“The photos still suck!”

Have you ever wondered why you can’t seem to get a good photo of a certain place, or setting, or scenery?  No matter what you do, it just ain’t there.  Something intangible is “disqualifying” a given photo for your portfolio.  But in another locale, everything you take is a keeper? CO Canyon w h2o Have you ever considered that you have. horrors,  an inner, unspoken prejudice?  Perhaps about color?

Gotcha! I’m not talking about any form of racial prejudice, I’m talking about your personal internal color pallet.  We all have one.  Or perhaps your like or dislike of outdoor areas.  For example which do you like more?  Florida and California or Arizona and Nevada?  Urban or Rural?  Believe it or not, a lot of those choice may actually involve colors, not just climate.  To make this shot of red rocks and canyons, I added in a big ol lake.  This shot and treatment will never be in my official portfolio.

Greater Nevada is primarily desert.  The overall colorization is tones of brown, and crisp blue skies.  Geological history is evident wherever you look.  Driving through Nevada, it is easy to see eons of erosion, rock slides, flooding and drying, that kind of stuff.  I really like the Nevada topography, desert lakes, the mountains and upheavals of time, that kind of stuff.  Browns, some greys and blue skies.  Of course.

Take Arizona… please!  Sedona is a world-famous area known for its red rocks and formations, natural bridges and arches, yatta yatta.  The colors are predominantly reds.  Not luscious, deep crimson reds, but kind of a dirty, rusty red.  And oranges.  And browns.  And blue skies.  I’ve been to Sedona and environs a couple of times.  Never gotten a good shot of all that famous scenery.  I have lugged around 25 to 40 pounds of medium format equipment, looking for that all-elusive keeper.  Never got one.  I got a few decent shots of the grand canyon, but nothing to write home  about.  Why?GCNP

It’s like I told K one day.  “I don’t see in reds and browns.  I see in greens and blues.”  You throw in most any shade of reds into a landscape, and I’m not seeing beauty.  I have no idea why.  We spent a day in CO TreesColorado National Park.  I shot four rolls of 220 film, at 6×7. Used a tripod.  Expensive lenses.  Really expensive camera.  Pricey filters.  I didn’t even get one good shot.  Not even of a flower.  However, there is one caveat of tmy “no red” rule:  Sunsets.  I can shoot a pretty mean sunset … especially if its over blue water… with a bright fire-engine red boat…

PCHDRLakes and mountain rivers are a favorite source of my imagery.  I grew up in two places, the high sierras in the non-school months, and Stockton, California the rest of the time.  We had a small mountain lake at Pinecrest, where I spent my entire summer swimming, fishing and sailing.  Beautiful photography area.

The San Joaquin River Delta was where I spent my warm school months.  My grandfather had a house on the river.  He had a boathouse with a beautiful black 35 foot Chris Craft cruiser.  Two SpinnakersMore times than not, I was the driver of that big boat.  He wanted to sit back with his big black stogie and a whiskey on the rocks.  Also in that boat house was a great little outboard powered aluminum skiff that I spent zillions of hours on, exploring back waters of the delta.  As much as I love the delta, there ain’t much scenic photography there.  Most all the levees are lined with official US Army Engineer Rip-Rap.

I now live in Vegas, who’s liquid claim to fame is Lake Mead.  The only problem with photography on or about Lake Mead is twofold: No vegetation to speak of, so no greenery.  And thanks to a Southern California federal judge, there is a twenty or thirty foot thick waterline of bleached land, created by draining water from the original high water limits and sending it on to provide water for thousands of square miles of lawn in LA. Meanwhile, except for some parks watered by non-potable water,  Las Vegas has no lawns.  Perhaps boat photography would be okay out in the lake, but I don’t have a boat.

When we rolled our big ol RV back to Florida, after a great photo shoot in the Grand Tetons, I was in my element.  I’ve always loved boating in any form, green is my favorite color, and so on.  Florida’s skies are dramatic with white billowing thunder-heads in the afternoons, and crisp blue colors in the mornings.  There ain’t no such thing as dry trees or shrubs.  The browns of the ground are a deep dark chocolate.  Wildlife is abundant around the water.  A virtual plethora of water birds, gators, otters, snakes, etc.

CD 0204 3369For me South Florida is a target-rich zone.  I personally believe that Miami is the most photogenic city in the US, and I’m originally from San Francisco.  I’ll give San Fran the number two rating because of the scenics created by the bay and the San Andreas Fault-driven topography.  Miami gets number one because of the colors.  I really like the Cuban influence.  In fact Cubanos are some of my favorite people, but that’s another blog.

For boat photography, its a clear toss-up between Florida and Northern Vanguards-3379California.  Put me in either place, and I’m a happy outdoor photographer.  And yet, I still live in Las Vegas,  but that’s yet another blog. (Got a lot of those lined up, don’t I?)

The Endless Wait copyWhat about working in black and white? Black and White definitely has its place.  In my humble opinion, straight black and white photography of scenics is a bit self-defeating. Don’t get me wrong, I really like black and white.  I think outdoors, it’s great for shooting features, especially with the judicious use of filters.

One of my early mentors took me along (I was about ten… hmm… now that I recollect, I was there to operate the boat.) on a shoot of my brother’s sailboat while on Strawberry Lake (where Pinecrest is located).  He used colored filters, which fascinated me because I didn’t understand why one would use color glass in a black and white photo.  But when I saw the finished results of using a #3 Red filter, a bright white sail against a deep grey sky, I was hooked for life. I wish I had a copy of that great shot to show you, but I don’t.  And that mentor has long since passed.

Ahh, boats, mountain lakes and cameras.  I was in boyhood heaven. (Yeah, another blog…)CD 0540 3508

So you can see, just by my reminiscences, how I got to be prejudiced towards the colors of the summer mountains and oceans.  I can easily imagine that Native American boys in the southwest feel the same way about the colors of Arizona and New Mexico. Or people who grow up in Alaska.  Add in eight months of grey skies and white topography. Another set of colors that are not my cuppa tea.

I can shoot a pretty mean sunset … especially if its over blue water…

Anchor Bay Sunset



What do you do with all the time you save?

In today’s society, we strive to save time. We want to be more efficient. “What’s a quicker way to do this?” We shorten words like “web log” into “blog”. Why not “wog”? Even shorter. With “wog,” we saved the trauma of having to make or think  an “el” sound. That’s probably worth a whole twentieth of a second.  Such a bother…

Maybe it actually started back in  World War 2, when GIs, (Short of Government Issue (soldier)) were saying things like SANFU,  “Situation normal, all effed up”. and FUBAR  stood for  “Effed up beyond all belief.”  Like when two fighter planes were in battle it was a “dogfight.”  When a whole bunch of planes were in a battle, it was a “Furball”.  Those were descriptive phrases, born of necessity, because to stay on a radio for even an extra second could cost lives.

Did that lead to the shorthand kids use in texting? Or was it laziness? Sure, some of the shorthand is designed to baffle adults, especially parents and/or teachers. “POS” for example equals Parent over shoulder”, which actually means, “Nosey mom (or dad) looking at my screen so I can’t say what I really want to say.”

Or LOL.  I hate lol.  It’s gone mainstream so much its used sarcastically in TV commercials.  For the guy who lives in that desert cabin 30 miles out of Las Vegas, lol means “laughing out loud”. Well, so does “Ha ha”.  Would it really hurt to type “laughing”? I would even accept “laffing”

Let’s face it. All the time , and then some, you save short-handing is probably used up used correcting typos. (Oops… I used a shorthand word.)  But in this case its ok (another shorthand).  Most people can’t spell “typographical error”.

ROFLMFAO, is short for “I’m really laughing at that.”  Actually its the acronym “Rolling on the floor, laughing my effing ass off.”  Even that’s become mainstream.   A rocker has taken part of this acronym and given himself the name LMFAO.  Never heard of him?  His music is the soundtrack for many Kia car commercials and for something called Kiss.  Not only that, he just appeared on DWTS… oops, I mean “Dancing With The Stars” as a guest judge. Brought his own score paddles. Now, if that ain’t mainstream, I don’t know what is.

Maybe acronyming [word?] came about because until Steve Jobs and Bill Gates came along, we wrote things out in longhand. Longhand was a pain in the south-end, so making a little easier was considered just fine.  We had typewriters of course, but now I doubt that a kid in high school or middle school would see one and wonder were the screen was. Do you remember how hard you had to push on a typewriter key to make is strike the paper properly? Do you remember the revolutionary electric typewriter?  All you had to do was touch the key.  Startled the older secretaries in the industry…

My grand-neice, a college student in the arts, can “thumb out” text messages in milliseconds.  Texts fly in and out of her phone so fast the NSA can’t keep up with her.  At the end of the day though, I doubt she has saved enough time to stand up, go to the fridge, get a coke, and return. Betcha that if she had texted in normal English, she’d still have time to go grab that coke… and maybe even a cookie.

We’ve saved time, though. Nowadays all you have to do is type a few letters to convey a message.


C U,


Have You Ever Wondered?


Even as a kid, just beginning to realized that boys and girls were different, the first time I heard the phrase, “She’s built like a brick s___house”, I wondered how in the world a human Have You Ever Wondered?with soft curves and a giggle could be compared to an out building.  The thing of it was that I was raised in the mountains in the summertime, and all houses in Pinecrest has outhouses.  Indoor plumbing was a rarity, leastwise in the oldest residential section.  Our house was built in 1914.  A “new” outhouse was built in 1948-49. It was a nice one. Had a shower and sink plus a smelly chemical toilet. And a doorlock.

A lot of my work is creating cartoons. I use a combination of programs, including Poser, Daz Studio, Bryce 3D, and Photoshop. Bryce on my computer is my own little world. What’s neat about it is that most physical laws are suspended. If I wanted to hang Captain Hook’s Galleon in the sky, I can, and make it pretty realistic.

With that in mind, I like to posit strange imagery depiction a saying, a quote, or a weird situation, and most of all, really rotten puns… Flying hillsides, or five hundred mile, 300 foot wide oil tanker (VLCCs) ship channels and so on. A WW 1 Biplane cutting off a 747 landing in San Francisco. Women counting horses. So when I come down with a case of Writer’s Block, I can go to one of my toons, post it and write a bit about it, and hopefully entertain you for a while.

So it’s all good.