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 »

Upcoming Photo Workshops at Point Reyes: Oct 2-4 & Nov 6-8

Posted September 24th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes, Reflections, Travel, Workshops

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

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

The final two workshops that I’ll be teaching for 2015 at the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore are fast approaching, with the next one just over a week away. That’s when I’ll be heading out to teach my 3-day photo workshop, “Photographing the Beaches of Point Reyes,” which takes place October 2-4, 2015. The workshop is run by the non-profit Point Reyes Field Institute, which is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA). The workshop fee is only $300 for the full weekend if you’re a member of PRNSA, or $320 for non-members, and includes accommodations at the Historic Lifeboat Station at Chimney Rock. These workshops provide one of the few opportunities for visitors to stay overnight inside the park. On Saturday evening, we generally have a big group dinner to add an extra festive note to all the learning and photography that takes place. The workshop conclude on Sunday with a review and critique of student images.

The final workshop I’m scheduled to lead in 2015 is also a 3-day workshop, this time focusing on “The Natural Wonders of Point Reyes,” and which will take place on November 6-8, 2015. This workshop is similarly priced, and also with included accommodations at the Lifeboat Station.

If you’re interested in learning or improving your photographic skills or vision, and want to do it at one of the best places on earth, and for an incredibly great value, come join me for either one of these two great workshops. Click on the above links for additional information, or to register through the Point Reyes Field Institute website.

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Panoramic Point Reyes Photo Workshop – September 12

Posted August 21st, 2015 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Point Reyes, Workshops

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

Image: Photographer shooting at Limantour Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

For photographers living in, or traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ll be teaching another of my upcoming Panoramic Point Reyes 1-Day photo workshop which I’ll be leading on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

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Two of the best hikes in Yosemite; Part Two: The Summit of Half Dome via the Cables Route

Posted August 12th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Mountains, National Parks, Outdoors, Photos, Travel, Yosemite

Picture: Hikers on the subdome just before the cables section of the route up Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Hikers on the subdome just before the cables section route up Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – vly2-2744)

New Photos added to my Image Archive Library from Yosemite National Park.

I’m happy to announce I’ve added another set of pictures to my searchable, online Image Archive Library which are now available for purchase as wall-decor prints or licensed for use in publications. These photos are a selection from a shoot done a number of years ago while in the production phase of my last book, the award-winning Photographing California; vol.1-North. This particular set of images was shot while on two of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park. The first hike heads out of Tuolumne Meadows, following along the Tuolumne River downstream toward Waterwheel Fall. The second hike is, as the Yosemite National Park website states, “the one hike in the park that you’re most likely to die while doing.”

I’d love to know if you have a favorite image. If you do, please consider leaving a comment to let me know which one(s) you enjoy most. Also, if you have any memories of taking this hike, or you have any pictures from this area that you’d like to share, please feel free to include a link in the comment section.

If you read through this post, you’ll discover which one of the images from this shoot always gets referenced in my slide shows and presentations as a source of sad memories that almost everyone in California knows or has heard about.

Part Two: Hiking the Cables Route to the summit of Half Dome

Picture: Sunset light on Half Dome from Olmsted Point, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Sunset light on Half Dome from Olmsted Point, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2186)

Half Dome is one of the most well-known landscape icons in California, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that despite its difficulty, the hike to the summit of this magnificent monolith is also one of the most popular in all of Yosemite. Did I mention it was difficult? Perhaps it’s the fact this 17-mile round-trip hike climbs approximately 4,000 vertical feet from the valley floor, with the final ascent being a wrenching hand-over-hand, pull-yourself-up a pair of slick metal cables over polished, foot-worn smooth granite. If that’s not enough to get your adrenaline pumping, Yosemite National Park’s website declares this adventurous trek to be the one hike in the park you’re most likely to die while attempting. Sounds like fun, right?

Picture: Looking down over the Cables section from near the top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Looking down over the Cables section from near the top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – vly2-2779)

The hike up the Cables Route had become so popular that despite the difficulty, overcrowding on the cables became a serious and potentially hazardous situation. On summer weekends when upwards of 3,000 people a day were trying to make the climb, you could get stuck in a veritable traffic jam as some folks were trying to go up while others were going down, all on a pathway only four feet wide. For that reason, the National Park Service instituted a Read the rest of this post »

Two of the best hikes in Yosemite; Part One: Following the Tuolumne River

Posted August 6th, 2015 by
Categories: California, Mountains, Outdoors, Photos, Travel, Waterfall, Yosemite

Picture: Rainbow in LeConte Fall along the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Rainbow in LeConte Fall, along the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2133)

New Photos added to my Image Archive Library from Yosemite National Park.

I’m happy to announce I’ve added another set of pictures to my searchable, online Image Archive Library which are now available for purchase as wall-decor prints or licensed for use in publications. These photos are a selection from a shoot done a number of years ago while in the production phase of my last book, the award-winning Photographing California; vol.1-North. This particular set of images was shot while on two of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park. The first hike heads out of Tuolumne Meadows, following along the Tuolumne River downstream toward Waterwheel Fall. The second hike is, as the Yosemite National Park website states, “the one hike in the park that you’re most likely to die while doing.”

I’d love to know if you have a favorite image. If you do, please consider leaving a comment to let me know which one(s) you enjoy most. Also, if you have any memories of taking this hike, or you have any pictures from this area that you’d like to share, please feel free to include a link in the comment section.

And be sure to stay tuned for the next post, where you’ll discover why one of the images from this shoot always gets referenced in my slide shows and presentations as a source of sad memories that almost everyone in California knows or has heard about.

Picture: Clearing clouds over mountain ridges, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Clearing clouds over mountain ridges, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2084)

Part One: Hiking the Tuolumne River

Picture: Mountains above the flooded Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Mountains above the flooded Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2156)

Picture: Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2088)

The trail that follows the Tuolumne River downstream out of Tuolumne Meadows is one of those great hikes in Yosemite, in that you can make into either a short hike, a (very) long day hike, or an overnight backpacking trip. The primary destination for many is the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, where you can spend the night in a tent cabin and dine on some very good, freshly-prepared food. The Glen Aulin camp is approximately five miles downstream from the Tuolumne Meadows trailhead near Lembert Dome. The key part of the word “downstream” to keep in mind is of course, ‘down’–as in once you pass out of the meadows at around 1.5 miles, you’ll be hiking downhill, following the river as it descends toward the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. This means that for most people, to get back to your vehicle, you’ll be making the return trip hiking back uphill. You can think of it along the same lines as hiking down and back from the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, although not as steep.

Picture: Tuolumne Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
Image: Tuolumne Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
(Click here to purchase a print or license for use in publications. – tiga-2090)

For visitors taking a day hike past the meadows, the 5-mile route to Glen Aulin passes several nice waterfalls, including the White Cascade and Tuolumne Falls. For those who choose to make a longer day hike out of Tuolumne Meadows, or for campers staying at the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, the ultimate destination is often Waterwheel Fall, located another four miles farther downstream. If you’re not lucky enough to get a backpacking permit or book an overnight stay at the Glen Aulin Camp, the remaining option for visiting Waterwheel Fall is a leg-stretching, 18-mile round-trip hike that descends nearly 3,000 feet of elevation from Tuolumne Meadows. And as previously noted, it will also mean hiking back up the same 3,000 feet on your return trip.

“This isn’t the Waterwheel Fall you were looking for.”

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