A Wonderful Book by Mike Osborne

September 11, 2019

I’ve known Mike Osborne for over 35 years. In 1983, he wrote a book published by the Yosemite Association about the Waterfalls of Yosemite. Mike would know all about this, since he was a Park Ranger for more than 30 years, all of it working in Yosemite! He’s also a wonderful photographer. I remember one of the first times I saw his work at his home in Yosemite. He had what looked like a selection of 35mm color slides on a light box. I assumed these were favorites from various rolls he had assembled. But—this was just one roll of slides! What was amazing was they were all different images, and the exposures looked perfect. It turns out Mike worked that way. He only allowed himself one exposure per image, and he took great care in getting the exposures just right. Truly amazing!

A 2-page spread

In 2001, Mike and I, Keith Walklet, Karl Kroeber and Scot Miller went on the first of many backcountry trips in Yosemite. We were (partially) underwritten by the Yosemite Association, in return for letting them use some of our images, and giving them some prints. We would choose a destination, and they paid for mules to take our gear in and out. We still had to walk in, but we were able to stay a week or so in some wonderful locations, and really get to explore and know the area. The backcountry only has easy access in the summer, when the light is very flat most of the time. So, camping in these places allowed us to get a good 2-3 hours of photography at first and last light. After 5-6 years of this, we published a book, aptly named “First Light: Five Photographers Explore Yosemite’s Wilderness.”

Another Great Spread

Although Mike has retired as a ranger, he has found a new passion for his photography—junk yards! He found a particularly incredible one, and has arranged with them for a yearly pass. I’ve helped him make two books of his work, and this page will take you to where you can see and buy them if you like. His most recent effort is called “Ex Machina,” and it is incredible. But let me have John Ricca, who has been assisting me at my workshops have a say:

“Mike Osborne changed my life when I met him over ten years ago. He taught me to ‘see’ patterns, shapes, and textures everywhere. Mike made all of the photographs in Ex Machina in a junk yard. Yet, no image is recognizable as being part of a car or truck; they are all wonderful and colorful abstracts. They are awe-inspiring. Ex Machina is a great photography book by one of our greatest photographers.”

This book, “Ex Machina” is printed by Magcloud, which was founded by HP, the inventor of the Indigo printers used to do one-of digital printing. I have used them for many projects, and am very impressed with their quality and color accuracy. They were recently purchased by Blurb, but the prices are still about 1/3 of what Blurb charges. They don’t have special software to help create the books, and require a pdf file set to certain dimensions be used. Mike is allowing people to buy this book at no markup—$33.68 for a book of 88 pages, 12x12 inches in size. An incredible bargain! You can preview the whole book on his Magcloud page.

More Incredible Images

This is truly an extraordinary book, and I highly recommend it as a tour-de-force of abstract and color photography.