Dream It – Then Get Off Your Ass

Here’s How It All Went Down

I was sitting there, working. Behind the computer. For too long. Feeling totally depleted and not at all productive. Yet, there I sat, the early warning bells screaming that I needed to move, eat, drink some water, change gears!  I wasn’t listening. Until…

My muse stepped in and smacked me upside the head. WHACK!
“OUCH!” I cried.
“What are you DOING??”she hollered. “You’ve sat here long enough, you’ve done enough. GET OFF YOUR ASS!
“I know, I know,” I interjected. “I’ll go. I just gotta…”

<It's not called this on any map... but what else do you call a little cover where not one, but TWO photographers gather. Hmmmm?

The Excuse Vs. The Real Work

See, “I just gotta” and “… let me just…” are my famous words du procrastination. They refer to stuff I think I just “gotta” do, which I don’t really gotta do, which always ends up with me NOT doing what I really oughta and most passionately wanna do. Confused yet? Yeah. Welcome to my mind.

My real, true job: grab my gear and go catch some awesomeness. Hello monsoon season!!

The Mighty ACTION 

I know this for sure: Dreams don’t come true without action. So out the door I went, lead by a burning desire for something really extraordinary to happen. I held this burning desire in place of positive expectation.

“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEEEEAN?” I hear you shriek. (Have you been talking to my muse??).

OK, y’know how when you go to a movie that you absolutely, positively KNOW is gonna be great? You’re stoked to see it… and you’re all excited as you get your popcorn and stuff, because you know you’re about to have your socks knocked off? That’s positive expectation.

Then… when the movie’s All That and even BETTER than you knew it would be? That’s positive expectation, exponentially fulfilled.

Was it the movie – or your expectation that made the whole experience so awesome? Who knows…  but one thing’s for sure: NONE of it would’ve happened if you hadn’t GOTTEN OFF YOUR ASS and gone to the movie!

See how that works? Write that down: Get Off Your Ass.

Back At The Bonsai…

Meanwhile, back in my movie… the afternoon turned out well. Not 5 star awesome, but definitely good. I made a point of seeing new things in the oft-photographed mecca that is Bonsai Rock in Lake Tahoe, Nevada side.

I was pleased. I’d gotten off my ass and my positive expectations were fulfilled. Yay for me!

Bonsai Rock, Lake Tahoe, Nevada.Bonsai in the rock, reaching for the light.Does it GET any more metaphoric than that??

Positive Expectation, Exponentially Fulfilled

Then it happened. That ‘thing’ that would kick the whole evening into that fist-pumping, big cheesy grin, hollering out loud “YEAH!!” experience. (i.e.: positive expectation, exponentially fulfilled.)

Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, 2 super-energized young men bounded onto the beach.

One: a guitarist named Adrian Bellue.
The other: photographer Jason Sinn.

Their goal: shoot a concept photo for the cover of Adrian’s new album.
They had driven over 2 hours, got stuck in 3 traffic jams, nearly forgot the money outfit Adrian wore for the shoot and almost missed the light. But there they were, out of breath, moving as fast as they could, determined.

Adrian is blind in one eye – but Jason grabbed his glasses anyway. Hey, who needs to see as you rock-hop in barefeet in dwindling light if it means getting the MONEY shot??

Jason grabbed his gear and splashed into the water (discovering just how slippery the rocks underfoot really are!).

Adrian improvised on his guitar to get in the mood and… WHOA NELLIE!

The notes spun, ricocheted and bounced off granite and each other, amplifying it in wondrous ways. People started showing up out of the blue, drawn by this wondrous sound.

I made a few quick videos and SUPER quick-edited them together to give you an idea… (of course, I asked permission first to video and photograph!)

I instantly went from landscape photographer to BTS (behind-the-scenes) documenter in a heartbeat and LOOOOOVED it! It reminded me of that magical day in Paris at the Palais Garnier… another time I got off my ass, asked for Extraordinary and let it happen.. 😀



Jason balanced on rocks slippery as fish, whilst holding a camera, his flash rig… and got his shots without even falling in!


I gave all the images and movies to them both as a thank you. Because we became friends that night. Because after all they’d been through to get there that day, they deserved some evidence that something truly extraordinary truly did indeed happen. _DSF7064

Notes To Self

My take home:

1. Dream. Big, small, doesn’t matter… just never stop dreaming.
2. Always, always listen to my Muse. Especially when she yells at me.
3. Get off my ass. Often.
4. Expect greatness. Positively. Exponentially.


The Landscape of Life

Me Loves Options

Sometimes I don’t know if I love black and white or color better. Or… big, open space epic photographs or macro. Or… chocolate or really ripe raspberries.
Then I retrieve my senses and remember that I don’t have to choose! In this lifetime, on this planet – we get options and choices. I treasure that to my very core.

(SIDEBAR: I created this one in Macphun Software’s Tonality Pro. I love how fast it is – and how you can bring back color selectively like here, or split tone in the blink of an eye. Should I tell you that all of Macphun’s software is 40% off until Nov. 29? I think it’s fair… cause maybe you love a discount as much as I do and want the option to git one!)


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A Season of New Beginnings

Like a Fiery Birth of Fabulocity

“Like a Brainstorm.” “Like a Lake Tahoe Vortex.” “Like the Eye of Sauron fallen over on its side.”

“Whuuuuut?” I hear you wondering. “What’s IN that chia-and-flax-seeds-in-yogurt mash you’ve been eating??”

I see moments like the one above and it’s double take. No.. triple take! No, quick… write the first three captions that pop into my mind, no matter how daft!

(Oh, and photo notes: Single shot, Canon 6D, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens, ISO 125, f/11. In case you wondered.)

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Portrait of a Lady… er, Lake

Whenever I post a photo of Lake Tahoe on one my social streams, there’s this one fella who always pipes up, “You sure like to photograph that lake!”
Now I ask you… wouldn’t you, if this were 30 minutes from your home? I mean, seriously!

I consider myself blessed. When I’m home, I actually DO go lots of other places around Tahoe area to shoot… but there’s just something so otherworldly and awesome about catching Lady Tahoe herself bejeweled in her aquamarine finest.

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The Age of Panoramas

It’s So Simple On a Mobile Phone Nowadays

Panoramas photos are becoming all the rage now. On many mobile devices, you just hold up the phone and follow its direction to create them. They’re getting better all the time! However, at 72 ppi – it’ll look great on your computer monitor – but you won’t be printing a big one for your entryway anytime soon. For a mondo printable panorama, you really need to use a big-girl/boy camera.

A Little Trickier With a DSLR

With a DSLR, it’s not quite as simple as with your camera phone. You have to take impeccably framed multiple image, then “stitch” them together later in Photoshop using Photo Merge (or some software that specializes in panoramas), then clean up any aberrations, balance any lighting variations – and process the photo (if you so choose). It’s quite a process! You’re talking hours. Many photographers do them with 10, 20 or even more images – some of those guys are at it for days.  I tried doing couple of panoramas a few years back… they didn’t turn out well at all. They actually stunk quite badly. But this day I was in the mood to give it a shot. Well, four shots. That was about all I was willing to commit to, just in case it blew. Keep it simple!

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Get The Most Bang For Your Buck on a Sunset Photo Shoot

If you’re shooting sunset at a location that lends itself to moving around AND if you enjoy photo processing, here’s a quick tip for maximizing the impact of an evening’s shoot: MOVE your butt around – and process each photo differently. The latter is if photo processing is your bag, of course. All the image in this post were taken during the same sunset photo adventure. I made a point of moving as quickly as I could through the time before, during and after sunset to snag as much variety as I could. I’ll show you some examples next – clicking on the images will let you see them larger if you like, too.

And for the curious amongst you, the next 6 images were all processed as HDR images…

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Color or Monochrome?

Plan A, Hijacked

I was heading elsewhere this day; intending to shoot sunset (if there was one) at another location. But when I looked over and espied this scene, all other plans went out the proverbial window! I love matching reflections… strong cloud formations… and an almost surreal/abstract arrangement of elements when they happen naturally. It’s magic! (and this day, certainly one of my daily miracles. Especially since the west hasn’t even SEEN clouds for months!)

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Icons and Perspective

Let’s Go Shoot An Icon!

A photographer friend was in town, so we headed out to Bonsai Rock at Lake Tahoe to shoot some sunset action.
Bonsai Rock is a bit of an icon. Google it and you’ll see what I mean.

We’re having an incredibly dry winter in the Sierra Nevada mountains… which means no snow where there should be MANY feet of it! It also means that Bonsai Rock and other locations around Tahoe are unusually accessible right now in winter. Which further means… we had LOTS of photographer company one Thursday night in January at Bonsai Rock. They were a quiet, tense, kind of cranky and definitely territorial bunch. Hey, I wished we’d had the place to ourselves too… but what the heck. Roll with it! There’s plenty for everyone. Sigh.

But Don’t JUST Shoot An Icon

My friend Lisa Donchak and I tried to lighten up the mood. Said hello as we moved about making multiple compositions amidst the “butt campers” as I like to call them.  I refer to the practice of finding a spot, setting up camp and possessing it like you own the very air molecules surrounding it. But I figure, why go to all the trouble of getting there only to walk away with one shot? Oh well, I’m sure they have their reasons.

This was one of my non-Bonsai blue hour images. I love the way Tahoe light and color is so blocky and clean at that time. And the moon! Cool.

Sierra RocksLake Tahoe, NevadaThe big rock shining above the little ones below.It was a rocky night... but oh-so-gorgeous!
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The Bonsai Rock Mission

Avoiding Bonsai Rock: “all that” or merely insecure?

Bonsai Rock on Lake Tahoe, Nevada side is an icon. An endless stream of photographers has been to this spot to shoot this very rock it seems; its wee stunted pine trees doing their mightiest to grow out of a crack in the granite. Just do a Google image search for “Bonsai Rock Lake Tahoe” and watch an endless scroll of photos populate the page.

I have a strong streak of rebellion that resists shooting places like this that EVERYBODY seems to need to photograph.
Or perhaps it’s insecurity masquerading as a mock blasé attitude so I can pretend it doesn’t really matter.
I mean it DOESN’T really matter in the grand scheme of things… right?

Taking the Leap

And yet… when my good friend and über fabulous photographer and teacher Matt Kloskowski came out to teach a Lightroom workshop in Sacramento, he made an extra day to shoot at Tahoe. He called me up and said he wanted to do Bonsai Rock – and of course, I said “I’ve never shot it either!” Like it just sorta happened that I never shot that stupid rock… or had just been SOOOOO busy (and don’t forget ‘important’) that I never had time to make it out there. Nevermind that in almost 20 years of living in, I only just figured out where it is this year! Granted, I wasn’t actively doing the kind of photography I am now most of that time, so that’s my official excuse… but still.

Personally, I think Bonsai Rock is a better sunset spot than sunrise. So we hit it shortly before sundown.

Even granite boulders have families, right?I'm going to imagine it just that way.
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