Kehoe Beach at Midnight

Last Friday conditions were promising for night-sky photography. A moonless night combined with unusually clear skies inspired me to try my luck at Kehoe Beach. I was excited, hopeful as I packed my gear for the drive out to the northern coast of Point Reyes. I had photographed at Kehoe many times over the years, but this would be my first time to explore the view during a starry night. When I arrived at the trailhead, the last visitors were leaving, returning along the trail to their vehicle. As I walked toward them, I heard their happy chattering grow louder and saw the light from their flashlights grow closer, bobbing in rhythm with their steps. I would be alone on this beach, on this starry night!

I love photographing at night. Under the clear darkened sky, time spreads out. The experience deepens and more seems possible. I wander slowly during these hours of maximum darkness and let the compositions come to me. For several hours the light remains the same, the only changes are the slow movement of the stars and the shifting of the landscape shapes as I move about. There are moments I am dumbstruck by the vast, unfathomable space of the heavens, delighted by the beauty of these bright stars slowly revolving above…filled with wonder, having to stop, unable to even point my camera.

On this night at Kehoe Beach, I gathered myself again and walked slowly along the beach to the north where a favorite bluff beckoned. As I passed by it, I turned back to admire its strong profile glorified by the star-splashed sky to the south. I made several exposures. This one is my favorite:

Turning around to the north, I saw the great land mass of Point Reyes, magnificently curving toward McClures Beach under a canopy of stars:

I decided to wander south on the beach to see if I could find a familiar tidal pool I had photographed another time under sunlight. But before I left, I made one more photograph of the line of bluffs that shelter much of Kehoe Beach:

In a few hundred yards, I found the tidal pool. And although I had hoped to catch the starry sky reflecting on a mirrored surface, the wind that night prevented such visions. Nevertheless, the beautiful shape of the pool provided a striking foreground for this view to the south:

The air started to feel damp as it does in Point Reyes as the evening deepens. I turned around to discover the cause. Wispy clouds drifted high overhead, coming my way. These clouds felt magnificent and powerful. It was time to go. I made this last photograph of as midnight approached:



Triptych Art: Windows to a Larger World

According to Wikipedia, the triptych is a sacred form that originated in early Christian art where it appeared as altar pieces. The art was presented in three panels and was usually hinged together. The three pieces created a much wider, dramatic presentation. This panoramic artwork provided the viewer with virtual windows opening into a larger world.

Rush Creek Trail Triptych

I’ve been making triptychs for more than 25 years. My very first attempts, like the early church artisans, were hinged versions. But, they were heavy, unwieldily and nearly impossible to hang safely. I abandoned the hinged version but continued to make individually-framed versions. Once I acquired a larger mat cutter I began producing single-piece triptychs featuring large mats with triple windows to reveal the three photographs. This is the method I use most frequently today. Some collectors prefer individually-framed versions and so I continue to offer that style too. Samples of these varying styles of triptych framing are here: Art on Walls.

Bolinas Rdg. 3 Traditionally framed

Single Scene Triptychs – Two Origins

Additive Triptychs
All my first triptychs were made from a single scene, painstakingly photographed on film – each panel a separate exposure.   I searched for landscapes that would be dynamic in it’s entirety, but would have features that would be suitable that each exposure (panel) would be interesting to the eye. Each exposure is added to the others to complete the continuous scene. The best ones I made are the Bolinas Ridge Triptych and the Point Reyes Triptych. I didn’t have a name for this kind of triptych, but I now call them “single-scene additive triptychs.”

Divided Triptychs
A few years ago a client needed a very large artwork for her New York home. Logistics and framing required a new approach. My more panoramic triptychs would not work in the space. I searched my catalog for a high-quality film image that could be divided into three vertical panels, framed individually and hung in series. Tomales Bay and Black Mountain, a sweeping view of the Point Reyes area was repurposed to become the Olema Hill Triptych. The photograph divided beautifully into three interesting panels. This is my first “single-scene divided triptych.” I have since found two other large-format film photographs that also divide beautifully: the Tamalpais Ridges and Alabama Hills triptychs have been added to my online collection.

Olema Hill Triptych

Multiple-Scene Triptychs
Other evocative triptychs can be created by the careful combining of related, harmonious photographs. Shapes, places, subject matter, even weather can create the grouping. For instance, these botanicals were found at the same place enjoying the same refreshing morning dew.  This North Bay Trees Triptych  includes three majestic trees captured in the infrared spectrum during the spring of 2015. Triptychs can be linked together by shape: Parabolic Dunes. These portraits of teasels, seem to be animated, connected by their gestures: Teasel Dancers. A lake, the ocean, and the desert share the beauty of a darkened sky in California Dark Skies.

North Bay Trees Triptych

I’ve been making triptychs for over 25 years now. The triptychs I create today honor the ancient art form. I’ve just added a dozen new triptychs to my  Triptych Collection here. The most popular sizes can be ordered online, but if you need something bigger please contact me. Triptych art will open windows to a larger world on your wall!

Here are samples, of actual and virtual triptych installations. My free Art preview service enables you to visualize artwork on your own walls to assess size and compositions.

The Moon and Venus Glowed Brightly

The Moon and Venus glowed brightly and the frogs were so loud that when I look at this photograph I still hear them….

My friends, Hadley and Marty B. stood with me on the shore of this hidden cove at Lake Nicasio, all of us struck silent by the startling beauty of the moon and venus in the darkening sky. As we set up our cameras, the silence broke. Two bullfrogs began croaking in joyous guttural conversation, first one to our left, then a reply came from our right. Back and forth they sang! It seemed that they acknowledged and accepted our peaceful presence. The sky so deep, so dark, so quiet. The frogs so deliriously happy…. we too. All of us delighted in the evening’s magic moment.

We had come to Lake Nicasio to see if we could find darkened skies suitable for photographing the stars.  Hoping for stars above and their reflections on still waters, this late February date provided us with both. It was clear, very, very cold… and not a breath of wind to stir the surface of the lake.  At first, I resisted including the brightly-glowing, new moon in my composition. I knew that the long time exposure would blur it’s shape. However, I soon decided to try.

I’m pleased by the effect of the diffused but brilliant light these heavenly orbs express in the night sky photograph. The long exposure reveals more of the millions of stars that are above us. This new photograph,  The Moon and Venus, Lake Nicasio has been added to the online catalog.