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.
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.
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.
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.
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“.
Aerial of burnished copper hills dusted with oak forest, as seen during an extended western drought along the coastal landscape of California
Aerial view of the arid western landscape, eroded cliffs and canyons cut through patchwork agricultural land
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.
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.