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Top 10 of 2013

On this my 30th birthday, I am extremely happy about the extremely positive things that I have seen and experienced in 2013.

  • Most importantly, Sam and I were married in July which was the culmination of Sam’s hard work.  It was truly beautiful to have so many friends and family come out to celebrate our union in a beautiful location.
  • I am healthy.  After a lung surgery, stereotactic brain radiation therapy, and an immunotherapy treatment this year I have had a good run of clean scans.  I’m finally feeling like I can start to move out of crisis mode and plan for the future beyond a few months at a time.  That’s a great feeling!
  • Currently, my wonderful wife is back from Greece for the holidays and it’s a damn delight to have my better half here.  I can’t wait til she’s back for good and we can start our married life in earnest.
  • We’re moving to a new house very soon that should prove to be less hassle than our current rental and at a lower price to boot.  It just happens to be exactly one block away from the new home purchased by good pals Lukas and Megan.  We’re going to have to get some walkie-talkies.  And it’s going to be a lot harder for me to sleep through the sunrises for which I was supposed to get up and meet them.  But, the most important perk of this new home is that it’s 50% closer to the donut shop.
  • I’m finally feeling like I’m back into the swing of things at my job.  The last two years have been fractured by medical leaves, fatiguing treatments, and sometimes crippling anxiety.  I am truly thankful that my employer has been incredibly understanding during this time.

Photographically, I have had quite a satisfying year.  I have found myself in many beautiful places under some truly spectacular conditions.  I met a bunch of fabulous, like-minded folks and enjoyed their company in those beautiful places.  Enough with the words, here’s the images that stand out in my mind, not just for the conditions, but for the experiences had in capturing them.  Here they are in the order they were taken.

The Little PrinceDelicacyWarm EmbraceEverything is GraceThe MaestroMellow MeadowHeavenly HanaleiThe RefrainShadowlandsMudflat Fusion

2013 Holiday Print Sale

Hallelujah Chorus Warm EmbraceSpilled MilkMellow MeadowHeavenly HanaleiRhythm of the WoodsThe Refrain

Last year’s holiday canvas print sale was a huge success so I’m bringing it back for 2013.  This year I’m expanding it to cover all prints.  The sale is for up to 20% off photo prints and up to 50% off canvas prints.  These prints make a great gift for that special loved one.  All images included in the sale are shown below.

Sale prices available through 12 Noon PST on December 10, 2013.

The sale is now closed.  Happy Holidays!

As always, I donate 25% of my profits from image sales to the Melanoma Research Foundation. (  I’m incredibly thankful to be currently healthy after my battle with stage 4 metastatic melanoma, but there is still an immense amount of research to be done to move towards a reliable treatment for this aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer.


New Images — Kauai

After getting married at the end of July, Sam and I were able to take a WONDERFUL trip to Kauai for our honeymoon.  That place is flipping gorgeous.  We stayed in a small cottage in Kilauea on the North Shore and it was just about perfect for us.  We explored the island on foot, by air, water, and road.  We ate some delightful Hawaiian foods and enjoyed plenty of time relaxing on gorgeous, uncrowded beaches.

Here’s a few shots from our trip.  Kauai is truly a photographer’s wonderland as you will see.

Heavenly HanaleiLumaha'i RushLumaha'i ValleyHanalei BayDraperyKalalau's SpendorThe Queen's ShowerHanalei Dreamscape


Slew of New Images — Lake Tahoe, Castle Crags Wilderness, and Eastern Sierra Spring 2013

This is a sort of catch up post to add some of my new images to the site.  I have been travelling as much as possible lately.  I have made short trips up to Lake Tahoe, the Castle Crags Wilderness near Mt. Shasta and a few days over in the Eastern Sierra.  Enjoy!!

Spilled MilkThe ParadeEverything is GraceStanding RoomCliff DwellingAlpine EndeavorThe SorcererSpring MoonsetFreedom

NEW IMAGE — Warm Embrace, Folsom Lake, CA


Warm Embrace

Click the thumbnail below for a larger view and click the add to cart button if you’re interested in hanging it up on your own wall.

Warm Embrace

It’s been a while since I’ve had a new image post.  I’ve recently added a few new prints to the galleries for purchase, but I’d like to showcase this one.

Last weekend, Lukas and I took a trip out to Folsom Lake in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to catch some of the incredible lupine bloom that was occurring on the banks of the lake.  We wandered around immersed in the wonderful scent of the acres of fresh lupine bloom and shot some images.  I found these two great oak trees to help frame my scene and add a bit of interest to the flat blue sky.  The rest was just waiting around for a while until the sun was low and the light nice and warm.  Happy spring everyone!

Free Wallpaper — Inspection Point, San Francisco Bay Bridge

Here’s a wallpaper version of one of my new images called “Inspection Point”.  Please feel free to use it as the wallpaper on your personal computer, but not for anything else or I’ll have to sick my copyright monkey on you.  Click on it to view the full size 2560 pixel wide version.

Death Valley & Eastern Sierra — January 2013

Gathered GrainsDunefield Dreamin'HeadwallReplicatesPortentDelicacyCollaboration


I just spent a little while out in far eastern California.  I spent some time in Death Valley National Park and in the Owens Valley.  Both places that I love to explore.  Each time I visit one of them I feel like I discover that there’s immensely more territory that needs exploring.  Oh well, I hope to return early and often!

In Death Valley I set out to visit two of the more remote sets of sand dunes.  The Ibex sand dunes are in the far southern region of the park and are located a mile and a half or so from the nearest (rough!) dirt road.  The Eureka sand dunes are in the far northern part of the park and involve a 50 mile trip from Big Pine, CA on about half dirt roads.  Both were quite different.  The Ibex dunes were a relatively small complex with great exposure to the setting sun in the winter months so that they really glowed with that late day light.  The Eureka dunes lie in an absolutely immense valley and are extremely tall.  Make sure you give yourself ample time to explore them as they look  smaller than they really are.  I ended up huffing and puffing up them in about half the time I should have allotted before the sun when down.

After spending time in Death Valley I turned my sights to the Owens Valley.  I spent some time tracking down a petroglyph north of Bishop that had eluded me for a few trips.  Found it! Now I just need to get back there when there’s good conditions for sunrise or sunset.  On the final day of the trip I headed north so that I could cross the Sierra Nevada.  I photographed the final sunrise of my trip at Convict Lake and was happy to see the first clouds I’d seen all week then.  Finally, I ran into some amazing conditions in the Mono Basin where an thick layer of frozen fog had settled down.  The light and texture down inside that fog were great and I was rewarded again when I ascended out of the fog at the northern edge of the basin.

I ended up driving about 1,400 miles and (thankfully!) didn’t need either of my full-size spare tires.

All in all this was a very productive trip!  I hope you enjoy the images!

My Favorite Images from 2012

MoonstonesMuir's MelodyTangentsArcs & AchesZephyrFeature Length

Twenty-twelve was a tough year for me.  Some amazing highs and some nasty lows.  I got engaged to the most wonderful, creative and supportive person I’ve ever known and fought hard to clear my body and mind of the influence of metastatic melanoma.

I didn’t get to photograph nearly as much as I would have liked, but I’m thankful to still be kickin’ around on this planet and to be able to pursue my passions again.  It seems I’m still not out of the woods as far as the melanoma is concerned, I have a new development in my left lung, but I’m enjoying the bit of healthy, non-medicated time I have left before we kick that bastard to the curb in 2013.

I’m heading back to the Eastern Sierra and Death Valley next week for 6 days of photography.  I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait for the freedom of the hills.

I usually like to produce a list of 10 or so favorite images from the year, but with all of the time lost to cancer treatments and recovery from cancer treatments I only made about 10 images over the course of the entire year.  So, in the interest of actually wanting to pick the images I like the most I chose 6 as my number instead of 10.  Hope you like them!

Here’s a little of the context behind each image.

Moonstones:  This was an image I’d had pictured in my mind’s eye since I first climbed down to the beach at Soberanes Cove in Garrapata State Beach.  This area is the very top edge of Big Sur and it’s pretty accessible as a day trip location from our place in El Cerrito.  I headed down there with friend-tographer Lukas and Sammy.  There were no clouds so we dilly-dallied around until the stars came out and then headed down to this beach to make some images.  The timing was perfect as the moon was rising behind our backs and provided a nice balance of light to the foreground and sea stacks.  Gotta love it when a plan comes together!

Muir’s Melody: Sometimes you just need to drop everything and run to Yosemite Valley in the middle of the night.  This was one of those occasions.  Lukas, Josh and I left the Bay Area at 1 AM so that we could arrive in a (hopefully!) snowy Yosemite before sunrise.  We arrived early and drove up to the infamous Tunnel View to scope out the valley.  20-30 minutes after we got there the clouds overhead started to break up.  This let the moonlight in to glint off the snowy valley walls.

Tangents: I love Cataract Creek on Mt. Tam.  It never ceases to provide me with a new and interesting composition each time I visit and even if the conditions aren’t great for photography the hike still gets your blood pumping.  This particular image is a vert-0-rama and really showcases the vegetation around the creek’s many cascades.

Arcs and Arches: Sam and I got engaged during the hour that the camera was recording these star trails. We both love the Alabama Hills and so a quick weekend trip out there to celebrate her successful completion of graduate school exams turned into a time we’ll never forget.  This was another image that formed months earlier in my mind’s eye and I was able to make use of the 2012 super-moon to really light up the surrounding landscape while letting the stars glide across the sky forming the trails you see in the image.

Zephyr: Lone Pine has really captured my heart.  After I finished my interferon treatments in October I made sure to parse out a little time to get back out in the world and explore the Eastern Sierra.  I was traveling on my own — a great feeling after needing the care of others for many months — so I felt very free.  I had one very productive morning in the Alabama Hills while a storm cleared the Sierra.  This image was from well before sunrise so the exposure was very long and the light across the Sierra escarpment was very soft and even.

Feature Length: This was taken recently on one of those mornings where the forecast does not look all that great for photography.  I met up with Lukas and his wife Megan in the headlands and we took the hike down to Kirby Cove.  Things were starting to look pretty good and then they just kept getting better and better.  We photographed for what felt like and hour at least.  I soaked my sneakers in the process, but who cares!?





November Trip to the Eastern Sierra



I’ve been feeling much better as of late and have recovered enough to where I felt like I could take a long weekend solo trip to the Eastern Sierra.  I was hoping to be able to hop over their via Tioga Pass through Yosemite National Park but an early winter storm passed through on Friday and the pass was closed.  That meant I had to take the longer, significantly less pretty way to go around the Sierra Nevada from the south.  I ended up catching some incredible light and conditions on my first morning in Lone Pine, only to see the wonderful clouds slowly evaporate over the course of the day and never return.  I made the best of it and did some night work and also got to explore the area a lot more than I have in the past.  I took a soak in a hot spring near Mammoth and tracked down a derelict mine site in the Inyo Mountains.

This was the first opportunity I have had to seriously give the D800E a workout and I am incredibly impressed.  The files are loaded with detail and the camera handles very well.  I look forward to being able to print images very large now.

Wallpaper — Frozen Yosemite

Here’s a 2560 pixel wide wallpaper for your computer that I’m currently using on my iMac.


Link to full resolution file:

Please don’t use this file for anything but as a wallpaper on your personal computer.  I don’t want to have to sick my rabid badger lawyer on you.  He’s really a badger and he’s hungry. Image © Jeffrey Swanson 2012.