Thursday, May 31, 2007


I'm pretty tickled because a visitor to The Rolling Turd took some photo-taking advice and did a great job of capturing her kids in the joyful act of being kids. She definitely worked to capture the essence of youth and it shows!

Another tip for the everyday shooter..... Find the 'picture within the picture.' This photo is of a wood duck. While wood ducks are spectacular in their plumage, a snapshot of one quickly loses that "Oh wow" factor. Try to focus in, using your zoom to crop a tighter image. Let the viewer of the photo use their mind to fill in the information beyond the borders.

When shooting animals or people, I love using this technique and always try to include the eye. All animals, regardless of where you sit on the evolutionary ladder, are drawn to the eye. As people, we recognize the eye as the window to the soul. Birds believe bigger eyes mean bigger predators. Even butterflies and fish use eye shaped patterns in their camouflage.

Try it out on your kids or family pets. You'll find you get a photo full of impact!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What would you give up?

I have spent the last few days in the company of opthamologist's who are trying to figure out why I see brilliant white light arcing across the periphery of my vision. Could it be the retina detaching; could it be related to diabetes; could it be angels sent down to teach me a lesson..... I don't know, but it got me to thinking. What would I lose if I lost my sight?

As you can tell, I love visual things. There's nothing finer than the changing colors of a desert sunset, or the strokes of a master plein air oil painter. Or, meeting a person for the first time and thinking "Gee, they are as dumb as they look..."

If I didn't have sight, I wouldn't create an opinion based on the cover a book. I couldn't see ugly in the world. I would not be a slave to style or trend. My wife would be eternally young, and I could choose any memory in my mind to visit if I wanted to see something.

But the scary thing for me would not to see my son all grown up. Would he be handsome and tall like I think he'll be? Will he have a face and a way about him that commands respect, but invites people in? If he marries, what will his wife, or his kids look like? And how will they look at him?

Losing sight is one thing; losing vision is another. And losing vision is something I would never wish anyone, sight or sightless.
I took this shot of a bearded lizard at Hovenweep National Monument. I still cannot described how amazingly beautiful this little guy was. I'm ashamed to admit I walked right by him until my son said "Dad, you didn't see that?!!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Eye Candy

I'm too dang tired to post, so I thought I'd throw out some shots from a recent National Park Road Trip. The first shot is from Death Valley NP and shows that there is abundant life in the desert. The second shot is dawn breaking over the Sierra's in Lone Pine, CA. The Alabama Hills are in the foreground, while hidden up in the clouds is Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. Enjoy the view!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Off the Beaten Path

The hallmark of any adventure in our family is to take the road less travelled. Now, I'm not going to lie to you; sometimes you find yourself in places where a full set of teeth is an exception and people have names like "Hootie" and "Cleetus" (I can make that joke as we have relatives with those names...).

But, getting off the beaten path holds treasures, too. Sights that you get all to yourself; quiet on a grand scale; a promise that WalMart would never soil the emptiness of the land. And the food!!! Biscuit's-n-gravy; navajo taco's with real goat meat and native spices; local micro-brewery's with spruce ale or dark razzberry hefewiezen and woodfired pizza.

The best find ever, and one we still talk about, was in Hanksville, Utah. It's not even a dot on the map, but it has some backroads worldliness to it. There's a rock shop in Hanksville, the only business as near as I can tell. The owner's a crusty old desert rat, probably in his 80's. From a rusted porch chair, he'll call out to you and tell you about any stone or gem you touch. If he likes you, he'll tell you to take a peek in his backroom at his dinosaur bone. Now, I rolled my eyes when he encouraged us to wander towards the back, expecting to see something that was meant to play a joke on the "lost tourist." But, inside the room was a thigh bone to a somethingoranotherasaur that was at least 15 feet long! Come to find out, he found it in the 1950's and had been cleaning it up ever since. He figure's it's worth a "quarter mill" although when he passes, he'll leave it in his will to a museum.

The other gem in Hanksville is the purple house. The guy who owns it 'tuned in, turned on, and dropped out' back in the 60's. Now, he lives amongst the ultra conservative rancher's and miners in Utah, baking organic breads and pastries in a little brick oven in his front yard. INCREDIBLE! He made me some organic, hand pressed coffee with cream from his cow that still makes me sigh to this day....

Long story short....... Don't shortchange yourself by missing out on the backroad culture. Sure, the Grand Canyon's are important to witness. But to get personal with the folks, the land, the moment; that's what lives in the memory.
This photo was taken somewhere in the Navajo Nation. Old Pueblo and Fremont culture ruins are scattered in the west. The craftsmanship that it took to build these structures is testament to the rich and advanced culture these people's had; and long before any European landed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I just wanted to say thanks to those of you who drop in and leave comments. It's kind of fun to post because you get to be the writer, editor, layout designer, illustrator, and publicist all in one. When you get feedback, it's the best!

For those of you who are interested in fun vacation shots, and want to save them in a great format, check out It's a digital scrapbook program with lots of editing ability, plenty of papers and templates, and TONS of embellishments! I don't have the motor skills to scrap in real life, but I enjoy saving our memorable moments.

As to the above photo, it was taken at Joshua Tree NP during the weekend I gave my son the "What every boy needs to know about being a man" speech. Good things are said and learned around a campfire. Mostly, I answered some awkward questions and imparted upon him to always be decent, don't be a follower, and never hurt the one's you love. If that doesn't qualify as a memorable moment, nothing does!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Change Your Perspective

I used to teach a photography class geared towards folks who wanted to take their vacation snapshots to a higher level. I'd get all sorts of sheepish looks as 'rookie' shutterbugs handed me their point and shoot cameras for inspection. They assumed that because their camera gear was entry level, they were doomed to boring, uninspired snapshot photos. At least they thought that until I pointed out to them that all of my vacation and family photo's were shot on a little 3.2 megapixel digital camera. It wasn't about the equipment as much as it was about changing perspective.

By the end of class, folks were laying on the ground and shooting up, framing shots off kilter, and looking for the elements in the frame that were interesting, and then keying on those for the shot. Taking pictures became less about 'getting the shot' and more about enjoying the moment and having fun.

Photography has provided me with a life lesson; don't let limitations influence your creative ability. If you're tired of the same old thing, get a new perspective. Look for the interesting details in everyday events. And, enjoy the moment because you don't get them back.

This photo was taken in Topock Gorge, on the Colorado River, during a kayak trip with my son. He preferred to lean back to talk to me vs turning around and rocking the kayak. It created a interesting scene; something out of the ordinary. The ghastly white legs protruding from the bottom pull the eye down and give the viewer a sense of depth. Travel photo's should always capture the essence of the moment more than the visual representation.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hope Spring's Eternal

To forget how to dig the earth, and to tend the soil, is to forget ourselves-- Ghandi

In the spring, our mountain is covered with a variety of bulbs. In Running Springs, one family has over one million daffodils, tulips, and iris planted on their land. When the daffodils bloom, you know Spring has sprung.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Uncommonly Common

Every now and again, I'll see something that I could see on any given day, and pass without a thought. But, sometimes, when the heart & mind are a little more receptive, even a common scene becomes uncommingly interesting.

On a hot day in Mesa Verde NP, I was 'photo'd out' from taking too many pictures. While waiting for my wife and son to emerge from a kiva, I heard two ravens 'cawing' at each other. I watched them for a moment and was struck by the stark contrast of the black birds against an azure sky. I snapped a couple of shots while they continued their conversation. From the image, it's not hard to appreciate that native american culture's share a collective reverence for the raven. It creates an ancient and iconic symbol of the great southwest and has become one of my favorite moments from a memorable vacation.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Middle Emerald Pools
Zion NP, Utah

Friday, May 4, 2007


The sun, slung low, on a red rock horizon
It's dying rays stretch to warm the canyon's wall
Shadows flicker and dance to music
Of a lone coyote's distant call

Vermillion hues in the cliffs and sky
So gently fade in twilight
And sparkles of golden sandstone dim
As stars fill the desert night

There is a moment in time, so brief
When creature's of day have fall'n asleep
and those of night have not yet stirred
When the rocks hold collective breath
Even the wind cannot be heard

It's in this moment the canyon lay
It's ancient walls exposed
And when the sun bows it's head to eve
All's left is quiet, repose.

Written on a trip to Zion National Park

If she can do it.....

So, my wife started a blog at She really enjoys expressing her artistic creativity and crafting out there on the internet and letting the world get a glimpse of what I get to see everyday. I figure if it's good for her..... And, afterall, wasn't that what the internet was supposed to do-bring us all closer together?

Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat. Step off the treadmill and enjoy the journey!