Can Photography Extend Your Life?

Recently I read a great online article by Mary Segers on the website’s “Photography  Tips and Techniques” section.

Mary states, “With the proper camera and vision, photography can make your life much better.

As I read through her article it reminded me of a blog entry I added back in 2014. You might want to read it too; Go to the top of this page and click on “Blog”.  It’s called “Did You Notice”.

Photography grants us a sort of immortality by documenting life, your families life, and others. The process a person goes through often times relieves stress as we peek into the natural world.



The symmetry of a hummingbirds wings, of a flower’s petals, or of the dragonfly’s wings imparts in us the beauty and exactness of nature. I can’t help but think of a Creator when I look at a snow capped mountain or a beautiful sunset.

Desert Sunset

I believe in an intelligently designed universe, not one that by chance evolved from nothing over eons of time. Whether you’re a believer in a supreme being or not…just wondering at natures creation calms the mind and lowers the blood pressure.

I feel that my nature photography serves a purpose other than just hanging on a wall. It can represent a time or place in one’s life where peace and tranquillity reigned. I can look at my photographs and remember the soft perfume of flowers, or the oceans scent, or a clean smell of a mountains crisp air.



A photograph of a lightning storm or a monsoon can bring with it the smell of ozone as it cleans the air. All of these wonderful remembrances calm me.

So can photography extend your life? I believe it can, the act of photography as well as the act of gazing, not pixel peeping, a photograph that moves you. As we become older we can draw from memory more and more photographic “scents” that take you back to pleasant times in your life.

Are you taking advantage of photography appreciating its power and calming effects?

Agua Caliente Ranch House Art Gallery Exhibition 2/14/16 on Valentines Day

Agua-Caliente-Announcement-flyerSave the date…

February 14, 2016  from

1 PM to 3 PM Valentines Day

Artists Reception at the Ranch House Art Gallery

Join me for some refreshments and meet my fellow artists on Sunday February 14th from 1 PM to 3 PM. I’ll be showing two of my new full metal 12″x18″prints. The Ranch House Art Gallery at Agua Caliente Park is open 10 AM to 3 PM Wednesday-Sunday from Feb 6 thru March 2, 2016.

Isn’t it time for a Custom Photo Tour?

Desert Sunset

Desert Sunset

There are times on one’s vacation when time is short. Juggling between family time and photography time. I know whenever my family went on holiday it sometimes resulted in the proverbial “do I take my DSLR or not”. I wanted to get that neat early morning or sunset shot during the golden hour but isn’t that breakfast or dinner time? It made for hassles with the whole family. I couldn’t justify a separate vacation just for me.

Then there was the problem of visiting a new location and not really knowing where to go for a good view and when to arrive to get the best shot. Also there is the difficulty of how long it would take to get from one picturesque location to another. What about meals?

In beautiful Sedona Arizona we have used the Pink Jeep Tours which are a wonderful way to get a lay of the land and take a few snaps…but as a landscape photographer I’m not into snaps unless it’s just for family remembrances. So after the tour I could attempt to “re-tour” the locations during the golden hour, sans family.

So I got to thinking what if Desert Dreaming Photography, my little company, offered Custom Photo Tours. I would research popular photographic locations in and around Tucson, Tombstone, and Bisbee Arizona. I’d find the best golden hour locations, find the driving time between these locations, find the seasonal sunrise/sunset times, chart them all out so I could offer, you guessed it…Custom Photo Tours. So that’s what I’ve done.

Now visitors can plan ahead with their families. Give Dad or Mom a day or two exercising their creative juices photographing the popular photographic locations and be guaranteed to be on site at the right time as well as get to the next selected location on time to set up, and shoot location two. Maybe even schedule a third location miles away for the evening spectacular sunset overlooking a Saguaro studded hillside.

Since these tours are “custom” a customer can contact me at 520-342-5838 and I can work out a custom itinerary based upon their interests and capabilities. Think of it as a custom backstage Disneyland tour but in the Greater Tucson Arizona area.

I guide interested photographers to popular and sometimes unknown locations offering camera guidance and composition suggestions. Rates for these tours are $175/per person/per 8 hour day. Minimum of 1 day and maximum of 6 people per tour. If you are interested in visiting Sabino Canyon, Gates Pass, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the San Xavier Mission, East/West Saguaro National Monument, Signal Hill Petroglyphs, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tohono-Chul Park, or Agua Caliente Park please check out this video. The photographs were taken at a few of these venues. Please call or email me at for times and dates of interest.

“I love world class photography.  Tom has the rare gift of inspiring through both breath taking imagery and a wondrous love for people.  So thankful for this artist…”  Lee Miller



The “Bosque”

Crane Ponds at Sunset

Crane Ponds at Sunset

What has 57, 331 acres and is located at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert, and straddles the Rio Grand and has as many as 34,000 winter residents?

Is it the winter population increase of Tucson Arizona and Miami Florida? Nope sorry. It is the NWR, National Wildlife Refuge known as Bosque del Apache near the tiny town of San Antonio, NM, 9 miles south of Socorro, NM. and about ninety minutes south from Albuquerque.

Bosque del Apache translates into “Woods of the Apache” and Pueblo Peoples for centuries before the Spanish explorers established the Camino Real (the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe, NM)

From November through February and March photographers gather from around the world to capture the beautiful Sandhill Cranes as they glide in to feed.

We're ready...let the cranes and Snow Geese land now.

We’re ready…let the cranes and Snow Geese land now.

The Grus canadensis – Sandhill cranes move among several areas throughout the day to feed, rest, and socialize. Social behavior includes at least ten different types of calls, various threatening postures, and elaborate dances for everything from joy to courtship.

Sand Hill Cranes alling to their mates to gather.

Sand Hill Cranes calling to their mates to gather.


These cranes cruise in to rest in shallow ponds to rest for the night only to fly off in the morning to feed in the surrounding fields.

Cruising in for a landing.

Cruising in for a landing.

Many other species are among the cranes. Snow geese for example and ducks of all kinds are found in the reserve. As we spent three days coming to the ponds and fields we were treated to tens of thousands of flapping wings and feeding majestic birds.

If you ever get a chance to view this event take it ! It is truly an amazing sight.


“Where have you been?”

My gosh, people asked,”Where have you been?” It’s been over 6 months since you’ve added anything to your blog. Is everything alright?

The answer is all is well but I’ve been quite busy setting up Desert Dreaming Photography as a sole-proprietor business and trying to drum up more sales. In the meantime I decided to introduce myself to the business community more by doing event photography as well as my first love…landscape photography. In addition I’ve really enjoyed a little more wildlife photography in New Mexico ( more on that in a followup post )

I’ve found out that people are really like my black and white and sepia work. This style of print my customers say really is easier to place in a home. Color photographs are often selected based on the color scheme of the room and so limits its placement. So here are two of my most recent images for you to enjoy. What do you think?

Winter Yellow Barrel Fruit

Winter Yellow Barrel Fruit – Selective Color over Sepia


This one was shot with my Sony A77 at 1/200 second, f/5.6, ISO 400, at 18 mm. The day was cloudy, absolutely no wind and very quiet. That’s what I like about the desert most of the time; the solitude. Upon looking at the images in Adobe Lightroom later I noticed that the only color was the light green of the Fishhook Barrel and the yellow fruit on top. So I decided that I’d use a selective color approach to the photograph and just bring out the yellow on both cactus and let the rest of the image go sepia. I didn’t care too much for the straight b/w version.

Here’s another one.

Gone but Not Forgotten - Selective Color over Sepia

Gone but Not Forgotten – Selective Color over Sepia

This one was shot with my Sony A77 at 1/125 second, f/8, ISO 400, with an 11 mm wide angle lens. In this case the color I enjoyed was the rust color since the rest of this cactus was black and grey. I feel the selective rust color makes for a pleasant image.

So I hope you all like these pictures and I promise I’ll be back sooner with some other images I’ve done during the last six months hiatus.


The Queen of the Night returns…

On the 10th of July the Queen of the night returned. 

For several years now our Peniocereus greggi had lain dormant. Or so we thought. Last year we were on vacation and came back to withered blooms hanging from our night blooming cereus. We’d never seen a blossom the 5 years it had been in the ground.

Peniocereus greggi - Queen of the Night

Peniocereus greggi – Queen of the Night

This year though we were pleased to see of the 4 blooms, two actually popped flowers. Due to the very dry monsoons the last few years many of these somewhat ugly stalk-twig like plants pulled their bud blossoms back in before they actually formed a flower. But 2 of them did bloom, along with 4 others on another plant given to us earlier in the spring.

4 Peniocereus greggi

4 Peniocereus greggi


Here’s one last look inside its luscious center.

Yellow center

Yellow center

My wife has a perfume called Queen of the Night and is sold as the scent of these flowers. But alas they really don’t have a scent we can smell. Ahh the gift of marketing hype.

These wonderful blooms only happen one night a year and if you miss it…too bad. Try again next year. At least this year we saw them getting ready to bloom and when the sun went down the blooms opened up only to wilt as the sun came up the next morning. What a glorious night it must have been for them as the hummingbird moths and bees crawled to and fro in the mating night of the cereus.

Enjoy the Monsoon season my friends and keep an eye out for the elusive night bloomers.

Wine, Cheese, and Me…Saturday June 21 @ 5-8 PM


My very talented photographer friend Peter Velonis and I are showing 20 of our images beginning on June 21 at 5 PM at CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting room. I’ll be showing some of my favorite large prints and in addition I’ll be displaying fifteen 8x10s framed in black 11×14 frames of our animal friends and not-so-friendly desert friends. Peter will be displaying many of his European river cruise destination photographs. Wonderful work.

Stop on by and partake in the wine tasting, 6 wines for $10 and stroll through the beautiful wine selections and enjoy our unique photography. We’re having a party and you all are invited.

See you there!


Did you notice?

My tagline has changed from “snapshots of a photographers mind”, to “saving lives through fine art photography”. This may sound unusual but it really isn’t. Have you ever had to describe your business or profession in 30 seconds or less? It’s sometimes called the “elevator introduction” in the sales and marketing world. I even redid my cards.New CardsSuppose you are attending a large conference such as NAB or WPPI in Las Vegas and are taking elevators everyday to and from presentations. You’re crammed in with other captives on the lift and a person asks, “So what do you do?”

"So what do you do?"

“So what do you do?”

You know you’ve got just a few seconds to describe what you do for a living. You could come off kind of flip and say, “What…you mean right now?”, with a little smirk, knowing that with 80,000 other attendees you’re probably talking to another photographer or engineer.



I’m a tongue-in-cheek kind of guy so I might actually reply that way.  I’ll probably never see that person again so can I afford to be a wise guy?  I don’t think so.

Lots of times when I attend conferences I try to blend into the woodwork and actually learn something that I might use in my business later on. Instead of “partying on” I sometimes try out, if possible, a new photo technique I learned  earlier that day or download and test a new App that is the do-all end-all of all  Apps. In reality I should use every opportunity to meet and discover other attendees…networking if you will.

I should know this by now since I spent 16 years of my corporate life in the sales and marketing world. But now that photography is my vocation not my avocation I seem to enjoy the solitude of photography, sharing with only those who can appreciate how I do photography. I’m a member participant, mentor, and event coordinator of several photography groups. I enjoy them all but those wonderful folks aren’t my customers. Who are my customers you might ask and how do I attract them?

How can I get them to realize they need what I have to sell? Sure I’m a photographer but there are dozens of them in any phone book and online everywhere. I need to inform those potential customers that I do fine art photography not just events, animals and pets, and family portraits.

Now comes the reason for my tagline change. If I just responded to the casual “what do you do?” query with, “I’m a fine arts photographer”, I get an all-knowing nod and that’s it. No questions for me to answer. No email to follow up on with an explanation. But…if I reply, “I save peoples lives.” I get all sorts of questions some rhetorical some not but at least I’ve peaked their interest. If then asked I can at least explain either after the elevator door opens, or by the exchange of business cards, or by the email address they give me. They have in effect given me permission to contact them with the answer.

If given the time, I might go on to say, “Have you ever been on vacation or visited a very beautiful location and you wished you could just bring it back with you?”

After the rainOr wish you had a good photograph of a loved at one special time but the photo you took was “after the fact” and just didn’t have that surprise you remember on their face?”KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWhat do you think your blood pressure does when you look at that beautiful image of the Grand Canyon. Doesn’t it calm you down after a stressful day at the office? Don’t you want to experience that again and again?

Well you can, day after day when you own one of my limited edition images. They beautify and add value your home, help calm you down and maybe even save your life.

Think about it.


Rescue – Rehab – Release


Grand Opening and Dedication of the Sam Goldman Wildlife Hospital

Grand Opening and Dedication of the Sam Goldman Wildlife Hospital

Sam Goldman Wildlife Hospital

Sam Goldman Wildlife Hospital

A few weeks ago I was asked to join a fellow wildlife photographer associate on a shoot at the Tucson Wildlife Center. This center was established in 1998 by Lisa Bates M.S. and Peter Lininger, and is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and orphaned wild animals throughout southern Arizona.

The center had a “grand opening” ribbon cutting ceremony introducing a newly built state-of-the-art veterinary hospital complete with trauma center, operating room, x-ray room, and education center. Mayor Rothschild was in attendance and helped in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Mayor Rothschild and the ribbon cutting ceremony

Mayor Rothschild and the ribbon cutting ceremony

Check out the amazing videos on the TWC website.

Many Tucson residents don’t know of this facility but they know them by their white rescue trucks. While living in California we’d often visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their sea lion rescue facilities along the coast so we were familiar with rescue, rehabilitate, and release. Now that we make our home in the desert I figured there probably was an organization that did the same for unfortunate desert critters…and so I discovered the Tucson Wildlife Center (not to be confused with the Tucson Wildlife Museum).

The center deals with injured wild animals. Last year they rehabilitated over 1,000 animals, releasing most back into the wild. Some animals were displaced due to housing encroachment while others were injured by automobiles or impacts with windows and buildings. Some of the injured are needing veterinary care that is provided by volunteer veterinary doctors on call and other animals are just disorientated and dehydrated.  Here are a few of the more famous inhabitants.

Wilber the Bobcat

Wilber – the Bobcat

Wilber the Bobcat is epileptic and can’t be returned to the wild. He’s been adopted as an educational Ambassador for the center.

Egor the Black Vulture

Egor – the Black Vulture

Egor the Black Vulture is another of the educational animals living at the center.

One of the Great Horned Owls

Otto – one of the Great Horned Owls

Bubba and Otto are Great Horned Owls. They live at the center since each one has had an injury that would affect their gathering food in the wild. Notice the retina defect in Otto’s eye.

Leucistic Red Tail Hawk

Lightning the Leucistic Red Tail Hawk

This White Red Tail Hawk is not an Albino he is Leucistic. Leucism affects the pigmentation in animals. In this case the bird is considered leucistic and has dark eyes because the mutation only applies to depositing melanin in the feathers. Albinistic birds on the other hand have pink eyes because without melanin in the body the only color in the eyes comes from the blood vessels behind the eyes.

The Tucson Wildlife Center gives tours by appointment only on Wednesdays & Saturdays. Click on the link and check them out. We can be proud of this amazing Rescue, Rehab, and Release facility here on the east side of Tucson.

Contact them and set up an educational program and don’t forget to Donate or become a Sponsor for the upkeep and well being of our furry, feathery friends of the desert.  It is well worth your time and effort.

What to do in the August heat?

Storms and Saguaros

Storms and Saguaros

The August doldrums… We always hope  and pray for Monsoon storms around here as it is the only water we get other than from the CAP, the Central Arizona Project aqueduct from the Colorado river up north. During these high humidity weeks I usually head to the desert to look for wonderful clouds and rain. Here’s a shot toward the west near Arivaca, AZ.

I parked my car out along the narrow road and walked a ways out into the desert stepping over a tortoise on the way. After the shot I noticed a Boarder Patrol vehicle had pulled up along my car and an officer started walking toward me. I packed up and headed toward him. He was very nice and wanted to make me aware that some illegal boarder crossers were often seen right here so to be careful. I told him I hadn’t seen anyone lately other than my tortoise friend and thanked him for his heads-up. I packed up and drove back toward Tucson since it was getting on the dark side.

The next month it cooled down to below 100 degrees and our Tucson Photography Meetup Group hosted a black and white training session. Some of us really like b/w. It brings back memories for me during the film days of my career. We shot some images inside a church kitchen.

Colandar b/w

Colandar b/w

Old can opener b/w

Old can opener b/w

And sometimes you have to get down on your knees to get the right shot, something that seemed easier 40 years ago.

Get down on your knees

Get down on your knees

So hope you enjoyed the black and white’s  and I’ll leave you with an advertisement 🙂

Nows the time to plan your next photo event...give me a call.

Now’s the time to plan for your next photo event. Give me a call if you’d like my help.