My Photos — on display for the benefit of the world


Flying Over the Holiday Season


An airline pilot walking through the cold winter rain while looking for his hotel shuttle at O’hare Airport, Chicago.

Back at my regional airline I flew with a wily old bachelor captain named Dale. Every year, Dale would use all four weeks of his annual vacation allotment in December. He didn’t have a family. He wasn’t trying to be home for the Holidays. I asked him once, “Dale, why do you take all you’re time off in December?”

“December is when everything bad happens,” he said, “In December, the seasons are changing and you get those days-long storms with snow, rain, and sleet. And, all that weather happens when the airports are packed with holiday travels, families that travel only once every couple of years, they’re nervous, and they don’t know what they are doing. I don’t need that. I take December off and come back in January when the dry arctic air has set in, things dry out, and only professional travels come out to the airport.”

I think of Dale every year as I slog through the holiday season. In my career, I’ve never had the seniority to get time off in December.  In fact, it’s the opposite, with the airline’s heavy holiday schedule, I’m usually out working more in December that any other month. This year I was lucky and got Christmas Day off so I was home to see the kids open their presents on Christmas morning, but other than that one pleasant day, I’ve been out fighting the crowds and the weather for the past few weeks.

The other day, while lying on my hotel bed, lost in a haze of holiday flying, and mindlessly scrolling my Facebook feed, I came across this video of Hulk Hogan and Randy the Macho Man Savage. My grinchy spirit soared as I watched those coked-up, steroid-clowns steal 1960s hippy-acid culture and spin it into 1980s commercial gold. And, I was also a little jealous too. Oh, to shed my uniform and wear a different persona… This blog, and my writing, would be a lot more fun if it was done under an anonymous pen-name. I need a metaphorical Macho Man Savage bandanna. If I could just shed the responsible airline-pilot-dad bit…

Steam rises from a vendor's standing n Chinatown, Flushing, New York City (DavidRaboin)

A busy market on a cold winter night in Flushing, New York… I took this photo on my walk back from dinner during a LaGuardia overnight. We stay in Chinatown. 

Flight crews take notice of the short winter days and long nights. In winter, our work days usually begin before dawn and finish after sunset. Often, eating dinner means taking a cold, dark walk in an unfamiliar city. I take my camera and practice night street photography.


I love flying into Palm Springs. To stay below LAX traffic , ATC makes us descend early and then level off just above the San Bernardino Mountains. Yesterday, the clouds split open and we saw a fresh batch of snow on the mountain tops. In the distance, you can see the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park.

Flying during the holidays isn’t all hardship and gloom. The low winter sun makes great light for aerial photography and snow adds some pop to the mountain tops.


Meeting De Aviation, Nice, France… Poster by Charles-Léonce Brossé… 

Many years ago, I had this poster hanging in my apartment. The mustachioed french aviator was my inspiration, my hoped for alter-ego who could shower flowers and happiness on an exotic coast. That’s what I hope my Instagram feed is, roses falling from the sky.


San Francisco Bay, downtown San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Oakland, and in the far distance my backyard mountain: Mount Diablo… After a front moves through clear arctic air means great visibility. If you look hard, you can make out the snow packed peaks of the Sierras along the horizon. 

Maybe if I had a selfie stick and a suitably wide-angle lens, I could make a picture of myself above San Francisco that is similar to that poster of the pilot over Nice? I’m kidding of course, but I admit that an interesting foreground subject makes a landscape image come to life. That old poster has more spark than this highly detailed photo.

The long ride across the prairie to Denver International Airport… The beginning of a long day of delays

We need all the rain and snow we can get in California. However, I wish this drought could be broken on days when I’m not scheduled to fly multiple legs through San Francisco. This winter we’ve seen an endless train of storms and rainy days in NorCal. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to perfect SFO weather delay speech, “Folks, Imagine if they closed several lanes on the Bay Bridge during rush hour, that’s what it’s like at SFO airport now. The wind is out of the south which means they can only use two of their four runways. It’s like they closed half of their available lanes. Now, air traffic traveling to SFO is backed-up throughout the country. Air Traffic control issued us a wheels up time of…”


Speaking of the California drought, check out all that snow on Mount Shasta. That should help top off some of our reservoirs as it melts off this spring and summer. 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Where I’m At


The procession of winter clouds gave way to clear sky after several weeks of wet and snowy weather here in California. This is sunset above the Sierras yesterday evening. This view is looking south at the Mountains between Yosemite Canyon and Mono Lake. You can see Tuolumne Meadows where our family camped two summers ago

Yes, it’s been awhile since I posted. I took a break. This summer I kept busy writing an article for The Online Photographer. I poured my guts into that article and I’m really happy with how it came out (you can read part 1 here and part 2 here). Now, I am working on a book. However, saying that I’m working on a book still sounds ridiculous to me. So far, the book project consists of an incomplete chapter, a giant page of half baked ideas stored on my phone’s notes app, and a list of favorite words and phrases that I’m pilfering from songs and articles.

What about this blog? I hate to abandon it because I’ve invested so much time here and I think some of it is good content. The problem is I don’t have time to write a quality blog, the kind of blog that builds a readership. I know what a good post sounds like, I think I know how to write them, but I also know how much time it takes, and I don’t have the time. For a blog to thrive, it needs daily posts. For me, that’s impossible b

I only write during my overnights . It is impossible for me to write when I’m home from work. I have two kids and a wife who all deserve attention. We also have two big dogs, a house, and twenty different activities that we drive the kids to. My free time comes once a week on a long overnight, in hotel, and usually several time zones away.. I could spend that time holed up my hotel room writing or I could go out and take photos. Or, I could do what any other normal person does and relax, but I’ve never been normal.

Here’s my plan: I’m going to get back to posting here from time to time, but it’s going to be experimental, fun writing. No more obsessing over every word. This blog is going to be my writing warm-up zone and a place to post my latest photos. I’m also going to put up some really poorly produced YouTube videos about photos. About five years ago I went through a major shift in my photography where I loosen up my compositions and that opened up some space for the occasional happy accident. My photography got better, more interesting. I’m hoping a similar loosening here will improve my writing output. We’ll see.

As for the book, I will finish it. I must. I know I don’t have time to write a successful blog because that requires fresh material every day. A book, however, can be chipped away at here and there. And, the thing about a book is once it’s done it’s done and has value as a stand alone product. For a blog to work, you have to write quality posts day after day, if you stop they blog dies. Once my book is done, I can write occasional articles for real blogs, the popular blogs, and use those articles as a marketing vehicles for the book.

My goal isn’t to make money off a book, it’s much smaller than that. I just want to raise my stature in the photo community so that I can some day host photography clinics and have an occasional gallery show. It’s a long road, and maybe I need to find a faster car, but I might as well give it a try.

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Spring in Portland, Oregon


I took a long walk in Portland. The trees were budding and blossoming. So far, I’m loving my new Canon 24-70 f2.8 L II. After this long walk, my wrist wasn’t achy at all like it would’ve been with my old 24-70 version 1.


*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Trying out my New Lens in Boston


The skate park at Boston’s North Point Park

I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. For our anniversary last week, Maria surprised me with a new Canon 24-70 f2.8 L II. According to the lens review sites, the 24-70 II is one of the finest optics ever manufactured. It’s reported to be as sharp as a high quality prime lens at all of its focal lengths. I can’t wait to get to know it better.

Since September 2007, I shot primarily with the original Canon 24-70 f2.8 L. I estimate that 85% of the photos posted on this blog were taken with my old 24-70. I always liked that lens, but never loved it. It was sharp, not crispy like my primes, but good enough. I could’ve whined about the old 24-70’s size, but I’m a big guy, and I don’t mind suffering a little for my art. I was totally happy with the results of that old lens, and was only moderately interested in it’s replacement, until I got my Canon 16-35 f4 L for Christmas 2014. The 16-35 was my first new L lens in many years and I was amazed at how much better the pictures looked coming from a more modern lens. The new lens had better contrast, better colors, better sharpness edge to edge, and it handled flare brilliantly.  Suddenly I found myself reading reviews of the 24-70 f2.8 L II. Could the new zoom live up to the hype? Was it worth the extreme price? I started saving my iStock pennies. I had to have the II. But life got in the way and I spent my stock photo horde several times. It seemed like I would never accumulate enough money for Canon’s ultimate lens.


Busy Saturday Evening in Boston’s North Point

I’ve only had the new lens for a week now and I was sick in bed with the flu for three of those days, so other than a short photo-walk in Boston and a trip to the park with Holden, I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly test it out. My initial impression is positive. The 24-70 II focuses faster than the old version. More specifically, the focus motor feels like it packs more horsepower than an average lens. When the II focuses, it feels like a fat perch grabbing your line. It really tugs. I’ve also already noticed that this lens is extremely sharp. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it in interesting light, but the images I’ve taken with it so far all look very prime-like. The details really pop out. And you have to love evolution, even with these performance enhancements, the new lens is much lighter than the old version and it feels better on the camera. Maybe someday I’ll write a longer review, but probably not. I enjoy taking pictures and writing about images more than writing a lens review. I can’t wait to take this lens out again.


*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Spring on Mount Diablo


Northern Slopes of Mount Diablo with a rain shower in the distance

Between rain storms, I got up on Mount Diablo with my camera. This year it’s very green and the wildflowers are starting to blossom.


Diablo in spring: Oak Tree, receding rain clouds and poppy blossoms

These photos were taken five days ago. When I was up there, poppies were budding everywhere. I image the mountainside will turn orange with flowers sometime this week or next. I want to get back up there for the bloom but now I am sick in bed with the flu, the worst flu I’ve ever had.


Perched above the summit road


Rock formation at sundown, and the first wisps of the next storm system stream across the sky 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Off to South Beach, Miami

An aerial view of Rose Bay and Spencer Bay on the Coast of North Carolina (DavidRaboin)

Morning high above Rose Bay, North Carolina… Working our way down to coast, JFK-FLL 

Other than the early wake up (5:30 AM Eastern Time is 2:30 AM for this Californian), today is an easy day. We’re flying just one short leg from New York to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We have a new long stay hotel in a new neighborhood, South Beach, Miami. I’m looking forward to some exploring. 


King for a day… The Rooftop swiming pool at our new South Beach Hotel

The new hotel is a long ride from the airport, about an hour without traffic. Our van driver doesn’t speak English and he listens, at high volume, to one of those pop stations that “plays all the hits from the 80s through today.” Picture three men blasting down the sunny,palm lined Florida Interstates in a Ford Econoline with Micheal Jackson’s “Thriller” playing in the background. Fortunately, when finally arrive, the new hotel turns out to be a winner, but it’s not playtime for me yet. First, I have to finish my taxes. A few hours later I head out for a run.


A parade of cruise ships leaves Miami. Photo taken on Samsung Galaxy S5

South Beach is better planned than Fort Lauderdale. Rather than placing their main street up against the water, South Beach has a buffer zone of hotels and then a little greenway of dunes protecting the beach which makes it much more pleasing than gaudy, noisy Fort Lauderdale Beach. I run through the jungle like foliage and across dunes on South Beach’s winding pedestrian path and stop at an outdoor public gym to do my interval workout. I have no shame. I will happily do my 41 year old version of burpies, push-ups, mountain climbers, etc out in a public space, but South Beach is seriously intimidating. I’m pretty sure that the women I hear whistling aren’t whistling for me.

After my workout, I jog the path till it ends at a canal. It’s Saturday evening and a parade of cruise ships departs Miami’s harbor. It’s times like this that I wish I had a pocket camera, something like a Canon G9x that I could carry everywhere. Instead, I do some street photography with my cell phone.


*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Lime Ridge Sunset


My son Holden playing on Lime Ridge at sunset. Photo taken just above Ygnacio Valley Road where it goes through the open space between Walnut Creek and Concord. Canon 5Dmk3 and Canon 16-35 f4 L IS 

Spring in Central California is impossibly beautiful. The hills turn green as Ireland. I try to get out as much as I can with my camera before the sun toasts the hillsides back to their usual brown. This year, between El Nino’s frequent storms, we’ve had some great sunsets with wisps of mid and high level clouds streaming in off the Pacific.

Last week, I took the above picture of Holden while the two of us were playing around up on Lime Ridge. I love how this photo came out and it got immediate positive response. A lot of people asked me how I did it. While this picture is very special, it came about in the same way I always take photos of my kids. Here’s the expanded recipe:

  1. Taking photos of toddlers is a game. You can’t force a toddler to do anything. I’m not saying that to be politically correct. The fact is, at this age, toddlers aren’t very good at following directions and they don’t have much patience. On the flip side, toddlers have a huge curiosity about the world and they can find enjoyment in something as simple as whacking a stick against a tree. When I go out with Holden and my camera, it’s all about playing with him. Maybe I can coax him into position for a photo or a pose, but that usually only happens in the context of a game. For this photo, he was very cooperative and I got him to run up and down a little deer trail a few times for me, but that was only because he was having fun. For a good fifteen minutes before taking this picture we played rescue where I’d save him from a rocky perch and he’d jump on my back like a maniac. That got him fired up and he was in a great mood.
  2. Chose a pretty or interesting place to play. I don’t usually plan a specific photo idea, but by playing somewhere with an interesting background I increase my odds of getting a nice photo. And, it doesn’t have to be a spectacular place. I’ve taken interesting photos of my behind our neighborhood strip mall and in vacant lots. You just need a visually interesting space.
  3. It helps to have a bag of photographic tricks up your sleeve. This scene lent itself to several of my canned tricks: low angle view, sun stars, silhouette, leading lines, and a lone tree. Holden gave me only two minutes to make this photo. There’s no way I could have come up with this composition in that short amount of time if I hadn’t practiced with each individual element in other photos and other situations. Because of all that practice, I knew what I wanted the instant I saw this scene and I got to work making that photo rather than playing around with various compositional ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I love experimentation, but in some situations like this one you just don’t have enough time.
  4. Keep an eye on your camera settings. I honestly can’t remember if I shot this in manual mode or aperture priority. With the complicated lighting, I probably should’ve gone manual but I think I winged it with Av mode. When time is limited, I trust my camera’s meter — I trust but verify (barf, a Reagan quote). Every couple of shots I check the histogram to make sure the photo data isn’t getting clipped. That’s a habit of mine. If I have time to dial in the correct manual settings, then I will, because that frees me a little from the constant chimping, but when time is extremely tight, I’ll just fire away off in an auto setting rather than miss my only chance. For this exposure, I knew how my camera would react in auto mode. I’ve owned this 5D mk3 for three years and I’ve aimed it into the sun plenty of times. In matrix metering mode the 5Dmk3 does a good job keeping most of the frame within the sensor’s dynamic range, choosing to over expose the center of the sun and preserving some detail in the shadows. With fast-moving kids familiarity with your camera helps a lot.


This is Holden moments earlier playing “rescue”. You can see he is having a lot of fun. Check out that tree in the background. It’s grown completely around a rock. What I really wanted at the time was a picture of Holden standing on the rock that comes out of the tree trunk but he refused. Oh well. Rather than fight with him, I looked for a different photo. That’s when we came up with the rescue game. As the sun got lower I turned around to look for more picture ideas and that’s when I picked out the lone tree in the lead photo. 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Cascade Range Morning Fly Over


Looking South, an aerial view of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams

Aircraft departing Seattle to the south fly past some of the well known peaks of the Cascade Range. Here’s a photographic tour of the Central Cascades. I took this pictures a few days ago while flying from Seattle to Los Angeles.


Looking East, abeam Mount Rainier with the morning sun behind a thin cloud


After passing Rainier, looking South at Mount Saint Helens and Spirit Lake


Mount Saint Helens passes off our right side


*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Downtown Seattle


Welders work on the new dome structure on the Amazon campus in downtown Seattle

If you are worried that America is in decline, I recommend visiting downtown Seattle. In Seattle, construction cranes pepper the skyline as the city races to build condos and rearrange its waterfront. Jobs are plentiful and the real estate market is booming. Probably the biggest driver of Seattle’s growth is Amazon. In the photo above, you can see one of the domes of Amazon’s planned biosphere taking shape. The domes will be part of Amazon’s downtown campus and are meant to provide a recreational space for Amazon employees. I’m not sure if long time Seattle residents are excited about the rising cost of living, but to this outsider, the city seems to be transforming for the better.

About making the photo… I just happened upon this construction site as I wandered the streets. The intricate web-like structure of the domes looked interesting and that’s what I wanted to photograph, but it was a cloudy day and a photo of just the steel beams would’ve been flat and boring. Luckily, there were also welders at work here and there throughout the structure. It took some patience to get this shot. I don’t know much about welding, but from what I observed, welders don’t leave their torches on very long. They weld for a few seconds and then stop for long periods. I stood and waited until I could get two welders torches in one frame at the same time. I think the photo is effective because it shows structure of the domes as well as the construction techniques. The workers bring a sense of scale to it all and the bright welding torches with their plumes of smoke provide interesting accents to the flat light of wintertime Seattle.


Puddle in an Alley, Downtown Seattle

You might have noticed that I’ve been explaining my photos a lot lately. Well, I’m leaving this puddle photo up to you. Can you spot the trick? And, keeping with the construction theme, notice the crane in the middle of the reflection. Continue reading “Downtown Seattle” »

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

Spring in California

This post is a quick catch up on the last two weeks. This is the best time of year in Central California. The hills are green,the temperature is just right, and the rattlesnakes are still underground. I was off work for most of the first two weeks of February and I got up in the hills a couple of times, once with the kids and three times with the dogs. I’m dying to do some serious landscape photography before the grass turns brown again, but so far that hasn’t been in the cards.

Let’s start with the big news…


Here are the kids enjoying snack time up on Lime Ridge, photo taken about two weeks agoMake special note of Holden’s hair (far left).


Bye bye cub-curls… This is Holden a few days ago with his new haircut! 

The new haircut makes him look three years older, and it’s sad that his magic curls are gone, but it was time. Holden hadn’t had ever had a hair cut and at three years old his hair was starting to turn frizzy and getting out of control. Maria surprised me with the super short haircut. He looked so different when he came home from the salon that I don’t think I could have identified him in a crowded room. At first Holden said, “I want my haircut back” and he wouldn’t look at himself in the mirror. That didn’t last long and now he’s back to being his usual cheerful self.

This is a cell phone video of Coyote Lookout up behind Lime Ridge. I made it while out jogging with the dogs. Can you see why I can’t wait to do some landscape photography? The green hills look amazing, especially when there is a broken cloud layer in the early morning. 


And here’s the other change… Ella doesn’t like taking boring walks with her dad anymore. Lucky that we’ve reached the age where she can bring friends along.

And here’s just a straight up brag… Maria and I went to see Built to Spill at Slim’s in downtown San Francisco last week. We got there super early by accident and ended up in the front row. Don’t believe the crappy cell phone audio — the show sounded great. I loved watching Doug Martsch close up. He’s like five band members in one person. 

I love Built to Spill. They write complex songs with lots of changes, and their lyrics are full of meaning. If you’re just getting started with Built to Spill, I recommend their newest album, “Untethered Moon”. It’s probably their most approachable album yet. If you like it, dig into some of their older stuff.

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at Support this site by using one of my links to Thanks!

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