Macro Mushrooms

What happens when two photographers go on a hike with macro lenses? It takes 7 hours to go 7 miles!

From our hike yesterday in Wunderlich County Park in Woodside, CA, I have photos of other things, but since so many of my photos are of mushrooms and other fungus (all mushrooms are fungi, not all fungi is a mushroom) I am giving them their own special post. So many various fungi fruit making a go of it in the moist soil and trees. I particularly love the teeny tiny ones growing out of curtains of moss.

I learned a lesson on this hike. If you stop in one place long enough, you start seeing all kinds of tiny things that would otherwise be missed. Seems like a good note on which to end the year. Happy New Year! See you in 2017.


365 Abstract Shots 17

In 2017, I am going to challenge myself to post one abstract photo a day. After I looked around online for a photo challenge to do, I didn’t really find anything that appealed to me so I decided to create my own. I will be posting my #365abstractsnaps17 on an Instagram account I made especially for it, and then 1 post at the end of each month on this blog of a compilation of the month’s photos.

I’ve divided the year into 12 different themes, one for each month. In this post I will describe them a bit more just in case anyone else wants to join me. Please comment if you are, I’d love to follow along! I chose abstract photography because I want to challenge myself to think about photos in a different way. Of course I will still be taking my flowers and landscapes, but I also wanted to branch out. I love the way abstract photography challenges me to look at the world for its shapes, colors, and compositions instead of people, places, and things.

365-photo-abstract-17_greyscale-abstract  1: Greyscale

As a starting point, the focus will be on contrast, shape, and composition in the absence of color. Look for shapes, negative space, interesting juxtapositions, anything that catches the eye. Imagine the world with no color. What intrigues your eye?

365-photo-abstract-17_color-as-subject  2: Color as Subject

Next, let’s focus on color as the subject. Think Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly. This is the opposite of month one. Of course composition is still important, but the main focus should be color.

365-photo-abstract-17_texturepattern  3: Texture and Pattern

This would be a great time to get out that macro lens and look closely at the world around us. Or to see the patterns of everyday life separated from the objects that create them. A pattern can be repetitious or random.Textures can be big or small.

365-photo-abstract-17_double-expose  4: Double Expose

Some of the monthly themes I’ve come up with focus on photo editing. In this month, we will use editing (Photoshop in my case, or whatever software you like to use) to combine two photos to create something new using various types of opacity and blending. Now is a chance to use your photo editor to make artistic changes instead of just adjusting contrast and exposure.

365-photo-abstract-17_blurmotion  5: Blur and Motion

Next we will purposefully use blur to create artistic images. This can be done by adjusting your manual focus or by using longer shutter speeds and moving your camera or photographing moving subjects.

365-photo-abstract-17_color-unreal  6: Color Unreal

In the 6th month, we will explore using our camera’s white balance to create unnatural color palettes in our images. Alternatively, we can use a photo editor to do edit the colors and create something new and unusual. Perhaps some subject will creep back into this month, but we will use color to transform it into something strange.

365-photo-abstract-17_odd-perspective  7: Odd Perspective

The most natural thing to do is take photographs from your normal point of view. Or maybe you crouch down to lower your eye height. Instead, let’s look in different directions. Up, Down, Diagonal, Upside Down. What do we see when we turn our cameras in unusual ways? Or maybe we experiment with very wide angles and the distortion they cause.

365-photo-abstract-17_linescurves  8: Lines and Curves

This month we will focus on one of the most basic elements of composition: the line. A line doesn’t have to be straight, but it should be a clear line whether caused by a physical object (power lines for example) or a division between two distinct areas in your photo.

365-photo-abstract-17_monochrome-abstract  9. Monochromatic

Let’s go back to month 1 and focus on pure abstraction, but now instead of greyscale we will do this in monochromatic color. To do this, we can either find instances of monochromatic color palettes in the world or we can edit our photos.

365-photo-abstract-17_two-sides  10. Two Sides

Now let’s create images that have two distinct sides. Your image can be divided any way, horizontally, vertically, diagonally, etc. The only rule is that we are focusing on the juxtaposition of two different textures/colors/tones. This can be accomplished in camera by looking for two objects that overlap in your view or even at the horizon line. It can also be created in editing.

365-photo-abstract-17_lightreflection  11. Light and Reflection

Most photographers know that light is the most important factor to making great images. Now let’s focus on light as the true subject of our abstract photography. This might be another chance to explore motion and blur and light painting.

365-photo-abstract-17_colorful-abstract  12. Colorful

Finally, again revisiting our images from months 1 and 9, focusing on pure abstraction, but this time in full color. Play with various types of color combinations and tone variations and bring in any of the previous elements we have explored that appeal to you.


And that’s a wrap, 365 photos, 12 subjects in 2017. If anyone else decides to join in, please use the hashtag #365abstractsnaps17 so I can see your work, or shoot me a link to your page or blog.

Finally, because I got excited about this idea last week, here are some abstract photos I took in the last couple of days to inspire us.


Camellia – Colored Pencil

I took the reference photo for this drawing with my iPhone. I distinctly remember taking it because it happened to be the day of the U.S. presidential election and I was working as the Inspector at a polling place in Burlingame, CA where I live. It’s funny, I’m utterly tired of hearing and thinking about politics, but I like working at the elections. It’s fun to meet my neighbors and interesting to participate in the local government bureaucracy.

It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. On one of my breaks, I walked past the camellia growing on a large bush in someone’s front yard. This particular blossom caught my eye because of the interplay of red and purple in the markings on the petals.

Allow me to get a bit philosophical about my little drawing. I know a lot of people are quite unhappy with the results of aforementioned election. I know that world events are important. But also, we have our own lives that only happen once (unless you’re one of those people who reincarnates I suppose) and most of us, my friends, Americans, have a lot of good in our lives. Maybe just a nice day and a pretty flower, but something worth feeling happy about. Sometimes it seems like a lot of people I know have forgotten about that, or spend so much time focused on all that ails the world as to forget to see the beauty that’s right there, in our neighbors’ yards.

That’s what I was thinking about when I worked on this flower.

Prismacolor Premier on Canson Mi Tientes pastel paper in dark blue
8 x 8 inches
reference photo my own



Winter Magnolias

Walking around San Mateo Central Park yesterday, I saw a big magnolia petal on the ground before I notice the large trees covered in blossoms above me.


It was a windy day and I was trying out back button focus  on my new Canon 80D. I am completely sold on this back button focus technique. I normally would have had trouble with capturing sharp flowers that were moving in the wind, but most of my pictures from yesterday came out just lovely, including the challenge of capturing magnolia blossoms high up in their trees.



I love this type of magnolia most of all. I love the two-sided petals, dark pink and white. And the fuzzy nubs before they bloom. And the carpet of petals they drop to the ground.



December Texture

Yesterday we had a big rain storm and today it feels like winter (such as winter is in the bay area). It’s cold, but not like what is cold other places. There will be no snow. I don’t own a real coat. Since I grew up in a place with real winter (Pennsylvania) I often find myself comparing as a way to describe what it’s like here in December.

Best I can describe bay area winter in Pennsylvania terms is it is a very long fall, complete with crisp air and crunchy leaves. Scarves are nice, sweaters, but no need for a Winter Coat. But it is also like spring because everything turns green and starts sprouting after some rain. So instead of winter, we have fallspring. Which, I don’t mind saying, I prefer in every way to the hell that is shoveling.

I walked around San Mateo Central Park today and tried to capture some images that reflect the way a clear fallspring afternoon feels to me.


Spring in December

There are some places I photograph that are bursting with obvious subjects, like San Mateo Central Park which has a variety of vibrant flowers or the Bay Trail in Burlingame where the egrets like to hang out.

Then there are other places where I have to really look for things to photograph. Coyote Point is one of those places. I think the photos from places like Coyote Point are more interesting as photos. I should try to approach the other places with the same attitude and see what I get. That attitude being, looking for photos not necessarily interesting things to take photos of.

I saw the first Miner’s Lettuce flower of the year, a field of glowing grass, a California Poppy still wearing his hat, several varieties of mushrooms, and the silhouette of dried flowers with the geometric shape of the electrical towers in in the background.

It feels like a cool spring day. My friends in other places are experiencing their first snow of the season, but here it has been raining and all of the green is exploding.


Flowers in the Rain

The exciting news around here is that I got a new camera. I have upgraded, with the help of santa, from my Canon EOS 40D to a new Canon EOS 80D.

I am in awe of it right off the bat. From the grip to the sound of the shutter, everything is pleasing. Of course, as soon as I get said new camera, it starts raining and is never going to stop! I know the rain brings with it the real beauty in its wake, so I can wait, but in the meantime, I did manage to shoot some raindrops during the sole non-rainy hour of the day.