Thursday, April 30, 2009


There's something about the word "videographer" that I dislike.

Yes, sheer irrational dislike. On the other hand, if you think about it, what about the word "cinematographer?" Why isn’t it "cinemagrapher?" Why isn’t "videographer" "videotographer?"

The interesting thing is that I have no recollection of exactly where in New York I took this shot. Probably taken as the Dining Club was off in search of the perfect New York mini-burger.

Photo: Videographer—New York, 2006

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Madura Farms & Gramercy Corner

Maybe it's Dave Beckerman's influence, but New York (like Los Angeles) seems to lend itself to black and white. On the other hand, when you have a red truck in front of you, I think that you will probably want to show it as red.

Photos: Madura Farms Truck—New York, 2006; Gramercy Corner—New York, 2006

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taxi Line

A long, Disneyland-like line at JFK, waiting for taxis. (Hali right in front of me.)

The ride into Manhattan went through Queens (I believe); we passed by massive housing complexes on a scale unknown on the west coast.

(the mikereport now and then displays images from the past. In the next few days: some pix from the Diners' Club 2006 East Coast trip. Other photos found here, and here.)

Photo: Taxi Line at JFK—New York, 2006

Monday, April 27, 2009


The turkeys have been creating a fuss recently: displaying themselves, stopping traffic, etc.

Not nearly as interesting as the phoebes, however. (For more turkeys, see here, and here.)

Photo: Two Turkeys—Marin County, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Well, there’s a Black Phoebe pair in residence at Glen Drive Productions: they’ve made a nest under the eaves on one side of the house.

The male phoebe is a handsome little bird, with a glossy black top (in the photo above—taken through a sliding glass door—he’s reflecting sun off his feathers). Very agile as he swoops and dives catching insects. He was first identified by Barbara one evening when she luckily happened to be over.

Not particularly rare, I guess (stable and large population . . . increasing in the U.S.), except to me. Very cool!

Photos: Black Phoebe—Marin County, 2009; Phoebe Nest—Marin County, 2009

More Envy


Saturday, April 25, 2009


I recently received two panels from the ProPanel company and set them up at my most recent Farmer’s Market appearance. I like them! Adds that certain . . . that certain . . .

Um, anyway, using them gave me the ability to push my two pegboard panels together so I could show larger pieces.

And it was a nice day! Hot, actually, but very comfortable under the canopy.

But here’s the thing. I’ve observed that most people going to the Farmer’s Market are there to, in reality, buy spring onions, or bok choy. Not art. I’ve noticed that artisans selling jewelry, or purses, seem to do OK. But "art" art . . . stuff to hang on the wall . . . that doesn’t seem to do that well. I ended up selling two little 8x10 pix to a nice, very discerning young lady. That was it.

But lots of compliments!

Photos: ProPanel Front—Marin County, 2009; Pegboard Display—Marin County, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

. . . from the archives #41: Boys to Seduce—Los Angeles, 1991

At the corner of Waring & Fairfax, I believe.

Real black and white. Real film grain, too.

Real film, developed by me.

Photo: Boys to Seduce—Los Angeles, 1991

Thursday, April 23, 2009


The dining group’s pick of the month was Barley and Hops, a beer & burgers-type place in Occidental—a very small community located in Sonoma County.

The beer & fries were excellent . . . the burgers, not so much.

Occidental is also the site of Negri’s, a big old-fashioned Italian restaurant. Must go there some time in the future.

Photos: Family Style—Sonoma County, 2009; Building & Window—Sonoma County, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crows on Fence

It’s not that easy to take crow photos, in spite of crows being virtually everywhere. For some reason they’re very wary of humans. I find that somewhat odd, simply because, on average, contemporary humankind poses no direct threat to birdkind. Check out the pigeons, sparrows and starlings mooching outside Starbucks. Peaceful coexistence!

No, nowadays we humans prefer to mess around with birds by tearing down their nesting sites in order to build condos and parking lots.

Anyway, I’d noticed crows congregating on this fence before, so I had the camera on the passenger seat ready to take this photo out the car window. As you can see, they're a little dubious of that zoom lens . . .

Photo: Crows on Fence—Marin County, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Horse, Oak Tree, Cloud

For some reason, my Olympus E-510 (and, before it, the Olympus C-8080), while taking excellent pix, falls down a bit when it comes to B&W renditions of smooth-toned subjects . . . like the sky. There’s a tendency for the sky area to start to break down and get a mottled appearance. I’m sure things would be much better if I got a new Nikon D-300.

Photo: Horse, Oak Tree, Cloud—Marin County, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hike to Evolution Lake

The hike from Mike’s campsite took him through Evolution Valley to the start of some serious switchbacks and then above timberline. He kept trail notes during his hike:

8:15 AM―Leave camp. Follow creek through granite & woods.

9:00―Panoramic view, Evolution Valley. Mountains, meadow, creek & reflections.

9:15―Ranger cabin.

10:00―Break―view of “The Hermit.”

10:30―Annoying stream crossing, then “No Fires Above This Elevation” sign. Thereafter switchbacks begin in earnest.

11:35―Evolution Lake! Hard to believe I made it, after all those months staring at the topo map above my desk at work. Sit by lake for lunch, and then take a short walk to the lake outlet, Evolution Valley far below. Small trout visible―fish jumping in lake. Low battery indicator coming on intermittently on digital camera. Go ahead and change batteries.

Ech! Now I gotta hike all the way back! . . . Ech!

12:25 PM―Leave Evolution Lake.

1:20―Stream crossing. Not so bad this time.

2:20―Ranger cabin.


Photos: Evolution Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Streambed—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Mike & Evolution Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2004

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Evolution Creek Campground

Leaving Piute Creek behind, one continues on the John Muir Trail. After two water crossings—the last a fairly significant wade through Evolution Creek—the trail zigzags upward into a nice open sparsely forested area.

I made my camp here, on one side of the trail, with Evolution Creek on the other, a minute’s walk away from fresh water.

Photos: Rocks & Forest—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Evolution Creek—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Tent—Sierra Nevada, 2004

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Piute Creek Campground

The trail from Florence Lake eventually meets the John Muir Trail, thence travels through the dry, pine-studded, boulder-strewn western Sierra landscape finally reaching Piute Creek. This is the boundary of Kings Canyon National Park, as well as the junction of the trail heading east to Piute Pass.

Luckily there’s a bridge over Piute Creek. (Joe Grant told me that when he hiked the trail there wasn’t a bridge. Just a log. I would have had to head back if that had been the case.)

So there are a number of factors conspiring to make this a big backpacking camp site. Just over the bridge is a large, fairly flat area with pines and manzanita with plenty of potential tent sites . . . very nice.

Photos: Piute Creek—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Rocks & Manzanita—Sierra Nevada, 2004

Friday, April 17, 2009

From the Tent

Through a trick of perspective, the photo taken looking out of my tent makes the opening seem quite large. The reality, though, is that this is a tiny one-man tent: getting out means swiveling around inside (not an easy operation), getting your boots on and then bending low and finally standing, creaking, in the chill early Sierra morning.

Quick, the stove. Some coffee. Quick!

Photos: Tent Door—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Tent—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Mike & Coffee—Sierra Nevada, 2004

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Manzanita Branch

Taken with my Olympus C-4000 just prior to my Evolution Valley backpack.

I car-camped the first night at Bolsillo Campground and did some exploring with my exciting new digital camera. Took this photo, which I’ve now converted to black and white.

Photo: Manzanita Branch—Sierra Nevada, 2004

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

. . . from the archives #40: Saratoga Springs—Death Valley, 1975

Saratoga Springs is one of the sites where the elusive desert pupfish can be found. My brother and I had made our way here, at the southernmost tip of Death Valley, just as the sun was setting.

I set up my camera—a Mamiya RB-67—on my heavy-duty Bogen tripod and took this picture.

Later, showing it for a critique at a Friends of Photography seminar in Monterey, the reviewer (can’t remember who) paused a minute, studied it, and then said "You know, I really see two photographs here."


Photo: Saratoga Springs—Death Valley, 1975

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Photomerge Issue

I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a multiple-photograph photomerge of subjects that have lines and angles in them. That is, I’ve merged natural scenes before, fairly successfully (see the Owens Valley photo, and Autumn Leaves photo) but wouldn’t it be cool to be able to merge some shots of a building fa├žade? That way, you could make a really big print of window reflections (for example) in the photorealist style.

Here’s an attempt at such a subject (in this case, a vacant building in back of the San Rafael Trader Joe’s.) On top is the merge (of six separate shots) as produced by Photoshop. Below is what remained after desperate perspective-control measures were undertaken. As we can see, a lot of subject matter had to be cropped out.

I guess it would help if I had a wonderful perspective-control lens. Yeah, right. Or, what about a separate software program dedicated solely to merges?

We will have to think on this.

Photo: Vacant Building in Rain—Marin County, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Evolution Valley / Calendar

I was checking some dates in April on our wall calendar the other day when I realized that the scene depicted in the photograph looked very familiar.

Yes . . . it was Evolution Valley.

I hiked into Evolution Valley in 2004, having driven the hideous Kaiser Pass road and taken the Florence Lake shuttle. I camped just north of the valley and did a dayhike up to Evolution Lake the day of this photo.

As I entered the valley I remember thinking to myself: Whoa . . . almost too picturesque. But I took some shots anyway with my 4-megapixel Olympus C4000.

Not as hazy in my shot as in the calendar.

Photos: Evolution Valley—Sierra Nevada, 2004; Bookcase & Calendar—Marin County, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blessed Virgin Mary & The Zen of Photography

At least, I think that the statue represents the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Actually, the Carmel Mission was not on my itinerary since the main purpose of the trip was to take coastal shots. I was on my way to Point Lobos from my motel in Monterey when I decided to check out a side street heading towards the ocean off Highway 1.

That’s when I passed by the mission. I parked and walked over to the entrance. Hm. $5.00 admission fee. Hm. I decided to skirt the perimeter to see what I could see.

So, this photo came about from me skulking about the adobe wall and peeking over the top. The wind was blowing and some leaves kept intruding into the upper left corner so I had to take multiple shots.

It’s somewhat disconcerting to realize that the coolest shot of the trip came about almost by accident.

Oh well, that’s "The Zen of Photography!"

Photo: Statue—Carmel Mission, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009


An abundance of poppies! Hundreds of them!

At least in my mind’s eye, there were. Looking at the pix now, maybe there weren’t that many poppies.

Probably the fellow blocking the trail with the big heavy tripod and the big heavy Nikon got better results.

Photo: Poppies—Point Lobos, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009


Mike visited the famous Point Lobos ripple-rock area and took some ripple-rock photos. No tripod, thank you.

It was early enough in the day for him to get a ripple-rock shadow snap. Also, he was able to skillfully avoid the incoming surf so as to keep his feet dry.

Photos: Ripples—Point Lobos, 2009; Shadow and Incoming Surf—Point Lobos, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Early Morning—Point Lobos

There was a brisk breeze coming off the ocean and yesterday’s weather had left storm-sloshed waves breaking and crashing on the foam-stained rocks.

Mike arrived early enough so that his was the only car in the parking lot. (He’s done that before.) He decided to hike the Monterey cypress loop (something he’d never done before.)

He took a few pictures at one impressive overview, of cliffs, cypresses and waves. But, he should have taken even more, maybe even done some exposure bracketing. The best result he’s been able to extract is shown above . . . doesn’t look quite right when printed, alas.

Next time. Maybe.

Next, he noted a grouping of wild irises. Got down on his hands and knees for the flower shot.

Photos: Cliffs & Cypresses—Point Lobos, 2009; Wild Iris—Point Lobos, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dried Grass

Mike got into Monterey in the early afternoon, so he headed to Point Lobos for some pix.

Item number one: the entrance fee to Point Lobos is only good for the day.

Item number two: it turns out that the afternoon really is not the best time for Point Lobos pix.

He had experienced these two things before, he knows, but now he’s been able to RE-experience them.

Also, the place is always crawling with photographers, like geezers with metal detectors looking for old pennies.

Photo: Dried Grass—Point Lobos, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Highway 101

Highway 101 is, of course, much more scenic than highway 5.

The problem with the scenic aspects though, is that there are relatively few opportunities to pull off for photos. So you are somewhat frustrated as you pass by green hills, vinyards and oaks without stopping. Of course it could be that there are secret byways that would be more productive than 101 itself. This may require further research.

Also, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of rest stops as compared to highway 5. And the highway exit signs on 5 give much more info (concerning restaurants, gas stations etc) than on 101.

Photo: Grape Vines off Highway 101—Santa Barbara County, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fisherman, Pacific Storm

Well, Mike did it again.

He left the ISO setting on his camera too high, that is. This time, the camera was set to 400 for the entire day’s drive up Highway 101. At least it wasn’t 800.

This photo was taken just north of Ventura, where the fisherman had just caught a nice bit of kelp.

(Alternate sentence): This photo was taken just north of Ventura, where the fisherman was engaging in a heroic struggle with the elements.

Photo: Fisherman, Pacific Storm—Ventura County, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Von Dutch & Metro Local

I saw the Von Dutch image as I was walking up La Brea.

After I took the photo, I tried to remember just exactly why the name of Von Dutch should be faintly familiar. It wasn’t until I got back home and did a search that it came to me. If you grew up in the Southern California car culture of the 50’s as I did (along with George Lucas) the Von Dutch name was synonymous with the pinstriping and other detailing beloved of car customizers of the time. Hm.

Then on up the street, checking out the reflective balls and a passing bus for a quick self-portrait.

Photos: Von Dutch—Los Angeles, 2009; Metro Local—Los Angeles, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Waring Avenue

Waring Avenue is a somewhat narrow residential street in Hollywood, running parallel to, and one block north of, Melrose Avenue.

Here we have a movie poster (for "Crank") found at Fairfax and Waring. (I guess that I should clarify: the movie is "Crank: High Voltage." Ohhhhh-kay.)

Then, a Hummer, almost dwarfing the small bungalow in back, found near Ogden and Waring. Color coordinated with the house, in one of those strange artistic coincidences beloved of photographers.

Photos: Crank—Los Angeles, 2009; Hummer—Los Angeles, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fountain Mini Market

A two-picture merge.

Also a self-portrait.

Photo: Fountain Mini Market—Los Angeles, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Two Dollar Wash / Private Driveway

Now, when I said that digital B&W looks a little "0ff" (due to lack of grain) I didn’t mean to imply that that look is particularly unpleasant.

Indeed, the results now being obtained with very small cameras (the Private Driveway photo was taken with an incredibly small Canon point-and-shoot) are ones that could only be equaled in the past by using medium-format cameras . . . cameras weighing at least two pounds.

It would be interesting to go ahead and make a big digital B&W print—16x20 at least, just to see what it would look like. If I had the money. And space.

Photos: Two Dollar Wash—Los Angeles, 2009; Private Driveway—Los Angeles, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chinatown Wars

As Joe and I drove past Staples Center these building-sized billboards (for the Grand Theft Auto video game) loomed in front of us.

I was able to snatch one photo through the Scion’s window. I’ve posterized and watercolorized it in order to give it that . . . that . . . uh, look.

For more, much more, information, check here.

Photo: Chinatown Wars—Los Angeles, 2009