Friday, January 30, 2009


This was the first attempt at using my new macro lens. the subject was a plasma ball in my living room.


This is one of those assignments that just frustrated me. A last-second go and grab these pictures request with no info, the wrong address and no help is the kind I hate to see.

I knew this was going to be trouble when we got the phone call from the church group who were rallying at the intersection of 11th Street and Corral Hollow Road. Honestly it was a non-event, and not really worth covering. The attitude was it beneath a reporter to cover but hey it’s not like the photo department has any standards and against my protests they assigned it, wrong address and all.

I knew it wasn’t going to be much of anything but I managed to snake out a couple of shots. Nothing spectacular but they told the story. Later I would find out that no one really had any interest in the assignment at all and they wound up in the journalistic equivalent of the dead letter office. No reason, just unwanted.

Now nothing kills a field reporter more than seeing their work go to waste. It seems unfair that it is cast aside. I take it personally too as I feel that photographers are equals in the newsroom but sometimes it just isn’t so.

It’s a good reminder never to get to attached to your efforts; there is always something always there to throw wrench in the works.

Sign of the times?

I found this sign while on assignment for a rally to build a new Veterans Administration clinic in French Camp. Yeah I am disturbed by it too.

Mirror, mirror

I caught this cool reflection in the Grand Theatre lobby as I waited for an assignment to start. This is two of the mirrors reflecting in each other.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Close up

Hiking the Black Point Trail at Mount Diablo I decided it was time to break out my birthday present from me to me. A brand new Canon 100mm macro lens.

My birthday isn't for a couple of weeks but I couldn't resist the lens as it sat in the box so packed into my Think Tank belt I hit the trail with Alice to see what type of close ups I could find.

Our hike started off with a flock of turkeys that worked best with a 70-200mm zoom lens. I grabbed a few trail photos with my wide angle zoom but I was itching to try my new lens. Once we are deep into the narrow trail I switched to the macro lens and began experimenting.

Pine cones, leaves and spider webs found new form in extreme magnification the macro lens supplies. I was lagging behind Alice on the trail as I stopped at random ferns and leaves to explore their texture and detail with my new lens.

Even though the macro lens is designed for close up work I managed to grab a few landscapes as the mist rolled through the White Canyon walls.

Heading back to the trail head I checked the camera and saw I fired off over 1,000 images, most of them with my macro lens. It's a great lens and a fun hike to break it in with, I look forward to exploring the close up world on the hiking tail in the future.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On the quail trail

I was assigned to shoot a father and son team of quail breeders. This was my first real up close view of the California Valley quail which also happens to be the state bird.

My first impression is that they are a skittish bird. shooting through the chicken wire fencing wasn't to bad but it was a task to try and follow the birds as theyr fluttered about their pen.

I tried for one special picture of a quail in flight but it was hard predicting when and which direction they would go. I settled for one of the breeders releasing a bird for a kind of action picture.

Oh no, not the “S” word!

Shit. That four letter word emblazoned on a bumper sticker caused quite the debate in the newsroom the other day. It’s funny how lines are drawn in the sand and how quickly and I found my myself on the wrong side of the it.

While shooting an assignment one afternoon a call came across the scanner about a vehicle accident. The original call was for a car into a house. The next update was a car on the front yard of a house after wrecking during a street race. I headed over to check out the scene to find a VW Jetta off the street surface where it came to rest after losing control in a turn.

The neighborhood this occurred in has been plagued with speeders and unsafe drivers so I thought this was a newsworthy event. Skid marks and tire tracks from cars and motorcycles making donuts and high speed passes lined the street and intersections. And attached to the car sitting on the lawn after losing control during a speeding adventure was a bumper sticker “How’s My Driving-dial 1-800 EAT SHIT”.

How was your driving? I would say pathetic, dangerous, reckless and stupid. Luckily no one was injured and the car stopped short of the house. The car was towed by police for a 30-day-impound and the driver cited for reckless driving.

Back at the office I processed the pictures of the scene showing the car on the lawn. Visible was the black bumper sticker on the rear of the car. Let the festivities begin. I was told the word “shit” was banned from publication in the paper. So any photo that showed the word was also banned.

Forget that this 17-year-old could have killed someone or himself, forget it was a speeding accident in a neighborhood that has begged and pleaded only to have their warnings fall on deaf ears at the city, forget everything else-the word shit is on the car.

When I’m on assignment I don’t decide what I’ll shoot based on a banned word list, I shoot what is there, what tells the story best. If it gets rejected by the editors so be it. They thought about blurring the bumper sticker out in Photoshop by I balked at that. Might as well not the use the picture which is what happened. The only place this photo appeared was when it found a home on my wall of shame, photos that have been rejected for content but are still good shots in my opinion.

I was surprised, it is such a tiny bit of the picture and the word is heard on radio and television but apparently it has no place in our paper. We publish pictures of dead cows and horses on our cover but risqué bumper stickers cross the line. I learned my lesson so if the “S” word crosses my lens’ path I will give it a wide berth.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cheerios test: Part 4

So yesterday I had to shoot the nostril-licking-lemur which was about an 8 on the nasty scale. It couldn't get any worse could it? Ask and yea shall receive.

So the Lammersville School principal threw down the gauntlet challenging his students to sell $10,000 worth of cookie dough as a school fundraiser. if they reached that magical mark he agreed to become a giant cookie dough himself upon which students would heap ingredients. Nice!

So imagine chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, sugar and flour pouring down atop your head like some kind of yuppie shampoo. Nasty, gross and disgusting looking but at least he wasn't bobbing for potatoes in spaghetti.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Good morning!

Gabe Kerschner of Wild Things Inc. shows the traditional morning welcome for lemurs, a hearty nostril licking. I'll stick to my morning cup of coffee.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Air attack

One of the memorable moments of the Los Vaqueros hike was a standoff of sorts between a golden eagle and a red tailed hawk.

Circling and squawking they glided above us as they sized each other up as they vied for control of the airspace. The aerial stare down lasted until the hawk folded his wings and with talons extended dove at the eagle.

The hawk missed as they passed but the eagle moved on to another section of sky none worse for their brief fight.


What could be a better way to start a brand new year of hiking than begin with a real calf burner? Hiking partner Alice and I set off for a chilly hike to the Los Vaqueros Watershed to explore the trails and shoreline. The 18,500 acres of open space holds the 1,500 acres Los vaqueros reservoir that serves the Contra Costa water District. The facility pumps water from the Delta when the salinity level is low and stores it for us when the level rises in the Delta. The Watershed features facilities for fishing, boat rentals, bike riding and 55 miles of trails that loop around and over the hills surrounding the reservoir.

Setting off in the Sunday morning cold our plan was to head down the Los Vaqueros Trail to the Peninsula Trail that follows three miles of shoreline jutting into the reservoir. The whole hike would be just about 10 miles, a perfect way to start the New Year.

The Los Vaqueros Trail is very steep in spots and the morning frost made for slippery going uphill. Golden eagles circled in the distance as we made our way along. Clear skies and cold winds guided us along the trail. The snow capped peaks of the sierra loomed in the distance as sunlight glittered of the wind whipped waves of the reservoir for a picturesque scene.

Making our way to the shoreline of the reservoir we started a loop around a peninsula of the reservoir. There we found a lone coyote making a dash along the beach. He was in a full sprint as he passed us by stopping long enough for a quick picture or two.

The trail was empty except for another pair of hiker we passed heading back. We had the whole trail to ourselves and the occasional flock of birds that would flush from the thick cover along the trail path. After 6 hours we had finished our hike, finger and ears numb from the cold winds and calves aching form the climb.

Our 10 mile adventure was a great way to start 2009, a year in which we plan to explore more of the coastline in our hiking adventures.