Aqua Ocean Water Abstract

At certain times of year the color of the ocean waves below the cliffs of Big Sur take on a vibrant, blue-green hue, laced with swirling white froth. I have seen this gorgeous color most often in the late summer, when the fog has given way to endless blue skies and the air is quiet and still in the warm sunshine.

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Swirling aqua blue-green ocean water, viewed from the cliffs of Big Sur

I captured this particular image from a warm ridge in Big Sur, looking down into a cove of constantly moving waves. The otherworldly color churned from light to dark against the rocks below, and I could have watched the ocean all afternoon.

This beautiful moment of abstract blue ocean texture and movement is available as an art print in my archives, at apkphotography.com

State of Grace I & II

Sometimes the moment in which a photograph is captured becomes an unintended meditation. In this particular pair of images, there is for me the quiet memory of a small, soft, brown-feathered finch. I found her one morning in a patch of sun, beneath a window into which she’d flown, perhaps confused by the reflection of a pale desert sunrise. There was still a chill in the air, and her tiny body held no heat.

Some might think it morbid, but I chose to spend a few moments observing this tiny, fragile, exquisitely evolved form, and her wings in particular were captivating in the light. Appendages of grace, shaped to move through and with the air itself, I have no doubt that such feathers are some of the most elegant and miraculous structures one can observe in nature, so I shot a few photos before returning the tiny finch to the desert sand.

I have added these two images to a collection of square prints sized and priced for the casual art collector. These meditative, softly detailed feathers are available in sizes that start at $30 USD, with gallery canvas wrap and standout mounting options available.

I will periodically be adding new images to my Open Edition Square Series print collection in the months to come, so please check back for announcements or subscribe to this blog for updates.

To purchase ‘State of grace I’ & ‘State of grace II’ please visit apkphotography.com

Winter frost, Saskatchewan

This is my first true Canadian winter experience, as I visit the prairie city of Regina for several months. I have experienced snowy, icy winters before, but only in small doses. Here in Saskatchewan, I have watched the autumn leaves fall and blow from the trees, and enjoyed a first round of snow flurries complete with large, fluffy snowflakes.

Hoar frost and ice rime are a new firsthand experience, and a few nights ago a heavy mist descended crept into the city. I woke to a winter wonderland, every tree coated in ice crystals, the neighborhood transformed by a misty white frost.

As the fog cleared and sunny skies emerged, the contrast of the tree branches against the vivid blue above seemed surprisingly colorful given the mostly white palette of the scene. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to photograph this winter weather phenomenon. To see the full set of these Winter Frost photos, please visit the Regina, Saskatchewan gallery at www.apkphotography.com

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Frost clings to the branches of a tree, Regina Saskatchewan

Masdevallia Orchid Pair

Many years ago, in the milder climate of coastal California, I fell in love with orchids. It started innocently enough with the gift of a Phalaenopsis or two, and after finding them relatively easy to care for I began to explore the wider world of Orchidaceae. Along the California coast there are many orchid growers, and I discovered greenhouses open to the public in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, where orchids of every variety and color could be seen and photographed.

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Close-up of a pair of pink and yellow masdevallia orchid flowers, their exotic shapes brightly colorful against the greenery of an orchid exposition

My orchid collection grew, and I learned that some varieties were very forgiving when I’d forget to water them or would fertilize them irregularly despite the recommendations and warnings of other enthusiasts. I even attended a few Orchid Expositions, to see the most exotic and amazing flowers, and it was at one of these events that I spotted the orchids in this photograph. Masdevallia have always been a bit beyond my orchid-keeping abilities, as they are particularly sensitive to humidity and my home can’t be maintained as a greenhouse climate, but I fell in love with their unusual shape and bright colors and captured this photograph to enjoy instead.

I have added this image as a new release, to a collection of square prints sized and priced for the casual art collector. These charming, colorful flowers are available to brighten any room, in sizes that start at $30 USD, with gallery canvas wrap and standout mounting options available – with the added bonus that an art print is much easier to care for than these sometimes finicky orchid varieties.

I will periodically be adding new images to my Open Edition Square Series print collection in the months to come, so please check back for announcements or subscribe to this blog for updates.

To purchase ‘Masdevallia Pair’ please visit apkphotography.com

Back to the basics

I was recently challenged to a ‘7 Days, 7 Black & White Photos’ exercise on social media. My path in photography started with black and white film, yet now it is usually an afterthought and simply a processing choice in the digital darkroom.

Shooting with black and white in mind is always a welcome return to the fundamentals of light, shadow, and composition. These particular images were captured with my phone, so the resolution is limited. The rules were basic: images of everyday life, no people, no explanations or captions.

I may experiment with printing a few of these, and returning to capture similar photos with the full resolution of the DSLR. More importantly, I am going to try to seek out more black and white photos as I shoot; creatively, such photography focuses my intent and prompts me to see the familiar with fresh eyes, which always provides a boost to other aspects of my life.

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

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.

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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 

Santa Cruz, surfing Steamer Lane at sunset

In the stillness between waves, dedicated surfers wait in the rise and fall of a winter swell.  This image was captured shortly after a spectacular sunset had painted the pastel skies along the coast of Santa Cruz, California.

Santa Cruz, sunset scenes

These quiet moments are as much a part of surf culture as catching the biggest or most exciting waves, and a peaceful ocean scene like this reminds me of how we are all drawn to contemplate the sea.

Find this photograph and others like it in my Ocean & Coastal Prints archives.

The best camera…

…is the one you have with you.  If you’ve been anywhere near the internet in the past several years, you’ve heard this phrase.  If you’re a photographer of any sort, from hobbyist to professional, you know without a doubt that it is true.

I’ve worked with SLRs since the age of seven, when my father entrusted me with a 35mm Minolta SLR body and a few lenses, providing an endless supply of black and white film for my early photography explorations.  I also had a Kodak point-and-shoot through which I must have run hundreds of rolls of color print film.  When it came time for me to start building my own SLR camera kit, it came in the form of an upgrade to an entry-level Nikon FM-10, which I still keep handy for those opportunities when a return to 35mm film for a few shots might be worthwhile.

With each camera, I learned very quickly to work with whatever equipment I had on hand.  Didn’t pack the right lens for the occasion?  I’d work with what I had thought to bring, and never regretted the lessons learned in those moments of artistic and technical problem-solving.

In the digital era, I once again found myself playing with the freedom and spontaneity of a newer Kodak point-and-shoot, while the bulk of my photographic work was created with a Nikon D80, which I managed to make effective in a wider-range of shooting circumstances than the manufacturers may have intended.  I worked with the D80 well past the reported limit of actuations, and as the image quality began to degrade, I knew my beloved DSLR body had helped me to build an extensive portfolio as I explored different shooting styles and challenges.

I have now made the ultimate upgrade, working with a Nikon D800, and the creative flexibility and power it provides has opened up new paths for me, through visual and technical experience.  It is an incredible piece of engineering, and I hope my photography will continue to evolve as I learn to make use of all that it offers.

What inspired this post, however, is a recent, smaller upgrade.  For nearly 4 years, I’ve carried around an iPod touch as my “pocket computer”.  I tend to be a late-adopter on principle, and did not see the need for an expensive data-hungry phone, when any wi-fi connection could connect me in an instant to the online world.  With the iPod, I started an instagram account and enjoyed the spontaneous world of snapshot sharing.  As the years have gone by, I have been keenly aware of how the quality of my low-resolution images compare to those made by newer smartphones and mobile devices.  Yet I continued to share my world and in-the-moment photos in low-resolution, because in many instances it was the only camera I had with me, and therefore it was the best camera for that moment.  I’ve now upgraded my phone, and while the camera can not compare to my DLSR, it offers me new creative opportunities as I share higher-quality images and may find myself even further inspired to capture those candid and intimate moments that every day has to offer.  Join me on the journey!

One Structure, Many Forms

Working through my archives, I recently spent some time processing a handful of cityscapes and architectural shots from a trip to San Francisco last year. These two images were shot on the same day, and depict different angles on the same windows and balconies of one building.

This image intrigued me, with looming rows of railings, the couple hidden in the shadows, and the layers of squared corners and circles at the top. The tone and texture of the building against the blue sky seems to add another layer of interest, as it is difficult to decide whether this building might be a modern experiment from years past, or some possibly futuristic structure.

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The second image frames one edge of the angular building in the heavy concrete of a foreground structure. I chose to work in black and white for this view, as the elements of interest are all caught up in the layered angles, and in the balance of light and shadow as the afternoon light settles across the skyline.

It is important for me to routinely challenge my eye with these comparisons, as it can take so little to bring an entirely new meaning to a photograph. Which interpretation of this building do you prefer?

one truck, two treatments

Both of these photos were shot in the same hour, in the late summer heat of an early October afternoon. Sunlight filtered through the dusty rows of a seemingly endless walnut orchard, and this decaying old pick-up truck was interesting from every angle.

The first image was an early attempt at creative lighting and a found object, with off-camera flash and gels. I can think of so many other ways to play with this concept alone…might have to explore more of this kind of work. The second shot is the view I enjoyed from my tent in the orchard.

late afternoon

Deep canyon landscape

Spent maybe a little too long this morning playing in the archives, but I couldn’t resist. This sunset desert landscape is a panorama stitched from three photos.  The sun had just slipped behind mountains to the west, and only the faintest glow remained, caught by the buildings of Boyd Deep Canyon research center and a sliver of the distant Salton Sea.  The colors of the desert rocks and varnish are always surprising, but something about the softer winter light and clearer air of December seems to bring out even more dramatic color across the mountains.

I will be posting a great deal of landscape photography this year.  It has always been a favorite subject area, and I have quite a collection of untouched images from last year’s travels.  Landscapes figure quite largely in who we are and what our lifestyles and cultures have become, and as I find it difficult to separate myself from my environment, I am looking forward to studying it further. That it can be so magically beautiful and glow with amazing colors is simply a bonus.