Fuck you for telling me not to take a photo



I came across this comic on xkcd the other day. It resonated with me deeply , as a lot of my greatest and dearest experiences have been had because of photography.

I understand the feeling of emptiness you can have as you watch someone goad their kids into posing for a photo at a beautiful location, but seeing no warmth or presence in their actions. Simply a check off on a list of to-dos. This sucks. I get it. But slowly and surely the human race will figure out their relationship with technology and the world around them.

BUT fuck you for telling me to not take a photo.

Don’t you see my mouth agape at what I’m framing with my camera lens/iPhone? Don’t you think I am deeply experiencing it, all the awe, beauty, and wonder of it?


My camera took me to this rope cart over a river in Santa Teresa, Peru.

Riding a cable cart next to the Santa Teresa hot springs

Riding a cable cart next to the Santa Teresa hot springs


My camera took me to a crane booth high above the Cayman Islands’ Pirate’s Week Pirate’s Landing Re-Enactment.


To a small town in Peru, volunteering my photography for a non-profit that connected local weavers to international markets.



To the hilly streets of San Francisco, where pro skaters pushed themselves to land tricks.

Jack Curtin Switch Ollie SFCA 2013

Jack Curtin Switch Ollie SFCA 2013

Fuck you, I’ll take my photo.



Composition: Focal Length

Another technical aspect to composition is focal length.

In skateboarding, the staple focal length is somewhere between 8-16mm. Wow that’s really wide, what lens is that?

A fisheye. The lens non-skateboarders and photographers who don’t skate freak out about. “It’s cheesy, it’s too distorted, it’s cliche.”

As long as people have been pushing their skateboards, the filmers and photographers documenting them have used fisheyes.

I think it’s an act of bashing authority. Another symbol from skateboarding that shows it doesn’t care about adhering to the standards of other lifestyles.

The lens makes everything look bigger, radder, sicker, gnarlier, and sketchy-er. Perfect for what photographers and filmers are trying to do with skateboarding.

I’ll go into the use of a fisheye in another post.

Back to overall photography. If 8-16mm is a super wide angle-of-view fisheye, what’s everything from 20-85mm? That would be your moderate wide angles, through standard primes, to moderate telephoto. From 85 up to 500, 600, 47500mm, is a telephoto lens.

What effect do different focal lengths have on your composing of a photograph? With a long lens, objects can be more compressed together, and you tend to have less depth of field than a shorter/wider lens. With a shorter lens, objects are more spread out, and have more depth of field.


With this shot of Leo Martinez popping a tall switch flip off the ledges at Peace Wall, I decided to shoot with a 70-200mm lens, with it set at 200mm, in order to separate Leo from the busy background. The depth of field is very shallow, and the difference in light qualities between him and the background helps too.

I was inside editing when I heard a ruckus outside. There was an iguana chilling out on the windowsill. 200mm at f/4 was sufficient to set him apart in the frame.

In this photo, I was set to a focal length of 17mm. This made the tiles in front of me stretch out, and the mountains in the background look more distant.

I then switched to a focal length of 200mm, and framed just the tiled rooftop and three separate ridges. The longer focal length compressed the distance, making the objects seem closer together.

The next post will be a surprise, stay tuned!

Composition: Contrast and Tone

Quiet. Reverential. Contemplative.

If you are going for a feeling like the above with a photograph, the below characteristics will do well:

Soft light
Gray tones
Pastel colors
Curved lines
Rounded forms
Subdued contrast

Loud. Quick. Excitement. Spontaneity. Punch.

With these feelings, the below characteristics will do you well:

Hard light
Black blacks and white whites
Vibrant colors.
Angled lines.
Edged forms
Unrestrained contrast.

Be careful, as heavy contrast is easily overdone. Be sure to check in and feel the emotion you are trying to conveying in a photograph. Some do better with more contrast, some do better with less.


Up near the Fire Trails in Berkeley, I started on a mission to Orinda BART. I don’t know if I’ve been anywhere quieter in the Bay, so I wanted to show that, along with the fog that was sweeping through. Very low contrast between the tree branches created the quiet, mystical, and simple feeling I was going for.


This tide pool in a pocket of ironshore beach was created by a storm that you can see is leaving. I wanted to show the reflection of the stormy sky, the sharp edges of the rocks, so I increased the contrast for more punch and excitement.




Shooting some photos at Berkeley Park for the first time in a while, Dylan was getting creative with a nollie back 180 melon. The sun was going down, and the sky was darkening to the blue shade you see here. I was using flash to freeze the action and light him properly. There is a lot of contrast between Dylan and the dark sky, and the colors of the sunset, creating the bold image I wanted.



In this photo of the mountains surrounding Ollantaytambo, you can see the three different tones in the photo, the first hill, the peak, and the sky. Not much contrast was added, each layer stood out on it’s own.

The nest post will be about: DOF!