Tag Archives: photograph

A Photograph Exposed: “Two Rocks, Morning, Racetrack Playa”

(“A Photograph Exposed”  is a series exploring some of my photographs in greater detail.)

Two Rocks, Morning, Racetrack Playa - Black and white photograph of two "moving rocks" on the Racetrack Playa at Death Valley National Park. Morning light with unusual clouds, and the Grandstand in the distance.
Black and white photograph of two “moving rocks” on the Racetrack Playa at Death Valley National Park. Morning light with unusual clouds, and the Grandstand in the distance.

Two Rocks, Morning, Racetrack Playa. Death Valley National Park, California. April 3, 2006. © Copyright 2006. G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Moving rocks, lenticular clouds — morning on the Racetrack Playa.

This photograph from Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa is one of the first I made when I began photographing this landscape seriously, and it may still be my favorite photograph from the park — yet it also carries a flaw that I’ll mention below.

My first visit to Death Valley National Park had been perhaps seven years earlier at the very end of the previous millennium, when I was one of several adults accompanying a group of middle school and high school students on a visit that was to include a short backpack trip in the Cottonwood Canyon area. The story of that trip deserves its own article. That article would describe snow, near-hypothermia, winds that blew down tents, a retreat from the pack trip, an attempt to hike down the upper portion of Death Valley, water shortages, a dust storm, a dangerous situation with a bus, and more.

I’ll never forget my first view of this great valley. We had arrived in the park after dark, stopping between Towne Pass and Stovepipe Wells at a small campground a few thousand feet above the valley floor, where we set up in the darkness and went to sleep. Having never seen the Valley before, the next morning I unzipped my tent and stepped outside to see the stupendous “oh wow!” landscape of the valley and the mountains on the far side in the beautiful morning light. I was hooked, and I’ve been going back annually for more than fifteen years.  Continue reading A Photograph Exposed: “Two Rocks, Morning, Racetrack Playa”

A Photograph Exposed: “San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze”

(“A Photograph Exposed”  is a series exploring some of my photographs in greater detail.)

San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze
San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze

San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze. San Francisco, California. December 18, 2009. © Copyright 2009 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Fog and haze obscure the winter skyline of downtown San Francisco, California.

It is unlikely that any view of San Francisco will be entirely unique, but I haven’t seen many other photographs of the City’s skyline that look quite like this one. It isn’t unusual for people who see the photograph (especially as a print) to ask, “Is that real?” It is as real as a photograph gets, and the conditions actually occurred — the only time I have seen them quite like this, with quite this soft and subtle atmosphere and light. (The post-processing on this photograph was relatively minimal, and a lot of it was about controlling the brightness of that bright cloud high in the sky.)

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I frequently drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge to photograph in the redwoods, along the coast, or at Point Reyes National Seashore. This usually means leaving home well before the sun rises, and depending on where I’m headed, I usually cross the bridge right around dawn. The plan is to pause and look at the scene in the early light and decide if something really interesting might happen — and it that seems probable I’ll photograph here for a while before moving on.

The light and atmosphere on this winter morning were special enough to get me to pause. Continue reading A Photograph Exposed: “San Francisco Skyline, Winter Fog and Haze”

Online Gallery Update

My web presence has long included this blog and a separate online gallery housing a large archive of photographs — perhaps about 3000 of them at last count. Earlier this week the gallery had a technical issue that snowballed and eventually took that gallery completely offline.

During the past few days I have spent way to many hours trying to get the gallery working again, and I have (mostly) succeeded at this point. A new version of the gallery now holds essentially all of the photographs that were at the old gallery. The format is a bit different, though the underlying organization of the images is similar. At this point, the titles of photographs do not display correctly, and you’ll see file names where there used to be titles. This is fixable, but not right away.

If you tried to find the old gallery and couldn’t, thanks for your patience. If you haven’t seen the gallery, feel free to wander over there and take look!


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Urban Flower Hunter

Urban Flower Hunter
Urban Flower Hunter

Urban Flower Hunter. Chicago, Illinois. August 2, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Photographing flowers in a Chicago urban garden

In this photograph a woman kneels to make close-up photographs of flowers in an urban garden at Chicago’s Millennium Park. Not just any woman, by the way, but my wife! Aside from that obvious factor, there are several other things that I like about this scene and this photograph, some of them photographic and others more about the facts of the image.

Most people would pass right by such an urban garden. Some will notice it and perhaps look a bit. But a person who stops and looks close, as Patty does, can find a whole world to see in such a small place. In this photograph I also like the juxtaposition of the sharp angles and structures of the downtown Chicago skyline, with colors muted by hazy afternoon, and the wild and unpredictable organic forms and colors of the bit of garden. It doesn’t hurt that her red top complements the greens, either!

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Pick the Right Friends… (Morning Musings 9/29/14)

G Dan Mitchell Photographing in the Sierra Nevada
G Dan Mitchell Photographing in the Sierra Nevada

If you are ever in the wilderness and you want someone to take a photograph of you, you could hand your smartphone to the nearest person and hope for the best. However, I have a few suggestions (slightly tongue-in-cheek) that might improve the odds:

  1. Arrange to be in the company of one of the best landscape photographers working today. (Yeah, that’s you, Charlie Cramer.)
  2. Make a photograph of him at work and hope that this inspires him to photograph you doing the same thing.
  3. Be sure to place yourself so that dramatic golden hour light hits you in partial profile.
  4. Be sure to position yourself against an appropriate background.
  5. Gaze attentively and thoughtfully into the distance. ;-)

Bonus hint: Be sure to level your tripod first, or your photographer friends may never let you live it down. ;-)

Here’s a photograph of Charlie at work, too

Photographer Charles Cramer
Photographer Charles Cramer

In all seriousness, when you are out shooting, do photograph your fellow photographers. Each of us needs photographs of ourselves, and a photograph by a friend (or of a friend) is a special thing.

Thanks, Charlie!

Morning Musings are somewhat irregular posts in which I write about whatever is on my mind at the moment.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Only As Good As Your Poorest Picture? (Morning Musings 9/26/14)

Yellow Buildings, Shadows, Moving Clouds - Night photograph of two large yellow buildings, shadows, and streaks for clouds moving across the sky above the Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, California.
Yellow Buildings, Shadows, Moving Clouds – Night photograph of two large yellow buildings, shadows, and streaks for clouds moving across the sky above the Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, California.*

Recently I was part of a conversation about photography, focused on some technical questions about equipment, in which one participant sought to define the issue by writing that you are only has good as your poorest picture.

Simple and direct sayings like this one may have the virtue of quickly clarifying an important concept or truth and (something I could learn more about!) doing so in few words. Unfortunately, there are often downsides, too. Because they are so declamatory, it is easy for some people to simply accept them without thinking. Being simple, they often don’t fit all cases. And sometimes they are just plain wrong.

In this case, this notion seems to me to be dead wrong and to not fit at all what we actually know and observe about photography. In fact, I think that the opposite is actually true photographers are actually as good as their best picturesContinue reading Only As Good As Your Poorest Picture? (Morning Musings 9/26/14)

A Little Story About Posting Daily Photographs

First, why the heck do I post a new photograph every day?! I have been doing this now for more than five  years, believe it or not. (I don’t know for certain when I started, but by dividing the number of photographs in my online gallery by 365, it looks like it may have been almost seven years now!) I have no illusions that it is possible for me to post something close to an incredible photograph 365 times each year, so for this purpose I’ll settle for merely credible! One impetus for this project probably comes from my background in music, where practice is regarded as central to developing and maintaining the ability to function artistically – and a goal is to do the thing so regularly and so often that the doing becomes almost intuitive and the technical stuff becomes less and less daunting – though it never quite disappears. So my daily photographs are essentially the part of my “practice” that I’ve chosen to make public.

Since I’m almost continually producing new photographs – continuing down familiar paths and trying to improve the results or trying things that are new to me – I generate a lot of photographs. My primary goal is to line them up for posting at the blog on that new-photo-per-day basis. I often have at least some photographs ready to go and queued up for posting well ahead of time.

Typically, I might have a week’s worth or so in the pipeline, though there is some variation. On a few occasions I have had nothing ready and I actually had to go out and make a photograph for posting on the day it was posted! On other occasions I’ve had a much bigger line-up of photos ready to go. (Right now my “problem” is that I have too many in the pipeline! I’ve already selected and lined up photographs through the end of March! This makes it hard to post work that I’m doing right now that I would like to share. For example, I have more work from a recent shoot at Point Lobos, some long-exposure work from early January,  and there are still photographs from my extensive photography in Utah last fall. (I’m also working on a long term project to photograph musicians, and none of that work has appeared here yet.)

When a new photograph is ready, it becomes part of a “sharing workflow” that accomplishes the following:

  1. I queue the photograph up at my blog, scheduling its appearance there weeks or even months in advance. I write the descriptive text at the time I put the image in the queue.
  2. Out of habit, I also post the image to my old Flickr account as part of the process to queue it at my blog. (Hint: you can often see my photographs at Flickr before they show up elsewhere, since I have no way to delay the posting there.)
  3. On the day when the photo finally shows up at my blog, I do a quick bit of copying and pasting to create the daily posts at Facebook and Google Plus. The Facebook posts are rather minimal, usually containing little more than the image and the title and basic description, along with a link to the blog. I incorporate more information with the Google Plus posts, including an excerpt from the full post at my blog along with a link back to the blog post. A blog plugin also automatically shares a message on Twitter and a very brief one at Facebook.
  4. From time to time I may also share some photographs at 500px or Pinterest, though that is not a regular part of my workflow.

There are a few variations on this process. At times I’m in places where I simply cannot go online and post – perhaps I’m backpacking or just too busy. When this happens, Facebook may only show the tiny thumbnail image that is automatically posted from the blog, and I may have to forego the usual larger image. I can use a Chrome browser plugin to pre-schedule new Google Plus posts on those days.

Sometimes people wonder how it is possible to find time to do all of this and whether it is worthwhile. The first question is easier to answer. At this point, I have the whole process simplified to the point that it actually takes me very little time. The second question is a bit trickier, but on balance it is worthwhile – though there are days when I think about how it might be a bit easier to simply not post every day… but then I do it anyway! :-)

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.