Silhouette Spirits

Venice - skatepark sunset - Silhouette Spirits

Venice - skatepark sunset - Silhouette Spirits

Sky’s The Limit

Oooo’s & aaaah’s were showering over the rolling acrobats as they flew across the golden sunset sky. This large SRO crowd, last Sunday at the Venice Skatepark, very much appreciated all the derring-do being done before their wide eyes. Sometimes breaking out with spontaneous applause as the effortless grace of this adrenaline-fueled and bodacious ballet played out as if it was all choreographed ahead of time.

I was enthralled with the constant action I witnessed this day, and found it quite challenging as I attempted to capture the high-speed action with my camera. I took over 200 shots and maybe got 5 good photos. This image is my favorite, made special by the guy in the middle, who seemingly appears to be crashing his head on the sky’s ceiling. He actually soared even higher than pictured—going up up up, and totally out of my frame in the next fraction of a second.

I have a confession to make—I ain’t got no knowledge about anything regarding skateboards or skateparks or what skaters are doing and what the heck the various tricks are called. But do I despair when I’m dumb about stuff? Nope, not anymore. Fore in these extreme modern times, I can always turn to my new Chatty GPT pal. And fool people that I’m really smarter than I look.

So I asked Chatty to write an essay about skateparks and her AI said “aye aye, Greg”! And within five seconds, she wrote an engaging and surprisingly well written essay entitled “The Skatepark: A Hub for Creativity, Friendship, and Self-Expression”. I’ll paste some excerpts below so the next time the subject of skateparks comes up, you can appear smarter too.

“The Skatepark: A Hub for Creativity, Friendship, and Self-Expression”

The origins of skateboarding date back to the 1950s and 1960s in California, where surfers sought to “surf the streets” on wooden planks with wheels. As the sport gained traction, the demand for dedicated spaces to practice and showcase skills grew. Early makeshift skateparks, primarily consisting of empty swimming pools and improvised ramps, laid the foundation for modern skatepark design.

The Evolution of Skateparks

With time, skatepark designs have evolved considerably. Today, skateparks are designed by professionals with input from experienced skaters to create a perfect blend of challenges and creativity. The typical skatepark now features an array of elements such as quarter pipes, half pipes, bowls, rails, ledges, and various obstacles that cater to different skill levels and riding styles.

A Haven of Tricks and Diverse Skaters

At the skatepark, one can witness an impressive assortment of skating tricks. Beginners often start with fundamental tricks such as the “ollie,” where they pop the board into the air without using their hands. As they progress, skaters tackle more complex moves like “kickflips” and “heelflips,” adding flips and spins to their ollie. The “grind” is another popular trick, where skaters slide along rails or ledges with their trucks, showcasing a blend of balance and technique.

Intermediate and advanced skaters take the park by storm with aerial maneuvers like “180s” and “360s,” spinning the board mid-air. The daring ones attempt “half pipes” and “vert ramps,” soaring to impressive heights and executing tricks that defy gravity. These fearless riders tackle difficult moves like “kickflip varials” and “540 spins,” demonstrating a combination of skill, style, and sheer determination.

Encouraging Creativity

Skateparks serve as incubators for creativity. The open layout of a skatepark provides skaters with the freedom to experiment and innovate. Every nook and cranny can be utilized in novel ways, encouraging riders to create their lines and tricks. This inherent creativity not only benefits the individual skater but also enriches the skateboarding culture as a whole. Spectators are often captivated by the seemingly effortless fluidity with which skateboarders navigate through the park, transcending traditional notions of athleticism.

Inclusivity and Diversity

Skateboarding has evolved from its early reputation as a predominantly male-dominated activity. Today, skateparks embrace inclusivity and diversity, welcoming people of all genders, races, and backgrounds. This inclusivity fosters a culture of acceptance, tolerance, and celebration of differences.

Venice Beach basketball game photo, los angeles ca

This new addition to my Silhouette Spirits project takes me off the beaten path from my usual turf. Pretty much all the prior images I’ve created for it have been on or around the ocean and beach area.

But with NCAA March Madness now reaching its most maddening final four phase, and the NBA sprinting to its big playoffs next week, I got a hankering to check out my local hoops hangout. Basketball’s my favorite sport, and although I’m not a real sports photographer, I’ve been fortunate to get jobs to shoot several Hall of Fame hoop heroes. Yep it was quite thrilling for me to hang out and shoot Magic, Kobe and Carmelo Anthony. Some of the bestest ballers of all time, and they were all quite nice gentlemen to me to boot!  

Anyway, I proceeded to run over to the famous Venice Beach basketball courts, where you can often find a very high caliber of players racing around in pick-up games. I was lucky enough to show up when a particularly pitched battle between two teams of high octane athletes were going at it.

So I got down low to the ground, and close to the action, and started doing my own sharp shooting. And Mother Nature nature did her part, tossing up a nice sunset swish with excellent timing and vibrant color. And I got damn lucky capturing this split second shot just as the guy was in the act of elevating to throw down a monster jam that had that poor hoop shivering in pain for quite a while afterwards.

venice beach sunset ocean

Nutty Nunzi dog playing fetch at Venice Beach CA at sunset;

Daffy Doggy Doings 🐶🤣😜

If you have a dog, you’ve probably realized they can do some daffy stuff. Odd behaviors and silly overall outlooks on life—as they see it. Or smell it. Or imagine it.

Often these doggy doings endear them to us, and entertain us. And sometimes the canines make us humans twist our heads in confusion, thinking…Now why the hell is that dog doing that?

Here’s one modest example from my furry friend Nutty Nunzi. It’s one of his least weird oddities to be sure, and I’ve spied other pooches doing the same kind of thing.

So, Nunzi loves it when we go down to the beach, and I fling his ball high and far, leading him just right, and trying to get a nice high bounce off a patch of packed sand. Then he can impress us humans by timing things just right, and leaping high and snatching the ball in mid-air.

And Nunzi’s usually good about retrieving and racing back to drop it at my feet. Yep, he’s a mighty fine fetcher. But being a dog and all, sometimes he does silly doggy things. Like what you see in the photo series.

Sometimes Nunzi will just stop dead in his tracks, standing still as a statue. Staring at the sphere like he’s perhaps contemplating some deep dog thoughts about the meaning of all this.

Philosophical thoughts and ponderings. Like why do I, a canine, have a never ending desire to chase this ball? What compels me thusly to continue this lifelong obsession with Chuck-it balls in the first place? What is the meaning of all this? What, what, what??

Or something like that. Then he’ll stalk the ball like it’s alive. Waiting for answers? Waiting. But waiting ain’t a canine’s game.

He’ll suddenly start barking, in a quite annoyed tone, at this silent mystery ball for a while. And soon he’s pawing at the sand around the object of desire. Moving left a few steps, then right, then down and up, and down and up, and to-and-fro. And so on.

Then he finally snaps to it, shakes his head, and says to himself… Oh hell, why am I wasting time? This is all just damn good fun! And he finally lunges, snatches the ball and merrily runs it back to me.

So I can do my human duty and throw the ball the best I can. And he’ll fly and fetch the best he can. And such is life.


I shot this photo at the end of the Venice Pier and I’m quite grateful to those pelicans for being such great models.  They spotted some seafood snacks below, and dove down from the sky at tremendous speed, and timed their dive in the perfect fraction of a second to greatly enhance my composition. Thanks a bunch, my feathered friends!  

When a little kid looked at this photo she said… “Wow that looks like where heaven is, in those clouds there. Is it?” I wasn’t sure what to say. I told her I didn’t really know but maybe it’s close by to there. Sure looks like a beautiful place where God would like to hang out. She said.. “Yep, it sure looks like a beautiful place.”

Then a slice of heaven it is. Fine by me!

Venice Beach sunset - sand dune - large family - Silhouette Spirts

Life is an adventure that’s full of beautiful destinations and opportunities, and I’m hoping you make many wonderful memories in this New Year.  

Venice-sunset beach-nunzi digging-runner-silhouette spirits

Amazing Animal Abstract Artiste

Well, I have to give my Nutty Nunzi a big animal artiste credit for this intriguing fine art image you see before you. I discussed with my canine what I wished to achieve in an image I had conjured in my mind.

How I’d like him to join me. Specifically I needed him to create a wonderful abstract art composition to be splashed across the colorful sunset sky. He was intrigued and agreed.

Oh, and I also told Nunzi he had to time his creation at the perfect fraction of a second that someone comes running by–you know, to add an element of depth and scale to our image. He nodded. Oh, and also make sure you get them on the left side of the frame. He nodded again. Oh, and do it all within the next 90 seconds before the sun sinks into the sea.

Nunz got a bit exasperated, but he did grin and said—”sure no problem”. He then looked all around this way and that, evaluating the scenario, checking out the sun, and then gazing down the shore, spied someone running down the beach. He waited, but not too long. Yet not too soon. Then he set his mighty paws to churn churn churning up his medium of choice, the sand.

And, oh, I’ll be damned if the beast didn’t set about timing it all, creating it all, melding all the complex elements with ideal technique, perfection and overall aplomb. And wha-la! And even voila! An astonishing creation was thusly achieved!

As you can see, Nunzi indeed produced an impeccably complex and intriguing composition that is alive with ebullient vitality and energy. Simply amazing. The canine is indeed an animal artiste extraordinaire! The Guggenheim will be hearing from us.

Venice-sunset beach-couple dance pose-silhouette spirits

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I broke the main rule/restriction of my Silhouette Spirits series—no posing or setting up of people. Or dogs or seagulls or sailboats or whatever happens to end up in my images.

Yep you’re thinking I surely just got some models and posed them, just-so, for this image. It’s so obvious, they didn’t just happen along by themselves and position themselves thusly, and so on. Well I got a stack of bibles that I’m swearing on here and I’m telling the truth. And the truth told to me by this couple’s friend who was standing nearby.

She explained that the couple is getting married soon and they decided to practice their first-dance routine here. Thought it’d be cool at a romantic sunset setting. So they went dancing and twirling all around, this way and that.

And I, at a distance, was fumbling rumbling running on the sand, this way and that. Going high and low, fast and slow, trying to keep the sun in the frame in a good spot, and zooming the lens in and out for the most affective perspective, and adjusting the exposure manually because… well I won’t bore you with more technical junk.

Let’s just say it ain’t an easy thing to do and to capture, and it took over 50 snaps, and admittedly, a big dose of dumb luck to get this one perfect romantic image.

And no, I didn’t do anything in processing to manipulate the look of that wow sun as a couple of friends asserted I must’ve done. Nope. That unusual freaky looking orb can occur on it’s own. Once in a blue moon, the sun will conspire with various aspects of fog/mist/clouds at the ocean horizon, bouncing the light to and fro, and achieving those segmented vibrant color layers and bizarre shape shifting.

And that tall tale is the true story. I hope this couple, who really seemed to be head over heels in love, has a wonderful wedding. And l’m grateful to them for cutting up a sandy rug for me, and I hope they live happily ever after. Thank you kindly, whoever you are!

Couple wine-sailboat-berm - sunset silhouette venice-

Venice - beach sunset - group silhouette atop sand dune

Yipee & Woohoo!!!

Although I don’t usually give titles to photos in my Silhouette Spirits series– Yipee & Woohoo would be the title for this new one. Yep, lots and lots of yippee & woohoo! With vaccines and herd immunity going all over the place, people are getting together again, and getting happy and hugging and having more and more fun again.

Although I don’t usually give titles to photos in my Silhouette Spirits series– Yipee & Woohoo would be the title for this new one. Yep, lots and lots of yippee & woohoo! With vaccines and herd immunity going all over the place, people are getting together again, and getting happy and hugging and having more and more fun again.

The group of friends in the photo were having a particularly mighty fine time as they watched the ocean sunset and toasted to good times. And I had a mighty fine time witnessing theirs. I shot a bunch of photos from afar with a long lens to better compress the figures against the sky. I chose this particular image because I liked that one of the guys is in mid motion of tossing his hat high in the air as he yelled woohoo! And a healthy and happy me—gratefully and wholeheartedly agrees.

Nunzi playing w dog atop sand berm - sunset silhouette venice beach

Battle For High-Ground Supremacy

After the sun disappears below the ocean horizon, I enjoy watching the battle between the evening cool blues above, fighting for domination over the daytime’s warm yellows below. Much like these two slightly ferocious beasts are battling for high-ground supremacy.

This evening was an especially nice battle to gaze upon with the yellows putting up a particularly vivid fight and producing some mighty fine purples for all us creatures below to enjoy. But as is always the case, evening blue inevitably dominated the skyscape and the twinkling stars applauded. But tomorrow, hopefully, another sunrise will bring forth anew the eternal struggle of yellow and blue.

PS – Since my ankle is being chewed on as I type (ouch), I’m forced to declare that my beast, on the right, was the clear winner of this brutal hilltop battle. And (ouch) and he is a very brave and strong and mighty canine who always wins all the time… Truth be told, these two “warriors” soon ended up laying down next to each other while they enjoyed gazing upon the pretty sky.

Had a mighty fine sunset yesterday. And an even finer best friend Nutty Nunzi by my side, I know how much you wanted to to go chasing those screeching Terns swooping around you Nunz. So I really appreciate your patience and posing . Such a good boy! Nuff said.


Venice - beach sunset - bike path w beach background

The thing I like about this image are the multiple depths created with the various different positions of the figures near and far.

Venice - sunset silhouette - 5 people dancing

Racing The Sun

I was running late as I raced down the beach to snag the sunset before it vanished. Which was gonna be real soon. I was hoping to create an image for my Silhouette Spirits series and was thusly searching all around for silhouettes. Now one of the rules I set for this series is that I can’t use models or stage anything, so I have to just capture real people doing whatever they happen to be doing at the moment. No manipulating.

Down the beach to my left was a child fishing and that looked like it had interesting possibilities and I headed in that direction. But then my dog, Nunzi, gave a bark and I turned around in the other direction to my right. He was cocking his head in that odd fashion a pooch does when they’re trying to figure out something they see of interest. Which for Nunzi could just be an interesting seabird swooping around since he’s a bird dog.

But nope, no bird of note. Nunzi turned back to look at me again and barked more emphatically. Then in the distance I was able to see a group of people doing something but couldn’t make out what exactly. I looked back at the fishing kid which was looking like there were some good visual possibilities going on. Tick-tock, tick-tock went the sunset clock. Less than five minutes remaining. I’m pondering if a fishing kid in the hand is worth a group in the beach bush? Arf! My fine canine was voting for the bush. I went with the arf!

We raced down along the surf as the sun raced down to the horizon. Who would win? As I finally reached the group, it seemed I won big-time–the visual possibilities were wonderful. There were a couple dozen people, all wearing headphones, dancing and gyrating to some silent song and basically acting as perfect silhouette models for me. Such luck! It was perfect.

Breathing hard, I collapsed on the sand and crawled around, composing some shots while my shadow models did wonderful posing, unbeknownst to them. I was able to shoot for only a couple of minutes before the sun said bye-bye. But I thought I very likely got a mighty fine image. I made sure to give my fine canine all the treats I had in my pocket. He made a great call. Arf!

Back home I checked out the bounty of good captures and this image here is one of my all time favorites. I even gave Nunzi half of my steak that night. I wouldn’t have won that sunny race without him. Arf!

Silhouette Spirits –

Venice Beach CA - Surfer carries board, boy dances as the sun sinks into the ocean at sunset
Venice Beach CA – Surfer carries board, boy dances as the sun sinks into the ocean at sunset

This month’s photo I’m calling A Tale of Three Silhouette Spirits. The silhouette surfer on the left had several mighty fine rides and was jauntily singing a merry tune of triumph as he quickly splashed by me. The young boy was in his own world, just enjoying the moment by dancing and twirling round and round to his inner tune, until he would tumble down in laughter. And then joyously leap up and repeat his Astaire routine.

The silhouette guy on the right had wiped out pretty bad, and was exhausted as he limped and staggered out of the sea. But I bet he’ll rise from the ashes and do better on another day. And that’s my tale of these three spirits on this day.

Which brings to mind a teller of tales, gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson, who said… “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” A motto I find instructive as I try my best to adapt to these strange times. And I do hope you’re all doing well in these challenging times too.

For this month’s photo, I have to give official creative credit to my furry friend, Nunzi Mancuso, who added his stunning abstract art composition to this image.  He calls it “Flying Super-Duper Sunset Sand”. Without his unique contribution, this image would be only an average creation and would not merit inclusion in my Silhouette Spirits series

Nunzi is quite a ferocious digger and even claims to be ranked in the top ten of worldwide Digging Dogs. I had no idea there was such a thing but apparently a new canine digging event will be in the next Olympics. One thing I can surely attest to is witnessing him creating very impressive doggy dens. His excavations are often over two feet deep and four feet long and his paws churn so fast that he is done in under ten minutes. Quite the achievement.

For this month’s photo, I have an incredibly rare image of Hephaestus, Greek god of fire, in the act of catching his sun ball with his mythical magic mitt. Yep, I shot him on the mythological island of Krocylea which is damn hard to get to. It took several hours of flying atop Pegasus, and let me tell you it was not an easy ride. Not much padding on that winged horsy and my butt still aches.

Anyway, you’ll also notice by Hephaestus’ side is his mighty guard dog Nunziberus who loves playing games of fetch with the sun ball. His serpent tail becomes a wagging blur whenever he flies up and catches the fiery orb.

Yeah, I had a grand time hanging and playing with these guys. Although gods, they treated me well and were just like regular down-to-earthish nice fellows–with a twist. Yep we had a great time together. That is, until Poseidon’s bratty son splashed right out of the sea and wanted to join in on our fun photo shoot. But that’s a whole other mythic tale and I–

Huh? What’s that? You’re not buying this, dear reader? I sense you’re a wee bit skeptical. Think I’m exaggerating? Possibly even fibbing a tad? I swear to Zeus every word is absolutely true! Don’t believe me? Hmm…

Alright, alright, alright. Ain’t you ever heard of creative license? You know, when you get to exaggerate and embellish a little here and a little there. Or claim you’re a “creative” and outright lie a big bunch. Well I got one of them licenses hanging right here on my wall. I’ll text you a pic if you want. If you don’t believe me?

Ok, ok, so it isn’t really the fire god, Hephaestus! There I admit it. You happy? Just some regular boring father type guy with an un-magic baseball mitt. And yeah it wasn’t a sun ball, just a nerf-ball he was tossing to his little son. But sometimes when it was thrown and flying across the sky, at the right angle, it appeared like the baseball mitt was snatching the setting sun. At least if you have a somewhat twisted imagination like mine.

And that noble god dog is really just my average dog, Nunzi. Who delighted the little kid by snagging and fetching errant ball tosses. Sometimes digging a quick hole and spitting the ball in it– which caused the kid to laugh hysterically.

So all in all, it’s just another plain photo added to my Silhouette Spirits series. Just an average guy catching a ball in his mitt in the instant when and where the setting sun was dropping. Ok, move along now. Nothing special to see here. Move along.


This one was taken from high atop Venice Mountain. Just kidding, there aren’t any mountains at Venice beach. But every winter these sand berms are constructed in the winter to protect us from the storm surges that can rollick the beach.


Venice - sailboats - sunset - under pie

Such a dilemma! I’m vehemently arguing with myself. Can I allow this image in my Silhouette Spirits series if I don’t have any humans in it? All my other ones do. Can there be spirits without peoples? A few frames before, I indeed had humans included in the foreground.

But damn it, I like this photo the best. Not even sure why. Maybe the simplicity of form? The sparklines of the sparkles? The strong foreground silhouette of the pier pilings contrasted with the more delicate sails in the background?

But I concluded all those points ain’t the point. Is this non-human photo legal to have in this series? That is the question. After arguing back and forth a while, I had to be honest. Nope. It’s not legal, case closed. I hate it when I lose an argument with myself due to a dumb thing called logic. So I put the image away. Forgot about it. Sigh.

But today my mind came up with a small “yeah but”! Then a bigger YEAH BUT! No humans in the image? Yeah but… there are human’s on the boats! And then that means there are spirits, and one of them is likely silhouetted against something. Whah-lah! In the court of my muddled mind, the gavel is slammed, and the verdict is officially rendered—it is indeed legal to have this in the Silhouette Spirit series! Case closed.

I love it when I win an argument with myself. Onward, I’m putting this one up and sharing it with the world. Good job, Greg. Brilliant insights!

PS – Uh, this is embarrassing. A little while ago, I was enhancing the photo, and I, um, I enlarged it quite a bit. And gosh, I noticed a teeny tiny human perfectly silhouetted on the back of the larger sailboat. So all the above points are pointless. Many moots. Please forgive my silly muddled mental arguing. It’ll never happen again.

PSS – Ok, it will surely happen again. Always does.


This image stands out from the others in this series because it doesn’t have the vibrant saturated coloration of the previous photos. So I guess we could call it a subtle spirit. I’m fond of its strong composition lines, and it conjures a serene relaxed feeling of this moment in time.


Venice - sunset - long view, high angle - pier, tiny silhouetts

Most of the photos in the series usually have the silhouette figures large and prominent in the image. But this one is a bit different in that the people are kind of ant-sized. Big sky, medium ocean and tiny humans. Kind of the natural order of things anyway.


Venice-sunset silhouette-paddle board surfer - IMG_2152

So I’m gazing out at the unusually tranquil sea and I’ll be damned if I’m not witnessing a miracle–someone walking upon the water. Well it looked like that. But I really know better but this little kid nearby didn’t and excitedly exclaimed that a man was walking around on the ocean. Because viewing this guy from shore, looking into the shimmering sun and reflections, you can’t see his paddleboard, but he’s stepping back and forth on it, and creating an apparition which sure conjures up miracle time.

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