Turtles Gone Wild — Part 2 of Cancun Revisited

As I was strolling through my Cancun folder, I was reminded of some of the best advice I ever got from a photo pro at a class — never throw anything out, because at some point you will come back to it and see it in a whole new way and probably love it.

For these sea turtle shots (at a Cancun theme park), even the unaltered ones look kinda surreal, because the turtles are kept in man-made ponds where the water is clear and the bottom has no real definition.  That makes the turtles look like they’re floating on air.  It’s the shadows cast by the ripples on the surface that interested me when I was shooting, but deciding how to accent and highlight that in the final image was an interesting process in just how far to stretch it digitally and artistically.

This first image is fairly true to the original photo, but in subsequent versions, I’m going further and further into the digital ether …

Sea Turtle Shadows

Sea Turtle Shadows

Now it’s getting weird.

Sea Turtle Shadows -- Digital

Sea Turtle Shadows — Digital

And then full on psychedelic.

Psychedelic Sea Turtle Shadows

Psychedelic Sea Turtle Shadows

Hopefully this captures the dilemma of doing digital art, it’s easy to get lost in the possibilities.  Here’s some more photos of the same turtles, most of whom were young ones.

Young Turtles

Young Turtles

This shot was given a pretty good digital makeover. The turtle was greatly enlarged, as this guy was quite small in the original image.

Reflections of A Turtle

Reflections of A Turtle

So as it turns out, suddenly I do have a decent amount of new work to print out and frame up.

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Cancun Revisited — Part 1

Cancun Beach - 2014

Cancun Beach – 2014

For spring break back in 2014 we visited Cancun, Mexico.  Most of the shots I took were decent, but none of them got me really excited.  Some good travel log type of work, but nothing I really wanted to hang on the wall.

By the time I had to commit or not to the 2016 Edmonds Art Studio Tour, I found myself without anything new to show, so I decided to not participate for the first time in about 8 years.  This was a tough decision, as having Mike O’Day in my studio (house) is always fun whether I sold much or not.  But I didn’t want people walking through looking at the same old work that’s been on my walls for some time now, so that was a big part of my decision making process.

I also decided to schedule a right knee replacement for May 25th, so that’s going to put me out of action for awhile when it comes to getting out and taking new images.

A few weeks after deciding to opt out of the Tour, I needed to go retrieve some shots from a folder and stumbled my way back into this Cancun folder where I found some stuff that I was always interested in working on, but had not been able to edit it to the point where I wanted to print it out.

So, no sooner than I ruled myself out of EAST for 2016 because I have nothing new to show, I get this creative urge to start playing around with some of these Cancun shots and now I feel like I could actually do a show and have some new and interesting things to show people.

Curly Leaf on Palm Frond

Curly Leaf on Palm Frond

This shot is massively altered in Photoshop to the point where I consider it digital art and not just photography.  To be honest, doing traditional photography sort of bores me now, as most everything possible has already been done by someone else, who usually does it better than I.  Which leads me down the digital path where I get to see images that seem pretty unique and much more interesting to my eye.  The problem with digital art is that you can create 20 versions of the same image and like or love them all; not knowing which ones to actually end up displaying.   Here’s another version of this one that I also like:

Curly Leaf on Palm Frond (blue version)

Curly Leaf on Palm Frond (blue version)

And then, I’ve got the same problem with this shot as well.  The first one is fairly true to the original image, but in the second one, part of it’s been altered to black and white.  I can’t decide which one I like better.

Backlit Window

Backlit Window

Just the outside portion of this next version was converted to B&W.

Backlit Window (B&W version)

Backlit Window (B&W version)

And then there’s the turtle shots; of which I have so many versions that I’m going to put them in an entirely different post titled “Turtles Gone Wild.”

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Atlantis – Spring Break 2016

A small Bahamian reef/island on the ride home

Since we’re animal lovers in this house, we’ve been wanting to go to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas for a long time, as it’s packed full of critters. This year we finally made the long all day trek out east.  Spring break vacations are almost always crowded, but this place was not rowdy at all – unlike some spring break spots that we’ve accidentally stumbled into.  The Bahamian people are really friendly and they go out of their way to demonstrate that; no discernible ‘tude, like the kind I’ve experienced elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Great food too.

As luck would have it, right outside of our villa-style room was a large pool full of Green Sea Turtles. Atlantis claims to have a successful breeding program and with 3 other pools full of turtles from little ones to adults, that appears to be the case.  They also claim to be releasing small ones back into the wild.  Very cool.


Adult turtle pool outside our room


Just one of many curious adults

I decided to leave my camera at home because a lot of these resort trips tend to only offer up your typical touristy shots and phone cameras usually work just fine for that.  But, this time there were a few moments where I wished I had brought my Canon.  The weather was all over the place, we even had a thunder storm while we were doing the Sea Lion encounter.  That weather generated some massive waves and that’s when I wanted to have my camera to capture some of that action.  You can’t see it in these pictures, but the surf was so strong that the lifeguards didn’t want people to even wade in the water on this beach.


We didn’t get any shots of the many Sawfish at Atlantis, but they’re in several ponds and tanks.  It’s an endangered species so I was kinda shocked to even see 4 or 5 in one pond, then I finally came upon a sign that explained that they’re the only aquarium in the world that has managed to breed these amazing fish, which explained why they probably have more than a dozen on display that I could count, including a couple of whoppers.

The Atlantis TV commercials show Mantra Rays, which exist in only a few aquariums around the world, so I really wanted to see one here, but sadly no Mantas.  I was told that the one they had on display for awhile had to be released back into the wild as it had become too large.  But, a good consolation prize was seeing two Black Hammerhead sharks that were on display.  They were in a pool where it was tough to get any good shots even if I had brought a serious camera.  I’m guessing the bigger one might have been about 7-8 feet.

Black Hammerhead Shark

Black Hammerhead Shark

Getting a good look at them was tough, but we finally found a spot where we could stand on the edge of their lagoon.  To get them to come over into that shallow water, I was rambling out loud about possibly picking at a scrape I got from the waterpark and then putting some blood in the water, so then Kaitlyn tugged on a hangnail and stuck her thumb in the water with a drop of blood on it — and sure enough within minutes a hammerhead cruised by us about 10 feet away; giving us our closest possible view.  At which point I said “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

The big money makers for Atlantis are the interactions that cost extra with dolphins, sea lions and even sting rays.  Cassie, the CA sea lion was incredibly smart, fun and chill.  She’s about 22 yrs old and does tricks that no others can do, like playing dead really well in the trainers arms.  I wish I had a picture of the whiskery kiss I got from her instead of this posed photo.

Sea Lion Encounter with Cassie

Sea Lion Encounter with Cassie

Here we are snorkeling with the rays.  There were also a couple of small Blacktip Reef Sharks in this pond, as well as a type of shark that looks like a small Hammerhead called a Bonnetthead; very cool looking sharks and we didn’t even know they were there until we were swimming with them.

Swimming with rays and sharks

Possibly the most entertaining part of this experience was watching a mom get in this pond with her family at the beginning when we fed the rays.  The rays swarm all over you for the food you carry in a bucket that you can offer to them by hand while wearing a glove.  They’re constantly bumping into your legs; one guy claimed that several almost swam up into his shorts (I think you have to pay extra for that in Vegas) … but anyway, I thought this one mom was going to lose her mind as the rays were swarming around her.  I thought I might need to talk her down off the ledge and so I told her to imagine that they were puppies, or kittens, and she responded that she hates those too.   So she REALLY took one for the team by enduring that experience with her boys, and after all that trauma she was the one who took these photos for us.  Nice recovery.

Just like puppies and kittens

Atlantis is so massive that just walking around the property gets you a lot of exercise.  One of the main attractions, that you don’t pay extra for, is the water-slide park.  We spent a lot of time in there and have some scrapes to prove it.

The "Lazy" River

The “Lazy” River, which has some spots that are anything but lazy.

The Hammerheads are behind us

The Hammerhead pond is right behind us

Just turned 12 and already 5-8

Just turned 12 and already 5-8

The girls riding a water trike

The girls — paddling around on a water trike

The "deep water" dolphin counter

The “deep water” dolphin encounter

This place is YUUUGE!

This place is YUUUGE!

A real sea sponge as big as her head

A real sea sponge as big as her head

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Fall 2015 Update

We just finished up the Edmonds Art Studio Tour for 2015, which was the 10th Anniversary show.  I’ve been participating for a few years less than that.  We had a great time yet again with lots of fun and interesting people coming by to talk with us as they both looked at and bought some art.  Thanks again to Mike O’Day for bringing his extensive sculptural inventory over here to display and sell.  We also have fun talking real football (soccer) and about American football.

Because I get so many inquires about the photo below (titled “Droplets”), I decided to write about it here, just in case those who strolled through this past weekend saw it and wondered, what’s going on there? Or, how did you do that?  Here’s the story behind the image …

This image took a long time to get from my PC to the wall. Even though it’s probably my ‘signature’ piece at this point.

After a rainstorm in Mill Creek, WA, the sun came out and all the droplets in the trees were lighting up. I grabbed my camera and raced out wanting to capture that somehow, but it’s a tricky shot as it turns out.

As many photographers know, what the human eye see’s and what the cameras lens see’s can be two very different things.

Eventually I tried focusing ‘into’ the tree with a very narrow depth of field, this caused the out of focus water drops in both the foreground and background to become huge orbs of light.

Still, I couldn’t get the printed result I wanted and so a whole series of shots sat on my PC’s hard drive for almost 2 years as I couldn’t really figure out what to do with any of them. I finally decided to try some off the wall experiments in Photoshop.

First I had to crop it down a lot, then by removing a lot of color (desaturating it), playing with the color balance, I was able to get the effect I was finally after. Add some photoshop filters to bring out more contrast and highlights and finally it was starting to capture what I had hoped to see when I got inspired by the weather to grab my camera.

Some people have requested this image in different colors/shades and because of how it was processed, I’m able to alter it to different parts of the color spectrum so that it pleases most anyone’s color palette, as well as matching the color scheme of your wall or house.

To see the image on my main website (as well as this same general description of the image) you can click here and see what the price range is for the various ways it can be printed and mounted.

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Edmonds Artists’ Holiday Gift Show

This weekend I’ll be setting up all my stuff to hopefully sell some photography in downtown Edmonds, but there’s a lot more than photography at this one day show. We’ve got 30 local artists showing up to take part in this sale, so it’s a great chance to get some holiday shopping done while helping to support the local art community at the same time.


Have a great holiday season!

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Living Art

Anyone who knows me well, knows we have a zoo in our house with critters like these:

clown_treeFrog_forBlogBut the “living art” isn’t just the creatures, it’s the terrariums in which they live.

Most tanks have exotic plants in them and lots of design elements go into the planning and building process.  As these tanks age, plants will sometimes spontaneously spout, usually it’s species that I like and they work out.  Sometimes you have to weed out these mini-gardens.  Currently I’m starting to sell the older tanks to make room for some new ones that are based on entirely different construction materials and layouts.

Here’s two that are being sold through Craig’s List, as well as upcoming Reptile shows:

frog_tank1Both of these tanks started off life as fish tanks that I converted for use as frog tanks.

orb1Hopefully these sell at a decent price to make room for the new tanks which were designed from the beginning to be frog tanks, not fish tanks.  New homes for guys like this:


Update: Sept 2015 … the tanks pictured in this post have sold, as have several others.  If you’re interesting in anything like this, just contact me.

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Edmonds Studio Tour and Fall 2013 Update

Thanks to everyone who came out this past weekend (Sept 21-22) for the Edmonds Art Studio Tour  for 2013.   Last year we had a record turnout at my studio/house/gallery, so it was tough to live up to those numbers, but we still had a great time meeting new people, seeing old friends and selling some art.  Mike O’Day was here again, bringing his amazing ceramic sculpture to the show.  One of the best parts of this Tour is watching the faces of the kids who come through when they see Mike’s work.  The adults who still have a “lot of kid left in them” usually get a look of “whoa, what’s this?” on their faces as well and that’s pretty fun to watch too.

As usual, I was busy up until the last minute trying to get some new work up on the walls and as always I missed a few pieces.  But fortunately, I did get this one up so that another friend and artist could give it a good home.


As always, the next Edmonds Art Studio Tour will be the 3rd weekend in Sept, 2014.

 What’s Next?

For all the “critter lovers” on my blog email list, I’ll be at the “19th Annual Seattle Reptile Expo” Saturday and Sunday, Oct 12-13 2013 at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.  I’ll be showing a lot of images of nature, which include all sorts of reptiles, amphibians, birds and butterflies, but I also bring along a lot of images that everyone seems to enjoy from every genre.  If you’ve got kids, you really have to check out this show.  They will go nuts.


Also coming up — Puget Sound Artists’ Gift Show, Saturday November 16th, 10am-6pm at the Artworks Building, 2nd & Dayton, Edmonds.

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Butterflies Gone Wild

IMG_1279_forWebI have this bad habit of shooting a lot of images in a day, downloading them to my PC and then letting them sit there for awhile. In a few cases, it’s been years before I get back to them.  Sometimes photos are like wine, they get better with age, but usually it’s just me doing what I do best — procrastinate.

I finally got serious about going back through a ton of butterfly images I’ve been accumulating from trips to the Seattle Science Center Butterfly House ever since it was discovered by Kaitlyn around age 4 (5 years ago now).  Some of the images are fairly new, shot with my Canon 5D mark3, and some are really old, just sitting there waiting to be worked over in Photoshop.

As it turns out, it’s been good for some images to age, as the old ones had some digital noise in them when shot with my older cameras.  With the recent addition of some new plugins for Photoshop from Topaz Labs which clean up images and add a lot of new controls, I can now do things that were not possible before.  The end result is that I’ve edited so many butterfly images that I had to start re-organizing my Galleries — eventually creating a totally new gallery just for all the butterfly pics.

 _5D_5586-2a _5D_5633

But once the procrastination is over with,  it’s not enough to just re-organize one or two galleries, the whole gallery system needs a facelift now, so that should be coming along in the next couple of weeks, which gives me a chance to toss out some old really average images and put in some newer ones.

More butterfly images are located in the Digital Art gallery.  What separates digital art from photography when most digital images are processed in some way in Photoshop?  This is a debatable topic in the photo world, but for me, if I manipulate an image with Photoshop or some other PC app, and I do something to it that could not be done in a darkroom, creating an effect that was not possible using traditional photographic techniques, then for me it’s now “digital art.”   That’s a fairly strict interpretation, but it works for me.

The following image is an example of this, since the background has been radically altered from the original.


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Edmonds Arts Festival 2013


June 14, 15 & 16, 2013
Friday & Saturday 10a-8p; Sunday 10a-6p

For those who have never been to the Edmonds Arts Festival (EAF) or don’t know about it, the Frances Anderson Center and field in the heart of Edmonds gets taken over by the Festival on Father’s Day weekend.  This isn’t just a stodgy art show in some sterile museum like atmosphere, it’s a major party event not to be missed, especially if the weather is favorable.  There’s plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained while parents browse the arts and crafts; with lots of good food vendors there to keep you fueled up.  Because if you want to see it all, including the juried galleries and the rooms filled with art from local schools that were also juried into the show, you’re going to need the better part of an entire day.

I was able to get several 13×19 canvas gallery wrap pieces into this years show.  If last years juried photography gallery was any indication, my work will be the worst stuff in the room.  Last year my Cairns Sunrise was in the show, and I’m not being overly humble in saying my work pales in comparison to the overall level of work in that gallery.  It was probably the best it’s ever been since I started attending the show.  My bind was moggled!

Here’s the two photos that made in this year:


Forgotten Truck


Hungarian Texture

Because you never know what a judge is looking for, I usually toss in an entry that’s kind of off the wall. Almost every time I submit something that I think is a “can’t miss” photo, it doesn’t make the cut, so now I’m starting to use the George Costanza theory — go with the opposite of what you think is right. Here’s my “George Costanza” submission for this year; that didn’t make the cut.   How ironic that it’s named “Missed the Party.”


Missed The Party

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Renton Reptile Expo (and Art Show)

0050OK, so I added the “and Art Show” to the title with my tongue so firmly planted in my cheek it almost hurts.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table on May 11th in Renton and chatted me up, and a BIG thanks to those who bought something, even if it was just a card or two, since that helps to support what for me is not something that helps to pay the rent, but something I do because I love it (still hoping for that ever elusive “perfect photo”).

Since I’ve never seen a photographer selling at one of these shows which I’ve been attending with my 9-yr old daughter Kaitlyn since she was 4, I think some people weren’t quite sure what to make of me and my setup.

People came to buy reptiles and supplies, probably not art, cards, or photos.  The feedback of my work was really positive, especially from some of the other vendors who’ve been doing these shows for years as part of the reptile business.  I didn’t sell as many big ticket items as I would have liked to, but did well enough to cover my costs to get into the show.  Hopefully, if I keep attending these events people will start to anticipate the idea of buying interesting photo’s of some of their favorite pets, or even some of my more traditional photos for “normal people“.  ;o)

0090All of this helps to encourage me to work hard to get the shots that are floating around my brain into my camera.  Some of the dart frogs in my house I consider to be some of the most incredibly beautiful creatures on this planet.  The problem is, they REALLY do not like having their pictures taken, which was a phase my daughter went through from about 4-7 years old. However, the frogs are probably not going to grow out of that camera shy phase.

So the trick now is to invent a way to get these images in a practical manner that doesn’t overly freak out the frogs, and make me wish I was cleaning toilets for a living.  But I think I’ve finally got a plan that might work and I hope to be posting pictures of these critters here soon that arent just lucky accidents, but the images that I really do have planned out.

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