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.

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.

Drought & Wildfires | California Photography

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

A firefighting plane is moored in a drought-stricken Lake Shasta, while smoke from California wildfires fills the air.
The ‘Martin Mars’ firefighting airplane is moored in a drought-stricken Lake Shasta, while wildfire smoke fills the California sky, 2008.

In California, where drought is a seasonal cycle within the larger years-long cycles of El Nino/La Nina and climate change, it was big news earlier this week when the Governor declared the most recent period of drought to be officially over. The size and scale of California wildfires have become more noteworthy lately, and such prominent drought announcements can have far-reaching implications.

This shot was taken from the road headed north past Lake Shasta in 2008, a year notable for the ferocity and frequency of 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 across California, and it is being joked that with just a few more days of this hot dry weather, we’ll have to declare a drought again while remaining vigilant about new wildfires.

Check out more fire-related photographs from my collection here.