Thursday, March 19, 2015


The figure (top center, left window pane) in the window is someone installing new windows in our home. It's out of focus, which worked well. I took the picture quickly, before my camera phone figured out what was going on.

Alien, Austin, Texas, 2015

I took a few shots and this one stood out, he looks like an alien looking in. Simple picture, taken with my Samsung Galaxy S3 and then converted to warm tone black and white using a Pixlr pre-set filter.

I use Pixlr, Pixlr Express and Pixlr O-matic for almost all my phone pictures. They work very well, have all the controls I need, are simple to use and do fine with phone photos. I can get real aggressive with the controls though, it creates some interesting pictures (future post) and gives me a creative break from what I consider more serious photographic work. Lightroom is still my go-to editing software for digicam pictures.

I have an assignment to post a picture a day. More on this later. Let's see if it pans out. Right now I'll split between my Instagram account and this blog until I get the hang of things.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


One of the best things about photography is that it is personal. You can do your own thing...copy others or be unique; or work from an abstract, surrealist or documentary point of view. What matters is to use your eye and your mind and let your images reflect your perception.

I have been photographing since high school. My father taught me the basics of cameras, film and exposure. I still have some of the equipment I learned with: a Sekonic light meter (that requires no batteries) and an Edixa Mat single lens reflex with a Schneider lens. While it wasn't clear or obvious to me when I started, I ultimately learned that good photographs have little to do with equipment. In the environment of the craftsman, I went beyond my teacher. I learned, I explored, I grew.

Stairway, New York, New York

I could have made the photograph above with a range of equipment. A view camera, a Holga, a point and shoot, the camera on my phone. I used my digital Pentax K20D to photograph, looking upward, the stairway in the Apple store in New York City on 5th Avenue and 58th Street. It was a quick grab and I knew I had something interesting. My daughter, Sophie was wondering what I was doing.

It's all about the way we look at things. It really doesn't matter whether you see beauty or drama. Photography is a personal endeavor and is more about your vision than the materials used making the image. For me, there is the added benefit of holding a tangible product in my hands, a print. While I embrace digital wholeheartedly, I feel better when I generate a print. It will last.

Making images is a never-ending pursut. If you get bored or tired with one approach, work around it and come up with something that works better for you. No limitations. Most of all, relish in the simplicity of politics, no lies. Just a photographer, her tools and a subject.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I'm not much of a sunset photographer, as much as I enjoy watching the sun rise and set. What I really like about early morning and late afternoon is the color that's created as the low sun works it's way through the atmosphere. Interestingly, my typical photographic approach during these times is to have my back to the setting sun so I can photograph the soft, warm light that wraps itself around everything in front of me.

I was in Salt Lake City a few weeks back, working for three days. I had been to Salt Lake City many times but had never been out to see the Great Salt Lake. I had an idea of what the lake looked like, having seen it from above on inbound or outbound flights. I like window seats.

Sunset, Great Salt Lake, Lake Point Junction, Utah

During my visit, I asked a colleague, Nate Young, ( for some location tips and he came up with four options...go to the hillsides around the lake, hike Ensign Peek, drive out to Antelope Island, or go west to the Interstate 80 frontage road. I realized I didn't have enough time for the mountain, hillsides or Antelope Island so I drove a few miles out to the frontage road. I knew I wanted some shoreline in the photograph and getting to it would be easiest from the road.

Most of my images are in black and white. The original is always taken in color and I then convert to B&W using my editing software, Lightroom. This photograph actually converts very well to black and white but I wanted to show the color, emphasizing the reflection on the water. I love the low light of the setting or rising sun in Texas, or anywhere else where it's flat. The horizon, without mountains, lets the color hang for a long time and, with a tripod, you can photograph well after the sun has set. The only error I made is waiting a little too long to run out to the lake. The sun sets much earlier as it ducks behind mountains instead of the flat terrain common in many parts of the west, including Texas.

It had snowed in Salt Lake City earlier in the week and as soon as the sun set it became cold quickly. Surprisingly, three of the local ski areas, Alta, Solitude and Snowbird had already opened. I drove back to the city and went for some good Mexican food at the Red Iguana. One of the great perks of traveling is that you expand your list of restaurants to choose from and locales to photograph. I always carry my camera in a backpack with my laptop and while my shoulder gets some stress I frequently discover fabulous places.

It's always about the light. Photograph the air as Ted Orland instructed me some years ago.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Pump jacks, or grasshoppers, are a common site in Texas. I live in Austin, where they are not as abundant but as you head west their presence increases. This photograph was made near Post, Texas in Garza County, just southeast of Lubbock on U.S. Highway 84. In this part of Texas and further south towards the Edwards plateau lies the Permian Basin, where most of our West Texas Intermediate crude comes from. If the oil doesn't have enough pressure to make it up by itself it needs a pump to do the job.

If you've ever spent any time in Lubbock you know how to appreciate flat and windy. Lubbock sits at an elevation of 3,256 feet but you wouldn't realize it just by looking around. Roughly 2,000 feet lower than Denver, this part of Texas, or more accurately, the Great Plains, is simply flat as a pancake.

Pump Jack, Highway 84, Post, Texas

As you drive northwest from Abilene to Lubbock, you don't realize it, but you're going uphill, slowly, about 10 feet per mile. Abilene sits at an elevation of 1,719 feet and Lubbock is at 3,256 feet. The only place you notice a marked change in geography is at Post, Texas a town located on the edge of the eastern escarpment of the Llano Estacado.

The Llano Estacado, or "staked plain", translated from Spanish, is a large geological formation of over 32,000 square miles, which makes it larger than New England. Most of it lies in Texas with 4 counties in New Mexico. The Llano Estacado is the largest "mesa" or tableland in North America and continues north up to Tucumcari, New Mexico at 4,000 feet and Clovis, New Mexico at 4,200 feet.

Spanish explorers found it so flat and nondescript that they used stakes as navigation tools. I consider myself fortunate to have the convenience of a vehicle AND a map. I can only imagine crossing this area on horseback with few visible landmarks, and worse, no water. In spite of all this, I do enjoy the area's history and light. The setting sun lasts for hours and with a tripod you can photograph long past sunset.

Just as ironic as the elevation and the flatness, these pump jacks are giving way to a new source of energy, windmills. Because it is so windy, energy suppliers have been placing windmill farms in these western areas of the state.

If the Llano Estacado interests you, read John Miller Morris' "El Llano Estacado, Exploration and Imagination on the High Plains of Texas and New Mexico, 1536-1860." A friend, John has written this award-winning book about "Lo Llano" and is an Associate Professor of Social Geography and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio.