New Photo Tour: California’s Gold Country in Spring

Posted February 19th, 2014 by
Categories: Barns Farms and Rural Scenes, California, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos

Picture: Sunset in the Sierra Foothills near Chinese Camp, California

Image: Sunset in the Sierra Foothills near Chinese Camp, California

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be co-leading a photo tour this spring, “Experience California’s Gold Country Photo Tour, which will take place from April 10th – 13th, 2014. Based in the heart of the Mother Lode in Sonora, we’ll explore and experience much of the antique places and flavors which make this area such a wonderful destination. From old hotels to living history, we’ll also visit a railway museum, including shooting some night shots and light painting. Hopefully the rolling and forested hills will be alive with green grass and wildflowers. For complete information, visit the workshop and tour information page: Experience California’s Gold Country. Photographers of all experience levels are welcomed.

If you have any questions about this tour, please let me know. I hope you’ll consider joining us. :)

*PS: In case you’re wondering why you may not have seen any blog posts from me in awhile, several weeks ago my WordPress Weblog site was hacked, which basically turned my site into a huge Viagra ad. Not something I was thrilled about, and in the same vein left me feeling like I’d been contaminated by some nasty STD. Fortunately the site has been fully restored and scrubbed clean, so I can now happily return to our regularly scheduled programming.



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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.

Doh! Belated announcement: Pt. Reyes Panorama Class

Posted January 14th, 2014 by
Categories: California, Coast, People, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes, Workshops

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

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

Between being busy before the Holidays, getting sick during the holidays, and now being really busy again after the Holidays, there are actually quite a few things I haven’t even had a chance to share, mention, or promote. Heck, I didn’t even have a chance to promote any print sales for Christmas. Oh well, thus crumbles the cookie in a particular direction.

One of the things I didn’t get a chance to mention or promote except to readers of my recent Newsletter is an another upcoming Panoramic Point Reyes 1-Day photo workshop that I’ll be leading this upcoming Saturday. I hate to say it, but the class is sold out. Doh!

So…. Read the rest of this post »

Sometimes it just takes one.

Posted January 5th, 2014 by
Categories: Animals, Deserts, Nevada, Photos

Picture: Desert Bighorn sheep at Valley of Fire State Park, near Las Vegas, Nevada

Image: Desert Bighorn sheep at Valley of Fire State Park, near Las Vegas, Nevada

This is one of the images I included on my last post, my top photos of 2013. Now granted, I don’t actually consider this a super-great image. Sure, it’s a nice image, maybe even a very nice image. The reason it made my list for top shots of 2013 is based more on emotional attachment than pure, unabashed photographic quality.

You see, this image was taken on the first morning of my recent trip to the southwest corner of Utah. On this particular morning, I wound up witnessing the amazing glow of a cloud-filled pinkish-red desert sky sunrise. I have no photos of that amazing sunrise because I witnessed the glow while spending that entire part of the morning sitting inside an outhouse bathroom at Valley of Fire State Park. I was suffering intense intestinal distress thanks to an overly rich dinner the night before. My buddy, who was nice enough to treat me to dinner at what would be my first (& last) visit to The Cheesecake Factory while we were passing through Las Vegas, got some great pictures that morning. By the time the sunrise colors had totally faded to a dull overcast gray, I finally managed to emerge from the outhouse, … slowly.

I figured my morning was completely shot as far as photography was concerned. We hopped into our trucks and drove off to a different area of the park to make our breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. The lighting wasn’t great, and I sat and chatted with my buddy while he set up a time-lapse. Then, while he was engaged setting up his shot, I happened to glance over and see Read the rest of this post »

Top Photos of 2013 by Gary Crabbe

Posted December 23rd, 2013 by
Categories: Photos

My collection of Top Photos for 2013. If you like these images, I’d be honored if you’d click on of the SHARE buttons at the top of this post. I’d also love to hear which one is your favorite. All images were shot with either a Nikon D7000 or Nikon D800.

Many thanks in advance, and to all, the very best wishes for a wonderful and productive 2014.

- Gary.

Image: Jet airplane with contrail flying through high cirrus clouds and a circumzenithal arc, Calilfornia

Picture: Jet airplane with contrail flying through high cirrus clouds and a circumzenithal arc, Calilfornia
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Image: Sunset light on misty clouds at Aguereberry Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Picture: Sunset light on misty clouds at Aguereberry Point, Death Valley National Park, California
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Image: Mysterious moving rocks and trails at the Racetrack, Death Valley National Park, California

Picture: Mysterious moving rocks and trails at the Racetrack, Death Valley National Park, California
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Image: Photographers lined up for the shot at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Picture: Photographers lined up for the shot at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California
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Image: Sunrise light on the coastal cliffs above Drakes Beach, Drakes Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Picture: Sunrise light on the coastal cliffs above Drakes Beach, Drakes Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore, California
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Read the rest of this post »

REVIEW: The Complete Guide to Luminosity Masks Video Tutorial

Posted December 16th, 2013 by
Categories: California, Coast, Digital, Fossil Beds, Photos, Reviews, Stock Photography, Sunset

Picture: Sunset over San Gregorio State Beach, San Mateo County coast, California

Image: Sunset over San Gregorio State Beach, San Mateo County coast, California

This last summer, during my six-week family vacation hiatus, I knew I was going to get very little real work done. So to feel like I was still being productive, I reached out to a few fellow photographers who were nice enough to provide review samples of their work.

One of the items I got to review was a video tutorial put out by Sean Bagshaw, a very talented landscape photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. The Complete Guide to Luminosity Masks is a training video designed to teach advanced Photoshop post-processing techniques related to creating fine-tuned adjustments of dynamic range issues within an image regarding specific tonality and contrast controls through the use of luminosity masks. (Whew! *Takes deep breath.*)

Now that’s a lot of high-end words coming from a guy like myself who instantly admits to being far less smart than his cell phone. I’ve been using Photoshop since the early 1990′s, starting with either version 3 or 4, so you’d think I’d be a master at using the program. I’m not. I still haven’t used the Paths panel in nearly 20 years because it has no use in my landscape photography workflow. My learning curve has been long and slow, based on finding what works and sticking with that until something nudges me into the next level of learning. In fact, I’d been using Photoshop for nearly a decade before I started playing around and learning about using layers. But once I reached that point, it was instantly clear seeing how much my new understanding improved my image processing. Now please keep in mind that this review is written by someone who’s probably not the sharpest bulb in the techno-tool shed.

I’ll start this review in the same manner that Sean begins his video course, with a clear disclaimer that Read the rest of this post »

Cleaning out the Closet Cobwebs

Posted December 13th, 2013 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photos, Sunset

Picture: Sunset over Moss Beach, San Mateo County coast, California

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

One quick preface note: Next week I’ll be sending out my annual holiday newsletter. If you’d like to get a copy, you can subscribe on my NEWS page. Fill out the top form for my Newsletter, and the bottom form if you’d like copies of my blog posts sent to you via email.

Rather than jumping on the Holiday Season social media bandwagon pushing people with constant and unbridled shouts of discounted sales on this or that, I’ve decided for this year to quietly reach deep into the dark photographic abyss known as the “Unprocessed Files.” So in addition to working on some other projects, I’ve finally forced myself to go back and edit some older image files and folders that have simply been forgotten or left to the darkest corners of a dusty hard drive. This image is from one such cobweb laden image folder which was one of the earliest shoots I did when I got my first digital camera, the now classically vintage Nikon D2x, circa late 2005.

Once I’m done with this last handful of forgotten folders, I can finally catch up and edit all the images shot but not processed as part of my last book project. Catching up seems to be a good use of time when the back-burners begin spilling over with too many unattended pots and pans.


Image ID#: 0511_MossBeach-0126



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Point Reyes On Assignment Class Photos

Posted December 5th, 2013 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes

Picture: Photographer shooting the Point Reyes Headlands, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

Image: Photographer shooting the Point Reyes Headlands, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California

The weekend before Thanksgiving I was delighted to be teaching another 3-day photo workshop for the Point Reyes Field Institute. The class, “Point Reyes – On Assignment” focused on visual storytelling, including learning to react to the environment and what the light was doing, as well as looking for compelling details. I made the image above using one of the students while demonstrating some principles of composition and establishing relationships between subjects within the frame.

There was a wonderful variety of images made by all the students, and with their permission, I’m delighted to share some of their work here for your enjoyment.

My sincere thanks again to all the students who participated in this workshop. It was a really great bunch of people, perhaps only matched by the unbelievably and insanely nice weather.


*** If you like these images, please let them know by leaving a comment (below), and / or by hitting one of the social sharing buttons featured at the top of the post (above).

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Pros do it too; on screwing up and loss.

Posted November 19th, 2013 by
Categories: Arizona, canyons, Horseshoe Bend, Panorama, Panoramic, Photos, Water

Picture: Photographers standing on the rim of Horseshoe Bend at dawn over the Colorado River, near Page, Arizona

Image: Photographers standing on the rim of Horseshoe Bend at dawn over the Colorado River, near Page, Arizona

On Screwing Up: For every photographer coming up through the ranks of learning, or who thinks professional photographers always get it right, have I got news for you. Yes, even professionals screw up and make mistakes. Just because we’re a professional in one area of expertise doesn’t mean we don’t experience our own trial and error learning curves in other areas. We may not brag about it in public, but rest assured, we make mistakes just like everyone else.

In my last post, I mentioned several “bumps” during my trip. This is Bump # 5.

The photo above may not look like a total screw-up,… but it is. This image was taken on my recent trip to the Southwest. It’s actually a multi-row, nearly 40-frame panoramic image shot with my Nikon D800. Because it’s a screw-up, I only processed a low-res version, outputting each of the frames at 1600 pixels on the long dimension at 72 dpi. Still, even at this low resolution, the composite was well over 100Mb in size.

So how is it a screw-up? Well my learning curve in this instance isn’t from the mistake I made on this particular morning, nor was it my first time making the same mistake. But having made the same mistake before, it’s a lot like sticking your hand back on a hot stove after you’ve already been burned. But it’s the repetition of the mistake which so brutally reinforces the need to learn; the screaming in your head as you tell yourself not to make the same mistake again in the future. Nope; my mistake happened the night before. You see, I don’t do a huge amount of night photography. It’s relatively new to me, and to which I consider myself still just learning. My mistake, discovered at the end of this morning’s shoot, was that I forgot to Read the rest of this post »

Quick Trip Report: Bumpy Roads in the Southwest

Posted November 12th, 2013 by
Categories: canyons, Fossil Beds, Lake Powell, Photos, Sunrise, Utah, Water

Picture: Sunrise light over Lake Powell and Navajo Mountain, Glen Canyon NRA, Utah

Image: Sunrise light over Lake Powell and Navajo Mountain, Glen Canyon NRA, Utah

Have you ever had one of those trips where you felt like for one reason or another, your head just wasn’t quite screwed on correctly. Well, I felt that way a few times on this trip.

I’ve missed out on a couple travel opportunities this fall, and my photo-travel buddy was reminding me the year was drawing to a close. Then I saw a clip on the hike to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. Suddenly our thoughts turned to the area of southwestern Utah and Northern Arizona. My buddy isn’t a fan of death-inducing cliff-side heights, so instead we opted to hike the Subway. I was delighted when he agreed to do that hike, as he’s been there, and I hadn’t, and for a first time visit I didn’t feel like traveling solo on a moderately strenuous, route-finding hike.

The trip started out with a small bump. Even though we’re both from the Bay Area, the drive to Utah started with a confused missed meeting point along Interstate 5. After a few minutes of “where the heck are you” from each of us, we finally connected east of Bakersfield. After 8 hours of driving, my buddy is leading us through Las Vegas when he calls me on the phone. “Hey! Let’s go see the Peter Lik Gallery!” Now, I hate Vegas. Not a place I want to voluntarily hang out, but a bribe of dinner and my own curiosity, I caved and said Ok. After the torture of getting off the strip and parked at the Caesars Palace, and walking end to end through the shopping area, we finally found his gallery. The image presentations were nice enough; high-end corporate collector, but overall I was un-impressed by the photos being displayed. There were three or four images that I really liked, including a fall shot of aspens in the La Sal mountains, and one of the Columbia River Gorge, but most were merely good without being spectacular – for the loudly self-proclaimed “Most-Awarded Landscape Photographer on the planet.” There were also a couple images that left me shaking my head thinking “what the heck was that?” – But in the end, my buddy made good on his bribe, treating me to a decadent meal at the Cheesecake Factory.

Bump # 2 came the next morning at Valley of Fire State Park where we went to shoot sunrise. While my buddy was busy photographing an epic red-sky desert sunrise, my stomach was in full revolt over my rich pasta dinner selection; and it was all I could do to watch the pink glow from inside one of the park’s picnic area pit toilets. After about an hour of not feeling well and thinking my morning photography had been shot, my photographic luck changed when I came across a small herd of Desert Bighorn sheep.

Bump # 3 came during our hike at the Subway, including several mechanical failures with my camera gear, but more on that in a later post.

Bump # 4 came during our visit to Lake Powell, but that was actually just a bumpy 4WD road, which I love, so it wasn’t a bad bump. The road led us to a spot on the rim of Lake Powell. (above) I must say, I was delighted by the absolute opposite of what I saw at the famed Zion Bridge, or for that matter in the Subway, namely photographers (including myself at the Subway) lined up to “get the shot!” – At Lake Powell we were alone; free to get shots which on that night and next morning would be ours; maybe not totally unique in terms of location, but certainly far less frequented than the line-em-up icon locations.

Bump # 5; Zion would not be my only experience on this trip where I lined up with other photographers to get a shot, and that bump too shall be the subject of another post.

Bump #6 came at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. After shooting sunset and heading out of the park, we came across an area along a dirt road where there was an open flame and smoldering logs. My buddy has forest fire experience, and he rightly insisted we had to report this. So we drove all the way back to the North Rim, spent 40 minutes driving around looking for the ranger… any ranger. We finally drove into the park residence area, walked up to the apartments, picked a door at random and knocked, hoping someone inside could tell us where the ranger was. Well darn if it wasn’t the ranger himself who answered the door. So we reported the fire, which it turns out must have been a spot flare up from some pile burning more than three weeks prior. We felt good about doing our good civic duty, even though it cost us several hours of our time late at night. Bump #6.5 came when I asked the ranger, saying I was already exhausted and was getting to the point where I didn’t trust my driving, would he allow us his discretion to sleep in the park. He said “No.” I certainly didn’t begrudge him for his answer, as he was just doing his job and following the rules. So my buddy and I once again turned our trucks and headed out of the park. But that bump came with it’s own unexpected perk the next morning, which I’ll also save for another post.

After 6 days, 2,030 miles, and a few bumps along the way, I finally got home. I’m not sure yet if I got any career-level or portfolio shots on the trip, but it was sure worth getting away for a few days in the glorious Red-Rock country of the great American Southwest.


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Bad, Flickr. Bad!

Posted October 31st, 2013 by
Categories: Autumn, Photo Contests, Photos, Rants and Raves

Picture: Fall colors in the White Mountains, New Hampshire

Image: Fall colors in the White Mountains, New Hampshire

You have to say it like you’re scolding a misbehaving pet; “Bad, Flickr. Bad!” (Again)

So you’ve probably heard about Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer’s attempt to revitalize Yahoo. I can respect that. For the last month or so, I started posting an occasional image or two a week on Flickr, Yahoo’s photo sharing site. This was after a multi-year hiatus. I figured I’d check it out again and see how it has been evolving. Several weeks ago I learned through a number of places that Yahoo was looking for new employees to begin strategically monetizing Flickr. Even before Flickr partnered with Getty (first bad) I thought they should facilitate photographers who wanted to sell their work. Instead, Flickr opted to enforce a strict non-commercial community. OK; that’s their choice. The stance was said to be photographer community-friendly. Photographers couldn’t promote or sell their own work via Flickr, but they could do it through partnering with Getty.

Now it seems that Flickr’s monetization scheme includes holding a Yahoo News-themed photo contest with the insultingly bad transfer of rights being requested not just of a few winners, but for every image submitted.

According to the rules, by agreeing to the rules, you’re giving Flickr & Yahoo:

irrevocably grants to Promotion Entities and their affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents and licensees, the worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicensable, unconditional, perpetual and transferable right and license to copyright (only as applicable, as described below), reproduce, encode, store, modify, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, publicly perform, adapt, exhibit and/or otherwise use or reuse (without limitation as to when or to the number of times used), the Entrant’s name, address, image, voice, likeness, statements, biographical material and Entry Materials, including, but not limited to, the photograph or digital image and performances contained in any of the above items, as well as any additional photographic images, video images, portraits, interviews or other materials relating to the Entrant and arising out of his/her participation in this Promotion (with or without using the Entrant’s name) (collectively, the “Additional Materials”) (in each case, as submitted or as edited/modified in any way, whether by the Promotion Entities, their licensees, or assigns, in the Promotion Entities’ sole discretion) in any media, format or medium throughout the world for any purpose, without limitation, and without additional review, compensation, or approval from the Entrant or any other party, except as prohibited by law;

v. except where prohibited by law, forever waives any rights of privacy, intellectual property rights, and any other legal or moral rights that may preclude Promotion Entities’ use of the Entrant’s Entry Materials or Additional Materials, or require the Entrant’s permission for Promotion Entities to use them for any purpose, and agrees to never sue or assert any claim against the Promotion Entities’ use of those Materials;

That’s a lot of rights to take from an Entry. It’s one thing to ask these rights of the few images selected as winners, but asking for every entry to agree to forever waive all intellectual property rights, agree never to assert a claim or sue for any (mis)use, and make make every entry sublicenseable seems to say Flickr must be thinking of maybe taking some of Getty’s pie for themselves? Why else would you ask for all these encompassing rights?

Bad, Flickr. Bad! Ask the winners to sign those rights away, but don’t just lay claim to every image entered by people who may well not be aware of what they’re giving up.

Oh, Yahoo, where for art thou? In the same bed with Facebook and Instagram’s lawyers, I fear.

< / RANT >


Image ID#: nhwm-1006



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