Photo of the day…

I am always looking for interesting foregrounds for my landscape and seascape photos. This seasonal lifeguard shack makes a great foreground object! This photo was created in 2015.

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Photography is all about Light.

One of the most exciting things for me as a photographer, is recognizing light. Light is all around us, in every aspect of our lives. We use light for mood, to express emotion, to watch a ball game, to stop us at an intersection, and on and on. 

I play a game with myself and light. Wherever I go, I look for the sources of the ambient light that surrounds an area. I look for the depth and strength of the light, how it casts a shadow, where is the best place to interact with the light when I take a photo, etc.

The "Golden Hour", (The hour before sunset, and the hour after sunrise), is the best time for portraits and general photography outside. Why? The light is not as intense as in the middle of the day, and the shadows help to create depth in our photography. As a photographer I am ruled by light. If I can't find the right light, than I need to create my own, or mix the ambient light with my controlled light, (by using flash or other means to create fill, backlight or whatever the mood requires).

Matt and Rebekah

Recently I had the opportunity to create the engagement images for Matt and Rebekah. We found a spot along the coast, and I was excited that we had a low fog that continually moved in and out. The light created by this mix of fog and sun, was perfect for creating soft portraiture. I also used off camera flash to help fill my image with light when shooting toward the sun. 

When pursuing photography, always look, and question the light and how you can make it work for you and the story you hope to tell with your pictures! 



Flower Ride with Friends

Last week I took a day in the middle of the week, and drove with my photography friends Jill and Bob looking for wildflowers. Bob drove and we headed for Figueroa Mtn Road in Santa Barbara County.

The drive alone is always great. We talk about all things photography and generally figure how to cure the woes of the world.

Figueroa Mtn Flowers

We arrived at our destination along the mountain right at sunrise and even though we live in balmy California, at that time of the morning there is a chill in the air. We got out and started to explore the area and look for the "Perfect Composition". The flowers in this area were sparse in comparison to years past, but were there none the less. We stayed in this area for a couple of hours photographing the poppies and lupin from every angle possible. We then headed back down the mountain looking for, and stopping, at a couple of other spots along the way.

We took a stop in Los Olivos to get a bite to eat. We found a small place called Corner House Coffee. This was a coffee shop that served a few food items on their menu. I did not try the coffee, but for a place to grab a meal, it was not really my cup of tea!

After a great ride we headed home and were back by about 12:30 pm.

For more of my wildflower photos:
Los Olivos, CA:
Figueroa Mtn Area:

Working with Light.

Photography is all about the light. We all know that without light we would not have photography, or any other visual sensation for that matter. In photography, sometimes we fall short of having enough or the right amount of light. So this is when post processing gives me the opportunity to correct my photo, and give it the light I was envisioning when I took the picture.

Before and After

The photos above are an example of putting my vision into effect. The top photo (original), was taken around mid-day. The sign was on the north side of the building in the shadows. When I saw this sign with the spot light fixture above it, my mind saw this light on at night, and shining on the sign. I knew I could re-create the look without having to go back at night to re-shoot the image. So, in my post processing I sent the image to photoshop and strategically placed the light where I  had envisioned it, (bottom photo).

This is a fairly simple technique, yet can add a little drama to an otherwise plain image. Learning a few simple photoshop techniques can help in giving your images more sparkle and life. Try it. 

Nature is a Healing Place.

I am most definitely a "child" of nature! This is the place I have always felt at home. When everything else seems to be coming apart at the seams, all I have to do is take a walk in the dunes, or sit by a stream, and the energy of the natural world heals me.

Sense of Awe

I have never been one to be able to sit inside all day. Even when at work, and with deadlines bearing down on me, I always make the time to go outside and take in all that Mother Nature will give me.

My photography is a feeble attempt to give to others, that sense of peace and inner strength I receive from being out in the "Real World"! Photography may serve as a reminder to others that nature is out there waiting, but only by experiencing nature first hand, in silence, by yourself, and with no other distractions, will you receive her message of true inner peace and freedom.

Go out and enjoy the day...


Getting Ready for Weekend Workshop.

Tomorrow, Saturday January 31, 2015, I will be joining my 2 photography partners Bob Canepa and Jill Waterbury for our "Digit-All Photography Workshop". This will be the first photography workshop held at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. We are looking forward to sharing our Photography knowledge with the workshop participants. Light, Composition and Exposure are our main topics of discussion. Our focus is making the craft and art of photography easier to navigate. 


Bob, Jill and I are always looking for the easiest and best way to get the photo results we are looking for in our work. The 3 of us have spent countless hours with theory and real world scenarios, creating photographs. We expect through this workshop to not only pass information we have learned to the participants, but to continue in our own learning, and create the dialog that helps us all in our photographic growth.

If you are still interested in learning the fundamentals of photography, we have a couple of spaces open. You can contact to join us.

I'm looking forward to reviewing our workshop in an upcoming blog.

Have a wonderful day...


Understanding Light in Photography.

The second we open our eyes in the morning, we are using light to make sense of the world as we see it. In photography, light is essential to making a photo communicate to our viewers. the soft light upon a newborns face, the dramatic light of a soldier in the field, the early light of a sunrise through the forest canopy. The way we use this light will define our "photo story".

Ask yourself, what is it I want to capture, and what would be the best light to accomplish this. There are many resources today, that can give you insight into how light works in photography, and I suggest that you study some of these sources. (I have listed a few favorites below.) Even more important, open your eyes in a new way, to what light does. Look at the world and ask yourself questions like, what is causing that light, where is it coming from, what is the color of the light, how long will it last... and more. Become a "follower of light" and I guarantee that your photographs will start to take on a life of there own!

To get great photographs, you need great light.


Spring will be Here Soon!

I know, it's the middle of January, and maybe a little early to be talking about spring. (Although I do live in California and seems like spring right now!) But now is the time to start getting that photo gear and trip planing ready for the spring wildflowers.

Wildflowers cycle in the way they grow. It is not every year that you have a large crop of beautiful flowers spreading across the countryside. My observations over the last 20+ years have been that every year there are small groupings of flowers in many areas that make great photographs.

If you need to improve your photo skills in preparation for the wildflower season, come join Bob Canepa, Jill Waterbury and I for our Digit-All Workshop on Saturday, Jan 31, 2015 and Sunday Feb 1, 2015, at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. We can answer those questions that will help in creating beautiful spring photographs.

Octobers trip to Utah (part 1)

My good buddy, Dave McDonald and I decided to take a quick photo excursion to part of the southwest this last October. We spent eight days on the road with the soul purpose of photographing and enjoying the beauty of northern Arizona and southern Utah.

We left Arroyo Grande at about 5am on Saturday Oct. 19th 2013, with our destination being Hurricane, Utah. We made a few stops along the way for gas, food and to stretch our legs, but our main objective was to reach Zion National Park before sunset.

The "Watchman", stands over the Virgin River as it runs through Zion National Park

Mission accomplished. We arrived in Hurricane, Utah around 4pm (Mountain time). After checking in to our hotel, we drove to Zion, which was about 25 miles from Hurricane. We did a little exploring and of course took some photos. The colors in the trees were beginning to change with a great contrast to the color in the surrounding landscape. This was a great way to end the day after traveling over 600 miles.

Yosemite in February...

Recently took a quick winter trip to Yosemite Valley with my wife Marilyn and good friends and photo partners Bob and Jill.

Bridalveil creek about 500 feet below Bridalveil falls in Yosemite Valley.

Our "mission" was to shoot the sunset at Horsetail falls, but since we were there on a busy Presidents day weekend, we decided not to wait for hours so that we could have a good spot to capture the "event". With our limited time, we decided to travel around and shoot what we could.

Yosemite Valley, like many of our beautiful parks, offers so many great vistas, no matter what time of day or how many people are there.

The attached photo was taken at Bridalveil creek about 500 feet from the base of the falls just before noon. So even with thousands of visitors, and waiting room only in the bridalveil parking lot, I was still able to create a photo space of my own.

Have fun creating you own photos...


The more photos I process, the more I appreciate presets in all my programs. I have come to the point where I have created, or will create presets for most of the processing functions I do. Not only does this speed up the developing process for my photography, but it works as a reminder of things I have tried in the past.

In this Topaz screen capture, you can see the list of presets on the left. Create your own and add to the list.

In this Topaz screen capture, you can see the list of presets on the left. Create your own and add to the list.

Many times, if I have an idea, I look through my presets to see what I have done in the past. I then will choose one of my existing presets, and if need be, I will tweek it to fit my vision for the photo. I, of course, will save the tweek as a new (or altered), preset for future use.

I don't know how many times in the past I did the same moves over and over again, thinking that each picture was different somehow, and that I needed to start from scratch when processing it. I soon realized that 95% of the photos I work on are somewhat similar to those I have done in the past. Creating sets of presets in programs like Lightroom, Photoshop and all the plugin programs I use, like OnOne, Topaz, Silver Efex Pro, etc. help to speed up my work, and give me a broader range of ideas to review while working on a photo.

If you have not created your own presets while working on your photos, I recommend that you start now. For how to create a preset, choose your help file for the program you are working in and type in 'presets'.

Have a great photographic day!... Dan

The Grapes Photo Process...

The Grapes Photo Process...

I started with 3 photos (as shown in the photo below). I shot the grapes as an HDR using 0, -2 and +2 Exposure values. I then tonemapped the 3 photos in Photomatix Pro and blended until I got the photo below marked 'Tonemapped Tif'.

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