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.

Of Land and Sea | Point Lobos, California Photography

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.

Bright California sunlight glitters across the surface of the Pacific Ocean with the rocky coast of Point Lobos in the foreground, and mountains of Big Sur beyond.
Abstract detail of light and shadow falling across whale vertebrae at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

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.

Vivid yellow Protea | Floral Photography


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.

Yellow pincushion flowers against dark green foliage
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.

Monterey Storm | Weather Photography

I didn’t set out to find such a powerful weather photography subject, 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.

Dark storm clouds and misty falling rain over the dark water of Monterey Bay, with the coastline mountains in the distance
Fast-moving, dark and dramatic clouds sweep across Monterey Bay, California

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 included in my collection of sky and cloud photo prints, 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!

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.

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?

Paphiopedilum maudiae | Orchid Photography

While familiar in form to most of us, orchid flowers retain a sense of the profoundly exotic, especially those blooms of the Paphiopedilum variety. Their distinctive slipper shapes and range of colourations make them very attractive orchid photography subjects too.

Orchid photography of a pale green and white-striped lady slipper orchid dripping with mist (Paphiopedilum maudiae)
A pale green and white-striped lady slipper orchid drips with mist (Paphiopedilum maudiae)

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.

Orchid photography of a pair of elegant yellow and pink flowers with unusual fuzzy textures alone their long horizontal petals
A pair of unusual flowers, these lady slipper orchid flowers have hairy fuzz along their petals

This pair of fuzzy pink and chartreuse 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, with some selected orchid photography images available as fine art prints.

  

 

Forest fog | Big Sur, California


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. 

Trees become ghostly figures as evening fog creeps into the coastal woods of Big Sur

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.

This elegant, peaceful scene is available as a fine art print in my Black & White Prints collection. To see more Big Sur Photography, visit my Big Sur, California collection.

Time Will Tell

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“.

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.

WM_aerial_BW_agricultural_hills

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.

Agave Study

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.

Wellington Botanic Gardens, New Zealand

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.

Monarch Butterfly Migration

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.

 

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.

WM_MonarchButterfly_2016_11

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.

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.