That light

Chasing Light

Over the years as a photographer, I’ve learned (am still ever learning) to notice light. And with that, darkness. Like the highs and lows of life, where each is necessary to give depth of character to a person, both ends of the spectrum are needed to add dimension a photo. Too much light can make an image look flat. And we don’t live in Flatland. We want something we can grasp, or, in the case with a picture, at least imagine we can.

I’ve been in love with capturing the changing sky as the sun rises and sets from my roof (or balcony, as the case here). I love how the light changes color from moment to moment. I love when there are moody clouds.

I grabbed my camera yesterday morning when I noticed the beautiful clouds dancing in the light. I knew I only had moments. It was supposed to rain at any moment and the clouds would flatten the entire sky, hiding those traces of blue.

Had I thought about it more, I would have taken a shot in film. But here ya go. (Nerd exif data: Canon 7D, 50mm, f/8.0, ISO 200, 1/125 sec.)

Sunrise 1

Two minutes later that gorgeous light was gone to make way for much needed rain.

(bonus: I spy a bird in one of the pics.)

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Morning macro meditation

Macro Morning

I gave my daughter flowers for her 11th birthday last weekend and placed it by the homemade banner I made her years ago that I somehow remember to hang up on her special day, year after year.

Macro roses

Wednesday morning I made time to photograph the floral beauties, as part of my macro morning study, along with some other objects within reaching distance: mug, champagne coupes, jewelry sitting on the counter.


I contemplated the condensation on my coffee carafe…


…until my vision blurred,


and honed in on the light.

Condensation light

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I see a blood moon rising

After going to bed much later than I do on a weeknight, I awoke a couple hours later, climbed up on the roof, and managed in my groggy state to set up my clunky old tripod, my 7d (for the crop factor), and took some photos of the total lunar eclipse around 4am.

Lunar Eclipse

The night air was crisp, still, and not as chilly as I was expecting. It was a lovely autumn night (er, very early morning) to moon-gaze. Some lucky east coasters got to experience a selenelion, where the sun rose as the eclipsed moon set, 180 degrees apart. How spectacular that must have been.

As for me, I watched the moon float high above Sutro Tower, just barely visible in my photo.

Sutro Tower and the Moon

I like knowing that even though I was alone on my roof, there were so many others viewing that same gorgeous celestial phenomenon.

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Annual dahlia photowalk

20140830_Dahlias_05 (1)

Every year in late summer/early autumn, Sabrina and I head over to Golden Gate Park to photograph the dahlias. It’s a lovely tradition. So many gorgeous flowers.


It was an explosion of color on the scene.


My challenge this year was to take some different shots, change it up a bit. I’m not sure I succeeded, but it was fun trying.



One of these days I’m going to go back through my hard drive and pick out which is my favorite image of these beauties. I wonder if I’ll be drawn to the soft, light and airy images, or something darker and moodier. It’ll probably depend on my mood.


Can’t wait to see Sabrina’s photos from the day.

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So familiar a gleam

This morning I made time to photograph a beautiful bouquet of flowers, as a kind of meditation. With my cup of coffee close by, I enjoyed the morning light in my apartment. I put the flowers on a table and situated the setup by the large window in my living room.


At work, I use the tripod extensively, so I went rogue for this project and handheld the camera despite the still darkish conditions for shooting macro. I was going for a dreamy effect, to match my not-quite-awake state of mind, so sharpness of the image was less important than the mood.


I couldn’t decide to keep these vertical or turn them on their sides. In the end, a diptych won.


This is now my desktop wallpaper, not that you can ever see it because I have too many applications open:


I want to make morning macro photography more of a habit. It does wonders for my mind. I want to crawl into the abstraction.

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Adventures in film: Pope Valley edition

A dream

Last month two of my girlfriends and I had a weekend of perfect summertime fun up in Pope Valley. Now, if you aren’t familiar with weather in San Francisco, particularly in the summer, you may not know that it’s cold. Average temps hover in the low 60’s. So to be able to spend a weekend somewhere 30 degrees warmer is quite an experience for me.

Pope Valley view

I’m not suited for hot-weather by any means, but give me shade and a place to swim with great company and I’m happy as a clam.

Pope Valley pond and dock

We stayed in yurts. So fun! I was in the lovely guest yurt while my friends shared the main one. So beautiful and simple, the theme of the entire weekend.


The 40 acre property was amazing. Vineyards, a large pond (depleted from the severe drought, but still must have been at least 8 feet deep), majestic oak trees, and a plethora of winged creatures (birds, insects, bats!).

Christine in the vineyard

That Saturday was also summer solstice, and we celebrated by spending the entire day outside. We didn’t retire until well past midnight. We saw many shooting stars, satellites, the Milky Way. We enjoyed delicious food, laughed ourselves silly, and bonded our friendship further. I love these ladies.

Grass 2

On my desk at work are a few of these prints, to remind me of these special times.

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The fallen bloom

from Sabrina's garden

About a month ago, Sabrina brought me beautiful roses from her garden. Each flower bursted with petals.

Pink Garden Rose

They were incredibly fragrant; its sweet, floral scent filled my apartment. If only someone could bottle it so I could wear it. Oh wait.


I love the wild, wiltiness of these flowers, so much that my favorite one happened to be the bloom that fell apart – velvety, tissue paper thin petals still vibrant and moist, now scattered on the table.

Petals 1

The fallen petals were reminiscent of Sabrina’s gorgeous wedding dress with its layers upon layers of delicate fabric.

Petals 2

Thank you, Sabrina, for sharing some of your beautiful world with me. I welcome more of it!

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NW Corner of SF


A few weeks back, I went to Point Lobos and Sutro Baths with Sabrina for a little photowalk. Originally I was supposed to go down to the Peninsula to meet her, but I got a late start and made her venture up to SF to see me.

As both of us are wearing inappropriate shoes for trekking down a dirt path, she says, “Oh boy. It’s always an adventure with you.” I laugh and say thanks, even though I know that wasn’t a compliment. Realize, the hike down wasn’t treacherous, as we were passed by 7 year olds skipping down. But at least they were wearing sneakers with traction on the soles.


Most of the photos I took were of things I’ve photographed before. This becomes a lesson in creativity, to find a new perspective, a new technique, to convey something different of a place repeatedly visited. And so, this time I experimented with heavy post-processing for an abstract look to where the ocean meets the sky.


Next time I’ll try to manipulate that in-camera, so there will be less processing to do in post.

Sabrina, I look forward to many more adventures with you.

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In Bloom

Tulips in bloom

These past few weeks have been challenging for a variety of reasons. Without getting into it too much, suffice it to say that I’ve been doing my best to focus on the things that make me happy, like taking macro shots of flowers. I know, so cliché. But I really do enjoy the process. It’s meditative, getting so close to these ephemeral beauties. This enchanting bouquet was delivered by Farmgirl Flowers to my door from someone who could not be here in person. In this instance, I’ll take second best.


There are many flowers that I adore. Ranunculus is one of them. I think I was in high school when I first noticed this flower. I fell in love with the layers upon layers petals that look like they’re made of crepe paper.

Macro Ranunculus

I started appreciating roses about 15 years ago, when my amazing neighbor out in the Richmond grew award-winning roses in his front yard after he retired. Who knew they could thrive in the dense fog of 35th Avenue?! He taught me everything I know about roses.


When I lived in Portland – a.k.a. The City of Roses – my yard had so many rose bushes that it was almost impossible to keep track of and maintain. But the garden was hardy and I think the only plant I actually killed was the blueberry bush. (Though, I could never get that dogwood tree to bloom, no matter how hard I tried.) The roses were huge.



This garden rose is particularly lovely with its many fluttery petals (like the ranunculus).


Of course, if you recall from my previous macro flower posts, you know that for me, the more abstract the better.

Anenome Macro

Anenome Macro

And the nice thing about photographing flowers is that, like many things actually, their memories are preserved long after they’re gone.

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Quick tip: photographing a beam of light

Rechargeable light bulb

One of the benefits of working with a talented team is that I am around a lot of knowledge, which I absorb as much as I can. Here’s a trick I learned a few months back, which I’m happy to pass along to you.

If you want to photograph a beam of light, say, from a flashlight or a laser pointer, you need something that will scatter those light rays so your eye can see it (or, more importantly, so your camera can capture it). The easiest thing to do is to get a can of compressed air, hold it upside down, and spray it behind the light. Use a tripod and a long exposure (stop down your aperture). I misplaced my remote trigger, so I simply used the timer setting on my camera so I could spray the can. Alternately, wrangle in an extra set of hands to spray that stuff.

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