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.⁠⁠
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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.⁠⁠
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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 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 subtlety, 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!

Ladybug Light

“The more specific we are, the more universal something can become. Life is in the details. If you generalize it doesn’t resonate. The specificity of it is what resonates.” – Jacqueline Woodson

A favourite image from my personal archives; a ladybug crawling along a fallen leaf catches a perfect pool of sunlight against a shadowed glass table. These quiet moments and details sum up so much of that time and place, and I can remember where I stood and how the air felt when a flash of red caught my eye…

Macro photography and being immersed in natural details informs many of my fine art photographic studies, find more like this in my blog archives:

Of Land and Sea | Point Lobos, California

As a favourite slice of coastal Californian wilderness, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has captured my photographic eye on many occasions. Every season brings new colours and light to the landscape and seemingly endless sea, but every now and then, I like to investigate a familiar place with shades of black and white in mind.

These two images were both created on the same day; bright sunlight at water’s edge with the sparkling Pacific ocean waves along the rocky coast fading into the distance, and dappled soft forest light falling over the repeating natural pattern and texture of whale bones.

I love discovering how the larger features and themes of a place are so often echoed in the details, and it can be particularly satisfying to use black and white photography to explore and emphasize these similarities and contrasts. The bones and smooth shoreline rocks catch the sunlight in similar ways, highlighting their beautiful natural textures.

To see more Point Lobos photography, visit my archives – licensing and fine art prints are available.

Recent work | Hopeful yellow flowers


From recent travels to California, these vivid yellow pincushion protea flowers stood in bright contrast to their dark green foliage. Spotted while on a waterfront walk in Monterey, with blustery spring showers and fast-moving clouds overhead, these fresh blooms were a welcome colourful reminder that spring is just around the corner.

Elegant yellow Protea flowers stand out against dark green foliage on a rainy spring day.

Protea flowers symbolize hope and transformation, and these golden arching forms of the stamen catch the light beautifully on a dark, moody day. Find this image and more fine art botanical, floral compositions in my “Flowers & Plants” archive gallery.

Lost in the Details | Venice, Italy

Italy is all texture and patina, and in summer the city of Venice is rich with seemingly endless variety; every detail and architectural style basking in the luminous reflected light of warm sun on water.

While I only had a few days to explore Venice, the number of photos I captured there far outnumbered all other locations I visited in Italy. Around every corner was a striking new visual surprise, a glimpse through history, and an invitation to keep walking just a little further…

Accommodations were in a historic palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal, and the rich textures of age and time could be found throughout the halls. From ornate plasterwork and window details to the high-water mark of the historic 1966 flood, carved into the stone door frame.

On one day’s wander toward the university district, I came across a quiet courtyard and art gallery on the campus of the Università Ca’ Foscari; exquisite venetian glass windows and beautiful architecture were a welcome quiet escape from the bustle and heat of the summer crowds just outside the university gates.

Textural brick and stone, plaster, faded paint and layers of patina, all mixed with the cascading light and shadow of winding, narrow passages. Enjoying these details required an acceptance that I would get lost somewhere in the streets of Venice, and it quickly became one of my favourite feelings as I relinquished all sense of direction and simply soaked up the sights.

And on and on…for weeks after visiting Venice, Italy for the first time, I dreamt of being happily lost there, following the winding streets past softly-hued pink and yellow brick walls and ornate, elegant cathedral windows. Find more sun-splashed piazzas, shimmering canals, and Venetian details in my gallery of Venice, Italy images.

My first impressions and more beautiful scenes from Venice, Italy can be found in my blog archives, Venice, Italy : Love at First Light.

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!

Descent, architectural detail | San Francisco, California

Wandering the streets of San Francisco with a camera has always been a rewarding experience; along with being an interesting, often picturesque urban environment, there is endless opportunity for the unexpected.

This is a favourite image from my archives, captured on a relaxed summer afternoon of city exploration. I had never ventured far into one of the commercial complexes near the Embarcadero Plaza, and was wandering through the network of bridges and walkways that linked shops and restaurants in a canyon of office buildings and hotels. At one crossing of paths, I noticed a stairway leading down to the level below, and paused to admire the echo of form, texture, and tone in the large fern that grew in the curve of the stairs.

Architectural urban detail, a woman walks down a spiral staircase in downtown San Francisco

While composing the frame and trying to balance shapes and leading lines, a woman walked down the stairs, and as she reached the bottom I captured a single frame. I had not planned on the human element, but I love how it adds a sense of motion to an otherwise static scene. In black and white, the texture and tone of the mosaic floors and fern become more cohesive, and the spiralling, circular structures of concrete, plant, railing and tile frame and compliment each other, tying it all together.

This image is included in my Black and White Prints collection, and offers both architectural interest and a timeless moment full of details that invite reflection.

In full bloom, Paphiopedilum maudiae

While familiar in form to most of us, orchid flowers retain a sense of the profoundly exotic, especially those blooms of the Paphiopedilum variety.

These distinctive orchids have been collected from their forest floor and canopy habitats of Southeast Asia, and are now widely cultivated and hybridized. I have never managed to keep a Paphiopedilum maudiae orchid happy among my small houseplant and orchid collections, but I have been lucky to see many of these dramatic flowers at orchid shows and greenhouses.

This pair of fuzzy pink and chartruese lady slipper orchids are some of my favourites, with both stripes and spots in varying shades and petals bristling with tiny hairs; striking and delicate all at once.

I have collected many photos of orchid flowers over the years, and have gathered the most stunning specimens into a gallery of Orchidaceae images available as fine art prints. I have not had a chance to identify most the the specific orchid varieties, and if you are an orchid aficionado who is good at plant identification, I have a print-discount code for you in exchange for a few good taxa tips – leave a comment on this post if you’re interested!

  

 

Love at First Light | Venice, Italy

Arriving in Venice, Italy is no small task; by plane, train, or car, one must reach the edges of a more familiar modern landscape, and then step onto a boat that will draw one into a world both foreign and familiar. I was immediately entranced by the narrow passages, absence of cars, and sunlight cascading past crumbling walls, illuminating colours and textures that could only exist in a floating ancient city miraculously moored in a marshy, shimmering lagoon.

Everything you have heard about Venice is true. It is romantic, multi-faceted and incomparable. It can also be crowded – there is one other way to arrive in Venice, and that is on a cruise ship – as I work my way through a few other batches of photos from my Italian adventures, I will have some specific observations to offer about that particular mode of travel and the impact it has on these magical places.

I managed to avoid the masses of summer tourists simply by committing to a daily routine of picking a direction, and getting lost in the winding streets of the city. Around every corner interesting architecture, delicious food, and more inviting avenues awaited.

Off-the-beaten-path, grittier scenes could be found, although overall Venice is remarkably tidy, with clean streets and canals. Graffiti is a part of the urban Italian landscape, as it is all over the world, and in some instances it offered unique photographic opportunities.

Staying in a palazzo on the Grand Canal afforded me central access to many different districts of the city, and even within a short distance from the palazzo gates, the variety of cafes, restaurants, shops and sights was abundant. In the evening, the canal glittered with golden light as boats plied romantic sunset waters; I could have sat by the ornate windows and watched the passing gondolas for hours.

From a photographic perspective, Venice is astounding, and of the hundreds of images captured over the course of three days there, I still have many more to edit. See more of my photos from Venice, Italy here, where fine art prints and licensing are also available.

I will be sharing more images and thoughts on this special city, as it was such a remarkable and photogenic experience. I am already thinking about my next visit to Venice, and would love to hear in the comments if you have ever visited and what you might recommend I explore when I return!

Pukekura Park | New Plymouth, New Zealand

Over the years travelling has taught me a few important lessons; I will always pack more than I end up needing, the journey is usually just as remarkable as the destination, and never, ever pass up the chance to spend a few hours in a local botanical garden.

Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, on the west coast of the Taranaki region of New Zealand’s northern island, is a lush jungle of foliage and water. I visited on a quiet Saturday morning in April, and enjoyed wandering the paths as they looped around lakes, past a waterfall, and across the beautiful red Poet’s Bridge, which dates back to 1884.

In some sections of the park, it is easy to forget that one is actually in a bustling small city; the size of the trees and depth of the fern-filled groves were captivating and invited leisurely exploration.

Emerging from a trail through one of these dense forests, a large lily-covered pond is revealed where bright blue Australasian swamphens foraged across the lily pads.

Displayed on the water is a sculpture titled ‘Aotearoa’ by Michael Smithers; Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand, meaning “land of the long white cloud”. A few days after visiting the gardens, while driving south to Wellington from New Plymouth, I saw the namesake beautiful rolling white line of clouds stretch across the landscape.

View more photos from my Pukekura Park, New Zealand experience in my archives, with selected images available for prints and licensing.