A Press Democrat Blog


A how-to photographic guide from sports to food styling

Mysteries of Clear Lake

University of MInnesota graduate student Ryan O'Grady measure plastic tubes containing core samples from about 140 meters under Clear Lake. The samples will yield information on the climate and environment from 140,000 years ago.

I admit I wasn’t thrilled when told I’d be shooting images on a drilling platform on Clear Lake during the worst light of the day. The action is 140 meters under the lake and on the platform, a spinning tube with a loud engine. A U.C. Berkeley grad student changed my attitude. While describing the project before heading out on the boat, I joked he was very excited over a bit of “play dough”. His eyes lit up, I believe… Read More »

Awwww….Baby Fennec Fox

The 58 gram fennec fox kit feeds every two hours on Pedialyte mixed with a puppy formula.

I need to change the tag line for this blog to photo tips and really cute baby animals. This week’s awww comes in the form of a two-day old fennec fox. The native of the Sahara desert in North Africa adapted to its environment by developing shockingly large ears. With little prey in the desert, they use their 6 inch ears when locating food underground. Legend has it fennec fox can hear the beating heart of a lizard nearly a… Read More »

Latest Baby Giraffe at Safari West

Giraffe Fun Facts: Giraffes have longer forelegs than hind legs.

Ok, I admit it I’m a sucker for animal stories. Turns out nearly everyone else is too. Animal stories can be the scourge of editors in our business however. They draw big attention while the supervisors meeting stories tries to keep up. Now that we can count hits, we know animal stories are big. A video I shot of a giraffe birth three years ago has been our top video since it was shot, with over 2 million hits last… Read More »

How-to: Watching the Sparks Fly


The first lesson when photographing welding: CLOSE YOUR EYES!. Even through layers of glass and two mirrors, retinal damage is possible. You can set up a tripod. I’m a gritty photojournalist, so my tripod is my legs spread, arms tucked in close, deep breath, squeeze the trigger slowly. For welding, I set up the shot, focus, close my eyes and just let the camera shoot at 8 frames a second when I hear the arc welder spark. Second lesson when… Read More »

Finally A Spark of Light or Two….

Amelie Schlager performs before a crowd under the new big top for the 20th annual Circus Waldissima at the Summerfield Waldorf School on Friday.

Shooting a circus, is like shooting fish in a barrel. Bright colors, clowns, feats of daring….and a brand new big top for the Summerfield Waldorf school. Press Democrat photographer Beth Schlanker photographed practice for our Towns section a few days before the first performance. Her photos are beautiful, the ceiling filled with a lovely blue filled with stars. Her angles and compositions really show off her photographic style. CLICK HERE for a link to her gallery (I love the last… Read More »

Kya’s New Arm

Kya Hill, 17, struggles to rotate her wrist during a demonstration on her first day back at school with her new arm. After two days of working the muscles while fitting the arm, fatigue and pain left her unable to show most of the functions.

Last week I met the most remarkable young woman. Writer Mary Callahan (my lovely, brilliant wife) wrote about her accident: “The passenger-side wheels dropped into a ditch about 18 inches deepand, for a few agonizing seconds, the truck scraped against a rough rock wall along the road. Hill knew when her head hit the ceiling that her seatbelt had snapped. Her window shattered and her arm was somehow yanked from the cab, flung back between the door frame and rocky… Read More »

Newborn Colobus Monkey at Safari West


Jabula and Sukari have a new baby. The tiny girl looks like an old man with her grey hair and ancient face, and staff considered naming her after the reverse aging Benjamin Button until her sex was discovered. Most monkeys live on the ground, reaching up into trees and grabbing food with their opposable thumbs. The name “colobus” is derived from the Greek word for “mutilated,” because unlike other monkeys, colobus monkeys do not have thumbs. They dwell high in… Read More »

To Style or Not to Style?


I thought I was just kidding when I wrote the Photojournalist blog covers everything from sports to food styling. I thought I would be writing more sports photography blogs than food stories. Not true……. To style or not to style that is the question? My recent Oscar Party shoot at Barndiva in Healdsburg answered the question: yes. The dishes and the drinks were named after nominated movies and my first dish was a salad inspired by the movie “The Artist.”… Read More »

Images of Tragedy

Friends and his dogs try to comfort Russell Dooley, left, who feared one of his dogs was still trapped in his fire engulfed home in Santa Rosa on Wednesday morning.

Today’s dilemna: When do you publish photos of someone dealing with a tragedy? Last Wednesday I looked up after parking my car at the Press Democrat to see a giant plume of black (black is bad, white good) smoke within a half mile of the office. I was on the scene of the King St. house fire as the first fire truck was arriving. For the future photojournalist, always shoot flames first. Those darn firefighters tend to put them out… Read More »

Fallout from Doctored Image

I blogged last week about Sacramento Bee photographer Bryan Patrick’s suspension for combining two images of egrets in the central valley. After finding two more doctored images in the files, Patrick was fired after more than thirty years as a photojournalist. The news was big in the world of photojournalism. Surprisingly, the story  jumped the pond and traveled around the world in the mainstream media. Business Week published a short note online and The Guardian newspaper in London printed a… Read More »