Hawaiian Waves – Silent Lucidity in Fluidity

Posted June 30th, 2015 by
Categories: ART, Big Island, Coast, Hawaii, Photos, Water

Photo: Waves breaking at sunset along the Kailua-Kona shoreline, on the Big Island of Hawaii

Image: Waves breaking at sunset along the Kailua-Kona shoreline, on the Big Island of Hawaii

One of the all-time great instances of musical misdirection occurred back in 1990 when the heavy-metal rock group, Queensryche, released their ballad, Silent Lucidity. Once the song became a hit on the radio airwaves, people flocked to their local record stores to buy the album. (That’s how it was back in the day.) But to the shock of those who expected an album full of beautiful easy-listening songs, what they got instead was one hidden gem of a ballad among an album filled with heavy metal rock songs.

Twenty-five years later, the song still remains one of my favorites by the band due to its Pink Floyd-esque backing and harmonies. And as much as I still enjoy the song, the mere title of the track, Silent Lucidity, has kept a semi-mystical hold on me. It represents an allure of something we know, something we can sense, with an almost uncanny clarity and certainty, yet remains isolated from our conscious reality; an unknown that we know, something touchable that we can’t quite grasp.

This is the feeling I enjoy looking at intimate abstract visions of the world around us. Like trying to understand a dream, there seems to be a progressive path that an image can lead us down. Too literal, too easily understood, it’s like the ethereal dream world has yet to cover our eyes with its soft veil. Too abstract, too difficult to discern, and the tendril of knowledge that we can grasp gets lost, leaving us feeling slightly more adrift. There’s no right or wrong along this perceptive curve. That’s why art is subjective. To respond is to elicit that internal emotional or experiential feeling that is individually unique. It’s not a style or subject I approach often, but in this one instance, I thought I’d share a recent attempt.

In my last post, I discussed how I spent my first evening on the Big Island of Hawaii trapped (by choice) shooting the sunset from the lanai of our oceanfront condo rental. The point that I tried to bring home in that post was about developing a sense of vision while shooting from one isolated location. Well, it just so happens that all the photos that appear below were also taken on that very same evening, from that same lanai, looking down at the breaking waves with my telephoto lens.

So, in thinking along that artful curve, I’d like to know if you had to hang one (or more) of these images on your home or office wall, which one(s) would get your vote?

1.) The photo at the top of this post. (It’s the only picture that wasn’t taken on this first evening, but was from several evenings later at the beach next door.)

2.)

Image: Waves breaking at sunset along the Kailua-Kona shoreline, on the Big Island of Hawaii

3.)

Image: Waves breaking at sunset along the Kailua-Kona shoreline, on the Big Island of Hawaii
Read the rest of this post »

Trapped in a Hawaiian paradise – a photographer’s dilemma

Posted June 17th, 2015 by
Categories: Big Island, Coast, Hawaii, Photos, Sunset, Travel, Water

Picture: Sunset as seen from the Kona Magic Sands near White Sands Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Image: Sunset as seen from the Kona Magic Sands near White Sands Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

When people think about travel or nature photographers, often we think of someone zipping around from spot to spot, tripod slung over a shoulder as they chase the elusive next shot. Most of us do it without even thinking. But what do you do when there’s simply nowhere else to go?

Here’s a tip and a challenge that I’ll often try to teach photographers when discussing developing a personal vision. Pick one spot. Stay there and shoot as many photos as you can. Moving is easy. Looking and finding things from one singular vantage point is what pushes your vision and teaches you how to see. As a photographer, you should feel comfortable with the concept of being randomly placed anywhere, and without moving, be told to “Photograph,” and be able to produce pictures. They may not be world-class, National Geographic quality photos, but they should certainly be able to express what you saw from that one spot.

Such was the case on my first night on the Big Island of Hawai’i last month when my wife and I ditched our kids for the first time in 16 years as we zipped off to spend two weeks celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Decidedly not a dedicated photo trip, my first Hawaiian sunset was shot from the solitary location that was our lanai (patio/deck). After a long day of travel, rental car acquisition, shopping at Costco and Safeway, and checking in to our first VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) location, the urge for food and a couple Mai-Tai cocktails left little energy, will, or desire to head out and photograph the sunset. But as that magic hour approached, the fact that I was going nowhere didn’t mean I couldn’t make a few worthy photos from that singular location.

Image: Sunset as seen from the Kona Magic Sands near White Sands Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Image: Sunset as seen from the Kona Magic Sands near White Sands Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Image: Sunset as seen from the Kona Magic Sands near White Sands Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Image: Sunset as seen from the Kona Magic Sands near White Sands Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii


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Nature Photo Walk – Point Reyes workshop – June 20

Posted June 11th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Point Reyes, Workshops

Picture: Sunset light illuminates the spray off a breaking wave along the coast at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Sunset light illuminates the spray off a breaking wave along the coast at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

If you’re in the Bay Area and interested in learning how to improve your nature photography skills, or even just want to know how to take better pictures with your cell phone camera, join me for this wonderful one-day photo class, Discover Nature Photo Walk on June 20th in the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore.

Here’s the class description and links to register:

Do you love taking photo outdoors but wish there was someone there who could give you helpful tips, pointers, or advice on how to improve your picture-taking while out in the field? If so, then grab your camera, put on your walking shoes, and let’s take a photo hike. We’ll meet for several hours at the rustic Point Reyes Hagmaier House for an introduction and slide show. We’ll then carpool to the Palomarin trailhead for an easy mile-long stroll along the coastal section of the trail, taking pictures of whatever catches our eye, from grand coastal scenes, to small intimate details of things like flowers, or rocks. Gary will be available to help participants work on setting up their own photos, discuss ways of looking at objects in nature, and seeing how to compose and create stronger expressions of your photographic vision. Photographers of all experience levels are welcome, including those who use DSLR, Point-n-shoot, or even those who just like shooting pictures with their phones.

–> SIGN UP: The class is being offered by the non-profit Point Reyes National Seashore Association and the Point Reyes Field Institute. Workshop registration is handled through the PFRI. You can register for the course online or express your interest in signing up by calling (415) 663-1200 ext. 373

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Class Photos from my Beaches of Pt. Reyes Photo Workshop April 2015

Posted May 21st, 2015 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photos, Point Reyes, Travel

Picture: Photographer shooting at sunset along the Great Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: SPhotographer shooting at sunset along the Great Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Last month I was delighted to once again teach a sold out Beaches of Point Reyes photo workshop. It was a great group of photographers to work with, and they produced an eclectic set of images highlighting some wonderful examples of personal vision. After you look through the images, I’m sure the students would love to hear any thoughts, comments, praise, or feedback that you might like to offer.

The weather was, as usual with Point Reyes, slightly challenging. We stared with a storm approaching, making for a solid gray sky non-sunset on our first evening. We awoke early, but to the very welcome sound of rain. Granted, it wasn’t very welcome from a photography perspective, but if you live in the California Drought Zone, you’ll know that we were happy to see every drop that fell. Fortunately for us photographers, and unfortunately for the state, the storm system was way too briefly-lived, and by 8:30 in the morning we headed out to start our shooting. The wind kicked up in the afternoon, and by sunset, it was really blowing pretty strong. Sand and salt spray was quickly coating lenses, cameras, and glasses. The next morning was clear and beautiful, with far less wind at the sheltered Drakes Beach where we arrived nearly an hour before sunrise, and shot from the Blue Hour until well into the Breakfast Hour. As usual for these great 3-day workshops, one of the highlights at the conclusion is the image review and critique where we all get to see and share the vision of what everyone managed to capture over the weekend.

Before I present the class photos, I’d also want to mention that I have a few more workshops scheduled at Point Reyes coming up this year, including the next one which is a one-day Nature Photography Walk and Workshop on June 20th. If you live in the Bay Area and are looking for a great, easy, and fun way to spend a day learning how to take better pictures and using your camera, I hope you’ll consider joining me on this wonderful day. Photographers of all levels are welcome, including those who just want to learn how to take better photos using their phone cameras.

You can find out more about these upcoming Photo Workshop courses on my web site, along with links to register for the classes, all of which are run by the non-profit Point Reyes Field Institute.

So now without any further delay, I’m delighted to share this selection of photos from everyone involved in the April 2015 Photographing the Beaches of Point Reyes Photo Workshop:

Read the rest of this post »

Northern California – Redwoods to Mount Shasta; New Archive Photos

Posted May 18th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Mountains, North Coast, Photos, Redwoods, Trees, Waterfall, Weather

Picture: Redwood forest and fog, Redwood National and State Parks, Del Norte County, California

Image: Redwood forest and fog, Redwood National and State Parks, Del Norte County, California

I’m happy to present this mini-portfolio set of images from Northern California, which is part of a larger collection of photos that I’ve recently added to my searchable Image Archive Library.

These pictures were all shot during the course of producing work for my award-winning book, Photographing California, Vol. 1 – North. This set of images include photos of the great Coastal Redwood trees in the forests of the Redwood National and State Parks, and Battery Point Lighthouse, both located in or near Crescent City. In addition, the set also features images from the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Feather Falls Scenic Area, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, McCloud Falls, and Mount Shasta.

I hope you’ll consider leaving me a comment and let me know which photo(s) speaks to you the most, or if you have a definite favorite. Also, if you like these images enough to share this post, it would be most highly appreciated.

Thanks for looking, and I hope you enjoy these images.

– Gary.

All images are available as stock photography for licensing for publication in magazines, books, web sites, and advertising. The photos are also available as Fine Art Prints and Wall Murals as Traditional Photograph Prints on paper, Printed on Canvas, or as Fine Art Metallic prints and murals, which are perfect for decor and decoration in private homes, small business, corporate offices, medical offices, hotels, and restaurants. Inquiries from Art Dealers and Art Consultants are always welcome. Please contact me if you have any questions about these or any other images you find on my web site.

*** To download a preview comp, license an image for use in publication, or order a print of any photo on this page, simply click on the image or photo caption that will take you to that image page at my Image Archive Library. (Hosted by PhotoShelter) If you an order a print or license and image through my archive between now and the end of July, you can use the Discount Coupon Code “A1301-30″ to Save 30% on your order. (Limit one discount coupon code use per customer.)


Image: Sunlight through Redwood forest and fog, Redwood National and State Parks, Del Norte County, California

Picture: Sunlight through Redwood forest and fog, Redwood National and State Parks, Del Norte County, California


Image: Damnation Creek Trail, Redwood forest and fog, Del Norte Redwoods State Park, Redwood National and State Parks, California

Picture: Damnation Creek Trail, Redwood forest and fog, Del Norte Redwoods State Park, Redwood National and State Parks, California


Image: Detail of redwood tree trunks in forest, Redwood National and State Parks, Del Norte County, California

Picture: Detail of redwood tree trunks in forest, Redwood National and State Parks, Del Norte County, California


Image: Storm clouds at sunset behind Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City, Del Norte County, California

Picture: Storm clouds at sunset behind Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City, Del Norte County, California

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Volcanoes in the Grand Canyon

Posted May 6th, 2015 by
Categories: Arizona, canyons, Environment, Geology, Grand Canyon, National Parks, Photos, rocks, Travel

Photo: Steep rugged cliffs above the Colorado River at sunset, Toroweap, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Image: Steep rugged cliffs above the Colorado River at sunset, Toroweap, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

When you look at images of the Grand Canyon and you have any basic sense of geology, you think about eons of huge yet subtle geological forces at work, namely the continually erosive power of water slowly carving its way through layer after layer of sedimentary rock. But you probably don’t think of volcanoes. Here in the United States, volcanoes are for places like Yellowstone, or the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, with Mount Rainier and Mt. St. Helens, even here in California with Mount Lassen, Mount Shasta, and the Long Valley Caldera. But the Grand Canyon and volcanoes? Nope, this combination does not automatically compute.

When I’m hanging out in my living room working on my laptop, I may have the television turned on as background noise to the History or Science Channels, PBS, or the local news. The other day I caught an episode of How the Earth Was Made on the History Channel. I’d previously seen a great episode they had on the formation of Yosemite Valley, so I paid a little more attention than usual when I caught an episode on the formation of the Grand Canyon.

Needless to say, I was a little surprised when they started talking about lava flows at the Grand Canyon, with some surface flows dating to as recently as within the last thousand years or so. Even more surprising was when the pointed out a lava flow formation that could be seen near Toroweap on the north rim. Hey… I’ve been there; let me check my photos. So I went back into my archives and found this image from my visit in October 2006, and sure enough, right in the middle of Read the rest of this post »

Upcoming 2015 Photo Workshops at Point Reyes

Posted April 24th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Point Reyes

Photo: Photographers shooting the sunset over the headlands at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Photographers shooting the sunset over the headlands at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

I’ll be spending this weekend teaching another great photo workshop at the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore just north of San Francisco. I haven’t bothered mentioning this or promoting it lately since it sold out months ago and has an extensive waiting list. However, I’m very pleased and delighted to announce that I’ll be doing several more upcoming photo workshops throughout the rest of 2015. All of these classes are put on by the non-profit Point Reyes Field Institute, part of the National Park’s System’s partner organization, the Point Reyes National Seashore Association.

I’ll be teaching two one-day workshops. The first is a Discovery Nature Photo Walk which will take place on June 20, 2015, and the other is my Panoramic Point Reyes class which will be on September 12, 2015.

I also have two more 3-day workshops coming up, both of which include accommodations at the Historic Lifeboat Station on Drakes Bay. One will be a repeat of the class I’m teaching this weekend, which will be Photographing the Beaches of Point Reyes, and will take place on October 2 – 4, 2015. (Fri. – Sun.) A month later, I’ll be leading Photographing the Natural Wonders of Point Reyes, which takes place November 6 – 8, 2015. (Fri. – Sun.)

Please visit my California Photo Workshops page for additional information. Each listing contains a link to the PRFI web site where you can register or contact with any logistical (non-photographic) questions. If you have any photographic questions regarding the workshops, you’re welcome to contact me directly. The cost for the workshops are posted on the PFRI web site. Given how this weekend’s workshop had been sold out for months ahead of time and had an extensive waiting list, if there’s a course you’re interested in taking, my advice would be to sign up and register early.

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The irony of my last post; My Best Yosemite Shot Ever!

Posted April 22nd, 2015 by
Categories: California, Mountains, Photos, Sunrise, Yosemite

Picture: Morning clouds and fog fill Yosemite Valley at sunrise from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Morning clouds and fog fill Yosemite Valley at sunrise from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

For those of you who saw my last post, My Best Yosemite Shot Ever, you hopefully realized that posted on April 1st, it was indeed an April Fools joke. I was part of a group of friends who combined efforts to create a circular story of folks who lined up to shoot one of the best known landscape icon locations in the United States, if not the world. The post was pure fiction, but was meant to poke playful fun at those who seek out or say “Wow,” to the most boring, bland, or sometimes over-processed shots from these icon locations.

The irony was that exactly a week later, and with no foresight at the time of the original April 1st post, I wound up standing at that exact spot taking what would become one of my best Yosemite photos… maybe not ever, but at least in the last couple years. I had gone to Yosemite several days in advance of a storm that was forecast to bring snow levels down to the 4,000′ elevation, which was low enough for it to snow on the valley floor. On this morning, I actually arrived a bit late, having shot a few other frames at the other end of the valley. And in similar vein to my April 1st fictional account: Yes, there was a line of other photographers already in place, and yes, I did have to find a spot in the line.

As I stood there, I was hit with a sudden realization that Read the rest of this post »

My Best Yosemite Shot Ever

Posted April 1st, 2015 by
Categories: Fossil Beds

Photo: Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Storm cloud over Lake Tahoe at sunset, from South Lake Tahoe, California

I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I feel like I haven’t created any true masterworks of photography in at least a few weeks. Inspired by countless images of Yosemite shared in photo-havens like Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram, and wow’d by the millions of double-tap likes they generated, I finally convinced myself I had to get my own true masterpiece. But I didn’t want to have just any old shot that no one else had, I wanted THE SHOT. So I did as much research as I could. I looked on 500px and fav’d every uber-dramatic Yosemite picture I could find. But I was determined to out-do them all. I then turned to Google Maps for more detailed research, then to Google Earth. But that wasn’t good enough, so I bribed a security guard at NASA Ames Research Center with 13 Canadian dollars to let me see some LANDSAT Satellite photos which I downloaded into my iPhone-17 4k uranium-plated wristwatch. Once I had my coordinates, I set off to get what I was sure would be the most unique shot I could muster.

After 5 hours of driving the speed limit, I finally burst out of a long tunnel to one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. I knew right away, this was it: THE SHOT! I would GET THE SHOT. But my enthusiasm for thinking I would be photographing this grandeur in solitude was quickly shattered when I saw a long line of inter-locked tripod legs stretched across the length of the viewpoint. I walked up to the phalanx muttering to myself, “Gotta get the shot.” Fortunately I saw a buddy of mine, Youssef, who was just stepping out of the line and offered me his spot. As soon as I got in line, the guy on my left comments to me, “Hey, that’s a pretty expensive camera. I bet it takes good pictures, huh?” “That’s nothing,” says the guy on the other side of me, who then proceeds to explain to the first guy how his 835Mp Point-n-shoot is simply the greatest camera ever invented, and how it was reverse-engineered from a crashed alien spaceship. The only thing I could hear through all this techno-gibberish was my own brain repeating “Gotta get the shot; gotta get the shot; gotta get the shot,” drilling itself deeper into my head like a gopher on speed.

Finally, at that moment when the sun was about 54% degrees above the horizon in the western sky, the light was perfect, and yes, by Gosh, I got the shot. Just as I was turning to leave, I saw my good friend, Jim Goldstein looking to get his own shot. So with a swift elbow to ribs of the guy on my right, and an ‘accidental’ tripod shot to the guy on my left, I was able to let Jim take over my spot. I heard he also pulled off a pretty amazing shot, and I think you owe it to yourself to check his shot out here. His is almost as good as mine.

Btw, a note about processing: Even though I always shoot in the middle of the day, I still think Read the rest of this post »

Yosemite Valley in Spring; A mini-portfolio at Behance

Posted March 30th, 2015 by
Categories: California, National Parks, Photos, Travel, Yosemite

Picture: Clouds on Half Dome at sunset from Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Clouds on Half Dome at sunset from Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

I’ve recently processed a bunch of images from Yosemite Valley in spring. They are all images I shot over the course of several days while working on my last book project.

Image: Detail of Upper Yosemite Falls in spring, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaImage: Dogwood blossoms in spring along the Merced River, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Click here to see a select mini-portfolio of Yosemite Valley in Spring that can be seen over on Behance.

These images, and many more from this particular shoot, have now been added to my searchable online Image Archive Library, and are available for purchase as either fine art prints or murals for decorating home or office walls, or they can be licensed for use in publications. You’ll also find a link to the complete set of images processed from this shoot on the Behance mini-portfolio page.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Behance or know what it is, let me just say that it’s something I’ve tried a few times, and I like it for its ability to create these kind of singular mini-portfolios. So what is Behance? If subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, the new monthly subscription service for using the Adobe Suite of products like Photoshop and Lightroom, you get Behance included with your Creative Cloud subscription. In essence, it’s a place on the web where you and other creatives can show off your creative projects or works in progress. Part of me has an internal debate about whether it’s better to show a full mini-portfolio project like this using Behance, or simply try to do the same thing with posting the same exact thing here on my blog. Technically I could do both, but for the meantime I figure I’ll give the edge to Behance and see if there’s any real benefit to using the service that’s included with my Creative Cloud subscription.

By the way, if you’re already posting or sharing work over on Behance, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or feedback as well, and please feel free to include a link to your Behance profile inthe comments section below. You can find mine at: https://www.behance.net/enlightphoto

Finally, as a Special Offer to readers of my blog, and in celebration of these new images being added to my archive, you can use the promotional code “A121030YOS” to save 30% on the purchase of any image from this set of Yosemite in Spring, as well as any image from the complete collection (also linked on the Behance page), or on any other image with an order placed through my Image Archive. This offer is valid only through April 30, 2015. The promotional coupon code is valid for one order per person, with no minimum purchase. However, there are only ten (10) redeemable coupons available through this special offer, so act now and save 30% on any order.



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Gary Crabbe is an award-winning commercial and editorial outdoor travel photographer and author based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He has seven published books on California to his credit, including “Photographing California; v1-North”, which won the prestigious 2013 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal award as Best Regional title. His client and publication credits include the National Geographic Society, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, TIME, The North Face, Subaru, L.L. Bean, Victoria’s Secret, Sunset Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, and many more. Gary is also a photography instructor and consultant, offering both public and private photo workshops. He also works occasionally a professional freelance Photo Editor.