PHOTO OF THE WEEK – Perfect Storm

Perfect Storm - Cape Reinga, North Island, New Zealand 2012Read its story here…

A new addition to my online gallery. This is PERFECT STORM photographed at Cape Reinga in New Zealand

Cape Reinga is the northernmost tip of New Zealand, reaching into the sea and marking the meeting of two oceans – the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. On this day a perfect storm of weather convergence zones created fierce winds that whipped the ocean into a froth. The Cape is a narrow spine of land stretching its finger out into the ocean, and the footing was precarious as the 60 mph winds threatened to topple both my tripod and myself.

PERFECT STORM is available for purchase HERE.

Nikon D3S, 1/750 sec at f/8.0, ISO 400, 200mm (70.0-200.0 f2.8 lens).

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Please respect.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – High Heels, sepia

 

High Heels, sepia - HITS Desert Circuit, Thermal, California 201Click to read its story here…

Here’s one for the equestrian crowd!  HIGH HEEL sepia is a new addition to my online gallery and the first square format photo I’ve posted.

It’s fun to hang out at ringside with a big lens, trying to capture the action and excitement of Grand Prix Showjumping up close and personal. Here the horse is in a bit of trouble over a really big oxer. He’s making a herculean effort to  keep from hitting the rail, while his rider hangs on for the ride, releasing the reins to give her mount more freedom to solve the problem.

I love how the rider and horse are both showing the soles of their shoes!

HIGH HEELS, sepia is available for purchase HERE.

Nikon D4, 1/1000 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400, 280mm (80.0-400.0 mm f/4.5-5.6)

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Please respect.

 

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – Wave Riders

Wave Riders2Read its story here…

The Best of Nature 2016 Photography Exhibition opens this coming weekend at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Since I’m off cruising in the Caribbean, I will miss the Opening Reception on April 30 from 11 AM to 2 PM. But if you’re in the area, the museum is a great place to visit. Stop by the Ordover Gallery on the 4th Floor to see my image WAVE RIDERS included in this exhibition of wonderful nature photography!

Pygmy Devil Rays are similar in appearance to their cousins, the manta rays, but much smaller.  Both belong to a genus of ray called Mobula or, more casually, “flying rays” due to a propensity to breach (jump out of the water) in spectacular fashion.  The pygmy rays are usually seen in schools near the surface of coastal waters.  I have often seen them leaping repeatedly out of the water, making a noise like popcorn popping as they splash down again.

On this trip we were traveling south along Mexico’s Pacific coastline. We stopped over in Ixtapa, which possesses a beautiful curving sand beach well used by local walkers, joggers, children and more all traversing the golden sand in the morning hours.  The surf rolled in, backlit by the early morning sun, and I was startled to see the rays gliding in the breaking waves.  With the sun backlighting the clear aqua water, the rays appeared suspended as if behind the glass of an aquarium.  Intrigued, I invested quite a bit of time trying to capture the shot.  As usual in these circumstances, I was shooting hand-held, kicking up the shutter speed to freeze action.

WAVE RIDERS available for purchase HERE

Nikon D4S, 1/1000 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400mm, 400mm (80.0-400.0 mm f/4.5-5.6), hand-held.

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the copyright office. Please respect.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – Fringing Reef #4 Wavelet

Fringing Reef #4 Wavelet AE - Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands 2009Read is story here…

The 29th Annual Fund-Raising Gala for Salpointe High School here in Tucson is scheduled for this Saturday, April 23, at the elegant Cross Creek Riding Club estate. I’m pleased to support them by donating a 24″ x 36″ canvas gallery wrap to the text-to-bid silent auction. FRINGING REEF #4 WAVELET is one of my more popular images – I hope it generates a nice contribution to a worthy cause!

More information about the gala HERE:

FRINGING REEF #4 WAVELET is an artistic interpretation of dawn rising over the Pacific Ocean as it meets the fringing reef surrounding a South Pacific atoll, as a small wave breaks over the shallow coral.

In 2009 we were sailing our sailboat Raven from French Polynesia to Tonga, a distance of some 1300 miles. Mid voyage we laid over in the remote Cook Islands. It was a pleasure to pause and take respite in the quiet anchorage of uninhabited Suwarrow Atoll, protected from the open Pacific Ocean by the shallow circle of coral reef that surrounded the inner lagoon.

Early one morning I paddled my kayak to the reef to catch the sun as it rose. The corals of the reef were only submerged by a couple of feet, and their vibrant colors were visible beneath the clear water. I came back with so many stunning photos from that session, I can hardly choose which is my favorite.

FRINGING REEF #4 WAVELET is available for purchase HERE.

Nikon D700, 1/45 sec at f/4.8, ISO 200, 14mm (14.0-24.0mm f/2.8), hand held.

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Please respect.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – Reflected Sky

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 6.57.31 PMThe International Masters Exhibition 2016 at the Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art in Las Vegas will be closing this coming weekend after a three month run. I’m pleased to say that two of my images in the exhibition, ‘Reflected Sky‘ and ‘Sunrise Flight‘, have been added to the museum’s permanent collection!

One of my favorite things about being at sea is that the sky is totally uninterrupted by buildings, telephone wires, city lights, and all the other trappings of civilization. Cloud formations, sunrises and sunsets are visible in all their expansive glory above the backdrop of the ocean surface.

In 2012 we were cruising aboard our boat AVATAR in the Solomon Islands, a remote South Pacific island country, where calm weather and seas created a multitude of opportunities to photograph reflections in the glassy water. We anchored overnight in Mbaeroko Lagoon, where this sight greeted me early in the morning as we pulled up anchor and prepared to depart.

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec at f/9.0, 2/3 EV, ISO 100, 14mm (14-24mm f/2.8), hand-held.

REFLECTED SKY is available for purchase HERE

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Please respect.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – Blood Moon and Clouds

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 6.22.00 PM

THE total lunar eclipse of September 27, 2015, was a lazy photographer’s dream. For starters, totality was visible from my own home town of Tucson. No need to drive or fly to a distant destination to observe – bonus point #1. Bonus point #2 – not only was this a total eclipse of the moon, but it was a Super Moon as well! And best of all, here in Tucson, the eclipse took place during prime time! Totality commenced at 7:11 p.m. local time and ended at 8:24 p.m. No need to set alarm clocks – instead I was able to set up my tripod, camera and lens during the sunset hours while I could still read the settings on my camera without a flashlight.

Husband Mike came along with a bottle of wine and two glasses and set himself up on the nearby patio furniture, and when the time was right I just clicked away. The wispy clouds added some individual character to my shot, which otherwise was a scene photographed by the thousands (tens of thousands?) around the world.

Nikon D4 .5 sec at f/4.0, ISO 200, 400mm (200.0-400.0 mm f/4..0), tripod. Composite of two photos.

BLOOD MOON AND CLOUDS available for purchase HERE

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Please respect.

A Photographer’s Story

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Sail Into Sunset – Sea of Cortez near Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico 2008

Ten years ago, my husband  and I surprised ourselves by making an impulsive, pre-retirement decision to purchase a bluewater sailboat located in New Zealand, ideally situated for exploring the prime cruising grounds of the South Pacific. My first (as it turned out, naive) impulse was to cultivate an artistic hobby to fill the leisure time generated by our idyllic new lifestyle. Many options – oil paints, watercolors, pastels – were discarded as too messy for a vessel’s tight quarters. Finally I settled on photography and embarked on not one, but two new adventures.

The best camera, as they say, is the one you have with you. Photography on a boat can be pursued with a smartphone or a pro DSLR. It is neat and clean and portable, whether on deck or ashore or even underwater. Add a computer and appropriate software for organizing and editing the images, and the onboard studio is complete.

Rom Dancer with Boar's Tusk Necklace - Fanla Village, Ambrym Isl
Rom Dancer With Boar’s Tusk Necklace – Fanla Village, Ambrym Island, Vanuatu 2012

From the deck of a cruising yacht there is a wealth of inspiration and source material that ranges from scenic vistas to wildlife to foreign cultures. These days my photo platform is a rugged aluminum FPB64 motor yacht, supplemented by an aging much-loved inflatable kayak.

All it takes is one simple click to ‘take a picture’, a rectangle, destined to hang on the wall as a print or glow on a screen as a digital image or join a collection in a book. But as a photographer/artist I don’t want to just record a photograph. I want to create art, to meld technical material with creative insight, elevating that rectangle to a higher plane.

The equipment and software available today are sophisticated and powerful, but to transform photography into an art form requires more than just good tools. Is a great novel the product of a good typewriter? It takes more than a good camera to produce an artistic photograph.

My finished photo-based artwork results from multiple technical choices made prior to pressing the shutter button – lens selection, exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, dynamic range and more. On the creative side I incorporate composition, light, shadow, color, texture, gesture and motion, all to play their part in capturing the raw image, the first step.

Step two is the selection process that takes place in the digital darkroom (my computer) reviewing and culling to find those select images that resonate with my imagination. The third phase is post-processing, the judicious application of a variety of digital darkroom tools – software and filters, layered and retouched by hand to manipulate the image into its final form.

Sunrise Flight - At Sea, Solomon Islands
Sunrise Flight – At Sea, Solomon Islands 2012

In the beginning I took a cyberclass that taught me how to get the most out of my Nikon’s buttons, dials and menus. Early on I learned the important camera techniques necessary to achieve the best results. But on a boat, many of those best practices are impractical. Focusing on a cavorting dolphin or a diving pelican while striving for balance on a boat navigating ocean swells is not an ideal scenario for keeping the camera steady. A shore expedition in the company of non-photographers is a source of irritation for those who don’t appreciate a 20 minute pause for setting up and composing the perfectly executed shot.

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Exhale #2 – Southern California Coastal Waters 2014

As a result I’ve learned compromises. On a moving deck I compensate by shooting at higher shutter speeds or raising the ISO setting. To keep my balance I bend my knees and widen my stance to absorb the shock. I jam my elbows into my ribs and mash the camera viewfinder into my eye socket for additional stability. Often I fire off a burst of photos knowing that one of the bunch will by sheer luck be more crisp and clear than the others. There will be a lot of throwaways, but a few will be keepers.

I do a lot of shooting from my kayak. It’s a soothing, soul-satisfying experience to rise just before dawn and glide silently in quest of a sunrise, or a seabird, or a village just starting the day. Again, the gently rocking boat and the low light of early morning limit my choices, demanding compromise.

Fringing Reef #4 Wavelet AE - Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands 2009
Fringing Reef #4 Wavelet AE – Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands 2009

A good image should relate a story to the viewer, not simply recreate a scene but instead share an insight into the very essence of what first captured the photographer’s imagination. It may be about how the interplay of light and shadow illuminates a seascape for a brief magical moment. It may be about reflections on glassy water, or how a bird’s feathers flare in flight. Perhaps it’s a story of village life, a new friend, a beautiful scene, or the devastation of a storm.

But there’s a second story that accompanies each image, and that is the story that belongs solely to the photographer. The travel, the gear, the camaraderie, the solitude, the discomforts, the challenges, the accomplishments – all are embedded into the making of that simple rectangle. Not just sight but also sound, touch, smell, even taste, are part of the experience. Whenever I review my work the memories come flooding back to let me relive the adventure once again.

To Breathe - Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga
To Breathe – Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga 2013

As an example, this particular image tells the viewer the story of a mother whale helping her new calf breathe in clear blue tropical water. But for me it contains the hidden short story of how she first swam away from me, then changed her mind and returned to within touching distance of her own volition, lingering passively in the water next to me, eye to eye, observing me as I observed her, while her baby slept.

An even lengthier version of that narrative begins with a 6,000 mile journey to the tropical kingdom where the humpbacks congregate. It includes my history of previous whale-watching expeditions led by professionals, where I learned whale behavior and how to observe them in the water safely and respectfully. It is colored by a Sunday morning sail in search of a cooperative whale, and the frisson of excitement as I donned snorkel gear, grabbed the underwater camera, and slid into the water from off the stern of the boat.

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© Steve Dashew

Each photo, that deceptively simple click, is embedded with its own stories, one for the viewing public and one for me alone. To produce them with forethought, investing time and energy into making them the best they can be, is to imbue them even more deeply into my psyche.

Click any image below to open a full screen slideshow: