Stay a While

Let’s take a trip back in time, shall we?


Let’s jump into the convertible, donning our cat eye sunglasses and wrapping our beehives up in scarves, and drive to Vegas.


I know a place our two we could stay.


Let’s splurge for a room with a color TV and air conditioning.


After a few days, we’ll head home. Sunburned and less a few dollars in our pockets. But smiling all the way.

We stayed in downtown Las Vegas at the El Cortez Hotel, now on the national historic register as it’s the oldest casino still standing, since 1941.


I loved being in the older part of the city. I could not get over these hotels that looked like just like something out of the 60’s, complete with their neon signs and some still advertising RCA color TVs. Every image just screams for vintage processing, doesn’t it?

I could also not get over the light. Even in the morning, there is an intensity to it like nothing I’ve ever seen. Some of the images I captured look more like they were lighted by flash than the sun.

Downtown Las Vegas was a great place to be, considering I wasn’t interested in gambling or shopping. I was happy to wander around the streets and capture these hints of the Las Vegas of 50 years ago.

On the Way Home

I think one of the things I love about the Lights of Night is the storytelling it affords. There is something about looking at a building with the lights on inside that sparks my interest. Are the doors and windows open, inviting me in? Or are they closed, keeping me out? Who are the people around? And, as a photographer, I’m a bit more invisible. People don’t notice me taking photos at night, from the shadows.

This streetcorner shot from San Francisco is a great example of a story waiting to be told. There is the store, inviting you to stop in on the way home, and yet the the business man hurries right by. What story do you tell, from this image?

Handheld, ISO400, 45mm, f/4.0, 1/40

Shot during the blue hour, there was enough light from the store and the sky that I didn’t even have to change to my 35mm “night lens” to shoot this handheld. The slower shutter speed needed to get the exposure actually helps with the impression of the man hurrying home.

The blue hour is a great time to try your hand at night photography if you don’t want to haul around the tripod. Have you tried it yet?

Photo-Heart Connection: September

No Parking.

Such a definite statement. No ifs, ands or buts. Just “No Parking.”

Do you notice how nicely it is said though? A painted sign against the stone. The beautiful flowers along the wall. It seems to be saying, “No Parking. But really, why would you want to park here anyway, blocking this beautiful scene? Enjoy the flowers.”

I like this straightforward, yet pleasant message. No apologies, no beating around the bush. How often do we want to say “No” to something, yet we feel awkward saying the words or obligated to answer with something else. We feel as if we must explain.

But really… would a simple, pleasant, confident “No” work? I’m thinking maybe it would. We should not feel uncomfortable using it more often. With a smile and with an attitude of respect for the person we are answering. Like this “No Parking” sign, maybe we can make our answer of “no” something beautiful rather than something we would hide in a dark alley.

“No Parking.” I am happy to oblige. How about you?

This image is from the town of Haworth and it jumped out at me when I was going through my photos the other day. The message was just so clear. So this month I didn’t end up going through all of my September photos for the Photo-Heart Connection. I have them with me on the trip and planned to, but I didn’t need to. This message came to me beautifully gift wrapped with pots and flowers and a birdhouse. A “no” never looked so good. It reminded me that we can make an answer someone might not want to hear in a strong, confident and respectful way. And when we do, it changes everything.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? I would love to hear. Bring on those strong, confident messages!

Unlearning the Rules

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

I read this fantastic quote this morning, in Life, Paint and Passion by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley. The words in the book and this quote connected to me on a deep level. The idea of unlearning the rules that limit us, of throwing away the strictures of what others define as “right” and “wrong” appeals to me. It has been foundational to my own creative journey.

Do you notice the rules you follow, every day? I’m not talking about laws that are there for the good of society, but cultural rules. Social rules. Family rules. Artistic rules.

There are so many rules. Simple little things, like “don’t wear white after Labor Day” that become ingrained in our head. That make us feel as if we are doing something wrong if we break them. Really, wearing white year round would not kill anyone. But try to go against those little rules we’ve picked up, and see what kind of internal struggle they bring up. The challenges to your confidence and competence. Yikes.

Rules can help us learn how to interact with others. They can help us get things done efficiently. But they can also put us in a box, where we are afraid to step out and be who we really are. Express who we really are.

What will happen if you break the rules? I don’t know, for you. But for me, I feel uncomfortable for a little while, but then I feel free. Free to be who I am, create what I want, in a way that works for me.

Why don’t you try it, and see?

PS – You know I love a good creative book! I recently completed The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes and added it to my Book Recommendations list. Have you noticed the “Resources” section I’ve added to the blog sidebar? You can find my Book Recommendations list there, along with other resources I use and recommend.

The Replicator

We close out Exploring with a Camera: Repetition today. It’s been a fun one! It’s been interesting to see how repetition can be both obvious and subtle. After this exploration, I will be more aware of the subtle repetitions that can really a tie a composition together. How about you?

To finish up our study of repetition, I picked this image from San Francisco. There are two repeating elements in this, both the poster repeated and the repetition of the horizontal lines across the frame. Even with the repetition, there is great contrast in this image too: Triadic color contrast of the purple and green, the vertical lines of the pipes breaking the horizontal lines, and the weeds adding a bit of nature in the urban environment. The combination of repetition and contrast makes an interesting image to me. It wasn’t until after I had chosen the photo that I realized the title on the poster, The Replicator, fits perfectly with the theme of repetition. I love it when that happens!

Today is the last day you can link in and share your study of repetition. You are invited to join us! Take a few moments of your time and visit those who have linked in as well, there are some wonderful examples here. It is always good to see multiple points of view!

Have a great weekend! I'll be off looking for repetition myself, in the form of hot air balloons at the Northwest Art & Air Festival.

PS - Don't forget to enter the giveaway I have going on right now. You have until the end of the day on Monday, 27 August to enter.

Warning Signs

Imagine you are walking down a path and you see this warning sign:

What do you do? Do you turn around and head home? Do you continue on, taking every precaution? Or do you wing it, figuring that you’ll be ok? We encountered this sign on one of our hikes in Glacier National Park. There were several options available to us, to avoid bears:
1. Don’t hike, because then you are sure to avoid bears.
2. Get a bell and make lots of noise, to warn the bears of your coming and scare them away.
3. Purchase the bear repellent spray for $49.95, to spray a bear if it comes near you.

Since we weren’t doing any serious back country hiking, just short hikes popular with the tourists, we opted to purchase a bear bell and continue. We already have our own noisemaker with us, in the form of an 11-year-old boy, so we figured we would be ok.

Bear Precautions: An 11-year-old boy and a bell

We were fine. No bears sighted on our hikes! Some beautiful things sighted along the path though, like gorgeous wildflowers and light dancing on the leaves. Experiences we would have never had, if we stayed in the developed areas bears avoid.


We could have been warned away by the sign. We could have avoided any chance of meeting bears by not going down the path. Hiking in bear country is a good analogy for living your life. Do you avoid any chance of danger, by not going down the path at all? Or do you weigh the options and risks, and move forward down the path with some precautions?

I especially love the phrase on the sign: “There is no guarantee of your safety when hiking or camping in bear country.” Really, there is no guarantee of your safety anywhere.

There is one absolute guarantee though, if you decide to avoid the path, you will miss some wonderful views.