1. Black and White Beauty

    A day with friends led me to an outing to a ranch outside of Monterrey, CA.  We had the chance to ride a beautiful horse owned by my friend Jenny, but not before grooming her horse and getting her ready for riding.


  2. Day 1 of Red Bull Youth America’s Cup

    September 1, 2013

    San Francisco, CA

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the San Francisco Bay to catch the energy of Youth America’s Cup on Day 1 of races. With my normal camera bag in tote, I was nimble enough to climb rocks and endure waves on the beach to find unique vantage points.  I don’t always know what I’m searching for when I set sail on a professional or personal assignment, but my search for artistic ways to see things is constant once on site.  With an eye for telling a story, I’m always searching for ways to weave context into the picture – whether the beauty of the natural surrounds of the Golden Gate Bridge or the jagged shore or the spectators engaged in observation as was the case for the Youth America’s Cup.

    With luck, I’ll end up on a boat on the water for Day 2 of races.  A different perspective with new challenges and a different way of seeing things.  Stay tuned to see if I can make more waves!


  3. Home on the Flower Farm

    Stepping away from life in the Silicon Valley, I spent a few days home in Grand Rapids, Ohio.  As it’s the summer season, my family is busy with farm work.  Long days in the fields picking fresh-cut flowers and produce is a lot of work and you’ll see from the photos that there’s much more that goes into a family farm than meets the eyes.

    Enjoy, and if you happen to be in the Toledo, Ohio area, stop by a local farmers market to share in the beauty of my family’s bounty.  More information on the farm webpage at http://www.gardenviewflowers.com.


  4. Arastradero Preserve exercise controls brush, tests wildland fire fighting skills

    Written by Ellie Van Houtte

    Staff Writer/ellievh@latc.com

    During a prescribed burn at Arastradero Preserve May 30, the image of before and after was stark. A deer creeping through dry brush from the tree cover along Los Trancos Creek juxtaposed with a charred field spotted with lines of smoke dissipating into the brightness of the noon light just an hour later.

    Whether created by nature or by man, fire is a natural mechanism for cleansing the landscape and preserving native species and animals. Last week’s prescribed burn at the preserve, 622 acres near Los Altos Hills, served the purpose of removing brush that could fuel a major wildland fire at the preserve and subsequently inflict damage on the homes and property around it.

    Fire risk is high for residents who live in Los Altos Hills. A 1985 blaze at Liddicoat Lane and Arastradero Road destroyed nine homes and caused millions of dollars in damage.

    During last week’s burn of an 11-acre plot, firefighters cut a clear path, creating a defensive zone in the landscape along a defined perimeter for fire containment.

    A team of 30 to 40 trained personnel from Santa Clara County Fire Department and Cal Fire were briefed and tasked with roles. Wind and temperature were monitored for danger, the perimeter checked and rechecked, stray brush re-trimmed and crew from the Santa Clara County Fire Department and teams strategically stationed at possible problem zones.

    A firing line moved quickly along the path of the prescribed burn, lighting the grass low to the ground with small torches. A back line followed the fire, along with a mobile unit equipped with hoses and water to extinguish wayward sparks or hot embers.

    The fire concluded on schedule and as safely as planned. Commuters passing through Arastradero preserve during the evening commute – or even the returning deer – might not even know that the fire had occurred.

    To view more photos from the prescribed burn, click here.


  5. Graduation Season 2013

    Excitement and emotion saturates the air during high school graduation ceremonies. As a photographer, you search for reflective, celebratory and artistic moments that convey the meaning of graduation.

    I went behind the scenes at the Los Altos High School and Alta Vista High School commencement ceremonies this year.  For a few of my favorite

    For more photos of the 2013 graduation season, click here.


  6. Striking the ball … one image at a time

    After photographing a local high school softball team in their division semifinal game Wednesday evening, I headed over to a minor league baseball ballpark in San Jose to capture St. Francis High School of Mountain View, CA as they played Palo Alto High School in the CCS (Central Coast Section) baseball semifinal game.

    With several regular softball games under my belt, photographing my first baseball game felt comfortable. Although I did tuck a helmet into my bag in case I needed the extra protection (just two weeks ago a softball careened my way and cracked the lens hood of my 70-200mm), I ended up photographing all of the game from the level of the stands.

    I had a lot of fun as I staked out favorite vantage points and waited patiently to capture moments on camera. During a slow inning, I even pulled out a new ultra wide angle lens to take a big-picture ballpark image. From warmup to win, the sampling of images below highlight some of my favorite moments of the game. I hope my future holds many more evenings at the ballpark.

    St. Francis High School vs. Palo Alto High School

    CCS baseball semifinal

    May 22, 2013

    San Jose Giants Stadium

    The St. Francis Lancers defeated the Palo Alto Mustangs 8 to 3.  More photos from the game here.


  7. 42nd Annual Stanford Pow Wow

    Following a few weekend assignments for the Town Crier, I made my way to Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA for the 42nd Annual Stanford Pow Wow. The event provided an illuminating glimpse at native cultures from North America and South America (including Native Americans and Aztec Indians) and provided food for the spirit. A pow wow is derived from a word meaning spiritual leader and involves singing, dancing, socializing and the celebration of culture`

    Inspired by the traditions of their communities, each participant of the pow wow wore costumes that included colorful feather headdresses, elaborate beadwork, animal skulls, moccasins and layers of fabric and embellishments.  Although the grand entry was the show stopper of the evening, the moments before and after also conveyed the significance of this gathering – a rare remembrance of culture in a time and place that makes it easy for us to forget who we are and where we come from.

    Although the sounds and movement of participants is experienced best by being present, I believe that my photos capture the soulfulness and beauty of this gathering.


  8. Gymnastics combines athleticism and poetic motion

    One of the most exciting parts of my job as a photojournalist with the Los Altos Town Crier is documenting a broad spectrum of subjects – high school sports included.  

    During the spring sports season, I’ve photographed softball, lacrosse, tennis, diving, track and field and gymnastics. In most cases, when I show up to a game or meet, it’s the first time I’ve photographed that sport.  Although I’m becoming a pro at knowing what shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings I want for my camera(s), documenting perfect moments for every player on the list from the Town Crier’s sports editor can be challenging.  

    My favorite spring sport to document is gymnastics because of the beautiful line, movement and sheer strength of the athletes. Although school gymnasiums present challenging lighting conditions, one can find plenty of opportunities to make dynamic images.

    A selection of my images from the season are above.


  9. Playful portraits from around the San Francisco Bay

    I couldn’t resist the opportunity to snap some creative portraits of my sister during her visit to the San Francisco and Santa Cruz last weekend.   

    Sharing a selection of my favorite images in this posting.


  10. Being prepared for a crisis starts at homeLast fall I began reporting on the Los Altos Hills CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) – a group of several  hundred volunteers in Los Altos Hills, CA that are trained to respond to a disaster. After writing several articles and creating the video above, I decided to enroll in a CERT class this Spring.

    In the wake of many natural disasters and other catastrophes as of late, I think that this training is another iinvaluable resource in my life toolbox.  As a  journalist, I may one day stumble upon a crisis reporting situation and personally, may need to know how to help myself and my family when the unexpected strikes.

    Over the next six weeks I’ll be chronicling my emergency preparedness training in a written series in the Los Altos Town Crier for 17,000 readers and an online audience.  I hope that my entries encourage other residents to make the investment in CERT training and emergency preparedness.  

    You can read my entry on week 1 of training here.