Mothers Day 2011

May 8, 2011 · 0 comments

5-750-8684  stock photo of Canada, Quebec City, Matrioshka

To all mothers, future mothers, potential mothers, and for my mom Ann (wish you were still here) with gratitude.


Mount Tamalpais

May 6, 2011 · 2 comments

4-701-99  stock photo of California, Marin County, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Hiker on ridge

Warm summer days bring an offshore marine fog layer that sits off the coast of San Francisco, sometimes nestling up onto the flanks of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. After a long hike on the mountainside, as the late sun brought an orange light to the western sky, I saw a solitary hiker on the ridgeline. Framed with a crescent hillside and the clouds below if conveys the airiness of the high peaks and the smallness of man in a vast and wondrous landscape.


For years I have carried my trusty Nikon SLRs, camera bag, lenses, filers and flash as a prerequisite for photographing anything at all, so the notion of capturing anything worthwhile on a tiny pocket camera, let alone a phone, had never really entered my mind. Until, that is, the iPhone 4 and the clever iPhone app Instagram. What a surprise it has been.

First, there is the utter simplicity of it. Since I almost always have my iPhone with me, so the 5Mp camera is always at hand. What offers is a fast and easy way to take photos, apply one of a dozen filters if I feel like it, add a caption and tags, and right away post to the site, with optional notifications to social networks. Images are cropped to a standard 612 pixel square while the hi-res stays in the camera.
For me this has meant that whether going on a hike, to the bank, supermarket or corner store I always have a camera with me and my vision attenuated for new images: is also a rapidly growing social network, with asynchronous following of other users (like Facebook fan pages), with the simplest of interactions. Users can follow you, “like” a photo, and add a comment. One news feed shows the realtime feed of images by users you follow, and another shows your own images. Location info is also included, linked to Foursquare. What’s surprising is the breadth of imagery. Pros like Zach Arias, Jack Hollingsworth, Abby Harenberg, Jim Goldstein and Trey Ratcliff are mixed in with users from all walks of life, students, techie geeks, skilled amateurs and raw beginners. A popular page highlights trending images, picked by some inscrutable algorithm.

One of the boosts for creativity I have found is not having to worry about salability of images since they are too small to end up in a stock agency. This is surprisingly freeing, since as a pro stock shooter I am often thinking of commercial appeal, RPI and the editors’ eyes. Also, for a change, I have found that incorporating filters (retro, grunge, fade, cross-process) plus crops and borders becomes part of the creative process, all happening quite quickly on the go. Existing images from my portfolio can also be processed and posted which makes a nice balance.

There’s one other distinct difference I am finding with the instant experience of photography. It is changing the nature of the medium. In the past producing an image was cumbersome and time-consuming, first with drawing and painting, then with film processing. The result was a memento, a memory, a moment frozen in time past, an artifact which lent a particular, backwards-looking aspect to images. Even now with dSLR digital capture plus Photoshop and post-processing the process is slow.

With realtime shooting connected to the internet, images appear more as a flow, as leaves floating by on a stream of present-awareness. As a result there’s less of an effort to hold on to them, and more of a sense of images as voice. The Instagram stream then becomes a curated realtime narration, a stream of images, a present not a past

Most of all, though, with all the disruption in professional photography, the experience of Instagram is making my photography fun again.

You can see my recent images on Gramfeed and my IG username is davidsanger.

Note: There isn’t yet a native app but they are working about it. And if you are interested in the back story of their rapid rise, a million sales in 10 weeks in the app store and 2 million soon after, read CEO Kevin Systrom on Quora


8-550-2  stock photo of Laos, Vientiane, Monks on riverbank

It is always wonderful to photograph in Southeast Asia and so I am especially pleased to announce a new 10-day photo tour and workshop in Myanmar/ Burma this October. For those of you who have been asking about my workshops, this is your chance for hands-on instruction in one of the most photogenic countries and cultures in the world.

Among the areas we’ll be visting are Yangon (the Shwedagon pagoda), the Golden Rock, the marvelous temple complex in Bagan on the Ayeyarwaddy River, and finally Mandalay and the ancient capital of Mingun. There’ll be plenty of time for discussion of travel photography techniques and styles along with daily review of images shot by the workshop members. To ensure the best intimate learning experience we are limiting the group to just 12 participants.

Tour arrangements are all being made by Teri Goldstein of Travels with Teri in Sausalito. With over twenty years in Asia travel experience, Teri specializes in private, custom tours for individuals, families and small groups.

The workshop dates are October 27 to November 7, 2011. You can see the complete day-by-day itinerary here. For more questions either email me (info /at\ ), Facebook message, or contact Teri at (415) 331-3791.


For many years Google Inc. has found itself in the crosshairs of copyright advocates who claim the Mountain View based megacorporation plays fast and loose with copyrighted works. This time the giant search engine might have gone a step too far. In a suit filed in the California Northern District Court, advertising photographer Bela Wyn accused Google of direct copyright infringement for the use of his registered photograph “Nyeupe, Study #14” on the home page of Google.

“Clearly they have used my image as a background, and are making money from my intellectual property,” said Mr. Wyn from his studio near Monterey. “This isn’t just fair use; they have taken the whole photo and are callously reproducing it without even a photo credit on billions of pages every day”

Nyeupe, Study #14, ©2011 Bela Wyn

Wyn’s image certainly bears a string resemblance to the background of the Google home page. “The bold use of the color white in the photographer’s composition is a key creative element of his composition, ” says art critic Abjad Branco.

Photographers have been quick to come to Wyn’s defense. “This is just one more example of the blatant theft of our images by online providers, ” said one photographer who asked to remain anonymous, fearing hacking of his Gmail account.

Not all observers agree, however. Lawrence Lessig, noted copyright reform advocate argues that Google’s use of the image is clearly transformative, and is akin to an “image remix” giving whole new meaning to the appropriated work, and thereby building up our common cultural heritage.

As for Google, they are not likely to take this lying down. Apparently they are preparing a vigorous defense on the grounds that Wyn’s work is not sufficiently creative, and even it were, they are not using that much of it, and even if they are, they are not making much money from it, and even if they are making money, doesn’t the court know who they are?


Snow on Mount Diablo

March 19, 2011 · 0 comments

5-147-4  stock photo of California, Mt Diablo, View of snow capped Mt Diablo

Snow in the San Francisco Bay area is a rare occurrence; every few years there’s a dusting at the higher elevations. With a forecasted freeze with snow levels down to 1000 feet, I planned an early morning outing to Antioch, hoping the skies would then be clear. Green grass in the foreground and a scattering of Spring wildflowers provide color and contrast to the glistening snow on the peak.

A hailstorm last night in Albany left a couple of inches of hail on the ground for a while but it was mainly gone in the morning. The last recorded actual snowfall at sea level was in 1976


8-471-13  stock photo of California, Oakland, Inner Harbor

Industrial photography has always fascinated me. Even though much of my early work was in landscape and nature photography, I discovered that the same principles apply when approaching a man-made subject : show it in interesting light, with a clean, compelling composition and no extraneous content, so that the subject can stand clearly on its own and be well seen.

The container cranes in the Port of Oakland have long been a favorite. With this shot of a single crane in the purple dusk and the setting moon I was careful to approach close and shoot upward at enough of an angle to show a clear sky and horizon. The result is quite dramatic.

It was long been rumored that George Lucas was inspired by the Oakland cranes to invent the Imperial AT-AT walkers in Star Wars, but the story turns out to be an urban legend. Even so you can still buy an Oakland Crane AT-AT tee shirt !

Since I have done quite a bit of commercial shipping photography around the world, a portfolio update of industrial imagery will be forthcoming.

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More Images of Faith

March 11, 2011 · 1 comment

Several photographers responded to my call for portfolios of images of faith practices and experiences around the world.

Here are some who have responded so far

Craig Ferguson, Taiwan, chose 16 colorful images from Burma, India and Taiwan including a great closeup of one of the 8 Generals of Taiwanese folk religion in his post Of the East

Darin Rogers, Philippines also presented Asian images, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian from Philippines, Malaysia and Australia including a strong closeup of a golden robed Buddha mutra in Faith and People Power

Tom Bourdon, UK, found six very colorful images from Spain to India with a cute closeup of a boy in Bankkok peeking out from colored ribbons Global Faith

Darren Melrose, Taiwan showed a broad range of people shots, again from Asia, including a lovely shot of two monks making candlelit prayers to the Buddha in Myanmar/Burma in My Journeys of Faith

Joshua Fahler, Taiwan picked a series of portraits, old and young, painted faces and intense concentration during a Tainan Temple Dedication

Julie Holley, USA, presented a single image from the other side of the world, a solitary man praying on a New York subway, along with a meditation on conversion, grief and the sabbath in her blog post Situation Shabbat

From the original post which gave me the idea, Steve McCurry’s A Matter of Faith, his last image of the haunting and intent gaze of a monk at Jokhang temple, Lhasa, Tibet is just wonderful.

All great shots and well presented. Thanks and more welcome any time.

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Images of Faith

February 20, 2011 · 19 comments

9-340-38  stock photo of Israel, Jerusalem, Dalai Lama, Interreligious Friendship Group, June 1999

In a press conference in Jerusalem as part of an interfaith conference, His Holiness the Dalia Lama was asked why he thought there were so many religions in the world. With a slight smile he quickly replied, as if stating the unutterably obvious, “Well that is because there are so many different kinds of people in the world.”

A recent blog post by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry, A Matter of Faith, shows a portfolio of wonderful images from around the world and reminds me of my own longstanding interest in photographing varieties of religious experience.

Here’s a selection from around the world. If you like them, please comment, and if you have your own selections of images please post them on your blog and email me or add a comment here and I’ll collect them for a follow-on post.

4-466-34  stock photo of Pakistan, Lahore, Early morning meditation, Badshahi Mosque
Standing meditation, Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan
0-381-77  stock photo of Thailand, Chiang Mai, Monks praying, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Buddhist monk, Chiang Mai, Thailand

3-654-62  stock photo of Greece, Athens, Metropolitan Cathedral

Maundy Thursday candles, Metropolitan Cathedral, Athens, Greece

4-130-21  stock photo of Tibet, Monk circumambulating Labrang Monastery, Xiahe

TIbetan Buddhist monk circumambulating temple, Labrang Monastery, Tibet (traditional)

4-850-2881  stock photo of Mexico, Yucatan, Coba, El Castillo, meditation

Woman meditating atop Mayan Temple, Coba, Yucatan, Mexico

5-850-2044  stock photo of Japan, Tokyo, Asakusa Kannon Temple, Paper prayers

Shinto paper prayers, Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tokyo, Japan

7-384-13  stock photo of India, Agra, Taj Mahal, imam studying in mosque

Imam studying Koran, Taj Mahal, Agra, India

9-400-83  stock photo of Palestine, West Bank, Hebron, Man praying in synagogue in Tomb of Abraham

Man praying in synagogue in Tomb of Abraham, Hebron, West Bank, Palestine

9-350-69  stock photo of Israel, Jerusalem, Metropol Daniel, Church of Holy Sepulchre

Metropol Daniel, Church of Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel

5-568-18  stock photo of California, San Francisco, Bishops hands blessing bread,

Bishop’s hands blessing holy communion bread, St Gregory of Nyssen Church, San Francisco

7-561-2  stock photo of Malaysia, Langkawi, Singer, Mahsuris Tomb

Singer, Mahsuris Tomb, Malaysia, Langkawi

9-340-22  stock photo of Israel, Jerusalem, Dalai Lama at Western Wall

The Dalai Lama at Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel


Kagga Kamma

December 9, 2010 · 1 comment

5-504-19  stock photo of South Africa, Western Cape, Rock formation, Kagga Kamma

The dry semi-desert region of South Africa known as the Succulent Karoo stretches north along the coast from Cape Town to across the Namibia Border and is home to an unusual profusion of wildflowers and desert rock-formations. In the southern range of the Karoo near the Cederberg Mountains, the private game reserve of Kagga Kamma offers a chance to explore close-up the unusual landscape.

Setting out in the crisp pre-dawn light I looked for an position where the rugged towers and uncannily convoluted rocks and cliffs would be silhouetted agains the morning sky. The smooth crescent moon above the horizon provide visual balance agains the sharp rock edges. One of the rocks, looking like an old auto chassis hoisted onto a clifftop perch, adds a touch of humor and mystery. A long exposure, shot on Fuji film, gives the deep color saturation and slight color shift, adding to the dramatic impact of the image.

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