The kites of numerous kite surfers fill the sky on a California beach.

Fresh Shots: Rush Hour at Kite Beach

Just to get the obvious out of the way first: yes, this photo is Photoshopped. It is inevitable that the question will arise.

I moved to California to be closer to the ocean, so the bulk of my free time is spent driving the length of Highway 1, California’s coastal highway. On any given weekend you can find Waddell Creek Beach, near Half Moon Bay, overflowing with kite boarders and kite surfers. I’m always amazed how the kites remain untangled as the surfers pass each other at high speeds.


A photograph like this is out of the ordinary for me. Typically, my work leans towards minimal compositions with clean lines and a distinct subject. This drastically different idea was to represent the organized chaos with one shot.

To capture the photo, I set my camera to timelapse on a tripod, taking one shot every second. On this day, I estimate around 40 kiteboards filled the ocean. They move quickly, so 1 second was enough time to allow plenty of separation between shots, but still keep the cloud positioning mostly the same. Two 32GB memory cards were filled, and I headed home with around 800 photographs from a 10-minute span.


Now, the fun part. I used a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to bring the kites into one scene. With a blank canvas to work with, the beginning frames were easy to blend simply using layer masks. Once the sky and ocean began to fill, more detail was required to blend in the action. Kites began to overlap, and clean space disappeared between the athletes. Overall, 9 hours of work went into the masking and selecting of 102 kite boarders. Duplicates do exist, and I tried to space them equally across the frame so as not to draw the eye to one particular area of the sky. I did no warping or moving of any kites and all kites exist where they did at the time the blended shot was taken.

I enjoy how these kinds of photos evolve into short projects and looking back afterwards is always fun to see how the photo evolved into the final shot.

Capitol Dawn print from Casey Mac Photo

Fresh Shots: Dawn at Capitol Peak

This is my favorite mountain in Colorado. I have a personal relationship with Capitol Peak. It’s the first mountain I ever tried to climb, unsuccessfully. Turns out, it’s one of the most difficult in Colorado to summit. Since, I’ve returned three more times. Kicked off by a thunderstorm once, took a tumble on a loose rock the second time, and summited the fourth. Every time I look at photographs of this mountain, our history together makes me smile.

Capitol Peak used to be one of Colorado’s best kept secrets, but lately the trailhead has gained some popularity. Capitol Lake at the base of Capitol Peak, however, remains as serene as ever. Living in California makes it difficult to head back east, but I usually get back once a year around fall season. Capitol will always sit high on my list of places to return.

Check it out in the print store

Endless field of sunflowers during August season in Colorado

Fresh Shots: Colorado Sunflowers

About This Photo

Outside of it’s reputation for the mountains in the west, Colorado’s eastern plains provide a different kind of beauty. Each year, summertime is brought to a close by the blooming fields of sunflowers in early August. Lasting around three weeks before they begin to die, the yellow fields travel on as far as the eye can see. The farmers move the fields move each year, so sometime’s they are difficult to find. The best area to begin a search is just south of Denver International Airport. An old wives tale says that sunflowers follow the sun east to west as it moves across the sky, but when the sun sets in the west, these sunflowers were still facing east allowing me to shoot into the setting sun.

Topics Covered In This Tutorial

  • Brightness/Tonal Contrast
  • White Balance
  • Vibrance/Saturation
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Cropping/Straightening
  • Sharpening/Noise Reduction

Software Used

Included In Your Purchase

  • 25 minute MP4 video showing entire editing process.
  • The original RAW file for you to edit along (released under Creative Commons).
  • My final edited photo.
  • Instructions and helpful links.

Purchase ($5.99)



1/4 seconds @f/14 ISO 400 Focal Length: 95mm

Date / Time

August 17, 2011 7:03PM MST


California beach moody long exposure

New Work & My First Editing Video Tutorial

I’m excited to announce that starting today, every new fine art photo I release will be accompanied with a for-purchase video tutorial explaining my entire editing process. Each tutorial will include the original RAW file that allows the purchaser to follow along with their own version. Vision is a big part of photography, but it’s not all accomplished on scene and in camera. Vision can be brought to life on the screen, as well. These days editing is just as important as composition and camera settings and I want to share what goes on in my head during the editing process with the rest of the world. This video tutorial and all future tutorials are only $5.

About This Shot

I shot this photo on March 8, 2014 just south of San Francisco off Highway 1 near Pescadero. After relaxing for most of the Saturday, the rainy skies looked as though they would clear to deliver a great sunset south of the bay. An idea has been in my head for a shot near Gray Whale Cove that would require some bright orange skies to complete, so I headed that way thinking today might be the day. Turns out, not so much. As soon as I exited the city, the skies clouded back over and my sunset hopes were gone. No matter, however. A trip to the beach during cloudy weather is still a trip to the beach, so I continued on my way.

April 2014 Desktop Wallpaper Calendar

April 2014 Desktop Wallpaper

Big Sur has the popularity, but it never fails that when I set out to leave the Bay Area with no destination in mind, I always seem to head north. The coastline is more rugged and the coffee tastes better. And, these sunsets aren’t bad to experience either. This day, I set out to photograph another selfie and after setting up in the location I had mapped out, discovered that I had forgotten my tripod at home. No matter, though. After a bit of craftiness with a rock and a Joby, I soon had a tripod that would make MacGyver proud.

Wide Screen (8:5) with April 2014 Calendar


Facebook Cover Photo (no calendar)


Standard Size (4:3) with April 2014 Calendar



Driving Highway 1

Spanning the majority of the California coastline, Highway 1 graces many adventurer’s bucket lists. Every convertible driver’s dream road runs parallel to arguably the most beautiful coastline in the United States. Living in San Francisco, it’s typically a cheaper and much more convenient flight to Los Angeles, but a few weeks ago I found myself in circumstances that returning from a road trip made taking the otherwise-known Pacific Coast Highway the best way back home. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to turn it into an adventure.




March 2014 Desktop Wallpaper – Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta glows under the moonlight on the northern California countryside. This shot was taken last year on a quick weekend trip up the state. It was my first time experiencing the enormity of Mount Shasta, and I hope to return to climb to it’s summit one day this fall. The best part of photographing near this old barn were the horses galloping in the dark. You can see one just to the left of the barn in the photo. In the pitch dark, the herd was difficult to see so you could always hear their hoofs pounding before actually getting a visual.

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February 2014 Desktop Wallpaper – Lost Coast

I couldn’t be more stoked to have been named the winner of the #mydistantshore Instagram contest held by Chris Burkard. Chris has one of the best surfing photo portfolios around, so it’s a huge honor to be selected from all of the excellent submissions. My February calendar features the winning self-portrait taken at the beginning of January in Shelter Cove, California.

The combination of a foggy day with the black sand beach and white surf made for some great natural contrast, but the little editing I did do started with the Sleet preset found in my black and white preset pack for Lightroom.

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January 2014 Desktop Wallpaper – Gray Whale Cove

Welcome to 2014! To kick off the new year, the January calendar comes with a photo from Gray Whale Cove, a small beach just south of San Francisco. I hope everyone’s holiday season was fantastic and you have great things in store for 2014.

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