Ladakh High Mountain Adventure

Ladakh High Mountain Adventure

I’m looking for 1 or 2 adventurous souls to join me on a very special ‘scouting mission’ to Ladakh, India. The Himalaya runs right through this region of northern India…this is the land of the snow tiger and home to several unique indigenous races/cultures that have existed in relative isolation for millennia. If you have a taste for adventure, can live some uncertainty and welcome the idea of traveling with a very small group, we should talk.



#GoodMorningLA

#GoodMorningLA

Let’s start a movement together! I’ve never started a movement before, but I think it could be fun :). What if people began each day with a dose of creativity and presence? What would happen if people began sharing their moment of zen? What if other Angelenos were inspired by our collective vision? That’s what #GoodMorningLA is about. 



That's What I'm Talking About

That's What I'm Talking About

There’s more to photography than f-stops and photoshop. Don’t get me wrong, when I need to know how to create an effect or decide whether I should buy that doodad or thingamabob (the answer is always, yes!), Google & YouTube are my best buddies. But there’s something missing. Something big. I mean the creative vision piece, what I call The Art of Seeing.  There’s a deafening silence on the internet when it comes to practical ways to sharpen your creative vision. Maybe that’s because although few deny the importance of creativity in photography, most people figure there’s not all that much to say about it. It’s a, ‘"you have it or you don’t” kind of thing, right? Or at best, your creativity and personal style will just develop over (a long) time. That’s just flat wrong in my experience. Creativity is a muscle, I can teach anyone the Photographer’s Eye. 

If we’ve met, you already know that I’ll blab to anyone who will listen about The Art of Seeing. But it’s really inefficient spreading the gospel of Seeing to one person at a time. That’s why I’m taking my show on the road.



Inspiration from Your Couch

My favorite way of refueling the inspiration gas tank whenever I'm feeling creatively blah is going somewhere I've never been before and disconnecting myself from the rest of humanity for a bit. But let’s face it, none us get to do this nearly enough. Thankfully, the internet is full of amazing content creators who make it possible for us to travel through space and time and jumpstart our creative batteries without ever leaving our living room couch. I guess that’s a good thing?

Netflix
Netflix has been killing it lately with their original content and these two recently released docu-series are binge-worthy content for any photographer: Tales by Light follows a different photographer in each episode (6 so far) as they explore exotic locations and go to physical extremes to create breathtaking images. Check your pulse if your wanderlust doesn't spike after watching a couple episodes.

Abstract: The Art of Design focuses more on the creative process than photography per se but is just as applicable to us shutterbugs. Each episode delves into the mind of a leading artist/designer to understand their approach to problem-solving and their insights on the nature of human creativity. I'm still working my way through the series but I can highly recommend episode 1 (Christoph Nieman - Illustration) and episode 7 (Platon - Phootgraphy). I think it's a safe bet that the remaining episodes are equally engaging. 

Finally, it’s shameless plug time: most of you don’t know that I produced a documentary film recently. Well, it’s finally made it to Netflix (also available on Amazon , Hulu & iTunes). It’s called In Search of Balance and it has nothing to do with photography, but if you’re interested in the intersection of human health and the natural world including topics like the human microbiome and ‘beyond organic’ natural farming, give it a try. If you like it, your review/rating would be very helpful. You can get more info about the film and see the trailer

YouTube
No person who ever clicked a shutter is better known than Ansel Adams. But even (or especially) amongst photographers, he’s appreciated more as a master technician than as a great artist. As the inventor of the Zone System and a darkroom virtuoso, Adam’s chops as a master craftsman are indisputable. But Adams was an equally great artist in the truest sense of the word. The PBS film, Ansel Adams, A Documentary Film, captures both sides of the legend. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit but...

 

 

 



Phone It In. Seriously.

Phone It In. Seriously.

The other day, on the home stretch of my morning run, I stopped to snap a photo. It was super foggy that morning and everything had that mysterious, ethereal look about it. The heavily diffused sun rising across the waters of Ballona Creek looked interesting so I pulled my phone out of my pocket and clicked a few frames. Hmm, not as cool as it looks, I thought reviewing my images on screen. Oh well. Then I noticed the bridge, that looked cool too. Maybe that will make a better picture. A couple more snaps. I should get lower, I thought. So I picked my way down the rocks lining the creek bank. More snaps...a little better. I need to get home and start my day, I thought climbing back up to bike trail. Just then, a cyclist whizzed by and disappeared into the fog. Wow, that looks cool...just need to wait for another biker. You see where this is going, don’t you? An hour and 159 snaps later, I thought I really have to get home. I ended up with a handful of keepers from that morning, mostly courtesy of a lovely egret hanging out on the docks. So I guess my point has something to do with serendipity, which seems to have a way of showing up whenever you follow your instincts. But it’s also about how easy it is to slip into what I call C-mode (creative mode) when you are shooting with your phone. That’s a good thing.

Shooting with your smartphone's camera is a fantastic way to exercise your creative muscles and sharpen your photographic vision. Since most of the technical decisions are made for you, a phone camera frees you to focus on the image which, after all, is what really counts. It also removes a lot of the creative pressure of doing 'serious photography', which ironically makes you more creative. I know I feel a lot more instinctive and spontaneous when I'm shooting with my iPhone. For those pixel peepers obsessed with image quality ('IQ'), I agree we haven't reached DSLR quality in our smartphone cameras yet, but let me ask you: How many iPhone billboards did you drive under this week? Just how much 'quality' do you need?

One key to making great images with your phone camera is...



The Santa Barbara Backcountry in Spring

The Santa Barbara Backcountry in Spring

Some were scared off by the possibility of rain. Some people just aren’t into camping (I struggle to comprehend this). And I’m sure many others thought I was exaggerating just how spectacular the Santa Barbara backcountry looks at this time of year. Fair enough, but those brave souls who made it to our MeetUp group’s Santa Barbara Backcountry & Night Photography event last weekend were rewarded with a lush landscape in its absolute prime.