Pablo Mason Photography: Blog en-us (C)Pablo Mason all rights reserved [email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:27:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:27:00 GMT Pablo Mason Photography: Blog 80 120 Guns: Do We Need More? After so many tragic shootings we should stand together but we’ve never been so divided. To feel safe some want no guns, others want to carry guns everywhere. Is bearing arms the only way to be safe? This photographic project imagines how this might look at work, at school, or at play.  

Will more guns prevent bloodshed or is the easy access to guns creating this circumstance? Are we arming ourselves because we're arming ourselves?

Can photographs help the conversation lead to a transformation? 

[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) assault weapons do we need more guns guns at school guns at work no gun violence right to bear arms second amendment stop gun violence Fri, 06 Apr 2018 00:00:24 GMT
PHOTOGRAPHY EXPANDED: Distinct Approaches This group exhibition surveys photography and includes several different takes on the medium. Artists include Eleanor Antin, Becky Cohen, Ernesto Corte, Sol Hill, Pablo Mason, Michele McCain, Major Morris, Arthur Ollman, Philipp Scholz Rittermann, Nadia Salameh, Richard Slechta, and selections from the Museum of Photographic Arts. The Show will run September 30 through November 12, 2017.


I'd like to thank Leah Goodwin, director of the Museum, and Beth Marino, the museum exhibition supervisor, as well as the entire staff at the museum for hanging an excellent show. I'd also like to thank them for staging the panel discussion. It was a privilege to participate in the lively conversation with the audience and the other artists who attended.


My participation in the show included images from the project "My Sister's Voice," as well as select images from the project "Place of Rest."




[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:58:09 GMT
Seeing and Photographing The camera is often compared to the human eye. The most obvious similarity between the two is the lens, which gathers light, and focuses an image onto the eye’s retina, or in the case of the camera, onto film, or a digital sensor. So while there are some obvious parallels between the eye and the camera, does the camera serve the eye, or is it the other way around? 

The camera, with it's unique ability to capture and preserve indelible images is actually more an extension of our mind, enabling us to see things otherwise unobservable. The images created by a camera are rich in detail that can be endlessly examined and recalled, and in effect complement and inform the visual memories captured by the eye and stored in our mind. Without cameras and the photographic images they create we would be bereft of a vast understanding of the world around us, our personal histories, and that or our friends, family, and fellow human beings. If you consider that this visual understanding would be impossible without cameras, a large extent of our visual awareness has become dependent on a device. We may cringe at the thought of robotic implants, but cameras, and especially now as iPhones, are as close as this could be without being surgically attached. 

We are so enamored to this device that we forget how useless it is without the eye to guide it or contemplate its gifts. Inevitably we forget that seeing, and photographing, while analogous, are distinct. We might miss the experience of seeing if we are manically habituated to photographing everything around us. We trade the experience of living in the moment for the deferred experience of looking at photographs of the moment.

Photographers are driven to experiencing life behind a camera. The imperative of capturing the moment becomes the moment. To live that moment without photographing it becomes a lost opportunity. In an effort to capture an experience we actually miss it. The ephemeral nature of reality, with all of it’s synonymous components is at once too evanescent for us to grasp, too ordinary in it’s natural light for us to appreciate. The camera can be a key to a visual experience that is almost limitless, a translation of what the eye sees into a world created and intuited by the mind. The question becomes do we live more fully by seeing with the eye or with the camera. It’s a cliche that your photographs will only be as good as the extent to which you immerse yourself into the life of what you are photographing. The effort to document an immersive experience by producing a selfie may be the ultimate irony. You can’t actually share the experience of being somewhere, but you can miss the experience by doing so.

Finally, a note on why a picture of a sunset will never look or feel like the real thing; our eyes allow us to see the world through two stereoscopic, normal focal length lenses that give us a panoramic, near 180 degree view of the world without a frame. This is an immersive experience unparalleled by any camera. To obstruct this view by raising a camera to your face is like swimming under water with a mask; you’re attempting to view the immensity of what is in front of you by peering through a tiny box.


[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) cameras photography seeing selfies Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:03:33 GMT
Drone Photography Changes the Plane There has been much talk and excitement about drones. The sentiment from the public ranges from indifference and curiosity to indignation and alarm. People who normally embrace emerging technologies will suddenly feel uneasy when confronted by an overhead drone. Ironically, significant safety issues aren't the reason. People are more concerned about aerial trespassing even though they are happy to post much more about their lives on social media than an overhead drone could ever capture. Maybe there is something more primal at work, something more instinctual that creates a sense of insecurity. Is it just that being observed from the sky doesn't feel right? Is this the human equivalent of a hawk and a rodent?  You might say it's all in the eye of the beholder.



To the photographer or videographer operating the drone, having a flying camera lets you get shots you could never do before, even from an airplane or helicopter. 



The drone is a technological marvel, combining aeronautics, computing, and digital photography, with global positioning and wifi communication. The result is a sophisticated flying camera that can be used by anyone with a few extra bucks and an avid curiosity. The medium has opened new avenues to capture every day realities, and the constantly changing environment.



The beauty of timely aerial photography is a unique view of our activities and our collective footprint that is otherwise fleeting, and largely unobserved.


People gather to watch the sunset over Mission Bay


[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) aerial photography using drones california drone photography creative drone photography drone photography Sat, 11 Mar 2017 20:10:54 GMT
The New Alpine Library The new Alpine Library

To view additional exterior and interior images visit my features page.

Design - build Team

Manuel Oncina Architects, Design Architect
FPBA, Architect of Record, Phil Pape, Principal in Charge, Project Architect: Amanda Schulz, Interior Designer: Ann Shelton
Structural Engineer: Hope-Amundson Structural Engineers, Project Engineer: Clint Etzel
Mechanical Engineer: McParlane & Associates, Project Engineer: John McGee
Electrical Engineering: ELEN, Project Engineer: Anton Nathanson, Lighting: Stéphane Beauvais
Landscape Architecture: VDLA, Principal in Charge: Mitch Philippe, Landscape Architect: Bret Allen
Design-Build Contractor: CW Driver
Principal in Charge: Andy Feth, Project Manager: Matt Christensen, Superintendent: Will House

[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) alpine library contemporary library architecture library architecture san diego county libraries Wed, 15 Jun 2016 19:52:59 GMT
A Breath of Fresh Air in Encinitas

My regards to San Diego Home/Garden magazine and Janice Kleinschmidt on their June 2016 edition featuring this Encinitas home. Architectural design was by Lauren Williams, and Fred Gemmell, at the Matrix Design Studio. Furnishings were chosen by Holly Howell, with artwork curated by Nico Gemmell, also from Matrix Design. Additional images of the project can be viewed on my features page.

[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) Encinitas Home Encinitas home designed by Matrix Design Studio San Diego architectural design Fri, 27 May 2016 18:09:53 GMT
Defining a great image You might get lucky and take a great photo but doing this over and over is another matter. There's a distinction between a good picture and a great picture. While the terms may be used subjectively, you can create good images by simply being proficient with the craft. In fact, we are inundated with good images but they are mostly meaningless. This is especially true in television, it's principal purpose seemingly being to awe, and distract us, dispelling any kernel of thought while keeping us transfixed. The blur of motion, color, impossible perspectives, and hypnotic slow motion has habituated us to expect more, an addiction to instant visual gratification. We've grown too impatient to linger on any one view or take. A few seconds is all we are allowed, lest we lose interest. Contemplation has become anathema to modern video.  Paradoxically, instead of being uplifted, you feel like you're getting bludgeoned. The effect is anesthetic. The vacuous stream acts as a central nervous system depressant. Your cognitive function is arrested. You are left empty and drained. In the wake of this torrent, a still photograph is an oasis of calm. There is far more to be gleaned from a single great image, than by a stream of empty visuals refreshing every second.  A really great image will maintain our attention because it defies explanation. Stripped of a verbal equivalence, we must rely on our intuition. The image becomes an experience onto itself, apart from the original subject. It's transformative. It may compel or inspire, or at best, completely still the mind. A few of the great photographers I think of are Jacques Henri Lartigue, Sebastiao Salgado, Irving Penn, Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, Max Yavno, Gary Winogrand, Edward Weston, and Robert Mapelthorpe, among many others.

[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) Thu, 26 May 2016 18:04:17 GMT
Photographing in Cuba Bride, riding along the Malecon, Havana


I had the opportunity to visit Cuba in 2013 and spent a couple of weeks taking pictures, mostly in Havana. Despite the volume of photography that has already been produced in Cuba there is a wealth of material there, and you can quickly move beyond the photographic cliches that have become synonymous with the place. In hindsight, I actually regret that I deliberately chose to avoid one of these cliches, the classic cars from the 50's that Cubans have painstakingly maintained and kept on the road. There is really no cliche that can't be re-examined with fresh eyes and portrayed in a different or more revealing manner. Still, I chose to focus more on the people and the street life, and to some degree on the architecture, which in it's state of decay and neglect offers a rich tapestry that perhaps reveals more about this place than anything else.


Basketball game at a public park, Havana


In spite of the recent changes in the economic and political landscape Cuba remains a place where a certain authenticity has not yet been erased by the homogenizing effects of renovation and renewal. It's still a place where commerce, long kept in check by a moribund economic system, has yet to mar the landscape with billboards, messages, and sales pitches. You won't see walls whitewashed here, emblazoned as you might in Mexico with corporate brands such as Coca Cola or Pepsi. But the change is coming. It's already visible in the clothes people wear, with their designer labels and styles. Long suppressed by limited choices and scarcity, people are eager to express their individuality and freedom. This freedom is also expressed in the warmth and openness with strangers that one seldom finds elsewhere. People are friendly in Cuba. They haven't tired of outsiders, and don't mind if you take pictures. I found the best way to do this was to smile, say hello, and extend a hand. 


Woman leaning on a window, smoking


An impromptu chess match in the street


There's an immediacy to the street life in Cuba that's wonderful to photograph. Teeming with people, the streets are a theater of everyday life. The vibrancy of interactions between long time friends and neighbors, the habitual routines of residents as they go about their daily business was the subject I set out to portray. This is a place you can practice street photography almost at will. Even in the back alleys of poor neighborhoods, away from the tourist traffic, you can work with relative safety, confident that security is not a problem. I never felt like an unwelcome intruder here. No one was offended that I took their picture. With some sensitivity and understanding you can photograph the lifestyle here, meet new people and make some friends.


[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) B&W photography in Cuba classic cars in cuba Photographing in Cuba photographing people in cuba photography in cuba street photography in cuba the malecon Sun, 22 May 2016 19:51:27 GMT
Architecture and HDR Photography Child Development Center, Twentynine Palms.

Child Development Center, Twentynine Palms, CA

The look of architectural photography has completely changed due to high dynamic range, or HDR, in digital photography. Dynamic range refers to the difference between the darkest and brightest areas in a photograph. High dynamic range is the ability to render tones and detail in all areas of the image. Thus a photograph of a building at sunset will render both the burst of bright color in the sky while retaining all the structural and tonal details of the building and landscape in the foreground. A properly processed HDR image will also retain contrast in the mid tones, without which the image would look flat. This would have been impossible with film without the use of additional lighting to brighten the building in the foreground; the dynamic range of film was limited, especially transparency film. Photographers had to choose the brightness values they wanted to expose for, which were usually the mid tones and the shadows. You would simply let the highlights go. Windows and skies would go white, creating a light, airy look to photographs but sacrificing content that might otherwise have been retained.  Essentially, digital imaging now makes it possible to create photographic images that more closely resemble the dynamic range of normal human vision. If overdone, the technique can also result in harsh, otherworldly images. So it's a relief that the novelty of HDR has lost some of it's appeal; the technique is now used more sparingly, with nuanced results. 

Home designed by Dean Meredith, Del Mar, CA

[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) architectural photography HDR photography HDR photography in architecture Sat, 21 May 2016 18:24:50 GMT
Are photographs real? Pedestrian Bridge, San Diego. Safdie Rabines architects.

Pedestrian Bridge, Harbor Drive, San Diego CA

People still ask, though less frequently, if a photograph has been photoshopped. What they really want to know is are they looking at a "real" photograph or something fake. There's a story that Picasso was once taken to task by an acquaintance for painting portraits that didn't look real. Picasso is said to have asked the man if he had a picture of his wife. The man dutifully produced a small photo from his wallet. "Is that what she really looks like?" asked Picasso. "Yes, of course replied the man, feeling flattered." "I didn't know she was two inches tall" mused Picasso. True or not, the story points to the fact that photographs,  always presumed to be a factual and faithful reproduction of something real, are just representations. Even in the early days, the photographic image was manipulated in many ways to produce a desired result. Digital photography has not only facilitated this process by letting us change basic values like brightness, and color, we can now alter the actual content of an image. Blemishes can be removed, faces can be made thinner, clouds can be added to skies, faded foliage can be rendered in bright hues. Given a palette of choices with which to modify the world around us we have. Even in photojournalism where the imperative is to produce a factual representation our visual aesthetic offers wide latitude. If Sebastiao Salgado's amazing photographs were simple facsimilies of life they wouldn't be so unique. Edward Weston's classic nudes wouldn't be so iconic. Their vision, together with a mastery of black and white photography, and a unique style produced images that stand apart. Ansel Adams might have called it a "departure from reality."

[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) are photographs real Tue, 17 May 2016 19:53:08 GMT
Photography, the universal language

Diamond Head, Oahu, HI

        Now that phones have built-in cameras that are so easy to use it's become routine to take pictures of everything we like, at any time. This is a new phenomenon, a by product of advances in digital and computer technology.  Everyone is now a photographer, and the simple image software that comes with phones makes it easier than ever to create better photos. This was once an arcane specialty, requiring a familiarity with cameras, film, shutter speeds, darkrooms, and last but not least, an understanding of visual art. Basically, to be a photographer, you had to understand how cameras and film worked, but you also had to be a visual artist. Digital photography has changed all this, practically overnight. The mechanical and technological process of creating an image is now almost an afterthought. With the availability of phone cameras image making has become completely democratized. The implications are profound. What began, some 160 years ago, as a new way to produce a portrait or depict a landscape is now the universally accepted language by which we communicate and share information. It's the medium by which we tell one another who we are, what we're doing, what we like, where we are, and what we want. The new technology is also redefining all of this. Our very understanding of the world around us is now informed by manipulated images reflecting our own or adopted values. Photography used to be a way to document the world, and our lives. But as photographs increasingly become the way we relate to everything, and the way we stay connected, has this virtual universe enriched our world, or replaced it? 

[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) digital photography how photographs define us photography has changed the world photography the universal language photography's virtual world Sun, 15 May 2016 19:41:33 GMT
Notes to Our Sons and Daughters: My Sister's Voice

                                                                                                                           ©2014 Pablo Mason

My Sister's Voice was a Notes to Our Sons and Daughters event by Alexis Dixon featuring photographs by Pablo Mason of forty inter-generationally diverse women emphasizing their life's journey and the wisdom they have gained along the way. The photographs were accompanied by a "note" from each person, elucidating a life lesson important enough to be passed on to the next generation, our "sons and daughters."

Among the women featured in the exhibition were members of the International Women of Courage and Women Peace Makers 2014. This exhibition was a fund raising event benefiting the Center for Community Solutions, a local non-profit organization. The exhibition took place on June 6, 2014, at the Broadway Pier in San Diego, CA. The exhibition was attended by over 450 people.

Thanks to Alfred Pagano of Giant Photo for insuring uncompromising quality in the printing of the photographs. Thanks also to Rick Sturdivan of Rick's Custom Framing for contributing to the beautiful presentation of the work.




My Sister’s Voice – Photographer’s Statement


The photographs in “My Sister’s Voice” are an attempt to bring us closer to the women who participated in the project. The idea was to create  portraits that would make each narrative more compelling, giving each story a human face that we could relate to.

By eliminating the emotional distractions of color and hue, black and white photography achieves a universal language that is forceful and direct. Reduced to its basic architecture, a black and white image minces no words in evoking a sense of urgency, compassion or joy. Beauty is rendered timeless, pain unforgettable.

These portraits are not crafted to familiarize us with the subjects. They were conceived to make an indelible impression. They are a testament to the courage, the strength, the dreams, and the cries, in the lives of these women. 

We often ignore that a single voice can be enough to confront established perceptions and even cultural traditions, but the women portrayed in this project have seized this challenge to effect positive change. These photographs are also a testament to their vision and their spirit, and their individual and combined efforts. It’s my hope that these photographs will help us identify with each person, their quest and their story. The importance of highlighting the work of each of these women, and their struggle, was the inspiration of Alexis Dixon, the originator of the project. Without his confidence, guidance and enthusiasm this could not have happened.

These women did not seek to be recognized for their courage and determination. Some simply strove to overcome tremendous personal challenges. Others raised their voice to improve their lives, and the lives of their families and their communities, often at great personal risk, facing daunting challenges, and usually against fierce opposition. To photograph them was to humanize and personalize their efforts, and help us relate to the personal sacrifices they’ve made to compel changes.

It was an exceptional privilege to be granted the confidence by these women to portray them, and by extension, their lives and their stories. It’s important that we understand their work and the experiences they’ve shared. I hope these photographs will help this process.


Pablo Mason, 2014



[email protected] (Pablo Mason Photography) b&w photography international women of courage notes to our sons and daughters sister's voice Sun, 04 May 2014 21:10:12 GMT