I’ve really taken a liking lately to architectural abstracts — little interesting bits of texture and pattern that you’ll find while wandering through the built environment. Along those lines, I spotted this on a radiator at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion in Denver:


I made this image during this year’s Doors Open Denver event — a fantastic excuse for a little architectural exploration if you’re in Denver in April!


As the saying goes, if you’re looking for a photographic subject, and don’t see anything in your surroundings — look up / look down!


This is a shot of a chandelier in a ballroom at Filoli Gardens south of San Francisco. I didn’t *quite* get things centered (I was in a crowd, so couldn’t do my usual stunt of laying on the floor for this shot), but I still like the symmetry…

Night snow

So a few months back, we got a late afternoon dusting of very sticky wet snow — the immediate result was an odd vertical ridge of snow on top of all our trees’ branches. So lit only by our porch light, I had to grab a shot of this unusual scene:

Night snow

It took a little help from Topaz Adjust to bring out the contrast in what’s admittedly a very abstract image…

Bubbles in the grass

Another quick reminder to be open to images even when / where you weren’t expecting them:

Bubbles in the grass

I caught this image when my daughter and I were walking around looking at the balloons at this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. One of the trinkets on sale at the fiesta’s concession booths was a battery-powered bubble blower. Here, a kid had just run past blowing bubbles — thanks to an overnight rain, the grass was still wet, so the bubbles didn’t pop on contact with the ground.

The technicolor reflections make for a fun (semi-abstract) shadow self-portrait…

The start of a new tradition

Once upon a time, I thought an “easy” way to sell some of my photography would be by way of iPad and iPhone wallpaper. But it turns out I really don’t have a lot of time to devote to learning how to program for the iPad, and besides there are a lot of free wallpapers out there.

And it’s hard to compete with free.

So my current plan is to find some other way to help pay for my photographic equipment, and just give away iPad and iPhone wallpaper. I’m going to give away one piece of wallpaper each week — and it’s free both as in beer (no cost) and as in speech (do what you want with it, within Creative Commons limits).

Glass block back-lit

Here’s the first free wallpaper (click on it to get to the Flickr page where you can download the full-size image). It’s a backlit shot of a glass block (part of an art installation) at a local light rail station.

Rhapsody in blue

Another “keeper” from my experimentation with smoke photography:

We just returned from a 10-day family road trip (no ‘net access on most of it) — so I’ll be catching up with everybody’s blogs and tweets over the next few days. Meanwhile, get ready for some cool pictures from Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountains!


Another geological abstract shot from lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona:


If you’re planning a trip to Antelope Canyon and you’re taking a DSLR, you should give some thought in advance to just what lens(es) you should put on your camera body(ies). Fortunately, you’ve got a strong ally in this effort — namely, Flickr.

Before the trip, scan through Antelope Canyon shots that other people have posted to Flickr to find ones you particularly like. Then, when EXIF data is available for the shots, take note of the focal lengths used for the images — this will give you a very good idea of what you want to be taking along on your trip.

In my case, the images I liked best seemed to be taken with focal lengths around 20-30mm (35mm equiv.). So since I have Olympus four-thirds camera bodies (2x crop factor), I aimed for 10-20mm focal lengths in my lenses. So I had a 7-14mm lens on my E-3 body (primary camera) and 14-54mm lens on my E-520 body (backup). Whichever camera wasn’t being used at the time rested in a padded torso pack (ThinkTank Change Up) to protect it from accidental dings. Meanwhile, both camera bodies were outfitted with quick-release plates for my tripod so I could switch back and forth quickly.

Oh, and both camera bodies have lanyards — so whichever one was in use was tethered to my wrist at all times. Particularly important when there’s nothing soft for a camera to land on if you drop it.


Another shot from lower Antelope Canyon:


And some more travel trips to go with it

  • Our visit to the canyon was on Memorial Day (a U.S. holiday held on the last Monday in May), and the trip through the canyon was dry as a bone. Some fellow travelers, though, told us they’ve gone through in winter and found spots chest deep in mud. So if you’re not traveling in summer months, make sure you have a change of clothing you’re willing to sacrifice to the hike — the pink mud permanently stains whatever you’re wearing.

  • It wasn’t terribly hot when we visited, but remember that you can’t exactly get out in the middle of the canyon to get that water bottle out of your car — take a bottle with you on your hike.

  • I’d been told before that a flashlight was a necessary thing to take on a trip through the canyon, but we never used ours. Maybe this is another winter (or early morning / late afternoon) thing?

  • Dust — there’s lots of it in the canyon. I’d recommend picking one lens for your camera(s) before you head in, then leaving it on. Swapping lenses in a dusty environment like this one is likely to get a lot of gunk into your camera. My solution: I have two camera bodies, I put complimentary lenses on the two of them and left them there.

I’ll talk more about photo gear in my next Antelope Canyon post…