A Once-a-Year Shot…

There is a famous, clichéd photograph of Los Angeles, with downtown shown surrounded by snowy mountains, that pops up every year or so. I must have seen it hundreds of times, but I still wanted to capture a version of my very own. One of the best places to get such a shot is Kenneth Hahn Park in West LA, where a high bluff overlooks the city, and everything is lined up just right.

It’s a majestic view, and my favorite moment of the day was when a little boy, approaching the view with his parents, exclaimed, “Wow! Is that New York?”

The last week of December 2021 was forecast to be stormy, with cold weather, and the possibility of snow at even lower elevations, so I planned ahead and invited my friend Mel to join me at the overlook. Little did we know that many other photographers had the same idea! We showed up an hour before sundown, and were surprised to encounter a scrum of photographers, packed in shoulder-to-shoulder, lined up to get the shot. There was everything from iPhones, to all variety of digital cameras, to a guy with an old wooden 4×5.

We found a spot and settled in for the shot, which I got in the first few frames… and then I realized the real shot was the bunch of photographers! So I backed up about 100 feet and took the shot that told the whole story.

It was a fun outing, and I would do it again. The color temperature changes so quickly as the short winter days become dusk. I’d like to go back, even without the snow covering, and try it when the sunsets are long and blue.



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.


2019 Pop-up Art Show UPDATE

Wow, what a great show it was! 14 artists with connections to the Themed Entertainment industry, all sharing their work, which showed a fantastic variety of media, styles, and influences. I’d guess there were at least a couple of hundred to 300 guests throughout the evening, which, despite sweltering heat that overpowered the AC, was still exhilarating!

See my previous post for the full list of sponsors and artists. Thanks to all of them, as well as everyone who braved the heat and crowd.

In this post, I am going to share the images that I exhibited. One of the guests said to me, “You can’t tell how beautiful these are on Facebook!” The smallest image was 16×24, and the largest was 16×40.)

All the images were shot in Oceano Dunes, California, which is near Santa Maria and Pismo Beach. The images were printed on aluminum by ProLab Digital Imaging in El Segundo.

Exhibits News

2019 Pop-up Art show

I’m so thrilled and excited to be part of the 2019 Themed Entertainment Pop-Up Art Show at ArtShare LA! The show is a charity event for Arts For LA, sponsored by ArtShare LA, and Mycotoo. Alexis Cruz and Fri Forjindam Bailey are hosting the event, which features 14 artists, including moi!

The exhibit opened September 12 at ArtShare L.A., 801 East 4th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The gallery is open from 1pm-6pm Wednesday through Sunday, but the big event is Saturday, September 21st from 5-10PM. The “gala” is a charity event with an admission fee ($10). Street parking is limited, but there is a lot across the street with $10 parking.

The images I have submitted for this exhibit are collected as “Shifting Sands of Time,” and were taken at Oceano Dunes on the Central California Coast. These dunes were made famous by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, whose stirring black-and-white images of the dunes are a part of photographic history. For this exhibit, I wanted to instead emphasize the intense, shifting colors of the dunes. After nearly 100 years of black-and-white dunes photos, I figured it was time to show the dunes the way we see them: Full of hallucinatory colors, and deep, complex shadows, all reflecting a magical palette provided by the sun, the sky, and the nearby ocean.

Below are some links about the event:

YouTube Video Invitation
Eventbrite Tickets for Event
Facebook Event Info

Other artists in the exhibit include:

  • Jimmy Pickering
  • Dylan Pommer
  • Zofia Kostyrko
  • Josh Streadman
  • Gwen Ballantyne
  • Daniel Hirsch
  • Morgan Kaesling
  • Charles Edwards
  • Pat Quinn
  • Andy Sklar
  • Bryan Jowers
  • Tim Kirk
  • Alexis Cruz
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:


Amgen Tour of California

As a cyclist and a fan of cycling, May is one of my favorite times of the year, as that’s when the Amgen Tour of California comes through town. It often makes a stop in Santa Clarita, with either a stage start or finish, or sometimes both. I’m not a sports photographer, but since this offers a chance for me to play with two of my favorite activities, I like to bring out my camera and try to get a few good shots.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be right on the finish line, and was able to get some emotionally charged shots of stage winner Elisa Balsamo from Valcar Cylance decisively taking the stage 3 of the women’s race, as well as Cees Bol from Team Sunweb narrowly defeating superstar Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe by half a wheel to take Stage 7 of the men’s race. The frustration on third-place finisher Jasper Philipsen of UAE Team Emirates is clearly visible as well.

Shoots Uncategorized

Cedar Compher

Cedar Compher, of the band Reggae Diaspora (with whom I’ve worked before) emailed me about doing a shoot to promote his new solo career. We chose the Santa Monica Pier as the location, and I used it as an opportunity to do my first full shoot with the Fujifilm X-T3. It was great shooting on and near the beach at sunset, and I think we got some good results.

General Travel

New Mexico

It’s been a while since I’ve posted! I recently visited New Mexico for the first time. Although it’s very picturesque, I didn’t shoot many photos, due to weather and activities. Here are a few I was able to grab.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Music: “Reflections From the Moon,” Bill Frisell

The last time I took a real summer vacation was in 2006, to see a total eclipse in Tobruk, Libya. So, it’s only somewhat coincidental that my next summer vacation would be to see the solar eclipse in Teton Village, Wyoming. Dubbed “The Great American Eclipse” by the media and science press, this highly anticipated astronomical event had millions of people who don’t usually care much about science buying “eclipse glasses” and making plans to head to the zone of totality.

Eclipse photography is generally more about technical issues and challenges than art, at least for me, but it is interesting to try and conquer those challenges, for what they teach you about other photography (and Photoshop!). The above images are perhaps incomplete, but I thought it was worth posting something less than perfect as an example of what it takes to take such images to completion. I’d love to see your comments!


Diaspora Reggae Live

I was very pleased to be invited by Diaspora Reggae to shoot their live gig at Howl at the Moon at Universal Citywalk, on May 17. It was my first live gig shoot in a while, and I enjoyed getting back in the swing of it.

Howl at the Moon is a very nice club, with a really good, clean-sounding sound system. I thought they were only a dueling piano bar, but they have a lot of live bands, too. Because of the high-intensity color of the LED lighting system, I found it hard to get shots of the band where they didn’t look like Blue Man Group (or Red Man Group, etc.), so I wound up converting a lot of the shots to black and white, which really saved a lot of otherwise unusable shots.

The band consists of: Tyler Reinhart (Vocals, Keys), Cedar Compher (Lead Guitar, Keys, Melodica), Brandon (Drums), Joe Hall (Rhythm Guitar), Jason Dickie (Bass)