Joan Didion, an American author best known for her novels and literary journalism, once described a ‘bankrupt morning’ as “…where you wake up, devoid of inspiration, for your creative projects.”  She also said, “Nothing is critic-proof.”

I saw her description of a bankrupt morning several months ago, wrote it down, and placed it in a prominent place on my computer desk.  I look at it every time I sit down to work on pictures, and I think about it every time I pick up a camera.  When I started this journey, there was so much to learn and I was so excited and I didn’t have a problem motivating myself to get out, find subjects, and take pictures.  Every now and then, I’d take a break and step away from my cameras for a day or two.  I’d do something else or go visit my photo mentors, and motivation would return.  This week was different.

In the early part of the week, I felt good.  One morning, I saw the clouds over the Sierras so I drove to my favorite pano spot and made this panorama.


As a self-challenge, I’m going to make a pano from this spot at least once a week for the coming year. I hope that Mother Nature cooperates and gives me variety in the scene.

I headed for Taylor Creek to see if the Kokanee were running and attracting the bears.  I found that the Forest Service closed a major portion of Taylor Creek to protect the animals from the stupid people who don’t know how to behave.  I wasn’t in the mood to walk the trails by the Visitor’s Center, so I went to the Big Meadow trail head and hiked up the hill.  I found a little wildlife and tried some panos with trees in the foreground.


In addition to working on my shooting technique, I am experimenting with different ratios. This one is 5:1. I wasn’t sure how much the trees would impact the view. I think it’s a good balance, but wish there was more fall color.


This is a 3:1 ratio, and I was a little higher, so the trees are not as dominant in the scene. I like it, too.


These guys don’t sit still often, unless they think you don’t see them and they can stay hidden.


I tracked this little fella’ for a couple minutes, and he held still long enough for this image.


And this small Chipmunk scurried a bit, and then stopped in this spot – the worst light in the world (bright background and sunny spot on the rock, with him in full shadow). But I got him anyway.

But then, things changed.  I would wake up motivated, but easily talked myself out of going out.  I sat at the computer and started to play with some older images – ones I hadn’t made time to edit, but ran out of emotional energy after a short time.  I was in a PHOTOFUNK!  I stepped away from photography, but found I wasn’t motivated elsewhere, either.  I turned to the books.  Trying to find a little motivation, I opened those expensive ‘how to take this or that picture’ and ‘learn your camera’ books.  I found a new tool in Camera Raw, and tried it out.  I’d been wrestling with an image I made a few weeks ago – great sky or great foreground, but not both at the same time.  This new tool allowed me to get both.  What do you think?


I was in the Pine Nut Mountains, looking northwest. This is a pano made from 10 images, and I shot it for the sky, but I wanted a nice foreground, too. No, I’m never satisfied.  But I’m happy I found the tool that allowed me to get the sky and the foreground.

And I got a call from a customer who had ordered some large prints.  He was back from hunting and we arranged for delivery – he loved the prints.

In spite of these successes, I still have a little bit of PHOTOFUNK left.  I’ll get over it, I know.  I have a show in a couple weeks, and need to get some printing done.  The creative juices will flow – I know it.  And there are those horses and raptors waiting to have a picture taken.

Thanks for listening and ENJOY!  PHOTOROGR

…busy busy…

Fall is in the air and I’ve been very busy.  I’ve been to Taylor Creek a couple times and still empty for bears there.  I was invited to a Nevada Department of Wildlife bear release, though.  Tough environment for shooting (tall grass and lots of people), but I got a couple good shots with the bear dogs.




During my recent trips to Taylor Creek, I tried a few panoramas.  I like the result!


This is my favorite from that day. The panorama is made from several individual images, and was shot from one of the observation decks near the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. The view is north, toward Emerald Bay. I have a couple more panos of Taylor Creek in the Landscapes and scenery page.

The ducks cooperated, however.  Here are a few duck images from Taylor Creek.


This group of Mallards was downstream, but the big lens brought them close!


This guy swam straight to me. The people on the trail thought he wanted his picture taken!


And these guys get fairly close.


A beautiful bird.

I also took a ride with my ATV group last week. Tough trail and not many pictures.  Here’s one of the places we stopped and turned around.  You can see why in these pictures.


This is the view of the trail ahead of us. Turning around was a challenge.


This is the view behind us. The picture doesn’t do the tough terrain justice.

But I found a beautiful Skunk Cabbage and had to take a picture. Skunk Cabbage gets its name from the pungent odor the plant emits – people don’t like to be near it – but if you need to attract pollenating insects into your garden, a couple of these are welcome. They like wetlands, however, so don’t plant it in your desert backyard (like mine).


I had a great time editing this picture. In this version, I added a little texture to the background, just for fun.


I used a technique I call ‘Dreamscape’ to create this image, and enhanced it with a little oversaturation. I used this picture for my ‘Fall’ photo challenge submittal, because the really great fall colors didn’t arrive until the day after my challenge was due.

But here is the beautiful fall color in the Carson Valley. These colors were gone a couple days after I made this image.


These trees surround an industrial park, and are a very popular fall color subject. I timed my visit perfectly this year. Check out the Landscapes and Scenery page for a couple more fall images.

I made a couple other photo trips last week.  I went to Reno and took pictures of the Virginia Street bridge and up to Virginia City for a photo walk.  The bridge was lots of fun, and I’m not done with those pictures yet, so check back.  Virginia City was cold and rainy, and I didn’t get the shots I wanted.  I had a great time, however, and want to thank Gordon’s Photo Service and Tamron Lenses for the photo walk and the wild horses for the quick shoot on the way up the hill to Virginia City.


This doesn’t tell the story, but it’s the only picture I have ready. Thanks to my friends Pete and John for making this shoot possible.


From the interior of the beautiful Catholic Church in Virginia City, and probably the best image I’ve ever made there.


The beautifully preserved license plate is part of a sidewalk in Virginia City.


These two were on a hillside on the road to Virginia City. While it may appear to be the case, I did not interrupt their meal.

So that’s my journey in the last couple weeks – or at least that part I’m sharing with you.  Check back for more Virginia Street bridge and Virginia City pictures later this week!