I had the opportunity to get together with artist and model Shana Burton, recently, to play around with some dramatic midday lighting. The long hallways and natural spotlights coming through skylights made for some dynamic light.
Progression is fun. Creating is fun. Earning the respect of your peers is fun. Playing in a well-matched game is fun. Fun is one of those subjective words that is only known through experience. We know when something was or wasn’t fun. Fuzzy Wuzzy was a fun one. Wasn’t he?
What is the nature of fun? How do we “have” it? Is it related to happiness? Is it a byproduct of an activity or a goal? Is it meaningful? Am I a robot? Fun is so central to being human that it is hard to see. From your perspective, fun is natural.
Fun is the using your imagination to play a game. We pretend that we are something else. The surfer rises above the wave. The painter is coated in layers of color. The baker adds the perfect frosting lettering. In the process of doing the thing we become the action and that feeling of flow is fun.
We are in an insanely good place for cannabis right now. There are still big challenges and histories of injustice to overcome, but there are some seriously vital signs of improvement. We seem to be on a path to federal legalization or decriminalization at least. In California, the nation’s largest legal cannabis market, there are some great pockets of progress.
Here in Santa Cruz, we have a legacy of world class cannabis, and so when a brand puts that message on their packaging you should pay attention. Caring Kind World Class Cannabis Flowers are a Clean Green Certified cannabis farm growing some of the best flowers you could ever imagine.
I recently had a chance to try their SC Breath and ya boy is impressed. It seems like everyone is racing to chase the highest THC strains, and I love a good strong heavy hitter myself, but there are so many times during the day when something less devastating would be nice. Coming in at 21.15% THC, this strain is an Indica Hybrid, but is less likely to have you going to sleep ahead of plans. The overall impact is just a perfectly balanced mind/ body high. It feels clear and bright and just the right amount of stony. This is a flower I could puff on all day.
SC Breath is loud. Let me repeat. This bud bumps. It has the dankest tangiest smell imaginable and when you put it in the air it’s an outdoor concert of kind. It’s the type of bud you can smell being smoked a mile away and it makes your mouth water.
The cure on these flowers is perfect. They are sticky little rocks of stoniness. They are resinous and you can feel the trichomes pop as you break apart the bud. The genetics are a OGKB crossed with Stony Cookies and they are bred by Mantra seeds. This is an outstanding flower great for being active, for creativity and for everyday all day use.
I like to earn my photographs. I don’t think a robot could ever feel that way, but maybe artificial intelligence will include emotional dimensions. Maybe we are not special as human consciousness. Still, I feel better when I do something hard that leads to a great photograph.
A lot of it has to do with timing. You have to synchronize your life with the light and the landscape. You have to be in the right place at the right time, and if it is hard to get to that place then you have the added reward of achieving something that is difficult. It is not just what the camera can see, but what the body operating the camera feels and why.
Riding my bike through the mountain trails gives me a ton of physical challenges and a lot of satisfaction. It feels good to climb up to a ridgeline with the power of your own legs and the view is that much sweeter. It also means knowing the trails and how long they take and how fast you can go. It means having enough energy and physical comfort to be able to stop and compose your shots despite the fatigue or the hunger you feel.
It also adds the element of the unknown. You have some extra elements of chance at work. Getting yourself in the right spot at the right time is much harder when you are riding a bike, but it is also much more rewarding.
So much of life depends upon location. Realtors know this better than most, but photographers also are expert in understanding place. Yesterday I photographed my friends Natalia, Antonio and Derek. Natalia and Derek are realtors. Hence, the title.A favorite collaborator over the years, Natalia Lockwood has become a powerhouse broker of homes and it is fun to watch her grow.This is Derek Scranton who was voted Capitola’s “Best Realtor” in the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Super nice guy, easy going and fun. Contact him if you are in the market for a home.What a team! Their smiles say it all. We chose Loch Lomond for our shoot, and found some great pockets of light along the lake. FYI, you are allowed to visit the lake for fishing and hiking, but no hanging out, as we learned.The homie Antonio is a capoeira master and with supreme flexibility he busted out some moves real quick. Had to take the opportunity to get a few shots of one of my favorite couples.By the way, Antonio and I talked about podcasts the whole time. He’s the only person I know who loves podcasts as much as I do. Always fun to link up with kindred souls.
What are your favorite podcasts? Going to be brainstorming some ideas with Antonio. Could be something cool in the works! These are wild times and we need to be discussing the issues.
With all of the tragedy going on in the world, mental health is super important and hard to come by. Exercise is key for my mental well being. So is being in nature. With a camera on my back, I jumped on my bike to put in some miles on the trails to achieve both goals and to make some photographs in the pretty early-summer light.I’ve been thinking a lot about how photography is so much more than a way of documenting the world, and when I experiment with long exposure blurs it sometimes matches how I feel better than a tack sharp image. I like to experiment with drawing with the light. It decomposes the image and shows how cameras work while using all of the points of light to draw lines. I think that there is a value to both kinds of photographs: experimental and documentary. While I enjoy the feeling of experimenting with a camera to get surprising results there is also something really rewarding about a photograph that looks and feels like the world it was made in.
A huge part of being a photographer is studying light, just like a writer pays attention to language. It is the medium. The camera is a tool that uses light to render images about subjects. Therefore, we need to be very familiar with the ever-changing qualities of light.One of the ways I make a practice of studying light is by continually being out in the landscape. Hiking, mountain biking, always being out there with a camera is critical to knowing your light and locations. When you study light for a living you learn that the difference between various kinds of light can range from excruciating to ecstatic. Riding your bike mid day facing the sun without shades is a blinding and painful experience, especially during summer. As the day begins to transpire and the earth starts to cool there is a window of beautiful light that softens and illuminates subjects with a distinctly magical effect. It’s the same sun, but radically different light.For this shoot, I was visiting the location for the first time. This meant that I did not know when the light would disappear over the horizon. Located north of Santa Cruz in the mountains there are canyons and ravines that get dark a lot earlier than it does along the coastline. This means that the last direct light is going to be brighter, but it also has the potential of showing up in beams that work like spotlights.The chiaroscuro effect has always been a favorite due to the dramatic interplay of dark and light and can really help the subject to pop in the composition. By positioning Anna directly in a beam of light there is a wonderful contrast to the light softening as dusk arrives.After the direct light is gone at a mountain location like this, there is still a lot of wonderful soft light that you can use to create brighter more evenly lit compositions. With a little bit of backlit highlight in her hair, I like the warm rural feel of the above shot. Anna is originally from Russia, and there’s something really cool to me about the look of traditional Russian clothing in Northern California settings.Portraiture is a dynamic challenge of using light and location to create interesting and pleasing compositions featuring the subject. Knowing your light is as important as knowing the technical aspects of your craft so that you can give all of your attention to the subject during the shoot.Another great thing to do with portraiture is to incorporate the life of the subject. Anna wanted to get some photos with her cat and it really brought out some of her personality. You can see it in her smile. How about that expression on the cat?This photo really succeeds at Portraying Anna to me, because in the gesture of her arms holding her cat and in her expression slightly laughing at the experience you can see the way she sounds and who she is.
It’s fun to photograph Eden Edwards’ surfing. She’s a friendly person, smiling and making jokes, but make no mistake: she’s part shark. Once in the water, she lurks and waits till the ocean shows certain bumps on the horizon and then she starts moving around in the lineup and as the best wave of the set rolls closer she’s in position and she paddles with the confidence of a surfer who has caught thousands of waves.
As the Lane mostly serves up chunky rights and she is goofy footed, Edwards has mastered the art of the bottom turn to backside hack, a la Ruffo, and each year she is more aggressive in her approach and more stylish in her execution.
Stay tuned for more ripping surfing from one of Santa Cruz’s bright young talents.