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Giving Thanks

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

This past week, we celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday where we surround ourselves with friends & family, eat good food, watch football, and take a moment to reflect on the things that we are thankful for.  My parents drove out to southern California from their home in New Mexico, and we indulged in just about everything I listed above.  My dad and I snuck a few hours in for some photography, but for the most part, their visit ended too early as we ran around trying to fit too many activities into 4 days.

Today, after they left, I was able to look back on the busy week, and think about what I’m thankful for.  I’m thankful for parents who are willing and able to travel whenever they want.  My wife is incredibly supportive of my addiction (her word, not mine).  I have a group of people who I can call true friends.  In addition to people in my immediate presence, I have made some great friends online within the photographic community as well as a group of steady readers who admire (and hopefully are inspired by) my work–both of these are reasons to be incredibly grateful.  When you’re surrounded by people as great as I have in my life, you realize that material possessions–although they can be fun–don’t matter all that much.

With that, I wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving!  What are you thankful for?  Please share in the comments section…

Sunset colors at Crystal Cove State Park, near Corona del Mar, California

Sunset Reflections, November 2010

Sunset at Crystal Cove State Park, near Corona del Mar, California

November Sunset, 2010

Dreaming of the San Juans

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Growing up in northwestern New Mexico, one of the easiest mountain ranges to escape to were the San Juans of southern Colorado.  An impressively rugged range, the San Juans were my playground in high school for skiing, camping, and backpacking.  I have a lot of fond memories in this range, and because of its rugged demeanor, I have always enjoyed photographs from the area.

In response to Jim Goldstein’s call for photographers to obtain photographs from their own favorite photographers (was that as confusing as it sounded?) I recently contacted Guy Schmickle, who lives right at the base of the San Juans, about a possible print exchange.  Guy and I have interacted a few times over email, but I was happy to hear about his excitement over Jim’s project.  After a long discussion with my wife, we chose one of Guy’s prints to have in our house–the American Basin Waterfall–because it captures my love for this mountain range, and her love of waterfalls.  He chose my “Stars over Mobius Arch” in return, and we exchanged 8 x 12s of these images.

It was really rewarding to do this exchange with Guy; I’ve admired his work for quite a while, and the photo looks fantastic hanging in our house.  Now, if we could only settle on a spot for it to stay (my wife has tried out 2 locations already)…

American Basin Waterfall, Guy Schmickle

A quick eastern Sierra fall color update

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Last night I received word from a friend who lives in Bishop about the status of fall colors in the eastern Sierra:

[On Friday (9/25)] We took a drive up Bishop Creek to see how the colors are.  The canyon is beautiful with reds, yellows and oranges.  South Lakes is already fading with lots of the leaves already on the ground.  North Lake is really nice and so is Sabrina.  Looks like fall came early in this area.  I’m told that farther north that the aspens are still green (Conway Summit and Virginia Lakes area).

[On Saturday (9/26)] We just returned from a day of wandering around with my sister and bro-in-law who are passing through.  Interestingly, there are lots of brown leaves and not much color up Rock Creek, while the June Lake loop is still green.

I’m thinking that I’ll be spending most of my time further north on my 10/9 visit…possibly June Lake, Lee Vining Canyon, and Lundy Canyon.


Friday Marginalia

Friday, September 25th, 2009

How much do you use social networking to promote your photography?  Is it useful to you?  Jim Goldstein wants to know.  He’s compiled the 2009 Photographer Social Media Survey.  It only takes about 10 minutes (I took it last night), but hopefully the results will give some insight into usefulness of tools such as Twitter and Facebook.

Inge Fernau has returned from what must have been an exhausting marathon trip to the eastern Sierra.  Here’s a detailed status report on the fall colors.  Also, G. Dan Mitchell updated us on Inge’s, as well as many other fall color reports (as well as some great shooting tips for the aspens).  As I said last week, its reports like this that make this a great community of photographers.  It looks like peak will be sometime around the weekend of Oct 3/4; I’ll be there Oct 9-11, which will probably be on the tail end of peak, but it will still be pretty, and maybe not quite as busy.  If anyone wants to meet up to shoot that weekend, send me an email.

I saw this blog post months ago, and am glad Phil Colla reposted it this week.  He describes a very useful technique for getting the most out of your RAW images.

Gary Crabbe shared a great story about Galen Rowell this week.  I’m still smiling from it.

The Ansel Adams Gallery announced their first National Parks Photography Contest, opening October 1.  It looks like there will be many great entries.

The Santa Ana winds have been blowing this week in southern California, and true to form, we had fires this week.  I’m hoping the firefighters get a break this fall.  Because we’ve been baking in 100+ degree temperatures, today’s photo is from Death Valley National Park:

Crossing Paths, Death Valley National Park, California, March 2009

Have a great week!

Friday Marginalia

Friday, September 18th, 2009

For the last couple of Fridays, I’ve been welcoming the arrival of fall, and the last couple of weekends have felt very autum-like.  However, today its supposed to be 100+ degrees at my house, so its a not-so-gentle reminder that summer is still alive and kicking.  I am looking forward to my Sierra fall foliage trip in a few weeks though.  Many thanks (already) to G. Dan Mitchell and Inge Fernau for their advice on locations, and timing.  While I’m fairly familiar with the eastern Sierra, having never been there in the fall it is very nice have people like Inge and Dan who are willing to share what they’ve learned.  It helps greatly with the visualization (but not pre-visualization!) of compositions in my mind’s eye.

Having gone through a couple of rounds of image editing with the input of other photographers over at as well as having been interacting with photographers about my trip to the eastern Sierra, I have to say that I feel very fortunate to be part of a photographic community who is willing to share as much as they do.  Guy Tal recently wrote about NOT feeling threatened by others’ amazing work, but rather feeling inspired and fulfilled to be able to see it.  I have always felt the same way, and I’m glad so many others share the sentiment.

  • Darwin Wiggett announced his fall photo contest this week; the theme is Expressions and Interpretations. The date for entries is Oct 31 @ midnight.  Hmm…I’ll have to think about this theme a little bit!  It will be challenging and fun to come up with an entry.

Here’s the image I worked so hard on this week (special thanks to Bret Edge and Jens Peerman for looking at re-works):

Sandstone detail, southern Utah, August 2009

Have a great week!

Friday Marginalia

Friday, August 28th, 2009

I missed last week’s marginalia because I was galavanting in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with my dad and friend Brent.  Many thanks to my wife for letting me be gone for a while.

  • On our way home from Utah, Brent and I set a new personal record for hiking in and visiting national parks.  We hiked in the Grand Staircase-Escalante before leaving, then hiked the Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, visited Cedar Breaks National Monument, and then did a short hike in the Kolob Canyon region of Zion National Park.
  • All of that hiking led to new photos here (bottom two) as well as new webpages for Bryce Canyon and the Grand Staircase-Escalante.  Overall it was a very productive trip.
  • At his blog, Ian Plant has a fun poll regarding the theme ‘suffering’.  What have you suffered through in the field.  Read my contribution in the comments section.
  • Guy Tal has a really nice commentary on the originality of your photography.  Although I take my photos for me, it still made me take pause, especially on my recent Utah trip, and forced me to take a step outside of my compositional comfort zone.  Thanks, Guy.

In the spirit of trying something new, here’s a result from my recent trip:

Cedar on sandstone, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, 2009


Friday, August 14th, 2009


I’ve decided to make Fridays the day for Marginalia; noting things from the week.  For this week:

  • This weekend (Aug 15/16) is the U.S. National Parks free weekend!  Get out there and visit a national park for free.  For more info, click here.
  • Last week, I mentioned that Jay Goodrich guest blogged on Darwin Wiggett’s blog.  In return, Darwin and Samantha Chrysanthou guest blogged for Jay, again on the acceptable uses of Photoshop in photography.  A very thoughtful commentary, you should check out.
  • Speaking of Samantha, she recently blogged on the usefulness of social networking in photography.  So did Guy Tal.  So did a recent thread on  The verdict?  Seems like resounding inconclusiveness.  I’m not sure if its worth it, but you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.  In fact, please do.

That’s all I know this week.  See you where the light is.

Shooting wildlife: some tips revisited

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Last week, Juan Pons gave some great wildlife photography tips on the Outdoor Photo Gear blog.  If you’re just getting started in wildlife photography, these tips will be invaluable to you.

However, as I was reminded the other night, even if you’ve been doing this a while, these tips will be invaluable to you!

As I last blogged about, there are some fantastic nighttime wildlife photography opportunities out there, if you know where to look.  However, because you’re fumbling around in the dark, its important to keep tabs on your gear.  When we were shooting kangaroo rats the other night, I found that I could use a little more light:

While this image is pretty good, I wanted a little more light on the scene.  So, I set my flash to give just a little more “oomph”.  Despite my adjustments, my next shot looked like this:


Wait…what?!?  I set my flash to give 2/3 stop MORE light–not less!  What happened?  Well, after I made my adjustment, I was futzing with the spotlight and other things, and I accidentally twisted my thumb wheel, inadvertently changing my aperture from f/8 to f/16!!

While my mistake wasn’t disastrous to the whole evening, something tiny like this could easily ruin a once-in-a-lifetime shot.  So, Juan’s advice is sound: check your camera’s settings often.  It just might make the difference between an awesome shot, and one you will eternally kick yourself for.

After resetting my aperture to f/8, my adjustments seem to have worked:

Sweet!  Much better.  Thanks for the gentle reminder, Juan.

I would also add a 6th point to Juan’s list: try new things.  If you have the opportunity, try shooting your subject at more than one aperture or exposure–you might be glad to have the options back home at your computer!


Friday, August 7th, 2009

So little time to write.  So many things to write about.

  • Last night the Riverside Arts Walk was a huge success.  It was great to see so many members of the community out enjoying a beautiful summer evening of art, music and culture.  Thank you all who stopped by to look at my photographs!

arts_walk1Studio 39 before the masses descended.

  • I’m published!  Well, sort of.  Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line, invited guest submissions on their theme “Backyard Adventures.”  You can read my submission here.  Very exciting, and a pretty cute kid to boot (he gets all those genes from his Mom).
  • At his blog, Guy Tal has a fantastic commentary on other photographer’s work.  He argues that instead of feeling threatened when other photographers produce beautiful work, perhaps we should be thankful for the inspiration.  I know, for my part, I feel very grateful for the beautiful photographs I see every day, and their work inspires me to produce better art work.  Visit my links page to see some of my inspiration.
  • Jay Goodrich was a guest columnist at Darwin Wiggett’s blog, with a great commentary on the use of Photoshop in photography.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Following the light (and the alpenglow)

Monday, July 27th, 2009

By now, hopefully you’ve had a little time to look through some of my photography, and you may be wondering what alpenglow is.  Alpenglow (from the German Alpenglühen) is an optical phenomenon that occurs when the sun is just below the horizon but mountains or other landscape features are still illuminated because light continues to reflect off of airborne snow, water, or ice particles still in the air.

The phenomenon is well illustrated in this photo of Castleton Tower, near Moab, Utah:

Castleton Tower, Castle Valley, Utah, December 2008

Having grown up exploring the canyons and mountains of the American West, it seems natural that I would be drawn to the phenomenon of alpenglow in my photography.  Again, I hope you enjoy what you see here, and please contact me if you have any questions!

I also encourage you to follow me on Twitter and Myspace, as well as on this blog.