Mystery is one of the major forces for our attention and abstraction is certainly one way to get there. I usually include a clue but in this case decided not to. These are straight with nothing added although they are upside down. Any ideas? An expression of an idea or feeling can become quite personal when it is diffused, representation stripped away. Sometimes it can be the most powerful of all-- or the least understood. But drawing in the viewer and exercising the responses of others is useful. Ok, I'll tell you what they are: we were at the Blenko glass factory in West Virginia and these shadows were being cast on the ground from vases on display. I see them as microscopic cellular organ


We all have our places and this is one of mine. An energy spot, for me at least. It's a falls in Central Oregon over which one can peer right above the cascade. And it's not a trickle. But this place is run through with the most gorgeous oxygenated water I have ever seen. Any semblance of the experience of being there in a photograph is a victory. Putting the viewer right back there, where you were, at that moment, is always the challenge. Scale and dynamics and temperature.... and noise, can come across in the image. Working to capture those qualities requires great effort and insistence. It's a commitment to achieve empathy. Of course, it's a sliver of the experience, a scintilla of a reco

Little Things

I have been convalescing over the holidays after necessary but routine surgery-- with the attendant pain. It was a study in itself looking at pain and naming it, assigning a number to it, staying ahead of it. But the debilitation led to contemplation which ultimately was a kind of meditation. It also led to another examination of my work and one of the themes-- small things. How could a roll of paper towels on a shelf be worthy of anything? Or a towel, toy, brush, or shirt on a hanger get attention? The answer is simple. In fact, simplicity is what I'm always looking for. I am constantly trying to distill a place or a time or an event to the simplest possible form. There is an aesthetic beau

Under Our Noses

I repeat myself which to my friends and family is unfortunate but here, on the phlog is ok, I think. I will continually emphasize the idea of remaining open. It's useful in photography-- or art more generally-- but every situation in life benefits from not narrowing one's options by assuming too much. It's the same for problem solving or negotiations, or any decision that needs to be made-- one has to consider well. Look at all sides. Anticipate every consequence imaginable. This mindset can yield much better outcomes and save a lot of time and heartache.

Risque Business

Killing time with the only camera at hand, looming before me is this tableau. When is censorship sexy? When it's risqué. And risqué is always more interesting. Verging on impropriety gets my attention and I know I'm not alone. But risqué doesn't have to be tawdry. It's a matter of taste whence there is no accounting. Use your judgement.


The importance of humor in ones work can not be overstated. It's really not funny. Humor is such an important part of play and that's pretty much what's going on in picture taking, isn't it? Even during the most somber missions with a camera, imagination and play are at work to find point of view, irony, story, symbolism, metaphor, originality, momentousness, everything. It may not specifically be humor driving the engine, but humor feeds the fire of imagination, at least for me. I said to my wife, "Go hug that tree." So she did-- only from the back. The instant I saw her hands reach 'round-- click. it was funny but it was simple, it said love, it made the tree come alive, all of those thing

Visual Poetry

Sometimes a place just speaks to me. These often are personal and not universal. But what is common, I think, is that a place can have an indescribable quality about it that's easily missed. I had passed this old mill many times and finally gave in and stopped. Again, the imposition of the scale of this object/building is a theme in my subconscious-- finding in much of what I have taken, a response to scale. And once again, historical evidence of a place or thing much used is another theme. I think what's at work is my own scale in relation to the world, and in its history. We are infinitesimal obviously, in this universe, but perhaps even more minute temporally. It never ceases to stun me w

Flip It

I walk the screens of my computer "seeing" probably more than I actually walk with a camera of late. I stumbled into a cache of once uploaded images from a trip, but unreviewed. I love watercraft, having built one, and I had been in the Port Angeles boat yards while visiting live-aboard friends there. It was the early golden hour. My kind of stomping grounds. After an hour of surveying the photos, I noticed this shot which shouted, "Rotate me!" I think it works. It is a common practice in the among artists to consider their work in another orientation-- maybe just for inspiration. It's a good practice. Why not? See every which way you can.

A Walk

So I'm walking and waiting on a friend and I pass a window where something catches my eye. It's baubled; it's pixelly; it's a thousand cd's. My reflection is in there somewhere. It's not a huge mystery that it's the bust of a dress but it is an illusion and eye catching. A little further on, another dress presents itself confused with the fall colors behind me. I felt like I was looking at an exotic sea creature. Next I came upon a telephone pole. I was transfixed by what this billboard represented. Thousands of events were advertised here over many, many years. I know a guy who thinks people shouldn't post fliers so he tears them off. Pretty mean. So walk and look. Notice. You might lose yo

Black & White

Black and white is elemental. It speaks the truth. Yet it's far from it. Have you ever wanted to go back in time when things were black and white? Well, they weren't. But it bespeaks the past and yet it's entirely contemporary. It's classic. It's neutral. It's a cold look at a subject- no varnish. When all is reduced to shades of gray, a photograph becomes a poem in a way. The sentiment of a scene is distilled. Here, we have stories, imposition of mass, mystery, reflection, humor. All without color (OK, I grant the Richard Serra sculpture from the Seattle sculpture park is toned sepia). Seeing this way is an approach of stillness for me. Remove the color and all becomes quiet.


Never underestimate the power of intention. The Artist's Way advocates writing them out every morning. There was some study about molecular changes in bottles of water affected by different words printed on the outside. "Love" or "Hate" would cause measurable changes in the structure of the water by those who read those words. I don't know about that, but I do know that intention influences outcome. It is always my intention, camera in hand, to be "professional" (serious, focused, open), to use my senses other than vision-- because for example, listening can lead to some of the best photographs, and to check my ego at the door (every time I get cocky I miss something). The message here is ab

Where I Live

I marvel at my home turf. I marvel at my circumstances, my time, my opportunities. I'm certain I'm here, that I have a mind & body, and that it's finite. It has become clear: life is a privilege. It isn't certain what came before or comes after. So, it's a responsibility to take advantage of it. Respond to life; the world around you. Manifest that response somehow. Look. Think. Invent. Sing. Create. But most of all, share! We all benefit!

Know Thyself

This isn't just about photography. It's about challenging one's mind, one's preconceptions. The exercise involves looking with a camera, but the work is about not accepting what we think we know. It truly carries over to life. It's when we challenge ourselves that we get closer to truths. It's humbling. The tendency in our lives is to simplify, make tenets, categorize, and catalog what we believe. It's only natural. It's how we make sense of the world; how we survive. But too often these "truths" aren't. They're oversimplified or biased. So it's good to question them. I am not a parent but I watch my friends' kids call them on everything and it brings about reassessment. I like to do that wi

Humans and Context

They're everywhere although they really shouldn't be. Humans do tend to lend scale however. Where they go in the frame is contextual usually. To convey a feeling, and to give a sense of scale, there needs to be a relationship of people to the environment around them in the frame. If placement is wrong, it can be misleading- but this may be done intentionally. I tend to make the final, precise decisions about this after the technical work is done- just before pressing the shutter. I kind of go blurry and see everything at once. Context is really about seeing through the viewers' eyes and removing everything they aren't getting that you are, like all the time you had before the shot is taken t

Unbeknownst To Me

It is not known what impulses led to this. It's not really the ideal moment, the boy just before or after a catch or drop. But what gets me is the lovely form of the man, his mass, his hunch, his question mark of a pose. And there's an optical illusion with the background so flat in appearance while the man and boy define fore and middle spaces. There's a line from Three Days of the Condor with Faye Dunniway who's character, a photographer, says roughly: It's not the type of picture I would take. But I took it so it has to be me." There is so much at work deeply underneath, just beneath, or even on the surface yet ignored, that influence where we look. Sometimes when looking back at old work


Sometimes it's impossible to avoid the iconic when visiting another place, particularly NYC. But what moves you, moves you. The canyons of Manhattan are so imposing, and almost limitless-- those slots of sky as far as you can see in one direction or another. So it's a sketch one does, sampling the feeling through a lens. The Brooklyn Bridge reminded me of one of the boulevards with the airy cables drawing the phantom buildings of the city. And reflected in the edifices another artwork illustrating the complexity and cacophony of it all. Even the wildlife will pose for you. But I love being a stranger in a new place. We see everything with such nakedness...things that are invisible to the nat


The Lensbaby This homage to the Holga is a moveable lens that lets you mess with the focal plane. It is much like a tilt-shift lens without the shift and far faster and economical to use. Placing the viewer's attention specifically around the frame with control is a very useful tool indeed. As with any adjustable parameter, choices must be made with intention.

Expect Surprise

Sure it's a nice view and because its a nice view I expect certain things. And when I expect things I almost always miss stuff. When you're standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, you don't usually look behind or next to you. Distrust expectations. If you hadn't noticed, I love crazy reflections.


So there's mystery, shape & form, point-of-view, receding space, and many other attractions to a subject. This ghost house has many. This particular shot also imposes on the viewer. Shooting from underneath and upward as well as being fairly wide, causes the subject to loom at us. It's even more effective in this case because it is such compelling architecture and that curved glass encases the rags that once was a curtain. It's spooky. But it also begs the questions: "What's going on here? Is this old mansion occupied? Is there someone or something in there?". So point-of-view becomes more important with a subject like this. And the form snapped into place in the frame which I like. Form fol


With a pupil trained through a pentaprism, aimed at a scene, I ask myself: "Does this feel right?". Check. I know this won't last, so, given what's happening, am I in the right spot? Not much time-- check. Is this the aperture/shutter combo I need? Focus range right? Check. Check. I love those beams shooting around either side of that tree-- that needs to divide the frame in half. Check. Ok, edges of frame-- tree has space above & ample below, the sunlight along the ground has a little shadow in front, nice. Is my horizon level? Check. Is my white balance right? Check. Is my ISO appropriate? Check. Click. Good. But I want just a titch more detail in those shadows-- ok, click, perfect. Gone.

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