Healing Thoughts in the Navy Yard: Quit Shooting Guns

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I wanted to send out warmth, love and healing thoughts to the victims, families, and community at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard. Living within a stone’s throw of the gigantic ships of the Coast Guard, the Port of Oakland and the Alameda Naval Air Station, I’m always amazed by the people who serve our country on the seas and oceans around the world. I often stand in amazement of these wonderful metal beasts we’ve created. I imagine that it is not easy being on the seas in a desert of water. I couldn’t do it, and I appreciate those that do serve and sail, and make our world a more connected and beautiful place.

As we move forward from this newest tragedy, I hope we can begin to address our societal relationship with guns. From Sandy Hook to Columbine to Fort Bragg, guns have taken away so much from so many kind and gracious souls, fighters, and lovers. I understand that gun rights are a complex issue mired with constitutional rights, safety, freedom and societal responsibility. I also know there isn’t an elixir that will turn all our guns into flowers. I do hope we can continue to have conversations about how to disempower the firearm as a physical item as well as a symbol. I cannot fault music or TV or war or photography as industries.

Instead, what I can do [with all due respect to our military, peace officers and others with firearms] is to commit to myself that as a photographer I will never photograph a gun in an empowering, hip or exultingly manner that increases its power as a societal symbol of strength and power. I am in fact guilty of misusing a gun as a prop. I was poking fun at the faked “Palin in a swim suit with a gun” photo in a maternity shoot with my wife. My wife and I both found it humorous, as did many others. But now I can’t stand it anymore. It’s just not funny, because I believe that we would all agree that what makes that photo unique is the placement of a firearm with Palin of course.

So its time to change. No more “cool” photos with guns – I’d rather photograph art, love, and passion. Guns are lame.

I urge other photographers to do the same: Quit shooting guns. Become part of the solution. When someone asks you why – take it as an opportunity to talk about how guns don’t deserve to be celebrated.

Leave a light on for me in- sml- Alameda NAS-






Not a bad place for a birthday or bachelor party or thoughts on impermanence

location: Twin Lakes, Desolation Wilderness.

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180 Degree Panorama of Twin Lakes – Desolation Wilderness – Click to enlarge the photo. Original is almost 10,000 pixels wide making for a great 5 foot long print!


Perseid showers overhead.  It’s 3 am and I’m slightly wh’skeyed. I think that Krishnamurti’s August 10th mediation says it best: Continue reading

Northern Coast Portrait Bike Tour

Bragg2SF-Lechphoto--4I’m very lucky to have ambitious and inspired friends like Ryan. He constantly pushes all around him to make people more conscious, more involved, more informed, and more fit. Yes, more fit, might be the best description for a buddy who now has a term that describes the process wherein one begins a cursory run or bike ride only to realize that the perfunctory nature of the workout slowly morphs into a point-of-no-return epic endurance event.
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My 100th post: Thoughts on Rain, Boundaries, Inspiration

A tribute to another photographer who sometimes had rain and sometimes sun. Either way he created amazing images from embracing nature.

A tribute to another photographer who sometimes had rain and sometimes sun. Either way he created amazing images from embracing nature. Into Yosemite Valley – circa 2010.

Rain is the force of life in Mediterranean climates. It’s not simply a thing that happens here or there – rather it defines wet and dry seasons. It creates possibilities for birds, worms and salmon alike. Today it’s raining here. It’s quite a surprise for the end of June, but I wanted to embrace it. It’s a beautiful caesura in the parching season of the hot, dry summer which is forecast for 2013. Enjoy the rain, the anomalous rain and all the life it brings at the most unpredictable moments. Continue reading

Celebrating Point Molate Through Art


I am very blessed to be taking part in a very unique conservation art show. This event is dedicated to celebrating an environment that was nearly lost to a poorly planned development.  A citizens group from Richmond was one of the few advocates for protecting the Richmond shoreline. In what I would call the Golden Age of conservation in the Bay Area, most conservation organizations either supported developing the shoreline into a casino or quietly refused to comment. Conservation as a greater entity failed. I was angry, sad, and broken as I worked on this project as both a photographer and a conservation biologist.

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The Biological Things Lech Does

Larv collectors

My biological field experience is what eventually led me to pick up a camera and use it as a tool for conservation and awareness. I was first attracted to the idea of creating National Geographic style images. You know, eye candy (for plant nerds). Grand, sweeping landscapes that sing of feelings of vastness and purity. Those classic photos oftentimes are thought to create a feeling of wilderness – a landscape untouched by humankind.

As I work more and more as a restoration ecologist, I have come to realize that the hand of humankind is critical in maintaining so many species and landscapes we might perfunctorily believe are “liberated” or protected from humans. It is our hands that help protect these places. And I’m not talking about raising fences and locking gates, I’m talking managing invasive plants, rewarding sensitive ranching practices, and leading hikes to get more people hooked on nature. Continue reading

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

The sleepiness of December weighs heavily on me every year. I feel like the new year is a time for reset, but for the most part I don’t feel like I’m in peak shape, or creativity, and certainly not productivity.  But then the day to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream arrives and I personally feel like my life becomes refocused, and reinvigorated. Take a moment – listen to one of his speeches – get inspired by his voice and delivery. He was truly an amazing human being.

writing on the wall

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Enter lil’ Cas

We feel amazingly lucky and privileged to have a healthy newborn in our lives. Castilleja Riley was born on the day of the blue moon, August 31. She weighed 8 pounds and measured a smidge over 20 inches. The whole family is healthy and happy.

Castilleja was named after the Indian paintbrush wildflower which blesses prairies, valleys, scrub and mountainsides. Indian paintbrush is a wonderful mid-summer perennial wildflower that celebrates beauty and versatility.
I’ll be back to blogging once we all settle in a bit.

Much love,

Welcome Year of the Dragon, Goodbye Rabbit

One morning a friend, Dan Dedrick, recommended the idea of photographing Chinatown, Oakland in the morning.  It was a cool December morning and it seemed like a great way to start off the weekend.  The mood and energy of Chinatown is captivating, electric.  There is a constant commerce that rings through the air, but with that, notes of quiet, patience, and almost longing.  I can’t really explain that staring out into space that you tend to see there.  These are both zen moments at the same time they are glimmers of fatigue, or maybe frustration, or just pure solemn reflection.

The following is a series of photographs that are post processed into high contrast black and white.  Some reveal light, some harbor dark.  With those tones are also contrasting movements, some quick – some graniticly intentional.  They all are part of the Chinatown scene.  Happy year of the Dragon! Continue reading