In May of 2000, the Cerro Grande Wildfire began as a controlled burn originally lit by the U.S. Forest Service. It became out of control because of high winds and drought conditions. The fire resulted in the burning of 48,000 acres of forest as well as the homes of over 400 families of the city Los Alamos, New Mexico. Amazingly and luckily there was no loss of human life (and no danger was posed to any materials inside Los Alamos National Laboratory.) 

As a resident of Los Alamos, I remember that smoke plume looking like a hand reaching up to the heavens as we evacuated, feeling helpless to do anything about it. I remember watching the destruction of homes on the news, feeling as if it were unlikely that we would be able to return to a town at all. I remember the Los Alamos Fire Department working long hours to fight the Cerro Grande fire while the other fire crews deemed it too dangerous to stay. It is because of the LAFD that most of the houses in the city were saved, and many of the firemen fought to save the houses of their neighbors while their own house burned to the ground.

This photograph was taken in March of 2011. Eleven years later the hillside is still barren. This fire taught firemen everywhere how to fight wildfires more efficiently. Because of the mistakes made here, homes were saved from the Wallow Fire in Arizona and then from the Las Conchas Fire in these same mountains in June of 2011. Indeed it is true that from all bad, good is born.

Viewing larger is currently broken. Sorry for the inconvenience. To view this larger please click here.
 
 
While visiting Egypt, I remember wondering how the livestock got onto these islands in the middle of the Nile River. Most times I could see a narrow stretch of land making it almost a peninsula, but this one in particular looked to have deep waters completely surrounding it. It was a long way from any of the main shores, yet there were livestock on this island. This photograph was taken from a boat near Luxor.

The shelters pictured are for the livestock and not for people. Most people in this area lived in more-established structures made of bricks.
 
 
One of the reasons for the Egyptian Revolution was a poor economy in which most of the income of the country was hoarded by the upper class, which were mostly oil companies or government officials. This man is living in an unfinished apartment in Edfu, Egypt, a common problem within the entire country. The government has no law requiring landlords to complete a building before they rent it out, and unless a building is complete, they don't have to pay taxes. Essentially, it is an incentive for rich property owners to never finish a building they are renting to poorer Egyptians. They are instead rewarded by not having to pay taxes! This is something many Egyptians hope will change with the new regime after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.  
 
 
I've decided to post this discussion based on some comments I've seen on my work and work of other photographers. It seems that it is perceived that there is a difference between how a landscape photographer and portrait photographer compose an image. Is there? Both want the same result: images that are pleasing to the viewer's eye without distraction, and without awkward crops. Though, the two categories of photographers seem to accomplish this by entirely different visions. Or are they different? (Some) landscape photographers tend to want entirety, and that is not necessarily true for portrait photographers, but for some it is. 

One element that, in my opinion, leads to both a successful portrait and landscape, is getting the entire subject in the frame. Whether the subject is the whole of something or a piece of something, the subject must be in the frame in entirety.
This is a very simple image, utilizing some of the most basic elements of photography: time of day for light IE sunset in this case, colors, framing, and lines. This image appears on your screen more or less how it appeared in the viewfinder of my camera. Had I gotten only part of one of the windmills in the frame, it would have brought an awkwardness to the outside of the photograph, and it would change how effective it is as an image. Had I gotten too much sky or too much of the black ground, the same thing would have happened. 

Had I gotten this with a grayish-blue sky, it would have changed the mood of the image that is achieved with the color. Had the cloud lines been higher, accenting the sky above the windmills, it also would have changed the scene (though I can only credit weather for working out that part of the photo for me.) The hills are curved lines, which harmonize the straight lines in the clouds............. (click read more)

 
 
These two girls live deep in a city of the Jungle of Chiriqui Province, western Panama - I was there in 2005, and they thought I was a missionary and were extremely hostile to me for the first few days. It seems that they had been touched by a group of "gringos" who taught them about God, but the gringos never helped them with any of their daily tasks like fetching water, repairing roofs, or even cook. This village is full of people who share everything: food, parenting responsibilities, soccer balls, etc. and it was off-putting to them that the missionaries didn't even bother to learn about them. "How could they say we were wrong without even finding out what we believed first?" said one of the villagers.

These two girls live in a house that was at one point, converted into a church. But after the missionaries had left, it was turned back into their house. The girls don't understand why their house had to become the church, and their parents were not available to answer the question.

(As a side note... this deep in the jungle, most of the people do not speak Spanish. So our photography team worked with one translator who translated to Spanish, and that guy then translated into the indigenous language.)

This photographer has no inclination for or against church missions and is simply reporting the events as they were presented by the people who were available to tell the story.   
 
 
San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon Wheel Chair Invitational Event

Out of all of the athletes at the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon (3 June 2012) I found the wheel chair invitational athletes to be the most inspirational. (I'm a former athlete and marathon runner who now can't run.) These athletes didn't let their disabilities get in their way, though! Some of these wheel-chair-sporting athletes finished this 26.2-mile race in under three hours by "running" this marathon with their hands on tricycles similar to this one!

This photograph was taken on the final stretch when the finish line, located next to Sea World, came into view. This was a successful year for the Rock and Roll Marathon, raising over a million dollars for cancer research, and the Wheel Chair Invitational was a great addition to the event.  
San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon Winners

Russian Alevitina Ivanova finished the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 44 seconds, making her the fastest woman runner in the marathon. She is pictured below running the final stretch of the Rock and Roll Marathon just before crossing the finish line at Sea World, San Diego.  
Kenyan Nixon Machichim, an olympian, finished the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in a staggeringly-fast 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 3 seconds. He is pictured here crossing the finish line at Sea World.