: Bay Area, California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Point Reyes, Workshops

Photo: Cloud at sunrise reflected in water at Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Cloud at sunrise reflected in water at Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Photographic Vision: Intimate Details and Personal Connections; A One-Day Photo Workshop

Saturday, February 13, 2016

For those of you living in Northern California or traveling to the area, I want to let you know that there are only a few spots left for my upcoming workshop, Photographic Vision: Intimate Details and Personal Connections which I’ll be teaching at Point Reyes on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. This one-day class is being sponsored by the non-profit Point Reyes National Seashore Association, and conducted through the Point Reyes Field Institute.

This class is for photographers who want to leave grand landscapes behind and train their eyes and cameras on smaller, more intimate details of the world around us. Using both field and classroom presentations, we will cover developing strong personal vision and incorporating detailed subject matter into a visual repertoire. The class runs from 10 AM to 5 PM, and costs $90 for PRNSA members or $110 for non-members. To register for the class, visit the PRFI Photographic Vision: Intimate Details and Personal Connections class page.

Here are a few more intimate detail shots taken in Point Reyes to whet your appetite.

Iceplant at North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Iceplant at North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Moss-covered trees, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Moss-covered trees, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Receeding wave near Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Receeding wave near Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

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My Favorite Cellphone Snaps From 2015

Posted January 25th, 2016 by
Categories: Photos

Picture #01: A cold glass of IPA beer sitting in the sunlight at the Hop Grenade, Concord, California.

Image: A cold glass of IPA beer sitting in the sunlight at the Hop Grenade, Concord, California

At the end of last year I put together my annual Best of 2015 photographic collection. Those shots were from my “real” camera, i.e. my Nikon D800, and my “Just for fun Point-n-Shoot” ultra-awesome Sony Rx100mIII. What was missing from that set were any photos taken with my cellphone. I suppose this is due in large part because as a professional, I simply haven’t considered my cellphone a ‘real’ camera. Rather, it’s a device that will take pictures when I don’t happen to have a real camera, or when I just want to quickly throw something up on Facebook or Instagram. Still, I thought I’d go ahead and share a few of my favorite cellphone snaps taken in 2015. I hope you enjoy them.

(These were shot using a Samsung Galaxy S4, and processed using the Snapseed app. (I’ve since upgraded the the Galaxy S6 this last December.)

Picture #02: Sunset over the East Bay Hills from Briones Regional Park, California

Image: Sunset over the East Bay Hills from Briones Regional Park, California<

Picture #03: Sunrise over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Sunrise over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Picture #04: Relaxing moment during a hike at Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National Park, California

Picture #05: Lanai at Kialua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Image: Relaxing moment during a hike at Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaImage: Lanai at Kialua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Picture #06: There’s a bug on our window, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Picture #07: Sunset from 36,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean

Image: There's a bug on our window, Kona, Big Island, HawaiiImage: Sunset from 36,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean

Picture #08: Mom and baby cow in Briones Regional Park, California

Image: Mom and baby cow calf, Briones Regional Park, California


Read the rest of this post »

My Favorite Photos of 2015 – A Year-End Retrospective

Posted December 23rd, 2015 by
Categories: Photos

Please enjoy this year-end collection of images made over the course of 2015. For reasons that I won’t go into here, 2015 was not my most productive year of shooting. However, as a wise person once said, it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity. Fortunately, I can still look back over these images and feel it was a pretty good year, with a few very special images which will soon be gracing my portfolio. As for these images here, I’d love to know which one(s) you like most in the comment section below. Of course, I would also be deeply appreciative and honored if you’d consider sharing this post using the Social Media buttons above.

Picture #01: Milky Way next to Volcanic steam rising out of Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea Caldera, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Big Island of Hawai’i, Hawaii

Image: Milky Way next to Volcanic steam rising out of Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea Caldera, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
(Click here to Purchase Prints or License Usage.)

Picture #02: Clearing snow storm over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Clearing snow storm over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to Purchase Prints or License Usage.)

Picture #03: Sunlight through trees and mist, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Sunlight through trees and mist, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to Purchase Prints or License Usage.)

Picture #04: Couple watching the sunset along the headland cliffs at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Couple watching the sunset along the headland cliffs at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California
(Click here to Purchase Prints or License Usage.)

Picture #05: Sunlight on an oak tree after a storm, Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California

Image: Sunlight on an oak tress after a storm, Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California
(Click here to Purchase Prints or License Usage.)

Picture #06: Waves breaking at sunset along the Kailua-Kona shoreline, on the Big Island of Hawai’i, Hawaii

Image: Waves breaking at sunset along the Kailua-Kona shoreline, on the Big Island of Hawai'i, Hawaii
(Click here to Purchase Prints or License Usage.)


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BOOK REVIEW – More Than A Rock by Guy Tal

Posted December 22nd, 2015 by
Categories: ART, Books, Photographers, Reviews

More Than A Rock
by Guy Tal
Publisher: Rocky Nook
256 pages
$39.95 USD

I got my entrance into the world of professional photography by working for one of greats; Galen Rowell was a world-class adventurer, photographer, and author whose writing was on par with his amazing photography. His writing managed to bring a wonderful a communion to the world of photography, visualization, passion, and nature. He was like a combination of Ansel Adams, John Muir, and the Energizer Bunny Rabbit. Since Rowell’s passing more than a decade ago, I feel there are few other artists working today who uses the blending of words and images in such a powerful and touching form of communication as Guy Tal. Although Guy is not the world-traveling adventurer like Rowell was, it’s probably fair to say his wordsmithing is more delicate and expressive. Perhaps Guy is better described as a blending of Adams and Muir, but substituting the Energizer Bunny with a large dose of Thoreau.

I should note here that I personally know Guy, having spent a small bit of time with him on number of occasions, and in exchanging correspondence over the years. But I don’t let that personal interaction bias my opinion in this regard. Just as we know when someone’s photographic vision can inspire, impress, or create an evocative emotional response in a viewer, the same can be said about how written words can resonate with readers.

Guy’s book, More Than A Rock brings together a collection of essays on Life, Nature, Photography, Creativity, and Art which were born out of his own deep personal connection to the high deserts of the American West that he’s chosen to call home. In fact, Guy actively pursues what many might consider to be a nearly ideal Walden-esque type life, proactively choosing to make the experience of living simply and in nature so that it fuels his creativity and feeds his passions.

More Than A Rock is divided into a series of four thematic categories on Art, Craft, Experiences, and Meditations, each containing a dozen or more essays. Each essay is accompanied by an introductory quote from the likes of Walker Evans, Ansel Adams, and Wallace Stenger to name but a few. Guy’s real talent shines in the way he crafts words which create mental imagery that is as expressive as his photography. His choice of words describe both places and thoughts in nuanced layers which resonate with a deep connectivity both to the individual, the grand scheme of nature, and the essence of being alive. His photography is the vocabulary of the planet and the seasons of the desert. One of the things that I love most about the book is how you can practically open to any page and see either a beautifully crafted intimate photograph or pick out lines of text painting equally intimate and expressive thoughts. For instance, here are a few random examples. Read the rest of this post »