Archive for May, 2011

Something Beautiful

We live in a world that moves so fast.  Everything is measured in mili.. no, microseconds, and nothing is ever fast enough.  Its nice to slow down, really slow down and just live at the speed of time.  It is amazing when we can slow down long enough to take a walk on a beach, watch the sun sink slowly on the western horizon, listening to the crashing waves and breathing the fresh salty air.

I did just that today.  With my kids in tow, we headed to the beach today.  It was beautiful.  I sat there doing nothing as my kids played in the surf taunting the waves and then running up-beach as the waves came crashing at them.  My youngest son stood on a small bluff of sand on the beach, partially silhouetted by the sun, and appeared to be a conductor of a symphony, and it looked like he was commanding the waves to do his bidding raising his hands as wave after wave came in.   All the while the others jumped and stomped in the foamy water as it approached and when a real big wave came in they ran for dear life!  It was simply amazing.

Photos you ask?  I thought about as I sat in the sand higher up and away from the water, but it was as if my bottom had been glued to the sand.  Everything was to perfect to spoil with the mechanized memory device known as a camera.  It came with us, but I just left it behind in the car.

In retrospect I think it would have  been nice to have captured the glee and momentary horror on children’s faces as they played, but at the time all I could muster myself to do was to say “Thank You God”.

Do something beautiful in the near future.

Something Beautiful

Something Beautiful

P.S. This above photo was taken exactly one month ago on a different beach.  I did not know it at the time, but it was taken for today’s post.  Funny how things fall in place.


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2011 Open Studio Photo Giveaway Winner Announcement

The drawing was held just a short time ago on  If you sent in an email, or left with me at the open studio event you can go to the drawing page on and type in your first and last name as it was given to me and verify that you were in the running.  You can verify your entry by clicking HERE and typing in your name in the entrant box.

The winner this year:  Julia O’Connell.

Julia is the winner of two studio sized matted prints of her choice.  Congratulation Julia and I await your reply with your choice of photos.  And a heartfelt thank you to all who participated.

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Try This (5/15/11)

Cameras are a wonderful tool for expressing your thoughts visually provided that you know how to get your camera to “say” what you want.  The most basic step in getting the camera to speak for you is making sure it captures the “correct” amount of light to convey whatever it is that you want to “say”.

To that end one must learn how to control the camera with regards to how much light is captured.

Try This:  Place your camera on a tripod.  Point the camera at something with a fairly uniform tone, like a fence or a lawn.  Zoom in so that only that tone is seen in the viewfinder.  Next change the camera’s capture mode to Manual, yes – Manual.  For some this might be daunting and downright scary.  But believe me your camera will not be harmed and furthermore, if you make a “mistake” you can just delete it.  However what we want to see here are the mistakes and learn from them.  You might need to consult your camera manual.

Now that you have the camera in manual mode, consult the camera manual and determine which buttons or wheels control the adjustment of the Aperture and Shutter.  I know for example on most Canon DSLR cameras, the aperture is controlled by the large thumb wheel in the middle of the back of the camera just to the right of the LCD and the shutter is controlled by the small finger wheel in the front of the camera just under the shutter release button.  On Nikon DSLR cameras, the aperture is controlled by a small finger wheel on the front of the camera just under the shutter release button  and the shutter is controlled by a similar wheel on the back of the camera at the top right, behind the shutter release button.

With the camera now on a tripod and in manual mode, adjust the aperture to its largest setting, i.e. the smallest f-number something like f4, f3.5 or f2, and set the shutter speed to its longest setting, for most cameras 30 seconds.

Now press the shutter release button, you will need to wait 30 seconds for the exposure to complete and then look at the LCD.  What do you see?  If everything went as described, you should see a completely white screen, and possibly blinking black to white.  This is extreme over-exposure.  In other words too much light got into the camera.

Now, start reducing the aperture size by dialing in larger f-numbers.  For example if you started out at f3.5 now go to f5.6 then f8, f11, f16, f22 and so on until you run out of f-stop settings.  Each time making that 30 second exposure and examining the LCD.  It is possible that even at the smallest aperture opening, like f22, with that 30 second shutter speed you won’t see much difference.

Now dial in the next shorter shutter speed, most likely 15 seconds and then make photos with increasing aperture sizes going from f22 back to f3.5 or whatever your maximum aperture is.  Examine your LCD each time.

Continue to repeat this with every shutter speed setting you have 8 seconds, 4 seconds, 2 seconds, 1 sec, 1/2 sec, etc.. until you reach the shortest shutter speed probably 1/2000 sec or 1/4000 sec.  At least one if not several aperture-shutter combinations will give you a photo that will resemble the uniform tone you have your camera pointed at.  In fact the photo that closely resembles that tone will probably be the one you like least as it will probably be not what you thought you “saw”.  A series of these photos that I made is shown below.  Oh, and for the record, I liked the f11 @ 1/60 sec exposure best, even though the camera indicated that it would have given me the f11 @ 1/125 sec exposure.

This is the first step to mastering your camera to convey what you want it to, learning how to take control of exposure.  To learn more about photography consider taking an Organic Light Photography Workshop.  You’ll learn more about exposure and a whole lot more.

Exposures in Manual Mode

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2011 Open Studio Begins

The 2011 Organic Light Photography Open Studio starts today!  From 11 am to 5pm both Saturday and Sunday this weekend May 7-8 and for the next two weekends May 14-15 and May 21-22 I will have the photos and more on display and for sale.

All photos, posters and note cards are discounted during the open studio by 15%!

If you have been admiring one of my photos, then this is the time to make your purchase.  This sale only comes once a year!

Once again I am running the FREE Photo Giveaway Contest.  Just visit the Exhibit and leave me you name, address and email to enter the random drawing for 2 Studio Series Matted Photos of YOUR CHOICE!  The winner will be chosen randomly using  Winner will be announced here on Organic Light Pan on Wednesday May 25th.

Good Luck and I hope to see you here at the studio.

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Spring Sprung

Each year as winter approaches the world prepares itself to go dormant and fall asleep.  Trees lose their leaves and become only skeletons of what they were.  The land dry and hard awaits the rains that will make it supple once more and fertile for the seeds of the summer to finally take root.  In the winter, everything goes to sleep.

So too should we take a lesson from it and learn how to look inwards and take stock, find a respite, and let go of those things that drive us so that we can rejuvenate ourselves.

However, this past winter I did not see it in that light.  This past winter had to have been one of the least productive times I have ever had as a photographer. Had it not been for the new moon each month I do not think I would have even ventured out with the camera at all.   All the while I questioned my worth as a photographer as no matter what I looked at I could not see anything in such a way that appealed to me to make a photo of it.

Yet when I allowed my auto-pilot to take control, I found that great photos were still coming from me even if I could or would not see it.  ‘Washed’ was the only fruit that was harvested all winter.

Stones on beach washed by waves


I guess what I did not see happening was exactly what I needed.  I too had gone dormant for the winter.  I needed to take a creative time out to allow for new growth to emerge.

Spring entered and something sprung inside of me.  In early April, still thinking I was in my slump I geared up to go out to photograph the Moon of Jamad Al-Awwal.  Then just as I was about to leave, an emotional train wreck occurred that derailed my outing completely.  Without the time left in the day to make it to my quite place in the mountains to see and photograph the moon in peace, as I normally do, I had only enough time to walk down my street to an opening amongst the trees to see and make a record of my celestial friend the Moon.

The new moon cradled amongst tree branches


When I saw the moon just nestled there amongst those branches appearing safe and protected, something inside of me suddenly opened.  My heart saw everything anew and I felt that Spring had finally sprung in me.

The flowers were soon to be blooming and I could barely contain the excitement in me to be out there once again finding light and bringing it back for others to see as well.  The time had come and I made my trek in search of the wildflowers.  I visited all my old haunts to find that even though my spring had sprung this year, for the flowers they decided to take a year off.  I suppose they deserve time off as well.  With just under 1000 miles of driving this year in search of those elusive gems of color, I found only one patch that conveyed my sense of coming to life again.

Miles of Tidy Tips

I Can See For Miles

Standing there in Carrizo Plain I could see for miles.  The elation and disappointment coupled to move me in such a way as to not let the absence of flowers keep me from enjoying Spring and I gave up on the preconceived notion of finding wildflowers and I just went wild.  Photographing things for the shear joy of it.  My creative juices were flowing with such fervor that I did not know when to stop.

I returned home to lead a private workshop and I took my client to all my familiar spots in the Santa Cruz Mountains and along the San Mateo Coast.  I had no preconceived ideas of what I would find and I expected to just stand around most of the time directing my client at all the things that I had photographed more times than I can count without having the desire to do the same again.

The funny thing was that everything looked fresh and new, as if I had never seen them before.  I took more photos in that one day than I had in possibly the last six months!  I was seeing light in a very new way and I liked it.

Deer Fern Frond in Sunlight

Ladder of Light

Then the day came to a close and my elation was given a good stiff clocking to the jaw.  On a beach that I have worked on for years, among hard stone sculpted over the millennia I saw what Mother Earth wanted me to see.  Even though it was a spectacular day, with a slight sea breeze blowing, seagulls calling, the sound of crashing surf, the scent of the redwoods and the sounds of a babbling creek still fresh in my mind from earlier that morning, here was Mother Earth shedding one black tear.  A stark reminder that she is in pain.

Mother Earth sheds a black tear.

Black Tear

Even though my creativity and vision came back to me this spring, Mother Earth did not let me forget why I make portraits of her: to remind others of just how fragile she is.  She also reminded me that she goes through cycles for a reason – so that growth can continue.  Down time, rebirth, growth, vigor and waning are all part of a precious cycle that we must adhere to as well if we are to grow.  We also must take heed in understanding that we do not make our own fate as that is in the hands of the Divine.  We cannot produce whatever it is that we preconceive in our minds and that sometimes we just need to be grateful for what is given and appreciate it as much if not more than what we originally wanted.  In the end, we will find that what we do come away with was much more valuable.

Enjoy the rest of Spring, it will be gone before we know it.


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