Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On the Run

Is it spring yet? For some of you it may be but for others we are still in a holding pattern. Well, the weather forecasters were right and we did get a little snow last night. Not much mind you , just a little less than maybe a inch. So this morning I was on the run trying to fit in a few snowy images before it all melted away. I was doing that while trying to make breakfast and get the car windows scraped off and the cars warmed up to drive the kids to school.

I managed to find some pretty cool images of the fog and the snow covered trees before I had to dash back to the house and haul poor Annika away. Her first word as we drove down the driveway was, "Beautiful". I think that pretty well sums up the morning.

God's light and love to all,


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Domestic Day or Stuck in Traffic

Today is pretty much a non photo day except for any grab shots that I can take along the way. The house is falling apart around me as I speak. There are bills to pay, dishes to be washed and vacuuming to be done. Today is a minimum day for my kids at school so I have to pick one of them up and rush off to the orthodontist down in the big metropolis of Ukiah.

So in my fairly normal life I took one image at the stoplight this morning while waiting for the light to change. It gives the impression of being in traffic on a rainy day. Though I must say I rarely get stuck in traffic living out here in Mendocino County it's pretty far from the gridlock of the big city. The only times we get stuck in traffic here is when there are concerts up in Northern Mendocino County during the summer like Reggae on the River or the Pignic.

So today I get to enjoy a little down time being domestic and I get to meet Lenore for lunch!.

God's blessings to all,


Monday, March 29, 2010

Too Many Projects

It is raining outside today. Mostly off and on but it's enough to drive me inside for some catch up work. So here I am this morning organizing and digitizing a portion of my Polaroid SX-70 collection. SX-70s are basically a type of Polaroid that have been manipulated with a stylus while the print is being developed. My favorite stylus was a key from my car. I later advanced to using potters tools. What an odd mix that is!

Polaroid ceased the manufacture of SX-70 film in 2006. There is a revival currently occuring with "The Impossible Project"

They acquired the production rights to Polaroid film and have just announced the first release of their new films. I haven't tried any yet but I'm sure that I will. Right now I have far too many projects on the burners and the kitchen stove top is wayyyy tooo fulll.

So back to scanning four prints at a time.

God light and love to all,


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ain't No City Pigeon

Ever have one of those mornings where you just don't want to get up? This morning was like that. I was all snuggled up with Lenore and it was nice and cozy. But I knew if I wanted to get any Bandtail images I needed to get my carcass out of bed. So there I was all bundled up in a warm jacket and the fuzzy hat my Mom hates sitting in my blind at seven thirty this morning waiting for the Pigeons to come down.

I had to get out in the blind early for two reasons. First off the lighting is softer and nicer earlier in the morning and the second reason is that where I live Bandtail Pigeons are one of the more wary birds I photograph. They take off if they even see you in the window of the house. They are hunted in this area so they ain't no city pigeons.If they see you go into the blind they won't come near the blind for well over two hours. Unlike ravens which won't come down until they see you leave!

In any case it was the usual procession of birds. First came the Juncos. They were followed by the neighborhood thugs the beautiful Stellar's Jays. A cute Grey squirrel then arrived and I asked him to leave with a shake of the blind .Finally the
Bandtail Bullies sent a disposable scout down to see if everything was all clear and safe. I never photograph the first bird. Once the upper echelons have seen it is safe to eat let the games begin. They just started coming down.

Yesterday I moved the feeder a few feet and I added a vertical stick for the birds to land on. So that is where I photographed my BOAS for today. (Bird ON A Stick). It was a great shoot and I was done by nine thirty. Below is some technical stuff that I don't normally include but today I will

For the equipment a phobes I was shooting with a Canon 50D and a Canon 100-400 on a Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod with a Heavy Duty 3055 ballhead.

Exposure wise I was shooing in Manual exposure due to the dark background and the exposure was at ISO 400 F.6 at 1/800th sec.

To see more about bandtails visit:

God's blessings to all,


Friday, March 26, 2010

Oh Deer! and the Bullies are Back

I had a very busy and productive morning. I started shooting images almost right after I got up this morning. First thing on the list was to warm up the car as it was really cold and frosty last night. Winter isn't going to completely disappear without going down without a fight. When I opened the car door I could see all these beautiful crystaline frost patterns all over the car. So I ran back inside,grabbed a macro lens and a tripod and just had fun finding interesting patterns all over the car.

My next job was playing taxi to take Annika to school. Did you know it takes an hour and twenty minutes to get ready in the morning when only an hour has been allotted to the task. You do the math and tell me if we were late in getting her to school on time. I truly love my daughter but it's a bit difficult to get her moving in the morning. On the return trip I passed a group of deer browsing on the side of the road. I have been wanting to get some behavioral images of deer feeding so it was now or never.

First though I had to tun the car around and get off that pesky macro lens from earlier in the day and put on a telephoto. Luckily the deer stayed put and I shot a series of them stripping the leaves off of the brush on the side of the road. That task complete I headed home to write a letter to our local board of county supervisors. They are planning as a cost saving measure to close our local library. As you can probably guess I'm one of the many local citizens against such a action. Just because we live in a rural area of the county it doesn't mean we can be bullied around.

Speaking of bullies after that I tried my hand at shooting some images of Bandtail Pigeons at my bird feeder again. Sitting in a blind watching the feeder is always an interesting experience. Whomever is bigger gets to use it. There is a progression that starts with the Juncos. They timidly approach it and then come in good numbers until the Stellars Jays come. The juncos are then pushed to the outskirts as the Jays come in groups of four and five and take over the feeder. They are like little gangs of thugs. After a long wait usually one lone Bandtail will swoop down, flutter a bit and then land with a thud on the feeder. The Jays will scatter and the Bandtail will warily begin feeding. After a few moments if nothing happens to the guinea pig pigeon the Bandtails come thundering down. They push and shove,screech and squabble. Sometimes they even land on top of one another. They somehow manage to squeeze ten or more pigeons onto one small platform feeder.

All at once in an explosion of noise that almost always gets my dogs to barking they all burst up into the air into the trees. I'm never quite sure what sets them off. Is it a passing hawk? A noise? I never usually know. Todays images of them aren't yet what I'm looking for. I need to move the perch for a better angle. I'll keep working on it.

God's light and love to all,


Thursday, March 25, 2010


Today was a tough day. Lenore and I dropped off Jay and Annika at their respective schools and then sped off to visit our tax man on our yearly visit. I love Dave our tax guy. He is just naturally friendly and easy to get along with. Today was the very first time we have ever done our taxes with him when we actually had all the paperwork we needed. Our success was short lived as in the end it was . "I owe, I owe so off to work I go!" Not terribly much but I could use a new lens or two. Dave suggested withholding a bit more each month to alleviate the yearly shock process.

Our tax appointment completed we drove down to the bay area to visit our friend Bonnie who is struggling in her fight with cancer. We have both known her for a long, long time. Lenore and I talked with her husband Nick and Lenore sat and talked with her at her bedside. We spent the afternoon there helping out where we could. We got to see their two wonderful kids come home and we talked with them for a short time before we headed homeward.

We stopped at a warehouse food place on the way home and bought more than we should have. When we arrived at home I sat down at the computer and processed one of the few images I created today. My favorite was from our friends backyard. It was a quick,fallback image of the light coming over the top of the fence shining through a pink tulip. It was one of the tulips that Bonnie had planted last year before she was bedridden. I really think it is an image she and her family would enjoy.

Bonnie's Tulip

Please include Bonnie and her family in your prayers.

Sincerely and God bless,


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fail or Pictures are Where You Find Them

Today started out bad. It was just one of those days. First off my dog didn't die. Although I really wanted him too. My dog Luke has lymphoma and is in the final stages of it where he has a really hard time breathing. The past two days he hasn't been able to get up on his own without help. So the poor guy just lies there and stares with a glazed look on his face. So as much as I love him I really have wanted him to just peacefully pass away in his sleep. I love him a lot and I hate to see him struggling and in such pain. God never promised life would be easy. He said we would have trials. I guess this is just one of them.

The morning didn't get any better photography wise either. I planned on shooting some bird images over my new feeder to test it out. The birds didn't come and when one finally did I wasn't ready. By then the light was too harsh so I packed it up and went to my fallback plan which was to work some more on Lenore's and mine speech project. Today it is fruit as a category so I started with oranges and that worked out really well. So now it is onto apples and bananas etc. I don't think I'll get much further until some of the other fruits get in season and are quite a bit cheaper. The berries yesterday were probably over budget though I will say they tasted pretty darn good.

When I was dropping off one of Annika's friends the other day their cat came to investigate the goings on when we pulled up. The cat looked really cool peering from behind the wooden door frame. I really liked his inquisitive look. He was the neighborhood tough ready to protect his turf.

Images are sometimes where you find them. You always have to be ready to catch them not asleep at the switch when the birds arrive.

God's blessings to all,


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh Berry, How I Luv Yuh!

Today I feel all beat up and I know tomorrow I'm gonna hurt. I finally gave into Lenore's pesterings and my own bodies complaints and went back to working out at the gym. I have been doing hiking and walking but it's not enough. As they say the scale doesn't lie. So in any case the trainer Angie beat me up. She did say to my own delight that I did better than she had expected. (she probably tells that to everybody)

So today when I got home I took an extra long shower and then got down to work. My son Jay is skeptical as to whether or not it really is work. Today I was working on a long term joint project Lenore and I have going. Lenore is a Speech Pathologist and in her field they use a lot of images for helping, learning and eliciting speech sounds. So today I was focused on creating images with the "B" sound. In this case bbbbberries.

I laid out my fake wood table made from old pallets and then searched the cabinets for a cute small basket. Naturally I couldn't find one. Then I looked right on the table where I was working and it was right there in front of me. DUH! So I crumpled up some paper into the basket to fill it. After which I artfully or so I hope placed berries over the top to cover the paper.

Next I taped together an "A" frame of white foamcore and put it over the berries to make a quick and easy light diffuser. The last and final step was to place two Studio Lights outside of the "A" frame to light it all up. One light was at right angles to the side of the berries to give them definition and the other light was up above and to the front at a forty five degree angle to light everything up.

I shot about twenty five frames until I got one that I really liked. Now it is time to stop for a late lunch. I get to munch some raspberries before I move onto the strawberries and then the blueberries.

God's light and love to all,


Monday, March 22, 2010

Patience is a Virtue or Spring is Here

I just finished a lunch of leftover asparagus stir fry and my nose is running and my eyes were watering. Isn't it funny how all the spices like chunks of chiles,garlic and ginger get left behind when people are serving themselves from the frying pan. All those spicy things get left behind to seriously spice up the one serving of leftovers put into the fridge. My that was hot!

Well I spent the morning photographing Red Winged Blackbirds at a local lake. A friend of Lenore's has her own private lake. OK well it's not all hers as she does have to share it with the other property owners. In any case she gave me permission to go out and take pictures. So this morning I loaded up the kayak and headed out onto the water. Naturally her two dogs seemed to want to come too as I had to push one of them off of me and out of the kayak as I started to back out onto the water!

Well spring has definitely sprung as the blackbirds were finding high spots around the lake and calling out to establish their nesting territories. The problem was that in most cases this was in the tall willows bordering the lake and not in the cattails and bullrushes along the edges. So I meandered down the lake looking for potential subjects. Finally I found two blackbirds that were fairly close together on top of some cattails in a corner of the lake. But when I set up to shoot some images of them they took off and flew to the other end of the lake. No luck there.

I then proceeded to explore the inlet to the lake taking numerous dead end paths up into the tules. On the way back down the lake I noticed the black birds returning. This time I slowly paddled back into the area where I had seen them land and I parked the kayak right up into an opening in the tules. I just sat and waited for about twenty minutes.

My patience was rewarded because two of the blackbirds climbed up onto the top of the cattails and began calling. I slowly backed up to where I was clear and began shooting trying to capture one of the birds calling with its wing patches out on display. In the end I took over a hundred exposures. So my job right now is to whittle them down and keep only the best ones and trash the rest so as to not overwhelm the limited storage space on my hard drive.

God's light and love to all,


Saturday, March 20, 2010

No Photography Day or A Look behind the Scenes

I spent the day doing ordinary family things like cooking pancakes and cleaning the kitchen. My son didn't like my pancakes but one of his best friends ate four of them. What's the deal with that? So not much happened photography wise between household duties today.

Right now it is heading into spring and as such I like to photograph song birds when they are the most beautiful and are in their breeding colors. My big problem is that where I live on a ridgetop song birds rarely make an appearance. They travel through the riparian rich habitats in the valley below. So I need to find a spot down there to photograph the little birdies. Currently I'm working on two spots. One I have used in the past and it is in some local parkland where I have a secluded spot to set up a feeder and the other is on a ranch where a friend of mine is a caretaker. I talked to my friend this morning and he is going to talk to the ranch owner to see if she will let me take photos there.

Whichever way it goes I will need a feeder that is portable and can be set up and left without me worrying about its value. So a few minutes ago I made a small platform feeder out of an old wooden TV tray that was headed for the trash. I just screwed some 1"x2" pieces of wood to the top of the tray. Then I added a small upright piece of 1"x2" that has a bunch of holes drilled into it so that I can stick a small branch into it for birds to perch on before they drop down onto the feeder to eat.

Once I figure out where I'm going to be photographing I will set up the feeder and leave it for a few days before I photograph there. Later I will bring my portable photography blind out and set it up nearby. The next step will be to plop a seat inside and wait to make some beautiful bird images.

God's blessings to all,


Friday, March 19, 2010

Turtle Heaven or How to Catch a Turtle

I went fishing with a couple of my buddies today to Clearlake. As usual I took my camera along which was a pretty bold thing to do. Actually I wasn't using much common sense but, I feel naked without my camera. The reason I wasn't being sensible was the fact that I was finally trying out my new kayak. Actually I bought it for taking pictures and going fishing. It is just that it is probably a good idea to get used to a small watercraft and learn its limitations before taking a camera onboard.

Luckily for me there were no mishaps and the kayak proved to be quite stable once I got used to it. I ended up shooting more pictures of my friends than I did fishing which as you can probably guess isn't that uncommon for me. For the fisher people among you I hooked and lost one fish. My friends Joe and Steve caught five and three apiece.

Eventually the lighting started to go and I headed back to the boat ramp. Along the way I spotted an Osprey and a few Yellow Headed Blackbirds. Log that into the photo brain for the future. Near the ramp was a slough that I wanted to check out. When I turned the corner into the slough I couldn't believe my eyes. There were more turtles on one snag than I have ever seen in my entire life. There was somewhere close to twenty Western Pond Turtlesall sunning themselves in a row upon it. Wow! Turtle Heaven.

I let the speed of the kayak and a slight breeze behind me carry into the slough towards the snag. I kept the camera to my face and barely moved shooting images as I went. Finally when I got fairly close I took the camera down. The turles all started diving off of the log immediately. That is all except one. He seemed to be thinking."You don't scare me one bit.

I floated closer until we were at eye level and I was only about three feet away and my camera wouldn't focus anymore. I looked at him/she and (s)he looked back at me. Suddenly an idea popped into my head. I once heard that you can catch turtles with a canoe. Well if with a canoe why not a kayak?

I slowly took the paddle and maneuvered the bow of the kayak under the snag. When I put my paddle down the turtle dove off of the log into the front of the kayak! (It has an open bow) I scooped the poor thing up with my landing net. It immediately drew back in its shell when I picked it up. We talked for a bit and I apologized for scaring the begeezus out of it. I then put it back in the water and it dove deep far away from my kayak. It probably has some stories to tell of its own to its buddies.

The California Department of Fish and Game considers the Western Pond Turtle to be a species of special concern.

God's light and love to all,


Thursday, March 18, 2010

All Over the Map or Serendipity

Today it was foggy as I dropped off Annika at school which was fine with me. Why? Because I envisioned creating some moody, foggy stock images and I knew the area right where I wanted to do them. Driving down off of the ridge top I was munching on a banana. I threw the peel up on the dash to throw away later. Then it hit me. I could do a shot of the banana beside the road with traffic going by. A perfectly boring but useful stock shot.

So after dropping off Annika I did it. No doubt I will get a lot of questions asked of me about my sanity over the next few weeks from locals that know me. My close friends won't ask those questions as they already know I'm a little nuts. They will just make a simple statement such as."I saw you shooting some pictures up past the high school the other morning." The final image works pretty well as I shot it a ground level right on the pavement. I stopped way day to F32 and the traffic just shows as a background blur behind the banana. The message of the image is clear.It yells out, "Garbage".

Next I headed up to the end of the Little Lake Valley and took some images of moody oak tree shots with the double yellow centerline leading into the image. They looked pretty cool too. I just kept traveling around the valley until I was passing a friend of Lenore's house like I have done a hundred times over the years. Boom there it was. A beautiful yellow ribbon tied around an old oak tree. I almost went by but it drew me back as if to say, "This is what you came to photograph this morning."

At first I took some images of just the ribbon on the tree. Then I noticed the coloring of the house behind it. Which in turn made me realize the door to home was there too. All the symbols told the story of how they have a son in the military and they want him to come home safe. Serendipity happens.

Now I need to burn some CDs to send off to a hunting and fishing magazine. After that I need to make a print for my wife's friend Sue.

Sincerely and God bless,


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Getting There

Sometimes images evolve. Which in simplest term means it needs more work. Sometimes the work can happen over the course of a few minutes or it can mean years. I think this image is one that involves years. It's not yet what I'm envisioning in my mind. For some time now I have this idea of castles floating in the sky which is what Redwood Trees rising out of the fog often remind me of. It's an image that I really want to capture.

This morning on my way to the school to drop off Annika. (Wow, Does this sound familiar?) I noticed the Redwoods sticking out of the fog as I came down off of the ridge. With not really enough time to stop and take any frames I was forced to move on or face the wrath of my daughter by making her late for school. So I promised myself I would take some images of it on the way home.

I stopped on the way back and drove up and down looking for a spot where I could pull safely off of the road and not be mown down from behind as I was composing my picture. I found out pretty quickly that there were few locations where I could shoot from that there weren't poles or wires the bane of all landscape photographers. So I opted to shoot with my telephoto. It's all I had with me anyway!

The resulting image is getting there. I think it needs more grandeur and space. I need to shoot it from higher up and with a wide angle len so that I can include more. This might be years in the making. I'm getting there.

Sincerely and God bless,


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Camera At the Ready

Going to the dogs again. Pets are always fun to photograph even if the market for them is flooded. So why shoot images of them? I would say that because it's fun and it helps create our own fond memories of them even if we don't end up using the image in a calendar or some other product.

This morning I was on the run trying to get my daughter Annika off to school. I almost always have a camera in hand or one nearby. It is amazing how many great wildlife opportunities I have had over the years just dropping my kid off at school. This morning as I'm headed for the door I look back at Badger. He is waiting on the step to see if he is going to get to go in the car too.

My photo brain immediately kicks in and sees a perfect lighting situation. Badger is sitting in soft morning light with the dark shadows of the dining room behind him. I tell him to stay and I'm surprised that he does. I grab the camera off of the counter and shoot off about ten images. Voila! A pretty cool picture of Badger appears on the back of the camera as I chimp it. OOOOO!

God's light and love to all,


Breakout: Piedras Blancas Trip Report

Everyone needs a road trip once in awhile even if it is a short one. I made the long trek down to Piedras Blancas in Central California over the past few days. Piedras Blancas is about six miles north of San Simeon and the Hearst Castle on California Highway 1. The trip south from the Monterrey Carmel area takes about two and a half hours of windy driving on a narrow highway with steep drop offs and cliffs to the ocean below. Not for passengers or drivers that get car sick or are afraid of heights.The road hugs the cliffs in a number of spots and has a few one way spots where you sit and wait while the car coming from the other way goes through and then it's your turn to go.

So if you want to do some landscape photography on the Big Sur Coast this would be the area to do it. On the way down I stopped off at one of the overlooks in Big Sur and saw no less than twenty Gray whales all less than a mile off of shore. With a few right below the cliff. There was a gentleman there photographing them from a photo club in Monterrey and he said it had been that way all morning long! But Gray Whales weren't the purpose of my trip. I was coming all this way to photograph Northern Elephant seals and I wasn't disappointed.

When I arrived at the beach area there was plenty of parking in a gravel lot. There were informative signs and walkways to view the seals from. There were seals lying all over the beach with the bulls scattered among them. The walkways made it difficult to photograph from as they were at an elevation roughly fifteen feet up on the bluff. I would say that due to the bluffs that this is best for a mid morning shoot or a late afternoon shoot like I ended up doing. A 100-400 zoom was useful for most situations as was fill flash. Also look out for opportunities to photograph Cottontail Rabbits and California Ground Squirrels as they too are in abundance.

Late in the evening I discovered a beach further up the road where there were few seals but the access was better as you could shoot almost at ground level.You couldn't get too close as they are a protected species and you could be fined for harassment under federal law.

If you want to photograph the elephant seals be sure to check out the website for the Friends of the Elephant Seal at

I had a great trip down and on the way home the following day I stopped off at the Moss Landing harbor to photograph Sea Otters and the Sea Lions both of which are fairly easy to photograph off of Jetty Road which goes around the harbor right off of Highway 1. The turn off for the road is about 1/4 mile north of the harbor. Oh and the pier next to the restaurant is often covered with Sea Lions.

After leaving Moss Landing I headed north to Santa Cruz to Natural Bridges State Beach. I was hoping to catch some over wintering monarch butterflies that spend the winter in the eucalyptus trees there. I stated that I was hoping as most of the butterflies start leaving the park starting in December but usually there are some holdovers. The ranger at the gate stated that there were very few left but I might try down at Lighthouse Field. He said there were a few hundred left in the Grove across from the surfers.

Well I never did find the butterflies. As it turns out Lighthouse Field is also known as Steamer's Lane is one of the top surfing spots on the west coast of the US for surfers learning to surf big waves. What would you do? Butetrflies or shoot images of surfers on waves that were almost the size small houses.

I got a few decent images of Daryl "The Flea" Virostko of Mavericks big wave surfing fame. Then around 10:30 it started raining cats and dogs. So I pulled up the tripod and made the long trek homeward.

God's light and love to all,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Lone Sentinel

I spent the morning with my dog Badger driving around on the snow covered backroads looking for interesting trees. Don't dogs make good traveling companions? They just sit there looking around quietly. Then they curl up in a ball and go to sleep.

My adventure started in the valley below where I live but I quickly realized I would have to get to a higher elevation as almost all the snow and frost had melted there. I immediately thought of one of my favorite drives out through the Sherwwod Valley and then back to the main highway on a narrow one lane gravel road. Perfect for my little beat up old throw away 4WD.

The Sherwood Valley used to be home to the Pomo Indians (Native Americans) and later it was home to a the small town of Sherwood complete with two lumber mills and a railroad and all. Not a single building remains of the original town. There is not a sign of it remaining. Outside of the townsite there is a very unusual house that was built about the same time though. It is a tall three story house built in an octagon shape. As such locals call it the "Octagon House".

As my fortune would have it the snow was melting before I found too many trees that I considered photo worthy. I was lucky to see a Golden Eagle on top of Sherwood Rock though when I entered the valley. The eagle stayed there the whole time I was in the valley. Log that one into the potential possible future photos memory bank.

Finally on one of the down grades heading down towards 101 I saw a tree perched all by its lonesome near the top of a ridge. I liked it because you could see broken limbs around it and see that it had weathered a lot to survive where it did. The sky still held a blue color behind it. I liked how the image turned out. It embodies that tough lone tree; the sentinel guarding the ridge.

God's light and love to all,


No Photography Day

Yesterday I didn't create any images in camera but I did create some on the computer. It was a computer catch up day in processing some images that needed some work. If you are like me that often times means spending quite a few hours at it as I mostly shoot in RAW + JPEG. The only time I shoot in just JPEG is when I'm going to shoot in volume and give most of the shots away. A good example of this is when I shoot images for Vacation Bible school at church. I will shoot several hundred images that I'm going to give away. I think the processing time would kill me in that case.

Yesterday I rescued one image of a Stellar's Jay that I really like. When I was creating the image I chopped the poor little guys tail tip off . (He screeched a little bit and then settled down) but I really liked the rest of the image. So I extended the canvas on one edge and duplicated a tiny section of tai,l flipped it and then added it onto the Jay. Then I did some cloning around it to blend it in. Now that I have told you what I did I'm sure the very alert observer will be able to pick it out. Otherwise I don't feel that it would be noticeable. Take a look and see if you agree with that or not.

OK. OK so it was a photography day. Just not using the camera.

Sincerely and God bless everyone,


Monday, March 8, 2010

Snow Falling on Redwoods

Today was just one of those days. I try to be optimistic but it doesn't always work or connect with what I'm doing. Today I started off doing some stock shots of soap. I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted to create and I had an idea of how I wanted to accomplish that. I could picture the foamy suds. Just a little bit mind you and some water drops clinging to a shiny marble surface. That is about as far as the vision got. My fake marble piece cracked in half when I was removing the adhesive from the back. All right next time I'll use a hefty chunk of real marble. Upward and onward to plan "B". Just shoot it on another surface! I got it all set up and I wasn't satisfied with the look. You know the look? The vision I had in my head. Right about then it started snowing to beat the band outside.

When it started snowing I pretty much lost the desire to photograph soap and I wanted to create images of birds in the snow.I keep well stocked feeders and bird photography set ups in both the front and back yards. I decided to work on the one in the back yard as I can shoot from my old office window. The advantage of this is that I don't have to go outside and get cold. i just block off the window and shoot from behind some camouflage material.

I only got one keeper after shooting about thirty or so frames. The birds were really skittish and they didn't want to feed when it was snowing hard. It was mostly small hail and it probably hurt the tops of their little heads. I finally packed it all up. Around about then I noticed it was really started to come down again. My thoughts quickly turned to the Redwood Grove behind my house. Yes, I did say Redwood Grove. It is pretty cool to have one in your own backyard. I ran upstairs and grabbed one of my studio flashes.

I set the head to full power and then took a couple up shots of the grove. I was only guessing on the exposure so I immediately could see that I needed to stop down a couple of stops. The end result is pretty cool. " Snow Falling on Redwods". Even thought the beginning of my day didn't flow very well the end was quite satisfying.

Sincerely and God's blessing to all,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Portrait of Dreary

I spent the day by first going to church and then Lenore and I decided to go to the big city of Ukiah for some shopping. The day was full of beautiful sunshine and the temps were floating around 65 degrees. It was easy to see that winter and spring are fighting it out and on this particular day spring is winning.

Heading home we could see that our ridge top was shrouded in fog. The further we climbed toward home the colder it got. By the time we pulled into the driveway it was about 50 degrees. The wind and fog were blowing in and it was downright cold. I thought briefly of photography as entered the front door but that brief thought was quickly washed away by thoughts of food.

After a late lunch I went upstairs to use the facilities (you know the bathroom) as I looked out the window it hit me. Here was the very picture of dreary I have been trying to get an image of. I quickly grabbed my tripod and used an F stop of F29 so I would have enough depth of field to have the drops of water on the window as well as the trees in the background.

I think that I have an excellent portrayal of dreary. I hope that you agree.

God's blessings to all,


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Inspiration From Others

Recently Lenore and I were on a date together on the Mendocino Coast for the day. We went out to "Wave Watch" as there were massive twenty foot swells hitting the bluffs and beaches. We spent the whole morning exploring up and down the coast looking for great spots to see the waves. It was awe inspiring to see God and his handiwork.

On our return back through Ft. Bragg we stopped and toured some of the many wonderful and beautiful art galleries that line this part of the coast. In one photography gallery my wife saw some florals that were photographed and printed on black canvas. She said."If you could do that for me I would have it printed and hung up on our walls." Needless to say that night unbeknownst to her I did just that for her while she slept. It's nice to treat your wife with a present once in awhile just because.
I set up a simple black background of tagboard and then lit it up with one studio light going just across the top of the flowers. The results were beautiful.

This afternoon I started thinking about those flowers again and I thought to myself. Hmmnn... what about making a triptych of the same flower but using a different back grounds. The thing of it was though is that I didn't want to drag out and set up the studio lights. So I tried a different approach and used natural light coming from the window. For my back drops I grabbed three sheets of tagboard. One red, one blue and a black one. I set up the ground pod on the table top and set a yellow flower in a vase between the camera and the back drop hung from the back of a chair. Once I got the camera situated and focused I left it in place while I shot the images by just changing the tagboard colors and leaving the camera and flower in the same position.

Once I was done I processed the raw images onto the same canvas in CS4. I was very pleased with the result. It felt better to branch out and create something that was my own rather than a likeness of someone else's work.

Sincerely and God's blessings to all,


The Easy Way Out (Or Would You Eat This Mushroom?)

I 'll admit it. This morning in creating this image I took the easy way out. It still involved some work and experience to create this image but I chose the easy way out to do it. I took it right next to my car(my back was against the bottom of the car) in my front driveway less than five minutes after I rolled out of bed.

The beginnings of this image are simple. I always keep my eye out for potential images. In coming home yesterday I spotted a mushroom growing right next to where I park my car. So I logged it into my memory banks . If it's an image that might be taken or shot in the future like a tree that needs to be shot in fall colors I'll write it down in my notebook for the future. If you use a day runner or planner that's even better as you can write it in around the future date in the fall when this image should be taken.

I liked this mushroom because it wasn't the pretty delicate or colorful mushrooms that I often like to photograph. It was covered with dirt from pushing up out of the soil and it was getting past its prime. It was certainly not the kind of mushroom that I probably would want to eat and that is what I wanted this image to be about.

So this morning just as the sun was just starting to come up I grabbed a macro lens, my trust ground pod, an led flashlight and an electronic cable/shutter release. I found my gnarly looking mushroom and laid down on the ground next to it. I set the camera to Aperature Priority and dialed in an aperature of F22.0 for maximum depth of field. I removed all the little leaves that would be hot spots around it . After I clicked the shutter I had plenty of time during the 2 second exposure to light up the underside of the mushroom with my flashlight to make the gills and stem stand out.

The final image was dark, gritty and gnarly looking just as I had envisioned. I wouldn't want to eat it that's for sure.

Sincerely and God bless you,


Friday, March 5, 2010

Presidential Material

This image was shot for a really good friend of mine David Meyer. It was taken not long after David was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. David was asked by the eighth grade class to speak at their graduation ceremony as he was a tough,well liked teacher before he was forced to retire by his illness.

When David first started his speech I moved through the crowd looking for what I felt was the iconic image. I took pictures of interested students and parents in the crowd. I shot numerous close ups of David. Finally I found what I was looking for when I noticed an American flag close to him. I moved into a position that put the flag behind David and shot several frames. I had my image.

David served as an Air force Chaplain and he is very proud of being an American. The flag behind him really seemed to fit who David is and what he stands for. Currently David is fighting his cancer and is going on his second year. When I talked to him a couple of days ago he stated that God will take care of him whether he lives or dies.Even though he is often times afraid he said he still has that faith. He feels assured that God has stated that he will heal him for his purpose.

I'm really happy with how the image came out and David and his wife were too.

Sincerely and God bless,


Skeet Shoot

Sorry for the misleading title. It does come around to it though just wait and see. The image is a profusion of some wild daisies that are scattered beautifully over a field.In fact it was their very profusion that caught my eye. I was driving home from picking up my dog Luke's medicine at the vet when I remembered that I wanted to pick some pyracantha berries for a bird image that I need to shoot for a bird photography book. So I was checking the roadsides for red berries. In any case these wonderful daisies caught my eye as I passed the field they were in.

I parked my car and walked out to where they were the thickest. I shot at a very low angle to emphasize their profusion as they were almost a carpet . In fact I placed the camera body on the ground to get the perspective that I was looking for. I also stopped way down to F22.0 to get a lot of depth of field. I later cropped it to a pano to remove the buildings and trees that were in the background as I wanted just the flowers.

Now about the skeet shooting part. Many years back this field of wildflowers was quite extensive and covered many, many acres. At that time it was the local skeet shooting range and was protected from development due to its usage. Times change and the city purchased the property for use as soccer fields. The topsoil was removed to get rid of the potential lead poisoning hazard from the lead pellets used for skeet shooting. I thought this would be the end of the wild flowers but for some reason they managed to regain coverage of the fields back after a few seasons. Finally though the city put in the soccer fields and there is just this little patch of daisies at one end of the fields. I do see scattered daisies starting to make there way into the fields though. It is also cute to see young girls on the sidelines wearing daisy crowns that some of them have weaved into their hair. In any case I wanted to try and recapture that feeling of fields of daisies.

Sincerely and God bless,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who Has Got the Button?

Today was one of those days where you feel creative but you just can't seem to find an image that matches your creative juices. I tried to get some moody freeway images that would be good stock images for winter driving but the weather just didn't seem nasty enough. It was only foggy.

The day just kind of slipped away until here at the eleventh hour I hit upon something that got my juices flowing. I wanted to create a simple still life. I looked around the kitchen. Hmmmn... been there and done; that's no good. Looked in the spare bedroom. Wow! Sure is a lot of stuff in there we need to clean up. Oh, what's that behind the door? Grandma's old sewing box. This big stand up folding contraption with thread spools ,needles etc. Nooo. Oh, but there is that huge jar of all the cool old buttons she saved up over the years. Now where is it? Uh, I remember now it's in the linen closet. Bingo!

I put them out on the table in incandescent light. Changed my white balance to tungsten. I then laid out the buttons on a piece of white tagboard in a pleasing pattern. I filled in the gaps with buttons as I went. First I tried a few images with a telephoto on an angle from the side. It looked too jumbled and uninteresting. I switched to a short 28 to 105 zoom. Starting to look a little better. Next step was moving the tagboard to a chair seat and the shooting straight down on the buttons. Now that looked really good; more of what I was looking for.

I could see a few gaps and glares on and between the buttons. Filling in with smaller darker buttons solved the problem. Finally on the last shot I got what I was looking for. A perfect shot for a sewing magazine,antique store ad or wallpaper for a website.

Sincerely and God bless,


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On the Run

This morning I was on the run doing my usual drop off of my daughter at school, grocery shopping, getting some gas for the car, etc. when it suddenly hit me the lighting was just perfect for a portrait of Badger. There I was at the pump looking over the roof of my car at the light blue sky and the soft white clouds. Wow, that would make a great backgound for a portrait of Badger. As you may have guessed it Badger is my dog.

Well I was tempted to take Badger and throw him on top of the car right then and there and shoot the portrait but a stronger head prevailed and I drove a few blocks to a nearby park instead. Well would you believe that Badger wanted nothing to do with being on top of my car. Not even moving mind you! He jumped off of the roof and lay at my feet on his back begging me to pet him and assure him everything was all right between us. So being the sensitive guy that I am I petted him profusely and put him back up onto the top of the car. It was then that he realized neither the car nor I were out to get him and he settled down. A few dozen pets and hugs didn't hurt.

I took a few shot horizontal images before I realized that I really like the vertical portrait format better. I made squeaking noises to keep Badgers attention whilst I clicked away from a low angle. While shooting I realized that Badgers impeccable hairdo had gotten a bit mussed while he was groveling around on his back in front of me. I did my best to flatten out his hair a bit. Then I noticed that he would probably look better with his collar off. A bit more flattening and fluffing of his fur made him look a little better.

In the end I was fairly pleased with how our little impromptu shoot worked out. I like the low angle and the soft background. It just goes to show that you don't always have to have a lot of fancy equipment to create a photograph that is of some worth to the viewer. Now I just need to email a copy of the image to the Humane Society from where I adopted Badger.

Sincerely and God bless,