Finding Your Voice: Day 5. Element.

Welcome to Day 5 of our fun series: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice”

My Favorite Element is _______.

Let’s talk elements. I don’t ONLY mean the natural elements of wind, earth, fire and water. I mean MANY other elements that might be part of what you’re drawn to – that all contribute to finding your Artist’s Voice.

Moods Like This Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 5. Element.”

Bucket Lists & Travel Blogs

On the blog today, I was featured in an article called “Top Travel Photographers Reveal Their Favorite Photo Locations Around The World – Part 2”.

I’ll admit it… I read every single one of the other photographer’s favorite spots and even made some notes!

My said my fave place (so far) is New Zealand. Dear lord, how could it NOT be?? I loved it so much I couldn’t take it off my bucket list, even after I’d been there! No, it stays pinned to the top of the list. I mean, when you can just pull your car over (then stand in the middle of the road) and photograph Mt. Cook in all his/her glory… honey, I’m sold! It would take a lifetime to find all the awesome nooks and crannies to photograph there. I can’t wait to go back!

It IS, after all, still on my bucket list. Did I mention that? Heh.

What’s on yours?


The Lay of The Land

What’s Been Going On Behind the Curtain?

I’ve been nose to the grindstone. Behind closed doors. Below the radar. “Leave a message at the beep” now for weeks. I might even say for months!
So, I thought perhaps I’d take a moment to have a gander of the lay of the land looking forward… and share it with you. Because fun stuff is coming up!

An ALL NEW Episode of  The Chat This Week!!

FIRST up this week is my first completed episode of “The Chat” in about 2 months!! Yes, on Wednesday it will be released to the world. Woot!
The pace of said past few months has been so intense I haven’t had time to edit a single episode, which has pained me to no end. Well, truthfully I had to finally let GO of the pain, because it wasn’t doing me – or you – any good. But it’s unintended hiatus will be over on Wednesday with a brand new episode. Chris MacAskill, President of SmugMug will be my guest. And LORDY what an amazing life he’s had! In fact, we shot the main episode AND 2 shorter segments as “extras”, which I’ll show as exclusives right here. It’s all fantastic!

But wait, there’s more! Like who my upcoming guests on The Chat are, a new website on the way, TWiP Pro, Photo+ Expo, a big NYC photo walk, new works coming up and more!
First, however… a word from our Mother Nature in New Zealand:

Continue reading “The Lay of The Land”

Sunset at Bendemeer

Bendemeer Estates

A year ago, I went to New Zealand to help teach a fabulous workshop given by Trey Ratcliff. It was his first New Zealand workshop – and my first visit to Hobbitland. I pretty much walked around the whole time with my mouth hanging open at the postcard views EVERYWHERE!

We visited lots of different places and scenes, not all of them reminiscent of “Return of the King”. One was at a new housing development called “Bendemeer Estates.” I use that term loosely, since there were no actual houses built on the property; a fact that made me chuckle (to myself, of course) as we wandered about the golf course, golf cart paths and lovely little lake that you see here.

Continue reading “Sunset at Bendemeer”

The Mists Over Milford

Early Morning Milford

Early morning at Milford Sound is really something. When the tide goes out, you can walk pretty far out there to photograph areas you’d have to swim to otherwise. Or maybe waist-wade. To that I say: “No thanks!” Slipping and sliding over the fantastically slimy rocks was exciting enough for me. hehheh.

I suspect there was a relatively low tide the day we were there; although I didn’t have a Tides app like I do now to verify my suspicion.

In any case, Milford is a pretty surreal place. I don’t think a person could ever get tired of it – especially on misty/mysterious days like this! You should Google Trey Ratcliff and Milford Sound… just to see how un-tiring repeat visits are!

MistyMilford Continue reading “The Mists Over Milford”

Scenes From a Boat

Adventures Revisited

The great thing about not processing photos from a big trip all at once, is that you get to go back later and revisit your adventure.

Take this photo. Whilst in New Zealand last year, we took a cruise around the Milford Sound area. Went all the way to the edge of where the ocean begins. (It started to get a little rough out there – I was WAY happy when we turned around!). These boats take you up to waterfalls, right along the shore in places… and you get to see areas you’d NEVER see otherwise.
Continue reading “Scenes From a Boat”

Like Peppers in a Pod

I’ll Take Mine With a Splash, Please!

I always love a scene that is essentially monochromatic with a splash of color. The day in Queenstown, New Zealand was all that and more! It had been raining a ton – with more due that day. New Zealand is already shades of blue… so this day it was shades of slate blue. Except for the boats on the shore, which made me think of my two favorite kinds of peppers. Hello, free association!

I loved that they could just leave them chained up to a tree and know they were safe. Unlike here in the states, where you’d have to take them home and store them in a locked, secure building with a security code and a guard to have any hope at all of seeing them the next day. I exaggerate. A little. Sigh.

In any case… that pop of color just made it for me!

Peppers in a PodQueenstown, New ZealandIn a tasty splash of color - just like my two favorite kinds of peppers.

Where The Heavens, Art and The Imagination Meet

The Splendid Sunset

It was a magnificent evening in Queenstown, New Zealand high atop Deer Park Heights. DPH is no longer open to the public, but the intrepid Trey Ratcliff had, of course, found a way to bring the entire group of us up there for a sunset shoot. It was a photo adventure workshop, so we were traveling in a pack.

The awesome thing about New Zealand sunsets is that they go on… and on… and on! Here in California you have to be all set up and ready for the bloom of the set, because BAM! it’s over and done with in about 5 minutes. Over there… we had upwards of an hour and a half of gorgeous light to enjoy, frame, reframe, hike over there, stand over here, check out that knoll – for several compositions in one splendid sunet. It was amazeballs!

Continue reading “Where The Heavens, Art and The Imagination Meet”

I’ll Take Mine Inspired, Thanks.

Creating Our World

I have a deep belief… certainty, even… that we create our worlds with the power of our belief, faith, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, actions. I’m not here to debate whether or not you think that is true… I’m simply going to show you two photos. One represents my world when I still had doubt about what I just said. The second: well, perhaps you’ll say it’s the view through my very own rose colored glass. My mom used to be accused of wearing rose-colored glasses… but she didn’t care, she just went about her business of creating her world just the way she wanted it. Like the soul artist she was. She also laughed a lot more than other people did.


So. Here’s a representation of a world-with-doubt:

Continue reading “I’ll Take Mine Inspired, Thanks.”

HDR? Or not HDR?

I was talking about HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography the other day. That was here. But with so many innovations and new ideas around post-processing photos these days, even the definition of the term – and ability to know one when you see one – keeps changing! I find it fascinating, because of how it challenges our perceptions. Originally, an HDR photo was one created from a few to several auto-bracketed images, in graduating levels of brightness. Thus, covering the gamut from darkest to lightest tones. By that definition, this is a 7-exposure HDR photo (and was an awesome little house we saw in New Zealand. Can you say “hobbit?” heehee):


Continue reading “HDR? Or not HDR?”

The Tutoko River Bridge

On the way to Milford Sound, you pass over a bridge spanning the Tutoko River. The views both up and down the river here are amazing! It’s actually a bridge-over-a-bridge… you can see the white railing of the old one over to the right of this photo. What was funny about taking pictures from there was that you had to stand on the old bridge. And it moved. Every. Time. Someone. Walked on it. With 20 of us, it became this ballet of… “STOP! annnnnnd hold that position. Wait for it… click-click-click (etc.)… Ok now you can move!” Rinse and repeat. It was pretty funny. But we all got our shots in a most cooperative fashion – and I think it actually bonded our group even more. Just another magical New Zealand moment!


The Big Picture

The big picture is a wondrous thing. It’s that nice looong view that gives you some perspective on yourself, your life, your project, your whatever-marvelous-thing you’re headed toward. It gives you a moment to breathe. A chance to rise above all the hoo-ha and decide which way the wind is blowing. Figure out whether you need to layer up for an incoming storm… or get out the suntan lotion. When you tune into the big picture, it shows you important patterns. Brilliant colors and rich, yummy textures. Where the avoidable jagged edges are… and where the light is most brilliant. (Chances are, you’ll want to aim for that.)


Any journey in life worth writing home about calls for a mighty, mighty focus. A ton of attention to details. Problems to solve. Some distractions. Mega lists. And snacks. Lots of snacks. After awhile, maybe you look around and you can’t quite recall where you were going – or why. Or maybe you remember all right, but wonder if you’re on the best path to get there. You question everything from your direction, to your motivation to your sanity. Continue reading “The Big Picture”

The Mists of Lady Bowen

Early morning. Milford Sound, New Zealand. Tide’s out. We’re standing way out on the rocks. We have to move fast, because the tide is about to start coming in and it doesn’t mess around. It’s not violent or anything, but if you’re like me, you’d just rather not swim back into shore with your gear.


It’s tricky being in a stunningly gorgeous AND iconic place for the first time. You want to hold your breath in wonder, soak it all in for awhile. But you have to maximize the minutes you have out there, try to snag  photos that’ll give you chills when you get home and not shriek “Do over!!” when you’re 6000 miles away. Continue reading “The Mists of Lady Bowen”

Photography: Got Signature?

I get asked about my photo processing alot. It’s a challenging question. For me, processing a photo starts before I even press the shutter.  I take a picture when it tells a story, moves me in some specific way, sings to me (really!) – all of which ends up as this fluttery feeling in my stomach that tells me “that’s the shot”.  I see it as all part of my personal point of view in life, or “signature”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked through the viewfinder and thought… that’s a lovely picture, but it’s not talking to me. Meh. And I skip it. Because I know that when I see it later on my computer screen, my soul will heave a big sigh and say “Really? REALLY? That’s the best you could do?” And I’ll feel bad that I disappointed it. I hate disappointing my soul and do my best to avoid that at all times.


So, I could tell you about my adjustment layers, my blending modes, my sliders and which plugins I used, yada yada. But  I still wouldn’t have answered your question. Which REALLY is… Continue reading “Photography: Got Signature?”


Courage… Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand

I love moments like this that make you think iconic thoughts. Several crossed my mind – but maybe because of where I am in my own journey, I settled upon “Courage”.


I think one of the marks of courage is knowing the odds… but sailing on (to use the immediate metaphor) anyway. Radiantly. With panache. That “panache” bit is key. Hehhe. At various points in my life, people have commented  that I was courageous. I used to think I wasn’t  – because I was mostly so scared at the time, but I did persevere and always won whatever I was after in the end, even if I grunted along the way. Continue reading “Courage”

Beauty and the Tire

She was so lovely in the morning, all blue-green sweetness. How does anyone wake up looking so refreshed? 

Beauty and the Tire

Seriously. I gotta say, Queenstown Harbour is one gorgeous dame in the morning! I stood on a wall to take this picture… tripod and all. I wanted the whole kit’n kaboodle in the shot.
I also posted it on Google+. It got over 1000 +1’s over there and people seemed to genuinely like it.
But I waited for the tire complaints… annnd, sure enough… there they came. Alot of folks felt that this shot would be so much better without the damn tire. Hehheh. While I do understand the point, it made me chuckle. Continue reading “Beauty and the Tire”

On the Layup Road to Mt. Cook

I learned a new term on my trip to New Zealand. A “layup”. Trey Ratcliff taught it to me. In the photography context, it means “an easy shot”. One where you don’t have to work really hard to make an amazing photograph.


It seemed to me that all of New Zealand is one big layup! Everything you lay your eyes upon is blessed with beauty, both primal and ethereal. The colors, the textures, the shapes and the combinations of elements are so incredibly breathtaking at every turn. Like this moment on a fabulous road trip to Mt. Cook I took with Trey, Curtis Simmons and Scott Kublin after our big workshop was over. Total layup! Trey pulled over so we could get a good look at this sight and I literally gasped. Continue reading “On the Layup Road to Mt. Cook”

Back To One

Where once she was divided, undecided
she became whole – and back to the one.


Me and photography were on the same page early in my life, but darkroom chemicals and I didn’t get along. So, sweet lady photography and I split up and I was sad. It just wasn’t the same, not developing my own work. It took the air right out of my sails, made me feel like I was hobbling instead of running. So I turned to other things. That was 30 years ago or so. Continue reading “Back To One”


Church of Good Shepards, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. Special guest appearance by Milky Way.

Everytime she focused upon what her heart desired most, it seemed that all the forces in the Universe moved in unexpected and delightful ways to make it so.
She made it a point to imagine often.


That’s how I felt when I was standing there with Trey Ratcliff,  Scott Kublin and  Curtis Simmons. I mean, you dream of things in your life… but so often it’s with the quiet after-whisper of “that’ll never happen”. I used to do that. And they never did. I guess maybe now that I’m older and have experienced actual miracles, it occurs to me that my past self simply never dreamt BIG enough. What was up with THAT? I mean, I even have a card I’ve saved for years that says “BIG dreams come true!” Perhaps I didn’t believe it. Or perhaps I just had to stare at it long enough to finally get the courage to go for it and really, truly… with great glee and childlike certainty… IMAGINE myself standing right there, staring up at the Milky Way on the other end of the world with three incredible friends and artists.

Because I did dream it
And it did happened.
And it was really, truly amazing beyond all reckoning.

Milford Sound Woke Moody That Morning

Rainy, rainy the night before, Milford Sound woke moody and blue in the morning. It happened sometimes, and it frankly wished the tourists would quite imagining that every day was sunshine and fairies. It sent a sand fly to bite one of them standing there with a camera.

Yeah. That kind of moody.


The day the workshop headed to Milford Sound was gorgeous. The closer we got to the sound, though – the more it was a rain situation. We’d planned on shooting sunset, but got pretty much rained out. The next morning, however, woke moody and dramatic. We got out early pearly so that we could be out on the rocks while the tide was out. The rocks aren’t huge, just slippery. I drew on my figure skating background and did my best to glide gracefully over them with my backpack, tripod and camera. I made, though I can’t vouch for the gracefulness. heh. Continue reading “Milford Sound Woke Moody That Morning”

Entrance to the Mountains

On the way into Milford Sound, New Zealand stand these magnificent sentries. They’re impressive… like dare-you-to-pass guardians. I felt like I should have to decode an ancient rune or dodge poison darts whilst leaping from rock to rock over a wide mountain stream to gain entry. But perhaps they were looking the other way – or perhaps it was sufficient homage to their grandeur that we stopped, gasped with jaws dropped in wide-eyed wonder and photographed reverently, but that day but we were allowed to drive peacefully on through.


We just finished “Trey’s New Zealand Photo Adventure“! It has been absolutely fantastic. An intrepid group of passionate photographers joined us for an action packed 5 days. We saw incredible sights, photographed amazing sculpture art at a highly exclusive club called “The Hills”, owned by Sir Michael Hill; visited a Korean Prison (actually an old movie set) on private property where herds of red deer, bison, elk, cattle, alpaca and miniature horses roam; visited the natural wonder of Milford Sound and took the cruise; photographed sunset along the lake in Queenstown and strolled through the gardens there; and stopped more times than you can count along the road to all of these places to photograph the wonders along the way. It’s been joyous and expanding in such wonderful ways. We’re all tired and happy.

I feel so fortunate to have been on the team of Trey RatcliffScott Kublin and Curtis Simmon,  helping to coach, inspire and laugh with this group. We’ve had an absolutely delightful and magical time together.
As life should be. Aaahhhhh.

This was photographed as a 7 exposure HDR, shot with a Canon 5DIII, 24-70ii f2.8. Most reverently.