The Real Measure

“In My Little Town, I never meant nothin’, I was just my father’s son” (Paul Simon)

….and when I grew up
I realized that the thoughts of men
Cannot make us who we are
Nor can they remove the good we do with sincere hearts
It is only the small among us
Who find fault with good things

Thoughts do not carry the load
Words, no matter how harmful
Float away on the lightest of breezes

And when the fires come
The measure of a soul
Will be found in the kindness
Afforded to others

The rest
Is useless weight

The Hunt

Back country service roads can lead to perilous areas where moving forward is sketchy. At the same time, conditions may occur where one cannot stop to look ahead. Momentum is required to traverse the conditions ahead. Trusting learned instincts is paramount to success in these moments.
Once through the danger, there may be some damage. Perhaps the oil pan was compromised/scratched, or maybe the suspension was strained. The “other side” hopefully delivers its treasures and the relative pain is worthy. Sometimes all is failed and documented for future references. Learning is the reward of perceptible failure.

Bird photography for inspiration.
Incorporate standard bird photography restrictions:
Focus on the eye
Get in plane (their level)
Composition (duh)
More blah blah blah

Of course there are gear, software, editing and tech issues. More opportunities for failure…..learning.

Then What?
Always, then what?
That will never be found in a lens, camera body or editing software.

Is Too Far A Waste of Time?

Perhaps I have ADHD, ADD, WXYZ, or something, I don’t know. We know that when we endeavor into an artistic genre, we will aim at “traditional.” Once that is known (fully or otherwise) sometimes we ask ourselves, “what can I do with this? It’s nice, but how do I make it my own?” Our thinking drifts in and out of ideas. So how do we work it out?
For me, the first step is to take it too far. Sometime that works, sometimes not. When I first started using intentional camera movements in my work, I was elated! My assistant reviewed some of my work and honestly stated, ” it hurts my eyes.” With that, I came to understand that something new and exhilarating to me is meaningless if it does not convey a meaningful message to the viewer.
It was not failure, it was learning and with learning comes maturity.
So here we are again. The decision to gear up for bird photography in February has brought me here. Processing a color image, save, process a B&W rendering, save, process a B&W image and remove the colors that make the water go to black. Stack that black image over the color and reveal the color through masking.
Kitsch? Perhaps. But I will embrace kitsch if it leads me to new knowledge. Anyway, it makes for an interesting desktop background.
During this process of editing and video creation I have come to remember why I love photography so much. A few hours spent outside of myself. No cares of the world bearing down on me. Looking for beauty and story. What a lovely privilege. Watching and appreciating nature is a treasure to the heart.
In all of that discovery, I see the direction to go. To explore and work. To fail and succeed. To live.

Finding the Light

It is the telling
That wears us out
So we run to places
Where semblances
Of light
Still reside

The gold of morning
Gives us hope.
There is no talking here
Only instinct
And the basic will
To survive.

A place for flight
And grace
Strength and weakness.
It waits for no one
And moves through us all.

An unending story
Waiting to unfold
To be told.


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!

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.