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Spotlight On: Bob Ortega and THINKOUTSIDEIMAGES

Spotlight On:

As part of our ongoing series, we are interviewing people of interest in the area who are having a positive impact on our community.

This time, we reached out to Bob Ortega of THINKOUTSIDEIMAGES.

Bob, can you tell us a little bit about THINKOUTSIDEIMAGES?

Photo courtest of Bob Ortega

THINKOUTSIDEIMAGES was brought to life during the final day of the fall 2008 Red Rock Ride ( at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was there that I found a T-shirt with the words “Just Think Outside” emblazoned across the front with an image of this national wonder. Much of my life is spent outdoors and this motto really struck me. My interest in photography really started when I was 10 years old and taking black and white images with some very inexpensive cameras that were mailed to me through a photography club that I joined. Too long ago to remember specifics but somewhere I still have an image of my father with his horse taken with one of those little cameras. This hobby later turned into a necessity at my very first job out of college. I really wasn’t planning on getting into the newspaper business, but an opportunity came along with the Santa Ynez Valley News and I soon found out that as Sports Editor of a small weekly paper, I was not only responsible for writing but photographing the local events. The job was short-lived but the knack for taking pictures lived on.

I was born and have lived and worked the last 38 years in Santa Barbara, CA. However, my formative years were spent living and learning some of life’s mysteries in the Eastern Sierra. As a teenager growing up in Bishop, I never appreciated the natural beauty of the area but I now have a deep appreciation for all of it. I have found great solace in the area and have been driven to return over and over, looking to capture some of its majesty. I have found great inspiration from the works of Galen Rowell and others. Today I only shoot digital and do my very best not to influence my photos with a lot of post-production time. I love fall and find myself photographing the Sierras and the Tetons will equal pleasure.

Photo courtesy of Bob Ortega

What first sparked your interest in photography, and how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

Photography has become more like a second, part-time career. I worked for the University of California, Santa Barbara for over 30 years and am now retired from my “day job”. Photography, and specifically, landscape photography has afforded me the opportunities to visit many spectacular locations, primarily in the western U.S.

Can you describe your style or approach to photography?

I generally know a little about my subject before I ever plan a trip. It’s important to have some insight on how and when to get the best results. Fall is a specific time of the year, but a lot of factors can go into exactly when the timing will be right. Returning to the same locations on a regular basis is important. Also networking and asking questions can provide great tips.

What subjects or themes do you find most compelling to photograph, and why?

Fall colors are number one. The beauty and the differences from one year to the next are always compelling. Plus, it gives me the chance to return to the Eastern Sierra on a regular basis.

Photo courtesy of Bob Ortega

Please share any memorable experiences or stories from your photography adventures?

I’ve enjoyed some great trips to Alaska, Yellowstone National Park in the winter, The Grand Tetons and just about every outing I take to the Eastern Sierra including regular visits to Bodie.

In recent years, I’ve had the joy of bringing my daughter on some of these trips. Last year, we hiked to Parker Lake one morning. Upon arrival, I set my camera bag on the ground only to discover my camera body was missing. I hiked back to the car and found it laying on the ground in a bush behind the vehicle. Thus I got the opportunity to hike back to the lake the following day. Upon arrival, I found the composition to be better than the previous day.

Photo courtesy of Bob Ortega

Can you share any advice for aspiring photographers looking to improve their craft?

Do your homework. You don’t always need to have the best camera to get great results but it is important to have quality lenses. Glass matters. Network when you can. Ask questions. My philosophy has never been technical, but it helps, so know your equipment. I like think that a photograph is like a bucket full of water. It’s complete when the bucket is full, but how you fill it, be it a drip, a trickle or the faucet wide open makes the outcome very different.

Lastly, where can people find your work?

I come to the Art in the Park arts and crafts festival at Mule Days every year and I have been participating in the Arts on the 4th in Mammoth Lakes for a few years. This year I will also be traveling to Morro Bay for Labor Day weekend. My website is where you can always find my work.

A special thank you to Bob Ortega for answering our questions!

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