Annapurna range, Nepal

The highest mountain range in the world is a mystifying destination for travelers and photographers who come to trek into the foothills of the Annapurnas.  While it takes a few weeks out of your normal life, it feels like you come back a different person.   Here is the story of my first and second third trips to Pokhara, Nepal:


Did I really see that?

There’s a funny thing about being human: We don’t observe all that is there.  I’ve found that the mind has a kind of lens that only permits certain aspects of a scene to enter consciousness.  The camera has haunted me in some travels by showing me aspects of where I was that I had not noticed.

I watched a fascinating dual-view journey of Anthony Bourdain traveling to Madagascar with Darren Aronofsky.  These are two people with very different obsessions in life.  One for the beauty of food.  One for the darkness of human nature.  The first part of the show you see Anthony’s view of the trip.  The lusty gourmand savors glimmers of culture’s brighter sheen and the morsels that are going to go down the gullet.  The professional director/cinematographer (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Noah as his credits) sees something entirely different which is only shown at the end of the Madagascar episode.  As a viewer, you recognize all the scenes that each saw and experienced.  But the perspective of each was so different based on what they focused on.

I’ve spent decades of rather haphazard photography to discover that the pictures I’ve taken capture things I was not able to fully appreciate in the moment.  It’s not that my photography is anything remarkable.  I photograph remarkable things in ordinary ways.  But the issue is that my consciousness in the moment isn’t able to soak up all the detail that fills the frame.

I’m a person who gets overwhelmed by beauty fairly easily.  If I’m looking at a plant, a landscape, a sunset, a work of art, my eyes dart about trying to notice things that capture the overwhelming sense of majesty that I see.  If I take a picture, I see it so much more for its entirety.  But there is something about the nature of optical focus that keeps the real-world experience of the beauty in a fleeting ephemeral sense.  I’m actually very disappointed when the picture comes out better than I remember the scene.  I should capture the visual awareness better than the camera distills it.  But sometimes presence of mind lacks because of some distraction, some inconvenience of the travel experience that takes me away from seeing things as they most magnificently are.  In a way, photography is a way of chastising myself for the things I don’t see on first experience.

If I were a better observer, I wouldn’t need the camera as a crutch.  It’s because I feel like I’m always slipping, just a bit, from full awareness that the camera centers me and reminds me.  When I see a photo I’ve taken that precisely captures what I observed, I’m happy.  When I see a photo that is better than what I observed, I’m reminded of the imprecision of my vision.






Arizona desert driving

The deserts of the American west have been an cultural symbol for pioneer spirit, exploration and adventure. Its geological formations are equal in splendor to those of Utah. And thanks to a bunch of film makers, it has become the backdrop of decades of “Western Films” that fill the memories with red dusty landscapes. Come take a gander with me!

The mountains of Southern China

Since I was a child, I remember seeing Chinese wood carvings and calligraphic ink paintings of a place half way around the world where the mountains jut up out of the river bed of the Li River.  Once I was a passport-worthy global citizen, I sought it out and discovered for myself why this region has beguiled millions of artists through the centuries.