The Presence of Structure

Masonic Building, Vallejo California

There is no doubt that this building is the boss.

This was built as a Masonic Temple in Vallejo at the end of the 19th century. It has the massive form and classic proportion of banks and government buildings. The sheer mass dominates the neighborhood of more modest edifices.

I particularly like the the tall arched windows that relieve what would otherwise be a stack of small windows on a field of bricks.

The details of the building are just cool. That is the only thing I can say about the comprehensive nature of the ornamentation of buildings like this.

There is no surface left unattended.

Inside, large spaces with hardwood floors just ooze with period elegance. That is for another post.

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Chance and other good things


This photograph was made as part of a larger project to photograph a remodeled condo in Palm Springs. The condo is owned by Joe Parisi, a talented and thoroughly delightful designer. I had taken a  couple of shots of the room when his dog Ajax  jumped up on the bed and settled down in this pose with a perfectly confident supermodel expression. I realized that he provided that certain “je ne sais quoi” necessary for the room.

Being open to serendipity is an important aspect to my work. I often have no idea what I will find when I get on site. The weather, site conditions, travel issues etc. can conspire to upend even the most detailed plans. Random events can be panic-inducing but at the end of the day it is just a photo. Yes, it may be a very important photo but when I can keep my perspective I can then focus (no pun intended) on solving the problems on the shoot or take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

Having the right gear is also useful. I try to shoot with as small a footprint as possible but some images just need the kitchen sink thrown at them. Being aware of that, I travel with a  van load of gear in anticipation of the location that needs a 13 foot ladder and 8 lights plus multiple exposures etc. The gear also calms me knowing that if needed, I can pull out the big guns to subdue all but the most recalcitrant of scenes. Or, to paraphrase TR, walk softly and carry big grip truck.


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Let’s hear it for color!


This image is part of a project I did photographing a client’s home. I was delighted to to see the home as it was a delightfully bold statement on the part of the owner/designer. The owner was not a professional designer, much to my surprise.

The room needed a balance of light to show the lamps but at the same time needed to overcome the daylight pouring in from the left. Fortunately the owner had staged the room so well that I did not need to move anything. I did not even have to blend any images as the lighting was just right. I love it when that happens.


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The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies


I just got the Follies Newsletter and I was reminded of  this photo I took of the theater a couple of years ago. I always enjoy visiting the Plaza Theater which is the home of the Fabulous Follies. The theater is cozy and filled with references to the celebrities of the past.The theater is just stuffed with Palm Springs History and when you are there you can easily visualize the Palm Springs of the 1930’s and 40’s. A little more of their history is here.

The show itself is, in a word, fabulous. They will be unveiling their 22nd season this Fall and I am annually astonished by the sophistication and polish presented by cast, crew and creative team of the Follies. The other thing that makes me look forward to seeing them is that everyone in the organization is at once immensely professional and fun.

Photographing in the theater can be challenging as the brightness range can be very great. The stage is another matter as the lighting is everything a photographer could want with all the firepower of the sun controlled by the lighting engineer.

This particular image was a combination of several images to accommodate the brightness range. It was the solution I used at the time and I am happy with it. However, as I often do, I look back and think of alternative solutions to the problem. I hope to try some of these new ideas this year. (No, I won’t spoil it by telling you my ideas. You’ll just have to be patient.)



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