This is the third attempt I made at shooting star trails on our recent camping trip at Al Wahba crater. It is a 30 minute exposure. Polaris is located at the center. Cassiopeia is to the left and the Big Dipper is on the right. The whitish smudges on the left represent the Milky Way
Before this I never successfully captured star trails. I’m admittedly very green at night time landscape photography, so Tamara bought me an online course from Udemy which was pretty informative (although I knew the entire textbook already). This photo is, for the most part, successful. However, I learned something interesting about shooting star trails they wasn’t covered in the course I took.
When taking long exposures on a digital camera, professionals usually don’t take 30-minute or hour(s) long exposures. Instead they set the camera to take 30 second long exposures and then stack them in post-production (or with specialized equipment on-site like Arsenal). I knew this already, however I didn’t know exactly why they did it.
The reason is that when exposed for long periods of time the camera’s sensor gets warm which causes individual pixels to show up on the finished product. If you zoom in on the photo you can see hundreds of them glowing red, green, and cyan. Furthermore, my camera has a setting to adjust for the noise created during long exposures that I forgot to turn on. I decided to not spend a billion hours editing the pixels out, leave it as it is, and chalk it up to a learning experience. It’s still pretty cool though.
For those keeping score here’s the data:
1810 sec at f/16, ISO 1250, 21mm Shot with Nikon d810 and a 14-24mm f/2.8 ultra wide angle lens. I upped the contrast slightly in Lightroom.
This is a photo of one of my former students named Zeina who is an outstanding gymnast (and student). Last year as I was working on our school's yearbook we thought it would be cool if she did a number of poses around the campus. The top photo ended up as the cover photo for the elementary section of the yearbook.
My colleague Fatoumata requested that I photograph her recently. Our session lasted a mere seven photos and produced two final copies but I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Fatou’s colors and wonderful smile matched the afternoon light perfectly. In addition, her son held the reflector that bounced the warm, golden light on the right side of her face making it a family experience. Coincidentally, he was the boy who I captured in the “Boy in a Leather Hat” photo.
So often I think about the limitations I have in living abroad and not owning a physical studio. I will browse B&H photo and Adorama daily and consider what it would be like to have proper lighting and fancier equipment, yet I must operate without many advantages that other artists have. By my own rule I can only purchase equipment that I have earned through commissions.
Then a photo shoot will happen like this where my knowledge and practice are tested and my subject and I emerge victorious. It is times like these when I’m reminded that some of the best art comes not from those with right facilities and equipment but from the heart, and it’s compatriots: knowledge, patience, practice, and preparation.
My friends Court and Ron joined me on a camping trip to Joshua Tree in June. They were good sports about my photography although we always ended up hiking in the middle of the day, which meant very flat light. However, I made the most of what I had and came away with some very cool shots like this one, which was taken by one of the rusted out cars that were left behind after the gold rush in the early 20th century. This shot and it's great clarity and bokkeh was taken with my Nikon D810 with a Nikkor 28-300 f/2.8 lens.
Horton (From Seussical the Musical) 2019 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Mark Sasse, the theater director at the American International School of Jeddah has used me as his photographer since 2017. I love taking photos with good lighting, but I'm especially happy when the actors and actresses get into their character. The student who played Hortondid a great job of becoming the beloved mouse of Seuss lore.
Our daughter Amelia is a real character. She’s very mellow most of the time but when she gets going she displays an incredible array of faces and emotions. In this series she is fresh off a bath in our kitchen sink and is hungry. While she was waiting on my lap for her mom she got busy gnawing on her towel and being frustrated before giving up and switching back to the calm, sweet baby we’ve come to love.
Tamara 2019 Jeddah Saudi Arabia
This is a photo of my wife taken only a couple of days before our daughter Amelia was born. We had about three different maternity photo sessions over the previous month but I wasn’t really in any of them aside from taking the photos.
For this shot we we headed to the roof of our building and posted up in front of a very sunlit white stucco wall that was out of the wind. The result was a bright, high contrast, and very effective photo of Tamara. She glows!
Woman-2019-Jeddah-Saudi Arabia Every now and then I get commissioned to draw or paint something. Not many people know this but my first DSLR was actually purchased so that I could take higher quality images of my artwork.
At one time photography wasn’t my artistic priority. That changed when I left Colorado for the expatriate life. It suddenly became difficult to travel with huge canvases. Go figure?
This is a drawing that was commissioned for a book cover that was recently rejected. It was a letdown because of the time that I spent on it, but it was nice to get back to drawing. The inspiration and subject matter behind it are dark, which is a departure from my typical non-representative abstractions. It is based on a character in a dystopian science fiction novel who was abused as a child and placed by her mother in an abandoned subway tunnel for her protection. However, the mother’s good intentions ultimately create a prison for the girl and she ends up spending her life in the tunnel and creating ever more dark and troubling murals on the walls of the tunnel. This drawing is supposed to be a mural near the end of her life after her descent into madness. The drawing features symbols representing the loss of self, religion, freedom, and control experienced by women who are abused and ultimately serves as a representation of life under an authoritarian system of government. Like I said, dark.
Kids are a bunch of fun to photograph because you are never quite sure what you are going to get. In Maddie's case she loves taking photos and brought the smiles for our session with her family this weekend.
Our Thanksgiving trip to Petra fulfilled a dream of mine. I intentionally did no research and I had no idea what to expect, so I was floored by the mix of traditional forms and the craftsmanship that went into sculpting the tombs and facades of this ancient city. In my past life in architecture I could only hope to have the opportunity to conceive of and design such a place, so I was grateful to merely have the opportunity to photograph and revel at these grand forms and shapes which have stood for a millennia.
The Abandoned Pool-2018-Saudia City-Jeddah -Saudi Arabia
Saudia City has been around at least 40 years. The architecture is basic but there is a little bit of desert inspired modernism in its buildings. Some parts, like this pool, have fallen into disrepair which, when combined with the sandy red and purple hues and stark, bright floodlights of Jeddah at night, conjure up intriguing noir-inspired mysteries as the mind imagines what these places were like in the past, how they were used, and by whom.
Picnic at the Ritz-2018-Ritz Carlton-Jeddah-Saudi Arabia
We went to the Corniche in front of the Ritz Carlton to see the Guinness World Record fireworks show. The show in Jeddah was linked to shows that went off at the exact same time in every other Saudi province, which is what made it the largest fireworks show in history. In Jeddah it alternated between fireworks and lasers being shot off of the Ritz Carlton and fireworks shot over the Red Sea. It was quite impressive!
Note: If you made the pilgrimage to my website to see the high quality version of this photo (I post the low quality shots on social media) you are in luck. Lots of great tones and action to find in this one.
Triangles-2017-The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu)-Giza-Egypt
I think most kids are infatuated with the architecture of ancient Egypt and I was no different. Everything about ancient Egypt spurs the imagination.
Tamara and I got a chance to see the pyramids over a three day weekend last year and they did not disappoint, although I was left wanting a lot more.
We chose to ride to the pyramids on camels across the Sahara. Camels are funky beasts and photos can be a challenge to take when you are loping across the sand. Still, there were some great shots and memories that came out of our camel ride to the pyramids.
This photo was taken from atop my camel as we rode away from the Great Pyramid. What I found interesting about that day was that there was enough sand and dust in the air to create a strange, diffuse light. One could see for many kilometers yet there was almost not detail in an enormous, expansive sky. (Equipment: Nikon d600 and Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G lens.)
Minnesota Tree-2015-Pathfinder Village-Minnesota Photo of the Day 9/15/2018
This was taken during a hike I took around the woods in Minnesota at a place where many residents own small trailers or homes which they use to escape for the weekend. Minnesota is not lacking in trees but this solitary young tree caught my eye because it was nearly alone in the middle of a meadow with a young sapling by its side.
I took this photo with my Nikon d600 and Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G outfitted with a polarized filter. This was the first summer that I had my camera and I loved it right up until it was taken from our car this summer by some lowlife when we were camping in Crescent City, California. The d600, at least the ones that didn't have problems, was an excellent camera for serious hobbyists because of its affordability versus the quality of photo it took.