This is Glenda our two and a half year old gorilla in her new exhibit. She's extremely photogenic and loves to interact with people.
This Aruba Island Rattlesnake was very aggressive and definitely gave me some second thoughts about being so close to it to get the shot. As you can see, it was well worth it.
This is the Outer Bay Tank at the Montery Bay Aquarium. I could spend hours just staring into this other world watching the various species of fish swim by. From the giant tuna seen here to the reef shark, dolphin fish, and of course the Mola mola (otherwise known as the ocean sunfish). Being primarily a photographer of terrestrial animals, it was very challenging to switch to this aquatic environment. It can be a photographer's nightmare dealing with the extremely low light levels, the thick glass, the water, and the constantly moving creatures. With a lot of trial and error my settings were adjusted appropriately. Here, I waited for a nice group of tuna and I panned with them to render them sharp while slightly blurring the crowd gathered at the huge window peering into the outer bay.
This is the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Taken on a very rainy and cold trip recently, it is hard to really show how large and truly grand this hot spring is. It is the largest spring in Yellowstone and one of the largest in the world at 300 feet in diameter. The colorful reds and oranges result from an intense concentration of bacteria that grow in the mineral rich waters while the bright blue in the center is the extremely hot making it free from bacterial growth. My first reaction is call this photo Fire & Ice representing both the contrasting colors and temperatures.
This is a Picasso. Well, technically a picasso triggerfish. Taken on my recent trip to the Long Beach Aquarium, this little fish was so endearing to me as it swam around the large tank. I at first tried to photograph it "normally" by having a higher shutter speed and trying to get a sharp photograph. But the light level in aquariums are so low that it forced me to use much too high an ISO than I was comfortable with. So I decided, why try to freeze the fish in motion when I can SHOW the fish in motion. That's when I dramatically lowered my ISO and shutter speed and did a panning technique to get the fish both sharp, in focus, and in motion. This of course took me many many tries to be successful. I really like the end result and it is a good memory of that little fish.
This is a beautiful and peaceful view of Mammoth Lakes in California. To try to really represent what was seen in person, a technique commonly referred to as High Dynamic Range (HDR) was utilized. The reason being that the camera has a limited dynamic range in which it can capture and by combining multiple exposures of the same scene, helps represent what the scene truly looked like. Here, technology and software I feel helps the photograph become "more authentic". To make this kind of imagery successful, I think it's crucial to keep the image as natural appearing as possible.
This is from my recent trip to Las Vegas to ring in the New Year. I wanted to show the dynamic night life of Vegas so I envisioned this iconic Hotel & Casino with light trails zooming by. It was easier thought up than accomplished. My obstacle.....traffic! As may know, Las Vegas Blvd. is almost always busy and this being the New Years was no exeption. The cars just weren't moving. In fact, it was such a slow crawl that getting the light trails I had planned was going to be tougher than I thought. Lowering my ISO and stopping down my lens helped extend the exposure time, but this still wasn't quite enough. So I did what all photographers do, I wait. And finally with some moving vehicles and none directely in front of me, I was able to capture this scene that I think illustrates the Las Vegas night life.
This is our snow leopard giving me a very dramatic look. He was clearly focused on me since there was nobody else around. It's always particularly challenging trying to photograph these exotic wildlife in a zoo and trying to get it to look as natural and non-zoo like as possible. Distracting backgrounds and fencing are the main obstacles. Here, this intense stare looks like he has really zeroed in on me. But in reality, this moment lasts barely a few seconds and being ready for it is the name of the game.
For such a densely populated city as San Francisco, it was quite a pleasant surprise to be the only one on this beach at night. It was very peaceful and for a photographer, an absolute joy to solely concentrate on the photography alone. The only thing to worry about was keeping an eye out for the waves and not to be hit with one and get soaked.
One of my favorite subjects to photograph in an aquarium. These sea nettle jellies are like nature's dynamic sculptures. Floating effortlessly, every movement altering the composition with nearby individuals adding even more to the image. These two appear to be in a graceful dance. I can spend endless hours photographing sea jellies.
The highlight of my recent trip to Yosemite National Park. From the world famous Tunnel View, this vista has been photographed millions of times and trying to get something different is challenging. As luck will have it, my neighboring photographer mentions that the Moon *should* rise over El Capitan tonight. So we wait and wait while the sky is completely overcast with clouds. The view is breathtaking, and waiting in the freezing cold doesn't deter either of us. And sure enough, the clouds begin to part and the Moon rises. WOW! It was absolutely stunning to see and my heart definitely skipped a beat. The creeping fog on the valley floor adds that extra bit of special to one of my favorite images from my trip.
Not my usual grand landscapes, Farewell to Spring is my way of stretching my creative legs. It's very easy for us photographers and artists alike to get "stuck" in a rut and end up doing the same things over and over. Well, the easiest way to break that habit is to change focal lengths. My go to lens is usually my ultra wide angle zoom, but this afternoon I decided to change things up by using a 50mm prime lens. This forces me to see things differently and more importantly, photograph differently.
Garrapata State Park is one of the many great places to visit along the Big Sur coast of California. Having seen this location a year prior at Soberanes Point, I was unable then to photograph it then. Getting another chance this year, I was eager to make the most of it. But as with most things in life, not all went according to plan. There during the "magic hour" right before sunset, the light just wasn't great. With dull gray skies that are so common along Big Sur, I decided to instead focus on textures, movement, and mood instead of trying to get the great colors of sunset that just weren't going to happen. I ended up with this shot that I am very happy with. It just shows that being flexible and having an open mind is crucial.
The instantly recognizeable Walt Disney Concert Hall has been photographed extensively by many people visiting the area. Working on a deadline on a photo project, I heard the loud rumble of thunder in the distance. Looking out the window, I saw the storm clouds forming and decided whether to finish up my work or to go and photograph. Of course photography won and I quickly got dressed and walked towards Downtown Los Angeles (where I live by). Contrary to what most people think, "bad" weather generally yields more interesting photographs. Just the week prior, the temperature was extremely hot at over 100 degrees, so this freak storm was completely unexpected. I had just 20 minutes to get there before the sun started to set and luckily I got there just in time for this moment. A few minutes later, the sky just went dark with hardly any color at all.
The largest monkey in the world, the Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) is obviously the most colorful primate and a favorite photo subject of mine. Their bright blue and red muzzles framed in yellow and olive fur makes for a very compelling face. And when they show their massive canines, that face becomes extremely threatening. Those canines in fact are longer than even those of the lion, and they even self sharpen! With such pronounced brow ridges, gettng any sort of light in the eyes is a difficult task and requires just the right light conditions and head positioning. And when all the various factors come together, a captivating portrait can be made.
Researching places to photograph on a recent trip to Santa Cruz, I stumbled upon this locaton that looked very promising. Friends that know me know that I'm a big fan of marine critters and in particular, sharks. So when I found this location unofficially called Shark Fin Cove, I knew I had to pay it a visit. The site did not disappoint. I had a great time trying to get as many angles and different perspectives of the "Shark Fin". Of course I waited for sunset, hoping to get a good light show. But, without any clouds in the sky, nothing really happened there. So the last hope of the day was the "blue hour". That's after the sun has set and the sky is a rich, deep blue. It doesn't last an hour, but more like 15 mins. With nothing really going on with the sky, I concentrated on texture and movement and ended up with this as the last image of the day.
Many times photographers will mention luck when capturing that great shot. Shooting for The Portico Group, an architecture and design firm, I got very lucky with this image. With the camera held high over my head with one hand to avoid some visual barriers in front of me, I was photographing Billy our Asian Bull Elephant with a nice crowd gathered at the viewing area. And for whatever reason, whether to show off his nice cold water on a very hot day, Billy decided to spray the crowd. And at that very moment, I got the shot. I knew I got very lucky, as moments like this are very rare indeed in a zoo environment where the animal interacts with the visitors. As the Roman philosopher Seneca said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
An extremely popular tourist attraction, the iconic "Lone Cypress" of Pebble Beach in Monterey, California has probably been photographed millions of times. On this particular day, I was completely alone. Not a single person or tourist in sight, and it was marvelous. I was able to just enjoy the scene before me and take my time to capture it's beauty. I chose to use my new neutral density filter to extend the shutter speed to give the landscape a dreamlike feel. You must be wondering how it was that I was alone at the Lone Cypress. I can thank the Concours d'Elegance, the annual car show that I was lucky enough to attend. During this prestigious event, the 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach (where the tree is located) is closed to the public. I realized this was my one chance to photograph and concentrate in peace. It certainly did not disappoint.
This is as close to an Orangutan as I've ever been. This female orangutan (Rosie) was only inches away with only the glass separating us. She was nearby, so I knew my telephoto lens would be too long. As I put my camera bag down to change lenses from telephoto to wide angle, she casually walked up to me and sat directly in front of me inspecting my bag. She seemed genuinely as interested in me as I was of her. Looking directly at me, I placed my lens directly on the glass and photographed this intimate portrait. You can clearly see me reflected in her eye. In fact, the black circle is not her pupil, but my lens!
Burney Falls is the most breathtaking waterfall I have ever experienced. Photos just can't completely capture the feeling of being there. From the sheer size of the falls, the loud thundering of the water falling over the edge, to the coolness of the spray of water. But I want the photo to compel you to want to visit and experience it for yourself. If I have done that, then I consider it a success. Being there just as the sun was setting made an already beautiful scene just simply magical.
Photographing after the sun has set is one of my favorite times and produces some of my most striking images. When most of the people have packed up and gone home (including some photographers), I prepare for some magical light that only the camera can capture. What appears dark and colorless to the eye is transformed into brilliant hues with the long exposures in camera. Mono Lake is a strange and wondrous place, made more so by the rising full moon.
This Black Neck Swan is usually one of the first animals I see at the Zoo when I visit and I can never resist taking a few shots. These birds are constantly moving and I love the way the ripples frame this elegant pose. What is present around the main subject, in this case the reflected ripples, is as important to making the final image special as the main subject. Always be aware of what is in front of and behind your subject .
The Japanese Garden at the wonderful Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite locations in the city to escape and spend a day doing photography. There is definitely something to be said about revisiting a location time and again. Each time I try to photograph the Japanese Garden with a new angle or perspective, always taking into account what the light is doing that particular day. The ultimate goal is to always improve and get a better image than the last. This applies to all my photography. No matter how many times I have photographed a particular subject or location, the goal is always the same; to get a better image.
Bonsai Rock in Lake Tahoe was a total gem of a location. A bit obscure and hard to find, but it was certainly well worth the effort! It is always rewarding to research and find special places to photograph, and when they live up to the expectations, magic can happen.
Waterfalls are always magical and we as photographers can't seem to resist gravitating towards them to capture their beauty and magnificence. This particular falls is often called the 3 Bears and is located along the famous Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii. This little slice of paradise will always remind me of the trip of a lifetime to Maui where for the first time I was able to focus solely on photography.
One of the major highlights from my Maui photo adventure was this Bamboo Forest. With sunset approaching quickly, I decided it would be quicker to hike the Pipiwai Trail without my tripod. Well, I certainly learned my lesson to always bring along my tripod. I arrived at the bamboo forest and it was far darker than I imagined. The bamboo was so dense that very little light penetrated. Holding as still as I could and relying heavily on vibration reduction on my lens, I made the best of the situation. With the great dynamic range on these newer cameras, I was able to process and arrive at the image I had envisioned. I title this image, "Path to Zen".
In honor of being hired back at the L.A. Zoo as photo editor and photographer, I present our new baby hippo! Born on Halloween this cutie has been a hit with everyone. It is 4 days old in this image and knowing that babies don't stay babies for long, I am taking every opportunity to photograph it.
Another highlight from one of my hikes on the island of Maui. This spectacular and large banyan tree seems to be alive and watch over all who enter it's territory. This giant is so impressive and it was wonderful to spend some time photographing it alone as the sun was setting and very few people were on the trail.