Site updates, new print shop, newsletter and more!

You might notice some changes around here…

The past few months have been full of behind-the-scenes website work, logo updates, and administrative maintenance across my portfolio, print shop, and licensing archives. My blog design has been updated too, to improve readability and more prominently feature my photos.

Announcing my new online fine art print catalogue with custom framing and wall preview features.

Previously my print sales were through a rather clunky interface, and it was difficult to convey the advantages of the carefully chosen fine art mediums I offer. Now you can preview a selected image as a print, unframed or framed, on archival paper, canvas, metal, or acrylic. See framing options instantly and preview your design on a wall to see if all looks good, before you order. Check out my new print shop here!

Sign-up for my newsletter ‘For the Love of Light’ to receive special discounts, advance notice of limited editions and special content.

Last month I launched my newsletter, sharing an exclusive look at recent work and some new print releases. Sent out mid-month, I keep things simple and will be offering frequent discounts available only to newsletter subscribers. Sign-up for the ‘For the Love of Light’ newsletter here!

Frozen Bubbles

You know those exquisite wintertime close-up photos of ice crystals forming on bubbles as they freeze? These are not those. You are looking at the messy, interesting results of an attempt at such photos though.⁠⁠
⁠⁠
Despite being plenty cold, it has been too breezy outside for bubbles. I thought the sheltered and well-lit space of my uninsulated sunroom might be a better bet. I was able to blow lovely bubbles and drop them onto a small pile of snow, but the sunroom was, well, too sunny. It had warmed to an ambient temperature of a balmy -10C or so (compared to the -20 to -30C temps outside lately). -10C may not be not quite cold enough for dramatic crystal formations, despite what so many internet tutorials say. The bubbles did freeze, looking a bit like surreal, shattered crystal balls, and I found a few frames from this session that are interesting enough to share.⁠⁠
⁠⁠
I’ll keep trying, since this is one of those winter projects that is relatively simple and contained, and can be done while staying home…⁠⁠

For some more traditional winter photography, check out the Winter photo gallery in my Image Bank.

Holding space, looking for light

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin⁠

Fair warning, this is not a happy post, and beyond a shared mood, the text has very little to do with the image.

It has become increasingly difficult to focus on what is right in front of me. There is a deepening, bitter edge to each day, and I know the root of it is a pain which is being experienced at personal and collective levels everywhere. So many aspects of the social contract have been broken, or worse, are proving to have never existed at all.⁠

The events of January 6th were unsurprising but still a shock; after an hour or so of live coverage, I felt my mind retreat, curled into the fetal position where I sat, and fell asleep. I take pride in not looking away from even the most jarring images, but I’d hit my limit. On so many levels, it was a day of terrifying white nationalism and grotesque systemic racism on full display. And we can expect more of the same because the hatred espoused by racists is rooted in fear and pain, which they will continue to avoid addressing.

Sunset sky and shadows through an old glass window, Monterey, 2017⁠


I don’t know about you, but I find myself marveling at layer upon layer of heartbreak and frustration. Are we still in the midst of a pandemic, bracing for the consequences of holiday gatherings and travel? Did my neighbours have yet another string of visitors every day this week, despite lockdown rules? Have members of my local government been taking tropical vacations while telling the rest of us to stay home, in the midst of a particularly dreary Canadian winter? Has the weather been unusually warm and dry, both here in Manitoba and back in California, indicating yet another record year as climate change grinds away like a foregone conclusion?

I look for the good news. The unassuming heroes and helpers, the small signs of progress. I know that there are reasons for cautious optimism, and I am doing my best to cling to hope instead of hate. Part of that process is to occasionally let the weight of everything fall out of focus and acknowledge the pain. We’re allowed to feel hurt and angry right now, so as to better regroup, refocus and move forward, because we have a long, long way to go.

Winter Light Celebration

As winter settles in, the sun is slipping lower and lower across the sky. During the winter solstice here in Winnipeg, Manitoba the sun barely clears the treetops. Such low-angled rays of light are magical, and to celebrate the season I’ve gathered some winter light photography snapshots from recent years…

I find that winter light is particularly well-suited to capturing surreal window reflections, allowing for layers of light and colour to blend with abstracted patterns. When illuminated from a low angle, snow becomes a textural wonderland of sparkling deep drifts, painted with fading light and blue shadows.

Trees and winter light

Filtering the last rays of golden hour, or catching a gilded glow in their bare branches against blue skies. Such stark winter forms are welcome whether framing sunsets or arching above city streets, as they lend shape and contrast to the winter light all day long.

Trees lend structure to the frosty winter air, and when they are illuminated just-so, they often compliment the bones of the landscape or urban environment, laid bare by the season.

Winter light and interior spaces

Casting soft, surreal shadows in unexpected places, light filtered through old glass windows is particularly irresistible to try and capture with the camera. Something as simple as an unintentional coffee cup still life might appear on a wall for a moment, painted in shadow and quick to disappear as the light shifts.

Often the swaying of winter branches will make these patches of light dance and shift, like light through moving water as seen at the bottom of a pool.

Varied views of the same cityscape

Downtown Winnipeg features a mix of older buildings and newer highrises. As their facades catch and reflect the winter light throughout the day, the mood and feel of the cityscape changes too. With the early sunset, lights in windows twinkle while the dusky sky still holds onto the last of the sunlight. The moon rises over the city with its glow softened by the icy atmosphere.

The golden glow of the winter light is especially beautiful contrasted with the blue shadows and snow of the cityscape, and I couldn’t resist the reflection of a sunlit building in the sideview mirror on a winter’s afternoon.

Windows become magical glittering surfaces…

Frosted with ice crystals or illuminated by gently shifting shadows. Layers of light are caught and transformed inside and out, and even though the daylight hours are short, there seems to be no end to the beauty that winter can conjure with a bit of moisture or shifting light on glass surfaces.

The two images at the bottom left of these wintery window scenes are actually shots of frost accumulation on the inside of an old set of windows. The two images in the bottom right are of the same perspective through fluted glass at different times of day.

Of course a winter landscape is made even more beautiful by the light…

Rippling sheets of icy clouds and endless shades of blue. Sunsets last longer, and the blushing glow of their colours is often reflected in the snow and ice. Often the sky looks like mother-of-pearl, iridescent and luminous.

I love how the winter landscape is often a study in subtley, with fence-lines and horizons blurred by blowing snow, and the sky a soft gradient veiled in lacy clouds. When the sunsets are colourful, it is always in shades made more vivid by the coolness of the surrounding scene.

Little details of domestic life are illuminated in beautiful light and shadow, turning the long winter months of staying mostly indoors into magical journeys through familiar spaces.

Something as simple as a tissue or glass of water can be transformed by the winter light. Of course the dog loves the winter sunlight too, and can often be found basking in the glow of those fleeting, low-angled rays of warmth.

All of the photos in this post are from various phone cameras. I find that winter light often inspires snapshots as it is such a fleeting and beautiful part of every day. To see new snapshots as I share them, just head over to @photoapk on Instagram and follow me there!

Looks pretty scenic to me…

Winter landscape and ironic sign, Point Lobos, California

⁠ A little unintentional humour from Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in California where crashing waves, rocky cliffs and unique forests come together beneath blue skies.⁠

I’ve neglected this blog for too long while working through a sea of editing, organization, and big personal life changes. Lately I have found that when sitting down to write, the words haven’t been the easiest to come by…good thing I speak best through images!

Portfolio | Licensing | Instagram | Facebook

Snapshots and Small Prints

It was a long, bitterly cold winter here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the instinct to hibernate meant I spent my digital darkroom hours organizing and cleaning-up catalogs and archives of photos. There has been a day or two of steady gentle rain, and while the air is still crisp (and dropping below freezing at night) there is finally a softening of the landscape as green grass and evergreens emerge from the dull brown and grey of the past six months.

My thoughts have turned to the garden – I am working with a new yard, new climate – and I am looking forward to the warm, humid summer months, however brief, because they will bring a depth of colour and light that is special to that time of year. New plants will mean a return to my personal work to abstract florals and surreal botanical images, which have long been favourite subjects.

Humidity creates condensation on a window, against which the green leaves of a tree are pressed and backlit

This image was actually captured with my phone a few years ago, back when I had a less-seasonal garden in Monterey, California. I have recently rediscovered this photograph and love the way the lush green leaves pressing against the steamy foreground window also blend into the shadowy branches beyond. The focus falls narrowly while repeating shapes echo throughout, and splashes of colour from green to yellow to a spectrum of blue invite the eye to wander around the frame. All of this behind the striking textural details of of water drops on the glass.

Every now and then I am able to capture with my phone a lovely little snapshot like this, and while it is true that the best camera is the one you have with you, these files are only suitable for small prints. Luckily, smaller prints are also an affordable, versatile interior decor option for photo art, and I have put together a collection of Small Prints images suitable for printing up to 8×12, available as giclée canvas wrap prints, mounted on modern bamboo, or as archival fine art prints ready for framing. Sometimes small images like this one can make a big impact, and these momentary intersections of light, colour and texture are beautiful to behold.

Dark and moody storm | Monterey, California

It was just another blustery, spring day on the California coast, with scattered rain showers and blank overcast skies accompanying my drive South from Santa Cruz to Monterey. With glimpses of the ocean and soft, rolling hills opening to loamy and verdant valleys, the scenery along Highway 1 can be beautiful in any weather.

After turning inland through fields of strawberries and artichokes then skimming across the Elkhorn Slough with its swath of intertidal wetlands, the highway bends back to meet the ocean as Monterey appears ahead. Approaching the stretch of sand dunes that mark the beginning of expansive, wild beaches just South of the Salinas River, I felt the brute force of a powerful wind blowing in across the Pacific ocean. Then I noticed the clouds.

Fast-moving, dark and dramatic clouds sweep across Monterey Bay

At first just a heavy smudge on the horizon, an undefined darker grey in a sky already laced with rain and mist. These clouds quickly became distinct above the white-capped Monterey Bay; fast-moving, dark and dramatic, their undersides carved into undulating ribbons of green and blue with a curtain of heavy rain following close behind. I had my camera with me that day, and immediately pulled off the highway to a small beach access and overlook.

The air felt charged with raw energy and a few other brave souls had stopped to take in the storm as it blew quickly onshore; I managed to capture only a handful of images before the heavy rains arrived.

I will never forget the exhilaration of watching the strange sky above, and the speed with which the entire system passed from sea to land was truly incredible. Glad to get whatever photos I could of this storm, I take them as proof that bad weather makes for excellent landscape photography, and the best camera is the one you have with you (though it doesn’t hurt to carry some of your better gear around from time to time). This surreal cloudscape scene is now included in my collection ‘An Ocean Above’ featuring a variety of dramatic clouds and abstract skies.

New Year’s Reflections | Transition to Momentum

My “best nine” from 2018 on Instagram

2018 was a year of big moves; from California to Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada, and then in the last week of the year, another move to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Moving homes is always an ordeal, but to move from one country to another, followed immediately by an unplanned (but much-welcomed) move to yet another city has been challenging to say the least.

My photography has continued throughout these many transitions, with the joy of learning a new camera (the Fuji x100F) and some incredibly photogenic travels to Barbados and Italy. There have also been priceless pockets of time filled by addressing organizational tasks on the administrative side of my photography business, which has set the stage for some big next steps.

2018 was an excellent opportunity for reflection; what do I want to ultimately accomplish with my photographs? Into which kind of photography would I most like to invest my time and energy? Starting from scratch in a new city, what are the obstacles and what will be the advantages?

After two decades of dabbling here and there, with some success in wedding photography, portraiture, and commercial work, my heart has led me back to where it all began; photography as a means of artistic expression and personal exploration. For photographers, it is often said that being a generalist can be a disadvantage. For years I have held onto the notion that I’d rather demonstrate my versatility and flexibility behind the camera, and I have been hesitant to commit to a niche or specialty. 2019 offers an opportunity for a fresh start as I realize (and accept) that perhaps the greatest opportunities will be found by focusing on the kind of imagery that I love the most.

My most popular image on Flickr in 2018 (and of all-time!)

Fine art photography, like most creative pursuits these days, is an incredibly difficult market to crack with ever-diminishing returns. It is a joy to share my photos here on the blog, with stories and behind-the-scenes details that can enrich the visual experience. On Instagram I focus on highlighting recent work alongside photographs from my archives, mixing artistic efforts with my particular flavour of travel photography and personal snapshots. On Facebook I offer a variety of content, and on Flickr I highlight my favourite and most powerful images. Sharing art so freely and widely is a wonderful aspect of our modern, tech-driven world, but by that same token, it has become more difficult in a crowded social media landscape to reach the audience that might purchase a print or two, thus helping to pay my bills and fund future photographic efforts. To that end, I have one simple wish for 2019…

If you like my work, please let me know! Feedback helps me to better understand what resonates and what could be improved, while comments and ‘likes’ can contribute to my reaching an even wider audience. If you love my work, please consider sharing some of it with others who might find it interesting. My greatest challenge is finding an audience, and I know firsthand that word-of-mouth is the best advertising there is.

My print collections have evolved to reflect the visual styles and subjects I most love.

I am still learning to embrace the idea of being an artist, and for those of you who are creatives on a similar path, I want to share my greatest insight of 2018: we all need advocates and supporters, in some ways even more than we need paying clients. This is not news, and is common modern-marketing knowledge, but as I have refined my workflows and invested in the foundation of my creative endeavours, I have become acutely aware that I too need the help of others in getting my work seen.

As we continue into 2019, I hope you’ll join me on any of the social media platforms you enjoy using. I have listed all of my accounts below; I promise never to spam your feed and I have no plans to embark on a sales-heavy promotional approach.

My creativity is driven by the desire to share the moments and details that I find to be particularly beautiful, bringing an extra bit of wonder and joy to others. My hope for 2019 is to continue building on the gradual momentum of 2018, find a sense of community and connection, and focus my energy on heartfelt work that enriches through both process and finished piece.

Ultimately, it will always be art for art’s sake, and for that experience I am forever grateful; thank you for letting me share it with you!

Late winter rain | California

Sitting at my desk here in wintery Winnipeg, Manitoba, it is easy for me to get nostalgic for the winter landscape of my childhood in coastal Northern California. The wet, rainy season would often start in late October; gentle showers after a crackling dry summer would turn the golden-brown hills green in only a few weeks. After a month or two of frequent rain storms, the yellow wildflowers add their vivid colours to the lush landscape. By January, winter on the California coast is often the most vibrant season of the year.

Raindrops on a window, scattered across the late winter green and yellow of wildflower fields in coastal California

This image was captured recently while stranded in traffic on a highway blocked by downed trees and power-lines after a particularly gusty, dangerous winter storm. The wind blew heavy rain sideways across the green and yellow fields, and the raindrops on the car window created an interesting pattern in the foreground of an impressionistic scene.

As this image was captured with my phone camera, it is only available in smaller print sizes, but the bright pop of colour and the unexpected textural details make it a unique, beautiful image when printed. You can find this textural abstract and many more like it in my Small Prints Archive.

I am acclimating to the frosty, white snow and brown muck of Canadian winters, and I enjoy the shift in perspective that comes with experiencing the seasons in a new place, but I will always miss the emerald green landscape and cloudy skies of these California winters and I look forward to visiting during the rainy months. How does winter look where you are?

Digital Darkroom Notes | First Steps

Two weeks in Italy is a photographic dream come true – colorful, textural architecture, beautiful sunlight, gorgeous landscapes and coastal scenery. Several memory cards later, after the fun of exploring and photographing is done, the post-processing begins.

Without fail, it appears daunting at first, and over the years I’ve developed a few simple steps that will help with the digital darkroom workflow, making the overall project more manageable.

In my early Lightroom days, organizing photos was an afterthought, but as my archives grew it became imperative that initial sorting happen before editing began. It can be incredibly exciting to dive right into an edit, and occasionally I’ll allow myself the pleasure of a little preliminary editing of an image I’m particularly excited about, h, but for any larger project I try to stick to sorting first, editing after.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 3.04.07 PM

 

With travel photography, creating collections based on accurate locations is an obvious choice, and in this case I am using a numbered structure to keep the collections in an accurate sequential order. Some of these collections will be refined further as I edit, and this flexibility is part of the beauty of using Lightroom to manage large collections of images.

My first pass through any batch, big or small, is simply to identify viable content and ‘flag’ it. This allows me to filter out the frames that are problematic and to quickly focus my editing attention on the frames that have the greatest potential. I have also flagged some frames that are merely for reference purposes – photos of signs, for example – as I will use those details to build accurate keywords and descriptions, and want those relevant frames to ‘float’ up through the editing process alongside the flagged images.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 12.14.16 PM

Of 2347 total images captured in Italy, I have 1440 flagged. Around 50 of these are reference frames only. Another 100-150 are near-frames, which will require some editing and comparison before I can choose the best from those sequences. Another 50-100 images will be for personal use, shots of family mostly, and will not be included in the final edited batch uploaded to my website. So I am looking at a final edited total of roughly 1100 images, likely closer to 750, as I am constantly paring down my selections during the edit process, so that only the strongest images survive.

Now that these simple first few steps are complete, the work I have ahead of me doesn’t look quite so monumental. I can see that for some of the locations, the edits will be short and sweet, while others will require more time, and I can at-a-glance choose batches of photos for editing based on what kind of time I may have to spend in the digital darkroom on a particular day.

There are many tools and configurations offered by Lightroom and similar programs, to ease the process of organizing large batches of photos, and my workflow continues to evolve with experience. I have worked within the massive archives of other photographers, and managed digital assets in various commercial environments; I am always fascinated by the challenge of finding the organizational structure that best suits the ways in which different minds prefer to work. The biggest lesson over the years has been to pay attention to how my editing and end-use-requirements have changed, and to identify strategic ways of organizing my files, so that my workflow becomes entirely intuitive. What works for me may not work for others, but any approach to refining one’s own digital asset management can benefit from insight into how someone else has solved similar problems.

Now the real fun begins…

Perchance to Dream | San Francisco, California

Most of the photographs I collect when visiting Fort Point, San Francisco are of the architecture and magical spaces between shadow and light created by the repeating motifs and angles of the Fort itself. Climbing the steep stairs to the top of the structure, one is rewarded with a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and this day was no exception.

I have seen this place at various times of day, in different seasons, all types of weather, and part of the what keeps bringing me back with my camera is the potential for dramatically framed, constantly shifting scenes. On this particular July afternoon, the fog had settled heavily along the water, and as I admired the form of the bridge vanishing into the mist, a pair of figures paused in just the right spot to unexpectedly add balance to the frame.

Bridge and fog, Fort Point, San Francisco

As I had been at that moment experimenting with the panoramic capabilities of my phone, I quickly captured this photo with the camera in hand, rather than risk losing the moment while switching to my DSLR. I did managed to grab a couple similar frames with the big camera afterward, but for me this image stands alone.

Minutes later, the couple had moved on, and the fog began to lift, giving way to a glorious sunny day and a large pod of humpback whales feeding beneath the bridge – those particular photos will get their own post – proving that one never knows just how fleeting a moment will be or what will come next!

Small prints of this photo are available in my Open Edition Black & White Prints – or discover more of this unique location in my Fort Point, San Francisco gallery.

Glass Beach, Mendocino

I was hoping the rumors were true; a quiet, wild, little stretch of beach on the Mendocino coast near the city of Fort Bragg, strewn with colorful pebbles of sea-glass. As it turns out, this spot is definitely not a secret, as signs will lead the curious traveler from Highway 1 to the sizeable parking lot. On the day I visited, a steady stream of people meandered along sandy paths through meadows of purple and white wildflowers, and down to the beach.

I was not prepared for just how much glass there was, and in some areas the beach seemed more sea-glass than sand. This spot was used as a dumping ground for many years, resulting in a concentration of glass that is now the remaining evidence of such ecologically inconsiderate human activity

Glass Beach detail, Mendocino, California
Contrasting texture of rock and polished seaglass, details of Glass Beach at Fort Bragg, Mendocino, California

Smooth, translucent pebbles of glass in every size and color made beautiful textural patterns everywhere I looked. The diffuse light from an overcast sky made for easy photography, and I am curious to see this spot on a day with more sun, as the colorful contrasts might be even more remarkable. This was a quick visit during a long drive up the California coast, and after snapping a few photos I was back on the road with a small handful of smooth sea-glass pieces in my pocket. As it is a very active stretch of coast, with crashing waves and stormy winter weather, I expect that Glass Beach may change and continue to reveal colorful treasure for decades to come.

These two square images have been added to my affordable Open Edition Square Prints, and the full set of Glass Beach images can be found in the apkphotography.com archives.