A New Look at a Favorite View

comments 25
Abstract / California / Horizon / Impressionism / Inspiration / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Point Reyes / Seascapes

December 12, 2016. Point Reyes National Seashore. June 20, 2021. My Office.

I’ve been reworking some old favorites recently as I update my website. This was taken during a family getaway. I’ve made several versions but I was never quite in love.

Here are two stages of evolution of a whole new look. One is somewhere between literal and impressionist:


And one is further abstracted:


I’m on a journey to the land of minimalism. It’s difficult to know when I’m there because there isn’t much there — but still, I know when I arrive. For me it’s very often true that the less there is, the more the eye lingers.

I’ll be posting some more that pare things down even further. Stay tuned.

Let me know if you see anything.

(Nikon D500; Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6G Zoom. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

More Fine-Art Photography at the ever-evolving www.amagaphoto.com

Sometimes She Roars

comments 36
California / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


March 19, 2021, Sonoma Coast

I was asked by both Instagram followers and blog followers, “What about the real action outside? What about the larger waves?” There were indeed larger waves. I tripped the shutter about 1500 times so there had to be something memorable out there.

Something like this, perhaps.

Mother Ocean speaking, not with subtlety as in my last post, but with bombast. She has both these voices and an Infinity of voices more.

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm f/4.5–6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

World Oceans Day

comments 24
California / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


March 19, 2021, Sonoma Coast

On the day I shot this, the waves were in 12 seconds sets. Five per minute. This was a typical inside wave. The real action was several hundred yards further out.

This one was not the biggest wave ever. Probably only about four feet. But it was exquisite in its sculptural delicacy. A fleeting example of Mother Ocean’s ephemeral art.

June 8 is World Oceans Day. Do something nice for Mother Ocean.

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm f/4.5–6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)


comments 18
Abstract / California / Impressionism / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


April 10, 2015, Hurricane Point, Big Sur Coast. August 8, 2017, my office. Morning of May 13, 2021, my office. Evening of May 13, 2021, my office.

On January 12, 2019, I wrote in my twelfth blog post: My dog and I decided that conditions were right for a ride down the coast. Travels with Chewy. And Nikon.

We made it as far south as Hurricane Point. Crystal clear. The horizon went halfway to Hawaii. And so went the sunbeam. Chewy and I looked out to sea. He turned and looked to me as if to say, “this is special.” A sea dog. A wise one.

Aided by a neutral density filter, I exposed to preserve the highlights. Back home, post-processing brought out the wispy clouds. I cropped in homage to Rothko.

Last week I woke up at 4 a.m. thinking about photography. I do that. Still working on distilling the essence of a scene. This particular picture was on my mind. It’s always been a favorite and it’s still a favorite in its original form. But for me the major appeal is the horizon itself. I got up in the morning to see how far I could pare it down.

I posted it on Instagram and it got a so-so response.*


I took another look later the same day and decided that the clouds, which are so evocative in the original, simply muddy up the simplified version in their vestigial form. I loved those clouds. In the original version. But not here. The picture needed refinement. An old editing truism: Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.

Killing the sky meant that suddenly there was too much foreground, so a lot of that went away as well. But some of the fog bank stayed. Maintaining a balance was quite an exercise, but I finally arrived at the magic moment where I almost involuntarily sit back and stare. That’s the time to stop.

I posted it on Instagram a couple of days later and immediately got a much better response.


(Nikon D750, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. RAW processing in DxO Pro. Editing in Photoshop.)

*I generally have a low opinion of social media. That definitely includes FaceBook and for the most part Instagram. Despite that, in my case I consider Instagram a necessity for exposure. I only follow photographers whose work I admire and respect, and for the most part my followers are photographers who admire and respect my work. I stay strictly away from politics and snark. I don’t alter my work to get likes, but the feedback does tell me how well I’m communicating and that gives me something to reflect on, absorb, or leave alone.

Take Another Look

comments 12
California / Horizon / ICM / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


December 24, 2018 — Sonoma County Coast. May 4, 2021, My office.

I’ve done a lot of photogralogical* archive digs in the past months and have come up with an astonishing number of shots that were overlooked on first, second, and even third look. A number of my mentors have counseled not to even look at a shoot until days, weeks, or months after to shoot. They say it makes it easier to be objective. I’ve always made it a habit to dump the card onto the computer, make three backups immediately, and then plow through looking for the any shots that immediately jump out. This dump and dive routine goes back to advertising days when I was inevitably working on a deadline and didn’t have the luxury of time. That and I’m prone to impatience.

The thing is, I very often will find one or two shots that scream at me to work on them right there and then. I see the shot and I immediately see the final result in my mind’s eye and make it so. Publish the first draft, so to speak. It often works.

But my mentors do have a point. Letting that folder on my computer sit there and age gives me time to gain perspective and get over any preconceived notions I may have about a particular shot fitting a mold I may have formed at the time of the shoot. On the other hand, I lose spontaneity if I wait. Making quick decisions is a skill I developed over years and years of having to be right the first time in a high-stakes situation. It’s the same ability that has allowed me to whittle 2,500 shots down to 30 in two or three hours starting at 0 dark 30 and then post-process them and send them for printing at 03 dark 30  in my performance photography days. It’s not for nothing that I have that ability, so why not use it?

Still, my mentors do have a point. Perspective changes with age and distance. It did here.

But there’s something else I learned in the glamorous world of advertising: how to walk and chew gum at the same time. So why not employ both policies: immediate dive and lingering look? In fact, I do.

But this was the time for the lingering look. I did a very different version of this same shot last July. And that was still two-and-a-half years after the shoot.

Those mentors. That’s why they’re mentors.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)


* Of course it’s a word.

Let Nature Have Her Way

comments 17
California / Monochrome / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


March 19, 2021, Sonoma County Coast

It is often my wont to have my way with nature. One of my favorite statements has been that what comes out of the camera is fodder for what happens later in the quiet of my office days, weeks, or years later.

But not always.

Sometimes it’s best to just stand aside and let Nature say it all.


(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm f/4.5–6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Tight Rope

comments 24
Abstract / California / ICM / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


March 15, 2021 — Sonoma County Coast, California

While the house was in the hands of the realtor being prepped for sale, we took off for the coast for a few days. Early one afternoon, clouds cast shadows on the sea. Perfect for intentional camera motion. That shot — one of many, because ICM is a numbers game — formed the basis for the completed picture, which doesn’t look anything at all like what was actually out there. But is does look exactly the way it looks here.

There’s a delicate balance in abstract minimalism. Too much information and it’s close to representative and not very interesting to engage with. Too little and there’s nothing to engage with at all. That’s the balancing act.

(Nikon D850, Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/4G VR. RAW processing and initial editing in DxO PhotoLab 4.2; Final editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

One Last Time

comments 30
California / Hummingbirds / Photo Log / Photography / Wildlife


April 20, 2021, Silicon Valley

As of yesterday, our home for 24 years is now in the hands of its new owners. We spent the previous afternoon sitting on the back deck one last time, eating falafels and reminiscing. Emotions were felt. Many.

I brought a camera in hopes of getting one last shot at a hummingbird feasting on echium. It’s in full bloom, so it’s prime time. And sure enough.

But before that, the Muse looked up and said, “Bobcat.” And there she was. Roberta was behind a rosemary bush, moseying down a path and up to the open gate of the deck rail. She saw me, gave me a look, and opted not to come in. But I did get one last portrait of her before she sauntered away.

The new owners are very lucky to have such a beautiful natural paradise in their back yard. I hope they enjoy it as much as we did.


(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm f/4.5–6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)


comments 17
California / Horizon / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photography / Seascapes


July 13, 2018 — San Mateo County Coast

I was asked to show the original shot from yesterday’s post. I thought I’d be able to update the post with a link to the original — but as it turns out there isn’t an original.

So here, for the fist time, is my 2018 treatment of this shot.


(Canon G7X. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Forward — Into the Past!

comments 18
California / Horizon / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


July 13, 2018 — San Mateo County Coast; February 24, 2021 — My Office

In exploring the essence of the essence, I reimagined a few old favorites. This was shot in the late afternoon/early evening as sunrays found their way through low clouds/high fog on the coast. The subject, really, is contrast, texture, and glow. The philosophy is adding by taking away. What isn’t the picture? Remove it or reduce it. Distill.

(Canon G7X. RAW processing redone in DxO PhotoLab 4.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Where Have you Been, My Blue-Eyed Son?

comments 22
California / Horizon / ICM / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


March 22, 2021 — Sonoma County Coast.

I’ve shot and I’ve processed a hundred new pictures

I’ve formed and I’ve weathered scores of opinions

I’ve kept and I’ve scrapped a thousand examples

I’ve spent time away in the course of my journeys

I’ve reflected so much and concluded the essence

And it’s a soft, it’s a soft, it’s a soft, and it’s a soft

It’s a soft rain of pictures gonna fall


Yes, I have been away. In the process I’ve moved from Silicon Valley to Berkeley…

I’ve packed and I’ve unpacked too many boxes…

And that has taken time too.

Now it’s time to catch up. We did travel the Sonoma coast in the midst of all this. Here’s something captured somewhere between camera and imagination.

Stay tuned…

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Crystal Silence

comments 25
Abstract / California / Horizon / ICM / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Positivity / Seascapes


July 9, 2020 — San Mateo County, California. Feb 12, 2021 My Office.

On February 9, we lost Chick Corea. A phenomenal composer, pianist, arranger, and producer. A mentor. A marvelous human being.

Here’s an excerpt from his farewell message:

“It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.”

This is also for my friend, Diane, who departed on the same day. I’m sure she agreed with every word.

(Canon G5X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

I’m Lookin’ at YOU, Flightless Biped!

comments 37
California / Photo Log / Photography / Point Reyes / Wildlife


January 20, 2021 — Point Reyes National Seashore, California

It’s been a minute — maybe several — since I’ve posted wildlife. I’ve been concentrating on abstract and impressionistic seascapes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love to shoot wildlife — photographically.

A couple weeks ago, The Muse and I went out to the Tomales Point trail for a long hike in celebration of significant click on my personal chronometer. It was a sunny day. Mild breeze. We brought cameras — we always bring cameras — but we expected the outing to be mostly exercise.

Then came the birds. (Not those birds. Those birds were a few miles north in Bodega Bay and more than a few years ago.) No, these birds were raptors. Up to ten at a time. Red-tailed hawks, kites, and falcons. Among them was this grand red-tailed hunter. We stopped and photographed them for more than two hours, only a mile or so from the trailhead. That’s as far as we got.

This one patrolled south to north along the ridge, went as far north as the Windy Gap and circled around to the south to repeat the pattern. One pattern every 20 minutes. On the fourth pass he kited directly over us for several minutes. We wondered if we were being considered for the lunch menu, but we were only one thing he looked at as he scrutinized the ground below. At one point we locked eyes.

And for that minute it was like High Noon. But I was beneath him. He was clearly superior.


(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm f/4.5–6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.1; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Essence of the Essence

comments 12
Abstract / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


July 10, 2020. San Gregorio Bluffs, San Mateo County, California. January 28, 2021, My Office

Here’s what I said in my August 3, 2020 post of the mother of today’s picture:

This is an impossibly small crop of a much larger frame — a starting point for an imaginary stroll on walkable water.

I was going to post this last night, but it wasn’t ready. This is a picture where every nuance counts. An adjustment of just one click plus or minus in vibrancy or color balance or layer blending made a visible difference. Everything balances on the head of a pin. Had to sleep on it. Glad I did. A few changes in the morning finally resulted in a smile for both me and the Muse.

Every word of the above is just as true in today’s image. This is the same shot, same crop, same everything except the final post processing in photoshop.

The evolution is due to a thought came to me the other day — almost a commandment:

Find the essence of your image or statement. Then find the essence of that.

When I had that thought, my mind immediately went to this image. I followed the first part of the commandment on August 3 when I made the small crop. Now here’s the rest of it. The path disappears, but the destination is writ large.

This does not diminish the original, which stands on its own. But for me, this finishes this picture’s journey. The destination is writ large.

(Canon G5X II. RAW processing and initial editing in DxO PhotoLab 3.3; Final editing in Adobe Photoshop.)