The Art of Seeing Blog

New Workshops, New Contests, New Website!

Hey everyone,

2016 has been quite the busy year for me. If you haven’t heard (or noticed) already, I launched my newest project, The Art of Seeing, in September. It will be the new home of my blog, workshops, contests, pic of the day, and more. You can still look through my galleries on this site, but for any updated content, take a look at The Art of Seeing!

Thanks for tuning in and I hope you’ll check it out.

– Ken

The Art of Seeing India – Workshop PreAnnouncement

Taj Mahal at Sunrise

“This is India; the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition…”Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897

India is beautiful. And complicated. And beautiful. Oh, I said that.

My first trip to India yielded an amazing adventure, a handful of photographs I am proud of and some questions. A lot of questions. I’ll be back next year, March 2017, with a small group of photographers looking for answers. Or maybe just asking more questions. I invite you to join us. The dates and itinerary are still being finalized but if you think you might be interested, please contact me and I will make sure to keep you updated.  In the meantime, you can see some of my favorite images from this incredible experience in my India gallery

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Brahmin priests release rose petals at the culmination of the Aarti ceremony in Varanasi

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Young Hindu priests in training

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Wild Horses of the Adobe Valley Photography Workshop

Track and photograph wild mustangs on foot and horseback!

I am very excited announce that I will be the photography instructor for a unique adventure offered by Rock Creek Pack Station (Bishop, CA). For four days this spring, we will hike and ride through the remote and seldom visited Adobe Valley area of the Inyo National Forest seeking opportunities to observe and photograph the wild mustangs that call this rugged territory home. RCPS’ expert tracker/guides will educate us in the natural history and behavior of these icons of the American west. Photography instruction will be a combination of lecture/demonstrations, image critiques and in the field coaching. With any luck our cameras will capture galloping mustangs, battling stallions and mares with their newborn foals!

Nestled between two major mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains, the Adobe Valley is a unique haven for these magnificent creatures.  With such stunning backdrops it’s hard to imagine a more picturesque locale for this exciting experience.

May 13-16, 2016

Cost $875 per person including meals, tent lodging, pack/riding stock, guides and photography instruction.

For more information or to register for this event, please visit the RCPS  Mustang Trips page or call 760-872-8331

Wild Stallions Fighting

Stallions testing each other under the snowy peaks of the White Mountains

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A wild mare and her foal

A wild mustang mare and her foal

Looks Fake, Looked Faker in Real Life

An amazing sunset over the Sierra Nevada from the Owens River Valley near Bishop, CA

An amazing sunset over the Sierra Nevada from the Owens River Valley near Bishop, CA

When watching sunrises and sunsets is part of your job description, it’s easy to forget the fact you are witnessing a minor miracle a couple of times a day. You tend to get, well, jaded might be too strong a word but let’s call it a connoisseur’s disdain for the unexceptional. But Mother Nature has a way of reminding you that you are in the presence of the Master. Case in point, I was walking along the Owens river one fall evening hoping for a ‘decent’ sunset to photograph. It wasn’t looking too promising as a rapidly thickening blanket of clouds threatened to cancel the event altogether.  In the race between the gathering clouds and the setting sun, it looked like the clouds were going to claim the prize. “Looks like it’s going to be a bust,” I thought but decided to stick it out anyways. As the sun sank to meet the peaks of the eastern Sierra, a golden glow illuminated the entire valley. There was an amazing quality to the light that I’ve only rarely experienced. It felt like the light wasn’t emanating from the setting sun as much as from the air all around me. Then, the sky exploded.

Although I was alone, I’m pretty sure I  said “this is unreal” out loud more than once. Then I bent down over the tripod and got to work.  I’ve been to this rodeo enough times to know that staying calm is part of the secret to success so I tried my best to adopt a zen attitude. Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Focus. I ‘worked the scene’ as best as I could trying various compositions and camera settings, only pausing occasionally to let out a quiet “oh wow.” I think I clicked off a few dozen frames before I knew that the moment had passed. As the light faded, I stopped shooting and watched the final act in grateful appreciation. This, I thought, is why I do this.

‘Into the Mystic’ is the Winner

It happened again. There must be some truth to the saying, “great minds think alike” because so often more than one person submits the best title (in my opinion) for one of my Name This Image contests. This time both Michael Hurley and Courtney Watkins chose “Into the Mystic” as their title for this photo of early morning rays breaking

Into the Mystic

through patchy fog in the Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area just east of Santa Ynez, CA. Aside from the fact that I have a particular fondness for the Van Morrison tune of the same  name, I think it’s the perfect title for this image. It just works – don’t you agree?

As I said, this  happens (multiple winning entries) often enough that I normally award the prize of a signed print only to the first winning entry. In this case, however, because of how this contest was conducted (paper entries vs web), I have no idea who submitted their entry first. So I think it’s only fair that both winners receive the prize. So congratulations Michael and Courtney and thanks for a great title!

My thanks also go out to everyone else who entered – there were lots of great submissions. The next contest will be announced very soon so you will have more chances to win in the near future. If you want to be sure that you don’t miss the announcement, subscribe to my Updates on the home page of this site

December 2011 Name This Image Contest

What's My Name?

It’s contest time again… with a twist this time. Click here for the entry form and all of the details.

I’m doing something a little different this month to wrap up the year. This image may be less ‘serious’ (whatever that means) than some of my other work but you can’t deny that it’s in keeping with the season! I hope it brings a little smile your face. As an added bonus, the winner of this month’s contest will receive their choice of any one of my limited edition prints.

The 3 amigos from left to right are Spike, Rocky & Midnight. I took this a couple years back at our house in Steamboat Springs, CO. We got tired of tossing out a dead tree after every Christmas so we decided to decorate this spruce in our yard instead. I think it worked out quite nicely!

And the Winner Is….

Colorful dinghies in Santa Barbara harbor

"Water Colors" - a prefect title. Thanks, Jim

“Water Colors”

Jim Kerr of Steamboat Springs, CO is the winner of November’s Name This Image contest. I think Jim’s entry, “Water Colors”, is the perfect title for this photograph. Simple, elegant, artful…I love it! Congratualtions, Jim – you win a signed limited edition print of Water Colors.

Many thanks to everyone who particpated, there were so many great entries! Honorable mentions go out to:

“Rainboats” – Phil Regas

“Rowboat Reflections” – Susan Kienzle

“Dock of the Bay” – Haissel Neira

To those who didn’t win, don’t worry – you will have many more chances. I’ve decided to hold this contest monthly. Keep an eye on your Inbox or this website for the December contest announcement.

 

Cheers,

Ken

 

Photo of the Day: So California

vineyard and palm tree

Not the Hotel California, but...

Palm trees, wine grapes, a perfect sunset in the making. The only thing missing is  Don Henley  singing, “welcome to the Hotel California…” in the background. Maybe it’s just me but whenever I look at this picture,  I think it epitomizes a certain stereotype of the California lifestyle. Or maybe it’s because I was standing in shorts I took this photograph with November just round the corner.  What do you think?

Photo of the Day: Beyond the Blue Door

Blue door & vines

An enchanted portal?

Doesn’t this door just look like an enchanted portal to a magical realm? OK…maybe I just have an active imagination. Well, I discovered this passageway at Rancho Sisquoc winery in northern Santa Barbara county one late afternoon recently and it definitely drew me in. The cobalt blue door, the red and green vines, the warm dappled sunlight. It was obvious that the ingredients for an image were present, it was a matter of arranging the elements. I tried a few different compositions and this is the one that felt the most right. There’s a lot more photographs to be made on the grounds of  this picturesque winery. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but a gorgeous drive especially in the Winter and early Spring when the rolling hills on the way are vivid green. If you go, say hi to Becky and Alex in the tasting room and don’t miss their River Red blend. Delicious.

Photo of the Day: Pumpkins, again.

Pumpkin Patch at Sunset

My Perfect Pumpkin Patch - Near Solvang, CA

I had to do it. After running across that field of squash & pumpkins  I posted last week,  I kept thinking how great a a bunch of real Halloween pumpkins would look bathed in that warm sunset light. Well, I finally found my perfect patch just outside of Solvang, CA thanks to Chelsey, the owner of Valley Grind, the best coffee shop in Santa Ynez and my sometimes unofficial office. A wide open field with nothing blocking the western sky but some low hills in the distance. I got there as the sun sank below the horizon. Soft orange sunset light illuminating orange pumpkins, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. There were plenty of keepers but this was my pick of the bunch. Maybe because it’s so close to the picture I had in my head. This is another example of the glowing quality of post sunset light I mentioned about in my last Photo Tip – imagine what this lighting would do for a portrait.

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