The Images of Ashala



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_MG_0320 Cormorant in Flight


I was at Santa Margarita Lake in Santa Margarita, CA the other morning doing nature photography, shooting egrets, cormorants and other large waterfowl.
After a few hours of shooting the “big” birds by driving around, stopping; driving around, stopping, I was walking back to my car and noticed some butterflies in the tall grass and weeds.  After a long morning of shooting, I decided to sit and watch the butterflies.   I sat on a rock and proceeded to watch a very small area directly in front of me teaming with activity.  I marveled at the activity in that one small area.   It had been a long time since I had just sat and watched this small natural world as opposed to driving around the lake following the  large waterfowl.   What I realized was if I just sat there quietly in the moment, watching this world unfold before me, that nature would come to me – a zen-like experience, for sure.

_MG_0437 Egret

The first attention grabber was the butterfly with the bright, vivid colors.  Great shooting with the morning light.  The butterfly went from flower to flower endlessly.  Then there were the busy bees flitting from flower to flower.  Then there was the moth…  At this point I pulled out the 100-400mm and proceeded to do some hand-held macro shots.  I had not taken the time to shoot macro in a long time.  What an amazing world there is in such a small area right in front of me.  No need to drive around – just sit and wait and let nature come to me.  No need for extension tubes or a macro lens – although those would have been nice – just the 100-400 mm and my rock to sit on.  What a great way to pass the morning, just sitting and watching nature come to me… I could have set up the tripod, but didn’t want to ruin the moment.  With the 100-400 mm handheld, I was able to easily follow my tiny subjects as they flitted from flower to flower as we shared our morning.  I love the world of nature photography, and the addition of macro photography opens up a whole new world.

_MG_0393 Egret

_MG_0694 Butterfly

_MG_0592 Bee

_MG_0666 Butterfly


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Standing at the train station in San Luis Obispo, Ca. with camera in hand, I was reminded  of an era long past – right out of the 50’s.  No wonder San Luis Obispo was coined  the happiest town in America.  This is a place where people truly care and support each other.    On this beautiful Central Coast day, people took time out of their day to welcome home a young soldier returning from the Iraq war.  There were flags and signs held high by young and old.  This was not about whether one was for or against this war.  This was simply, when a soldier returns home, to honor a young man who put his life on the line.

Four organizations – American Legion Riders, Patriot Guard, Military Parents of the Central Coast and Welcome Home Troops – and family and friends gathered at the San Luis Obispo Train Station for a surprise welcome to Specialist 5, Daniel Donnahoo.   After he stepped off the train, a very obviously surprised soldier was greeted with cheers, flags and hugs.   Mom was first to reach him with an embrace that only a mother can give.  Daniel saw his daughter, who is one year old, and has not seen since her birth.  His wife, who is in the National Guard, was also there.

From a photographer’s standpoint, this was great shooting:  emotions were high, excitement was in the air, and there was color everywhere from shiny motorcycles, to the banners, to the American flags, to the posters.  I could not have asked for better shooting conditions.   As far as outdoor photography tips, in this situation, have your camera ready to shoot fast as there is a lot happening at once.  Stand back and get the crowd scenes and move in close and get the emotion of loved ones who have been separated for so long.  I was shooting with a wide angle 24-105 and telephoto 70-200.  I used Canon 5DmII and 7D.

                                                                                                                                           Daniel Donnahoo was overwhelmed by the show of support

MG 3567-2 Train Station

3554-2 Welcome Home

3516-2 Reunion A Mother's Hug

3627-2 Motorcycle Motorcade

0161-2 Motorcade

After more hugs and media interviews, a motorcade of 45 motorcycles and many cars left the train station – mom and dad on a motorcycle, too — headed for Morro Bay.  They picked up a police escort at Cuesta College, motorcaded through Morro Bay and then headed home to Atascadero, but not before picking up more vehicles and motorcycles when they stopped by VFW 2814.    When the motorcade finally arrived in Atascadero, neighbors were there to greet him.  Everyone enjoyed food, drink and celebration.

A truly small town with a huge heart… Welcome home, Daniel.

3535-2 Daniel's daughter and his mom

0083-2 Motorcyclist

0067-2 Welcome Home, Soldier

_MG_3493-2 SLO Town Welcome

3475-2 Glenn "Sage" Donaldson

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_MG_3361-2 Star Trails

I stayed up the other night until 2 a.m. hoping there would be a meteor shower from midnight to 2 a.m., as predicted – no such luck.  I did get lots of star trails, though, and had a great time with it.  If you have lots of time to spend, take your camera outside and shoot the stars.  I usually  set up the camera and go in and doing something else and set a timer for the exposure I want.   I do different times and settings to experiment until I achieve the image I want.

Star trails are really fun to do.  As I live in an area void of street lights, it is quite easy on a clear night to achieve star trails.   For these images, I used a 24 mm lens and focused on infinity.  Being dark, it is difficult to position the camera for the right composition.  If there is a tree in or rocks in the foreground, I will shine a flashlight on the foreground objects so I can get some idea of how to position the camera.  That usually works.  If it is too dark, then I do a quick test shot to find the right composition.

I  do a test shot for about 30 seconds – 1 minute to see if the composition will work.    From there I may do diffent exposures depending on how much time I have.  They are anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, normally.   Some star trail images can take many hours, but I am usually not that patient.

All you need to photograph star trails is a camera with lens that can do time exposures (put on ‘B’ or Bulb mode), a cable release or lockable shutter release, and a tripod.   Make sure that your batteries are fully charged so they will not drain during the exposure.  A very important accessory is a sturdy tripod that will not move with the wind which would cause the star trails to be uneven.

You can do short or long trails depending on what you want to achieve artistically.  You can also light paint the foreground with a flashlight.

_MG_3357-2 Star Trails

The first image, 3361 was exposed for 18 minutes at 4.5 with ISO 400, 24 mm lens.  The above image, 3357, was exposed for 10 minutes at 4.5 with ISO 400, 24mm lens.

_MG_3353-3 Star Trails

This image was  exposed for 24 minutes at 4.5, ISO 400, 24 mm lens

If you have never tried star trails, get your gear and start shooting.  If you are out camping, that is a great time to shoot the stars as the area will be void of lights except for the stars.


California Photo Festival


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Just spent an amazing week in San Luis Obispo and surrounding areas at the California Photo Festival from Oct 12-16th.    The festival was put on by Los Osos based Light Photographic Workshops.   Photo instructors were well known in the industry, i.e., Rick Sammon, author of 36 photo books;  Hanson Fong, famous wedding photographer;  Tim Grey, top educator in digital photography;  Rob Sheppard, editor of PC Photo and Outdoor Photographer; Juan Pons, amazing wildlife photographer, just to name a few of the presenters.

_MG_3035 Horse on the Beach

_MG_2882 Horses on the Beach

There were seminars, lectures, and workshops in all types of photography from Landscape to Portrait to Lightroom to Marketing.  The most difficult task was deciding what courses as so many were offered.   There were sunrise and sunset shoots set up all over the county from the ocean to the Morro Bay Estuary to the Paso Robles vineyards. Classes were held in every type of photography imaginable, from portrait shooting, to seascape and landscape, macro shooting, to learning Lightroom and Photoshop, IPhone shooting, and way too many classes to mention.

I wanted to learn to used my video in my SLR so I attended a couple of classes in video shooting.  We went to the Paso Robles vineyards at sunrise and shot video of the workers harvesting the grapes and the inside of the plant with all the processing equipment.  Another class I attended was held at the pier in Cayucos.  Sunset was equally as good with horses on the beach.  Great fun shooting the horses racing down the beach.  Models were also brought in and we were able to shoot them dancing in the sand.

Ashala Tylor Images

_MG_2939 Horse on the Beach

If you have a chance to sign up for the California Photo Festival next year, I highly recommend it.  Website is

_MG_2714 Horse on the Beach

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A few weeks back I ventured to the San Francisco Bay area and had a great time shooting.    After shooting the fogged in Golden Gate Bridge, I ended up at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.    While walking around the beautiful grounds, there was a wedding photographer shooting a couple across the water .    Thinking  it would make an interesting shot of the shooter shooting, I set up my tripod.  What happened next was purely romantic, as I found out later when I spoke to the happy couple.

It turns out  that the future groom to be told his soon-to-be fiance that he was taking her out to breakfast and to dress up a bit.  He had come with the photographer the day before and set up the surprise shoot with the surprise proposal.  When I got there he was proposing on bended knee.  How totally romantic is that?   When I spoke to her later, she said she was totally surprised and worried she had not fixed her hair better because she thought she was only going to breakfast.

_MG_1912 Palace of Fine Arts Photographer

Wedding Proposal

_MG_1963 Palace of Fine Arts

_MG_1963 Palace of Fine Arts

_MG_1708 Palace of Fine Arts

_MG_1737 Palace of Fine Arts

Testosterone Antlers

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_MG_1227 Dueling Dudes

Testosterone stimulates the new growth of antlers, which begins in March or April for mature bulls and in May for younger bulls. Testosterone is the hormone in the bull’s body  controlling the “cement” that holds the antlers secure.   In Spring the testosterone levels drop causing the elk to drop their antlers.    Until late summer, a bull lives peacefully with the other bulls.   Come September, all is not peaceful.   This is the time of the rut when battles for the harems take place.  By October, the testosterone levels drop and and continue until early spring when the antlers fall off.

Why such large racks?  Large racks identifies a bull that is successful in finding food and one who is able  to defend himself against other bulls and predators.  Female cows will mate with the strongest of the males – usually the one with the biggest antlers.  Antlers can grow up to an inch a day in the summer.    At 7 years of age, a bull’s antlers may have six tines each, weigh as much as 40 pounds, and grow to a length and spread of more than four feet.

_MG_1147 Roosevelt Elk

MG_1240 Roosevelt Elk Bugling

_MG_125 Elk Harem Gathering































Do What You Love

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When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.
— Nancy Coey

_MG_2222 French Acrobats

_MG_2223 French Acrobats

Saturday during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, I came upon the epitomy of “Do what you love and the money will follow.”   It was in the form of La Loupiote Sailing Circus in the harbor in Sausalito, Ca.

French acrobats Franck Rabilier and his wife Delphine Lechifflart and their 2 children travel around the world on their 40-foot sailboat and subsidize their travels by giving acrobatic performances from their vessel, La Loupiote.  They have been traveling since 2004.  They use the rigging, mast, boom, other parts of their boat to perform aerial acrobatics.  They dangle from a long piece of white silk attached to the mast.

They did two 20-minute shows  — “The Navigators,” a Buster Keaton-influenced act about inept sailors, and “Between Wing and Island,” a love story.    I found them at the Klipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito.   About 100 people showed up for each of the free performances (donation requested).   It was just like the “old time” circus coming to town and passing the hat.

Franck went to circus school as a small child, but ended up becoming an engineer.  He met his wife, Delphine, while she was attending school in Paris.   In 1999, they started their own acrobatic/theatre company.  As time went on, they purchased a partially finished sailboat,  completed it four years later, and decided to combine their love of sailing with their acrobatics and take their show around the world.   Accompanying them on their travels is their 11-year-old daughter, Loeva,  and 3-year-old daughter, Ondja.   Loeva is home schooled, and the world is her classroom.

They have performed in hundred of harbors since setting sail from France 7 years ago.   From the Bay Area, they will sail to Los Angeles, San Diego, Mexico and then on to New Zealand and Australia.

It was a joy to watch a couple who  created a life for themselves by following their dreams and passions of art and travel and finding a way to fund it through sharing their art form with the world.

_MG_2212-2 French Acrobats

_MG_2239 Audience in Sausalito, CA

Scheduled Bay Area shows:

  • Sept 24 & 25: KKMI, Sausalito, 2 p.m. “The Sailors”; 4 p.m. “Between Wing and Islands”
  • Oct 1 & 2: Encinal YC, Alameda, 11 a.m. “The Sailors”; 1 p.m. “Between Wing and Islands”
  • Oct 8 & 9: Treasure Island YC, 3 p.m. “The Sailors”; 5 p.m. “Between Wing and Island”
  • Oct 14, 15, & 16: South Beach YC, S.F.

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