Hello friends. The world remains weird. This year, as it related to the pandemic, was filled with optimism (vaccines!) and despair (delta and omicron). My travel plans were OK and then interrupted again and then OK again and then... well, you know the story. In terms of my own travel adventures, photography and growth as a photographer I would rate the year a 5 out of 10. A highlight was meeting so many friends on the road. Maybe you can meet me next year?
As usual, I offer these photos as my "favorites" not my "best". And, I must tell you, I had a heckuva time picking 10 - there were about 10 others that I like darn near as much as these - and it's been making me kooky having to choose. But, of course, choose I did...
I use a software program - Lightroom - to process my photos. In 2021 I had computer problems (an intermittent black screen issue - the computer is still on but the screen goes black) starting last December and lasting well into the summer. After complaining up the corporate ladder to Dell Computers tech support it seemed like I had it resolved but Dell techs created a multitude of other issues. And, why, just two days ago after a Windows update the screen went black again. Sigh. After 30 years of using a Windows PC - 2022 is the move to Mac year. Man, sometimes I hate technology. These problems had a significant impact on my desire to even make photos. OK - you get the point - enough kvetching! I had a lot of fun too in 2021 and for that I am grateful.
One other note, while I'm still using my Nikon DSLR for most of my photos I did purchase a Sony RX100 Point and Shoot this year and used it on a few of my trips. Obviously, it lacks the resolution of my Nikon but it's better than my iPhone and it sure is fun to just throw it in my pocket and not worry about it.
I have BIG travel plans for 2022 including a cross country Amtrak trip (including the Baseball Hall of Fame - finally) a trip to see my family in the PNW, a trip to Tulsa for the Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan Centers and a trip with my children and grandchildren to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - a dream come true! So - we shall be in touch!
Alrighty then... here are the photos from 2021.
The first photo here is from a drive I took in Arizona last February which seems so very long ago. This is Canyon Lake along the Apache Trail.
Also from this trip is this simple photo of a petroglyph in Saguaro National Park.
Over the years I have taken hundreds of photos of Morro Rock. It's always the exactly the same and always completely different - know what I mean? Here's a 6:00 AM photo I took last August.
Next up is a photo from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It's a typical Sonoran desert scene.
I have loved Gaviota State Beach since I was a student at UC Santa Barbara a very long time ago. It can still, occasionally, be a solitary place. Here is one of my favorite spots to hang out....under the pier.
Speaking of favorite places, I was able to venture out to White Sands National Park in October. When I went to the visitors center I was shocked - no parking spots and wall to wall people. Sigh. Such is the fate of National Monuments that we turn into National Parks. I was, thankfully, able to find some quiet spots in the Park anyway.
One night in Arizona I drove out to Ironwood National Monument as a storm was rolling in and caught some sun rays between the clouds.
I suppose, like lots of us, I dig lighthouses. This is the Port Isabel Lighthouse in Port Isabel, Texas. It's an interesting angle which took some contorting to achieve and, no, I didn't mind the odd looks from the other visitors.
Another telephone pole, railroad track, pier and sea photo of Gaviota from nearby Hollister Ranch on a stormy day last Spring.
Here is another photo from White Sands and I like the minimal contrast between the sky and sand.
This last photo of a Sonoran Desert sunset. It is an extra and not really one of my favorites but I include it because it had several thousand "likes" on twitter for some reason. Maybe you'll enjoy it too.
I wish you all the best and hope that 2022 is better for all of us. I sincerely appreciate you reading these pages and being my pal. It means the world. Much love to all.
I've been fortunate in the last few years to meet some really fine photographers like Lori Carey, Joe Smith, Tracy Schultze and Rachel Cohen (among others). Something that most of these photographers participate in is a year end list of their "favorite (or best) photos". We submit them to a well known and well regarded Bay Area photographer, Jim Goldstein, for his annual "Blog Project- Your Best Photos"annually. So this is my list.
I had the good fortune to maintain my regular routine of monthly travel (except October because of the Dodgers - dem bums). I started off the year with two trips to Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave, visited Dodger Spring Training and Homolovi State Park in Arizona, took two trips to the Central Coast, went to Utah and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, went to each California League stadium, Petco Park, San Francisco (AT&T Park) and environs with Lupe, and took a fabulous Four Corners trip, which included Mesa Verde, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Hovenweep National Monument and a quick jaunt to Joshua Tree to see my buddy, PJ Finn. Whew! Who said retirement was boring?! I made about 8000 images this year and 7,990 were pretty bad. Well, not really, but these photos represent my personal favorites.
The first photo (above) was taken in the fading light of a September afternoon at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park from the south rim near Chasm View. To me, it seems to capture the "up close but oh so deep and mysterious" look of this magnificent canyon.
The next two favorites are also canyon photos and both from Imperial Point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon at opposite ends of the day. The first was taken while walking around with my amiga, Liz Kylin, in the late afternoon and a few days later I got up early to catch the sun as it just started to hit the point. You'll get a sense of how fascinating the light of the canyon can be from these two very different photos near the same vantage point (taken with the same camera).
Let's move from canyon country to the coast. My number 4 favorite is a photo of Morro Rock - a place I return to year after year (since the 1980's). I finally took a photo I liked of it.
Next is a Mojave Desert photo taken after a steady 24 hour rain and the clouds were still lingering and creeping over the ridges into the valley below.
The next photo is a long exposure of the pier, at sundown, in my beloved Gaviota State Beach. I'm not a fan of the ugly yellow boat hoist at the end of the pier - but, hey, that's Gaviota.
My amigo Joe Smith has really encouraged me to use more black and white and the last 4 are in that medium. The first is of Pacific Coast Highway north of Malibu on a late summer afternoon.
The next photo is of Round Tower in Hovenweep National Monument. This structure was probably built between 1150 AD and 1350 AD by Ancient Puebloans.
This photo of iconic Spider Rock at sunset is probably my favorite of the year. Yes, I know its been photographed thousands and thousands of times but I like the simplicity and shadow of this black and white.
Lastly, you wouldn't really expect the old Southwest Dude not to have a railroad track photo, right? Right. My last is from a favorite spot near Cantil, CA.
Since it is the end of the year I want to express my gratitude to each of you who follow my blog and vicariously travel the roads of the West with me. I hope you get some sense of how much I enjoy sharing my "traveling life" with you and I hope you know how great it is to have you along.
I'd like to also give a shout out to my pals and fellow inspirational photographers, PJ Finn, Craig Pindell, Scott Hays, Don Wendell, author extraordinaire, Chris LaTray and fellow travelin' fool, Scott Jones. I'm fortunate to have you dudes in my life (even if most of it is online).
Lastly, I also want to acknowledge the greatest blessings of my life which are my three children, my two daughters in law and my sensational wife. I don't know how they put up with me - but they do and I'm so damn lucky.
My best to all - let's have a brilliant 2019.
"Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best"
– Henry Van Dyke
At the end of each year it is enjoyable to look back and review the places I've visited. I also enjoy looking through old photos and remembering the fine times I had in each scenic spot.
My viewpoint of photography is changing and evolving on a regular basis. What I like today I may not be fond of a year from now. As my friend and fellow photographer, PJ Finn, has helped me realize, it's all about finding my "voice", just as I did as an actor and director when I was working in the field of Dramatic Art. Indeed, just as all artists should do.
In the next few years I believe my photos will be more of what I LIKE to photograph as opposed to what I think I SHOULD photograph. This is a leap for me but, at my age, what do I have to lose?
The photo above is on a deserted road near the tiny town of Cantil, CA. It's my personal favorite as, to me, it captures that lonesome western highway feel.
This photo below is taken from the Ajo Mountain Drive in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument one evening toward dusk in January.
My next trip was to Death Valley. I made several photos that I liked there and this simple black and white captures the stark and barren yet beautiful landscape of Death Valley near Zabriskie Point.
The next photo is of the Grapevine Mountains from the Valley floor the day after a rare winter storm.
After a soggy winter (finally) I decided to visit Steinbeck Country in Central California in March. This afternoon photo was taken along the Fremont Peak trail overlooking the city of Salinas. This trail was one of Steinbeck's favorites as a youth.
In April I was asked to make some photos of a United Farm Workers March in Madera, CA. I was proud to do so.
Lupe and I went to Chicago in April also and I got to see legendary Wrigley Field. We fell in love with the city and its Midwestern friendly vibe.
In May I was blessed to have been able to camp in Utah with my son, his wonderful wife and her brother, and my itty-bitty grandchildren. It was sheer heaven. The photo below shows Zion Red Rock in a layer of clouds. When I posted it on social media only a few folks "liked" it. But I like it quite a bit.
I don't normally make or show too many photos of people but when they're the two cutest people in the world whats a guy supposed to do? These are my grandchildren, Finley and Joaquin, at Kodachrome State Park in Utah.
Marty and I had a terrific time, as usual, at Gaviota on our annual trip there.
My daughter and I spent a few fantastic days in Pismo in June. Every day spent with the apple of my eye is a blessing.
In June I was at one of my favorite spots in California, Point Mugu State Park, and took this photo directly from my campsite at sunset.
In the summer I took my daughter Lilly and her friend Kennedy to the Giant Sequoia National Monument in the Sierra Nevada. I admire the stubborn independence of that solitary pine.
Lupe and I also visited the state we love the best, New Mexico. These are ruins in the Juniper country of Bandelier National Monument.
In early Fall I visited sublime and renowned Yosemite National Park with my dear Bay Area family.
in November I visited Pismo Beach once again. Man, I love the Central Coast.
I spent a fascinating day with the BLM and Mojave Desert Land Trust exploring George Patton's old WWII Training Center. The photo below is from an old place of worship near Camp Ironwood.
This last photo is another personal favorite that I recently took near the ghost town of Garlock, CA.
I thank you for coming along and wish each of you the most marvelous of years in 2018. Cheers! See you on the road...
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.