High on Photography…

Personal Narrative

stumped …



A dreary walk in the woods … then magic

Saturday dawned gray, cold, and wet. A light mist eased through the forest at my university. But a day walking in the woods with a camera is a good day, no matter the weather, right?

The university was on holiday break. Students had fled home to give thanks with family and friends. I did, too, but returned early.

The deeply overcast sky dictated a flat, low-contrast aspect to the trees and trails in the forest. I looked down. At least I can shoot leaves, now wet and trodden. I like to shoot leaves. A little Photoshop would add hue and color contrast to them, I thought.

But the gray and the cold and the mist cut into my coat and mind. I shivered. Bummer. A dark day growing darker. Melancholy arrived and tapped on my shoulder. I turned and shuffled back onto the main trail, intent on returning to my truck. My Canon hung unused from its strap around my neck. I hate the interregnum between seasons: no leaves on the trees, no snow on the ground.

Franciscans have walked through these woods for more than a century and a half. Franciscans like nature and apparently thrive in it. They have, over the life of the university, constructed stations of the cross on a circular trail in this forest — Bob’s Woods, named after Fr. Bob Stewart, who died of cancer shortly after my arrival at the university.

I am not a Franciscan. I am not as hopeful as they appear to be. Dank, dark weather like this day’s further eroded my ability to detect hope.

Then I saw …

me …


… in an image taken by one of my journalism students, Taylor Kickbush, to fulfill an environmental portrait assignment in her photojournalism course.

money and a message …


… found on a path in the woods at my Franciscan university. Note that the dollar bill is stapled to the message. I wonder why …

Kara’s cabin …



In 1992, I slept beside this abandoned cabin along Route 305 north of Austin, Nevada. I remembered it. It became a pivotal scene for Kara, the female protagonist in “mapping Utah,” my first novel. I revisited the cabin this summer.


the storm …


Sometimes when you’re driving in the West, you see a thunderstorm. It’s far off, still nascent, an indistinct dark smudge on the horizon perhaps a hundred miles away.

In the East, you don’t see a storm so far ahead. That’s because you can’t see the fullness of the storm until it’s literally over your head. In the East, the sky is smaller — topography, tall buildings, and trees obscure the horizon.

In the West, you keep driving toward that still-small gray mass. You look to the side through the driver’s window and see blue sky dotted with puffy cumulus clouds. You look out the passenger window; you see the same pastoral placidity. There’s psychological comfort in those little white pearls floating in the blue sky beside you. But in front of you?


loneliness, c. 1890 …


… on Route 305, north of Austin, Nevada.


Lucin, Utah …


… on Pilot Mountain Road en route to the Sun Tunnels.

wired …


Route 93 about half way between Wells and Ely, Nevada …

My Oldest Keeper

Nebraska Sky
Click to Embiggen (not that it gets much bigger 🙂 )

This is the earliest digital photo that I consider remotely a “keeper”. It was taken from the top of an RV somewhere in Nebraska. The camera was a Minolta DiMAGE S304 with a whopping 3.2MP (2048×1536) and 4x optical zoom. Still available on eBay for as little as $10!

another Sun Tunnel …


And what are the Sun Tunnels?

in remembrance of a friend



This is an atypical image for me.  With rare exceptions, I don’t do people, and I don’t do emotion.  I didn’t remember having this until I was transitioning from Aperture to Lightroom and reviewing old collections.  It was taken from a Seine cruise in late afternoon (at the time, I didn’t re-set my camera clock for travel).

the shoe tree …


vacation, hiatus, time out, break …

Since the inception of 5280 Lens Mafia in August of 2012, I have posted 1,173 times — almost daily for more than two years. These realizations come to mind:

Michele on the Bridge

The break in the streaks of light is my wife standing on a bridge which allows water to flow between Brisbane Lagoon and San Francisco Bay.

This is Tokyo

Specifically, this is a panorama from the top of the apartment building where I lived in Yushima in 1987 and 1988. Click to see and explore the full-sized image. Enjoy.

Down on his luck on Taylor Street

The more-or-less full story is here.

Tokyo Kids

I’ve been absent from these pages for awhile because I was preparing for, then undertaking, the trip I’m currently on in Tokyo, Japan. I’ve been getting some shots I really like, such as the one below. I invite you to go here and see what other things I’ve been doing.


A comforting image from a series of photos I took during a recent trip to the dentist.

So this happened…

Some twerp bashed the driver’s side mirror off my car. But I got a decent photo out of it. Silver linings, people, silver linings…