The Colors and Textures of Owens Lake

Owens Lake is a mostly dry lake in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in Inyo County, California. It is about 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Lone Pine, California. Unlike most dry lakes in the Basin and Range Province that have been dry for thousands of years, Owens held significant water until 1913, when much of the Owens River was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, causing Owens Lake to desiccate by 1926.  Today, some of the flow of the river has been restored, and the lake now contains some water. Nevertheless, as of 2013, it is the largest single source of dust pollution in the United States.

We met Laura Campbell, a local resident and fine art photographer who was kind enough to give us a tour of the lake which is incredibly large with a maze of roads. Click over to Owens Lake to learn more about the history of this extremely large lake. I have to say that it was without question the most putrid air I have ever inhaled.  A photographer’s paradise that comes with a price.

What you see in these pictures is real, not manipulated or enhanced in any way

Owens Lake #190Owens Lake #202Owens Lake #204Owens Lake #206Owens Lake #220Owens Lake #243

Evie – Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills is a place that I never tire of visiting. I’ve been there quite a few times already and it always has something new to offer.  Evie made the trek from LA to join us on our journey a few weeks ago.  She loves the hills as much as we do. The image making possibilities are boundless and these are just a few of my favorites.



Landscape: Earth and Sky – Juried Exhibit

I’m thrilled and honored to have one of my pieces selected for the on line annex exhibit for this juried show at PhotoPlace Gallery. This image was made in Death Valley National Park at the Mesquite Dunes and is one of my favorites.


Mesquite Dunes

Bristlecone Pine Forest

On a recent trip to the Eastern Sierra Mountains we took the time to drive up to the Bristlecone Pine Forest, just a wee bit up the mountain from a town called Big Pine, CA.  Joined by good friends Michael Pannier, Beamie Young, Marc Nathanson and Evie Crocker we struggled with the thin air at 10,000 – 12,000 ft elevations all in an effort to enjoy this incredibly beautiful landscape and capture images of the longest-lived life form on Earth, the Bristlecone Pine Trees. Some of these trees are literally a few thousand years old. After quite a few miles on an extremely rugged road that is not kind to highway tires we experienced the very unique landscape where these ancient beauties grow. These are a few of my favorite images from that adventure.


SE Center for Photography – Greenville, SC

This past weekend I traveled to Greenville, SC to attend the opening night for the Black White & Everything in Between exhibit.  I made the trip for a few reasons. To visit with good friends, learn more about the SE Center for Photography, attend the opening for the show and to see the City of Greenville, SC.

I’ll begin with the City of Greenville.  A medium size city with a small town vibe and energy incredibly rich in culture, cuisine, art and education. The City features something for everyone with a wide variety of shops, restaurants and performing arts venues.

The SE Center for Photography is a new venue located in the Village of West Greenville, South Carolina’s textile mill village turned arts district. Just one mile west of downtown, it’s a wonderful exhibition and education venue promoting the art and enjoyment of fine photography.

One of the best and most important things photography has done for me is bringing wonderful people into my life.  This past weekend was no exception.  I met some local and international photographers and a huge surprise when I was introduced to Sandy King.  Sandy is a rock star in the photography world and more specifically alternative processes.  Back in my film days I used a custom film developer (Pyrocat-HD) that was in fact formulated by Sandy.  We had some wonderful conversations about photography.


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Textures Tutorial

A few years ago I became interested in using textures on selected images as a post processing technique. Obviously this is nothing new, many have been doing it for a long time. I don’t attempt to be different than others, I simply craft my images towards my vision. My approach is to apply the textures thoughtfully and carefully. My Something New Portfolio was my first foray into textures. I use a variety of sources for textures.  Adobe Texture Pro that comes with CC 2015 is great, Brooke Shaden offers some free textures, Jen Kiaba offers a free texture pack if you sign up for her newsletter and some I’ve created a few of my own.  The reality is that they are all over the Internet and easy to find.  The challenge lies in your choice of which one to use for which image, how to apply it and even if it makes sense to use one.  I use textures in both color and black and white, however I tend to lean towards color since much of the texture effect can be lost on black and white.  Again it’s personal choice and what fits your vision.  There are no rules or right or wrong. Below is a general narrative of my process. All adjustments in Photoshop are done on separate layers.  I’m a firm believer in this as it’s much easier to go back in and tweak if needed.  I always allow my work to brew for a day or two before showing it, i.e. I go back in on different days and look at it multiple times usually discovering a few things I didn’t see the previous time.  It’s a process that I highly recommend as it will subtly improve the quality of your work.  These subtle tweaks may not seam important but they are critical and add up to significant improvements.

  1. I always shoot RAW and import my images into Lightroom.
  2. Begin with a properly calibrated display.
  3. Exposure adjustment if needed in Lightroom.
  4. White balance adjustment if needed in Lightroom.
  5. Open the image in Photoshop as a PSD or TIF file.
  6. Color correction if needed
  7. Lens correction if needed.
  8. Straighten horizontal and vertical lines using the transform tool.  Not always necessary depending on the subject and overall image.  It was necessary for this image as it was shot using a fairly wide angle lens (35mm).
  9. Crop if needed.  I always work hard to get my crop and composition in camera, however there are times when a post crop is necessary.
  10. Touch up as needed.
  11. Add the texture layer. In this case I used the Necropolis texture from the Adobe Paper Texture Pro tool. Set the blend mode to Overlay.
  12. Create a layer mask on the texture layer completely blocking the texture on the subject.  In most cases my subject is a person.
    I don’t use the selection tool, I manually brush in the mask taking great care to get the edges precise.  Precise edges are critical for this technique.  The selection tool can be used and then you can go in and clean up the edges.  I spend most of the editing time here refining the edges.
  13. Highlight the mask on the texture layer and double click on it displaying the properties dialog.
  14. Reduce the density to somewhere around 80%, this will vary depending on the image, texture used and your vision.
  15. Feather the edges by about 1.2px.  The intent of this coupled with a proper mask is to render the edges undetectable in the final image.
  16. Add a Hue/Saturation layer and desaturate the color to taste. The level of desaturation will vary depending on your vision. In this image I landed on -59.
  17. Add a Levels layer and adjust the contrast to taste.  Sometimes I’ll add a Curves layer on top of the Levels layer to further fine tune the contrast.  Once again these are all subtle adjustments.

The images below illustrate the various steps in the process. My hope is that you pick up something that may help you in achieving your vision.


Original Image



Touchup Lens Correction and Transform

Touchup, Lens Correction and Transform

Texture Applied

Texture Applied

Texture Layer Mask Applied

Texture Layer Mask Applied

Hue Saturation Layer Applied

Hue Saturation Layer Applied

Levels Contrast Layer Added

Levels Contrast Layer Added

Final Image

Final Image

Playing in the Sandbox of Textures

I liked the form and lines in this image a lot when I shot it but felt that it was very plain and needed something to give it some life. I’m always experimenting with different things and textures is one of them.  I hit this with a few before I was satisfied. Stay tuned, I’m working on a tutorial describing my texture process.

Model credit:  Floofie




Floofie – Recent Works

Our paths finally crossed and we had a wonderful time working together.  Floofie is an incredibly talented model and a joy to work with.  She brings so much to a shoot that she left me wanting more. We worked on a variety of concepts which is usually the case the first time I work with a model.  Subsequent session are generally more focused on specific ideas and concepts. Tried a few new things and added a few images to the Something New portfolio. I’m always looking for new concepts as fuel for future shoots.  I love the lamp concept and will likely work on it in the future.  The shapes created in the three images of Floofie sitting on the black fabric I find visually pleasing and will likely work on them in the future as well.


Lamp concept



Something New


Something New


unnamed concept


unnamed concept


unnamed concept


Portraiture, Light and Shadow

I’m always searching for light, shadow and the beauty they bring to photographs. This past Saturday as I was waiting for Floofie to arrive for our first shoot together, I sat looking at the window light as it cast its magic on a chair.

Some may find it a surprise that over the years Floofie and I have not crossed paths until this past Saturday.  We’ve both been in this game for some time and it was a real pleasure to finally work with her.  She is professional and incredibly talented. I look forward to working with her again.


Floofie 1


Floofie 2

Naked in New Hope

I’m honored and excited that three of my images were selected for inclusion in this year’s Naked in New Hope Exhibition at Sidetracks Art in New Hope, PA. The exhibit opens on September 12th and runs through October 31st. I’m especially happy that one of my 16×20 encaustic panels (Formed in Steel) will be in the show.


Erica – Model credit: Erica J


Formed in Steel – Model credit: Tendu


Carey – Model credit: Carey Chrome