About Tom Anderson

I'm a fine arts, landscape, flower, family, and event photographer living and loving the southwest.

Alexander’s on Ft. Lowell – a friend to homeowners and artists alike


White Sands Panorama, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/11, 30 mm, 0 ev, in-camera panorama, Sony A77

Alexander’s on Ft. Lowell is a family-operated furniture business that has been in Tucson for almost 50 years”, we discovered seven years ago when we first moved to Tucson. They specialize in choice, being able to outfit your home with not only the exact furniture you want but include  the correct accessories and accent pieces that allow you to make room enhancements when ever that urge comes upon you.

Butterflies, ISO 800, 50 mm, 1/1000 sec, f/8, 0ev, in-camera panorama, Sony A77

High end affordable custom furniture stores often try and find unique accessories for their clients that enhance the beauty of their customers furniture choices. What better than to display one-of-a-kind photographs, artwork, and glassware. I was fortunate enough to be asked to display some of my photographs at their store on consignment. Showing your photographs in a gallery is one thing, but being able to actually display and sell your work in a home setting really beautifies both the furniture and pictures.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ – gallery wrap – ISO 100, 75 mm, F/11, 1/200 sec, 0 ev, Sony A77

Often, as photographers, we don’t ever get to see where and how our pictures are mounted in our customers homes. As fine art are they placed in a place of prominence or are they just “fill” for the wall? Of course we think there should be a gallery wall for them in each home…but really, come on, is that ever done? I don’t think so but in reality they are placed in areas that enhance the decor of the living room, bedroom, or family room. Pictures bring back pleasant memories to people and are a personal choice.

Southwest Trilogy

I personally take pictures of scenes that give me peace, bring back happiness, or remind me of the natural beauty of the land and I hope that they bless those who purchase them for their home. The images should warm the heart and the home.

Stop by Alexander’s if you’re in the area and look over the fine furniture and accessories. You’ll see not only the furniture but you’ll have the chance to see  how accessories from various artists of the area can help enhance your home. Maybe buy that long sought after end table along with an image that makes you take a calming breath and remember the good times.

Pix of the Pets: Have your camera ready!

Dolly the Basset Hound, ISO 100, 1/60 sec., f/4, 30 mm, 0 ev, Sony Alpha 77

Dolly the Basset Hound was hanging out at my local Starbucks coffee shop one sunny morning. Her owner Mr. Brewer kindly let me take a few pictures of this gorgeous dog. At first I thought she was a Bloodhound but then found out she was a Basset Hound.

Some neat facts about Bassets. They have the record for the longest ears on any dog. The breed has such dense bones that they sink like a rock if dropped into water. In fact due to their bone density even with their normal 14″ height they weigh as much as a 22″ tall Labrador.

Dolly’s paws, ISO 100, 1/60 sec., f/4, 30 mm, 0 ev, Sony Alpha 77

This breed of hound was originally bred from the Bloodhound (hence the mistake on my part) by the French aristocracy for a reason. The short legs bring his nose closer to the ground making him better at tracking rabbits…and his white tipped tail makes it easier to keep track of him in tall grass and shrubs.

The nose, ISO 100, 1/60 sec., f/4, 30 mm, 0 ev, Sony Alpha 77

The nose, the second most scent-sensitive bested only by the Bloodhound boasts 200 million scent receptors. Humans have only 5 million. That gives the Basset a huge advantage when outside hunting for small game.

Happy time, ISO 100, 1/60 sec., f/4, 30 mm, 0 ev, Sony Alpha 77

The Basset hound is a wonderful family dog, is very lovable and runs with a wiggle and hop that makes anyone laugh. I’m told that they are quite difficult to train because they are stubborn, stubborn, stubborn. Sort of like some people I know who are lovable too.

So the point of this post is to always have your camera ready to record your pets favorable antics. Be sure to get down low…and in the case of the Basset…real low. Look ’em in the eyes. Focus on their eyes. I could have done better on that but then…I’m a landscape photographer. I think if I was a “pet photographer” I’d be sure to have enough light to keep wiggling dogs and cats in focus or use a strobe to freeze the action. Don’t forget to open the lens to get that nice soft blurred background or do the Gaussian blur in Photoshop after.

So to end this post…here’s what Holly has to say about it…

Brrrrrrp…ISO 100, 1/200 sec., f/7.1, 16 mm, 0 ev, Sony Alpha 77

Indian Summer in Sedona Arizona

Storm over Cathedral Rock – ISO 100, 75mm, f/11, 1/200 second

Indian Summer was the term for the season we used in Michigan when I was a child. Actually it occurred after the first frost of the season when the weather warmed up and tried to still be summer. I don’t know if that is appropriate here in Sedona Arizona too. I don’t think it had gotten down to 32 degrees yet when I took this scene of the famous Cathedral Rock. So many pictures have been taken of this wonderful location in the red rocks. I’d been here and photographed these wonderful stones but I just never had been here when it was stormy, till now.

Waterwheel, Barn, and Cathedral Rock – ISO 200, 40mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, -1 ev

So to help grind in the beauty of this area I took even more shots. Here’s a couple more.

This is taken from Red Rock Crossing out past West Sedona off of 89A, a very popular park. In fact as I was setting up to shoot this picture another photographer stuck his tripod in the grass and mounted his Hasselblad (film camera) with the appropriate lens and Cokin filter system to record his version of this scene. I sorta lusted after his setup, mostly because it brought back good times with the man who got me interested in photography when I was 9 years old. He’s gone now but his memory lingers on in my heart.

Here’s another shot from a different location.

Tall grass and Cathedral Rock – ISO 200, 26mm, f/7.1, 1/640 sec., 0.3 ev

I could go on and on with these Cathedral Rock images but you get the idea. It’s very picturesque especially with clouds. The clouds make the image jump. Before when I shot from here all I had was a severe blue sky. Nice but not as impressive as with clouds.

Okay moving right along… We also went to Slide Rock Park up north of Sedona toward Flagstaff along Oak Creek. It was a beautiful area overflowing with wildflowers, sunflowers, and even a pumpkin field. More on that later.

Wildflowers at Slide Rock – ISO 100, 18mm, f/13, 1/125 sec., 0 ev

A couple of years ago I visited the north rim of the Grand Canyon around this time of year and it too was covered with wildflowers. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

Sunflower at Slide Rock – ISO 6400, 18mm, f/14, 1/800 sec.; 2.7 ev – NIK Color Efex Pro

And last but not least is the mighty Sunflower. This garden was planted with legacy plants of the early 1900’s. Sunflowers, Amaranth, Pumpkins, Carrots, Onions, and Corn to show what the early settlers grew and ate.

You might wonder why in the world I shot this picture at such a high ISO. I’ve never used ISO 6400 before and then even bumping the brightness with a 2.7 ev too. Well it was very windy and I was shooting into the sun and I wanted to be able to resolve the sunflower head that was in the shade and stop the swaying due to the wind. So I jacked up the ISO sensitivity, stopped the lens down to f/14 to be sure I got the background in sort of focus but not quite all the way. This allowed me to get enough exposure to show the sunflower seeds in sharp focus and stop the motion of all the leaves in the wind. Then with the help of shooting in RAW and editing in Aperture and passing the image on to NIK Color Efex Pro  I was able to pull out the detail brightness of the Sunflower itself. It took a little time but I think I like the results. How about you?

The Amazing Monsoon season

Monsoon over the Sonoran Desert – ISO 250, 17mm, rev, f/4/ 1/4000 second

Once in a while I get lucky and yesterday was one of those days. “The day began like any summer monsoon day in the desert and I hung out looking for something to snap a picture of…, my name’s Friday, Sergeant Friday and I work the day watch out of… ”

Dang! Those darn radio flashbacks. Well it’s almost right. I was looking for something to shoot and during the monsoons, outdoor backgrounds are so, so, dramatic. This storm coming over the Sonoran Desert looked more like an Atomic explosion.

Everything looks better after a rain. The leaves, grasses, and cactus are all squeaky-clean and green. The desert doesn’t even look like a desert.

Monsoon and Prickly Pear – ISO 250, 20mm, 0ev, f/16, 1/160 second

The color pops. Even the animals and insects come alive. The atmosphere is very humid and in this case the humidity was even higher than the temperature.

Butterfly happiness – ISO 800, 50mm, 0ev, 1/1000 second, horizontal cropped

Brilliant-Bird-of-Paradise plants attract butterflies and insects of all kinds. Photo walks like this are more fun than even the sunny day ones. Of course any day out with my camera is a good one. What do you think?

I host desert walks during the monsoon season and if you’re interested in attending one let me know and I’ll arrange one. Contact me at tom@desertdreamingphotography.com and let me know how to get in touch with you and what day’s would be good for you. There are no fees attached to these photo walks at this time.

Are you an Apple user? Do you use iPhoto? Would you like to upgrade to a more powerful editing and cataloging program? Can’t afford or don’t want to learn Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Then Apple’s Aperture 3 is the right editor for you. It’s a “non-destructive” professional editing product meaning when you alter your photographs it doesn’t modify your master like other editors do.

If you’re interested in what Aperture is and does then why not look over my “Aperture Easy-Ops Video Training” series. Here’s the link to two free modules titled “Introduction to Aperture” and “Aperture – Understanding RAW vs JPEG.” Just click on this link:  “Aperture Easy-Ops Video Training”.

Let me know what you think of these videos and in the meantime give me a call and we can go out and gather some monsoon photos together.


CaSO4·2H2O White Gypsum Sands

White Sands Dunes Panorama –  ISO 100, 30mm, 0ev, f/11, 1/250 second panorama in-camera 14 shots

gypsum |ˈjipsəm| noun – A soft white or gray mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulfate. It occurs chiefly in sedimentary deposits and is used to make plaster of Paris and fertilizers, and in the building industry it’s the chief component of dry wall. But in this case I found virtual mountains of the stuff at White Sands National Monument just 13 miles south on highway 70 out of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

I was fortunate to go on a White Sands Photo Workshop with Cheyenne Rouse a wonderful landscape photographer who specializes in HDR from Scottsdale, Arizona. Since I’ve lived here in Tucson I’ve wondered about White Sands and had seen many pictures from there and had already planned to go there on my own this summer. Then I met and heard Cheyenne speak at a photography club here in Tucson, twice as a matter of fact, and decided that she’d be the best guide for the job. It would save me hours of scouting the park in the hot sun and since the workshop was happening during the Blue Moon of August I just had to join the group of 4 others and have three days of fun in the sun and moonlight.

Triple Yucca – ISO 100, 16mm, 0ev,-.3ev,+.3ev HDR, f/14, 1/100 second

I arrived in Alamogordo after traveling 350 miles and checked into Mission HQ after stopping by the dunes to get a look-see. We all met up at the park entrance at 5:30 in the afternoon ready to begin our hikes through the desert guided by Cheyenne. She had arranged for early entry and late stay capabilities for us all which we took advantage of through out our workshop. Some of the features other than the beautiful white gypsum sand were the amazing yuccas growing here and there. We scampered up and down the dunes looking for handsome picturesque plants and found this triple stalk one in undisturbed sand.

An interesting note. The dunes can move about 15 inches a month during the windy season in the spring. Trees like Mesquite get covered up with these dunes but the Yucca plant has the ability to just grow taller to avoid being swallowed up by the blowing sand. If you dug down and follow its tap root, it might grow to 10 times its height; so a 6 foot tall yucca might have a 60 foot tap root. The only time they die is if wind erosion blows away the sand below the plant to the point where it is exposed and then the plant collapses due to its own weight.

Cheyenne’s Angel – ISO 200, 20mm, 0ev, f/10, 1/200 second

Along the way and since this sand was so much like the snow I grew up in in Michigan I suggested that it might be appropriate to make sand angels instead of snow angels. Cheyenne thought this was a great idea and before you know it…there was a wonderful looking upside down sand angel. Only because I shot it upside down. I didn’t want to mark up the sand by leaving footprints . Kinda cool huh?

This day, August 1, 2012 was the day (night?) of the first full moon in August. This month has two full moons so one of them is called a Blue Moon. I googled it and there are some who say the first full moon is the Blue moon and some say the second full moon is the Blue moon. You decide. All I know is that the sand looks amazing all through the night. Since our eyes loose color perception in low light it’s hard to tell what color it is. Since the gypsum sand is so white it reflect the colors of the sky and the camera picks it up.

Purple sands – ISO 100, 26mm, 0ev,-.3ev,+.3ev HDR, f/6.3, 160 second

This night the moon rose and the sky went to a deep sapphire blue. Even before the disk of the moon came over the distant peaks, rays of light shot into the sky just like a sunrise or sunset. It was amazing just as this picture below shows.

Blue Moon over White Sands – ISO 400, 40mm, 0ev,-.3ev,+.3ev HDR, f/16, 1/20 second 

As the night progressed we all had fun in the dark, each person snapping pictures as the moon rose in the east. Here’s a fun one of the moon up higher in the sky with my camera and tripod casting a shadow across the sand.

Camera and Moon -I SO 250, 50mm, -0.3ev, f/4, 4.0 seconds

 So what caused the shadow between me and the moon? Give up? I turned on my flash light and shown it behind me and the camera in the sand. Since this was a 4 second exposure it cast an eery shadow ahead of me. Okay next question…what type of tripod head do I have my camera attached to? Sure, of course, it’s a Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick head. Notice I’m shooting in the portrait (vertical) orientation. See you can learn from this blog 🙂

Afternoon panorama- ISO 100, 50mm, 0ev, f/9, 1/200 second panorama in-camera 14 shots

So then came the next day and we shot sunsets and sunrise. Above is another 14 shot in-camera panorama of the desert in the afternoon before sunset. It looks small but go ahead and click on the picture and it will enlarge and look nice.

Wind Erosion – ISO 100, 16mm, 0ev,-.3ev,+.3ev HDR, f/22, 1/20 second

I spoke of erosion of yuccas before so here’s some erosion around a shrub. The plants roots hold water and in turn will hold the sand together below it. It will then form a tall stalk of hard sand underneath it where burrowing animals can live.

All-in-all the workshop was a fun, informative, and excellent way to see the wonder of White Sands National Monument and the Blue Moon of August. If you ever get the chance to do this workshop or any other ones hosted by Cheyenne Rouse of Cheyenne Rouse Photography by all means do it. She also publishes books and apps for finding good photo locations in the southwest and teaches HDR workshops. I know I sure enjoyed it and made  new friends at the same time too.

Shooting at the Omni

Omni National Golf Club – ISO 800, 30mm, 0 ev, f/8, 1/200 second, HDR by NIK HDR Efex Pro

No this entry isn’t about a shooting at the Omni, there’s enough of that in the news these days. It’s about shooting pictures at the Omni National golf club using the Sony A77. Each picture is a 24 meg jpeg file and hasn’t been altered.

This entry is all about what the A77 does right out of the box as I learn to use some of the features my Sony A350 didn’t have. First I’d like to say that the autofocus using the 16-50 f/2.8 lens with SSM is totally amazing. What is SSM? Internet’s photo.net says, “SSM (Supersonic-wave Motor) Lense [sic] uses the nature of piezo-electric element, which changes shape when voltage is applied. Compared to conventional DC motors, the supersonic-wave motor has characteristics that fit the lens drive, such as producing high torque from slow rotation and providing quick start and stop responses. By employing this motor, the SSM lenses provide ultra- quiet, ultra-smooth and superior AF operation.”

So the question is does it work better/faster/quieter than what I have on my older A350? Yes it does by far. It is a nearly silent and extremely quick focusing lens. SSM lenses have been around since 2006, six years ago but they are more expensive than my current Minolta and Tokina 300mm lens. Since my everyday lenses are Minolta lenses plus a Sony 11-18mm super wide angle I’d love to replace them with SSM versions but that would be counter productive on my wallet. So lets look at some photo’s shot with the “kit” 16-50 f/2.8 lens with SSM.

Clubs against a tree – ISO 800, 50mm,  0 ev, f/11, 1/60 second

Clubs on the ground – ISO 800, 30mm, 0 ev, f/9, 1/250 second

This shot of the clubs was shot at ISO 800 because it was kind of dark out. Notice the light on the lamp post. Focus was snappingly quick and it is very quiet during the seeking focus operation. That combined with the “zip” sound of the shutter instead of a mirror slap sound make the camera unobtrusive.

These next two photographs of a woman swinging her iron was with continuous speed set to Low which means frames are fired continuously probably at 6 frames a second.The continuous speed High is at 12 frames per second. At only 250th of a second the ball is a

Woman 2 Golf Swing 1 – ISO 100, 75mm, 0 ev, f/5.6, 1/250 second

blur but not frozen in air.

This was shot hand held with my 300mm Tokina telephoto. Focusing was slower since my Tokina is slow focusing older lens. Most of the following shots are using this long lens.

Woman 2 Golf Swing 2 -ISO 100, 75mm, 0 ev, f/5.6, 1/250 second










The following photos are all shot at about 6 frames per second.

Woman Golf swings -ISO 200, 280mm, 0 ev, f/5.6, 1/500 second

Man Golf Swing -ISO 800, 90mm, 0 ev, f/10,1/800 second

Even though these shots were at 800th of a second. A shutter speed of 1/1500 or 1/2000 second would have stopped the ball better.

So next were some pictures taken with a strobe off-camera on a flash bracket using bounced light off the light brown ceiling. Even though I shot wide open at ISO 1600 the picture turned out pretty good. The organization that held this golf game had a well known sports figure for their speaker, Mr. James Donaldson.

James Donaldson – ISO 1600, 50mm, 0 ev, f/2.8, 1/60 second

James is a Washington State University graduate (’79). After an outstanding basketball career with WSU, he went on to play professional basketball in the N.B.A. with the Seattle Supersonics, San Diego/L.A. Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Utah Jazz. James was an N.B.A. All-Star in 1988 while playing as center for the Dallas Mavericks. In 2006, James was inducted into the Pac – 10 Sports Hall of Fame and also the Washington State University Athletic Hall of Fame.

The last shot is of a nice looking family using the same flash bracket arrangement as above except the flash head was tilted down at a 45 degree angle toward the family.

ISO 320, 28mm, 0 ev, f/4, 1/60 second, Flash off Camera fired,
compulsory flash mode, return light detected

Of course the first shot caught the mom with her eyes closed and I squeezed off a second shot nearly immediatly when her eyes opened just as her little boys eyes began to close.

Out of camera no adjustments – ISO 320, 28mm, 0 ev, f/4, 1/60 second, Flash off Camera fired, compulsory flash mode, return light detected

Exposure on these flash shots was pretty good and I could use them with a little fix up and the autofocusing…well it was difficult to get a missed focus shot. I did get a couple but only when I jerked the camera. This camera will sync at 1/250 of a second and I could have used that but then I didn’t know how to set it up. I went with the automatic settings instead.

All I can say is I’m really pleased on how this amazing camera performs and handles. More next time as we’ll go to the beautiful White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Yall come back soon now ya’ hea’?

The Bistro, Gate, and Lighthouse

Boudin’s Bistro on the Wharf – ISO 800, 35mm, 0 ev, f/3.5, 1/320 second

Along Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco lie several excellent restaurants and since I hadn’t been very successful at imaging the Golden Gate from Hawks Hill on the Marin headlands due to thick fog till 1:30 PM, I decided to grab a bite at Boudin’s Bistro. Yummy Oregon oysters and Dungeness Crab Louie. Of course I had my camera in hand and was eager to try the A-77 on subjects other than landscapes.

Lobster and Dungeness Crab – ISO 100, 16mm, 0 ev, f/3.5, 1/50 second

The wharf area was rife with colorful subjects just begging to be captured on silicon wafer.

Nectarines and Black Cherries – ISO 400, 35mm,   1 ev, f/10, 1/400 second

Mist condensed on my eyeglass and my camera lens but after sneaking upwind from the boiling crabpots I was able to snap this lobster and dungeness crab pile. It was all I could do to keep from simply reaching over and selecting several of those scrumptious crustaceans along with some drawn butter and…well you know. Maybe some delicious sourdough bread too.

Colorful nectarines and black cherries were offered up at premium prices to the gawking tourists and large silver robot street entertainers kept everybody laughing.

Robotman – ISO 100, 180mm, 0 ev, f/7.1, 1/250 second

Looking up and over Pier 39 toward the city, 210 foot Coit Tower up on Telegraph Hill overlooked all the frivolity below. Coit Tower was built in 1933 and paid for with money left by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy socialite who loved to chase fires in the early days of the city’s history, and supposedly resembles a fire hose nozzle.

Coit Tower from Wharf – ISO 400, 250mm, 0 ev, f/22, 1/200 second

“Lillie was one of the more eccentric characters in the history of North Beach and Telegraph Hill,” says Wikipedia, “smoking cigars and wearing trousers long before it was socially acceptable for women to do so. She was an avid gambler and often dressed like a man in order to gamble in the males-only establishments that dotted North Beach. Coit was reputed to have shaved her head so her wigs would fit better.”

Alcatraz Island from Bistro – ISO 100, 300mm, 0 ev, f/7.1, 1/400 second

So I went upstairs in Boudin’s Bistro to have a wonderful Dungeness Crab Louie and some  oysters…did I mention that…oh yeah well it was so very good I had to mention it again. Out the upstairs picture window was a view of Alcatraz Island. The fuzzy picture above was taken out the window handheld with a 300 mm telephoto just for fun. Actually I was looking at the unusual white structure on the left side of the main building, wondering what it was. Then I remembered and the waitress confirmed what I thought to be true…but it wasn’t. I was told that the white structure was hiding part of the set for the new TV series “The Great Escape”, and that made sense at the time but upon checking this is what I found out.

The 57-year-old water tower is shrouded in white tarps while the National Park Service refurbishes its’ saltwater rusted hulk. It seems that it is considered important to keep it from falling on tourists and restoring its’ early Native American graffiti–scrawled sides, during an 18-month occupation of the island in the late 1960s and early ’70s that helped spark the country’s Native American civil rights movement. This by-the-way is a $1.1 million dollar renovation. So now we know.

Golden Gate from Horseshoe Bay – HDR by Photomatrix, ISO 100, 50mm, 1.7 ev, f/4, 1/80 second

Now on to some other photographic stuff. I got up at 3:30 AM to drive up to the Marin Headlands up on Hawks Hill for a wonderful view of San Francisco through the Golden Gate Bridge. Since moving away from the bay area seven years ago I missed using this often used site but forgot that during this time of the year (July-August) the fogs come rolling in and don’t leave till sometimes after noon…just like this day. So after sitting up on the fog shrouded hillside for an hour listening to the fog horns at the Gate I drove down to Horseshoe Bay near Sausalito below the north end of the bridge.

The above shot, HDR enhanced for fun, is quite pretty I think. This location is gratis the US Coast Guard since the area I shot from was Government property and posted “Stay Out.” A coast guard Ensign okayed me jumping the fence but said that till someone of higher rank came out and shooed me away I could shoot from their pier. Some one did but I was able to get the shot before he conscripted me to the Coast Guard cutter tied alongside.

Later in the day, after the fog slid back into the sea, I was able to head for Baker Beach (clothes optional I heard) to get a more unusual shot of the Golden Gate from the west without using a boat. I never used this location before but thanks to my faithful GPS here I was.

Fetching in the surf – ISO 400, 50mm, 0.7 ev, f/4, 1/1000 second

No nudes but then again it was windy and cold. Kids played in the surf while parents bundled up in parkas along the shore. People played fetch with their dogs (the dogs do the fetching I understand but since I’m a cat owner I often do the fetching).

Golden Gate from Baker beach – ISO 400, 16mm, 0.7 ev, f/4, 1/1000 second

Up the hill to the right is one of many artillery gun emplacements that protected the bay and city during WW2. These emplacements are everywhere in and around the bay area. You can’s see this one but trust me…it’s behind that chain link fence. The gate I think is amazingly beautiful seen down the beach along with the pounding Pacific surf. I got nearly washed away setting up close to the surf as the waves swooped in and I sank slowly in the sand, my shoes all salty and ruined. It happened while I watched the dumb dog fetch the stick.

Point Pinos Lighthouse from afar – ISO 100, 75mm, 0 ev, f/25, 1/25 second

So the last shot is from down the coast about 90 miles south of San Francisco near Pacific Grove. It is Point Pinos lighthouse, the longest operating lighthouse on the West coast. This sepia shot was from the west along Sunset drive looking from the beach across those grasses and sand dunes. There’s a golf course between this shot and the ocean too. We’re just north of the famous Pebble Beach golf club here.

So there we are. Some more photography using my new A-77 digital SLT camera. So far it’s working excellently even after a near disaster at Pier 39. The strap I put on the camera came unsecured and I caught it just as it slide from my shoulder to the asphalt roadway, a drop of about a foot. Fortunately it fell on its side and didn’t even mark it up. Lens okay…check, autofocus okay…check, battery door intact…check, memory card in place…woops nope…had to reseat it. All was okay. Thanks for the titanium body Sony.

Next time some rapid fire golf shots from the Omni Resort and Tucson National Golf club.

Sony A77 at Work Along the Pacific Coast

Okay okay so I’m learning how to use my new Sony DSLT  (Digital Single Lens Translucent) A77 camera I mentioned in the previous post. So we left sunny, very hot (108-110 degree) monsoon weather here in Tucson and headed for the coast up around Carmel California.

Even though the coast was fogged in most of the time, the A77 brought out colors that always amaze me. Point Lobos National Reserve was the perfect spot to try it out. Here’s a  few shots.

Lone Pine along 17 mile drive near Carmel, Ca.  (ISO 100, 16mm f/9, 1/60 sec & polarizer filter)

The sun was struggling to break through the overcast foggy sky but never quite made it that day. Just a few miles north near Monterey the sun broke through…but not here. The color of the water was just as it looked here.

China Beach inside Point Lobos (ISO 200, 50mm f/8, 1/40 sec & polarizer filter)

China Cove which leads to China Beach shown above is one of my favorite places to visit. The water looks emerald green even though it looks so blue further out toward the cove inlet. The little hidden cove has two caves that go through the rock. During low tide both go through. The sand is white, and turns golden as the green water licks the shoreline. Many..many..steps lead down to the shoreline from the bluffs above.

Juvenile Pacific Brown Pelican
Pelecanus occidentalis (ISO 200, 300mm f/10, 1/160 sec) 

Along the shoreline near south of the world famous Pebble Beach golf course are many excellent beaches, rocks, tide pools, and shore birds. Here’s a young juvenile Brown Pelican perched on some seaweed covered rock. This is a hand-held 300 mm shot from the beach. This is one of the legacy lenses from my Minolta equipment list that I’ve used on my Sony A-350 and now my A77 without any problem. One of the major, probably THE major reason I stayed with the Sony line. I tested ALL my former Minolta lenses and attachments and they all performed famously (that means without any degradation).

Straw Hat at Katy’s Place in Carmel, CA.  (ISO 200, 45mm f/2.8, 1/80 sec)

So one last photo. The first two photos and this last one were shot with the “kit” 16-50mm f/2.8 lens Sony ships with the A77. It seems to be an excellent 2.8 lens and I used it in all situations which I’ll share in another post later.

I tested the very fast autofocus and 12 frame-per-second shooting on some bikers and never had a blurry photograph! Only one gripe. Since I’ve never had a DSLR with video capability before I really didn’t like the position of the Video button. I kept pressing it with my right hand thumb as I squeezed the shutter while in landscape mode. After importing the pictures into Aperture and hearing me say “Damn I did it again!” over and over again I really need to find some software (firmware?) hack to turn off that button. Anyone know of a way? Or do I have to practice practice practice not to press that darn button.

I’ll be back later with some other fog pictures of the San Francisco area. Come on back soon.


It’s finally here and it’s not a Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III

At WPPI in Las Vegas this Spring I had the opportunity to try the new Nikon D800 full frame camera; it was amazing as was the Canon 1DX; totally amazing! The 5D Mark III wasn’t released yet but I would expect it is a wonder too!

I actually got to try out the Sony SLT-A77. The second generation translucent mirror technology camera with a 16-50, f2.8 “kit” lens.

Front left view with 16-50 mm f2.8 lens

Actually Sony decided to put a decent piece of glass on the camera. The lens alone is over $600 if purchased separately. It too was absolutely amazing, nearly silent and extremely quick-focusing.

A77 SLT (Single Lens Translucent) 24.3 megapixel

So what was the big deal? I was in the market to upgrade my camera body and I thought it might be time to move up to a full-frame camera and Sony was the only APS-C I considered. So I once again was torn and it seemed whenever I made a decision to buy the Canon, they weren’t available yet. Same with the Nikon. Same with the Sony. Ever since the major earthquake in Japan and the nuclear melt-down caused many of the technology companies to move operations to Thailand, delays were months at a time. Then the rains hit there and put the plants under water in certain locations causing even more delays.

Rear view contains a tillable 3″ 921K megapixel screen and a 100% area electronic OLED (organic light emitting diode) viewfinder.

All through that period the entire world of photographers waited, money in hand, ready to snatch up any new camera offered. Major distributors would have a few cameras to offer and then the supply chain dried up time after time. So now we’re near the end of June and supply channels are becoming more reliable and the Canon and Sony products are now available and the Nikons are showing up slowly online at Adorama and B & H in New York. It was time for me to fish or cut bait as my dad used to say.

I checked my bank account, took a deep breath and let out a sigh. For me to abandon my Minolta/Sony legacy equipment I’d have to spend thousands of dollars to duplicate either Nikon or Canon lenses. So fortunately I had tried all the cameras I was to choose from. Sony’s new translucent mirror technology and 24.3 megapixel camera won out again!

Yes I’d like to have a full-frame camera but it’s not in the cards at this time. I received delivery of my new camera last week and have had a little time playing with it. Fortunately there isn’t a large learning curve from my A350 or Minolta so I only have to learn the new stuff like 3D, panorama, HDR in-camera, rapid 12 frame-per-second shooting, and video capture. That ought to keep me busy till the cows come home. (Hmmm, how many of those cutesy little sayings did I use in this post; three?)

WPPI – Wedding & Portrait Photographers International conference in Las Vegas

MGM Grand Hotel

And it came to pass that I did attend the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International

WPPI March 18, 2012

conference in Las Vegas. It was estimated that as many as 12,000 photographers attended this nearly biblical event celebrating all ages, sizes, and nationalities of photographers.

Crowds jockey for the best position

The conference consisted of more than five days of classes offered in three categories. Masters classes, Platform classes, and Plus classes. There were also special events, and WPPI University classes. Each of these catered to individual capabilities of the attendees from beginners all the way to experts looking to brush up on some techniques to make them more capable.


 Food for the Masses video 

Presented by industry heroes and leaders in wedding and portrait photography. Huge sponsors such as Nikon, Canon, and Sony made the night life exciting with live modeling demos, free food, and presentations by member photographers . Gathering at the watering hole could be found new friendships as well as the renewing of acquaintances from the past.

Classes ran from 8 AM till on average 6 PM with some starting at 7 PM going to 10 PM if you were so inclined. Most were lecture style seminars put on by successful wedding industry photographers and others were actual hands-on training. I saw little pockets of photographers, cameras in hand, trailing after women dressed in wedding dresses with bridesmaids. They stopped in various locations inside and outside of the MGM convention center. The photographer/instructor posing them for the crowd of photographers letting them try different techniques and explaining why this or that was better in that location.

I took several classes and they all were helpful, informative, and inspirational but the one I think I enjoyed the most was Zach & Jody Gray’s Engaging with the Engaged: Growing Your Business Cost-Free.

Zach & Jody Gray

Since I have a marketing as well as a technical background it all made sense to me but to some I observed, their message was new and enlightening. They spoke of everyone wanting to be important & loved and that by showing you are…important and loved through your website, blog, and social media…they will come to you as a client. Their website and blog features their clients weddings and testimonials. In addition their website has helpful tips for photographers. They do photography workshops at different venues around the states throughout the year. If you’re interested in their money making and money saving ideas go to Zach & Jody Gray’s site and sign up for a free PDF and newsletter. Maybe even sign up for a workshop or two. Tell them the old guy that sat about 80 rows back at their WPPI conference sent you.