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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
Mysterious, dark, quiet; a grove of trees in the coastal mountains of Big Sur, full of mist and morning light. I’d arrived at the campsite after dark, chasing the sunset down the winding curves of Highway 1 and setting-up camp as stars appeared overhead. During the night, fog gathered along cliffs and settled into valleys, and I woke to find the forest shrouded in soft layers of light.
Camping on the California coast is often a damp, chilly affair, and this day was no exception. The warmth of a small fire, the coziness of a sleeping bag and a book, the sound of the nearby ocean all helped to pass the time.
As the sun settled again to the west, the early evening light filtered into the deeper, shadowy corners of the forest grove and campground, and I was able to capture this layered scene full of contrasts and soft tonality. The branches of the trees lend a sense of enclosed space; a cathedral of organic shapes and windows of light. Of all of my Big Sur experiences this moment remains one of my favourites, full of the restorative, meditative mood I found present in that particular time and place.
Aerial photographs of the earth abstracted below reveal the indelible passage of time. Some textures and formations have taken millennia to emerge through forces of nature, and some have been more recently caused by human activity; all speak to a landscape that does not soon forget its experiences. I have begun to gather these visual studies of time into a series titled “Time Will Tell“.
Aerial of burnished copper hills dusted with oak forest, as seen during an extended western drought along the coastal landscape of California
Aerial view of the arid western landscape, eroded cliffs and canyons cut through patchwork agricultural land
I have always been fascinated by the stories told by hills, valleys and mountains when viewed from above, and I have been fortunate to be raised in the world of general aviation; small planes, piloted by my father provided many low-altitude opportunities to see both the larger landscape and the finer details, and on commercial flights I always choose a window seat.
Aerial photography is particularly challenging, and I strive to convey a balanced sense of both distance and intimacy through the careful composition of each scene. Working around dirty window glass, atmospheric haze, and the constantly changing perspective force me to make quick photographic choices, and I find that my digital darkroom techniques are made more creative as I explore the mood, tonality and texture of each individual landscape. Throughout my archives I have more aerial landscape photos waiting to be edited, and I will continue adding to the “Time Will Tell” gallery and series for years to come as I gather more views from above; the wonderfully free, awestruck feeling of visually exploring vast, varied spaces from an aerial perspective is an experience that I will never tire of trying to capture.
Sharp red thorns, pale green leaves, catching and shaping the bright New Zealand sun in the Wellington Botanic Garden. The variety of geometric shapes and contrasting textures make an agave plant particularly appealing to photograph, and in this image I sought to balance the light and shadow throughout the frame, highlighting the repeating pattern of the scalloped and pointed agave leaves.
This image is the newest print offering in my Botanical Prints gallery, available as a fine art archival print, Giclée Canvas Wrap or Bamboo mounted print. Every print is made to order and custom options are always available; for more information about my print production and finishing options, please visit my Fine Art Print Info page.
During the warm sunny days of October, the trees of Big Sur and Pacific Grove welcome visitors who have traveled great distances to reach clusters of trees along the central California coast; monarch butterflies, with their flashing bold orange and black wings flitting from tree to tree bring an extra bit of magic to an already beautiful place.
Monarch butterflies gathered in Pacific Grove, California, late February 2016
Migrating monarch butterflies gather in the forests of Pacific Grove, California
Seeing one butterfly alone is a beautiful sight, but as the monarch butterflies congregate on mossy branches and in the boughs of cypress and eucalyptus trees, their gathering numbers create a stunning, delicate and lively tapestry of colour and movement.
October is my favourite time of year to camp in Big Sur; one morning as the sun warmed the campsite I sat contemplating the beautiful light and quiet forest, a small group of monarch butterflies flitted through the lower branches overhead, dancing through patches of sunlight as they fed and rested. As their movement is rather unpredictable, I waited patiently as they moved in and out of focus and finally managed to capture the image below of a single butterfly in flight.
A migrating monarch butterfly feeds in the forests of Big Sur, California
Over the years I have visited the spots known for congregations of migrating monarchs, and I have gathered all of my monarch butterfly photographs into one gallery, with many Monarch Butterfly Migration images available for licensing and as fine art prints.
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!
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.