Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Most of the Blood is From Me, Not the Fish

Walleye!, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

We spent a few days at the cabin in Eagle River, Wisconsin. This is my dad holding the largest Walleye he has ever caught in his six decades of fishing. The fish is estimated to be eight years old and measured 25 inches. While taking the hook out my dad cut his finger pretty deep and left a bloody mess all over the cabin's deck and front door. My dad said the fish was greedy and ate one too many minnows -- that's why it was caught. However, he allowed that it is hard for a hungry Walleye to pass up a wounded shiner minnow. Either way, this jumbo Walleye will not be menacing the perch in our bay anymore.

Friday, December 26, 2008

How Dumb Could a Person Possibly Be?

Inglewood Sidewalk, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

The title of this post is a quote I lifted from my family's Christmas dinner which we ate on Christmas Eve. This morning, the day after Christmas, I woke up in the LAX Westin once again feeling hung over from my Christmas day travels. My Christmas started at 4:00 am with a -5 degree F car refuel in the dark frozen wastes of Fond du Lac Wisconsin and ended with me marveling at the palm trees that line the streets leading out of LAX airport. While we checked into the hotel Flavor Flav was standing next to us at the check in counter talking to the other desk clerk. Flavor looked a lot older than the guy having convulsions in the video for "911 is a Joke".

While laying in bed this morning recovering from exhaustion I turned on the TV. I love to watch the crazy local news in Los Angeles. Today, the all white news team was on location at area malls reporting on the day after Christmas deals that could be had because of the current economic crisis. Apparently if you have money this is a great time to buy designer shoes.

After a cup of coffee I decided it was time to go look for some photos to feed to this blog. I set out on a little hike around Inglewood. Inglewood doesn't look like the greatest place to find post holiday bargains on luxury items. Most every business was boarded up. Shortly after I took the photo at the top of this post a guy jay walked across six lanes of traffic and walked right behind me for a block and a half. I started to feel a little paranoid about carrying $4500 worth of camera equipment over my shoulder. Who'd rob me on a busy street in broad daylight?

I started back towards my hotel. On the way I ran into the usual panhandlers that hang out on the border zone between Inglewood and the airport hotels. It was easy to say no to the beggars today because I am completely broke. It's either you eat with my money or I eat with my money. Call me greedy, but that choice is easy for me to make.

When I finally got back to the Westin the driveway in front of the lobby was lined with expensive imported cars. At that point I felt like the sole member of the shrinking middle class.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ella Floating

Ella Floating, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

We survived Christmas! This is Ella enjoying the pool at the Fond du Lac Comfort Inn on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2008

High Above Planet Hoth

Desert Snow, Utah, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Remember the snow they got in Las Vegas last week? The snow in this photo came from the same weather system that caused the snow in Vegas. This photo was taken high above the Colorado Plateau in south central Utah. Because I am a child of the 1980s the first thing I think of when I look at this photo is the planet Hoth from "The Empire Strikes Back". If you're trying to spot the reckage of Luke Skywalker's snow speeder click here for a larger version.

I have more photos of desert snow from this same trip waiting for editing. Hopefully I have time to post them soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Magical Time of Year

Merry Christmas!, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

We took Ella to see this very realistic Santa in Forest Mall, Fond du Lac. She had a great time. I was bit bit disappointed with the mixed lighting. It's hard to color correct incandescent, mixed with fluorescent, mixed with flash.

Monday, December 15, 2008

You Face a Life of Increasing Disappointment

Travelodge, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I can’t claim rights to the clever title of this post. It is a quote I lifted from Doug Menuez's article about transforming your photography career. I also can’t take credit for finding that article on my own. I got the link from Mark Tucker’s blog. However, I did take the above photo of the Travelodge located on South San Francisco Airport Boulevard. Don’t worry, this is not going to turn into another hotel review post.

When I took the Travelodge picture I knew I had a seed for a blog post. The photo is where I am in life right now. I stay at that Travelodge when I commute into SFO to start trips. On hotwire you can get a room there for $38, and they have airport shuttle service. The downside of staying at the Travelodge is that several San Francisco pimps are running a thriving business out of there. They stay out of your way, but the door slamming all night is a bit annoying.

So I got this photo and I had a day to think about what to write about it. With three cups of coffee in me I took a jog around our hotel in Inglewood, CA. As a white guy from the Midwest I was feeling like a tough guy jogging through Inglewood. This is the same Inglewood that Snoop Dog and Dr Dre rapped about back when I was in high school. Full of caffeine, and endorphins I tried to think up a good blog post. The two ideas that I couldn’t shake out of my head were the Myth of the Phoenix and the last chapter of “The Odyssey” when Ulysses returns home. The Phoenix rose from the ashes. Wasn’t that like me? I sold everything I owned on Craig’s list last month, can’t afford lunch, and don’t have a pair of jeans without a hole. That’s like ashes, right? And like Ulysses I just returned home after 15 years of battling demons and storms(sort of like working at PSA Airlines). And, didn’t I just read two days ago that society is based more upon common myths than religion or media. That’s some smart stuff. It would really impress my 8 regular blog readers. And of course they will never realize that I lifted the stuff about Ulysses from a short story I read in the New Yorker a few months back.

My head was buzzing with the ideas that founded our western culture and I was on the home stretch of my jog -- starting a little sprint to the finish. Coming the other direction on the sidewalk was another runner. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, jeans, and an old pair of basketball shoes. As he ran he was punching the air like boxer in training. Maybe he was a boxer -- a west coast Rocky Balboa. Or maybe he was just another Inglewood crackhead getting deep into his fix. As we passed each other he smiled at me and said, ”Get your money. Yeah boy, get your money!”. I think the crackhead has it all figured out.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coming Home

This is a photo of the Galloway House in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The home was built by a lumber baron in the 1800's and now it is a museum. I grew up in Fond du Lac, and the Galloway House is located about three blocks from the house I lived in from age 13 to 19. In grade school my cub scout den toured the Galloway House. The only thing I remembered from the tour was the dog that the Galloway family had stuffed and kept in their living room. While living in Fond du Lac I must have driven past the historic house 1000 times. I never gave the house much thought beyond some mild teenage scorn towards things I considered nerdy.

Fast forward 15 years and I (and my family) have made a triumphant return to living in my mother's basement three blocks from the Galloway House. Since moving back a month ago I have become a little bit fascinated by the giant Victorian house that sits at the top of our neighborhood.

First of all the house looks amazing. Driving past for the first time in a year I noticed the big oaks framing the yard and all the details in the architecture of the house. My photographer's brain started racing with a bunch of ideas.

Secondly, I like to ponder what it must have been like to live in Fond du Lac in the 1800's when things were still wild. Imagine standing up on that widow's walk 130 years ago.

When I got into photography six years ago my main reason for shooting was to show my family back in Wisconsin all the exciting things I was seeing in my modern airline pilot lifestyle. After some limited success shooting I started to develop some crude ideas for a personal style -- a kind of dimwitted artistic vision. Photography quickly became a serious hobby, some would say obsession. I remember wanting to build a gallery over at filled with bright colors and contrasty light. That was the extent of the emotion I was looking for. My photography could have been best described as "Heavy Metal Nature Photography". Over the course of a year or two I learned how to play photographic power chords.

The next step in my photographic growth came when I joined Istock gave me a chance to sell my photos and learn how to create an image that someone else values or could put to use commercially. The unexpected consequence of joining istock was an enormous attention to detail and technical quality of my photos. The photo inspection process is brutal at istock. The slightest technical flaw and your photo is rejected. This caused me to reevaluate everything about my shooting and post processing in Photoshop. Over time I developed a complete vision of the technical process of taking a photo. Every technical aspect of my shooting was obsessed over -- from equipment, to the nature of light, to each little Photoshop tweak. It was no longer enough for me to shoot and process with blind gut feeling. I wanted to know the algebra behind each choice. Switching back to the musical metaphor; I was learning scales, minor chords, dynamics, and timbre.

And next came a period of disillusionment. One day I was looking at my gallery filled with colorful, bright, contrasty images and realized I was shooting nothing more than visiual cliches and I wasn't a genius. About that same time I started to notice that while I was successful at istock some other people were much more successful. What was I doing all this work for if I was only going to be average?

I started to look in a new direction. I started reading photography blogs. And I started this blog as a kind of outlet and method to sort things out creatively.

That brings us up to today and the point of this long rambling post. Photography made me interested in something I wouldn't have otherwise cared about, in this case the Galloway House. I stood in knee deep snow for a half hour with a -15 degree wind chill for this photo, and I was happy the whole time. I now realize my home town is full of amazing old oak trees and the sky in Wisconsin is always interesting. I used to hate this place. Now, I can't wait to get out and photograph everything before it's gone. Imagine if you could have set up your tripod and Canon 5D high up on that widows walk in 1880. Those pictures would be something to see even if they were cliche.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Here I sit in the LAX Westin again. I have some free time this morning, some interesting photos to post, and the cheesy internet connection at this hotel won't let me upload photos. After years of travel I have come to the conclusion that the fancier the hotel the worse their internet service. The Westin seems to believe that it is normal to charge for internet service. Who does this anymore? I stayed at a dodgy Travellodge two nights ago. I was kept awake there half the night from all the hookers and pimps slamming doors, but I at least had free, blazing fast wireless. The Westin makes you hook up to an ancient wired network and they charge $10. What kind of customer service is that? At least as airline crew they wave the charge for me, but if I was a business traveler I'd be fuming. The hotel business center charges by the minute for computer use. Want to check your email? That will be $20. I'd rather stay at a Holiday Inn Select, spend half the money, have free internet, and get a free stale bagel breakfast in the morning. But, I shouldn't complain. Someone else is paying for this hotel and they do have a nice pool.

Sorry for the rant that was probably better suited for a review. I'm just frustrated.

It is hard keeping a blog. When I started out I had great intentions to post almost everyday. Unfortunately it is not all that easy. A month ago we made a transcontinental move and that sucked dry any free time I had for blogging. Then, a week after moving my computer got a nasty virus and completely died. Now, today with a spare working computer in front of me I can't get a photo uploaded. Hopefully things will settle down over the next week and I can get a posting rhythm going.

I have a new respect for the bloggers out there that can post new well written and well thought out posts on a regular basis. To my eight regular readers; I ask you to check out some of the links in my blog list. The blogs listed there have some great content, and somehow their owners find time and resources to make great, regular posts.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


HaHa, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Ella figured out how to turn on our car alarm today. It was pure joy to her. I don't know what the neighbors thought. This is a picture of her at the front door playing with the car keys.

Alpha Male

Alpha Male, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

It was zero degrees outside this morning when I took this picture. Our dogs didn't seem to mind the cold. The cold weather makes them play harder. This photo might remind you of a pack of wolves fighting over a carcass, but really our boys were just fooling around. Jack is the black dog. He weighs about 45 pounds. Gatsby, the other dog, is a brute. He weighs 90 pounds. To make up for his size disadvantage Jack has to show lots of teeth and make a lot of noise. Jack is still the boss between the two dogs even though Gatsby could bite him into two pieces if he wanted to. After their walk both dogs curled up together in front of the fireplace.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Snowy Morning in A Swamp

It's been snowy up here in Wisconsin. A few days ago I took a walk with my dad in the swamp behind his house in Manitowoc. I brought my camera along, but only brought my Canon 135mm f/2.0 L lens. I thought I was only going to try for pictures of our dogs. That was a mistake. The tangled trees were coated in fresh snow and the long lens was too narrow to get a landscape shot. Making the best of the situation I took a few shots of my dad from a distance. I managed to get some of the snow covered trees into the scene. For this shot I made sure my dad was standing in sunlight. Most of the forest behind is in shadow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Most Difficult Photo Possible?

Jack Loves the Snow, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Is there anything harder to photograph than a black dog running through snow with bright sun? For this shot I set my exposure to manual bracketed until I found an exposure that worked for shooting this direction. I then called Jack and I got one high speed pass. This was the best shot from the burst. I'm determined to get the perfect "Jack in the Snow" photo before winter is over.

We moved to Wisconsin from California a couple weeks ago and our dogs love it. I was afraid they would miss hiking around east bay, I think they like Wisconsin better. They like the snow for sure.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ella Attacks Bay City!

Ella Attacks Bay City!, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Innocent and unaware of her destructive potential baby Ella rises from the cold, murky depths of San Francisco Bay.

I don't normally play around with these heavy handed photoshop techniques, but I've been immobilized with a cold for the past three days. It's good to try something new now and then. I played with the Transform Perspective tool for over an hour trying to create realistic shadows across Ella's body.

How did I do?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Inspired By Donnie

Fantastic Voyage, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I've been stuck in the Hyatt in Dulles with a cold for the past 30 hours. Without anything to do I started watching photoshop tutorials on youtube. I came across the "You Suck at Photoshop" series. It's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. It inspired me to make the "Fantastic Voyage" photo illustration you see above.

Here's the first Video from season 1:

You can see all of Donnie's videos here.

Modern City

Modern City, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here's another sunrise photograph of downtown Seattle. This photo was taken about ten minutes before the sun cracked over the horizon. There was enough light in the sky to illuminate the skyscrapers, but it was still dark enough to get nice light trails on the highway. This was shot at ISO 50, aperture f16, and 25 second shutter speed. The Canon 5D ISO 50 setting is awesome. Even with a 25 second exposure I didn't get any sensor noise.

You can purchase the rights to or a print of this photo of downtown Seattle at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Find a Photo Location

Seattle Sunrise, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This is a photo I have wanted to take for years. It's Downtown Seattle from Beacon Hill. I don't live in Seattle, and I've only stayed overnight there a few times. However, I once saw a photo of Downtown Seattle with a twisted mass of interstates entering the city. After a long time spent on Google maps I found a probable location for this shot.

Last week I had two overnights in Seattle. On the first overnight I took a scouting jog towards beacon hill. It was surprisingly easy to find. The next morning I got up before sunrise and set out with my camera and tripod. I had two locations for the shot scouted. One from a bridge and this location in a park. Because I had scouted the scene the day before I had time to shoot both spots during the brief period of good light.

Double Capped Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier Aerial, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

It's been a while since I posted an aerial photo. What can I say -- the weather hasn't been good lately and this time of year the nights are a lot longer than day.

This is a photo of Mount Rainier taken late last week at sunset. There is a fresh layer of snow on the summit. It had snowed the day before. The little cloud hanging around the top of the mountain is called a cap cloud.

Friday, November 21, 2008

San Francisco Skyline

San Francisco Skyline, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Yesterday I had a free afternoon in San Francisco. I took BART into the city, got off at Civic Center, and took a hike around the city. I ended up on Telegraph Hill near Coit Tower for sunset.

This photo was taken through a rare vacant lot looking down into downtown. In the center of the frame is the Trans America Building. If it wasn't for the vacant lot I am sure I never could have gotten this photo. I imagine the real estate on Telegraph hill is some of the most expensive land on earth. Selfishly I am hoping they build on this lot soon so I have a unique (more valuable) photo on my hands.

When composing this photo I purposely left some of the messy lot in the frame to contrast with the well ordered sparkling skyline. Also, you might notice the subtle lead in lines that help create a nice single point perspective. On the left side of the frame the lines of the foreground building point towards the center, and on the right side of the frame a well lit street also forms a line pointing towards the skyline.

To the bus driver and other bus passenger I met on the drive down the hill-- I'll have this photo up at my stock site in a few days. If you are still interested in a print email me at for details.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dad and the Boys in Nebraska

Here's a photo from our move from San Francisco to Wisconsin. That's my dad and our two dogs romping around a rest stop off Interstate 80 in Nebraska. The light was great at this rest area so I took my camera along when we let the dogs out to run.

Moving across the country with five pets is a challenge, but it is possible. Our animals made it intact, and we got away with sneaking all five pets into our hotel room each of the three nights we were on the road. The Quality Inn in Lincoln, NE was our biggest challenge. The only hotel entrance other than the lobby was a stair well that opened up directly behind the check in counter. We had to carry the three cats and the litter box up four flights of stairs. Jack our black border collie mix liked that hotel best, because he found a ton of rabbits to chase in the warehouse district behind the hotel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Perched Above the City

LA Sunrise, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

It seems like I have been shooting a lot of photos from high vantage points lately. This is another sunrise shot from the Roof of the LAX Weston. The building has to have the red aviation hazard lights because it is very close to the airport. I put the lights in the frame because I think it helps give a sense of scale and height to the picture.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

San Francisco from Twin Peaks Park

I'm not living in the bay area anymore, but I am commuting there once a week. I took this photo last week week in Twin Peaks Park. It's a panorama stitched together from five photos. The original image is 7200x4000 pixels. That's pretty big. I think this photo could be printed about 8 feet wide without using any upsizing software.

This was my first visit to Twin Peaks park. It was very hard for me to find. I think this would be a great location for sunset or sunrise photos f the city.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to Work

LAX Westin, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This is only my second post for the month of November and it is already the 17th -- pretty pathetic. Things are starting to settle in after our move and I should be able to get back to regular posting soon. I had plans to do some work on this blog during my last trip, but I forgot half of my computer charger at home. I also forgot my running shoes. However, I didn't forget my camera and tripod. I got a bunch of cool pics.

This is the view from the roof of the Westin Hotel at LAX airport. I took this photo at sunrise. An advantage to being on central time is sunrise on the west cost feels like mid morning to me. The aircraft landing is a Skywest Brazilia. It's on final approach to runway 25L at LAX.

A techincal note: This photo was one of the rare times I ever use ISO higher than 100 while using a tripod. I used ISO 400 with this picture to keep the aircraft from blurring. I also opened the aperture to f/8. Normally for a picture like this where I want lots of depth of field I would have shot at f/13, but because the airplane is such an important (even if small in size) part of the photo, I wanted a speedy shutter speed to keep it from blurring.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wendover Rest Stop

Wendover Rest Stop, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

If you have been wondering why I haven't made a post in awhile it is because we moved from California to Wisconsin last week. I've been too busy to post. Our two dogs, three cats, and 13 month old daughter all made it safely across the country.

This photo was taken in Wendover Nevada/Utah (it's right on the border). I had time to take a few photos on the trip. I'll post them as soon as I get some more free time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Saddest Dog Ever

Saddest Dog Ever, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Is it wrong to put your dog in a cage to make a photo for istock?

We're trying to sell this crate on Craigslist and I needed a model. Once Gatsby was in the cage I decided to try to get a stock picture. The lighting is simply camera mounted strobe bounced off a wall camera right.

My shoot couldn't last long because Maria made me let Gatsby out after a couple minutes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HDR Without the HDR Look

Scrub Oak, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Take that stuck in customs blog! Here's an HDR image that doesn't look like a nuclear disaster area.

HDR is great for scenes like this where there is too much contrast for a single exposure. This is a composite of three different exposures combine into one HDR image in Photomatix Pro.

I grow tired of super saturated fake looking HDR photos, but I do like when it is used subtlety.

BTW, this photo was taken in Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek, CA.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ella In a Wicked Vengeful Mood

In a Wicked Vengeful Mood, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

What to do when I don't have any new photos to post?

I had some fun with Photoshop on my train ride into work this morning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Desert Mountain Morning

Desert Mountain Morning, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

It was another beautiful morning in Las Vegas when I took this photo. This is the time of year when I get jealous of people that live in the desert southwest. The mornings are crisp and there is always a chance for nice photogenic clouds.

The mountains in this photo are on the edge of southwestern Las Vegas. Maybe someone who lives out there can tell me the name of this small range.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote

I lived in Ohio for 3 and 1/2 years. People like the ones in this video really do exist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Red Eye Sunrise

Red Eye Sunrise, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Time to wake up. The first light of morning peeks over the horizon and it's almost time to start our descent into New York City.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Virga Over Vegas

Virga Over Vegas, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is another aerial photo from the Las Vegas area. The strange weather you see in this photo is called virga. Virga is when precipitation falls from a cloud and then evaporates before reaching the ground. In this case the precipitation is a snow shower that drifted off the peak of Mount Charleston. The snow melts and evaporates high above the Las Vegas suburbs.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Conservatives Bail On McCain

It's easier for the conservatives to blame McCain rather than their own failed ideology.

Red Rocks Descent

Red Rocks Descent, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Arriving in Las Vegas from the west is always spectacular. I took this photo two days ago while we descended over the mountains west of the city. The mountains are jagged on top and descend steeply on the Vegas side.

There was a lot of moisture in the air for the desert. Clouds were forming over the mountains and then blowing across the city. We did two Vegas round trips. During both flights Mount Charleston had a snow shower hanging over the summit. As always it was a bump descent into Vegas.

Here is a large version. You can see Red Rocks Park.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Breaking Habits

Cleared to Land!, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Sometimes I like to look through my old pictures. I’ll open up a folder from six months ago and view it as a slideshow. However, the last time I checked out an old folder I noticed something about my style of photography that I didn’t really like. I think I am using the camera as a cropping tool. Way back when I first got into photography I did a lot of cropping in Photoshop to correct or enhance my compositions. Over time I got better at making the crops with the viewfinder. Now I rarely if ever crop a photo in Photoshop. A problem with my style becomes apparent though after flipping through a couple hundred old photos. With all my concentration on level horizons, vertical lines, and clean edges my photos start to look like they were all taken through a well aimed cardboard tube. All the excitement and motion in sucked out. That’s fine for a landscape that’s supposed to portray a sense of calm, but for many other photos a perfect crop doesn’t create the right mood.

That brings me to today’s photo. This picture was a direct attempt to break all my photographic habits. First off, the horizon isn’t level. Also, I put a little bit of the nose of the airplane in the lower left corner. The combined effect makes it look like the airplane is turning, even though we were on a long (15 mile) stabilized final approach. The LasVegas Strip is also visible, but not completely. Normally I would either have all of the strip in the frame or none; such is my flawed way of thinking. With the strip half cropped out it feels like the photo was taken in a hurry. That’s the effect I was going for. But ,to prove this is a photograph and not a snapshot I kept control over the upper left corner of the frame. I purposely left blue sky (mostly) all the way around the cloud and didn’t cut any of it out of the edge of the view finder. I did bring the cloud close to the edge -- that’s my usual control freak cropping style. Also, I used the diagonal nature of the clouds in the frame as a lead in line.

I think the overall effect of this photo gives the viewer a sense of flying even though they are looking at a static view. I could be wrong. After so many hours looking out aircraft windshields I might have a scewed viewpoint. If I see an airplane nose, a tilted horizon, and a runway my brain says, “We’re turning final, better double check that the gear is down and locked.” Who knows what a non-pilot thinks about this same view.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photos That Pay the Bills

Grain Elevator, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is a photo from Seattle. This is a grain elevator that is next to the harbor. Why am I posting such a boring picture? 1) because I didn't shoot anything interesting today 2) to show you how I shoot my bread and butter shots for istockphoto.

To make money at istock you have to have some hero images that get downloaded over 100 times, but you also have some slow and steady earners. This picture falls into the slow and steady category. I bet this photo will sell 3 to 5 times a year. That's not much money, but considering the work involved in taking this photo it is a pretty fair return. I took this photo on the way to get a much better shot. I already had my equipment with me, saw the clear blue sky and an industrial building, and thought there is a quick $5. It's as easy as finding a $5 bill on the sidewalk.

Shooting stock photos like this won't make you rich, but having 100 photos like this in your portfolio means an extra $500/year in income. That's a couple speedlights, or maybe a Carbon fiber tripod. Not bad for five minutes work here and there.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Birthday Merry Go Round Ride

Yesterday was Ella's first birthday. We took her to the Oakland Zoo. More pictures to come...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cold Front Over the Mojave

Cold Front Over the Mojave, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

All my flying photos from the past week have been all about the cold front that passed through. Here is the cold front making its way across the Mojave Desert west of Las Vegas. The second valley in this photo might be Death Valley.

This photo was inspired by Alfred Stieglitz's series of equivalents. I suppose anytime I take a picture of moody, complicated clouds I could say it is inspired by Stieglitz's equivalents and I'd sound really pretentious.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is the Economy Really That Bad?

For those Americans that are sure we have fallen into the abyss take a look at this video. This is 24 hours of worldwide air traffic. Compare the United States to Africa. Things could be worse.

Now imagine if each pilot had his own photo blog.

Monday, October 6, 2008

First Snow for the High Sierras

First Snow of the Season, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this photo yesterday morning while flying from San Francisco to Washington Dulles. These are the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The view is looking south. Mono Lake is on the left side of the frame. This is the first snow of the season to hit the area. You can see fall colors on some of the lower altitude trees.

The storm that brought this snow was the same cold front that brought the bay area rain I talked about in my previous post.

Check out this highly detailed version. I love the delicate little clouds that are hanging over mono lake.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Perfect Light Missed

Walnut Creek BART Station, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Wow, what spectacular light. I am typing this as I ride BART into work today. Overnight we had our first rain in the bay area since May. The sun just came up. Everything is dripping wet and bright sun is cutting holes through the gray clouds reveling pacific blue sky.

This is my favorite type of light for outdoor photography -- bright low angle sun coming from one horizon and the other horizon blanketed with dramatic clouds. Anyone with the slightest photographic experience would look at the scenery today and realize it is a beautiful morning for photography.

I just had a technical understanding epiphany while rolling though the hills of east bay and looking at the light. The reason why this lighting works so great for landscape photography (besides the obviously dramatic sky) is the sunlight reflecting off the background clouds. The direct sun from one side creates intense highlights, the same as it does every cloud free California morning, but the presence of the clouds today on the opposite horizon makes a diffuse fill light for the shadows. This fill light brings details to shadows and helps separate objects from their background.

I wish I could have taken a shot of this wonderful light through the window, but I already got hassled by BART security this morning for taking the photo at the top of this post. Right now there are two security cameras mounted in the ceiling of this train car with flashing red LEDs pointed my direction. It is illegal to take pictures of BART or on BART without a permit I was told by the BART police. Since I was on my way to work when the cop talked to me he saw my airline ID badge. He mentioned the name of my company with a chuckle as if to warn me that he knew who employed me. It is a shame that such paranoia is alive on such a optimistic looking morning.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Little Bit of Fall Color in Colorado

Colorful Colorado, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This photo was taken last week over western Colorado. If I remember correctly we were abut 50 miles west of Eagle when I snapped this. You can see the bright fall colors even from 36,000 feet.

Here is the big version.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Owens Valley

Owens Valley, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

As promised, here is an aerial photo of the Owens Valley in California. This picture was taken yesterday around 8:00 am from 29,000 feet. We were flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas. This view is looking south down the valley. The Sierra Nevada mountains are on the right side of the frame.

Owens Valley is a favorite spot for outdoor/nature photographers as well as Hollywood directors.

If you're location scouting for your next film check out this larger version for a detailed view.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Superfly Sunrise

Superfly Sunrise, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this one this morning while doing the first walk around of the day. This was taken at gate A5 in San Fransisco. In the background you can see airplanes taxing out to runways 1L and 1R.

We flew to Las Vegas. I got a good shot of the Ownens Valley on the way across. I'll post it tomorrow.

The airplane is named "Superfly". Hence the title of this post.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

At the Park Again

At the Park Again, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Sorry if this bugs my few regular readers that enjoy the aerial photos. My New York to Las Vegas photos didn't turn out as planned. I couldn't get them to color correct. I'm slowly figuring out the nuances of taking photos through Airbus windows. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to remove the color cast from the windshield when there is haze in the air. On a clear day removing the color cast is easy -- add some yellow and red in LAB colorspace. With haze in the air the color cast is not even across the frame and global adjustments don't work. Which brings me to today's photo and a color cast that I know how to fix.

I took this picture of Ella in the shade of a tree. The original had a nasty blue color cast. Shade on a sunny day is always blue because shady areas are lit by the diffuse light reflected out of the blue areas in the sky. To remove the blue I went into LAB colorspace and created an curves adjustment layer where I moved the B channel more towards yellow. To make this change only effect the shady blue cast parts of the photo I built a mask based on a high contrast, inverted, duplicate of the B channel. Pretty tricky huh? If you want to learn how to do this type of thing check out The Canyon Conundrum by Dan Margulis.

Video Shot With Canon 5D Mark II

Here is yet another reason to lust after the new Canon 5D Mark II. Check out this HD video shot with the 5D Mark II. The video was created by photographer Vincent Laforet.

And because Vincent Laforet is having a hard time drumming up traffic for his blog here is a link. There are some really interesting behind the scenes videos there.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Power of Indy Rock

Since when does indy rock get involved in presidential politics? I'm not sure that a single Wilco fan would have voted republican anyways. I suppose you have to rally the base. Whatever the motivation, I think this is the coolest Youtube video I've ever seen. Barak Obama and Jeff tweedy on the same stage -- how awesome is that?

Western Colorado

Western Colorado, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This photo was taken about 80 miles further east than my last post. This is western Colorado near Dinosaur National Park. Notice the bright fall colors on the edge of the plateau. Some small thunderheads were forming in this area and we were doing a lot of dodging and weaving to keep our passengers in the smooth air.

For a closer look at the fall colors check out this huge version.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Eastern Utah, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This photo was taken in eastern Utah. I think this area might be the most desolate area in the lower 48 states. Other than a road, there are no signs of human deveoement in this swath of desert.

This picture was taken on the same flight as the photo in my previous post. I have one more good photo from that flight to edit, and then I got a whole bunch more that I took yesterday while flying from New York to Las Vegas. If you're an nature photographer living in Colorado I recommend going outside this weekend. The leaves in the Rockies looked like they are at there peak.

For all the conspiracy theroists and Ron Paul supporters here is a link to a large size version of this photo. You'll notice there is plenty of space for you to build a compound and the IRS will never find you. Here is a name recomendation; "Freedom Canyon".

Friday, September 26, 2008

35,000 Feet Above Zion National Park

Here is a new aerial view hot off the sensor of my Canon 5D. This is Zion National Park in Southern Utah. I took this while en route from Los Angeles to New York City. If you want to take a closer look at the canyon see this nearly 100% size view.

There were great clouds and lots of breaks in the haze as we cruised over the desert southwest. I could see lots of bright fall colors on some of the higher peaks.

It's getting late and I have an early van tomorrow so there is no time for more photos tonight. Maybe I'll get some more stuff edited and posted in the coming days.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Advantage Raw Files

Seattle Skyline, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Today I dug through some of my Seattle photos from a week ago. This one seemed worthy of editing and uploading to istock. Lately I have been shooting in jpeg format because my hard drive is bursting at the seams. When shooting Seattle I shot in raw because I figured the night time photos would require a lot of editing and raw would offer more flexibility

While completing the edit work on this file I realized why I like shooting in Raw.

1) Color correction in raw is easy. The raw conversion dialog box in Photoshop is faster and easier to me than creating a color correction layer later in the edit.

2) Using raw you can keep the image in 16 bit mode for the entire edit. When I open a raw file I make sure to open it in 16 bit format (check the box at the bottom of the raw converter to open in 16 bit mode). A normal jpeg is an 8 bit file. Editing in 16 bit means there are less rounding errors/changes for each photoshop adjustment you make. 16 bit files seem to hold up a lot better when I do heavy duty edits.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baby Blue Eyes

Baby Blue, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this one of Ella out on our back deck. She gets crabby between 4:00 and bedtime. The only way to keep her happy at that time of day is to do something outside. We took her toys and a blanket onto the back deck.

I used my best lighting skills to make this portrait. I metered the scene for ambient light and set up my camera in manual mode for one stop underexposed to the ambient light. I then set my spare strobe with umbrella reflector high and right (right side of frame) and maybe a little behind Ella. There is a solid fence just outside the left side of the frame. I bounced the camera mounted strobe off that fence. I had set a 2:1 ration between the umbrella flash and the camera mounted flash. You can see the umbrella lit side is slightly brighter.

If you want to learn how to do this sort of thing you should read strobist.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oregon Forest Fire

Oregon Forest Fire, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this photo a couple days ago while flying between San Francisco and Seattle. We were over southern Oregon. I think this is the Royce Fire. This is the biggest forest fire I've ever seen from the air -- even bigger looking than the Big Sur fires from earlier this summer.

Apparently upon first seeing this fire a Delta flight crew called Air Traffic Control to report "Hey, I think one of your volcanoes is going off". They were completely serious.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Last Day of Her First Summer

Last Day of Summer, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

We took Ella to the Park today. It is the last day of summer. You can see the greens are starting to turn a bit more yellow. Ella loves the swings, and she also likes to sit on a bench eating Goldfish Crackers while dad takes her picture.

I took this shot with my Canon 135 L f/2. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this lens is great. This shot is at f/2. How do you like that bokeh?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seattle Panorama

Seattle Panorama, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is something new for me -- a panorama created in Photoshop CS3. I haven't made a panorama in years. The last time I did a pano the software was very clunky and the frustration level high. Using CS3 this panorama was a piece of cake. It is made from three raw files shot with my ultra-sharp canon 135 L f/2 lens. It took my old laptop about 15 minutes of number crunching to stitch the photos together. When it was all done I took a look at 100% and couldn't find a flaw in the stitch. The full sized file is 8733x2791 pixels.

I took a few other panorama series of images from this overlook in Seattle. Hopefully they all turn out this good.

BTW, if you don't know how to make a panorama in photoshop go to file -> automate -> create photomerge

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seattle Sunset

Seattle Sunset, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is another photo from the other evening in Seattle. I am not sure what this neighborhood is called, but it is very nice. I climbed up through a drug addict infested park and arrived in this amazingly rich neighborhood with great views of the city.

This picture was taken specifically for istock. I made sure to get all the elements of Seattle in the frame; The Space Needle, Stadiums, Harbor, Mount Rainier, affluent neighborhood, and I left plenty of copy space at the top of the frame.

This was shot with Canon 5D and Canon 24-70 f2.8 L.

Seattle at Night

Seattle at Night, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Add another cliche scenic photo to my collection -- I shot downtown Seattle two nights ago. The weather was great with clear sky, and I brought my tripod along. This proves that a prime lens works great for scenics. I took used my Canon 135 L f/2.

This shot was taken about 30 minutes after sunset. You can see the glass towers still glowing from the sun reflecting from the sky, but it's dark enough that window lights glow. The settings for this shot were shutter speed 30 seconds, aperture f13, and ISO 50. I love the ISO 50 setting on my Canon 5D. There was absolutely no noise in this picture even with the long exposure.

There were about 20 other photographers taking photos from this overlook so I can't say I captured an original image, but I am still a sucker for this type of photo.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mount Diablo Sunset

Mount Diablo Sunset, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Tonight I made a jail break. I was able to get out with my tripod for all of 20 minutes. Luckily I know of a few nearby overlooks. This is a view of Mount Diablo and Highway 24 between Lafayette and Walnut Creek.

I love setting up my tripod.

When I got home dinner was ready. I am a lucky guy.