Jan. 25 2012 12:00 AM

Meet the photographer behind the 'Planet San Diego' photo on the cover of CityBeat this week

Mike Sumoto

Michael Herana climbs out windows and scales ladders to get his shots. One of his recent panoramas is a gorgeous photo of the Downtown cityscape taken from the rooftop of the St. James Hotel.

He says street culture and the same graffiti artists whose murals he often photographs have influenced his approach.---

“I’m trying to get on as many rooftops as I can this year,” Herana said. “It’s hard, but I’ve been shooting ground level for so long now that I literally want to elevate my work to a higher level.”

Herana uses the name Mike Sumoto when he’s behind his camera. His photo on CityBeat’s cover this week, “Planet San Diego,” started as a panoramic shot of the city and, through some twisting and turning in Photoshop, was transformed into what’s become known as a “tiny planet photo,” thanks to an iPhone app and lots of websites and blogs dedicated to the photographic effect.

“I think using the app is kind of cheating,” Herana said.

This comes from a guy who refused to use Photoshop until a few years ago, when a graphic-designer friend convinced him that the software is “just like the darkroom, only digital.”

Herana is gaining a following and becoming more known for his urban landscapes. A few of his photos are currently showing at Jacobs Center (404 Euclid Ave.) in Contents Under Pressure: The Writing on the Wall, an exhibition that explores more than 30 years of urban art by San Diego graffiti artists and photographers. The show was recently extended through the end of March.

“I try to be the first guy to document graffiti because it won’t be up forever,” Herana said. “I want to be that guy in San Diego, the one who really covers the city.”

Are you a San Diego artist who wants to have your work featured on the cover of CityBeat? or Email arts editor Kinsee Morlan.


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