Featured Member – Jim Cline

Jim Cline is an award-winning travel photographer based in San Diego, California. Jim is known for his willingness to shoot all around the edges of light, creating images with tremendous impact that capture the essence of a place or culture. He always strives to transcend ordinary travel pictures, and to convey a strong sense of place, and the spirit of the people in his photographs.

Jim’s wanderlust and search for compelling images has brought him to many less-traveled areas. He takes particular interest in the indigenous peoples and traditional and tribal cultures of developing nations, and in documenting these disappearing cultures. Through his images he strives to portray the dignity and timeless beauty of these people living in harmony with nature.

As well as winning numerous awards, Jim’s work has been displayed in galleries and in the San Diego Natural History Museum. He gives frequent slide presentation lectures of his travels throughout the world. Jim and his photographs were featured in several books, most recently a beautiful coffee table book titled Tresors de la Terre, Joyaux de l’Humanity, published in 2008. His images have also been published in numerous, magazines, newspapers, brochures, annual reports, and CD covers. Jim currently leads small-group photo tours to various locations around the world.

Check out Jim Cline Photo Tours @



Theresa Vernetti is Sierra Photo Club’s Newsletter editor.  She also organizes the Sierra Photo/ MOPA Summer Lecture/Workshop Series and has a great time putting together outings for our club members.  This month Theresa participated in two photography workshops at schools in Colorado and New Mexico and had a wonderful time meeting the other students, soaking in a ton of useful information and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

The first was in Snowmass, Colorado (near Aspen) at a seasonal art school called Anderson Ranch.  There are two photo classes each week, as well as courses in ceramics, wood working, sculpture, painting and print making.  The campus is full of artistic energy and lab facilities are open 24 hours for the truly inspired to work outside of class time.  Theresa’s instructor that week was Jamey Stillings and the class was called “Location Lighting.”  Every day the class of 12 would spend time watching slideshows, critiquing images and creating images at nearby locations.

After driving through Taos, New Mexico and spending time at the local Pow Wow, Theresa headed to Santa Fe Workshops for another week of learning.  David Robin and Carrie Beene taught “Lighting and Retouching for Fashion and Portraiture.”  Mornings were spent reviewing class images and learning professional Photoshop retouching techniques and afternoons were spent in the studio.  Five studio setups were assembled for the class of ten so the students worked in pairs and models rotated around every hour.   Santa Fe is a beautiful and friendly city and dinner happens off campus and students are able to enjoy the local cuisine.  Four photo classes are offered each week during the summer and fall so a variety of interests and skill levels are accommodated.  Go online and check out the course offerings.  There are still openings for eager, enthusiastic photographers. See more of Theresa’s images on her website.  Check out the class slideshow presented at the farewell dinner.


I hope you all have heard the big news.  Our president, Jonathan Fennell, had a series of photos published in the NEW YORK TIMES !!!  That’s right.  He’s made it big…..and one photo (that super cool one with the mountain in the background) occupied most of the front page of the sports section.  Totally sick !  Jonathan was at the Olympic training center in Chula Vista photographing BMX bikers who are competing for spots on the Olympic team.  Go Fennell !

The Best and the Brashest

At 19, Connor Fields Is Olympic Favorite for BMX Supercross

Jonathan Fennell for The New York Times

The national team coach, James Herrera, monitors riders, including Connor Fields, with a smartphone.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Connor Fields lounged on his BMX bike this month at the Olympic Training Center. While most of his fellow riders met with representatives from Oakley, Fields surveyed the track, a replica of the one riders will race on at the London Olympics, and noted his disdain for goggles.
Jonathan Fennell for The New York Times

Connor Fields riding on a track in California that is a replica of the one riders will race on at the London Olympics this summer.

Jonathan Fennell for The New York Times

Fields has won three consecutive World Cup finals but almost quit racing when he missed seven months in 2010 and ’11 because of injury.

Jonathan Fennell for The New York Times

“My first impression?” Coach Herrera said of Fields, above. “A cocky, young punk with skills to match. And he still races that way.”

Asked why he elected not to wear them, what with the dirt and the rocks and the competitors on small bikes that can reach 40 miles per hour, Fields laughed. “You don’t get hit if you’re in front,” he said.

His coaches watch Fields on his bike and see no obvious historical comparison. Only 19 years old, Fields has won three consecutive World Cup final races, a first in the young BMX racing discipline of supercross, in which a handful of seconds separate the top slot from the bottom.

But Fields’s rise to favorite for the London Games is not the tidy narrative of an athlete with transformative talent. His is the story of a father who acknowledged that he pushed his son too hard, of a coach who lost his job but not his pupil, of a rider who enrolled in college and almost quit BMX.

“We have these moments where we watch him, and we’re like, ‘He’s really going to hurt himself,’ ” said Mike King, the BMX program director for USA Cycling. “And then, at the last millisecond, he can bring his bike back together. He’ll throw it sideways, and when it looks like he’s going into the face of the jump, at the last second, he’ll land it, and you can see the body weight, the transition, the burst of speed he creates.

“I watch in amazement. You can’t teach that.”

To label Fields confident, King said, “would be putting it pretty mildly.”

Fields does not disagree with that assessment. In fact, he said he compiled this stellar BMX season because he learned the difference between cocky and assured. (“My first impression?” the national team coach, James Herrera, said. “A cocky, young punk with skills to match. And he still races that way.”)

The most important lesson took place in 2010, at the junior world championships in South Africa. Fields led every lap he raced until the final one. He led that, too, at the beginning, but he continued to push harder, harder, harder, because he wanted to obtain the fastest lap time of the weekend. His mentality: “kill everybody” and “destroy the competition.”

But Fields crashed, while ahead by three bike lengths, a more than comfortable margin. He cried in the arms of his coach, Sean Dwight, for 20 minutes. The crash also aggravated a knee injury, which led to Fields’s first extended absence from BMX.

His father, Mike, said Fields sank into depression when he missed seven months in late 2010 and early 2011 because of the injury and its aftermath. He rarely came out of his room. For days, he watched “Lost” and played war video games online. He even went so far as to register for classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the goal to ultimately become a physical therapist.

“We thought we had lost our son,” Mike Fields said.

Eventually, Connor Fields summoned the courage to call Dwight, a no-nonsense Australian who listened to Fields’s plan to quit and told him: “I’m going to say this once. You have the ability to win the Olympic Games.”

Fields had spent most of his life preparing for such BMX supremacy. At 7, his parents purchased a bike to channel their son’s unlimited energy. Halfway to his first race, Fields already had his helmet on.

His father watched the way Fields reacted after losses, how he retreated into corners and cried for hours, how over time the tantrums lessened but how “he never really got out of this horrible unhappiness if he didn’t win.”

No one could quite explain the drive, but for Mike Fields it felt familiar. He felt it, too. As he retold the story, he paused, choking back emotion. “My biggest fear was I was losing him as a dad,” he said. “I realized I wanted it more than he did. That I wanted it too much.”

His most important lesson came at a Father’s Day race, where fathers of competitors rode the course before their sons raced. Mike Fields crashed on three of the four laps and ripped his jeans and shirt: a humbling experience for the former rugby player.

Now Mike Fields likes to say he has gone from a BMX roadie to a superfan. He still travels the world to watch his son race, but he leaves the coaching to Dwight, King and others. Mike Fields is allowed to come to dinner, but he cannot talk about BMX.

While most BMX races are won in the first few seconds out of the gate, Fields, long a notoriously slow starter, prevailed with the way he attacked the rest of the course. In recent years, his starts have also improved, to the point where if Fields speeds down the first ramp even with the other riders, King said, he should win almost every time. His latest triumph was at the world championships on May 25 in Birmingham, England, where he won the elite men’s time trial superfinal.

Dwight, who once worked for USA Cycling, serves as Fields’s primary coach. He helped Fields overcome his injury, even hosted Fields in Australia for training. The family pays many of his expenses, including flights and lodging for competitions. The dynamic with USA Cycling can be awkward, but so far, especially lately, it has worked.

“Every so often a sport evolves,” Dwight said. “Connor is a new breed. He’s redefining the way the sport should be approached, and he’s rewriting the history of BMX, right now.”


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