Category Archives: Picture of the Month

American Goldfinch


After the demise of my Triumph Sprint ST due to hitting a huge pothole on South Fork Mountain Rd., I decided to use part of the insurance payout to buy a lens I’ve long desired, Nikon’s 70-200mm 2.8. Not wanting to spend $1600 for the latest version, I found a great deal on a used example of the previous version of this lens. It also happened to come with a 2x multiplier so it gives me an effective focal length of 400mm, perfect for taking picture of the birds at our feeder so we can identify them.

I’ve been keeping track of the birds we spot on our Knowlesville web site and occasionally a new bird shows up or I get confused because of the variability of the species. This bird for example, the American Goldfinch, can look quite different depending on if it is male or female, and whether it’s breeding or not. This happens to be a female with her non-breeding plumage, which is far duller than her summer plumage, which is in turn even more duller than her male counterpart which is bright yellow.

For identifying birds, other animals, and plants, I’ve found the Seek app to be indispensable. Even if I don’t take the original photo on my iPhone, I can point the iPhone at my computer monitor and use it that way to make the identification. For birds, another useful tool is the Aububon app.

Female American Goldfinch

Tonya, Darcy and Bingley


Darcy worked himself into yet another one of my photo shoots. Darcy is a very friendly cat, and he’s our official greeter. He says hello to whoever come over, often going out to greet visitors even before they make it to the house.

He has made appearances in many of the shoots I’ve done in our house and yard, but Tonya must have special kitty charm, because she got photos with both Darcy and Bingley. This was the first time that Bingley decided to join a photo shoot.

Tonya was over to help model some of Lori’s vintage clothing, and here she’s wearing a 1940s nightgown. You can see more photos of the gown on our vintage clothing website.

Tonya and Darcy Tonya and Bingley

Cowgirl in the Barn – Elizabeth Electra

September 2020

After a reschedule due to all the wildfires in Oregon and California this summer, I finally got to do a shoot with Elizabeth Electra, a model I found on Model Mayhem. She had just the right measurements to fit the clothing for several concepts I had, including this cowgirl outfit. She also looked very nice wearing nothing at all while strolling in our creek.

For this shot I used the barn across the street, trading Sylvia a bunch of pears for the payment for use of her “studio” which worked out really well as a shooting space. In addition to this outfit, I also shot some of Lori’s vintage clothing collection which will make it up on her site if I ever get around to it.

Cowgirl in the Barn

Michelle, Robert, Bricen & Carson

August 2020

This month I had a return visit from Michelle’s family, and was introduced to their youngest son, Carson. I first photographed Michelle for her senior portrait, and then I used her as a model for my Pirating Under a Full Moon photo.

The last time I took their family portrait we used our backyard as a plan B because the beach was too foggy. This time, using our backyard was plan A, and it worked just as well.

Lori and I have been enjoying our fire pit area as it allows us to sit outside on Ferndale’s typical chilly evenings. The fact that we often make S’mores just adds to the relief the area has given us from the boredom of sheltering in place during the Covid-19 emergency.

So I thought it would be a fun thing to photograph Michelle’s family enjoying S’mores. We moved the fire pit back to our park area by the creek, and I photographed them without posing while they made their snacks. Initially, Carson was a bit shy, but when he got his first taste of a S’more, he instantly became very photogenic.

Making S'mores


July 2020

After being shut in due to the Covid-19 emergency for several months, I found my need to get outside and be creative was pretty strong. I’ve done a few Covid safe shoots, and this shoot with Cassandra had better images, but I though this one was such a strong sign of the times, that I thought it should be the POTM.

My wife Lori has been busy for several months sewing masks and she thought she’d make some patriotic ones, because wearing a mask is one of the most patriotic things you can do right now, despite what our idiot leader thinks. Our lives and our economy won’t get back to normal until we beat this disease, and we won’t beat it spreading it due to mistaken ideas of what freedom is.

Since I had the stars and stripes bikini from a previous shoot, I though it would be fun to combine it with Lori’s mask.

Hope you’re all staying say, doing proper social distancing, and wearing a mask when out in public.

Covid-19 Bikini Shoot

Social Distancing

June 2020

Tired of being stuck inside, I thought a shoot at the beach could be managed under social distancing rules. Brandy met me at the South Spit, and I used my telephoto lens for the entire shoot so we could stay some distance from each other.

There were two problems with the shoot however. First and foremost, we have the most unpredictable weather around here and even though it was sunny all day, right when we left Arcata the fog started rolling in. Not the weather I wanted for the shoot at all, as the goal was to have the sun streaming through the sheer petticoat.

The other problem was that due to shooting from a fair distance, I didn’t notice wardrobe malfunctions like twisted straps and underwear being worn backwards until I was editing the photos. So we definitely plan to try this shoot again on a better weather day.

Brandy at the beach

Garberville Wildflowers

May 2020

While driving the Humboldt County backroads taking pictures of remote houses for insurance companies, I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous native wildflowers in bloom everywhere. One house I stopped at had a whole hillside covered in Blue-Eyed Grass, which is good to know if I ever need more for my garden.

Poppies were everywhere too, and as they’re one of my favorite flowers, I was happy to repeatedly pull over and photograph them when I saw particularly good displays. This old oak tree surrounded by poppies growing in between the boulders was my favorite.

Garberville Poppies


January 2020

I met Brandy while I was working my other job as a Fire Inspector for Arcata Fire District. I was doing an inspection of the apartment complex she lives in, and helped her install a new smoke detector.

Noticing how petite she was I mentioned Lori’s vintage clothing collection and that we were always looking for models to photograph her collection.

I was working on updating the web site for the vintage clothes and I wanted to update some of the photos. This particular bodice is one we bought in England back in 1995. It was the first piece I photographed for the collection, back in our 1914 bungalow in San Jose.

Since the garment fits the period of our house, I wanted to use it for photos in our recently completed parlor. Brandy ended up being a fun model to work with and I’m looking forward to more shoots with her.


Family Portrait Time

November 2019

Before traveling down to meet the siblings for Thanksgiving, my niece wanted a photo of Lori and I for her baby’s scrapbook, so he would have a record of who is family is.

My sister Linda sent a photo of her and her dog, so we thought we should include our cats in our photo. Easier said than done, especially when two of them don’t like each other all that well, and one of those cat’s does like to be held.

We did manage to herd them all together out by our new pond, and with the camera on my tripod I got a couple of shots off using my remote control before the cats had had enough.

I went inside with the card, loaded up the photos on my Mac, and was horrified that I managed to frame the photos so that Lori and I had our heads cut off. How was that possible, I had checked the framing with Lori in the photos when I set it up. Then I realized that the quick release plate that attaches the camera to the tripod had slipped, which caused the camera to tilt forward.

So with the quick release plate tightened extra tight, we rounded up the cats again, but couldn’t get George (the one on the ground) to cooperate, but fortunately I was able to photoshop him into the photo by grabbing him, putting him in the photo and then taking a quick shot before he took off again. Mr. Bingley (left) and Mr. Darcy (right) were better models and happier to be held, so it all worked out in the end.

The Knowles Family Portrait

Emma – Rock On

October 2019

I noticed Emma during this year’s Ferndale Dance Academy production, because she literally stood head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. At 5′-10″, Emma is 6 to 12 inches taller than most of the other dancers. I hope to work with her a lot over the next few months, as she is the same height as Lori, and she will be a good fit for many of the costumes that Lori has made over the years.

For our second shoot, we went up to Bear River Ridge, where she showed that pointe shoes can be adapted for rock climbing.

Emma, a young ballet dancer, dancing on top of a rock.