Seen in the Wild by

Some time ago I did a commercial shoot for the good folks at The Stanford Inn & Ravens Restaurant, a fantastic eco-conscious hotel and gourmet vegan restaurant located on the Mendocino Coast of Northern California (see gallery here).  It's been wonderful to see the photos I shot in use on their website, but it was especially gratifying to swing by there the other day while I was in Mendocino photographing a wedding and pick up their new printed brochure.  It's such a different (and more aesthetically pleasing) feeling to hold something in your hand rather than to view it on a screen...  though in this case you are seeing a scan of a printed item displayed on a screen, which actually looks worse...  hmmm...  Anyway, if you ever get the chance, do yourself a favor and go stay there, and eat their delicious food!


What's in your bag? by

Not too long ago, the small camera kit I take with me when I go backpacking was featured on the Japan Camera Hunter website (which MEANS something, for those of you who are out of the loop, and actually have a life that doesn't revolve around cameras and film and photography and blogs)...  Here is what it looked like:

My Mamiya 7 posing on a rocky ledge above Minaret Lake, in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

My Mamiya 7 posing on a rocky ledge above Minaret Lake, in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

"In your bag 1071, Daniel MacDonald
A very long time ago, Daniel shared with us his original bag. Now he is back, and there are a few changes. Check it out.

When last I sent in a photo of my kit (#286) I was preparing to depart on a year-long trip around Asia with my wife and young daughter…  Sadly, we only got one week into that journey (in Bali) when we discovered that my wife was pregnant with our second child!  Our grand expedition was truncated to just six weeks, and then we returned home to prepare for our new addition.

Two years later I find my primary source of photographic inspiration hiking and camping with friends and my older daughter in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.  It’s always a challenge figuring out what is the least amount of gear one can bring along because of weight considerations, so I have settled on the Mamiya 7 as the optimal photo tool for combining quality and functionality.

The Domke Rugged Wear F-5XB just barely holds the Mamiya 7 with a lens attached (the camera on it’s side), with space for another lens (50mm added to kit after this photo was taken).  I use carabiners to attach the bag to my backpack straps across my chest so it is both safe and always ready for action.

Other items are minimal…  cable release, ND filter (not pictured), and film (in the excellent JCH 120 case).  I mostly shoot Kodak Ektar 100 for the phenomenal resolution and vivid color palette.

I have found the Gorilla pod pretty useless, so in the future I will probably be humping my old Gitzo carbon MK2.

The last piece is my faithful Leica D-LUX 3, which lives in the little black Lowepro pouch and rides on my pack belt.  I’m sure I could find a new pocket digi that has better speed/resolution/etc…  but despite years of abuse, this Leica continues to make great photos, many of which are lucrative features of my collections at Getty Images and Aurora Photos.

Winter is coming, so thoughts now turn to the possibility of snowshoeing and snowboarding adventures, and the photo opportunities that await…  We shall see if California actually gets a winter this year…

Follow the links below to view examples of my work:

Thanks for sharing your bag with us, Daniel. It is good to see how things have changed in that time.
Check out the links and make sure you come and comment."

Happy Earth Day / My Father's Birthday! by

In honor of Earth Day I would like to share one of my favorite quotes from John Muir (who is a deep resource for pithy and moving quotes on the importance of being a Nature Lover, and who's birthday was yesterday):

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” - John Muir

Additionally, I would like to take a moment to thank my Dad, Michael, for being such an excellent father and wonderful human being.  When I was growing up on the Mendocino Coast, he was always dragging me off on mini-adventures (and some bigger ones) around the local landscape (and beyond)... biking down the dusty back roads of Albion Ridge to reach a great swimming hole (Jack's Pond on Middle Ridge); kayaking up Big River to picnic on some sandy beach (and hopefully avoid battling the wind and tide on the way back); cycling and camping down the Eastern Sierra and through Yosemite; or taking a month-long backpacking excursion around Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, where I watched the sun rise over the jungle from atop Mayan pyramids, and snorkeled on my first coral reef...  And these experiences instilled in me a deep appreciation for the wild open spaces, and for that wonderful feeling of being a human out in it - quiet and reverent - alive with the exhilarating smallness of our selves in the face of the world's vastness.  I cherish that feeling in myself, and have now begun to nurture and share it with my daughters, that they may know the same joy in their own lives.  Thank you Dad, and Happy Birthday!  So glad that you are around to see your granddaughters growing up!

Here is one of my favorite portraits that I have made of my Dad:

Michael MacDonald - photographed with a Hasselblad 500C + Zeiss Sonnar 150mm/4 on Kodak T-Max 400 black and white film

Michael MacDonald - photographed with a Hasselblad 500C + Zeiss Sonnar 150mm/4 on Kodak T-Max 400 black and white film

The Carlsons - A Family Affair by


One of my favorite commissions is the family photo shoot... especially when I have the opportunity to work with friends in the community.  Paul Carlson is the Administrator at the Sacramento Waldorf School here in Fair Oaks, which is where my daughter goes to school.  His wife Margie is a talented massage therapist, and their adorable children also attend the school.  

Their family portrait session took place at a local park near Fair Oaks, but I enjoy traveling to various locations throughout the area, either in a public natural space, or at the client's home.  I regularly work all around the Sacramento area, and I will gladly travel to desitinations further afield (like Tahoe or Napa).

Rain & Loren - Fair Oaks, California by

I had the great pleasure of doing a maternity photo shoot for my pregnant friend Rain (who happens to be a phenomenally talented hair stylist at William Charles Salon in Fair Oaks village), and her sweet beau Loren (who is a personal trainer).  We were able to capture the warm glow of their excitement and expectation at the impending arrival of their baby boy Liam, and to accentuate Rain's swelling belly, while still showing off their mutual hotness!  My very best wishes to them on their new adventure together.

Suzanne & John - Sea Ranch, California by

Suzanne and John are from Austin, Texas, but through the magic of the interwebs they found me, and I was fortunate enough to photograph their wedding ceremony at the quirky and atmospheric Sea Ranch Chapel, on the wild northern coast of Sonoma County.

"We got married in July 2014, and Daniel was an absolute joy to work with.  He was very professional, but also had a great sense of humor.  He made our wedding ceremony even more special with his ability to take intimate photos and not make us feel nervous or distracted.  He took traditional portraits, but also got some photos of amazing moments in the ceremony that were spontaneous and very sentimental.  He captured all the special moments and more.  We have so many favorite photos from that day.  We feel so lucky that Daniel was our photographer, and we would recommend him highly to anyone who wants a really special photographer at their wedding."