Near Collisions

It’s ironic
The nearest nature refuge
Has a freeway running through it

Humans in a hurry
Making background audio
For the freeway on the lake

Yes, I am obsessed with this project….fourteen years and running at this location. At some point, I might make all the work I can discover and will shift my focus.


This post is strictly photographic blather, so, I apologize if you clicked for something else.
Before you leave, here are a few not-so-sharp renderings. (Early work) Early as in a month ago.

Recently, I picked up the effort for representational bird photography.
I’ve always made bird photographs, but typically within an impressionistic rendering in mind. Or, in other words I didn’t care much for detail.
This new pursuit has challenged my sensibilities in ways I could not have foreseen in the fledgling years of serious photo making. My subject has become the family of swallows that visit our little Lake Kumeyaay. They are fast, small, and rarely if ever, fly in a straight line for very long. Here is what I love and hate about the journey:
1. Getting out into the wild to make these photographs
2. The challenge of finding the fastest way to get focus with as many decent results as possible
3. The Sony 200-600mm. It just fits into my side-carry sling bag.
4. Benro A48FD monopod
5. When focus is hit and I see a series develop in the viewfinder as I shoot (10FPS).
When focus hits right, it feels great!
6. Reviewing (quickly) the results, especially the ones I knew were good.

1. Shooting out of focus (10FPS)…the majority of the time.
This has become better as I progress.
2. Culling. I throw away images that are not worth my time.
This is good to do if you can’t fall asleep.
3. Editing. If images could just come SOOC, I would be a happy man.
If you’re like me, the experience of capturing the photo far outweighs computer time.
4. Using a lackluster camera.
For this endeavor, I decided to support my Sony (mirrorless) gear for focus speed.
For longer reach, I have been using the APSC sensor A6500.
Even with that, I end up cropping down and my files are at 2006 resolutions.
When pixel-peeping, the A6500 reveals terrible noise and little true detail.
It requires clean up and, you know, Editing. (see #3)

Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the gear I have. At some point, I will use the A7iii to see if the quality improves. I just need to make sure I can get ’em when they’re in close! I am holding out hope that Nikon will up their game with auto focus response times. Their colors and detail rendering is simply superb! Come on Nikon!

What about you? Is there anything about photography you “hate?”

Thanks, and, happy shooting!

The Enchanted Trail

Walking near dead grass, dust from the trail speaks a language of ages.
Sage and buckwheat shout the joy of summer’s calling.
This year, it will be short, but splendor will splash the air.

Bees frantically work, supporting the hive.
Descending into enchanted realms. Local universes.
Do they worry or fret? Counting flowers and days without rain.

Those things, considered “dead.”
Speak loudest of all.
About days gone by. Three weeks of glory for some.
Others, like the oak, masters of maternal care.
Spent years of reliable service. Never wavering. Strong, sure and fast.
Shading rabbit and coyote alike.
Their roots, were once alive with the harmonics of the beating heart called earth.
Now waiting patiently.
For rebirth.

Had to do a little impression work yesterday. Photos are edited for contrast. Russian 44-2 Modified Lens.

Bank Right

A swallow banks right in this photograph.
Mission Trails – San Diego

After many years of experimental photography impressions, I have decided to make bird photographs. Not that I never did before. I include birds in many of my works. Those however were only suggestions, much like a watercolor painting. “Bird Photography” in its strictest philosophical sense requires tack sharp details. Fairly easy to do with a static subject.

Moving birds are another matter. Moving birds are (in my mind) the pinnacle of bird photography. This type of work depicts the bird “body” as it maneuvers in flight. It is an unmatched beauty within the mammalian atmosphere in my opinion.

It also requires all the experience the photographer brings to the moment. One cannot simply point-and-shoot to capture a racing bird in flight. Knowing how to technically control the camera is a must. As usual, I shoot manually. In other words, we set all the controls. We might use auto focus, or we might use manual focus (more than likely). Everything is set to support a fast shutter.

With all that said, I do not consider myself to be a “bird photographer.” Today I may subject my work to the rigors of traditional bird photography. Tomorrow, who knows? It is for the challenge and the love of image making that we do this. If tomorrow’s sunset brings clouds and color, I might ignore the philosophy of “bird photography” and jump wholly into impression making. There are no chains in art, other than the ones we place on ourselves.

Just a head’s up. There will be more birds. Many more birds.

Living Beast

Generating its own light
Night has a transformed place
In this unnatural landscape

One may fall asleep
Eyes closed in anticipation
Of redefined rest
The mind conditioned
To succumb to the deep hum

That constant breathing
Broken by the siren
Or freight train’s wail
Pictures on the wall
Rattle like heart valves

Dogs in kennels
Sing a dirge
For their wolf beginnings
And as the night shift ends
The horn blasts the last call
“Go home, or, wake up.”
It’s time for school.

Growing up in a suburb of LA in the 60’s was filled with sounds, dirty air, and experiences that have never left my memory. Like the night shift blast from 2 miles away that would wake us all up. Or the freight trains that would pass through at 3 a.m., shaking up the house. We were just 20 years out of the big war, NASA kept many people employed. Small businesses were everywhere. You lived in one part of your house and had a business in another part. There were a couple of kennels down the alley that roused a lot of barking and howling. Of course, the hum of the freeways were always on as well. Growing up, we just thought it was all normal.
Now, we’re considering moving to a rural area…where it’s quiet. I don’t know. I’ve never known anything else other than the city.
“City Scapes” – Multiple exposures on one frame – Lensbaby. Prints available here: