The last time a really good comet was visible in Southern California was all the way back in 1997, when two comets—Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp—graced our skies. (Though PANSTARRS in 2017 wasn’t bad.) So, when Comet NEOWISE (short for Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, after the NASA telescope that discovered it) became brighter than anticipated, I was determined to catch it.

In 1997, photographing a comet would almost certainly have been on film. It would have required a tracking mount, and lots of patience. In 2020, with digital photography, you crank the ISO up to 6400 or more, and take a 30-second (or less) shot, et voila!

I shot the comet over several nights, from my backyard, a hill near my house, the small desert town of Neenach, and Vasquez Rocks. Neenach provided the best combination of dark skies, comet brightness, and an interesting foreground. By the time I got to Vasquez Rocks, the comet was too dim.

Projects Travel

Wine Country

I love the wine country — Paso Robles, Sonoma, Napa — but usually when I’m there, I don’t get much chance to squeeze in any photography, despite the natural and manmade beauty of those areas. I’m too busy tasting wine! Still, I take my camera every time I go, and try to sneak in some shots without detracting from my party’s enjoyment of the activities.

UPDATE: Pulchella Winery in the Oldtown Newhall Historical District is displaying some of my prints of the Wine Country in their tasting room! I’m thrilled by the opportunity to display, and perhaps even sell, some of my prints. You can see the exhibit at: 24261 Main Street, Newhall, CA 91321. Thanks to Nate, Steve and Joey for this opportunity!

Here are some of my favorite Wine Country images:

Exhibits Projects

The Other Side of the Lens, continued

A few years ago, I saw esteemed photographer Joe McNally give a talk at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Despite all of Joe’s amazing work over the years, doing shoots for various news organizations and the National Geographic, what stuck with me most were some simple shots he took of photographers with their cameras. It inspired me to begin my own project, taking portraits of all the photographers I know with their cameras.

Over a year or so, this project grew into, “The Other Side of the Lens,” which has so far been exhibited once.

Due to work, I had to put this project on hold for a while, but as I’m gearing to start it up again, I thought I would share some of the images from the extended shoot here.

Here are some shots of the gallery exhibit, which took the form of an old-school, analog darkroom, with “prints” in developer, hanging from drying lines, and “negatives” in the enlarger. It was a lot of fun to put together, and the reactions of experienced photographers taking in the digital recreations of the analog photography tools was fun to watch.

It was fun to create negatives of the exhibit, which I printed on a clear mylar film, to replicate the real thing.

Sample Negative
Sample Negative


Exhibits Projects

The Other Side of the Lens

While attending a lecture by internationally reknowned photograper Joe McNally, I was struck by some images he shared, that he had taken of some friends and fellow photographers. So often, we photographers are behind the lens, and not in front of it! In fact, many of my photographer friends have tons of vacation photos in which their families appear, yet they are absent… always on the wrong side of the lens.

I decided to embark upon this project of taking portraits of photographers.

As the project was ramping up, I thought about the relationship that photographers have with their cameras. Phototographers talk about their “gear” all the time. With some, the talk is about learning, with others it is a point of pride, and with some, it is an obsession.

Photography may be the one art form in which a lifetime journey begins with the gift of the tools to create. You never hear, “I decided I wanted to become a writer when my dad gave me a typewriter (or computer, for you kids).” Music, painting, sculpture: all arts in which the appreciation typically precedes the desire. Yet, you often hear photographers speak about getting a camera, then becoming hooked.

For some photographers, the camera is just a tool, no different from a paintbrush. For others, the relationship is more like a guitarist with a prized Les Paul: Something to lust after, acquire, and bond with over years of creativity.

I asked the photographers in this exhibit to bring their favorite cameras. Other than that, they were free to suggest any other “adjustments” or props.

It was interesting to note how many of the photographers expressed discomfort with being on the other side of the lens. Some even admitted to disliking it a lot!

The concept for this exhibit presentation came to me in a flash. My own journey with photography began taking pictures on film as a child. As a teenager, I worked in a traditional film darkroom (in my bedroom closet). The idea of presenting these digital images as if they had been shot on film and printed with “old school” darkroom techniques appealed to me.

The first exhibit for this project was presented as part of the City of Santa Clarita’s ArtSLAM on May 1, 2014.

All of the images were taken with a Canon 5D MkIII, and an 80mm f1.8 lens. Each image was processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop, and printed at 4×5 “negatives” were printed on an HP Laserjet using transparency film.