I've just returned to L.A. after an extended photo adventure through every nook and cranny, and over every boulder and hiking trail in Australia. To describe me as jet-lagged and physically beat-up would be like calling Donald Trump ill-mannered.
Not only am I dragging from the long flight, from the time difference, and from hauling 50 lbs of equipment across terrain that makes the surface of Mars look hospitable, but I’ve now managed to add a torn rotator cuff—the result of a dealing with a snagged 40-lb camera bag stuck in an airplane overhead bin--to my list of battle scars. (Don't let this silly smile fool you...I've put some miles on and I'm feelin' every one of them!)
To briefly recap: I flew into Sydney over a month ago, discovered the sights and sounds most visitors enjoy, and then set off across the Australian Continent, headed first for the the Western Australia coastal town of Broome on the Indian Ocean.
The contrast between Sydney and all points west is startling. The interior of the country is filled with…nothing. Thousands of miles of…nothing. But even in its spare vastness, the desert plains rising to low mountain ranges worn smooth by eons of winds hold a certain visual majesty that no photographer could ignore. The quality of light at sunrise and at sunset in Australia is like none other I’ve seen.
From Broome, it was due northeast to the East Kimberly Plateau and Kununurra, where a helicopter was the perfect shooting platform for some great shots of The Bungle Bungles. This is an amazing geological phenomenon: orange and black sandstone domes rising 1,000 feet above the grass-covered plains that surround them. This is an area historically inhabited by local Aboriginal people that wasn’t even known to outsiders until the 1980s.
Once we had a good fly-over, our chopper landed and we hiked out among what appeared as enormous, towering beehives sculpted smooth by the wind. I made it as far as Echidna Cavern before my knees reminded me that I was a man of a certain age and not a spry mountain goat.
I returned home with more than 10,000 images, some of which are truly “nailed it” shots…and there’s a story attached to every one! But I’ll let the images speak for themselves. They tell the story of a spectacular geologically ancient and ecologically diverse land, of a spirited and welcoming culture…and of the trip of a lifetime!
While I spend the next several weeks healing and recuperating from hundreds of miles of hiking across boulders, rivers, and plains—not to mention hopping in and out of assorted trucks, boats, helicopters, and airplanes, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing it all through my lens.
Be sure to visit my Gallery Page for a better look. As always, I'm happy to send custom prints suitable for framing!
Nearly a month ago, I set out on a photo expedition to Australia. As this is written, I’m still here and in constant motion, scouring the Outback for great images.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the allure of this vast “island” continent is the fact that after three weeks, I’m still eager to see more. To keep this post from becoming a book-length rhapsody, I’ll just say this country is more than anyone could bargain for.
Australia’s ecology lives and dies with fire. Bush fires are common and essential to the cycle of re-germination and regrowth that is a natural constant. With the human population packed along the coastlines, the interior is vast and filled with endless…nothing. No farm land, no settlements, no signs of civilization. It’s a dry world currently enduring a prolonged period of drought, yet still the home to species only found here.
My eye is constantly drawn to the natural wonders that are simply not seen anywhere else on the planet. From topography and geography to flora and fauna, Australia seems to be a world unto itself.
As a trained zoologist, my interest in the animal kingdom here has been rewarded with some terrific “nailed it” moments. Discovering Kangaroo Island—a rugged natural habitat that harbors wallabys, “roos”, and the elusive Echidna, a spiney critter I was lucky to stumble across.
Echidnas—unique to Australia—are cousins of the platypus, and neither are exactly “social” by nature. They are, in fact, nearly impossible to find, and the only egg-laying mammals in the world. The shot you see here isn’t my greatest from a technical standpoint, but it took hours of guided hunting and a hasty crawl on my belly to capture this image. After capturing koalas, wombats, and assorted rare birds, this Echidna feels like a real feather in my cap!
This has truly been the trip of a lifetime, with stops in Sydney on the east coast, Melbourne and Adelaide on the south coast, and Perth on the remote west coast. I’m now headed to the tropical north to Darwin Kununurra and then to Wyndam to catch the True North Yacht for a voyage around the Kimberfly Plateau. This is one of the most remote regions on the planet, so I’m looking forward to some spectacular landscapes and wildlife that is truly…wild!
I’d write more, but I’m up before sunrise tomorrow on the move again. As strenuous and exhausting as some of these days are, this continues to be the trip of a lifetime. Be sure to check out my Facebook page for daily updates and head to the Gallery pages on the website to see recent images that have inspired me.
Until next time…do what you can while you can!
Okay, I'll come clean.
Not only do I love the creative aspects of capturing compelling images that move those who see them (including myself!), but I could be suffering from an addiction to the ever-evolving world of photographic technology.
If that's a crime...guilty as charged.
Just recently--after working almost exclusively with a full range of Canon gear--I've jumped in with both feet and am now firmly planted in the Sony camp.
I now shoot almost exclusively with the new Sony A7Riii, with an A9 riding sidecar. One of the great advantages for me, because I carry all my own gear and often haul it across challenging terrain, is that they share a single charger and save some precious weight.
Sony responded to considerable professional input from the field, and now they've solved all the problems the A7Rii had with a new battery system that lasts most of a day read and writes fast.
I use the A7Riii almost exclusively for landscapes and portraits, taking full advantage of its 42 megapixel capability to get insane resolutions that allow me to enlarge images without losing any quality.
The A9 is my action camera, capable of shooting 20 fps, nearly fast enough to record a movie with sound! With that, I'm using a 16mm wide angle with a converter to take it to 12mm. Mid range is 24-105 f4 lens or a 24-70. I also use a 55 1.4 portrait lens and for telephoto work it's a 100-400 f4 with a 1.4 multiplier.
With all of that weaponry, I can travel light with a vest or small backpack and can shoot from 12 to 560. And I just threw in a new RRS carbon fiber tripod of the same size and weight as my old traveler, but much more stable in wind (which seems to be everywhere on the planet!). Topping it all off is a new Arca Swiss head which is bit heavier but more precise than my old one.
If all of this makes me a "photo-geek"...well, I've been called worse things!
Winter or not, Paris is fabulous...as always!
Having visited La Ville Lumière so many times in the past, this trip is a bit unique as I'm traveling with family members. Because I know the sights, sounds, and environs so well at this point, I'm enjoying the role of "tour guide expert" as I show them my favorite spots. It's always a great reminder of how unique an experience my travel adventures are when I see wonder in the eyes of others visiting my haunts for the first time
From a photographic perspective--always my working objective throughout my travels--the personal aesthetic challenge for me on this trip is finding new ways to capture those familiar places, landscapes, and landmarks.
That said, I'm working hard to do just that, and I've already captured what I believe are some compelling images that I'll soon be sharing here on the website.
And...thanks to the miracle of today's technology (thank you, Internet), while I'm on this Parisian expedition, I'm busy preparing my annual gallery exhibition at Coos Bay Oregon’s Black Market Gourmet.
This year I'm featuring new images from my 2017 trips to Spain, France, The Netherlands, Alaska...and the list goes on, all available for purchase at Black Market Gourmet on May 6th. The prints I'll be showing are each custom-printed and ready for mounting and framing. Several are truly ideal for ordering as panoramic prints, which make eye-popping décor statements in either residential or commercial settings. Because my panoramas require quite a bit of custom sizing and crafting, I'll be taking orders on May 6th for delivery in June.
As always, I look forward to seeing old friends and sharing tales of my travels. The response to my photography gets stronger each year, which is extremely rewarding on a deeply personal level. I'll be bringing a small number of custom calendars with me, so try to get there early on May 6th, as they always sell out!
And even if you're not in the market to acquire fine art photography, just swing by and say hi...it's always a great time up in Coos Bay!
Here's a sneak preview of some of the things you'll see at Black Market Gourmet. They're all my favorites...which one is yours?
This will be brief, because 2018 is already moving at full speed and I’ve got a lot of packing and planning to do…and I’m already running late!
But because so many of you are keeping tabs on my photo-adventures, I thought I’d share this year’s itinerary with you:
February-March: Paris. Undoubtedly one of my favorite, most inspirational cities anywhere on the planet. This will be a bit of an extended trip (taking my family along for the first time), and I’m eager to revisit La Ville Lumiére (did you know Paris was one of the first European cities to be illuminated with a gas lighting system?) We’ll also be looking for great perspectives at Versailles and Giverny where I hope to capture Claude Monet’s gardens in early Spring bloom It will be fun to shoot the lillies.
I’ll be posting images from these trips as promptly as possible…all of which will be available for you as stunning panoramic wall art, calendars, greeting cards, or custom prints. And, as always, feel free to reach out to share your impressions of my work here on the site or through Facebook.
Wishing you all the very best for a great 2018, and looking forward to sharing another exciting year with you.
As the year winds down and I put my feet up for the holidays, it's a great time look back on the last 12 months of non-stop travel and reflect upon the nearly 20,000 images I captured in 2017.
It's also an opportunity for me to deal with the question I'm asked most often: "What's your favorite photograph?"
That's a difficult question, simply because so much goes into each exposure. I've got those "tech favorites" where for a particular image I was forced to rise to the manifold challenges of equipment selection, aperture settings, optical aberrations, depth of field, white balance, digital noise, and tonal range. Not all shots are easy to get!
Then I've got those "aesthetic favorites" where the photograph becomes more than just a "picture" because it succeeds artistically in terms of composition, shape, color, lighting, texture, and theme.
But those images that I think about--the ones I truly enjoy seeing in my portfolio and that seem to grab the most attention--are those that tell a story. With that in mind, here are my personal "favorites" for 2017. I think you'll like them too...
Be sure to "click" on each image to enlarge and see my notes. As always, these images are available for custom printing in a variety of formats and sizes at The Print Store. If you have any questions about custom orders, just contact me directly.
I’m often asked how I could set aside my career as a physician and my focus on medical sciences for something as “subjective” as photography.
In Jill Bolte Taylor’s thoroughly riveting and engaging book My Stroke of Insight, the author--who had a left brain stroke and recovered over a period of eight years--pointed out that we are highly rewarded for the left brain’s rational activities like math, memorized facts, and certain analytic skills. The right brain is not rewarded with nearly as much social and economic benefit, much as it is the part of us that recognizes when we are in safe environments and allows us to relax. It integrates us to our surroundings along with other things that are not remunerated.
I have had an interesting life.
I started with pure left brain activities like my appreciation of science and math and an abiding interest in how things work. Perhaps it was my good fortune to not excel in these realms as much as I would have liked, which eventually led me into a field that ideally combines facts and logic and problem solving with the need for some level of humanity, empathy, and an understanding of the nature of collaboration and cooperation.
That led me to lead the most fulfilling life a person can have, combining the art and science of medicine to truly make the difference between life and death while doing so in a humane, caring fashion. That ability was a genuine gift from God that I’ve worked hard to pass on…an interesting perspective considering my early years as an atheist.
Then, once retired from the left brain world of medicine, I was drawn—almost compelled by an unseen force—into the challenging real right brain universe of photography. Nothing could have been more of a change, as I discovered the "nailed it moment" of capturing the right image at the right time, a feeling akin to a continuous infusion of cocaine. That creative high lasts for days and somehow brings me inexplicable joy.
At this point in my photographic journey, I enjoy the first rush of making connections between myself and my subjects...and then the second--equally addictive--rush as the viewers find the same connection for themselves.
The ultimate goal is not easily achieved, but it is what drives me: to bring the viewer to a connection with himself or herself.
I’m thankful to have had the opportunities to have great lessons with my different careers, and to be aware of them and then the creative introspection to learn something from my own life. I believe that learning those life lessons is our true purpose and the wisdom we gain in the process is the greatest of riches.
At the end of the day, we are only fulfilled by our sense of Love and Gratefulness. I love what I’ve done and what I’m going to do…and for that I’m truly grateful.
With all apologies for not posting this sooner, but I’m almost out of breath.
I just arrived at LAX after a three week European shoot, which was a great opportunity to connect with some amazing photographers, visit some old haunts, and explore an incredibly colorful Spring bloom in the heart of tulip country.
This wasn’t my first trip to Holland, but the past couple of weeks at Keukenhof Gardens will surely be the most memorable. Keukenhof is 79 acres of impeccably groomed tulips that absolutely dazzle the eye. The trick is to arrive just as the gates open, well before the tour busses show up.
Pursuant to my obsession with capturing those “nailed it” shots—that moment when you quickly scour all your camera’s settings to make sure f-stop, focus, and exposure are precisely as they should be and you press that shutter button knowing that you’ve got a truly memorable shot—I worked hard to get several images with multiple speed/exposure/focus settings on this trip just as insurance. Call me paranoid, but I’m in the right place at the right time, as I was many times on this trip, I was determined to not only “nail it,” but to hit the nail firmly!
I’ve learned the advantages to knowing my equipment well and appreciating the potential for ever-changing light conditions during a shoot; I work hard to consider my subject from all angles because the first shot may be exactly what you hoped for, but subsequent shots have a way of helping the subject evolve in your lens. It’s a fascinating process, one shared with me on this trip by my daughter—herself a superior shooter—on what was truly a remarkable creative adventure.
The first stop on this sojourn was Barcelona, where we spent the day at the Picasso Museum. If Picasso’s work has eluded your genuine appreciation, a day at this fabulous museum will bring an understanding and an unexpected intimacy with the work of a legendary master.
Then we were off to Mallorca where I was intrigued to hear so much German spoken, and a stay with friends in Esporles, a small town with its own unique economy and culture that is truly a photographer’s dream. I’ll be sure to share those images here on the website just as soon as I manage to unpack.
Speaking of which, I probably won’t do much unpacking for now. By the time you read this, I’ll be airborne and headed to Coos Bay, Oregon, for my annual show at the Black Market Gourmet Restaurant. I’ll be there in person on May 7th from 2-4 p.m. I’ll be spending time with old friends and would love to make some new ones, so please stop by!
I recently returned from a second trip to Cuba, where once again, I learned as much about myself as I did about the country and its amazingly resilient, creative, loving people. My personal objective this trip was to work on my portrait skills—an area in which I admit to little prior confidence.
This trip, led by the inestimable guide and consummate photographer Lorne Resnick, was instructive, inspirational, and rewarding, for some of the images I brought home (which I’ve just posted here on the site) are aesthetically among my best, but truly tell the story of a remarkable people.
Working alongside Lorne was a lesson in photographic technique that is as much about interpersonal communication and trust as it is about shutter speed and focal length. Finding the best subject—children are wonderful simply because they’re unguarded and open to new adventures—is what Lorne calls “casting.” But to create a portrait beyond the flashed “thumbs up” or “V” sign when a subject spots a camera, we developed a teamwork system. One of us would take a simple snapshot of someone—who often flashed a hand sign or mugged for the camera—and while that photographer showed the image to the subject, the rest of us would hang back shooting, capturing the subject completely un-posed, reacting to their own picture.
We’d then show the subject the new shots…and an emotional connection was inevitably made. I quickly realized that when we change our subjects’ perception of our photographic purpose—when they realize we’re not just trying to steal a random image to show the folks back home, but that we’re interested in them as people of essence—magic happens.
When I first began my photographic and creative odyssey, I was once in Borneo shooting “interesting” faces in a marketplace with a 300mm zoom lens. But I discovered a certain feeling of personal discomfort at grabbing random portraits. I came to realize that I wasn’t really connecting with anyone and that I was, in fact, behaving like a photo-thief, simply stealing what I could.
I now know that photography isn’t about an amazing angle or perfect focus; it’s about the connection. On this trip with Lorne, I worked hard to make lasting connections with the people kind enough to open themselves up to my lens. I believe the results—both in terms of my photography and in terms of making new connections and friendships—are well worth the effort.
You’ll see a number of portraits of Cuban dancers from this past trip on my gallery pages. As Annie Leibovitz once said, “All dancers are a photographer’s dream. They communicate with their bodies and they are trained to be completely responsive to a collaborative situation.” I fell in love with each of these dancers, as you can tell by these pictures. Our connection is genuine, and something I treasure.
I hope you enjoy meeting my new friends through these new portraits as much as I enjoyed earning my connections with them.