Topic: Aerial (10 posts) Page 1 of 2


As you may know, I photographed firestorm damage in southern and northern California last winter. Now, in July, there are reports of new fires, some in the same region as before. I can't shake it.

I made up this short story. Let me know what you think. Neal's email

Dan thought he was doing better. He'd had that fight with Del last week about trying to be more present and holding up his end, spending more time with them. He knew of the fires and was worried but the day at work had been really something; the merger, the raise, the promotion. He'd picked up Sheila on time that day at school and was rushing home to feed the kids. As he drove up the valley it was quite smoky, the air thick. You could taste it. As he pulled up to the house he could see small flames in the trees on the ridge across the valley 5 miles away. That didn't look so bad, he thought. He called Del to find she was on her way up the valley too, stuck in traffic, gridlocked. He told the kids to clean up and set the table, start their homework and come down when he called that dinner was ready. He started to fix the meal, washing the broccoli in the kitchen sink and looking out the window thinking what it was he could do with $6k more each month. Oh man, that boat he saw at the show. Setting the rice boiling, and getting a beer, he turned back to the sink and glanced up and out to see something very different. As in a daze, he looked out at a raging maelstrom of fire coming right towards him from above, flashing down the hillside, the fire fanned by the high winds, flames blown horizontal. He woke up, left the water running in the sink and took the stairs three at a time yelling, "Get out, now, get out, we have to get out now!" "But Dad, I'm right in the middle of...." Kenny said. "Get out now, right now, no, leave it... out!!!!" And they're all tumbling scrambling down the stairs and out the front door, Lucy barking like she was possessed and into the truck and out the driveway and down the hill, it seeming like the fire was right on them as it was everywhere, thick smoke and the heat! Dan looked over his shoulder as they sped away to see his house fully engulfed in flames. They got down to the valley and Dan pulled over. They tumbled out, all three kids yelling at him, two crying as it began to dawn on them, their lives as they'd known them were over.  Everything was gone. There were hugs too for they realized they were lucky to be alive.

Dan realized he had nowhere to go as he dialed Del to tell her their house was gone.

Topics: Color,Digital,Aerial

Permalink | Posted July 9, 2018

Salt Evaporation Ponds

Above is the title page for the new portfolio of the same name. I had seen these ponds from the air on a commercial flight landing at the San Francisco Aiport several years ago and thought it would be wonderful if I could photograph them. It is a little tricky as the ponds often are in the landing path for jets coming in to land. I found that if we stayed below 1500 feet or so we were okay. So that's just what we did, flying under the big jets flight path in their approach to land.

It was dead calm, and the flight itself was smooth so the files from this shoot are exceptional. The Cargill Co. owns and works these ponds to make sea salt, the minerals in the water making different varieties. 

The full portfolio is now on the site: here.

Consistent offer. Want to see the prints? Email here

Topics: Color,Digital,Northwest,Aerial

Permalink | Posted March 17, 2018


Drove up early yesterday morning from  Malibu where I am staying to Santa Barbara to charter a flight over the fire damage in the towns around Ventura where the forest fires were last fall. We also flew over Montecito where the mudslides were.

Think scorched earth and devastation with pockets of homes completely preserved. Odd.

The fires progressed from above in the hills back behind where the population centers are, but also threatened orchards, vineyards and horse farms, as well as homes.

In places, fire came right over Highway101 to the sea

(the darker areas here were caused by the fire as it jumped over the highway).

The mudslides in Montecito happened because the vegetation burned above the town, allowing the rain to flow down the valleys like a river, scouring and loosening the dirt.

(the lighter line of trees show the path of the mud)

some homes flooded and appearing submerged by the mud. Two story homes with just the roof left.

I found pockets of land untouched, whether from firefighters working to protect or land owners out for hours with hoses and digging fire breaks. 

The fire damage looking as if from a blast zone. How terrible to know this was coming towards you and powerless to stop it. All your worldly possessions and the small things: pictures, momentos from an earlier time, an anniversary, a wedding, a funeral. Gone in an instant. Watching your home catching fire and running to escape with your life and little else.

I wonder how many negatives or digital files went up in smoke, how many prints?

My heart goes out to those that lost so much. These two disasters serving as reminders that life and all that we hold dear is fleeting and can be gone in an instant.

Topics: Color,Domestic,Digital,Aerial

Permalink | Posted February 10, 2018

Out in Wheat

As I write this I am in Moscow, Idaho on a project to photograph wheat fields. Although I call this wheat fields much else is grown here besides wheat: garbanzo beans, alfalfa, lentils, safflower, etc. It is late October so this isn't a time of flowing golden wheat with a hot sun blazing down from above. The fields are stubble, turned under or lying fallow this time of year.

Why be here now? Because this is a time where the land itself has no covering to soften its contour. This is the much photographed area called the Palouse, where workshops meet, where vans criss cross the terrain filled with photographers looking for that iconic " shot", the one that's a keeper, the one that ends up over a mantle to wow the house guests at the party.  And yes, in July or August at harvest time this is an exquisite place, but in late October? Not so much. 

That's why I am here, to make essential photographs.

I've only been here a few days but working here now is proving challenging. "Dodging rain drops" is how I would describe it, although the fog at dawn this morning was something new.  

I will make good pictures here, for the 18 or so times I've been here have me well prepared, perhaps better than anyone.  I also will not be repetitive. The late time of year helps to insure that, of course, but also I am seeking to do some things here differently than before. 

I am sure you have found this too but to be someplace familiar where you've made pictures before and to think through a different approach, to try something else, to challenge past assumptions seems key to me. Much has been written about how we always make the same pictures, over and over. This is all too easy, to be in front of something with similar light, similar content, and a similar frame of mind to something you photographed in the past with some success and then to repeat that same image. I am trying not to do that while here. 

It would be rewarding sometime to assemble some of the pictures I have made while here that are not of the fields specifically, the outtakes, if you will (hint hint you curators out there). Honestly, how can you not make a picture of an oil tanker sized hay stack three times your height stranded in the middle of nowhere?

So stay with me for the next few posts as I take you through my trip out here in late October 2016. Next up? I flew yesterday with brilliant blue skies and bright sun at 10 am. The first day since getting here that it has been so. We used a Cessna 206, a four seater airplane, with the door removed. I was harnessed and strapped in, sitting in the seat right next to the large opening. It was 45 degrees. Totally worth it. This is me, still strapped in, after we landed.

How did I do, up there at 1000 feet skidding along at 90 knots, pointing down at this amazing landscape? 

Stay tuned.

Topics: Wheat,Color,Northwest,Digital,Aerial

Permalink | Posted October 29, 2016

12 Days Out

This is the second post I am writing about recovering from surgery and thinking about pictures. The first, 11 Days Out is here.

In 2012 and 2013 I extensively photographed  the forty miles of sand dunes in the southern California dessert called the Imperial Sand Dunes, nearby Yuma, Arizona. I hiked them, drove over them in a jeep, photographed them from the perimeter road, shot them from the air several times and even rented an ATV one day to be able to get further in to these massive dunes that can be as high as 300 feet.

As is my practice, I made prints into portfolios from the two trips I made to photograph the dunes. They sit in my studio now printed on 22 x 17 inch Canson Baryta Photographique paper. Each portfolio combines aerials with ground based work.They look good and present the extended shoots well. But there is a major flaw in this work and one I am guilty of in other bodies of work where I make pictures over years and several trips (my Wheat work comes to mind). Working this way, printing in response to new work made lends no perspective or focus to the work, it is just a compiling of what I think are the best pictures made. Making separate portfolios from different years becomes an artificial construct and succeeds in only separating and diminishing the work. So, I've decided to change that.

I've been working to consolidate, edit tightly and make one new portfolio of finished work from both years. Note the added benefit of now being at least 3 years from it. MUCH better to have some distance. Here are a few that will be included

It's shame that I need this forced down time to concentrate on this work. But I know once I get back on my feet I'm going to be shot from a cannon, on to new projects and never looking back. Perhaps this is what advanced years in a field gives you: the knowledge of how bad you're going to be at something based upon having been there so many times before. At any rate, still being on crutches forces me to slow down and focus on the Dunes work and I am thankful for that, for it is good work.

A little on the technical side here. In earlier digital days, now 10 years ago or so, the cameras weren't good enough for what I wanted my pictures to do. The file size was too small to allow larger prints of high quality. I would step the file size up using Genuine Fractals but is was a poor substitute for the larger file sizes of today. Since about when I made the Dunes pictures the first year in 2012, all that has changed. I can go back to these confident in their inherent quality and can make large prints that hold well, keep sharp, have excellent dynamic range, superb color rendition and don't get noisy. This is the maturing of the medium and it is a very good thing.

BTW: these pictures are simply remarkable (you've heard such modesty from me before, no doubt), rich and subtle and bold and refined. Notice how the color is different in each one? That's because of different days, times of days and years that I made them in. At 1.5 inches across on your smart phone you are not doing them justice. It is the print here that really counts. Over the next few days I will start production, making them on 30 x 24 inch Epson Exhibition Fiber paper. When done they will reside in a custom case with a title page and artist statement. It will be a limited edition portfolio of approximately 20 prints.They will be available for viewing at 555 Gallery in Boston. Passionate about good prints? Me too. Come see these. I mean it. Knock your socks off.

Note ( as of mid February 2016): I've just finished printing these and they are viewable on my site at: Dunes 2012 & 2013.

Topics: Color,Southwest,Digital,Aerial

Permalink | Posted February 15, 2016