Sunday, December 30, 2012

My photo is on the cover of AUDUBON Magazine!

Yesterday when I went to pick up the mail I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me. The 2013 Jan/Feb AUDUBON Magazine had arrived with my photo of a Red-shafted Flicker published on the cover. Woohoo!!! And when I opened up the magazine I discovered that a full version of the photo was also published as a double page spread inside. I am floating on air. It may take some time for me to return to Earth. I am the Grand Prize winner of the 2012 photo contest. There were more than 6600 photos submitted from over 900 photographers. I feel highly honored to be chosen as the winner, especially when I look at some of the other amazing photos that were submitted. I have always thought of myself as primarily a landscape photographer. But I now am fortunate to live in an area that is rich with bird life and photo possiblities.  So at the beginning of 2012 I decided to embrace bird photography as part of who I am. It is extremely challenging. I can't tell you how many 'missed' shots I have taken. But many, many times I have sighed to myself and hit the delete button. My heart skipped a beat when I first looked at this photo. It captured the essence of the bird in his environment. I caught this male just as it just took off from the nesting hole after doing some 'housecleaning'.  At least 2 young Flickers successfully fledged from this nest. That makes me very happy.
2012 is now coming to an end and 2013 is just around the corner. May we each find what is best in ourselves and share it generously. May we each have some adventures and find joy and love in our lives. May we be kind to each other and take care of our Mother Earth.

I wish each of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

'Tis the SEASON

"Blessed is the Season
which engages the whole world
in a conspiracy of LOVE."
                                                          - Hamiltion Wright Mabi
Peace and Love to each of you.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

AUDUBON Magazine Grand Prize Winner!!!

Northern Red-shafted Flicker
I am so excited I just have to share my good news with you. My feet have not touched the ground yet.
Last week I got an email stating one of the photos I had submitted to the Audubon Magazine Photography Awards contest was being considered for an award. They needed to have a full resolution file to judge the overall technical quality in the final round and some more information about how I took the shot. They wanted me to return the image using a program called DropBox. So I had to download the program and muddle through how to use it. I sent in my photo and started to wait. I was very happy just to have made it to the semi-final round. I literally had no expectation of anything beyond that.
On Monday November 19th I got another email from a senior editor at Audubon informing me that my Red-shafted Flicker image was a finalist for an award and congratulating me. And she would like me to call her. After several messages left back and forth I talked with her on Tuesday and she told me I had won the Grand Prize. I just about fell off my chair. I had trouble believing it was true. Later I also received a phone call from the managing editor telling me what I had won. I didn’t even know! Five nights with Incaterra accommodations in Peru at 3 different locations for me and my guest (Don – of course). We will be going to Machu Picchu as part of the trip. That has always been a dream of mine and now the dream is coming true. Also a $1000 gift certificate from B&H….AND a Celestron AllView Panoramic tripod.
My image will be published in the January/February issue of Audubon magazine and in Nature’s Best magazine. This is huge. The best part for me is that so many people will get to see my photo. I would love for our local Morro Coast Audubon here in San Luis Obispo county, California to get some recognition. I took the shot locally in Montana de Oro State Park and I also hope more people will see just how important our California State Parks are and support keeping all of them open. They are a treasure.

I have so much to thankful for this year.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eastern Sierra Autumn color

 Lee Vining Canyon
 Golden Aspens
 Lundy Lake
Mono Lake
My Open Studio weekend October 20-21 went very well. Whew! But after all that hard work it was time to get away and 'play' some. Don and I headed to one of our favorite places in California - the Eastern Sierra. It was a bit late in the season for Fall color, but we were lucky. This year things were happening later than usual. While many of the golden leaves had already blown off, there was still some beautiful color to photograph. A small snow storm had closed all the passes the day before, so for our first two days (until the passes reopened) we almost had the place to ourselves. What a treat. We were able to photograph Lee Vining Canyon and Lundy Lake without the hoards of other photographers that usually crowd the area. We did wish there were a few more clouds around to make the skies more interesting, but the clear skies worked for us on the evening we spent at Mono Lake. There we were delighted by the pastel bands of color that formed over the lake and that were reflected in it. It was so peaceful. Being in this spiritual place enriches my soul and makes me feel more alive. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beach walk

Barefoot Beach Walk
Last week I took a walk late in the afternoon out onto the sandspit in Morro Bay. A very low tide had left the sandy beach washed smooth and wisps of fog were just beginning to creep onshore. A relaxed dreamy feeling overcame me as I walked along. I came upon this set of bare footprints leading my eye off into the distance. They seemed to capture perfectly my mood of the evening.
I have some very happy news to share. My photo "FANTASY FOREST" won First Place in the Photomorphosis show! The judge, Richard Martin wrote me a personal note that I got with my award. This is what he wrote: "This image explores the photograph as fiction and fantasy in a highly successful manner. Reflecting the creative vision of the photographer, it synchronizes the craft of photography at the maximum level, with the art of photography. The design of the image and exceptional detail guides the viewer on a continual journey of visual discoveries. The true test of any image is its ability to entice the viewer to revisit over time and find new meanings." I feel highly honored to have received this award and even more honored by the judge's words.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


My photomontage called "Fantasy Forest' has been juried into the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art group show called PHOTOMORPHOSIS II. When I got the announcement about the upcoming show last July my imagination went into high gear. I wanted to create a photographic piece of art that included multiple of my photos and that also expressed something beyond just a grouping of images. Where to begin? I only had a vague idea of what it would look like when I started to 'build' my piece. I started with an image of moss draped trees I had taken up at San Simeon. After adding a creative filter to the trees I duplicated that image, flipped it and joined the two together. I now had a basic framework. From here I started to add my forest creatures one by one. After I had added each animal onto its own layer, I still felt the piece lacked a center of focus. So I experimented with several different images in the central area to see what inspired me. My sunset shot "Into the Light" gave me the feeling I was looking for. It carried my eye through the forest and into the golden light of the sun setting beyond the pier and into the ocean. The last thing I added to the image was the Moon Gate. It is the same shape as the Greek omega symbol. I like to think it adds a sense of the eternal to my artwork. All of the photos included in this piece are my own. It will be on exhibit from October 12th through November 18th at the Museum. The reception and award ceremony will be held on Saturday October 13th from 3pm to 6pm. I hope you can make it. I would love to see you there.
             Let the beauty we love be what we do ....... Rumi

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I've gone to the birds

White-tailed Kite
Red-tailed Hawk
Barn Owl
My photography seems to have taken on a 'bird' theme recently. I find it to be very challenging to get the shots I 'see' in my mind. This is good for the most part (challenge stretches our minds - right?) but it is also frustrating at times. I miss far more shots than I get. Birds in flight are especially difficult. Many, many times the bird is not in focus and sometimes when I am panning with a bird in flight I don't even manage to keep it in the frame of the photo. When I do get an acceptable shot, I feel elated. Now add the element of low light. I have gone out in the evening multiple times attempting to photograph Barn Owls. In the Owl shot I am sharing here I got lucky. The last rays of the sun provided just enough beautiful golden light to make the shot possible. But much more often the Owls don't appear until after the sun has set. So now I am working on learning on how to use my flash. I'll just have to keep on working at it until I have some mastery. Of course, going out to sit in Nature at the end of the day is no hardship. It is a very zen experience. Something I would take pleasure in even if there weren't Owls.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Point San Luis Lighthouse

I made my first trip out to the Point San Luis Lighthouse last week. It was a rich experience I shared with a group of fellow photographers. The lighthouse has been lovingly restored and is a delight to see. Construction began on it in 1889 and was completed the next year. The light was first officially lit on June 30, 1890. The beam of light from the beautiful Fresnel lens was visible 17 nautical miles out to sea.  The original kerosene lamp in the tower was replaced with an electric light in 1933 and the Fresnel lens was retired in 1969 and replaced by an automated electric light. In 1974 the lighthouse was closed by the Coast Guard. It was not until 1995 that the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers - a non-profit corporation - was formed to take on the responsibility of restoring the lighthouse to its former glory. Today that restoration is largely completed and visitors get a glimpse into the past when they visit this historic site. I plan to go back soon and take one of the interpretive tours with a docent to learn more about this treasure on the Central Coast.

Friday, August 31, 2012

WHALE almost eating a PELICAN

Last week I heard that there were Humpback Whales feeding close to shore at Port San Luis located just a short way down the coast. My husband and a friend that was visiting us went with me to Avila to check out the action. I had seen some of the photos others had taken of this happening, but I was unprepared for just how awe inspiring it was to see this phenomenon in person. It was a feeding frenzy! The Whales were lunge feeding right next to the pier. The water was roiling with Pelicans, Gulls, Dolphin and packs of hunting Sea Lions. And there were kayakers, boaters and paddle boarders added into the mix. Humpback Whales are huge! And when this one lunged up with its mouth agape I started shooting. It wasn't until I was reviewing my photos a minute later that I realized that I had captured an amazing series of photos. This Pelican was in the mouth of the Whale! As the Whale started to close its mouth the Pelican did escape out to the left. Whew! If you look closely you can see all the tiny bait fish spilling out of the Whale's mouth too. Those are the ones that got away .... this time. I will never forget that day. It was the experience of a life time for me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coastal blessings


Last Friday I went with group of fellow photographers for an evening shoot on the bluffs of Montana de Oro State Park. It was my first time joining this MEETUP event hosted by LIGHT Workshops of Los Osos. When we arrived the sky was gray and ominous looking. I took the opportunity to try out my 10 stop vari neutral density filter to make some very long exposures. This creates an ethereal dreamy look to the waves breaking on the rocks. At the end of the evening I started to walk back slowly along the bluffs. I noticed a slight break in the clouds right above the horizon. I set up my tripod and waited to see what would happen. I am sure glad I did. For a brief 2 minutes or so the sun peeked out below the clouds and above the sea. Red gold light illuminated the wavetops and the rocks below. I was blessed. When I look at this image now, I can experience that moment again - the sound of the surf - the color of the light - the feeling of the sea air as it touches my face - and the exhilaration of the moment. I am grateful for it all. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A trip to the Sierra Nevada

 Where's the Lake?
 Down the rock

We recently took a trip to one of my favorite spots deep in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After surviving the harrowing drive in over Kaiser Pass (that's another whole story) we arrived at our destination. Lake Edison is normally a lovely, blue lake surrounded by pine forests and nestled among glorious peaks. What a shock it was to see it this year. What had been a beautiful lake was only a dry, dusty lakebed. A very low snow season and a high demand for water robbed the lake of its bounty. I was very, very sad and disappointed. The beautiful landscapes I had been hoping to photograph were just not there. Glumly we sat at the edge of what would have been the lake and looked at the exposed rocks and sand. A small movement caught my eye. What was that? There it was again. Chipmunks were scurrying over and around the rocks in the lakebed. I smiled. Maybe I wouldn't get to photograph any grand landscapes this year, but I was certainly entertained by these tiny striped creatures. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Northern Flicker

 Female at nesting hole
 Male emerging from nest
Male taking flight

About a week ago Don and I were exploring in Montana de Oro State Park when Don just happened to see some birds flying in and out of a hole in a tree. He identified them as Northern Flickers. It was getting late in the day and the light was fading, so we planned to return to the Park on another day just to photograph these beautiful woodpeckers also known as Red-shafted Flickers. When we returned we spent a happy afternoon watching and waiting for these elusive birds. Over the course of several hours we saw only 3 fly ins and outs. It all happens very fast. Usually the parent bird arrives and perches high on a nearby branch and then swoops in to enter the nesting cavity. After a few moments inside it peeks out - checking to see if the coast is clear - and then flies off in a flash. It is very challenging to get any clear flight shots. I'm very happy with what I did get. As always the best part is the 'being there' to enjoy and relish the experience.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Finding Paradise

For several years I have been trying to capture this photo. I have headed up to Cayucos to shoot the sunset through the old wooden windows next to the Pier multiple times. Sometimes I have been fogged out. Or the great clouds I was hoping for never materialized. I had a certain idea in my head of exactly what I wanted my image to look like. So when I took this photograph last December, I didn't think it quite hit the mark. It wasn't until I revisited the Pier recently and found that there is now a bright yellow volleyball net in front of the windows, that I realized that I might never have the opportunity to get the shot I saw in my imagination. So I decided to go back through my old images to see if just maybe, I could make due with one of them. I was shocked to find I had already taken my dream shot. How could I have missed seeing it the first time around? It was with excitement and pleasure that I worked and tweaked this image a bit to get just what I wanted. I think the image was there all the time, but now I was seeing it with new eyes. Sometimes I let my expectation for a perfect world get in the way of seeing what I already have.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A few creatures I found in Yosemite

 Swallowtail Butterfly
 American Robin
 Red-winged Blackbird
Yosemite is alive with a variety of different animals. During our visit there last month I was able to photograph a few of them. There is a story in my head and my heart for each of these creatures - where I was, how I felt, and the sheer delight I found while observing them.

Tioga Pass Road was already open for the season so we took a day drive up there to see what we could find. Near Lembert Dome I was very happy to see a whole family of Marmots going about their daily lives. We sat on rocks near their den and waited. It didn't take long for them to get used to us and we were able to be with them and take many (many!!!!!) photos over at least 1 1/2 hours. This handsome Marmot came right toward me and posed on granite rock nearby. I'm still smiling over the whole experience.

There were many lovely Swallowtail Butterflies in Yosemite Valley. But they never seemed to land. They were always flitting about from here to there. I felt extremely blessed when this light colored one landed on a plant close to me. It stayed there long enough for me move in closer and take several shots. It is the only one I saw land during the whole week we were there.

I had been trying to get a decent photo of an American Robin for days. True, I did have some shots, but I wasn't very happy with any them. On the last evening we were in the Valley, I took a walk with my camera along the trail going toward Camp 4. I found a most cooperative Robin preening. I was able to take a number of photos I'm happy with.

Ah, Red-winged Blackbirds. A common, yet striking bird with shiny black feathers and colorful red epaulets. In Spring they seem to be calling constantly. It was a joy to hear them.

These little Squirrels are F-A-S-T!!! This one and his companion raced up and down the trees in a blur of motion. I was lucky to get a shot of him at all.

Taking lots of photos and bringing home memories is fun. But the best part of any trip for me is simply BEING there - observing how everything in Nature fits together so perfectly - breathing in the whole experience -  finding my place in the Universe.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Return to YOSEMITE

 Bridalveil Falls rainbow
 Wildcat Falls
 Bumblebee and Dogwood
Dogwood and Pines

Oh, where to begin? Yosemite is always such a glorious experience and this trip was certainly enriching. For me returning to Yosemite every Spring for our Anniversary reminds me of all that is good and right in the world. It is written in the rushing water of the many waterfalls and the loveliness of the blooming Dogwood. As I wander with my camera, I try to slow down and tune into what Nature is saying. I am most alive when I forget about time and become one with my environment. My heart sings and I feel truly at peace. Yosemite is one of my Sacred Spaces.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Last May in Zion

Last year our plan was to celebrate our Anniversary with a grand trip to Zion, Escalante, Monument Valley and the Slot Canyons. Well, Zion started out okay, and then things fell apart. (see last year's post for the details) This past month I have finally taken the time to look at my Zion images and start to work with them. I just didn't have the heart to do it before now. I have been happily surprised to find a number of images I really like. We had some exceptional skies while we were there. The rain we had on and off really saturated the ground and made the red rock cliffs almost glow with color. One thing I remember well from that trip was how clear and clean the air was. Everything was incredibly vibrant.

This year we are returning to our beloved Yosemite for our Anniversary. It is a healing and sacred place close to our hearts. I am looking forward to the experience of being there again.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Limekiln State Park

Redwood Sorrel
Backlit Fern
Banana Slug

I took a day trip to Limekiln State Park a few days ago. It is located in the southern part of Big Sur along the  California coast. I had never been there before and wanted to see it before the State of California closes it next July. :-(  It is a magnificent place and includes everything from Redwood forests, fern lined trails, rushing streams, and even campsites right on the beach. It is tragic to imagine the loss for all of us if the State really does close it. The forest is rich and complex and host to vibrant ferns and plantlife. The creek's year-round water supply provides excellent habitat for diverse animals, including mountain lions, bobcats, squirrels, deer, foxes, raccoons and ring-tailed cats.

Beginning in 1887 thousands of barrels of lime were extracted, processed and exported from Limekiln Canyon. Four stone and iron furnaces were built at the base of a large talus slope eroding from a limestone deposit. Limestone rocks were loaded into the kilns, where very hot wood fires burned for long periods to purify it. The lime was packed into barrels, hauled by wagon to the coast, loaded onto ships and transported to northern ports for use in concete. Much of early San Francisco was built using the lime from Limekiln. Today only ruins remain of the thriving lime industry that existed here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Something new for me

The presentation on STYLE I did with two other "style chicks" a week ago was a great success. Each of us worked many hours getting everything ready for it. Afterward I received numerous thank yous and kudos from those who attended. I have to admit I'm glad it is over, but who knows, we might be persuaded to put it on again.....sometime in the future. 

We were hoping to inspire our attendees, but I found that I was inspired too. After the class was over, I tried for a different look to a few of my images by using a new plug-in filter for Photoshop I recently purchased. This filter does not work on every image, but it is addictive. I spent many happy hours playing in my digital darkroom. The bottom image was orginally a Sulphur Butterfly shot I took in Santa Barbara last Summer. After much play with my new filter I came up with a result I'm very happy with. The top image is a Monarch I photographed in my own backyard last year. I used a variation of the filter effect and then 'painted' the unfiltered butterfly back into the image. I encourage each of you to try something new. You might surprise yourself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One shot - Two versions

Joshua Tree along Hwy 395

On my drive home from Death Valley last month I saw some Joshua Trees at the side of 395 south of Lone Pine. I've never been tempted to stop here before, but the interesting cloud formations lured me into taking a few photos. By the time I got out and walked over to an attractive Joshua Tree, things were already starting to change. I just had time to take a couple of shots before the clouds started to break up leaving mostly blue skies behind. It is one of the things I keep re-learning about photography - the light never waits for me to take my time and get everything set up 'just so' the way I would like. Still, I'm glad I stopped and took this shot. I decided to process a second version in B&W with a slight Sepia tone. I also added an edge to the photo. I like both of them. With all the tools available to us nowadays the possibilities are endless.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Full Moon set at Cayucos Pier

All too often here on the West Coast fog obscures the sky making full moon photography impossible. We were lucky to have clear skies this March at full moon time. It must be the luck of the Irish since St. Patrick's Day is in a few days. :-) I took advantage of two fog free mornings to photograph the full moon setting over Cayucos Pier. On the first morning (top 2 shots) the moon was 'imprisoned' by the 'bars' of the pier as it sank toward the horizon. I went back on the second morning and got the light I was hoping to see - beautiful bands of pink and blue in the sky and their reflection on the water and wet sand of the beach. The blue is the Earth's shadow and the pink is the sun hitting the atmosphere above the Earth. The full moon and it's reflection completes the shot.