New horizons

Around the time one calendar year changes to the next, it is easy to become absorbed in reflecting on the recent past. In this case, 2011 flew by with alarming speed, and it is hard to believe that 2012 has already arrived. Rather than dwell on what has been, however, I am very excited by what is next. Many changes afoot for this blog and my photography – from new digital darkroom tricks to some incredible print collections and fine art offerings.

Last light, Big Sur

These two images, both shot on the same beach in Big Sur, are from a recent exploration of longer-exposure photography. Living on the coast affords me easy access to some spectacular coastlines awash in sunset colours and misty waves, and I hope to bring you more of these peaceful, scenic images in the coming months.

Big Sur, sunset

Urban angles

Took a short break from my current series of portrait projects to pull a few images from the archives for some creative consideration. These architectural compositions were discovered while spending an afternoon wandering through San Francisco. Late afternoon light fell between the buildings, bouncing and glittering from one wall of glass and steel to another. As someone who spends relatively little time in larger urban spaces, I find the similarities in structure to be remarkable, as the man-made landscape often echos the world in which it is built.

sunset city canyon

it’s a small world…

Perhaps it’s a result of having grown up a pilot’s daughter, but I have always adored the look of the world in miniature.  That we also had an N-gauge model train layout in the garage probably confirmed for me the surreal pleasure of a giant’s perspective across landscapes of small structures and tiny figures.

I know it is regarded by many as a fad mostly used by advertisers, but tilt-shift photography always satisfies that familiar childish joy of mine, because it allows our minds if only for a moment, to view the world as though it were made up of toys.

Beach scene, tilt-shift

Photography being a rather expensive endeavour, my dreams of a tilt-shift lens to fully explore this unusual perspective will have to wait.  Luckily there is the digital darkroom, and an online world full of photography tips and tilt-shift tricks.  Learning this new (and easy) workflow prompted me to attack my archives with something different in mind, and photos I might have passed over the first time have been given new life through the use of a different perspective.  I’m already thinking of the next scenes I’d like to try the tilt-shift effect on…

Orchidaceae, oh my!

, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

With an estimated 20,000+ individual flowering species, the Orchid family of plants is considered one of the most diverse and highly evolved forms of life with roots, leaves and flowers.

Orchids exist in every habitat except glaciers, and new species are still being discovered. My encounters with orchids typically take place in greenhouses or at orchid collector expos, and on occasion, in my own home.

Most people understand orchids to be terribly finicky and temperamental houseplants, and for many varieties a haphazard windowsill lifestyle certainly won’t work. I have learned though, through extensive trial and error that there are dozens of orchids that are quite happy to live by a bright window and receive intermittent water and attention, and the reward is always remarkable. With colourful flowers that range wildly in shape and size, just one orchid plant in bloom can transform a room.

I’ve accumulated hundreds of photos of orchids over the years, collected on my website, available for stock licensing and prints. I hope to have the time to research more specific identification for some of the more unusual specimens. In the meantime, feel free to explore the remarkable variety of these exotic flowers!

Road-trippin’

Big Sur bound, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

Having long believed that the journey is the destination, I am as much a fan of the act of traveling, as I am a fan of actually arriving in a new place.

Last weekend was a marathon roadtrip though, through a landscape altogether strange to me – Southern California – and I returned home with a mountain of images depicting an arid, hazy landscape dotted with bold and incongruous human developments. I am mesmerized by landscape photography in general, and many photographers have done an incredible job of cataloging the environments and horizons that shape our lives. In my own work, I am gradually exploring those familiar themes of human endeavour vs. an ever-changing geography. The landscapes of the American west, and California in particular, are close to my heart and I hope to further explore our relationship with the magnificent and daunting terrain here at the edge of a continent.

This weekend, I will be back on the road, this time to spend barely 36 hours in the high-mountain deserts of Southern California. Traveling from the soft hills and cool climate of the coast, across the vast Central Valley blanketed by orchards and agriculture, and then up to 4000 feet where the plants are all spiny and the rocks jagged, my camera will likely spend the entire trip in my lap, ready for any tantalizing cast of light across the passing landscape.

I have some very specific shots I’d like to attempt once I reach my destination, but even if they are complete failures, I’ll have immensely enjoyed the journey…

My collection of Roadtrip Photography can be found here, prints and licensing available.

Memorial Day meditation

Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool, sunset

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. ~ Joseph Campbell

Today is traditionally a day for remembrance and for gathering with friends and family to celebrate the bountiful pleasures of the season.

I find it difficult to limit my Memorial Day meditations to just the fallen soldiers of countless wars. I think of their families and communities too. In recent years, the trauma and tragedy of war has played itself out as soldiers return home, burdened with endless nightmares and deeply challenging emotional scars – as the suicide rate climbs among the men and women who so selflessly put their lives on the line for their country, I find it shameful that we are not doing more to help them return to lives of health, vitality and peace. Even the most personal of wars can not be won alone.

I am also thinking of the leaders, large and small, who have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation. Having a visionary sense of one’s role and abilities as a leader, acting on those ideas, and seeing often difficult change through to an end is a remarkable task that most of us would not be brave enough to attempt, given the opportunity. It takes a particular kind of person to step into so great a role of responsibility.

We live in a world that is not likely to ever be free from conflict and war. Today is a day to consider just how lucky we are to have heroes in our midst everyday. From foot soldiers to leaders of nations, these are the people whose lives have been given up to something larger than themselves, and we might each aspire to living lives as selfless and dignified as those we honor today.

just another day in paradise

just another day in paradise, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

Living in Monterey is pretty much like living inside a postcard. Every sunset has the potential to make the evening magical, as the lights of the squid-fishing boats come to life along a stormy horizon, and a few hardy souls brave the cold wind and waves to surf that last swell of the day.

Find more from my Monterey photography collection here.

Ravishing ranunculus

Ravishing ranunculus, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

The colours that emerge in nature are sometimes so startlingly brilliant, it can be impossible to look away. These floral beauties grow in my garden, and the blended shades of fuchsia, scarlet, orange and gold rival even the most technicolor sunset skies.

One of many such stunning blooms available for licensing and as fine art floral prints.

California Drought & Wildfires

Lake Shasta, 07.14.08, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

In California, where drought is a seasonal cycle as well as a condition that often affects the landscape for years at a time, it was big news earlier this week when the Governor declared the most recent period of drought to be officially over.

This shot was taken from the road headed north past Lake Shasta in 2008, a year notable for the ferocity and frequency of it’s wildfires. The air was thick with smoke, even hundreds of miles from the nearest blaze, and convoys of heavy-duty wildland firefighting equipment were seen daily speeding up and down the state highways. The distinctive firefighting airplane ‘Martin Mars’ was moored on the lake between runs.

With the recent rainy season and an immense snow-pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this year would appear to be drought-free, though technically, with the seasonally dry summer-fall months ahead, combustible conditions are always just a heat-wave away.

In fact, today is breaking high-temperature records statewide, and it is being joked that just a few more days of this hot dry weather, and we’ll have to declare a drought again…

I have a few shots from recent fire-seasons that I intend to make available as fine-art prints with a fundraising twist, to be released this summer. Check out more fire-related photographs from my collection here.

A Very Patient Dog…


You know that moment, caught out of the corner of your eye, that seems to perfectly sum up a story or feeling, and then as quickly as it appeared, it vanishes into thin air?

Doggy in the window


This is one of those moments, and perfectly illustrates why, at all times I feel compelled to have a camera with me. This was actually photographed with a tough little 5MP point-and-shoot camera, the only digital option I had at the time, which I’d stuffed into the pocket of my winter coat while up in the mountains for some winter recreation. Stopping by the lodge cafe for lunch, I noticed a very focused and forlorn dog hanging around the back door, and as I sat down to my meal, he stopped his pacing and sat down too, intently watching the warm scene of people and food inside. I was able to catch this snapshot in a break between passing customers, and a moment later, the dog had been reunited with his owner and was gone.

Abstract rain, night

Glittering raindrops fall during an evening storm, caught in the golden light of a streetlamp


Glittering raindrops fall across a windshield during an evening storm, illuminated by a street light.

I know, I seem obsessed with the weather lately.  Really, it is the irresistible interplay of water and light during this rainy season that captivates me completely.  The sheen of water across asphalt in the morning hours, the way puddles hold an after-storm sunset; it is a permanently transient subject, that just a breath of wind and a passing cloud can change entirely.  How can it not be satisfying to photograph?

This abstract rainy night photo is part of my Liquid Light water photography collection, featuring beautiful art prints of abstracted water and seascapes.