Easing Back In



I can’t believe it’s been about seven months since my last post! Where have I been? At work mostly.

Last year our company made some changes. For several months, we adjusted to new schedules, deadlines, teams, flows. For awhile, I couldn’t garner the energy to do anything outside of work. But now, I think we are settling back into a steady rhythm.

I’ve been missing photography. It’s funny how much the act of focusing makes me happy. I enjoy sitting and taking in all the light and shadows and shapes. I enjoy composing in my head. I enjoy framing something boring and making it a little more interesting. I’m not great at it, but I enjoy the striving to be better.

That’s been on my mind a lot these days. Striving to be better.

So I am back. Still busy at my day job but determined to get back into my groove.




Two from Safari Park

Flamingo island
Mama warthog
The San Diego Zoo has a sister park, about 30 miles north, called Safari Park. It is where the zoo conducts conservation programs. Safari Park also offers several ways to experience its grounds. You can just walk around the park or take the tram, and see the animals as you would in a traditional zoo. Or you can take a truck ride into the main space and see some of the animals up close and personal. Or you can stay overnight in tents within the park and enjoy your evening meals while listening to animal specialists. All of these experiences are to help educate people about the animals and the importance of conservation, especially of endangered species.

The San Diego Zoo is lush and tropical
One of the perks of becoming a member of the San Diego Zoo is that you automatically are a member of the Safari Park, too. I enjoy visiting both.

The Zoo feels more like a tropical place with lush landscapes, lots of trees, and winding paths.

The Safari Park is hot and dry
The Park feels like a dry African desert. Getting to the Park is harder because it’s located in a more remote part of San Diego county in order to accommodate the huge open savanna-like area in the back of the park. That is where several animal species live together as they would in Africa or Asia. And several other smaller animal exhibits dot the rest of the park.

Both places are great for exploring. And I must say, the San Diego Zoo/Safari Park has done a great job in creating more natural spaces for animals over the years. Gone are the small, boring, plastered enclosures. Thank goodness! For the animals and the visitors.

Palm Fibres

Close-up of palm tree

Hoping to get surf shots, I went to a local beach Monday. Even though it was foggy, I tried to get interesting photos. But most of them turned out pretty generic.

So I turned around and shot a lot of the plants, trees, and rocks in the area.With an overcast sky, I was able to pick up lots of texture.

This is a close-up of a living palm tree, at the juncture where the leaves fold out from the trunk. From afar, the palm tree looks like a regular palm tree, but up close, you can discover texture, movement, layers, and color. This image almost feels like a textile composition.

Tinged With Blue

Close-up of succulent
Close-up of succulent

As autumn approaches and the gray clouds take residence here, I realize that I can stop being afraid of flat or filtered light.

Earlier this year, I didn’t know how to work with flat light well. I grumbled about it in June/July (ex: here and here). But now, I know I need to choose my subjects accordingly. I shot this plant in natural filtered light, then applied some post-processing in Photoshop. And the textures really made a difference, leaving more for the eye to see.

I like how details pop more in overcast conditions. Subtle striations and ripples are more obvious. So now that the days are getting shorter, and the sun is less intense, I’m a little more interested in textures rather than contrast.

Recently, my husband challenged me to shoot more color images. I told him I’d give it a go. I guess I am slightly resistant to doing color. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because my early photographic education (studying graphic communications back in my college days) was in black and white film photography. I did not take any color photography. So I do need the practice.

Mountain Shroud

Black and white photo of desert mountain partly shrouded in clouds
Desert mountain partly shrouded in clouds

This was taken with my iPhone on the road trip back home. I was lucky that a summer storm hovered over the desert. The clouds created a beautiful, changing display of light and shadow. And some managed to cling to this mountain range.

Quiet Canyon

black and white photo of a valley
Hiking among the wildflowers in a quiet canyon

Here is a quiet place, but you wouldn’t guess that I was with hundreds of visitors from all over the world. As I hiked through Zion Park with my friend, I was struck by the numbers of people, young and old, standing in awe before canyons, waterfalls and meadows. Yes, we all need nature.

I live in the city, and I enjoy city life. I work mostly indoors, and I sit a lot. But I need to remember to break my routine and connect with nature.

Everything about my biology requires it. I need sunlight for good health, fresh air for oxygen, open spaces for my eyes to work well, variable terrain for an agile body, a changing environment to challenge my brain.

Sometimes, modern life makes me forget that I’m human. But no matter what, I will always be beholden to nature.

UPDATE 10/20/15: I added a sepia-toned version of the above photo. After many tries, this was the technique that worked for me. In Photoshop, I just added a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer, chose the Sepia filter option (color slider at 100%), and changed the Layer option to Soft Light (Opacity slider at 100%). You can also use Overlay if you wish. Thanks to John for challenging me. (NOTE: I’ve noticed that I get better results in the shadows, if I clip the heaviest blacks.)

Quiet Valley (sepia)