Just around Thanksgiving in 2019, I visited Utah to experience some early winter landscapes. I wasn’t looking for anything specific – my desire then was to enjoy being out there. I went galavanting around the state with a friend from Salt Lake City.
On a cloudy morning, the San Francisco skyline contrasts sharply with the brooding skies. I caught this moment a few weeks ago when returning from East Bay on a rainy morning. I love light on such mornings.
You might have noticed that it has been very quiet around here! Well, I went for a short trip to Alaska to take in the brutally cold winter weather, and take some photos. I had originally planned on visiting Alaska at the end of 2022, but the universe conspired against my plans. Alaska is one … Continue reading An Alaskan Sojourn
I was skimming through my photo library and came across this image from my most recent trip to Iceland. Given it didn’t get dark till very late, these photos were made in the wee hours of the morning. I was sitting down and having coffee in the hotel’s dining room, when the light caught my eye. It is nothing special, and yet it is.
Alaska is one of my favorite destinations, especially during fall and winter. When visiting the state back in 2018, I came across a usual sight — surfers paddling into the middle of the the Turnagian Arm. I normally associate surfing with warmer destinations such as Hawaii, Southern California, Australia’s Gold Coast and Portugal. So to … Continue reading Surfing in Alaska!
If you live in San Francisco, you are often reminded of the gift that is Ocean Beach. It is one of my favorite places for a walk, where I contemplate and sometimes I take photographs.
On one of my many visits to Ocean Beach, I came across an enormous swarm of Snowy Plovers who were busy enjoying breakfast. A portion of Ocean Beach is designated as a Snowy Plover Protection Area. Snowy Plover is a small bird that needs vast swaths of open beaches to feed on kelp flies. They have been severely under threat for a while, but their numbers have recently rebounded.
I just loved the way the swarm of cute little critters looked. I had a 24-90 lens attached to my Leica SL, and I was far enough away to use the 90mm focal length to capture this photograph. Since it was very early in the morning, I captured this image with the lens wide-open at f4 and 1/160th of a second at ISO 50.
This image has sat in my “to edit” folder since December 2019. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to go “monochrome” and keep the high-key look of the original color negative. The lack of color allowed me to obscure the waves and the distant Marin headlands into subtle outlines.
I like the final result enough to share with you, and I hope you like it as much as I do.
February 11, 2023. San Francisco
At the very end of 2022, I wrote about my photographic journey and how it has allowed me to look at both the world and life in new ways. It has allowed me to embrace imperfections, my own and in others. Of course, it could just be that my inner monologue influenced my photography.
Regardless, many of you wrote wanting to see more of my photos from 2022. There are quite a few favorites, so instead of creating a long string of photos, I roped in my friend Felix and had him create a video presentation of the best of my 2022 photos! Sit back, relax, and enjoy!
February 4, 2023, San Francisco.
When visiting Alaska back in 2018, I took a helicopter flight over a glacier. I took a lot of photographs from the air, but never really got around to editing them. I am usually plodding and lazy about editing my photos.
This past weekend, however, I got a burst of energy and inspiration, that allowed me to edit a few photos from that trip. I have a complete set of images and will share them for the rest of the week.
I have shared two photos: the first (above) is of a near-naked sand bar, and the other (below) is of land where time has allowed life to flourish. These are B&W photos, but they have a slight glacial blue tint to them — my homage to the mighty Knik Glacier, which like glaciers worldwide, is receding.
It is not a secret — I am woefully addicted to snowscapes and winter wonderland photos. Give me snow, ice, fog, and gray skies, and I am happy as a clam. I can spend hours in freezing cold, or raging storms without as much as a peep of complaint. What I am terrible at — … Continue reading Scenes from Winter Wonderlands
Time has a strange habit of slinking away. It does so quietly that we don’t notice it till it’s too late. And what you are left with are fragments, or what we grandiosely call memories. You remember some days, a few moments, and a handful of faces, and they all add up to become your past. Today is one of those red letter days — fifteen years ago, I faced mortality, and somehow I came out on the other side. Looking back, what seemed like a dark period in my life has turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me.
It taught me the lessons we learn late in life early: excess, perfection, and accumulation are fair-weather friends. I learned that by giving time to play its hand, I would stop being impatient. Life, as it turned out, has been much better than how I had planned it. And more importantly, you are better off finding comfort in the company of imperfection.
For the past decade and a half, one day at a time, and one step at a time, I have slowly learned to embrace my own imperfections. What has been harder is letting go of judging others. because of their imperfections. This is an ongoing process, made harder because emotions like love carry the weight of expectations. A journey’s final destination has to be a place where everything and everyone has space to be less than perfect.
I woke up today wondering how I would remember the past twelve months. Would my work-life transition be part of the memory? Or the amount of time I spent in contemplation? Or the books I read? Or the place I visited? Or was it the time I spent with family and friends? As the rain beat down on the window and I looked through the thousands of droplets of rainwater streaming down, it all became too clear: my photography was a visual manifestation of my journey on the road to embracing my own imperfections.
“Photography is painting with light!,” Czech artist and photographer, Miroslav Tichy once said, adding. “The blurs, the spots, those are errors! But the errors are part of it, they give it poetry and turn it into painting.” This is such a liberating insight — for photography in specific, but also for life in general. It is one of the reasons why I stopped identifying where I clicked the camera, instead focusing on what I felt.
Wabi-Sabi is about coming to terms with the imperfection of life itself. Koren reminds us in the book that “reason is always subordinate to perception.” At least for the artist or creator. For a person of science, reason and logic has to take precedence. In a weird way, as someone living on the edges of science and creativity, it has allowed me to look at our changing world without judgment and with a bit more clarity about what really matters.
“Things wabi-sabi have no need for the reassurance of status or the validation of market culture. They have no need for documentation of provenance. Wabi-sabi-ness in no way depends on knowledge of the creator’s background or personality. In fact, it is best if the creator is no distinction, invisible, or anonymous.”
In 2022, my visual vocabulary found appreciation for error and blur, and, more importantly, I learned that reality is just a perception. I don’t know whether it is my own internal growth or my mind’s reaction to a world emitting too much information, and the only way to deal with it is by abstracting it all. Or it just is that I have found the by-lane I need to veer in order to continue on my visual journey.