Stormy Clouds

Cloud volcano and chasing stormy clouds

Image of stormy clouds


I LOVE California.  I love the weather, the people and the inexhaustible variety of  almost everything.  From food, to landscape, to entertainment options – the choices are varied and delightfully bountiful.  California is a wonderful place to call home.

There is, however, a constant absence here which I note quite frequently: the absence of clouds.  Yes, I am spoiled and I do want it all.

As someone who is constantly chasing a pretty landscape picture, I find myself wanting to scream at times.  You know, those times when you have a beautiful shot just begging to be captured: the sunset hits the mountains just at the right angle, the flowers glow, the water shimmers and a bird flies as on cue into your frame.  You take the shot and end up with a beautiful composition, great colors, dreamy lighting and… a gaping blue hole up top.  The missing sky.   It is painful, endlessly frustrating and, I must admit,  I have even considered pasting skies in.  Yes, yes I did.  I even have a full stock of skies for pasting.  I just can’t do it or, maybe, I can’t do it just yet.  Another year or two of this drought and I’ll be ready though.

For now, I chase clouds wherever I find them.  This amazing stormy cloud covered mountain in the Grand Tetons looked just like a cloud volcano.  It was a great sight to see a great privilege to photograph.

Snake River Bend


View of the Snake River

One of our many stops,  while driving through the beautiful Grand Teton National Park, was a vista point overlooking the Snake River Bend.

Snake River was our companion throughout the drive as well as a reason for many stop just to take in the views.  Seemingly calm at first glance, it provided white water rafting stretches as well as endless photography, swimming and  fishing opportunities for anyone equipped for the occasion.

Image of Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Yoming



Lone in Grand Teton


Lone tree image, grand teton national park


While planning our trip to Yellowstone, we had to consider many factors due to sheer size of the park; we ended up settling with the south entrance via Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I have to admit that the decision was largely due to browsing the “Images” tab on Google search results for the Grand Teton National Park, rather than traveler reviews, which I personally find  somewhat inaccurate.

I stopped reading the reviews after I came across something along the lines of “we found the park somewhat underwhelming” and just decided to look for myself, since what I’m interested in most is what’s there to see.           Great idea, if I say so myself!

It took us hours and hours to get to our destination since we pulled over just about every 5-10 minutes to take in yet another amazing view. Perhaps, we’re just easily impressed, but I’d say we were pretty overwhelmed by Grand Teton National Park the entire time.

Yellowstone National Park, Upper Falls Waterfall Image

Upper Falls, Yellowstone National Park

The Grandest of Yellowstone National Park Waterfalls

After a LONG break of 15 months I finally figured out what’s missing… and that would be my weekly/semiweekly post to this blog.  To make a long story short and after elimination of all of the excuses, the consensus leads me to a very positive outlook:

  •  LIFE happens, not much you can do about it
  •  It’s really not that bad to step away and re-evaluate your work and your direction
  •  If you come back, you come back hungry and feeling deprived and that is ALWAYS a plus in the world of artful expression

That just about wraps it up, so back to photography.
The good thing is that, while I had no time to process, post or even look at most of my images, I MADE time and opportunity to take them; a visit to the Yellowstone National Park back in July left me simply breathless.  I knew it would be incredible, but this enchanted place by far exceeded every one of my expectations and left me utterly overwhelmed. I just cannot wait to go back. Soon.
I processed this image first because I envisioned it on the spot: the green arrow of water is naturally green, the pines (both dead and alive) are naturally opposing the flow of the waterfall. The grandeur of this scene, however, can never be adequately represented in this form, as its missing the sound, the smell and the ache of your own body to complete it.

This is as close as I can get to embodiment of the Upper Falls of Yellowstone National Park, one of the most haunting places I have ever had a privilege to see.

Yellowstone National Park, Upper Falls Waterfall Image

Thistle Flower

Simplicity: Thistle Flower

Thistle Flower

Japanese Maple Tree

 Maple Tree Leaves

Japanese maple tree is one of my favorite potted plants in the garden.

The tree’s delicate  leaves start out green and then turn into most incredible shades of purple-red;  the transformation is  a joy to admire and, of course, to photograph.

Trees. Image of Japanese maple tree.

I’m currently trying to conquer my new Canon 70-200 mm F/2.8 lens and, for the first time, I feel the equipment fighting back which took me completely by surprise.  After waiting for over a year to get this monster, I got completely intimidated the very first time I picked it up.  It is HEAVY!  3.28 pound in weight seemed like a bit much for me at first but, after seriously considering returning it,  I decided to suck it up, toughen up and find a way to make it work.

This maple tree image is  the product of my efforts and I have a feeling that it’s just the beginning of a very special relationship.


Macro Photography

Close enough but not too close:  a simple macro photography hack


Photographer or not, it’s difficult not to pause when viewing a really good macro image.

Oftentimes,the first questions that comes to mind when viewing a product of macro photography is: “what is it?”. For me, it’s almost always followed by the “wow!!!”, “that’s incredible!!!”, “amazing!!!” and, moments later, by “how do they do that???”, “I want to do that!!!”and, of course, a random “he-he-he” at the end.

I see macro photography as it’s own entity within the photo world; as with all specialties, it requires years of practice and commitment, love for the subject and the usual amount of pain that comes with dedication. Therefore, I almost feel bad writing how I cheat with macro, but,  I honestly disclose it as a hack; this approach to macro photography is purely experimental and the results are perfectly acceptable to me for their intended purposes (with allowable room for disagreements.)

Flower image. White apple blossom flower image.

All (99%) of my flower/fauna images are shot with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens.  But, there IS a catch.  It has a Hoya X 4 Macro filter attached! The filter reduces focal distance, allowing you to get much closer to the subject and capture small things with greater detail as well a whole new perspective.

I find the my Hoya X 4 Macro filter combined with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 a perfect companion for flower photography. These give me  just enough distance to isolate distractions and the f/1.4 of my lens allows  the added flexibility with light as well as creativity.
In no way do I think that a macro filter is an all-out alternative to dedicated macro lenses, but it is a very inexpensive and effective way to experience the world in a different way: the macro way.   Beware though – macro photography is EXTREMELY addictive. And after my macro photography adventures I will be looking for a macro lens soon since the world of small things has a very firm grip on me that in my usual struggles against my photography gear wants, I find my fighting efforts more and more futile with every shot I take.

Haleakala volcano

Haleakala Volcano Summit

Haleakala National Park – the Volcano Adventure

The drive to Haleakala Volcano Summit is one of the most unforgettable drives my family has ever had. The trip took place during our second visit to Hawaii, when we obediently followed a friend’s firm order of “ABSOLUTELY MUST SEE THIS PLACE”.

After spending some time on the island and enjoying our usual “get away from reality activities” for a couple of days, we decided to see what all the fuss was about; semi-skeptical and risking a lost day of the perfect paradise experience, we set off on our volcano adventure, mostly, I think, because it sounded cool. Vol-ca-nooooooooo.

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Happy Rottweiler Chasing Birds on the Beach


Dog Chasing Birds on the Beach

Rottweiler, the flying dog. Image of a rottweiler ( i think ) dog chasing after the birds on a beach in Pismo, California.

Silly dog, I’m pretty sure it was a Rottweiler or a mix,  happily chasing the birds in one of my favorite places: Pismo Beach, California.

Sometimes ideas are born without much effort; I was having lunch with a friend and I went on as usual, raving about the colors, the smells and the magical feeling in the air at sunset in Pismo Beach…. I love how true friends just put up with you (almost unconditionally) and endure endlessly whatever you have to spill for the day, week, year, or lifetime. That particular day I was reminiscing about Pismo Beach and  we share mutual disappointment , no, more like borderline outrage, about the recent discovery of this hidden gem of a travel destination. Honestly, it is incredibly annoying is seeing your secret place publicized openly and in great detail on Yahoo News as a featured article, several weeks in a row!!!

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Motion Blur, Merced River


Visiting Yosemite


when visiting a visual icon like Yosemite National Park, one is automatically drawn to the views  which are familiar. After years of looking at images created by the masters who, at one time or another, also  witnessed  the same grand vision through a lens of their camera or measured scales with their paintbrush, carefully composing  their gems on canvas,  it is practically  impossible to look away because you suddenly find yourself inside a masterpiece.

Views like  Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite  Meadows and a ridiculous number of other astonishing sights  are pretty hard to keep the lens away from. My seconds, third, fourth, fifth (I have lost track of the number of times I have been utterly overwhelmed by these views to a stupor )  I’ve often joked that Yosemite is a place where one can set a camera on automatic, put auto-focus on, close one’s eyes and start pressing the shutter button…and still get beautiful  images. I have to try it one day.

I love Yosemite_ Uncommon Photography Spots by Milieux Photography

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