Category Archives: Uncategorized



When unique events occur we need to be ready. This past week I made a point of getting out to shoot given the extensive flooding in the area. This presented an opportunity to create images that aren’t available every day. I set out to create an image I missed last time it flooded. The water was not the same as before so the image I had in mind was not there. Driving around the area, I did end up finding some opportunistic images as the sun rose and lit up the mist and fog.

In the lead image, corn stalks sticking up out of the water in a flooded field add interest to this image of the sun rising above the early morning fog. In the image below, oak trees in the water surrounded by golden grasses presented another unique scene you can’t capture everyday.


Is there a unique environmental condition taking place where you live? Record snow, floods, drought or fog? While these may not be good things, they do present the opportunity to capture images that may not be available for years to come. Images taken at times like these can set yours apart.



Allowing yourself to fail is one of the keys to creativity. Trying new things, experimenting and not caring if you will be successful. If you are working with a new camera, try all the modes, push the edges of the settings, see what it can do. For post processing software move the sliders all around from end to end, explore the menus, try the different presets and see what you like. As a friend of mine likes to say “Nobody gets hurt.”.

Recently I was reading an interview with a commercial photographer. He believed that being willing to experiment was his edge in getting assignments. He indicated that most commercial photographers are afraid to take risks and play it safe. The art directors that picked him wanted something different – they knew he would push the envelop.

Right now I am trying a new technique (new to me) I learned from Harold Davis’s book, Photographing Flowers. This technique involves the manual blending of HDR image sets as applied to flowers that are backlit by a lightbox. I am finding it challenging to recreate his exact “look” (it is okay to start with imitation and let it evolve to your own style in time). I am also combing these images with texture overlays. The blog image is one of my first attempts. I am not totally happy with it yet, but thought I would share it with you.

I will go over this technique in a more detailed fashion in a future blog.

New Year – New Combined Blog/Website


As you can see I have unified my blog and website. Hopefully you will find the new site easier to navigate. If you hit problems or have other feedback, let me know. I have decided to go with a lighter, minimalistic look built around the WordPress CMS using a Photocrati theme.

Here are a couple things to note on the website.

  1. There is a new resource tab where I will be listing websites of interest, my videos, and other useful resources for aspiring photographers.
  2. In the lower right hand corner I will be listing new changes to the website – gallery updates, new videos, etc.
  3. In the lower left hand corner is a list of the most recent blog entries.
  4. In the lower center will be a list of coming events: articles, lectures, shows, etc.
  5. If you want to purchase prints go to the purchase tab. Images or galleries have been (and will be) set up for purchase via PayPal there.
  6. There is a new “Category” list on the blog page where I will categorize new and older posts as another way to find blog entries of interest.

Keep visiting in the coming weeks as I will continue to make refinements and add new content to my website. For those of you reading my blog via a reader, RSS feed, etc. let me know if you would like some service set up or are having problems. I am looking into ways to automatically migrate some of you.

Blog Image: One of the advantages of this new blog is my ability to better present wide format images like the one above of the David Hill Vineyard.

Coming Soon


As you may have noticed I have been away from the blog longer than usual. There are several reasons for this: the busyness of the holidays, a death in the family and work on a new combined blog/website.

The blog image was captured with an iPhone. While driving to a car shop, my wife and I accidently stumbled across a small area where there was a local “hoar” frost. It was absolutely stunning. A mile or two in either direction there as nothing. I didn’t have my main camera gear (shame on me) so I got out the iPhone and grabbed a couple of images. I added a bit of a white vignette to give it that out the window look . In addition I converted it to a selenium toned image (to add the cold blue hue).

Fall Color and Textures


It is hard to believe that fall has come and almost gone. This past year has gone so quickly. I not only love the bright colors of fall, but all the various shades of brown the grasses and plant take on. As always, I try different techniques on any good subject I find. This row of maple trees in an abandoned business park is one example. The opening blog image was created from a swipe (1/4 sec) that then had two texture overlay layers added. Both textures are Flypaper textures. Shown below is the swipe without the added texture layers.


The third image is the scene shot straight at f22 for maximum depth of field.


The final image is a landscape format capture of the scene that brings in more of the green in the distance trees. Shooting both landscape and portrait orientations of a subject is always a good idea; that gives you more options for possible publication or stock image use. I find I like each of these images for different reasons. Which do you like best?


Also posted in Texture Overlay

First Articles Published


Excuse my shameful self promotion here, but it is exciting to get your first article(s) published in a national publication. In this case Shutterbug’s Special “Expert Photo Techniques”  (the cover is shown in the last blog image). The first two images are iPhone captures of the lead pages for each of the two articles. If you have been following my blog you know that both of these articles are based on work you would have seen here first.


In case I didn’t mention it before, these two articles were written several months apart but just happened to be put in the same issue by the editor. Both of them are “how to” articles on creating some of the images shown in my exhibit earlier this year.

If you want to pick up your own copy, you can generally find this special issue wherever Shutterbug magazine is sold. Enjoy.


Fort Point in HDR – Revisited

Blog_20111003_2 This past week I was able to return to Fort Point in San Francisco. Unfortunately, due to traffic I only had a 45 minute window in which to shoot before it closed. Here are a couple of images from that visit. It was a great place to photograph the first time and was again the second. If you can go there, I highly recommend it. It is the lighting that excites me when I am there; very dramatic with wonderful arches, lines and shadows everywhere. As before, I shot HDR sets to deal with the extreme light range.

Blog_20111003_1 One thing I decided after my first visit was that this place begs for people in the images. I made use of my camera’s timer to take some images where I ran out into the frame. In the image above, that is me in the window. I shot one medium exposure frame in addition to the HDR set where I stood on the steps by the window. I then blended myself into the HDR image using Photoshop layers and a mask. It looks like I am outside the window, but I am not.


All HDR images processed with HDR Efx Pro from Niksoftware. Additional processing was done in PS5 with other Nik Filters.

Also posted in HDR Photography

More of Nature’s Spotlights


I thought I would share more images where nature created natural spotlights that highlighted key elements in the image. In creating strong images second only to composition is the quality of light. Again most of these are from my recent trip to Colorado and Utah. The image above is one of my favorites.


The image above would not be that strong without the natural spotlight on the side of the hill. It is that light that caught my attention. While the rock peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park were around me, it was this special light on the hill behind me that made it stand out. This is an example of why it is always good to be looking all around you when you are shooting; especially if the lighting is fairly dynamic.


The last rays of a sunset highlighted the tops of the rock structures captured above making them standout against the background.


As in the previous image, the last sun rays before sunset touched the top of this structure and highlighted the grass along the foreground.

HDR Saves Even a “Bad Day”


In going back over some images I captured in Yosemite a few months ago, I was once again reminded that even a “bad day” with good subject material can yield great images. When I was in Yosemite the light was flat, the valley seemed gray and the clouds were low. I never did see Half Dome. Below is what an unedited RAW image file from the HDR set looked like. Regardless I decided to shoot HDR exposure sets keeping B&W processing in mind.

Blog_20110424_1-6I just got around to processing some of the images and am quite happy with it. Others ones like that below came out quite nice as well.The power the photographer has with HDR photography and the latest image processing tools is impressive.

Yosemite NotchYou might be asking if HDR was necessary. The answer is yes and no. The light was such that I could capture images like the first one in one exposure (the one shown is an example). However, I choose HDR to get the most data I could in the shadows and highlights. This allowed me great deal of latitude in bringing out a lot of contrast and detail. 3 exposure was probably plenty, but I don’t get to Yosemite very often.

Blog Images: Both images were generated in Photomatix 4 from 5 exposure sets. They were then post processed using Nik’s SilverEfx Pro. Some additional adjustments were made in Lightroom3.0 and/or with Nik’s Viveza2.  The last image was shot with a 450mm focal length to grab the “V’ composition I saw in the distance.

Also posted in HDR Photography

My Mother’s Passing


I learned today that my mother passed away. While tears were shed they were mostly tears of joy. She has had Alzheimer’s for well over a decade and so the mother I knew has been gone for many years.  It was good to know she was finally no longer subject to that terrible disease and was now in a much better place. I am sure she is singing and humming the old hymns as she used to do around our home. I can still hear them.

Why I am writing about this here? One of my earliest memories of photography is of me photographing an Iris in my mother’s garden. She loved to garden and often had me “dig in” and help break up soil, transplant shrubs and pick the vegetables. I am sure it was here love of gardening that instilled in me a love for the natural beauty of God’s creation. She has been dearly missed.

Blog Image: Somehow this image seemed appropriate. A flower basking in a glorious diffused light. New and fresh, reborn. The image itself is a high key photograph of a Coneflower taken against a white background lit by window light and filled with a reflector.