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Organic Light Photography 2012 Favorites

In wrapping up the year many photographers try to pick their best photos from the year.  I am not sure what makes a ‘Best Photo’.  Is it the photo that was the most technically challenging?  Is it the the photo that is artistic in either its composition or color or lack of color?  Is it the photo that sold well or was the most popular with an audience?  Some photographers ask other photographers to pick for them.  Some photographers ask their audience to pick for them.

For me, its about what the photograph means, why I made the photo, how it makes me and others who look at it feel.  Did the photo bring a sense of wonder, or awe or delight?  Did it make me think or my audience think?  Did it help me to form a bond with Mother Earth or with those that are dear to me?  Those are the photos that would qualify as best.  So what follows are my favorites from the past year and why.

At the start of the year the full moon was rising over Half Dome in Yosemite and the high country was still accessible due to a lack of snow fall.  The crew and I made the trek and it was a moving experience for all.  Its the experience that makes a photo what it is sometimes and this one carries a lot with it.

full Moon Rising Over Half Dome

Another Day In The Park

Later in the year, in early autumn, the crew and I ventured out to the coast at a low negative tide and discovered what lives under the water.  We spent the afternoon gathering sea stars and made this fabulous arrangement.  the interactions that occurred that afternoon and on the evening ride home showed me something that I knew was inside of my crew but hardly had the chance to make an appearance.  I saw stars, real stars and it was in the making of this photo that brought them out to shine.

An Arrangement of Sea Stars at Low Tide

Seaing Stars

I also struggled this year with photography.  Trendy photos, trendy ways of displaying them and trendy marketing all designed to persuade the viewing public to think mediocrity is something special.  It was troubling me greatly and then by a strange twist of fate I found myself standing over a raging torrent of water at a location that attracts many tourists.  Those who stop marvel at the water but I was looking in the opposite direction.  What impressed upon me was that standing firm on what has a real foundation is the only thing that lasts.  When all the madness has passed, what has remained is morality, character and tradition.  That is what my photography rests on and hopefully others will see that as well.


Torrent of water in Cascade Creek

Standing Firm

The heavens in 2012 were also produced events of amazement and wonder.  Most memorable was the annular eclipse of the sun.  I planned a trip, determined a location prepared all the equipment both for the trip and the photography only to it all vaporize and morph into something entirely different. On the one hand it seemed like the endeavor was all in vain, but what resulted were some photographs that were as unique as the event itself.  Many photographers produced interesting renditions, but I saw nothing like what I was given.

Annular Eclipse of the Sun at Second Contact

Broken Light

It was amazing to see the moon and sun married in the sky together like that for several minutes.  Intellectually I know that the moon passes in between the Earth and Sun each month. I know this because each month I am out trying to find and photograph the new crescent moon once it has passed conjunction and starts to reflect the faintest amount light back to the Earth.  But seeing conjunction happen during a solar ecplipse brings seeing the new moon to a whole new level.  A day later, after ‘Broken Light’ was made, it was the moon’s stage and the moon’s alone.  I ventured out again to capture this elegant crescent that was only 26.3 hours old from the moment I saw it pass in front of the sun.  Needless to say it was quite awe inspiring.

New moon of Rajab 1433

Rajab 1433

The moons last year did not disappoint.  However the debates that revolved around the most certainly did.  The Islamic calendar is a pure lunar calendar.  It is based on sighting the new crescent moon each and every month.  In our modern world this seems to have become an inconvenience.  It is unfortunate because it is a most cherished tradition.  It is a tradition that helps us ground ourselves in reality rather than further immersing ourselves deeper into abstractions. The unadulterated mind sees things as they are not as they are conceived. Marking time by physically seeing an event occur is real, while marking time by a contrivance of the mind is not.  The moon is real and when one looks to the sky and sees nothing one moment and then suddenly in the next moment sees the moon appears it has to leave that person’s heart in awe of the creative power that brought all of the universe into existence.  At least it does for me.  And so, these moons are a affirmation of the existence of a Creator and the photos of these thin ribbons of light hold great weight with me.

Shabaan 1433 crescent Moon



Crescent Moon of Shawwal 1433

Guarding Mercy

Crescent Moon of Dhul Hijjah 1433

Hearing The Call

There was one other heavenly event that was of worthy note, the transit of Venus. A transit of a heavenly body is when that body passes between the Earth and Sun.  The transit of the moon could completely eclipse the sun due to its size and distance from the Earth.  Venus on the other hand, is so much further away from the Earth and when it passes in front of the Sun it looks like a small dot. Nonetheless, the transit of Venus only occurs once every 105 years.  Due to this rarity, the 2012 transit of Venus was an event that most of us alive on Earth today will never see again.  Making sure I photographed it was imperative and was a pleasure to witness.

Second Contact of Venus and Sun

Second Contact

As summer waned my thoughts started to focus on autumn.  I made it a point to make a trip to the Eastern Sierra imperative.  As October rolled around I dusted off the camping equipment and gathered up the crew and headed off.  We spent three days exploring and photographing that awe inspiring landscape.  At the time I was feeling somewhat flummoxed about how my photography was perceived. Among the questions the raced in my mind was one that continues to bother me. Do people understand my photography, do they see what I see, does my photography move people the way it moves me?  Then one morning while standing at the foot of the youngest mountains in North America, ‘Among The Dead’ was made as that very thought came to mind.  I wondered if me heart was dead and I was among the dead, or if the hearts of others were dead and I was among them.  Either I could not express my message, or it was not being received due to dead hearts.

Burned Sage on pumice fields of the Eastern Sierra

Among The Dead

Later that same morning as the sun started to hit the Sierra Nevada range, they acted like giant reflectors bouncing this warm light onto the pumice field I was standing on and the burned sage started to take on an incredible appearance. These burned twisted sangs were all that remained giving the feeling that I was looking at relics from an ancient time.  When light, subject, color, and texture all come together as they did when ‘Relic’ was made, it is hard to come away with anything but a winner.

Twisted and burned sage on pumice fields in the Easterne Sierra landscape


It was not long on the first autumn trip for my heart to find its winds and soar to great heights of  joy with the glowing colors of the Aspens.  As I was wandering I came upon this stand of young Aspens in the warm afternoon light.  They seemed to be dancing, in fact with the subtle breeze coming and going, the leaves would begin to shiver and almost twinkle in the sun.  I wanted to dance in the light with them.  I could not pass up the scene, and ‘Dancing In Light’ was made.  One of my all time favorite autumn images I think I ever made.

Aspens in warm afternoon light in the Eastern Sierra landscape

Dancing In Light

Autumn has to be my favorite season of the year and there is no place that I like in autumn better than in Yosemite Valley.  I make the trek there every year and this year I made it alone.  The crew, despite their pleading were left them behind.  I love having them along, but the dynamic of making photos with them and without them is like night and day.  Being alone allows me to wander and take my time without interruption.  I can focus on the light and how it plays with the trees, the grass, water and rocks.  My first morning in Yosemite Valley was strange.  I needed to wander for sometime allowing my heart to unfetter itself from the virtual reality of the manufactured world with all its worries and demands to the true reality of the natural world with all it awe and wonder.  Once that happened I came upon this stoic Ponderosa Pine and I came away with ‘Anchored’, probably my favorite photo of the year.

Ponderosa Pine and Black Oaks, El Capitan Meadow


I spent three days in Yosemite this past autumn and it was quite productive.  I exposed 60 sheets of film.  Of those 60 about a third made to the scanner and were developed for print.  Of course ‘Anchored’ has already been printed as well as ‘Among The Dead’ and ‘Dancing In Light’.  This next photo was also made on the first morning of my Yosemite trip.  It was a photo that I have always wanted to do, and have always suggested to workshop clients, but for some reason it never was made.  Well this year I did.  I walked into this small grove of Black Oaks in El Capitan Meadow known as the Cathedral Oaks and looked up.  The light was perfect as the sun had just crested the tops of the peaks that surround the Valley and lit the tops of these trees.  It was as if I was standing in a great cathedral looking through a stained glass window, only this cathedral was made, not by the hands of men for the sake of the glory of the Shaper of Beauty, but made by Shaper of Beauty so that our eyes may see and marvel at its glory.

Black Oaks in Yosemite Valley at sunrise.

In The Cathedral

On the last night of my trip the campground I was staying in was empty.  It was a Sunday night and I guess everyone that was there for the weekend had left.  It was dark, somewhat cold and very lonely.  As I was making my way back to camp earlier that evening, I decided I would try another photo that I had in mind for years.  I always wanted to photograph star trails while looking up through trees. When I returned to camp it was already dark.  By head light I started my campfire and then set up my camera pointed straight up again.  It is difficult working with film in the dark as the exposure times needed usually run into the time frame of hours and film starts to lose its ability to record light faithfully after about a few minutes of exposure.  This is called reciprocity failure.  But I wanted to try it out.  I focused as best as I could in the dark, removed the dark slide and opened the shutter.  I let the camera sit there for three hours as I burned off the remaining wood I had while I ate my dinner and read a book.  Around midnight the fire started to die.  I closed the shutter on the lens and called it a night.  Of all the photos I made in 2012, it was ‘Star Fire’ that I was most anxious to see when my films returned.  The light from the campfire produced an eerie glow among all the trees in my camp, and the long shutter worked well capturing the streaking stars in the sky.  A photo that I am very happy with and one that I will try again in spite of reciprocity failure.

Star trails through pine trees lit by campfire

Star Fire

The very last photo I made on my Yosemite trip was also the last photo I made for 2012.  I photograph this stretch of the Merced River almost every time I am in the Valley, and it is a location that I visit each time without fail.  I call this spot Happy Place. Everything that I love about the forest is found there along this small stretch of the the river.  In the past the photos that I have made there concentrated more closely on either one or two trees and with or without the water of the Merced.  This year I decided to try to capture the whole thing in one epic photo.  This photo, ‘To Be Happy’, was made from two separate sheets of 4×5 film and stitched together in software and then developed.  The resulting image has so much detail and resolution that a 40 x 90 inch photograph could be printed without any loss in quality.  It has captured both the stoic grandeur of the pines and cedars that line the river as well as the delicate qualities of the dogwoods and maples that give Yosemite its autumn blush in some very soft and flattering light.  I wish I could show you all the fine detail in this image online, but alas if you wold like to see that detail, it must be done in person.  ‘To Be Happy’ will certainly have a spot in my exhibit shortly.  Stay tuned for more information about that.


Autumn color along the Merced River in Yosemite Valley

To Be Happy

Well, there they are.  My favorite photos of 2012. I would love to hear your thoughts about these photos and leaving me a comment here on the web journal would be most appreciated.

I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous year in 2013, and maybe our paths will cross.

Til next time, Peace.



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Seaing Stars

Last July, that would be in 2011, I came home from a long day of teaching a summer camp in the midst of heat wave in the San Francisco Bay Area to find my intrepid 4 photo assistants flailed about the home studio sweltering in the heat.  It was still hours before sunset and so I suggested a trip to the coast for a little heat relief and possibly for some photography.  With that intent we headed out.  The result of that outing, if you are a regular reader here, you might recall was narrated in The Gathering. That photo turned out to be one of the most popular photos at my exhibit in the last year and a half.  It prompted me to think up of other similarly gathered items from locales that I photograph.

One year after ‘The Gathering’ was made, I found myself with my 4 assistants again trampling around on Pescadero beach on a day that not only had a low tide, but a substantial negative tide.  I stood on portions of the beach that I have never been on, seen creatures in tide pools that you normally could not see, and touched rocks that for most of the year remained constantly under water.  About an hour before sunset, I started noticing the number of starfish that were clinging to the exposed rocks.  Too close to the surf for me to set up and operate the large format camera without getting completely soaked and ruining the camera my mind suddenly flashed to the ‘The Gathering’ once more. I rallied my assistants and instructed them that we were going to make another collaborative photo but this time the subject was to be sea stars!  They were gung-ho and off they went.

We managed to gather about 10 sea stars and arranged them further up on the beach away from the surf and made a photo.  We felt that the number of sea stars seemed sparse and we needed more but unfortunately the sun was setting, the surf was rising and we needed to call it a day.  After putting the sea stars back on the rocks at the water line, we headed back to the car and I consulted a phone application I have on my phone called Tide Graph and found that 10 days later another negative low tide would occur that was even lower than what we had just experienced. So we set the date and made a plan to return.

On our second trip I gave clear instructions to my assistants that we had one goal – gather as many sea stars as we could possibly find.  We gave ourselves three hours of gathering time and I further instructed them that they should stay as dry as they could, it was after all mid September and the Pacific Ocean along the Northern California coast is not exactly heated to a comfortable swimming temperature, and I let them loose. I set up my camera further up on the beach away from the water and started to look for sea stars myself.  I found a few but my team started to bring even more.  With each new batch my assistants returned with more and more of their bodies soaked in seawater.  I reminded them about staying dry but the response was that they needed to reach the starfish!

At one point I looked around the beach and did not see the team anywhere.  Suddenly a small head pops up out of the water followed by two others!  Mind you they are fully dressed wearing waterproof rain jackets that are now water soaked.  Moments later I had three assistants running up to me completely soaked from head to toe, each toting several sea stars. The youngest of my assistants offers up the excuse that the pool she was in did not seem so deep, but then slipped and fell face first into water and it was so FUN!  My youngest son, rushes up and says with emphatic curiosity “Baba, Baba, it does not hurt when you open your eyes under the ocean! Why?!”  I explain to him that the salinity of the ocean is the same as that of our blood and our tears and so it is as if you opened your eyes in a big ocean of tears.  He continues, “its amazing down there, you can see so many different plants and animals all over the place on the rocks, it is the coolest thing I have ever done!” I then ask him “are you not cold?”  He replies “Yes I am but its so fun swimming in the ocean and I can hardly feel my giblets anymore.  They feel like ball-cicles!” and off he went back to the water and searching for more sea stars.  At one point a couple walking along the beach saw my intrepid team neck deep in a large tide pool and also asked them if they were cold.  My team replies gleefully “it used to be, but now we we can’t feel it anymore”.

Soon the number of sea stars became significant and the arrangement started to look very full.  My oldest son comes up the beach with his small pouch filled with not only sea stars but two live purple shore crabs and suggested we include them as well.  His reasoning was that they too were exposed by this low tide and that is what this photo is really about.  He had a great idea.  So we placed them in the arrangement and remarkably they did not run off, at least not right away.  His suggestion about what was found at low tide was exactly what this photo needed to make it interesting.  So as the team continued with finding sea stars I started to comb the beach for detritus either washed up or left behind by the receding surf.  I collected interesting stones like those in the ‘The Gathering’, muscle shells, other shore crab shells, some complete and some partial, black turban sea snails, Dungeness crab claws, and I even found one complete half of a Dungeness crab shell with a claw and four legs.  When they all finally came up the beach with their last haul of sea stars they noticed all the other items and were both shocked and impressed.  To finish it off they insisted on including a feather, a single feather that they found rolling around on the beach pushed by the breeze.  We debated its inclusion for a bit, but in the end, as it was found on the beach below the normal tide line and we included it.

The whole day had been overcast so the light was flat, perfect for this kind of photo.  However it was also somewhat bland as well.  Then about 20 minutes before sunset, the fog above us started to glow with a faint reddish-pink tone that warmed the arrangement just perfectly.  It was then that I made the photo.  We then began taking the sea stars back to the water line and placed them back on the rocks and in the surf where they could reattach themselves and continue on with their patient existence.

We walked back to the car exhilarated with the experience.  Suddenly I realized that my car seats were about to become as soaked as my assistants.  They were all shivering now, with sea water dripping from their chins and fingertips, feet covered up to their ankles in sand.  My car was about to become an extension of the beach.  They climbed in as I started the car and tuned on the heater to help warm them up.  The windows quickly fogged up and so I started to alternate between the heater and the air conditioner to defrost the windshield so that I could see where I was driving.

Normally the return drive from the beach with my assistants usually devolved into an argument about who is going to shower first when we arrived at home.  On this occasion however, something magical happened.  Because the experience they had of ‘swimming’ in the ocean was so powerful, all they could do was recount their intrepidness to each other.  Each trying to out do the others’ stories.  I heard things from them like I had never heard before.  Snippets about how they all would charge into the water to save their youngest compatriot when they saw the her fall down, how they would sit at the edge of a pool and reach out to grab a star only to get washed over by a wave, and then giving up to the water and just going headlong into it.  Recounts of how the water was so cold that they could not feel fingers and toes; but that it was so fun they were certainly not going to come out.  My oldest daughter summarized it best; “this was the most fun I have ever had in my entire life!

Once we came upon the town of Davenport, I pulled over and decided to stop at the Davenport Roadhouse to surprise my team with some hot chocolates to help them warm up.  I had them stay in the heated car as I went into the restaurant; all the while they had no idea why I had stopped.  What I had seen from them and what I would continue to see on the remainder of our return home were the stars that they are when they can get beyond themselves and their self-interests.  When I walked back with the hot chocolates, I heard a cheer from the car.  Now with warm fluids flowing through them, my oldest son finally exclaims “I can finally feel my middle toe again!”  The rest of the ride home they worked out who would shower first when they got home, started ranking themselves with titles for the various actions they took at the beach; things like most wet, most coldest, biggest splash falling, most sea stars collected, most sand in pockets, coldest toes, and so on.  It was the most enjoyable ride home that I can ever remember.

When it came to naming the photo, I only had to think back to that ride home and the four stars that I saw shining in that car.  ‘Seaing Stars’, the photo below was, once more, the result of a collaborative effort of five souls whose love for the natural world brought them to that beach and through their individual and unique efforts gathered all these amazing creatures that are normally hidden from view.

Go out and find some magic for yourselves and your loved ones.  The natural world has much to offer and the stories you come back with will be priceless.

Seaing Stars

Seaing Stars



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Disappointment Deals Delight

The Sun

The Light Source

This past Sunday was dedicated to photographing the annular eclipse of May 20th, 2012.  I had prepared for it on many levels from what exposure to use to where I would drop my tripod to how I was going to make what I captured unique, and had done so for weeks ahead of time.  The one thing that I failed to plan for was equipping my four photo/travel assistants with what they needed to view and keep themselves entertained for its duration.  Despite my earlier attempts to find solar viewing glasses I could not find any vendor who was not sold out.  In addition, the day before the eclipse I found myself in a discussion with another photographer who was making plans to photograph and produce HDR (high dynamic range) photos of the event showing both the eclipsed sun and landscape as they would normally appear to our eyes.  I contested his claim but he was insistent that it could be done.  This caused me to waiver in my plans, and coupled with the possibility of a mutiny on my hands with my assistants forced my hand to change my plans nearly entirely.   I found myslef the night before, rather than getting a good night’s rest, up late scouring various sites on what was capable while still maintaining a real look to HDR photography.  Then I happened to land on a news page about the museum and visitor center at Turtle Bay Exploration Park / Wild Bird Sancturay in Redding, Ca.  The article stated that they would be selling solar viewing glasses for $1 and the article was only written that day, the information had to be accurate, right?

Crescent Sun Ecplisped by the Moon

Crescent Sun

In the 11th hour, I changed all my plans.  My destination was now Turtle Bay Wild Bird Sanctuary in spite of the fact that there would be hundreds if not thousands of people there.  Redding was not that far off the annularity line that it would change what I actually had in mind, and park environment would placate my assistants should the need arise.

We awoke Sunday morning and prepared our supplies for the day’s drive and viewing.  We were out the door with plenty of time and the  four and a half hour drive started out pleasant, however the further we drove the more tense things became in the car.  The tide of pleasant anticipation in my assistants was starting to turn.

We arrived with two and a half hours of buffer before the start of the eclipse.  The plan, buy the viewing glasses, eat lunch, find a suitable viewing location and then wait.  Disappointment met us from the beginning.  First the museum under estimated the response for viewing glasses and was sold out the day before.  Not to worry the employee told me, they will have 500 more glasses arriving at 4 pm, and will be available at the annex store by the famous Sundial Bridge.  By the time we arrived we found a line of about 100 people standing in the hot sun in 90° weather waiting to get in to the store at 4pm.  The roving employee there let us know we were in a part of the line where we might not get any glasses as each person could buy up to 5 glasses, putting us in a risky part of the line.  So with great hope we waited.  Slowly patience began to wear thin among my crew. One wanted to light a fire just because it was so hot, his incredulous claim was he could do it with just a focused pinhole of light.  Another wished he did not leave his water in the car.  Then the other wanted to play, and sleep and be carried on my head at the same time.  My patience was starting to wane.  By 4:45 we were inside and we made our purchase – lady luck smiled on us.

Solar Eclipse Obscured by High Cirrus Clouds


We had less than 15 minutes before the start of the eclipse.  I announced that everyone should evacuate bladders and such for once I start the photo sequence there was no stopping.  No one heeded my words.  I was suspicious.  By the time we finished eating and squelching some sibling rivalry fires, the eclipse had started and I missed the initial contact of the moon with the sun and disappointment found its way into my head.

For the next two and a half hours, it was one dispute after another, one distraction after another, one question after another.  My mind was not focused at all on what I was doing.  My photos were not being timed carefully and I would miss the twenty second mark I had planned for each photo more times than I could keep count of.  I was also plagued by clouds, thin nefarious clouds that were just thick enough to keep the light levels jumping all over the place.  I could not make a sequence of more than 4 or 5 photos that had the same exposure level that I needed to make a time lapse sequence possible.  I also saw in my view finder this very odd haloing and glow around the sun nearly the whole time.  Something I did not notice in my practice photos.  It brought me great concern that I might find flares in all these photos making them useless in the end.  My mind started slipping into thoughts of inadequate equipment syndrome, something that did not torment me in more than a decade.

The Annular Eclipse of May 20th 2012 in total annularity

With This Ring

As the moon continued its encroachment of the sun, the anticipation of my assistants increased.  The arguing vanished into amazement, the prevailing thirst quenched with wonderment, and I as well was awe struck by the magnitude of what was occurring before my eyes.  Here was the moon, an entity in our sky that could not be seen if not for the light of the sun, moving in front of the source of what makes it existent to our eyes and blocking it out.  However, rather than overshadowing the sun it instead forms a ring of heavenly light as the the two wed in the sky for nearly 4 minutes in a display that had no beginning and no end.  It was as if time stood still and the world became dim and humbled in the grandeur of their union.  Being so close to a multitude of people, even though out of eyesight, we were not cheated out of hearing the cheers that belted out throughout the park as the ring became complete.  It was a spine tingling moment not to be soon forgotten.

The moon breaks the ring of light as it exits totality

Broken Light

Nonetheless, being created things that had a beginning so long ago, their nature is to end and they exhibited their primal nature with the moon breaking the ring of light as it continued on its way past the sun and ending totality.  Again a second cheer rings out among the crowd.  The event everyone came to see had happened.  In my exhilaration any thoughts I had about not capturing the eclipse the way I had intended had vanished if not for just a brief time.  I continued until the dreaded clouds that obscured the sky and mustered havoc with my exposures obliterated the light of the sun, just 10 minutes before the eclipse concluded.  A disappointing end, and one that brought question if I would have any usable photos at all.

After a long drive to Turtle Bay, and sitting square in the sun and heat for nearly five hours, I had to look forward to another long drive home unsatisfied in my work and with no hopes of a return on the investment made.  We arrived home just past midnight and my first act was to see and download the photos.  At first glance all were useless.  Not more than 4 or 5 photos in sequence were exposed at the same settings, making the probability of a time lapse sequence happening slim to none.  So I turned off the computer and retired to bed  hoping to come up with something in the morning.

The next day I started to process the photos to find almost all of them have a glowing halo around the sun that I could not remove without great difficulty.  In my desperation I start to process the photo Broken Light in a manner that I would never normally do to discover that the halo I was seeing was nothing more than the clouds that were obscuring the sun glowing in the light.  The use of the solar filter on my lens allowing me to view and photograph the sun had made the clouds so dark that they did not appear as clouds when normally processed against the brightness of the sun.  So with my modified processing suddenly the lost photos became as surreal as the momentous eclipse itself.  I searched the net for other photos of the eclipse to find that no one had anything like what I had been given.

My disappointment was suddenly transformed into delight.  Maybe someday I will have the opportunity to produce a time lapsed sequence of the moon eclipsing the sun.  However in hindsight, what I had envisioned would not have been very interesting and what I was given instead has pleased me much more.  Funny how things turn out.

Now I am looking 5 years ahead to the next eclipse that will cross over this neighborhood of the Earth, maybe then I will see my original vision come to fruition.

Peace to you All!

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Remembering Spring

Spring Wildflowers in Carizzo Plain

Remembering Spring

It seems like such a long time ago that the flowers were blooming yet it does not take much to remember them when a photo is looked at.  Every aspect is remembered from the aromas to the feeling of the sunlight caressing the skin. Thoughts re-emerge about how the photo will finally look once it is processed and the excitement of eventually seeing it.  Much goes into making a photo and the rewards of finally finishing it are great.  Good things come to those who wait, and hopefully all who see this photo now will have as much pleasure looking at it as I had re-living the moment and processing it.


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New Year Moon – Muharram 1432

The new Islamic Year has commenced. The year 1432 on the Islamic calendar began for me just about 1 hour ago here on the West coast of the United States in the San Francisco Bay Area. The new moon was seen by myself and three of my children, all future moon sighters, God Willing, the youngest being only 4 years old.

Muharram 1432

Muharram Crescent 1432

As usual, my youngest had a hard time seeing it at first, but then finally asked “does it look like a little hair?” To which I replied “yes” and she gleefully said “I see it!”  A moon sighter in the making, I’d say.

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New Year & New Images

In a few days we will begin a new decade.  It is amazing how fast time passes when we are not aware, while we are busy with life, while we were preoccupied with meaningless things.  For me it has been a busy year but albeit not one that has been very fruitful. It was a year that tested our resolve to its fullest, and hopefully we have made it through in decent shape.

Tailbone Falls

It has been a slow year for me in terms of bringing out new work.  I now have released 16 new photographs that can be viewed at the Organic Light Photography website.  They span the work from spring, summer, autumn and the early winter of this year.

In these last few days of 2009, I hope you will get a chance to have glimpse of this new work and hopefully decide to acquire one for your own.  I have truly appreciated all your support over the years and it is always my joy to bring some of our world’s beauty to share with all of you.

Please have safe new years and may 2010 bring all of prosperity and good fortune.


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New Islamic Year – 1431

New Crescent - Muharram 1431

New Crescent - Muharram 1431

This evening, in silence, the new Islamic year – 1431 began.  Now I don’t live in the Muslim world so I have never experienced what takes place upon seeing the new moon that ushers in the new Islamic year, but here in the United States, it goes pretty much un-noticed.   In fact if it is not the moon for the start of Ramadan or the moon that ends Ramadan, most Muslims never look into the sky or even bother to notice what the Islamic date is.  For me the new moon is an awaited monthly friend that I have been faithfully visiting for the last twenty years.  For me it is always a joyous event.  And although the moon never seems to be any different, every time it comes around it comes with a different sky as its backdrop.  And so it is always something new to look at.

Muharram Crescent and Clouds

Muharram Crescent and Clouds

So on this eve of the New Year, I wish all the Muslims a Blessed Muharram, and may the year 1431 be a safe, prosperous, and beneficial year.

Peace to you all.

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New Photos Released

Six new photos have been released on the Organic Light Photography website. 

The website has also been updated with a new feature that allows you to see the photos super-sized!  Just click on the “details” button below each individual photo in the gallery pages to see them BIG!  The feature is not available for every photo on the website but over time more and more photos will get updated.  The detail of Large Format film is astounding and can only be appreciated in large images.  The photos are even better in person as 16 x 20 inch enlargements or bigger.  Visit an upcoming show to see them.


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From The Hip

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 1

I had to take my truck in to the garage today for some maintence and to correct a brake problem. I took it in later in the afternoon and decided to walk home. It was only about 4 miles away and I thought it would give me an opportunity to see what lies along the road that I drive nearly every day with my camera in hand. I was not terribly inspired by anything until I crossed a freeway bridge. As the cars whizzed by beneath me I thought it would be cool to try and capture some car headlight or taillight trails. However, it was still to bright to get a photo with the shutter open long enought to capture good trails.

So I walked on. Then I began to take photos of the cars that were pasing me by on the street. It seemed like a good idea, but I did not want anyon to know I was photographing their car. So I began to shoot from the hip. Here is what happened.

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 2

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 3

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 4

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 5

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 6

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 7

From The Hip 1

From The Hip 8

I know… not my usual fare. But I found them interesting. Let me know which one you found the most interesting. I’d love to hear from you – Peace.

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New Year 1430!

Time passes by so fast.  This evening marked the beginning of the New Islamic Year, Year 1430.  Tonight being the first evening of the month of Muharram and tomorrow the first full day.  The Islamic calendar is one based on the lunar cycle.  Each of the 12 lunar months is marked by sighting the new crescent moon.  Three times out of the year it is a big deal throughout the Muslim world with the start and end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and with the start of the 12th month in the year which is the month of Pilgrimage.  For the rest of the year, the moons go pretty much un-noticed except for a handful of dedicated die-hard moon-sighters.

Muharram Moon in Pink

Muharram Moon in Pink

I however have made a point to go out and search for the new moon every month since 1990.   Some months I see the moon and other months I don’t.  And I don’t always get a photo, even though it was photographing the moon that got me interested in and steeped in photography to begin with.  I had marked this day, the 28th of December in my calendar from one month ago at the last moon sighting trip and ingrained that date in my head.  It came upon me quicker than I thought.  Then a few days ago, with the 28th a brainworm in my head, I forgot why the 28th was important and for some reason I thought 28th was a Monday.  Then about a half an hour before sunset TODAY it suddenly occured to me that this evening was the night for seeking out the moon.

Muharram Crescent and Mercury

Muharram Crescent and Mercury

As I scrambled to gather myself and my gear I realized that there would not be enough time to make out to my usual location for sighting the moon.  As I raced down the street to the gas station to fill up before my ascent to Skyline Hwy along the main ridgeline of the Santa Cruz Mountains, I decided to take my chances and stay right there in town and hope that I would be able to see it above the mountains’ skyline.  So I gassed up the truck and then drove a whopping 150 yards and pulled into the neighborhood shopping center, parked and pulled out my camera gear and prepared for the show.  Twenty minutes later, faintly appearing in the sky the crescent emerged, and even though I have seen countless new moons, it was just as spectacular as any that I have ever witnessed.  As the evening progressed and the moon slowly sank closer and closer to the skyline one of its neighbors in the sky, Mercury, appeared to join the moon and usher in the new year. 

I then thought how amazing it is that the new Islamic year begins with such a heavenly event.  It saddened me to think that most of world in a few short days would be celebrating the new Gregorian year at loud heedless parties in a semi-drunken stupor.  No heavenly event would take place marking the new year, only the click of the mechanized hands of the clock, an invention of our own making, and then we would continue to party making more and more noise until we either pass out drunk or finally give up to fatigue.  In contrast, even though I was standing in the middle of a bustling city, all was silent as that moon made its way to the horizon.  In all the grandure of the universe, I again remembered that a simple event like the appearance of the moon and witnessing it come into existence links me with all of it.  Its both humbling and enriching at the same time.  I never tire of feeling like I am a part of something greater than myself, and grateful to the One who made it all, that I could be there and to share it with everyone else.

Muharram 1, 1430 - December 28, 2008 5:34 pm PST.

Muharram 1, 1430 - December 28, 2008 5:34 pm PST.

Happy New Year and Peace to All!

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