About tgapen

I'm a photographer, editor, designer, art director, writer, webmaster and Photoshopper and arguably, a guitar player. I used to commute 10 hours a week to and from various jobs at L.A. newspapers. Now I'm chilling in the Pacific Northwest. My wife is amazing, we have two amazing cats and zero kids. The moon is my planet, I love rain, good, strong coffee and a Gibson ES-335.

And then there were none


The best power trio in the history of the world, tresgatos, has lost the last one of their founding members.

Iggy passed on this morning after a long battle with renal failure.

Linda and I, her two biggest fans, are left with sorrow, photographs and memories.

Maybe the most distinguishing thing that I’ll remember about her was that she had the heart of a lioness.

She was a huntress.

She brought down more than a few birds in our backyard, she grappled with gophers and stared down a few raccoons more twice her size.

But for a lot of years, during the summers, she was a predator and terminator of lizards.

While her two feline companions were sunning themselves on the patio or snoozing the day away on the padded furniture, Iggy would lie in wait, for as long as it would take. Then, when the moment was right she would strike and go trotting across the lawn with the squirming reptile in her mouth.

She almost always brought her victims into the house, where she would release them into her lair — but not until she chewed their tails off.

Despite her penchant for violence against lizards she was, at her core, a sweet and beautiful soul.

Because of her diminutive stature she mostly deferred to the males in her life but was still a committed feminist and a staunch supporter of equal rights for women and the LBGTQ community.

She was well known as a liberal and philanthropist but few knew that she was an avid climber and the only kitty to summit K2 without oxygen.

She was also a champion Formula One driver, a master cellist and a contributor to the Human Genome Project completion.

She loved cheese, shrimp, poultry and anything with gravy and she made cute squeaky sounds when she chewed.

Rumor has it that a biopic has just been green-lighted and Amanda Plummer is attached to the film.

Iggy first arrived in Ventura in 1999 and immediatley adopted Linda Silvestri as her guardian. She liked to call herself Monique but Linda named her Ignatz after the mouse character in the American newspaper comic strip Krazy Kat by cartoonist George Herriman.

Initially Iggy had issues with, Joseph, the other kitty of the house at the time. She found him arrogant, selfish and miserly but eventually the two fell deeply in love and were inseparable until Joey’s passing in September 2011.

Since then she continued to soldier on with her older brother Spooky who left this world in February 2015.

Iggy lived 125 kitty years and crossed over while in Linda’s arms this morning.

We buried her next to her brother Spooky and her life-long companion Joey beneath the ash tree in our backyard in Santa Clarita, right in the middle of lizard breeding grounds.

Now the original tresgatos are reunited and are putting the band back together with Spooky on vocals, Joey on bass and Iggy on cello.

They’ll be touring the universe for the rest of eternity and while I’m not rushing it, when they finally come to town, you can bet Linda and I will be in the front row.

Pick your cliché


Full circle. What goes around, comes around. Old habits die hard.

Posts in WordPress require a headline which becomes part of the url or permalink. So it’s best practice to write a headline that is SEO friendly, because you write this shit for other people to find and read.

So while “pick your cliché” may not be the most searchable phrase and in fact the word cliché has that special character, e-acute, in it which makes it even less searchy, it’s better than the head I probably would have chosen for this post which might have been something like “Full circle or how I went from small-time shooter to big-city journo … and back.”

In fact, while I’m on the topic, I should actually change the name of this blog to something like, “VisualKaos, meaningless blather from a SoCal-based vizjourno seemingly preoccupied with rambling run-on sentences that are used as rhetorical devices via the comma splice while musing about how fast time flies by and where the fuck his entire life and career went, through discrete blog entries displayed in reverse chronological order.

While that would more accurately describe this and many other posts found here it’s also, less than SEO friendly.

Which has little to nothing to do with this:

Continue reading

Coachella by the Sea

Busy week in Ventura.

Four of the bands booked at Coachella motored up the coast to play gigs at the Majestic Ventura Theater. All four had great opening bands and I shot around 1,000 images per night.

Here are the edits in SlideShowPro.

Mustache and Member’s Only


I’ve said this before, possibly to the point of irritation but three decades go by pretty fast.

Two thousand thirteen marks 30 years since I stared in the journalism business.

mustacheThat would have been February, 1983.  The Soviet Union performed two underground nuclear tests, “Thriller” went number one and stayed there for 37 weeks, Wayne Gretzky set an NHL all-star record with 4 goals in 1 period,  there was an apocalyptic snowstorm on the eastern seaboard and I was spending evenings drinking margaritas at Charlie Brown’s in Ventura while wearing a black, Member’s Only jacket, acid-washed Jordache jeans and high-top, LA Gear sneakers.

Also, 27-year-old Steve Jobs appeared on the cover of Fortune along with a story about how he “gets his jollies” making great computers. At that point the Apple II was showing it’s age and the Lisa had yet to come out.

My first day as a news photographer was February 7. Ventura County was experiencing torrential rain storms and although I thought my first day on the job would be to tag along with the Oxnard Press Courier’s chief photographer David Crane, I was told to “go get some rain art.”

They may as well have asked me to surgically separate conjoined twins. Continue reading

Walkin the Dawg

[iframe http://player.vimeo.com/video/56536171?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0 601 338]

The idea is simple. Time tested. Tried and true.

Gather together in one place all the best content you’ve produced for the entire year and present it in a way that’s engaging, informative, entertaining.

I’ve been doing it for decades at various newspapers.

So last year, my first year completely away from daily newspaper journalism, I put a video up on the net that showed the best photo work that I did during the year.

But this time instead of train wrecks floods and fires it was personal projects.

As of today, the last day of 2012, that video got a whopping 45 views.

The only plan this year is to beat 45 views in 12 months time.

So I tagged all the best stuff I shot all year in Lightroom, brought it all into FinalCutProX and started looking for what amounts to the soundtrack of our year.

I considered Bettie Serveert, The Airborne Toxic Event, The Pineapple Thief and Portishead all of which had some influence on me this year.

What I settled on was this old Harry Nilsson song from his 1972 album Son of Schmilsson.

This hauntingly beautiful song became my favorite last Christmas and again this year.

And although it’s kind of slow and syrupy, it just seemed to fit what our year was like.

If you followed the link I posted on Facebook last week, I’m sorry to make you listen to it again.

Personally, I could listen to it over and over, and I did for the past two weeks.

But while I was editing the video, most of the images from 2012 just didn’t work with this music. So this represents a small part of what would have been the best images of the year.

Not a good way to try to break my record of 2011, but I’m going to let Harry carry it.

So, it’s the last day of the year and this piece is all of 5 minutes. Same length as last year.

If you’ve gotten this far, then you probably have 5 more minutes.

Why “Walkin the Dawg?” It’s a song by Rufus Thomas and released on his 1963 album of the same name. It’s been covered by a ton of people including The Stones, The Grateful Dead and Green Day but my favorite cover is by Aerosmith.

Oh, and Wendy, at the end.