Colourful Corinaldo | Italy Travel Photography

Sunny village and cobblestone street, with steps leading away down a hill between charming buildings, in Corinaldo, Italy
Looking down a long flight of steps through the charming village of Corinaldo, in the Marche region of Italy

Corinaldo, Italy is a quintessential, charming, enchanting hilltop village in the Province of Ancona. Surrounded by well-preserved 15th century walls, the maze of quiet, narrow cobblestone streets are a welcome escape from more crowded Italian destinations. Simply by wandering with no plan in mind, I was able to indulge in some easy-going documentary travel photography for an afternoon.

The views are remarkable, whether from the ramparts or from the hilltop heart of the town. All around, one can see the lovely pastoral countryside of the Marche region. A little cafe sits at the top of these picturesque steps, and offers a wonderful place to pause for a refreshing drink and lunch.


The array of colourful vintage Italian doors and the textural, faded patina of the buildings provides countless creative photography opportunities, and the sheer variety of door designs were quite remarkable,

As one wanders through a narrow cobblestone passage, the sudden appearance of ancient stone walls can come as a surprising juxtaposition, and when these medieval structures are viewed from slightly further, the position and layout of the village makes even more sense.

A visit to Corinaldo, Italy is highly recommended; it may offer a more intimate Italian experience during the busier travel seasons, and even hosts some remarkable festivals that bring its medieval roots to life. I was only able to spend an afternoon exploring, and as a brief stop on a driving tour of the Marche region it was my favorite experience of the day.

See the full set of my photos from Corinaldo, Italy travel photography in my archives; with prints and licensing available. A collection of door and window photo prints collected while travelling through Italy are also available.

Te Hoiere / Pelorus River | New Zealand Travel Photography

Travel photography of a rocky river bank and dark green flowing water, framed by dense forest and a road bridge in New Zealand
A bridge crosses the rocky shores and cool green water of the Pelorus River, on the south island of New Zealand

On the last day of our New Zealand adventures, we had a short drive to the ferry in Picton at the northern end of the South Island, and wanted one last taste of the amazing wilderness we’d encountered across the country during our two week ramble. Perusing the map and a guidebook that pointed us toward lesser-traveled locations, we spotted a scenic gorge at the Pelorus River bridge. This beautiful spot happened to be on our route, and turned out to be a perfect afternoon to capture a final few dozen frames of New Zealand travel photography.

The path to Te Hoiere river winds through lush forest, ferns and colourful berries, and is shaded by tall trees. While most people seemed to choose paths to the bridge itself, we picked a trail that led a little further up the gorge. It was quiet, peaceful, and we hadn’t even reached the water yet.

Emerging from the forest, we discovered a beautiful crystal clear river, tinted green, meandering through smooth boulders and colorful rocky riverbanks. The texture of the stones, and clarity of the water was so inviting, we lingered in the afternoon sun, soaking up the natural beauty.

I hope to return someday, with the time for a swim. This was a special place, unexpected and just far enough off-the-beaten-path to feel removed from the usual scenic destinations in New Zealand. We found it to be a lovely spot to catch our breath after so many busy days of exploring the country, and a perfect ending to a wonderful adventure.

You can find the full set of Pelorus River photos in my archives, and selected New Zealand travel photography prints in my shop.

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…

Wellington, New Zealand

Vibrant, friendly, artsy and laid-back – not words usually associated with a sizeable capital city, but Wellington, New Zealand offers all of this and more. Wellington is set in the forested hills of the southern tip of New Zealand’s North island, and encompasses sandy beaches, a busy waterfront, and a beautiful, windy harbor.

Wellington, New Zealand view from Mt. Victoria
Views of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington from Mt Victoria lookout

A great place to start a day of sightseeing in Wellington is at Mount Victoria Lookout, which provides scenic panoramic views of the city, from downtown to the open ocean. A beautiful Maori landpole statue, or Pouwhenua, provides a cultural contrast against the city skyline. The triangular form of the Richard Byrd memorial points to Antarctica, and commemorates how the famed polar explorer used Wellington as a base of operations for his expeditions over the course of 27 years.

Down along the waterfront, a colorful marketplace full of local arts and crafts, housed in shipping containers, looks out across waterways used for frequent dragonboat races and sailing. During this particular visit, pianos were located throughout the city, and attracted serious and casual musicians alike.

 

The city provides an accessible mix of public spaces and unique neighborhoods, with a wide variety of cafes, shops, and an active local beer scene. It seems that along every avenue, another sculpture or piece of public art is hidden, waiting to be discovered.

For a view of the city from another angle, it is an easy walk from the waterfront to the Wellington Cable Car, a funicular railway that ferries passengers from the shopping district of Lambton Quay to the suburb of Kelburn up in the hills. This is a wonderful way to reach the botanical gardens of Wellington, and to see another lovely panorama of the picturesque city.

The adjacent suburb of Newtown, just south of the Wellington’s downtown, offers a charming neighborhood packed with quaint shops and cafes, and hosts a vibrant street festival. One surprising find was the Monterey Bar; I was visiting from my home in Monterey, California, and this bar featured a large mural of the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, among other references to my central California home.

I look forward to visiting Wellington, New Zealand again someday. I found it to be a friendly, accessible city with much more to explore than could be experienced during my short stay. One of the most unique and lovely aspects of  Wellington is how after a long day wandering the bustling streets, one has only to head South to the where the suburbs meet the sea, and suddenly one can feel the rugged, wild beauty for which New Zealand is so well known.

WM_IslandBay_Wellington_NZ
Coastal suburbs tucked in the coastal forest, outside of Wellington, New Zealand

To see more of my travel photography from New Zealand, visit apkphotography.com Prints and rights managed licensing available.

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.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California

Blustery, stormy skies and tempestuous crashing ocean waves are the perfect backdrop for a lighthouse and all of the history it represents. I’d driven past Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park dozens of times, passing by while driving the scenic and dramatic Highway 1 along the central coast of California. After years of admiring this picturesque spot from a distance, I decided on a rainy afternoon to pay a visit.

WM_PigeonPointLighthouse-3817
Raindrops on the camera lens frame a stormy ocean horizon, Pigeon Point, California

The lighthouse was built in 1871 and is now a designated California Historical Landmark. The land on which it is built, and thusly the lighthouse station are named after a shipwrecked vessel, the Carrier Pigeon. The fresnel lantern is no longer in use, and is instead displayed in the visitor’s center, housed in the fog signal building.

The lighthouse itself is now closed to visitors due to structural concerns, and while attempts to fund restoration are underway, it could be decades before the view from the tower can again be enjoyed by the public.

The lighthouse keeper’s housing now serves as a youth hostel, offering a unique waypoint for travellers along the California coast. As with many such natural promontories in this part if the world, whale-watching and general wildlife viewing can be particularly accessible. In the spring, I have seen the surrounding shoreline covered in swaying meadows of yellow wildflowers, and in the winter passing storms paint the sky and ocean surface with moody colors and constantly shifting textures.

On any roadtrip along this stretch of coast, a stop at the Pigeon Point Light Station State Park is highly recommended. It is free, informative, and beautiful. On Saturday, November 18th 2017, a celebration of the 145th anniversary of the light station is being held, offering tours, music and various activities. For more information about the state park visit the California Parks & Recreation website and to see more of my photos from the lighthouse grounds, visit the archive at APK Photography.

Oakura Beach, New Zealand

Tucked between quiet beach towns on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Oakura Beach is a windswept, black sand slice of paradise.

The beach access is casual, a short walk through flowering flax, and down into low, soft dunes. My friend chose to cross the creek along a piece of driftwood, while I waded through up to my knees in the cold rushing water. Such an angle paid off, and got us a fun photo with which to remember this bit of our adventure.

As we wandered the windy shoreline, we found beautiful bits of contrast in shimmering sand, which from various angles offered a glittering black, iridescent purple, and silvery backdrop to shells and driftwood scattered along the high-tide line.

The rocky harbor of New Plymouth was visible through the mist to the North, and even with a bustling urban center so close, Oakura Beach felt like a wild stretch of coast we were glad we’d made the trip to explore.

Some of these images are available as prints, in my Open Edition print gallery.

To view the full set of Oakura Beach, New Zealand photographs, please visit the APK Photography archives.

Autumnal Gold

Seasons of transition always prompt me to pick up my camera more often; the slanting, evocative light of the sun low in the sky, the luminous colors of fresh spring growth or the brilliant golden, scarlet, orange palette of fall have always provided abundant inspiration. However, having spent most of my life in the mild climate of coastal California, this year’s visit to the much more northerly environment of Saskatchewan has brought me to an even deeper appreciation of the drama and fleeting beauty of autumn.

On a recent sunny weekend, I visited Wascana Centre in the heart of Regina, Saskatchewan. A series of colder days had signalled a distinct shift from summer to fall, and signs of the seasonal change had begun to appear around the city.

The man-made lake of Wascana Centre is surrounded by lovely parks, and the trees had begun to turn golden yellow, their leaves made even more bold against bright blue skies.

This seasonal color is fleeting, as I discovered last year when I first visited the park. On that day, the weather was cool and misty, and many of the leaves had already fallen from the trees, leaving only a hint of the brilliant autumnal display I was fortunate to see this year.

With a severe windstorm stripping the leaves from the trees earlier this week, the fall foliage display in Saskatchewan is quickly drawing to a close, with many bare branches above and deep piles of brown leaves filling the streets and yards of the neighborhoods below. I look forward to watching the last bit of this transitional season slip into winter, and will be eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring, when the cycle begins anew.

To see the full set of images gathered during Autumn in Regina, Saskatchewan, please visit the gallery at apkphotography.com

A few selected images featured in this post will be added to my Open Edition Prints collection, with announcements of specific print releases shared on my APK Photography Facebook page

A Photographer’s Guide to Car Week in Monterey, California

Ah, car week. Revving engines, gleaming chrome, throngs of automotive aficionados, and a complete range of events packed into every day, from pricey and exclusive gatherings to public downtown cruises, all offering plenty of photographic fun. Where are the best value photo-opportunities? What events are also just plain fun to experience? What kind of gear is best?

(Regarding gear: These three shots are from a Samsung Galaxy S5 – ye olde phone camera – the best gear is ALWAYS the camera you have with you. If you are packing an SLR kit, a wider-angle lens will work well at most of the more intimate events I note below, while a zoom or telephoto lens is an excellent tool for capturing races at the track.)

After living in the Monterey, California area for 14 years, I’ve seen nearly every car week event at least once, and I’ve learned a lot about photographing the larger scenes and delightful details of this car culture cacophony. Getting a traditional clean-shot of a car with no distractions in the background is tricky at nearly every event, and my single biggest piece of advice is to get comfortable with what the environment offers; as you’ll see in the photos below, the light during car week in Monterey is likely to range from overcast skies with diffuse daylight, to bright midday sun, to dusky dark urban street scenes, all packed with moving crowds of spectators. Be patient, be polite, and experiment with the added visual interest of the events themselves.

If you can afford to splurge on tickets and access to the headlining events, such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, by all means, enjoy the show. For a free look at the same cars with the bonus of seeing them in motion, catch the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance which winds its way through several cities and scenic roads of Monterey County.

For a gorgeous and competitive spread of fine automobiles, a free-to-the-public option is the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue, which allows attendees to get up close to the cars, speak with the owners, and watch the awards ceremony all in the quaint downtown setting of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The crowds can be thick at this event, and patience is key.

If homegrown hot-rods and the latest supercars are more your speed, Exotics on the Row is an accessible and fun event, held in the evening on Cannery Row. This gathering offers low-light photography enthusiasts a scene rich with glowing headlights and colorful Monterey nightlife, all free and walkable.

Around town, there will be an endless parade of interesting cars passing on the street, and adjacent to any event center or hotel hosting a car week auction, simply watching some of the rarest cars in the world get unloaded from transport trucks for their big moment can be a great photo-op. These shots are best found in the lead-up to the main week of events, or during the week following.

Finally, what has always proven to be a photographic goldmine, packed with unusual, interesting, and amazing cars with the added bonus of seeing many of them race around one of the most dynamic tracks in the world, is the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

Laguna Seca classic car races
Vintage and classic cars ready to race at Laguna Seca racetrack in Monterey, California during the annual Reunion events of car week.

This is the event I’ve attended the most, and no matter which day one chooses to attend, a stroll around the paddock will provide even the most casual automotive photography enthusiast with plenty of colourful race activity and historic racecars.

Owners and drivers are happy to talk about their beloved vehicles and nothing beats a shot or two of the infamous Laguna Seca Corkscrew full of rumbling vintage cars barreling toward the finish line. Again, be patient, the paddock can be full of people taking it all in, and the most rewarding shots can come after waiting for a crowd to pass.

Over the years I’ve accumulated an extensive library of Car Week photography, all of which can be found in the Automobilia section of apkphotography.com. I will be cruising many of these events again this year, hoping to see some familiar automotive friends and new exciting cars.

I post frequently to Instagram during the week, please follow @photoapk for more inside angles on this amazing time of year in Monterey, and feel free to leave a comment if you’ve got any questions or advice to share.

Point Lobos, California

A true scenic gem of the California coast, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a revelation in every season. The dramatic rocky cliffs offer sweeping views to the South, and on a clear January day the distant mountains of Big Sur offer an otherworldly sense of scale to hikers who wander the Point Lobos trails.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
View of Big Sur from Point Lobos, California

Exploring the Northern coves and cliffs of Point Lobos reveals a surreal woodland, where afternoon light filters through gnarled, wind-blown trees and strange red algae thrives in a mix of sea-salt-spray and near-constant fog. This forest frames the landscape exquisitely, and around every bend a new postcard-perfect vista is revealed.

There are historical sites here too, as Point Lobos saw significant whaling operations into the late 1800’s. From the textural rocks and trees to the whale bones on display, the details of Point Lobos are rich with stories.

Winter offers bright, crisp, sunny days in between storms, and with spring comes a rush of vibrant life; beautiful Douglas Iris fill the shady green meadows with purple wildflowers, and the quietest coves become nurseries for plump harbour seal pups, playing in the shallows and lounging on the beaches.

In the summer and fall, the evenings are often moody with mist, and the tree-line can appear ghostly above the shimmering ocean water. No matter the season of time of day, any visit to the Monterey Bay would be incomplete without a walk along one of the many Point Lobos trails. For many years I was fortunate enough to live just up the coast from this special place, and with every expedition on which I carried my camera, I would see remarkable wildlife and seasonal changes set against an incredibly dramatic and powerful landscape. I have recently gathered my Point Lobos photographs into a new gallery, with many images available for licensing and as prints.

Learn more about Point Lobos State Natural Reserve 

Harbor seal mothers and their playful pups

On the sheltered beaches of Monterey, Carmel, and Point Lobos, one can catch a lovely glimpse into the lives of harbour seals.  This time of year, the cute harbour seal pups are beginning to explore their watery homes, and their mothers keep a watchful eye as they swim through the swaying kelp forests and quiet coves.  Some of the pups are particularly plump and round, and as they get brave enough to swim away from their mothers, there are moments of playful freedom in the surf.  Once a pup realizes that they can no longer see their mother however, they will cry, short sad little calls that bring their mothers quickly to their side.  The pups only have 3 to 4 weeks before they will be weaned, and witnessing this precious time that they have with their mothers is quite a special sight.

See more harbour seal interactions and behaviour in the APK Photography Harbour Seal gallery.

Salinas Valley, winter into spring

“February in Salinas is likely to be damp and cold and full of miseries. The heaviest rains fall then, and if the river is going to rise, it rises then.”

– John Steinbeck, from ‘East of Eden’

This past February did not bring much rain, and the Salinas River has barely risen from its meandering, often subterranean channel. However, as the season settles into March and the inevitable fresh growth of spring emerges, the bare fields are taking on new life.

The transition from dark fields heavy with damp and fertile soil combed into meticulous rows to brightly-banded horizons of fresh green and early flowers is a welcome sign that despite the crippling California drought, for now, things will continue as we tend to think they should.

My library of California photography continues to grow, including landscapes and urban scenes, fine art prints and stock photos – find more here.