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


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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 »

A journey of twists and turns on a photographic path.

Posted December 1st, 2015 by
Categories: Fossil Beds, Photo Business, Photographers, Photos

Picture: Curving road below mountain range dusted by first snow of fall, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Image: Curving road below mountain range dusted by first snow of fall, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – ID# gtnp-1097e)

People often ask how I got started in photography. It surprises many to learn this wasn’t a chosen path of a deep-seated, had-to-follow passion. I stumbled into my profession by accident, and my diving board into the world of photography was being a breakfast cook.

I wound up taking a basic black and white photography course during the senior year of my bachelor’s degree in college because I was looking for an easy elective course credit.

I got to use my newly-learned photography skills while getting my Master’s Degree in Theater when I landed a job as the department’s official photographer. I shot T-Max 3200 ASA B&W film hand-held with my Minolta x370 camera (no flash) while onstage with actors during final dress rehearsals of new theatrical productions. After the shoot, I’d go back to my apartment to develop the film and print twenty 8″ x 10″ Black & White RC prints. By the next evening, the prints would be mounted and hung in the lobby of the theater as decoration for the opening night performance.

I worked as a cook since I was a junior in high school. After graduating with my master’s degree in 1990 and returning home to the San Francisco Bay Area, I again found myself stuck behind a grill starting every day at 5:00 AM. I soon became so unhappy that I Read the rest of this post »

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Posted November 26th, 2015 by
Categories: Fossil Beds, Photos, Rainbows, Rants and Raves, Weather

Picture: Rainbow over a forest after a storm, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta County, California

Image: Rainbow over a forest after a storm, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta County, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – ID# shas-2139)

For reasons I won’t go into right now, this is probably the most thankful Thanksgiving I’ve had in a long time. To that end, I wanted to pass along my best Thanksgiving wishes to all of my friends, family, and followers.

Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday, the sentiment embodied by this day certainly can be translated across all sorts of borders. I encourage everyone to take a few extra moments to pause, to look, to feel, to enjoy, and to appreciate all those special people around you. You just never know when it will be too late, and the chance to express that thanks is gone forever.
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Class Photos – Natural Wonders of Point Reyes photo workshop

Posted November 19th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes, Workshops

Picture: Photographers at the Point Reyes Headlands, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Photographers at Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

I’m delighted to present a selection of images taken by the participants of my recent “Photographing the Natural Wonders of Point Reyes” photo workshop which took place over the weekend of November 6-8, 2015.

I’ve been hugely fortunate with the groups I’ve had the privilege of teaching at Point Reyes, and again it was truly a great group of people. As always, I hope the takeaway was a weekend experience filled with fun and learning. This was a smaller, more intimate group, which from my own instructor’s point of view can be quite beneficial since it allows me to actually spend more time working with each person while out in the field.

Unlike the Photographing the Beaches of Point Reyes (link to class photos) I taught in early October, we had very conducive weather and no huge wind storms. Although rain was predicted through the area, we only got rain on Sunday morning. After what proved to be a very intense Friday and Saturday start to the weekend, I think actually welcomed the break on Sunday morning to catch up on a little bit of needed rest. Our class began a bit late due to some late arriving participants due to Bay Area traffic, and after a slide presentation, we drove out to shoot the night sky over the breaking waves at South Beach. Early the next morning we shot the sunrise at Drakes Beach. In the afternoon we shot from the overlook at the Great Beach before driving to the top of Mount Vision where we photographed over Tomales Bay, then hiked to a beautiful location overlooking the Drakes Estero and headlands. The light wasn’t great during this time of day, but I tried to keep focus on how to work or compose in situations when the light wasn’t at it’s best, or to pre-visualize what a given scene might look like during a different time of day or a different season. Returning to the Lifeboat Station, we had only a few minutes to rest, eat, and grab gear for hiking up into the headlands for catching the sunset. I figured that we’d have much more clouds than we did due to the forecast of an incoming storm, but instead we were treated to an almost picture perfect sunset with a nice mix of sun and clouds. As my three-day course always fo, we concluded the workshop with a photo review and critique. The value of this part of the course cannot be understated, as one of the best learning experiences is the chance to see how others viewed and recorded the same scene(s). Here now I am pleased to share a selection of images taken by the participants.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you feel so inclined. I’m sure the students would love to hear any thoughts you’d care to share.


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To Infinity and Beyond; the story of a wrong turn and a lucky photo

Posted November 10th, 2015 by
Categories: Photos, Space and Science

Picture: Sub-launched Trident Missile soars into the evening sky above California; November 2015

Image: Sub-launched Trident Missile soars into the evening sky above California; November 2015

For those of us who live on the west coast, and thanks to the wide-spread media coverage, many folks have now heard of or saw the crazy light that appeared in the evening sky over California last weekend. It turns out it wasn’t a UFO or meteor, nor a plane or Underdog; it was a submarine-launched, $37-million dollar Trident Missile hurtling skyward from its firing point off the San Diego coast. Many of you have probably already seen the incredible shot(s) taken by several photographers who’d been shooting a timelapse over the Golden Gate Bridge. (I mean seriously, talk about a “Wow!” photo.)

For myself, I feel incredibly lucky as well to have this capture which, although nowhere near as dramatic as the one that features the Golden Gate Bridge, is still mine, and despite any flaws, is an incredibly unique photo to have captured.

On the Big Picture scheme of things, the paths we choose to take in life may lead us to unintended places or consequences. So it goes with the little things, and especially photography. On this particular evening, I’d been Read the rest of this post »

Class photos from my Beaches of Point Reyes Workshop

Posted October 13th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photographers, Photos, Point Reyes, Workshops

Picture: Photographers at Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Photographers at Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

I’m delighted to present a selection of images taken by the participants of my recent “Photographing the Beaches of Point Reyes” photo workshop. At the end of this post, you’ll see a great “Behind the Scenes” shot that is worth checking out.

*Note: My final workshop for this year, Photographing the Natural Wonders of Point Reyes, is scheduled for Nov. 6-8, 2015. (Click the link for more information or to register for the class. Accommodations at the Historic Lifeboat Station are included.)

Image: Photographers at Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California It was a great group of people, and hopefully fun and learning was had by all. Conditions were quite the mixed bag, which is par for the course at Point Reyes. Two wonderful sunrise shoots were separated by an afternoon that literally saw us blown off the beach. The National Weather Service had issued a high wind warning, and Point Reyes, which is the windiest places on the entire Pacific Coast, threw everything she had at us. I took one look at the ocean and commented that as a boater, those waves would kill you. (After the workshop, I learned that two boats had been wrecked and blown into shore along the beach at Point Reyes. Fortunately, no lives were lost.) The sand blowing (read: blasting) off the beach was hitting us so hard that everyone (rightly) refused to take out their camera gear. We made due by opting to shoot instead at Drakes Estero, at the former site of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you feel so inclined. I’m sure the students would love to hear any thoughts you’d care to share.


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My almost-got-away-with-it eclipse failure shot

Posted September 30th, 2015 by
Categories: Moon, Photos

Picture: Super-Blood-Harvest Moon during a Lunar Eclipse next to wind turbine, Solano County, California (Sept. 27, 2015)

Image: Super-Blood-Harvest Moon during a Lunar Eclipse next to wind turbine, Solano County, California September 27, 2015

It’s not often that you see photographers, especially professionals, show off their failures. When I teach in workshops, do private consultations or portfolio reviews, one of the things I always ask my students / clients is to see samples of their work. Although seeing their best images is always nice, from an educational standpoint, it means very little when compared to looking at their failures. When you look at the trophy shots, you see how well someone does when they get everything right. Far more revealing when I’m trying to teach about photography is to see some of their failures; the shots that didn’t turn out like they expected, or that reveal issues someone is struggling to overcome. The idea of exploring and understanding why a shot didn’t work out as anticipated is a paramount step when trying to improve one’s photographic vision or skills, especially with newer photographers who may not be extremely well-versed with concepts of composition or exposure.

Here’s a shot I had previsualized for last week’s Super-Blood-Moon lunar eclipse. It is almost as I envisioned, but due to circumstances beyond my control, it has enough technical problems that it shall live in my “almost” file. In the immortal words of famous agent, Maxwell Smart: “Missed it by that much!”

In an age when many photographers are putting together amazing composite blended images made from multiple frames, I intended to capture the eclipse with a single frame. The goal was to catch the eclipse low in the sky as it rose with the pinkish-purple hues of dusk, and at a moment in time when the exposure for the moon and the sky would be the equal, yet would also allow me to shoot with a fast enough shutter speed to show the turning turbine fan blades in motion.

The problem: Clouds. The weather gods did not fully cooperate with those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area. A ridge of high clouds was drifting slowly eastward overhead throughout the course of the day. But when push came to shove, the clouds didn’t clear out fast enough. Rather than seeing the moon rise just above the horizon, it took nearly three-quarters of an hour for the already eclipsed moon to appear above the clouds in the sky. In that amount of time, the ambient light in the sky had darkened so much that the only way I could capture the spinning blades of the turbine was to raise my ISO to 3200 while keeping my exposure speed at or under one second. Any longer of an exposure time, especially enough to have more light in the sky and clouds, caused the spinning blades to be rendered completely invisible. I mean after all…what’s a windmill look like with no blades? Just a pole in the evening sky. That’s not what I envisioned at all.

Even though I was shooting with a Read the rest of this post »