<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Evanescent Light : New Work - 2016

: fleeting, transitory
evanescent wave: a nearfield standing wave, employed for total internal reflection microscopy

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Alabama Hills
Anza Borrego
Badwater 135
Big Sur
Bristlecone Pines
Bolsa Chica
Bombay Beach
Carrizo Plain
California coast
Death Valley
D.V. Superbloom
Eureka Dunes
High Sierra
Imperial Dunes
Joshua Tree
King's Canyon
Lassen N.P.
Log Cabin mine
Mojave Desert
Mono Lake
Northern CA
Owens Valley
Pacific Redwoods
Point Lobos
Racetrack valley
Saline valley
Salton Sea
Salton Sea Ultra
San Joaquin marsh
Trona Pinnacles
UCI & The OC
508 bike race
Anasazi Ruins
Antelope Canyon
Arches Natl. Park
Bisti Badlands
Bosque d'Apache
Buffington Pks
Canyn. de Chelly
Capitol Reef
Cedar Breaks
Chaco Canyon
Comb Ridge
Coyote Buttes S.
Crater Lake
Glen Canyon / Lake Powell
Grafton ghost town
Grand Canyon
Kodachrome Basin
Little Finland
Maine & Acadia
Monument Valley
Natural Bridges
New Mexico
Other Places in S.W. U.S.A.
Oregon Cascades
Oregon Coast
Oregon, Columbia River Gorge
Oregon, Painted Hills
Paria River
Saguaro N.P.
The Sand Hills
San Raphael Swall
The Wave
Valley of Fire
Valley of the Gods
White Pocket
Yant Flat
Flora & Fauna
South & Central America
Easter Island
Bolivia/Chile, Landscapes
Bolivia/Chile, Wildlife
Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia/Chile, Works of Man

Carretera Austral
Tierra del Fuego
England - Canals
England - North
Faroe Islands
Lofoten Islands
Scotland - Aberdeenshire
Scotland- Western Isles
Burma-Lake & River
India -Delhi
India -Kumbh Mela
India - Rann of Kutch
India - Varanasi
Hong Kong
Animals & birds
Landscapes & cityscapes
NZ Coast
NZ Mountains
NZ Wildlife
Campbell Island
Snares Island
Macquarie Island
Auckland Islands
Cape Town
Namibia landscapes
Namibia guide
Bird Island
Carcass Island
Grand Jason
Grave Cove
New Island
Pebble Island
Saunders Island
Sea Lion Island
Steeple Jason
Volunteer Point
West Point Island
Cape Disappointment
Cooper Bay
Gold Harbour
Hercules Bay
Jason Harbour
Larson Harbour
Nordenskold Glacier
Ocean Harbour
Prince Olav Hbr. /Fortuna Bay
Prion Island
Right Whale Bay
Salisbury Plain
St. Andrews Bay
Southern Ocean birds
Twitcher Glacier
Svalbard Land
Svalbard Wildlife
Greenland - ice
Greenland - land
Land & sky
Land, sky, ice
Historic Huts
Balleny Islands
Arches & Bridges
Fall Colors
Penguins & puffins
Slot Canyons
Parker Lab at UCI
Visitors since 2006

New Additions to the Galleries - 2019


A Christmas visit to the giant sequoias and Yosemite Valley

Anne was working over Christmas at the children's hospital in Fresno. I joined her for a few days, taking side-trips into the Sierra Nevada to visit Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. A strong winter storm had left the landscape blanketed with snow at elevations above about 5000ft.







Oil on water iridescent patterns formed by snow-melt on the Kings Canyon parking lot.



An overnight visit to Yosemite. I was hoping for snow on the ground and morning mists, but too late. Michael Frye did better a couple of days earlier as the winter storm was just clearing.



Early morning ice on Upper Yosemite Falls

Snow on the San Gabriels

An unusual late November strorm dropped snow on the San Gabriel mountains down to about the 2000 ft level. Photos here taken looking across the UCI campus from University Hills toward the mountains.


A visit to the Huntington Gardens


November 22nd: A visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific


Two Sunday mornings at Bolsa Chica



October 19-27th: A Tour of Morocco

I ws invited to give a talk at a Calcium Signaling conference in Fez, Morocco, and Anne and I arranged a custom tour of the country beforehand with Experience It tours. Download tour description pdf HERE

Chefchaouen - The blue city


In the alleys of Chefchouan






Chefchaouen cats





Blue Doors - Chefchaouen




Volubilis Roman City


Light through a stained glass window



Doors and Archways


Street Markets


Erg Chebbi : Sahara


















Patterns and colors






Fez : The Medina



Lamp Shops




A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with a garden on the inside. This inner courtyard acts as a sanctuary and respite from the outside world. Beautiful tile work, plants, and water features commonly grace this space, giving you a real feeling of peace and quiet. While these houses or palaces were originally for the wealthier of society, many have now been turned into guest houses. Rather than a large hotel, these houses are run more along the lines of boutique hotel establishments. These are incredible places to stay because they give a genuinely Moroccan experience. Riads are known for being exquisite displays of intricate Moroccan architecture. Everywhere you look, you can see the beautiful, hand laid tile work Morocco is associated with.

Sitting room, Riad le clos des Arts; Morocco

And a luxury tented camp in the Sahara sand dunes




October 12-14: Fall colors in the Eastern Sierras









August 23 - September 4, 2019. Greenland's Scoresby Sund. A voyage on the sv Rembrandt Van Rijn, organized by Joe van Os Photo Safaris

Arrow points to Scoresby Sund

Scoresby Sund - the largest fjord system in the world


The Rembrandt Van Rijn, our home for 10 days

Captain navigating through icebergs

Group photo

The worst thing that happened on the voyage

Photos from another participant on this trip, E.J. Peiker, are HERE

September 4
Our last day on Greenland and flight back to Iceland from Nertlerit Inaat international airport.




I wish all international airports were like Nerlerit Inaat (Constable Point) airport. No security check, no boarding pass, a beautiful view. But a notice warning not to wander far from the boarding area because of polar bears.

Signage: Nerlerit Inaat

Our plane back to Iceland was delayed because Vice-President Pence was flying out of Keflavik. We wondered if the migrating birds might get there before us...


September 3

A morning visit to the (famously unpronouncable) Inuit settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit - the most remote settlement in the western hemisphere and among the coldest permanently inhabited locations on earth.









September 2
A perfect last evening among the icebergs.








August 30 - September 2
Fjords, icebergs in fog, and the Rembrandt spreads her wings.






a walk ashore looking for flora

some textures in white


















more textures and colors







August 28,29: Colorful cliffs and an island within an iceberg graveyard

Some ice abstracts to begin...

























August 26,27 - More Icebergs and first Zodiac Landings














August 24,25 - First Days among the Icebergs














August 18-23: A visit to Iceland en route to Greenland

We met up with our son Cameron (who works as a doctor in Scotland) in Reykjavik and rented a 4wd to drive over the Kjölur road through the interior highlands to the Westfjords.






The puffins had all left (probably just a few days before) when we got to Látrabjarg. But there were still lots of kittiwakes and gulls to keep me amused.


Great black-backed gull calling; Látrabjarg, Westfjords, Iceland





A side trip from the Kjölur route into the mountains to the colorful volcanic area of Kerlingarfjöll


July 28: A sunny morning at Bolsa Chica without the usual marine layer cloud.

July 13-17 : Badwater Ultramarathon
Death Valley to Mount Whitney

“The World’s Toughest Foot Race”

Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA, the Badwater® 135 is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. The start line is at Badwater Basin, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m), which is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States.

This was my 15th year at the Badwater Ultramarathon, the "World's toughest footrace"; eleven years as a runner or pacer, and four helping on the race staff and as a photographer. My approach the first year I came to photograph the race was from the perspective of a landscape photographer, aiming to place the runners in context of the spectacular scenery of Death Valley and the Eastern Sierras. This year I shifted gears, and also took on the mindset of a 'street'/portrait photographer, concentrating on the runners and their support crews. Badwater offers a photographic challenge of capturing the emotions of a group of very special people pushing themselves to the limit in an extreme environment. Moreover, the runners and their support crews are friendly, like having their pictures taken, and in any case have all signed waivers permitting the taking and publishing of photos!

The images below are a selection from many hundreds of shots. Click HERE for links to to numerous other photos from the 2019 Badwater Ultramarathon. Click HERE for my own experiences running Badwater



I drove out to Death Valley on the Saturday evening (July 13), and camped out in the higher, cooler mountains for the night.


The pre-race meeting was held at Furnace Creek on the Sunday afternoon.
The thermometer at the visitor center showed 124 F.


The race started on the Monday evening, with three waves at 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00pm. For many years previously the race began in the morning - much better for photography as the intitial 40 mile stretch passes through the most spectacular scenery.




While the runners continued through the night I drove up to Chloride for a few hours sleep at a cooler 4000ft altitude, and caught up with them at daybreak near the sand dunes (Mile 40).


The thermometer at the Stovepipe Wells store read almost 100 F at dawn, with temperatures rising as the runners ascended Towne's Pass to make the first mandatory cut-off at the 2000ft level by 10 am Tuesday.

Rest stop at the "oasis", just above the 2000ft contour.

And onward, over Towne's Pass and down into the Panamint Valley


Crossing Panamint Valley and beginning the climb to Father Crowley's viewpoint



A rest stop at Father Crowley's Point (but still 1000 ft of ascent to the summit)


Five miles beyond Father Crowley's Point runners leave Death Valley National Park


I backtracked to Father Crowley's Point to photograph the full moon rising at sunset over Telescope Peak.



On Tuesday night I got a few hours sleep at a pull-out on BLM land along the Saline Valley road, and caught up with the runners before dawn of their second night as they descended into Owens Valley.

After a long journey through Owens Valley and passing through Lone Pine the runners begin the last half-marathon, with a 4,500ft climb through the Alabama Hills toward the finish line at Mt. Whitney trailhead.






Michael Coutu - finisher
Badwater Ultramarathon 2019





May 24-28 : Parashant National Monument and Little Finland

For a Memorial Day wekend trip we wanted somewhere to get away from the crowds and find solitude in a wild place. Parashant National Monument, completerly undeveloped federal land bordering the North rimof the Grand Canyon looked ideal. From the NPS website; "Take a lonely and rocky two-track road in a 4x4 to the edge of the Grand Wash Cliffs. Find a stunning solitary vista deep into the Grand Canyon. Relax in the shade of ponderosas at Mt. Trumbull. Touch ancient waters at Pakoon Springs in one of the driest places in the world. Parashant is remote. There are no crowds here. Be equipped to leave pavement, cell service, and the 21st century behind. Here you can wake up in your tent, open the flap, and enjoy scenic views with no one else for miles around. No fees or reservations needed."

But after heavy rains the previous week the road out to Twin Point overlook was deep mud. Being 70 miles from the nearest paved road, and not having seen another vehicle or person for hours, we decided it was prudent to retreat and camped for the night in Hidden Canyon. More rain was forecast to begin the following evening, so we continued on a 200 mile dirt-road loop through the Monument (rescuing an ATV with a flat tire along the way), returning to civilization at Fredonia.

Flowers and cacti blooming at higher elevations in the Monument



Flowers in Parashant National Monument

Nampaweap Rock art site

After filling up the tank with gas at Fredonia (our off-road excursion used about 3/4 of a tank) we took a short cut along the Winter Road aiming for white Pocket. A campsite with fire ring offered a good view and a place to stop for the night. A threatening sky indicated that it would not be wise to sleep under the stars, and indeed rain started soon after we settled in our tent. The morning brought more rain, a soggy tent, and a soggy dirt road, so we again decided to retreat and head back to civilization. A brief lull with a shaft of sunlight and rainbow let us pack up while staying dry.


A detour through Zion ...



... and on our way to the desert and warmth and sunshine at Little Finland


Mushroom rock; Little Finland

Rock patterns #1; Little Finland




May 10-12 - A short visit to North Dakota

A few snapshots from a visit to our son and daughter-in-law in Devils Lake, N.D.

April 28, 29 - Badwater Salton Sea Ultramarathon

I returned to the 7th rumming of the Salton Sea Ultramarathon as staff photographer.

This remarkable event challenges up to 35 teams of two or three ultrarunners – running together as duos or trios for the duration, NOT in a relay – to tackle an unimaginable traverse of Southern California deserts and mountains. The route covers 81 miles (130km) non-stop from below sea level at the shoreline of the Salton Sea, across, up, and over Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, to the top of Palomar Mountain with a dramatic view of the Pacific Ocean.












Southern California Superbloom : March - April

An unusually wet winter brought a 'superboom' to many of the desert areas of California. A rare treat, especially coming only two years after the superbloom of 2017, whereas we had waited over 11 dry winters for that one. Anne and I took a tour toward the end of March encompassing Anza Borego, Chuckwalla Mountains, Joshua Tree and Carrizo Plain, and then returned to Carrizo Plain on the following three weekends to catch the peak of the bloom.


March 25 - April 14 : Four visits to Carrizo Plain

Carrizo Plain National Monument was the last stop on our spring-break wildflower tour. The flowers were spectacular, but perhaps not yet at their peak, so we returned the following three weekends.








Last light on fiddleheads: Carrizo Plain

Catching the last sunlight : Carrizo Plain





Water tank high in a Temblor canyon : Carrizo Plain








Trees - only at higher elevations in the Temblor Range and Caliente mountains


Painted Hills : Temblor Mountains


March 23,24 - A detour via the Chuckwalla Mountains and Amboy Crater

The superbloom was very much in the news, with the poppy fields by Lake Elsinore becoming trampled by tens of thousands of sightseers and selfie takers. We decided to detour to the remote Chuckwalla mountains over to weekend to seek solitude. The wildflower displays were modest, but we found a nice secluded campsite high in the mountains among a forest of jumping cholla. Some unwanted excitement arose when one of our dogs, Rocky, investigated a cholla with his nose.

March 19-22- Superbloom at Anza Borego








Feb. 17: Big bird and small bird at Bolsa Chica


Incredible Faces of India : Jan. 30 - Feb. 11.


The Incredible Faces of India photographic journey, organized by Joe van Os Photo Safaris, promised travels into the heart of India and its diverse cultures, conjuring up images of ash-covered yogis and throngs of colorfully adorned tribespeople—and it certainly did not disappoint! The central “focus” of this photo tour was the world’s largest gathering of religious pilgrims, the Ardh Kumbh Mela, and its millions of devotees—while we made productive use of our own photographic pilgrimage along the banks of the mighty Ganges.  As an additional cultural experience, we were excited to have the opportunity to photograph the nomadic and colorful desert tribes of the Great Rann of Kutch in western India. [Text in italics here and below is taken from the trip report by our leader, Eric Rock]

Feb. 10: Last day in India

Our last day was occupied mostly in traveling , but we did get a gorgeous sunrise, and a wonderful lunch of traditional Gujarati cuisine.


Feb. 7-9: Rann of Kutch

With the Kumbh Mela portion of our trip behind us, we set off for the western desert region of India known as the Great Rann of Kutch. This landscape of extreme seasonal wet and dry periods is home to many colorful nomadic tribes. Our lodging at a local safari camp allowed us immersion into this diverse landscape of cultures. Our three days here were focused on photographing the indigenous tribespeople who came to visit us from the surrounding Kutch area. With the help of our guide Manish who had great local connections, we met and got to know several colorful groups at our camp for formal portrait sessions. Our sessions included both indoor settings with studio lighting as well as outdoors with natural light and backdrops. We took several field trips to visit some of the tribespeople in their villages and camps. These visits provided lots of opportunities to photograph these intriguing and hospitable people at home while they went about their schedule of daily tasks as nomadic pastoralists.

Feb. 9: A morning visit from Ahir tribespeople, and a trip to a Meghwal village in the afternoon.

The Ahirs are among the most colourful communities of the Kutch, who claim to be direct descendants of Lord Krishna. Originally from Mathura, his birthplace, this pastoral tribe came to Kutch in search of fresh grazing land. While the men are in the fields, the women spend their spare time creating elaborate costumes of red, green, blue, orange and brown cotton on which a particular kind of intricate embroidery and mirrorwork is sewn.




In the afternoon we travelled to visit people of the Meghwal community in their small smallvillage of round, mud-brick huts painted on the outside with colourful geometric designs and decorated with detailed mirror inlays.


The women are famous for their embroidery work and wear exuberantly detailed costumes and jewellery. Married women are often spotted wearing gold nose ring, earrings and neckpieces. They were given to the bride as a "bride wealth" dowry by her soon-to-be husband's mother. Nose rings and earrings are often decorated with precious stones of ruby, sapphire and emerald.



Mittal - hands down :
Meghwal village, Rann of Kutch, India


Feb. 8: Visits to two Jat tribes

"The Jats of Kutch are a cattle breeding nomadic Muslim community, descended from ancient pastoral tribes of the Indus delta region of Sindh, where some members of the tribe still reside. With the partition of India, the Jat of Kutch have lost all contact with their kinsmen in Sindh. The Kutchi are further subdivided into the Dhanetah, Girasia and Fakirani; the latter consider themselves superior to the other two, and are strictly endogamous. In addition to cattle rearing, the community are also involved in the breeding of camels, especially the Fakirani, and are also known for their embroidery." [Wikipedia]

After rising at 4:00am for a wake-up coffee at our Safari Resort, a 30- minute drive took our tour group to a pre-arranged rendezvous with Fakirani Jat tribespeople at their desert campsite. The sky was still completely dark when we arrived, with the only light coming from several wood campfires that beautifully illuminated the people sitting around them. That made a wonderful opportunity for candid portrait photography, with warm light on the faces contrasting with a perfect black background. Yet, the time was short before dawn...







In the afternoon we had a very special opportunity to visit the Dhaneta Jat, one of the most reclusive tribes of Gujarat.

"The Dhanetas are the branch of the Jats that retained their original profession of cattle herding. They now have herds of camels and breed the most superior kind of buffaloes.The Dhanetas are Sunni Muslims. The men herd cattle and search for greener pastures through the day and women take care of the houses, children and chores. Aggressive and protective, they do not appreciate pictures being taken of their women. The women of this tribe wear a fist sized complicated nose ring called ‘ Nathli’. This lends an unmistakable identity to the Dhaneta women. The enormous size of this gold nose ring weighs heavy and is held up by strands of black threads tied to their hair. This gold nose ring is the sign of married women and they continue wearing this at all times. Any attempt to photograph the women evokes a strong reaction from men as well as women, who promptly cover their faces making it extremely difficult to capture their lives and lifestyle on camera. The Dhaneta Jats  earn their living by selling cattle milk and other related products. They live in huts made of sticks and old tarps covered with hay. The water shortage and the drought in the area is having an impact on their only possession – their cattle. Greener pastures are rare, far and few." [Indiainframes]

The Dhanetas are described as protective, traditional and almost impossible to photograph. ("If there is any project that has come close to risking my equipment and life, it was photographing the Dhaneta Jats"). Our access was possible only through the close rapport our local guide had built with the tribe over several years. We allowed some time to introduce ourselves and let the women and children grow accustomed to us before bringing our cameras out, but even then our photography time was curtailed and were restricted to shooting with less than optimal light within their thatched hut.







Feb. 7:Visits by Dhebariya and Wagadia tribespeople

This day we remained at the Kutch Safari Resort and photographed members of two tribes who came to visit. We had the use of a simple studio with black backcloth and modeling lights in softboxes, and also took outdoor photos in the surrounding hills and dry lakebed.

Our visitors ( models) for the morning were members of the Dhebariya tribe, one of the three tribes of Rabaris in Kutch. The Dhebariya still wander in the wild with their sheep and camels.





After lunch, we photographed members of the Vagadia (Wagadiya) Rabari community. Studio shots, and then outdoors with their camels for late afternoon and soft evening light. (A Google search for this reclusive, nomadic tribe returns almost no results.)



Vagadia tribe, Rann of Kutch, India



Feb 3-6: Kumbh Mela, Allahbad

Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river. Traditionally, four fairs are widely recognized as the Kumbh Melas: we atended the fair held periodically at the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the invisible Sarasvati at Allahabad. The festival is the largest peaceful gathering in the world, and considered as the "world's largest congregation of religious pilgrims". There is no precise method of ascertaining the number of pilgrims, and the estimates of the number of pilgrims bathing on the most auspicious day may vary. An estimated 120 million people visited Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013 in Allahabad over a two-month period, including over 30 million on a single day. That number was likely exceeded on the most auspicious bathing day (Feb 4th) during our visit.

Our travels overland to Allhabad soon revealed the incredible mass of pilgrims gathering for this sacred event.  Roads and streets became choked with thousands of cars, busses and trucks full of devotees, all of whom had concentrated on this section of the Ganges for the ceremonial bathing scheduled during the upcoming days of the Kumbh. We arrived into our camp just in time for a late dinner and a good night’s rest before spending the next four days photographing the festive setting of the Kumbh Mela and its mass of attendees. Our luxury camp was situated about one hundred meters above the Ganges on a bluff overlooking the festival grounds. This would be our base as we set off to photograph each day.  At this proximity, we could hear the din of the festivalb elow from the comfort of our well-appointed tents. Each day at the Kumbh found us exploring the festival grounds among the millions of pilgrims who had come to this location on the shores of the Ganges to bathe and cleanse their souls in its holy waters. The ash covered Sadhu leaders—in charge of protecting the tenets of the Hindu religion—were of particular interest and made extraordinary photographic studies. The Ashrams of Sadhus were divided into camps of tents where the ash-covered leaders would meet, smoke and meditate as well as bless those who had traveled great distances to seek the blessings of these Hindu yogis. We made our way through the camps of Sadhus capturing candid moments as well as sitting down to choreographed portrait sessions, taking time to meet these charismatic souls and spend quality time photographing them in their surroundings.

Feb 5: Back to the Kumbh Mela after the frantic activity of the bathing day quieted.


Feb 4: The most auspicious bathing day at the Kumbh Mela

"The Kumbh Mela comprises of many rituals, of which the bathing ritualis the by far the most significan. Millions of pilgrims take part in the Kumbh bathing ritual at the Triveni Sangam. Performing this sacred ceremony is in accordance with the belief that by submerging oneself in the holy waters, one is purged of all their sins, release themselves and their ancestors from the cycle of rebirth and ultimate attainment of Moksha.The planetary positions determine the most favorable day for bathing in the holy river." [Kumbh mela official website]

We woke well before dawn to descend to the mela and begin a long and sometimes fraught walk through teeming crowds to reach a boat that would take us to a prime bathing site at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mystical Sarasvati rivers. Until the last it was uncertain whether we would reach the boat. Only impassioned wrangling by our local guide Harindra got us through several police barricades, and we reached the mooring site by the fort on the Yamuna river at first light.

Disappointingly, our boat was not permitted to take us to an offshore location where we would have a close view of the processions of sadhus entering the water to bathe. Instead, we moored alongside many other boats around floating bollards that defined a bathing area for regular pilgrims. From here we had only a distant view of the sadhus, obscured by numerous heads in the foreground and by haze from the polluted air.

I concentrated instead on photographing the nearby bathing pilgrims.


On our return to our camp we passed women wrapping colored thread around a sacred tree.

After regaining the tranquility of our campsite and a leisurely lunch, there was time for some portrait photography of sadhus at the nearby ashram


To round off a long and eventful day, we descended briefly into the Kumb mela in the evening.


Feb 3: A first day to explore the Kumbh and acclimate to the bedlam and air pollution.



Initiates (sisya) visiting their guru to determine their eligibility to become a sadhu.

"A person who wants to become sadhu must first seek a guru. There, he or she must perform 'guruseva' which means service. The guru decides whether the person is eligible to take sannyasa by observing the sisya (the person who wants to become a sadhu or sanyasi). If the person is eligible, guru upadesa (which means teachings) is done.The guru bestows upon the initiate a new name, as well as a mantra, (or sacred sound or phrase), which is generally known only to the sadhu and the guru and may be repeated by the initiate as part of meditative practice." [Wickipedia]

The light in the tent where a procession of initiates entered to meet their guru was very low, so I used the necessarily long shutter speed to capture motion blurs.




Jan 31 - Feb 1: Varanasi

Varanasi, Benaras or Kashi, on the banks of the Ganga, one of the most sacred pilgrimages to Hindus also happens to be one of the oldest, continually inhibited cities in the world. Named in reference to the confluence of the rivers Varuna and Assi, Varanasi is a melting pot of religion, mythology, spirituality,

A short flight from Delhi and overnight stay in Varanasi—the holiest of India’s cities— provided us the chance for an evening boat ride to experience the sights and sounds of this iconic location and a photo shoot of the famous Ghats. We also had a great opportunity to photograph the sunset Aarti ceremony, where priests burn offerings of incense and set huge butter lamps ablaze on the shores of the Ganges River.


The Burning Ghat - Varanasi’s famous cremation ghat, which runs 24/7, burning hundreds of bodies a day in plain sight

"Funeral practices vary worldwide. Of those I’ve witnessed, few are as transparent and raw as the Hindu ritual on the banks of the Ganges River. The Hindu believe that if a deceased’s ashes are laid in the Ganges at Varanasi, their soul will be transported to heaven and escape the cycle of rebirth. In a culture that believes in reincarnation, this concept called moksha is profound. The holier the place, the better the chances you achieve moksha and avoid returning to Earth as a cow or a cricket in your next life."
Peter Mcbride; Nat. Geo.]


We had a great opportunity to photograph the sunset Aarti ceremony, where priests burn offerings of incense and set huge butter lamps ablaze on the shores of the Ganges River.

The Aarti ceremony takes place on seven wooden platforms placed on the edge of the steps of Dasawamedh Ghat. On each wooden platform, there are small tables covered with saffron colour silk clothes with Pooja (prayer) items, that include a conch shell, incense sticks, praying bells, handkerchiefs,  large brass lamps with snake hood, flowers, water pot, yak-tail fan, peacock’s feather etc.  Each of these item is considered  very sacred in Hindu Mythology. Young priests, students of Vedas and Upanishads, perform the whole Aarti ritual in a well choreographed manner with a great synchronization.

The ceremony begins at sunset, so at first a little light remained in the sky, but it soon became possible to photograph the performers by the light of their lamps.



Our accommodation for the night at Varanasi was the Brijrama Palace Hotel. Majestically facing the Ganga at the Darbhanga Ghat, the original structure was built in 1812 by Shridhara Narayana Munshi (Munshi Ghat, adjacent to the palace is named after him), the then minister for the estate of Nagpur. In 1915, King Rameshwar Singh Bahadur of Darbhanga (Bihar) acquired the palace. Post 1915, the second floor of the palace was constructed and an elevator — one of the first in Asia — was installed.


The morning of day three dawned with a sunrise boat tour that offered many unique angles for capturing the myriad morning rituals that take place along the shore of the Ganges. Back on shore, we also photographed the bustling streets markets of Varanasi.

Jan 29-30: Delhi

We spent our first day in India mostly sleeping in the stately Imperial Hotel after a red-eye flight from Hong Kong. Next morning we met up with our guide Eric Rock and the rest of our group to begin our tour "Incredible Faces of India"

On the first morning of our photographic adventure our group of twelve gathered to capture the rich photogenic sites of “Old” Delhi. Here we found the bustling city scenes and incredible variety of street people to be a great way to shake the dust off of our cameras and get comfortable with the visual kaleidoscope that India has to offer. The crowded Delhi markets are a great place to explore with a camera. The buzz of people and crowded streets, food vendors and colorful merchants provided our group with an unending array of subject matter. 

A visit to a temple provded a brief interlude of quiet and serenity, before tackling the traffic ('organized chaos in Delhi, just chaos everythere else') to get to Old Delhi






Deli: Humayun's Tomb

After a return to our hotel for a brief respite and bite of lunch, we wandered out for a visit to Humayun’s tomb which offered up its iconic prototype Taj Mahal architecture and the surrounding colorful landscape in India’s muted sunlight at days end.




Jan 27, 28: A stopover in Hong Kong

Jan 26, midnight: Anne and I left LAX on a Cathay Pacific flight to join our group in India. We had planned a three-day stopover in Hong Kong but, owing to expensive complications involving lithium ion batteries, that was reduced to a single night. Nevertheless we were able to get out and view the laser lightshow across the harbour from Kowloon, and take the tramway up to Victoria Peak the next morning.


January 20: Sunday morning at Bolsa Chica

Bolsa chica was rather quiet for bird action this morning, so I practiced trying to capture images of ducks in the act of diving. Not so easy. The ducks would raise their heads just before beginning a dive, but by the time I noticed my reaction time and camera shutter lag meant that the first frame I captured invariably showed the bird's head already deep in the water. Eventually I got the hang of anticipating a second or two in advance of when a duck might dive and started capturing frames at 10 fps, hoping it would actually dive before the camera buffer filled up.


January 1-2, 2019
A New Year 4wd excursion through Saline Valley and up the Lippincot Mine road


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