I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

A Year Ago Today . . .

I was on a beach in northern California, it was close to sunset, and the light was just fantastic.

Day 173 (August 31) - Green Eyes

Another cat picture today. Not groundbreaking perhaps, but I am pleased with the sharpness. For once she sat still enough to get a truly sharp picture.

Her eyes are so large, everyone who sees her comments on it. I wonder if she'll outgrow that and catch up with her eyes (she's not even a year old yet), or if she'll have such an arresting gaze forever. If she does, I certainly won't complain.

Day 172 (August 30)

Another garden shot today, f/2.2. I've been having a hard time taking the 50mm lens off the camera, but I think it's been good for my composition skills. Also, the image quality is really just much better than with my other lenses.

Tomorrow, I promise. You can quote me on that.

Day 170 (August 28) - Reflection

Although this reflection isn't what I was going for when I took the photo, it's grown on me. I like seeing the different layers of story here: photographer, glass, subject . . .

Day 169 (August 27) - The Bookcase

Sometimes I spend so much time thinking about English that none of it makes any sense to me any more.

Case in point: bookcase. One word or two? Why are there two sounds in the middle that aurally are identical but are spelled completely differently? Am I going crazy when I want to type it with two ks?

These are the questions that plague me around midnight when I'm trying to finish my daily blog post. Instead of, for example, why cats like to sleep in seemingly uncomfortable places. Or whether I should have cropped out more of the area around the bookcase.

I'll leave those questions for you to ask.

Day 168 (August 26) - Light on the Leaves

Another shot from my garden today.

Day 167 (August 25) - A Swarm of Students

This is what happens if perchance you are holding a camera before class.

Can you tell they're not shy?

Day 166 (August 24) - Kitten

The kittens at school are getting bigger, but they still can't quite walk yet.

They do make this awesome noise that sounds like a squeaky dog toy, though. And they make it almost constantly.

Day 165 (August 23) - Green

I went out into our garden today on a mission. I was going to shoot into the light! Lens flare isn't really something I've gone after much, but it seems to currently be all the rage, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I didn't fall in love with any of my more flared shots, but I did get a few keepers. They might class more as contrejour than as flare shots. (Contrejour just is a fancy way of saying shooting towards the light.) And I'm determined to keep at it. I want to try it with a few different lenses, at different times of day; these were shot with my 50mm lens around 4:30 pm, which is still a pretty bright time of day here but at least the sun is low enough in the sky that it's easy to point your camera in its general direction.

Anyway, if you're interested in flare, here are a couple of great flare tutorials:



Here and here are tutorials that show how to create that cool 'sun star' effect. Haven't tried it out myself, yet.

Day 162 (August 20) - More Black and White

Some more black and whites of the scene at school just before class. You can see that the kids have to line up before they come inside (one line of girls and one line of boys), but even so it can get a little chaotic.

Day 161 (August 19) - Rain

A view of the rainstorm at school yesterday. I had never realized the difficulty of capturing rain in a way where the camera can see it as well as the human eye until I was crouching under the eaves of a building with students looking at me like I was crazy, trying to find a good subject and protect my camera from wayward drops all at the same time.

I feel like this one at least gives you some idea of how hard it was raining, though.

Day 160 (August 18) - Candles

We had a massive thunderstorm at the end of the school day today. Lights flickered, the heavens opened and it dumped.

When we got home there was no power. As soon as it started to get dark outside I went and got our store of candles, lit some, took some pictures, and then the power came back on. Which was faster than I was going to give Thailand credit for, to be honest.

Day 159 (August 17) - The Black Dog

Most dogs in Thailand live on the border between stray and pet. Theravada Buddhism forbids the killing of any living thing, so euthanasia is not practiced and populations go unchecked except by hunger and misadventure. It's common to keep a dog in the street that you feed sometimes to protect your house, but not common to keep a dog indoors.

And the dogs fight with each other, and sometimes attack people as well.

I thought this dog was beautiful as I approached to take a picture, and I still do. It's a difficult, heartbreaking sight, but it's not possible to help all the dogs.

Still, this one has lovely eyes. I hope she's doing okay.

One Year

I've had my DSLR (Canon xsi) for almost exactly a year now. In some ways, it's gone really fast. In other ways, I can't believe that a whole year has passed. I certainly don't feel older, or even all that different.

But some things certainly have changed. Last August I was in California, I had just finished teaching at a really intense ESL summer camp and I was gearing up for my imminent move to Thailand. Plus, I had a bunch of new fun photo equipment to play with that I still didn't really know how to use.

Now I live in Thailand, I teach children, I'm coming to understand basic Thai, and I've seen and photographed some of the most beautiful places in the world. Plus I've been attempting to post a photo a day for almost six months. And I've learned a lot in so doing. Not all necessarily photo related.

This photo was shot in Alameda, close to sunset I believe. It was a beautiful, clear evening, warmer than average with the feel of summer still in the air. We were walking along the beach with one of Evan's friends.

There were tons of pelicans out in the water and I was doing my best to capture them with my new 55-250 lens racked all the way out to 250mm. I sort of knew about shutter speed and aperture and ISO, but not enough to know that my shutter speed wasn't quite fast enough for a sharp image, and that I should really have gotten closer to the birds instead of zooming in. So the image isn't quite sharp and it's backlit to boot.

But I love that sailboat in the top corner, and the way the light is turning it yellow. And this photo makes me nostalgic for the Bay Area, and the crisp evening air, the ability to walk along the shore in the evening. Like Mexican food, good pizza, the ability to communicate with strangers, and public transportation that gets you pretty close to where you want to go, I miss California sea air, and the moderate range of temperatures.

I may post a few more photos from a year ago in the next couple of months. I'm enjoying the contrast, and the memories.

I can't wait until we're back in a couple months and I can go scouting for pelicans again. I'd love to shoot them properly.

Day 157 (August 15) - Portrait

Yesterday we went to Nakhon Pathom, a town about a half an hour from our little hamlet of SamPhran to hang out with some of the Thai teachers we work with at school. We started out by looking at the palace where the Thai princess lived last year (not sure where she's living now). The grounds were really beautiful, lots of green with fountains and statues. It was nice to be in a park again, as there really aren't any near where we live.

Then we had dinner at a food stall near the large temple there and witnessed some 'flying ice cream.' A very talented Thai gentleman is better with his ice cream scoop than most are with a baseball and can accurately hurl the ice cream about 20 feet into your cup. A little overwhelming while it flies toward you, but impressive. And delicious.

Next up was some drinks and karaoke, as well as a reggae bar. It was one of the best nights out I've had in quite a while!

Anyway, this is one of the Australian teachers at our school, posing on the grounds of the palace. If I could retake this shot, I'd try to separate her from the tree a little more, and get closer. I cropped the shot, the uncropped version is below. I just felt like it was hard to see her beautiful face and great smile in the uncropped one.

Day 156 (August 14) - Bug

A cool bug one of the teachers found at school today. I didn't go any closer than this; it looked pretty fierce.

Day 155 (August 13) - Black and White

Playing with Black and White conversions today, feedback from those more experienced with B&W would be appreciated, as I'm a babe in the woods when it comes to doing without color. I tried to keep a clean look for them, but maybe the blacks are too black?

I am having trouble deciding which I like better for the second image (from yesterday's post). I love the color one (as I said) but I think maybe this simplifies the message in a way that might be needed.

What do you think? Don't hold your punches. Praise is great, but you don't learn anything from it.

Day 154 (August 12) - Say It One More Time?

I know I say this about all my photos, but I really love this one. The expression on her face, the framing by the shoulders, how you can only see one eye of the kids on either side of her . . . I'm in love.

Until I take the next shot that I like even more. I'm fickle that way.

Day 153 (August 11) - A Great Smile

Yesterday we had a mother's day celebration at school. No classes, we just played games all day with the kids. One of the games involved shooting baby powder at them, this is one of the results. Isn't he great?

Day 151 (August 9) - Motorcycles

Not much of a post today, just some motorbikes parked at the supermarket and a view of one of the windows in our house. See you tomorrow!

Day 150 (August 8) - Fragile

Inspired by this photo I found on a blog linked to Flickr, I decided to try out some photos of eggshells, sans concept. So I wasted an egg (sorry, I know, I should have eaten it, or saved it, but I wasn't hungry and I'm lazy), set up the shell next to my large windows in the afternoon light on my blue tile floor and took some photos.

Here are two of them, the second one processed two different ways. I was just mousing over presets in Lightroom, and I liked this one that turned the eggshell white. Honestly, I'm not even sure what settings the preset changed, but I liked the effect. Think I like the original better, but it's always fun to try different options out.

Day 149 (August 8) - More Plumeria, Plus Some News

So, I almost skipped posting today, because I didn't really take any photos, but then I read this (click the link) and it made me smile.

I (sort of, kind of) won a contest! Yay! I was named one of two runners up in Jason D Moore's Big Photo Contest. Which is awesome, and not what I was expecting. Basically I just enter contests because I feel it's good practice in case my photography ever really gets good enough.

If you want to see all the entries, the Flickr group is here. There were some really great photographs submitted, and it's always really interesting to see other people's interpretation of a theme, as opposed to mine. This contest was a 5 photo contest, one photo for each of:

- Aged, Worn, or Old
- Travel or a Journey
- Part of a Whole
- Geometric
- Your Best Shot Ever

Anyway, I hope you have a great Friday. Fridays are always better than average, so enjoy yours to the utmost.

PS The photo is totally unrelated. I was just experimenting with square crops on some plumeria shots.

Day 147 (August 6) - Footwear

You may not think that the subject of this photo is footwear. You would be excused for thinking that the subject is, indeed, Evan, striding toward me, or perhaps the boys monkeying around next to him, or maybe (if you are philosophically inclined) you might think the subject was something larger, something grander. Education, maybe. Or the meeting point of two cultures.

On an average day, you'd be right. But this photo is about footwear. Check out what the boys are wearing on their feet. They wear socks and sandals (often tennis shoes with the backs folded down for easier in and outing as well). Why? Because every time they go into a classroom, they take their shoes off. Their footwear is practical.

In contrast, look at Evan's shoes. Laces, tied tight, no easy in and outing here. He wears these to school every day. And takes them off at least six times a day, to go into classrooms and teach (no shoes in the classroom).

Have I spoken to him about the wisdom of other, easier, more flexible shoes? A thousand times, yes. Does he listen? No.

PS I know the photo above looks grainy and weird, and I don't know why. If you click on it, the larger version looks better, but I tried uploading a version the same size as the container, and it still didn't help. I promise, it looked much nicer before I uploaded it. And the file on my computer still looks nice.

Day 147 (August 5) - Self Portrait

Self portraits are tough. And I've been avoiding doing one for ages now, so I decided that today I was going to bite the bullet. But my vanity didn't really want a face shot.

So I decided to photograph my feet again. But this just reminded me that I should really cut my toenails. And then . . . I decided that I wanted a picture of my hair. Just the way it was, sort of disheveled, falling out of its braid at the end of the workday. After all, today one of my smartest students in the highest level class I teach, told me 'teacher, beautiful hair. color . . . beautiful.'

I know she can make a sentence in English. She just . . . doesn't, unless I make her.

Anyway, back to the picture.

Simple, right?

Well, actually, no. I held the camera behind my head. Too close! said the autofocus. I tried holding it further away. Not enough contrast! said my lens, and searched wildly for something to focus on. After about five minutes of fruitlessly holding the camera up and behind my head, my arms were complaining loudly, and I still had no pictures. Not even any bad pictures, just no pictures.

So I went into the bathroom to use the mirror to get my shot (word to the wise, if you want to take a self portrait, don't choose the back of your head). It still was ridiculously hard, but I did get a few I liked by resting the camera on top of my head and angling it down to the mirror. A bit of a crapshoot, but I guess I learned something:

If you want a picture of your hair, ask someone else. And, self portraits may be for other photographers. I think I may have reached my self portrait peak in 8th grade.

As a thank you for reading all of my mumblings, here are some kitten pictures.

Don't you wish you could fall asleep like that?

Day 146 (August 4) - Mothers

Mothers everywhere are the same: concerned for the safety of their children.

This is a shot of the mother cat glaring balefully at us after we (once again! the nerve) snuck a peek at her kittens.

The bottom image is straight out of camera (well, raw converted to jpeg, don't think I can upload raw files to blogger). The top image I did my basic edits: color, contrast, sharpness, then I wasn't really happy with the position of the cat, so I took the image into Photoshop and stretched the background a little. I also darkened the background to put the focus on the cat. Too much? What do you think? Is that red in the background distracting? I kind of like it, but it does pull the eye away.

Day 145 (August 3) - Through the Window

So, day 1 of 30 days of Blank. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired today, and because today was a non teaching day I neglected to get a shot at school. I'm running out of things to shoot around the house; there are just only so many times that I can post a picture of the cat.

So today I decided to shoot the windows, again, but this time from the inside out, and let the wall inside (which is white in real life, by the way, but not lighted here so it looks black) become a frame for them. And as I have promised to do for the month of August, here is a before and after for you of the original raw file, and then my edited version. Pretty standard edits today, the toughest part was getting the contrast curve in Lightroom right.

Thirty Days of Blank

I've got a problem, and it's called Google Reader. The problem is, I'm addicted. And every blog post brings a link to another amazing blog (most about photography, I won't lie) and I think, oh, cool, I'll just add that blog to my reader too, and then suddenly, there are over 300 new blog posts in my reader and I am drowning.

But that's a story for another day.

So, I was in my Google Reader, and one thing led to another, and suddenly I was at a blog that I had never seen before, one that belonged to a person I had never met in the real world, and one that I was unlikely ever to meet. And here's the link for you.

This person suggested doing 30 days of Blank. Of something. Anything. Whatever you choose. Starting August first.

I'm a little late, but I thought I'd do 30 days of before and afters, showing a little more of the processing I'm doing on my photos. Maybe even including some Photoshop. Starting tomorrow. Let me know what you think, and if this inspires you to do 30 days of Blank!

Blogger Image Sharpness: Can Someone Explain it to Me?

Do a little experiment for me, if you will. See that picture down below?

Click on it. I promise, it won't bite. Just one little click.

See how much sharper it is after you click on it? Why is that?

It's the same size. Same number of pixels, everything. Can someone help me fix this sharpness issue? I hate having my images look softer than they really are. And I don't want to ask you to click on every single picture.

Day 144 (August 2) - Vision vs Reality

When I saw this little hanging ornament, we were at a restaurant. I had the idea for this image: out of focus background on the left, your eye comes to rest on the (rather pretty) ornament on the right. But I wasn't sure I would get the image I saw in my head. There were distractions to the right, above and below, and I couldn't move much to get the framing I wanted.

I took the shot anyway, and I'm okay with the framing, I managed to avoid most of the distractions although I still got a bit of the tree on the right in the frame. Still, the background is so busy, and lighter than the ornament, that I almost deleted this in camera. But something stopped me. I knew I could always delete it later.

Then I got home, and I still kind of liked it. So I processed it to see if I could save it.

I still don't love it. I wouldn't print it. But I'm glad it's seen the light of day here on the blog.