Autumn Insanity Photo Workshop in the Eastern Sierra 10/18

Posted September 27th, 2013 by
Categories: Autumn, California, Mountains, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Travel, Workshops

Picture: Fall colors on aspen trees below Mount Dana, Eastern Sierra, California

Image: Fall colors on aspen trees below Mount Dana, Eastern Sierra, California

First off, let me say this is just nuts; maybe even insane…

Just within the last couple weeks I was asked if I’d be interested in running a photo workshop in the Eastern Sierra for one of the Bay Area’s local Meetup groups. Timing for organization and dates was short, and the Meetup organizer only had one weekend in October available. Always up for an adventure or an opportunity to teach, I said, “Sure, why not?”

So if you’re interested in spending a few days in the Sierra, I’ll be leading an Autumn Sierra Landscapes workshop for the Bay Area Photography Events Meetup, from Friday, October 18th through Sunday October 20th. The insane part? It’s only $195.00 for the whole weekend. Given the late timing of the season, and the short announcement window, the organizer set the workshop fee. To be honest, I suggested a number of times the price should be higher. In fact, the price is a fraction of what I’d charge for my own group or private workshop. It’s insane, I say; Insane.

We’ll be exploring the areas from Mono Lake to Bishop, with specific locations to be determined based on fall foliage conditions and weather. Needles to say, with this incredible price, the workshop fee doesn’t include lodging, transportation, or meals.

So the question is, are you feeling a little insane and wish to join us? If so, you can check out the Meetup Information page, and if you have questions about logistical aspects, I’m sure the organizer will be happy to answer. If you have any questions regarding equipment, locations, techniques to be covered, etc., let me know and I’ll be happy to answer as best as I can.

And again, just to be completely honest, I think the price is too low. But since this is a Meetup Group Event, what I can also say is that you’d be insane not to recognize what an incredible bargain this is for the value of spending several days out on location learning how to take better photos.

Image ID#: 111024_YOScr-0052

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The Day the Music Died

Posted September 23rd, 2013 by
Categories: Glacier National Park, Montana, National Parks, Photos, Sunset, Travel, Water

Picture: Sunset light through clouds over Lake MacDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana

Image: Sunset light through clouds and campfire smoke over Lake MacDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana

Well… not really the Music, but rather the day my D800 died… again.

I’m finally getting a chance to dig into some of the images I shot this summer while on my extended family vacation. Included among those photos was this panorama I shot at Lake MacDonald in Glacier National Park. While my kids were busy throwing rocks into the lake, I was busy taking photos of some clearing storm clouds at sunset. Not more than a dozen frames after shooting this panorama, my Nikon D800 rolled up its eyes and started flashing the dreaded ERR message. That’s the Nikon equivalent of a PC Blue-Screen-of-Death. Never again during the course of that trip would my D800 capture a frame. It was dead, dead, dead.

But I suppose in retrospect, if you were gonna check out, stop working, or for that matter, simply and suddenly drop dead for no apparent reason whatsoever, be you a camera with an ERR, or a mortal human shedding your mortal coils, ya gotta’ admit… if you had to choose a time, place, and scene to go out on, this sure wouldn’t be a bad one. However, unlike most mortals who’ve escaped the earthly bonds, I can report that my D800 has been successfully resurrected (again) by Nikon Professional Services. Unfortunately they were unable to provide any information about what specifically caused the dreaded ERR. I think the technical term was “…just one of those things.”

(Technical Details: 7-vertical frames, stitched together using PShop CS6; file 24″x60″ at 300 dpi)

Image ID#: 130718a_MT-0382

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San Francisco PPGBA Presentation Tomorrow 9/19

Posted September 18th, 2013 by
Categories: California, Coast, Newsworthy, People, Presentations

Picture: Photographer couple shooting the sunset at the Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin County, California

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

A quick and friendly reminderif you’re in or near the San Francisco Bay Area; I’m giving another of my “Two Books, Two Approaches” presentations tomorrow night, Sept. 19th, in South San Francisco for the Professional Photographers of the Greater Bay Area (PPGBA).

Since this is a professional organization the presentation will vary slightly from my more anecdotal version with a bit more info related to the business considerations involved with taking on book projects. Also, and again because it’s a professional organization, there is a cost for admission. For more info, please visit:

If you show up, be sure to say hello!


This week in Marin County

Posted September 9th, 2013 by
Categories: California, Coast, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes, Workshops

Looking over the Great Beach,Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Image: Looking over the Great Beach,Point Reyes National Seashore, California

I’ll be visiting Marin County twice this week, and I want to offer up a reminder to let you know about what I’ll be doing in case you’d like to attend one or both of the events.

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, Sept. 10th, I’ll be giving a presentation of my “Two Books / Two Approaches” for the Marin Photo Club’s Education Night. The event is open to the public and is free. In this presentation, I discuss the shooting of my last two book projects, Greetings from California, and Photographing California; vol. 1 – North. The Marin Photo Club holds their Education Night meetings at the Anthem Church facility at 50 Los Ranchitos Road, San Rafael, just across the freeway from the Marin Civic Center. The presentation is set to run between 6:30 and 8:30pm. (NOTE: The venue for the presentation has been changed from what appears listed on the MPC website.)

Then on Saturday, September 14th, I’ll be teaching a one-day photo workshop called “Panoramic Point Reyes.” Obviously as the course title suggests, I’ll be teaching about shooting panoramic photos at Point Reyes. Put on by the non-profit Point Reyes Field Institute, the course runs from 1:30pm to 8:30 pm and meets at the Red Barn Classroom. There are still spaces available if you’re interested in attending. For more info or to register visit the PRFI Photography Course Page.

Shoot me a note if you’re planning to attend either of these events.

Review: Landscapes in Lightroom 5 by Michael Frye

Posted September 4th, 2013 by
Categories: Books, Photographers, Reviews

Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide by Michael Frye

Image: Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide by Michael Frye

Now that my summer vacation has officially come to a close, the kids are back in school, and I’ve finally got the wheels of my business turning again, I want to share a few new things with you. I previously mentioned that I had very little (if any to none) time for tending to my own business matters while on the road with my family or sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows. However, I did get to enjoy and review the work of some other very fine and talented photographers.

First up is a new e-book called Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide, by noted fellow landscape photographer Michael Frye. I’ve had a chance to meet Michael several times, and he is truly one of the nicest, most humble and quietly reserved photographers out there today. And like his own persona, one of the things I’ve always admired about his work is how it speaks with a quiet clarity, both in terms of composition and processing. There are no baseball bats trying to hit you over the head with crazy HDR or insanely saturated colors trying to compete for attention in a sea of such screaming imagery. His process is more about massaging, balancing, subtle emphasis, and area control, rather than turning all the knobs to “11”.

Image: Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide by Michael Frye Now I’m no photoshop whiz, or an uber-technical type. In fact, I don’t even consider myself an artist. I tend to operate on a very simple path, and Michael does a great job presenting the content of this book in a very clear, simple to understand, and easy to follow manner, with plenty of supporting illustrations adorning this 87-page e-book. The latter part of the book contains a half-dozen selected image examples, each of which has a variety of unique compositional or elemental characteristics. With these, Michael walks you through his image processing workflow, but also takes the time to expand on the ‘why’ – his mental thought process behind the choices he’s making, and the tools he’s using. And if that’s not enough, one of the great hidden bonuses of this book is more than an hour of special private video tutorials linked to the e-book showing specific details of how best to use some of Lightroom’s most important features and tools which he is discussing in a particular section or example.

As much as I like Michael and his work, and in the context of this being a review, perhaps the only criticism I could make is that I think his e-book is perhaps a bit mis-titled. It’s *not* just about Lightroom 5 exclusively. It’s still 90% relevant and worth investing in if you only own Lightroom 4 and want to better understand how to get the most out of your landscape or nature photos.

In the first half of this e-book, Michael explains in-depth why Lightroom has taken a quantum leap as an RAW image processor; namely the introduction of the 2012 Process Version… which shipped starting with Lightroom 4. Now granted, understanding the 2012 process is a huge deal, as is knowing how to best use the tone controls and how the default settings have changed since earlier versions. In this book, Michael does a fabulous job explaining this in a very clear, concise, and easy to understand manner, as well as showing how to incorporate this information into a managed workflow for processing RAW files. But… this information isn’t exclusive to Lightroom 5; in fact, I’d say owners of Lightroom 4 will gain just as much value from this ebook as owners of Lightroom 5, simply because of the amount of information passed on about understanding the 2012 processing engine.

Image: Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide by Michael Frye The information specific to the new features exclusive to Lightroom 5 only takes up a few pages of descriptions, albiet described with the same easy to understand clarity. The examples given later in the book do touch on some of the features of LR5, like the new advance healing brush; but in many instances, if you only own LR4, you won’t feel left out or left behind at all, and will be able to follow along with just about everything presented. And speaking of following along, Michael also provides the untouched RAW files of the example images he uses in the book, as well as a set of B&W processing actions that he provides for incorporating into your own workflow. This way you can use the same images as presented in the e-book, and watch first hand as you process the same image file using the workflow steps Michael has laid out, and see exactly what each step in the process is doing, and how it builds towards a final artistic vision.

I would definitely recommend Landscapes in Lightroom 5 by Michael Frye to any user of Lightroom (version 4 or 5) who wants a better understanding of how to get the best control over your RAW processing techniques or workflow, especially if you’re just starting to work with RAW files. Click on the text links or on the e-book cover at the top of this post to order.

(Disclosure, I should note that although Michael was nice enough to offer me the opportunity, these are not affiliate links. They’ll take you straight to Michael’s web site so you can order direct from him. I’m not pushing this to make any money for myself. I want to keep my reviews clean from any affiliate ties, and to make recommendations – or criticisms within a clear and clean venue.)

Point Reyes Panoramic Photo Workshop – Sept 14

Posted August 29th, 2013 by
Categories: California, Coast, Panoramic, Photo Workshops and Tours, Photos, Point Reyes

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

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

Come join me for a one-day photographic workshop called Panoramic Point Reyes which I’ll be teaching in conjunction with the Point Reyes Field Institute, a non-profit educational and experiential partner of the NPS & Point Reyes National Seashore.

–> Click here to register. < --

Come explore Point Reyes with a very specific photographic perspective. We’ll spend the day learning about the techniques for finding and creating compelling panoramic images with a distinctive Point Reyes flavor. Emphasis will be split between in-field compositional choices using a variety of subjects, both natural and man-made, and classroom discussion of workflow and post-production techniques. The day will start with a classroom presentation, followed by spending the remainder of the day in the field concentrating on finding great panoramic subjects to photograph. We’ll continue to shoot through sunset into the early evening light. If extreme weather is an issue, we’ll spend additional time discussing digital and creative processing for nature photography. All skill levels welcome.

Contact myself or the PRFI with any questions.

I hope to see you there!

–> Click here to register. < --

PS: I’ll also be teaching a 3-day workshop at Point Reyes Nov. 22-24 (The weekend *before* Thanksgiving.) More info & Registration can be found a little further down the page on the PRFI site.

See Me, Hear Me; Upcoming Bay Area Presentations

Posted August 21st, 2013 by
Categories: California, Coast, Fossil Beds, Lighthouses, Newsworthy, Photos

Picture: Storm clouds at sunset passing behind Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City, California

Image: Storm clouds at sunset passing behind Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City, California

I’m delighted to announce I’ll be giving my presentation “Photographing California; Two books, Two Approaches” at several upcoming venues here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first event is next week, and the second is in mid-September.

In this presentation I discuss the shooting & production of my two latest books, Greetings from California, and the award-winning Photographing California, Vol. 1 – North. Each book was produced by two different publishers for a completely different set of readers. I outline and highlight the thought processes and choices regarding different editorial and commercial considerations each project required, and how those played into the role of researching subjects, locations, ideal shooting conditions, and editing images to eventually be included in the books. If you ever wanted to know some of the realities behind the making a book project long before it reaches the press, this will be a great presentation to attend. Afterwards, I will be happy to answer questions about images, gear, processing techniques, or the publication processes.

On Wednesday, August 28th, I’ll be speaking at a Meetup for The Bay Area Photography & Exploration Society, which will be held at the Sports Basement’s “Grotto Room” located at 1590 Bryant Street in San Francisco. The Meetup starts at 6:45pm. and seating is limited.

On Thursday, September 19th, I’m equally excited to give this same presentation for the Professional Photographers of the Greater Bay Area (PPGBA). The event will be held at the Grovesnor Best Western Hotel in South San Francisco, near the San Francisco Airport. Since this is a professional association, there is an admission fee for students (w/ ID) and non-members. However, with a room full of professional photographers, the presentation and for sure the follow-up questions will be slanted to have a greater emphasis on the professional & business aspects of shooting or doing book projects vs. gear, technique, & locations.

Image ID#: 110528a_DLN-0187

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What’s Ahead?

Posted August 20th, 2013 by
Categories: Canyonlands, canyons, National Parks, Newsworthy, Photos, Roads, Travel, Utah

Picture: Driving into Shafer Canyon, Island in the Sky District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Image: Driving into Shafer Canyon, Island in the Sky District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

In my last two blog posts, I mentioned about my summer vacation through some of the west’s best National Parks, and how I ‘unplugged’ from the business of being a professional photographer on more than a month of family holiday travels. Now that I’m getting back into the work grove, a.k.a plugged back in, I thought I’d share some of what fun stuff lies ahead.

While I didn’t get to do much work for myself while on vacation, I was delighted to be able to enjoy the work of some other very talented fellow photographers, as well as getting to try out some new products. Over the course of the coming number of weeks, I’ll be sharing some reviews which I hope many other photographers will be able to enjoy and benefit from.

Also in the immediate and near future, I’ll be sharing some news about upcoming photo presentations and photo workshops.

I also have a really big photo I’m looking forward to sharing, along with some other nice images I was fortunate to capture on my photo-limited travels.

Finally, I’m also dipping my little toe into the black abyss known as time lapse & video. The next Robert Redford, you ask? Um, no; not hardly. Mainly I’m just learning how to press the ‘Record’ button, or use my camera’s built-in intervalometer. Don’t expect to see too much, as this is more of a side-dabbling, yet I hope every so often to have something worthy of sharing.

Btw – have you ever seen a video that’s been hand-held while driving down a 4WD dirt road? I can tell you that it accurately and visually captures every single little bump *shake* bump *shake* bump *shake* in the road.

Stay tuned… the wheels are turning. Perhaps I may even find an exciting side-roads to venture down.

Image ID#: usut cnyn-1090a

Thus ends the lazy days of an unplugged summer

Posted August 15th, 2013 by
Categories: Animals, California, Coast, Fossil Beds, Photos

Picture: People spending a day at the Beach, La Jolla Shores, San Diego County coast, California

Image: People spending a day at the Beach, La Jolla Shores, San Diego County coast, California

Click on photo to see a larger version.

So I’m curious, as photographers and people of the modern era, do you unplug from your camera? What about unplugging from your phone and email. If so, for how long? Is unplugging from being “a photographer” easier than unplugging from your cell phone or Internet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

The reason I ask is that this has been my ‘unplugged’ summer, all wonderfully enjoyed due to family vacations, but which now must come to an early end.

There’s always a balance to be had when juggling the wants and desires of a family of non-photographers with one’s desire to be out taking photos. After my “retirement” from book projects following the conclusion of my award-winning seventh book, Photographing California; Vol. 1 – North, I’ve just wrapped up more than a month of family vacations. I was definitely allowing the balance scales to swing back to my family after all they’ve endured and sacrificed during my travels or writings. I mentioned in my last post that I had spent weeks traveling through the West. With not much more than a week between vacations, I drove myself, my kids, and my mom down for an 8-day trip to visit my sister and her family in San Diego.

Throughout both of these trips; my photography was completely secondary, with only a few ventures out for taking pictures. I hauled all my camera gear down to San Diego, and for nearly a week, the bag sat unused in a guest bedroom. Finally, on my second visit to La Jolla Shores, I recalled a very small, yet nagging regret which I felt a few times during my first visit. While not wanting to move photography to the forefront, I threw a body & two lenses in my backpack; all whilst experiencing the joy of not having to lug around a tripod.

The above panoramic photo was made with a quick series of a dozen hand-held frames shot with my Nikon D7000, and stitched into a panorama using Photoshop.

The only other time my camera came out during this family trip was during a visit to the San Diego Zoo. Although I saw several photographers walking around with cameras, tripods, and Uber-Lenses, (the kind that you see on a football field or African Safari) I delighted in just being an average tourist (with a decent pro-sumer camera & zoom lens) just trying to take a few nice photos. One of my favorites was this beautiful Jaguar.

Image: Jaguar (captive), San Diego Zoo, California

There’s a nice liberation to be had to go to photogenic places and relax without a camera, without a need to photograph. And when you do photograph, to do it with a very casual, and certainly non-professional approach. Over the summer I basked in that liberation as I kept my photographic pursuits in my back pocket. Fortunately I did get a few nice shots along the way, some of which I’ll be sharing with you here or via my Facebook Business Page or my G_+ profile. But finally, my relaxing, yet road-weary travels are at an end for the summer. It’s time to get plugged back in, back to work, check the cellphone, check the email, yada, yada, yada.

For myself, I need to get plugged back in after this lazy, hazy, summer. I’ve got some fun and exciting things on the stove top, and time has come to shift things around on the burners.

Aw, Heck! Maybe there’s still time for one last summer margarita.


The Great Northwest Trip 2013

Posted July 29th, 2013 by
Categories: Crater Lake, National Parks, Oregon, Photos, Travel, Weather

Picture: Sunset and god beams from the rim of Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Image: Sunset and god beams from the rim of Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

In my last blog post of nearly four weeks ago, I mentioned that I was turning off and moving on, all whilst posting an image of Mount Rainier that I’d taken back in 1993. I wrote that post as I was getting ready to head out the door on a family vacation, from which I have now returned.

I posted the image of Mount Rainier knowing I’d soon be getting a chance to revisit the mountain. Even after having done seven back-to-back books on California since my son was born in 1999, I struggle to believe it’s been 20 years since I visited this part the Pacific Northwest. Finally, I was going back! I also got to check off a couple photographic bucket list locations, including Washington State’s Palouse region, and the biggie, Glacier National Park; very surprisingly one of the few places in the contiguous US that I’ve never visited in my life, especially as a photographer.

While this was certainly a great trip, and a much needed chance to step away from the computer and the modern “connected” life, this was primarily a family trip vs. a photography trip. I suppose that’s a good thing also, as there were several things which kept reigning in my photography desires. Some of these things included endless amounts of boring blue skies while the western US sat under an intense high pressure system, road closures, impatient or uninterested family members (the non-photographer types), and watching my new D800 camera die a sudden ERR(or) death.

So the basic rundown of the trip:

20-days, (1) Family Reunion, (5) National Parks, including Crater Lake, Rainier, Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons, and 3,945 miles. My wife was with us, along with my Sister-in-Law and her family, for the first ten days as we traveled to Couer d’Laine, ID for the reunion (wife’s side of the family). My wife then flew back home to the Bay Area as my two kids and I finished off the rest of the trip camping in Montana and Wyoming.

I’ll be sharing more images and stories from my vacation here on the blog in the near future, but I’ll also (and more frequently) be sharing on my Facebook & G+ pages, so please feel free to keep an eye out or follow me there also.

Image ID#: 130708a_ORCL-0187

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Traditional Prints feature:
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Click here for Information & Pricing on larger paper, canvas, or metallic prints, incl. matted & framed prints. For complete purchase options, please contact me directly.