WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge…”Warmth

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Warmth.”

This had me scratching my head.  Decided to go with color to represent the subject.

In this case it is a close up of one of the table tops at the Aqus Café in Petaluma. I was there for a photo shoot and the painted tables caught my eye…

Aqus Café Petaluma Ca

Aqus Café Petaluma Ca

Lighting is everything…plus a little bit of luck

Lighting and composition are constantly stressed in the photo courses and classes.  Lighting is the tricky part as it changes constantly…revealing and hiding scenes as it passes…sometimes in a manner of minutes, if not seconds The scenes in these photos are from a well known location in downtown Petaluma.

I have walked past it frequently and did not take much notice of something until early one morning, something caught my eye while I was on the other side of the street.

To introduce you to it I will start with a closeup…


Know what it is? Petaluma residents should 🙂

Let’s back up a bit to see if it comes to mind…


Perhaps I should back up some more…


 OK, let’s try a full view…


 The gate to the Lan Mart…usually open during business hours, but as you can see

these photos were taken before opening…




Reflections of…Petaluma

From time to time, the reflections in a scene are almost as interesting  as the “source” image and often enhance it.

Regarding the last photo in this series…well, let’s just say I could not resist including it… 🙂

Balshaw Bridge

Balshaw Bridge


Balshaw Bridge

Balshaw Bridge


American Alley at Western Avenue

American Alley at Western Avenue


Storefront on Kentucky St

Storefront on Kentucky St


144 Petaluma Blvd

144 Petaluma Blvd

4th & C

4th & C



Payphone…May it RIP

Although long out of service and hanging in place as a decaying artifact from another time, this abandoned payphone in Petaluma caught my attention as a “photo op”…

Payphone  DSCF5569WEB

in the morning light when for a few moments, a “ghostly” outline of the missing handset was highlighted though the side of the unit…

Payphone 2 DSCF5574aWEB Payphone  DSCF5575RAWWEB





Scenes about (Petaluma) town…

When out and about with camera in the role of ersatz street photographer, I have found that one does not always encounter the best lighting and sometimes I defer making a photo. But there are also times when you can capture scenes that are otherwise unsuitable for photos by concentrating on areas that have “suitable” lighting…or scenes where for a moment, the building colors take on a special tone as the sun recedes.

I offer the gallery below for your consideration…

Photo Gallery

(Click on any photo to open the collage to see full sized photos)

Shollenberger Park Scenes…Alligators??

Petaluma’s Shollenberger Park is an area with excellent hiking paths allowing visitors to see all kinds of wetlands wildlife and natural habitation.  In the summer and early fall the water levels are fairly low; however, it is still possible to observe wildlife…

© Frank Simpson

© Frank Simpson

And vegetation…

© Frank Simpson

© Frank Simpson

At times, however, one seems to see things in the Shollenberger water…

© Frank Simpson

© Frank Simpson

It looks like Claude, the White Alligator from the California Academy of Sciences! 

Look again…



EmojiNah!! Can’t be true!! Can it??Emoji

April..at last!

To celebrate Petaluma’s April blooms, I offer a reminder of late February, February 28, 2012 to be precise.

All photos between 7:00 am and 7:03 am in our Habitat as the sun begins to burn through the morning fog.

 The first photo of the tree does not reveal its occupants. The next two photos present a closer view…

Sunrise © Frank Simpson

Morning Dove © Frank Simpson

Hummingbird in Threshold Silhouette © Frank Simpson

Coping with difficult lighting

The reality of making pictures is that most of us are never at the right place at the right time.  Well, we try to be, but frequently event schedules and the timing for good lighting do not always coincide.

For example, if the entrance to the Cirque du Soleil tent in San Francisco is facing a late afternoon sun and all you have is a little pocket camera, you have to deal with it…and hope for the best in post processing. In this case, I opted for B&W with a lot of tuning…

Cirque Du Soleil Tent, San Francisco 2011 © Frank Simpson
Foggy days over San Fancisco Bay are the norm.  However, in this instance the sun punched a small hole through the fog, lighting up the green sail… 

Tiburon on San Francisco Bay © Frank Simpson

Sun Star…8 Minutes 19 Seconds From Earth

At the speed of light, it takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for light (energy, if you are thinking solar power) to reach the earth from our sun.  In photography, the general rule or thumb is to keep the sun at your back and to avoid or minimize taking photos in full sunlight. 

But rules are meant to be broken, even if by accident. 

Recently, I was on the Bodega Head Trail and a jet contrail caught my attention.  I decided to take a quick shot, hoping that the distortion created by shooting into the sun could be minimized by keeping the sun off to the side. 

The resulting image?  Colored “sunbeams” (distortions or artifacts created by the direct light passing through the elements of the lens) streaking down to earth…


  • Location: Bodega Head
  • Camera: Fuji HS20EXR
  • F-Stop f/8
  • Exposure: 1/800 sec
  • ISO–100
  • Focal Length: 5 mm
  • Time of Day: 3:11 pm
  • Post Production: Adjustments in saturation and contrast only.  All other “distortions” retained


Colors…to Black and to White

The photos in this post are not examples of photo journalism. They are arranged.  

The first photo is a macro taken through a vase of cut flowers.  What you are seeing are the leaves and stems in the water. The orange background was created by placing a freshly picked pumpkin directly behind the vase…and waiting for the sun.

The second photo is based on a photo taken along 101 near the Sonoma-Marin County Line.  In this instance, I ran the photo through post processing reducing the colors to two.  It dramatically changed the impression created by the image–from a dead tree on the horizon to a possible movie poster for a B movie horror film. Perhaps something like The Creature From the Hills?

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California
101 (Sonoma-Marin County Line) 

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California

Photo Perspectives–Mill Valley Art Festival & California Academy of Sciences

For October I thought I would post a few words and photos about the Mill Valley Fall Art Festival in the Old Mill Park and the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. I will not attempt to present a full coverage spread of either–there is not enough file space for that.

(NOTE: Individual photos below may be enlarged by clicking on them!)


The Art Festival has always been a personal favorite given the quality of the exhibitors and the redwoods setting in the Old Mill Park…

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California

A closeup of the tree lanterns

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California

Art takes many forms…

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California


Suffice it to say, The Academy will occupy you with wonders and sights (a rainforest, a white alligator, an aquarium, etc.) that will generate many return visits.  Perhaps a few photos will tempt you.

A bird with attitude…

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California

Part of the aquarium as seen through a side staircase…

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California

In the rainforest…

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California

 Mysteries of the deep…

© Frank Simpson, Petaluma, California


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It came out of the mist…

A photo exercise in perspectives and light…perhaps also an exercise in perception?

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  • The metal fins or sails (The Mysterious Craft) are part of the fountain at the waterfront in Tiburon, CA. 
  • The “emerging life forms” are from the Community Garden at Point Reyes Station, CA.
  • The yellow blossom and pumpkin are from the St. James Community Garden, Petaluma, CA
  • All photos were off the camera with only minor adjustments in contrast. In addition, the first photo from Point Reyes Station was partially cropped at the bottom to remove objects on the horizon.

Suspended Animation…Redux

This photo of an abandoned shopping cart was originally published on May 23, 2010. Briefly, the photo was taken on Petaluma’s Lynch Creek Trail in November 2004 with no thought given to composition, etc.  It was just a quick point and shoot.

Much later, after downloading it, I was taken aback by the illusion of suspended animation. A local photographer recently explained what happened:  “The cart is submerged on it’s side, and so you are getting half of the real cart, and half of its reflection in the water. The really cool thing is that the cart has to be EXACTLY halfway submerged to look like it’s symmetrical. Some of my best photos have been taken accidentally too.”

B & W

One of the side efects of my photography classes is an appreciation of B & W photography, particularly in the case of silhouettes.  In this instance, the photo is of a beach north of Bodega Bay, CA. The first is unaltered.  The remaining photos reflect my editing. Clicking on each photo will enlarge it

Murray Rockowitz in his classes often says that a photo frequently contains more than one picture… 

Autumn Leaves?

The answer to the question is yes and no. This photo was taken using available light on September 4, 2010, at the St. Francis Winery…after sunset. The photo came off the camera without any additional editing, except to add a watermark. 

The leaves in question were in fact green. The golden color was created by an orange floodlight illuminating the setting for a winemaker dinner at the winery in Sonoma County. 

If you click on the photo, a larger version should appear in your browser.

Black Fern?

Photography in a redwood forest presents a challenge in terms of subject matter and lighting. I no longer try to photograph the trees as they are just too large to capture the “sense of their size” in a still photo.  Therefore, I now look for other subjects.

During a recent walk through Muir Woods, I happened to catch this scene on the ground…

A black fern?


It is a shadow…

En vino veritas?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.  However, given a lazy summer afternoon and a little scattered sunlight filtered through the trees, one may capture some “true” or interesting colors in a glass of wine. 

I tried several wines and found that the most photogenic happened to be the Beringer White Merlot…

Looking bit closer towards the bottom of the glass, you may notice the image of a bird…reflected or refracted through the glass…

Suspended Animation

Over the years I have photographed hundreds of abandoned shopping carts throughout Petaluma’s landscape. This photo was taken on the Lynch Creek Trail with no thought given to composition, etc.  It was just a quick point and shoot. Frankly, I barely remember taking the shot.

It was when I finally downloaded it that I realized that it was a tad unusual.

The cart was in the water but for some reason (the early morning light, the fog, whatever) it appears to be suspended in mid-air.

UPDATE JANUARY 28, 2011: An explanation for the “illusion” has recently been offered by a photographer: “The cart is submerged on it’s side, and so you are getting half of the real cart, and half of its reflection in the water. The really cool thing is that the cart has to be EXACTLY halfway submerged to look like it’s symmetrical. Some of my best photos have been taken accidentally too.”