Tag Archives: Napa Valley

The Tree Continued…

Not sure which composition I like better… yesterdays or todays. What I do know is I love this scene…

I like the wide view of the vines, slightly curved on this sweeping hill and the movement the clouds in the sky suggest is happening… I like the dark rich blue framed by the whote puffy clouds, and yet there is a hint of grey… coming rain maybe… I like how the sun was brighter on the right of the frame than the left.

Not sure which one you like better? The vertical or the landscape… I guess it comes down to personal taste.

Thinking about doing this shot on canvas for The Gallery. Think the texture would really enhance the finished product.


I’ve Been Dreaming of a Tree… and Napa delivered!

The past few years I have been haunted by a tree. I’ve had a vision of a tree, silhouetted, at the top of a hill against an amazing, dramatic sky… Everywhere I go, I look for this shot. It’s driven me to drive up roads in Vermont, down Valley’s in the Southwest… and I’ve searched and searched.

I had the pleasure of shooting with Richard Small a photographer from Santa Rosa (who I met and shot with in Moab last year) again last week. While we were visiting a vineyard in Napa Valley, Richard mentioned some rolling hills… and a tree. I don’t think he finished his sentence before I was in my car, peeling up dust and heading down the road. Pulling off to the side of the road and walking the area a bit, I knew I had a magic moment. While it mihgt not be the tree shot of my dreams, it would surely stoke the fires… The vines ran directly toward the tree and the sky was changing rapidly as clouds came and went across a vivid deep blue sky.

I ended up shooting over a hundred images of this scene. Vertical, landscape, zoomed in, zoomed out. I walked tot he left, to the right, up the hill a bit, and across the street to stand on a bluff. I knew I had to capture this scene in a bunch of different ways. This is the first of many finishes, and I love it… It hasn’t satiated the “tree dream” but I can rest, and pause, and look at this one, knowing its a very special shot.


An instant favorite of mine…

Been a rough few days here in Santa Rosa. Constant rain, punctured by heavy downpours. NOT so good for a landscape photographer…

Luckily, we haven’t been hanging out in the local bar whining about the weather. We had an opportunity yesterday to visit a few classic and hot rod car locations which, believe it or not, was helped by the rain. Wet pavement creates reflections and mood… which we had plenty of.

We hit two locations Fred Stokes, and Vern Tardel’s locations. These two guys have devoted their lives to restoring classic and hot rod cars. Now I am the furthest thing from being a gearhead, my brother Jon got all the mechanical genes (thankfully I have him in the family!) but being around these awesome machines was simply amazing. Their color, their shape, their forms, made the lens beg for more.

At Vern’s place, he took this old car out in the drizzle, parked it in his vineyard and left it to us to shoot. Got low with a 14-24mm lens, and shot a 7 frame HDR image. Why HDR? Well, the sky was pretty blown out… grey, grey and more grey. I knew the HDR process would bring out the drama in the clouds and add another dimension to this photo.

After finishing it using Color Efex Pro 3’s filters (used a bunch) I just fell in love with the image. Has a World War II feel to it… as if a bunch of soldiers had left their vehicle to go look for bad guys… One of my favorite things about a great photograph is inventing a backstory to what’s been captured… I think emotionally, it connects us to a photo.

Can’t wait to print this one big. Has alot of character in it… which is why it became an instant favorite of mine…



Was supposed to head back out to another coastal shoot tonight, but instead a steady pouring rain descended on Napa. So instead we went in search of rolling hills, covered in vines, maybe some mist as well. Sorta accomplished the mission, for awhile, the rain was coming down so hard that water was literally spilling off my lens hood (had the old shower cap front he hotel on the body, always carry one, hey, ya never know)

With the rain falling the way it was, I knew this would be perfect for a black and white conversion… felt it would better fit the mood of the moment…