Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

No trip to Prescott, AZ, in my opinion is complete without a visit to Bill’s Pizza. I personally love Steph’s Favorite Combo.

Halloween Night was no exception.  I found myself with friends at Bill’s.

We had our slices and then walked over to Senator Hwy to view a local Halloween tradition – almost four blocks of the street, which contain Craftsman and Victorian homes throw open their porches, garages and lawns to anyone who is on the street.

Luckily I had the camera phone.  The scene below is typical:

After doing the circuit, I was fiddling with the camera trying to capture Darth.  It was pretty dark, so I didn’t notice that Miss Kitty and The Bride of Prescott were walking into the frame until I looked at the screen.

Suddenly, with my head down still looking at the screen, I sensed that someone was standing in front of me.  It was The Bride.  She was saying something.  I wasn’t paying attention.  I am sure that is because that I believe that no Prescott high school student (especially one that is dressed as a bride) would be interested in talking to an old goat.

I stopped fiddling with the camera and looked up casually as she repeated:

“You took a picture of me — and I wasn’t smiling!  I want you to take one when I am smiling.”

“Oh, OK,” I acquiesced. (I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was trying to make a picture of Darth).


The Bride of Prescott

She kept smiling and bounced away happily without saying another word.

I think she may be going places someday.

I’m went home to walk the dog.


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When The Weather Channel sent a message out for a freeze warning in Prescott yesterday, I figured it was a good excuse to give the wood-burning fireplace (which I had recently reset) a workout.

Although it was 32 outside, the house had only got down to 55 – but I decided to give it a try anyway.  My neighbors, Oscar and Madge had given me a box of their proprietary design fire-starters, but they were on the porch.

“Is that the best you can do?”

So I tried the old-fashioned way, using some of my bills as tinder.  My dog, Chauncie was not impressed.  The fire quickly subsided.  So,  I figured it was time to go out to the porch and grab a fire-starter.

It worked.

After about 30 minutes, the fire settled into a warm glow that could be felt throughout the cottage.  The re-humidifier on top of the stove began to steam, and even Chauncie looked a little less fierce about future prospects.

And to think most of my friends wanted me to get rid of this thing!

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Sometimes, usually unsolicited, a friend will attempt to speed my journey to self-enlightenment:

“You live in Arizona? You must like the Desert!”

I answer,

“Well, there’s the desert, and then there’s Arizona!”

I think I know why I like aspen trees so much — they remind me of the carefree summers of youth. The silver dollar eucalyptus trees would quiver as I looked across the ravine from the back sliding window. My brother and I would play war games amongst those trees and think of all sorts of pastimes during the summer months.

I don’t get back to L.A. as much anymore to see the tall eucalyptus, but Northern Arizona has a great substitute: aspen trees! The quaking leaves and the associated wind noise calm me. So when Mike and Susan said they were going to Flagstaff to see the aspen groves, I will thrilled when the offered to let me tag along.

Although an enthusiastic people portraitist, I took the camera along anyway, hoping to see if I could capture anything close to the way that I knew I was going to feel.

North of flagstaff, we started hiking at about 9,000 ft. Passing through a dark, lush forest we came to a clearing with the San Francisco peaks in the near distance. Mike and Susan stopped to take photos. (I think they were being kind to me by finding an excuse to let me catch my breath).

Mike and Susan stop to let me rest.

We continued to hike up to the stand of yellow color in the top left of the above image. I looked up and realized why they make this trip together every year. See for yourself:


By now we had hiked far enough that Mike said,
“I wonder why we haven’t seen any other hikers in over an hour?”

We were lost, but it didn’t matter. I stood in one place, and did 90 degree turns. And without taking a step, I was able to make the following images:

Flagstaff aspens

90 degrees to the right:

And one more turn:

Hiking in Flagstaff, AZ

Realizing that we had strayed well off the trail, we decided to turn back, with an appetite for lunch and already feeling sore hindquarters. Mike turned to me and said,

“You know why I like to hike to exhaustion so much these days? It helps me to appreciate paved roads and to tolerate occasional traffic.”

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“I’m coming up to Prescott — I want you to make some images for me,” Shayde, my director friend said.

I have seen Shayde direct some great actors, including Josh Adamson,  Irina Björklund and Rachel Wittman.  But as is sometimes the case (and certainly in my case), the person behind the camera may not feel as normally fluid when front of it.  So it can be with Shayde.  He knows this.

Shayde Christian Directing Irina Björklund and Josh Adamson (Painting in the Rain)

I think that is why he likes to work together.  I ignore his discomfort in front of the camera and challenge myself to embrace it before we dismiss it.

During our session, we crashed a neighbor’s yard to explore the light.  There had been a recent monsoon rain in Prescott, and the air was clean, crisp and still.  I invited Shayde to sit on a retaining wall and took this shot to check the exposure:


As I looked at Shayde, I noticed that he looked as I might have appeared in front of the camera: hunched over, eyes averted, hands uncertain, etc. So I invited him to try something different.

“Hey, Shayde. Sit up from your waist! Open your heart chakra and extend it around the lens.”

“What kind of New Age Mumbo-Jumbo is that?” Shayde retorted.

Ignoring the question, I continued: “Now spread your legs. Don’t worry, I am not going to shoot your crotch, but the camera will know what you are doing … Wider … Wider!!!”

My invitation was met with laughter from the on-lookers and it spread (no pun intended) to Shayde.



It’s not the kind of invitation I could use with just anyone, but I knew it would bring Shayde out of his shell and into the lens.

(ISO: 125, f5.0, 1/125. Canon 24-105L IS lens, Quantum QFlash)

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Traveling on the ‘Iron Bird’ To Visit the Brothers and Sisters in the North
When Q’ero shaman Don Francisco takes the ‘iron bird’ from Peru to visit the ‘brothers and sisters in the North,’ he is besieged by requests to perform despachos (the ceremony by which prayers may be actualized) and to administer the nine rites of the Munay-Ki (the q’ero rites of passage). So I was not surprised when I was asked to film Don Francisco explaining the importance of the Munay-Ki for a global audience.

Awesome Shaman, Don Francisco

Bringing the Q’ero Rites of Passage to a Wide Awareness
We wanted to get Don Francisco to respond in his native Quecha language. This was a two-step process, as Don Francisco’s translator Mauricio would first ask the question in Spanish and then wait for two responses:

1) the Quechua and

2) the Spanish so that we could easily create subtitles later.

Patience and Love
This sounded simple, but Don Francisco would answer and then quickly look at Mauricio for approval. I opened my big mouth and suggested through Mauricio that Don Francisco keep looking at the camera lens. The video below picks it up as I begin to call for action and Mauricio reminds Don Francisco to look at the camera, and not the translator.

As Mauricio translated my request, Don Francisco ‘broke character’ and gave the response of toleration: “Yeh, Yeh Yeh.” He then proceeded to answer the question “Why is the Munay-Ki important?” as if he were never interrupted.

It might interest the reader that the three leaves that Don Francisco holds in each hand are called kintus, and are said to hold the hopes, aspirations
and prayers of the participants of a despacho.  I was ready to put the microphone on Don Francisco and turned to him on the bench — he was gone!

“Mauricio, where did he go?”

“I think he is over in the trees!”

Don Francisco returned smiling with these massive kintus, which are usually the size of coca or bay leaves.

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“Let’s try Lynx Lake Cafe for breakfast,” Mike said.

I displayed my lack of Prescott, AZ lore without keen self-awareness by answering, “Where’s that?”

A turn at Costco and suddenly you are in the Prescott “Recreation Area” surrounded by pinyon pines and juniper. A couple of miles up the road and we turn off to see a cottage-like building beyond a parking lot. Nothing special yet. Then we step out of the car and walk toward the entrance. The smell of burning juniper wisps through the chilly morning air in February. And then I see it: Lynx Lake, and all reservations are forgotten.

Lynx Lake, Prescott, AZ

We open the screen door and pass an inviting fireplace and on to the picture windows over-looking the lake.

The Fireplace at the Lynx Lake Cafe

I must be getting old and sentimental because a year later, I invite Damon and Regina to breakfast to relive the romance of the venue. I look up and see them with the lake beyond and notice they are both otherwise occupied.

Let there be texting!

There is a ‘teachable moment’ here. I just haven’t learned it yet.

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Upon their first meeting, my brother continued with his examination of Gina: “…it’s a good thing that you are pretty – you could get away with wearing any color of hair!”

Translation: “I hate your hair color!”

I thought this was a little bizarro coming from my brother, as he has cultivated his reputation in the family as the avant garde, worldly rebel. I can’t now diplomatically say what he used to send out for Christmas Cards (maybe I’ll find and old one and scan it someblog).

"I miss the aqua hair!"

Some months later, my suspicions concerning the direct link between my brother and Mother were confirmed when upon seeing Gina, the first thing out of her mouth was not hello but: “You don’t have blue hair — I heard that your hair was blue!”

Maybe I have changed and no longer reject out-of-hand what my younger brother thinks, because I do agree with him that Gina is lovely – although without his conditions that pass judgement upon any body modifications. She seems to me like a rare exotic bird – a special person that my son was lucky enough to marry.

So it was a double joy to take a family drive last summer over to Jerome for breakfast.

There are at least two places that I now do not want to miss while in Jerome:

1. The Mile-high Grill (and Inn), and

2. Nellie Bly.

The former I patronize for breakfast — the latter for the pure joy of seeing their massive inventory of Kaleidoscopes.

So while passing through Jerome earlier this week, I was visited again by the warm memories of that summer outing. The staff at Nellie Bly were more than accommodating; they allowed me to put a Canon G12 camera up to one of them to capture this image:

A Kaleidoscope at Nellie Bly in Jerome, AZ

Upon seeing the cinemagraph of herself, Gina mused, “I miss the aqua hair!”

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