A Maui Memory

March 2018 Each year I do back-to-back workshops in Hawaii, one on the Big Island and one on Maui (it’s a tough job, but…, well, you know…). This year’s Big Island workshop was complicated first by the recent Kilauea eruption, and then by Hurricane Lane, which deposited 50 inches of rain on our host city Hilo just days before the workshop. To get my…

Greetings from Winterland

Saturday, 3 a.m.: The search for winter, and visiting an old friend When I boarded the plane Wednesday afternoon in Sacramento, the temperature outside was 100 degrees. After 24 hours of  inadequate legroom, angry infants, delayed departures, inadequate portions of bland food, suspicious customs inspectors, and a 10-minute sprint (or whatever your call moving full speed with 90 pounds of luggage) that ended in…

(Sometimes) I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good

It was 4:00 a.m. and I’d spent the last two hours photographing the Milky Way’s brilliant core above the Colorado River. In about 75 minutes the guides would be ringing the “coffee’s ready” gong, signaling the start of another day at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Collapsing my tripod, I performed a little mental math and found slight relief in the knowledge that I…

All’s well that ends well

Most photographers will tell you that some of the best locations are a bit of a pain to get to. Not necessarily death-defying dangerous, just a pain. Not only is Queen’s Bath on Kauai one of those locations, this year getting there required dealing with the Hawaii equivalent of the troll who lives under the bridge. For many years I’ve been helping my friend…

Greetings from Tomorrowland

One of my favorite childhood books was “Upside-Down Town,” about a little town where everything was opposite the rest of the world. People walked backward so they could see where they’d been, stores paid people to take their goods, and (my personal favorite at the time) schools were only in session on holidays. That’s kind of the way it feels visiting New Zealand in…

Some advice for President Obama

President Obama and family visit Yosemite this weekend, and rather than wait by my phone for him to call with questions, I thought I’d just share my suggestions here Dear Mr. President, I just heard that you’re coming to Yosemite this weekend. Bravo! I’m sure by the time you leave you’ll agree that Yosemite is worthy of its reputation as the most beautiful place on Earth….

The illusion of genius

Perhaps you’ve noticed that many popular nature photographers have a “hook,” a persona they’ve created to distinguish themselves from the competition (it saddens me to think that photography can be viewed as a competition, but that’s a thought for another day). This hook can be as simple (and annoying) as flamboyant self-promotion, or an inherent gift that enables the photographer to get the shot no one else would have gotten, something…

My technology can beat up your technology

For some reason, the technology choices of others seem to be the source of profound angst to many (self appointed) online “experts.” Whether it’s vinyl vs. digital, Windows vs. OS X, Android vs. iOS, Nikon vs. Canon, mirrorless vs. SLR, nothing incites in-your-face rancor like someone else’s technology choice. While I’ve been quite content to remain on the sidelines during these pointless battles, I…

Your camera is not an Etch A Sketch

(In defense of the tripod) Who remembers the Etch A Sketch? For those who didn’t have a childhood, an Etch A Sketch is a mechanical drawing device that’s erased by turning it upside-down and shaking vigorously.  When I come across a scene I deem photo-worthy, my first click is a rough draft, a starting point upon which to build the final image. After each click…

Reflection season

It’s reflection season in Yosemite, that time of year when the falls are dry and the Merced River slows to a glassy crawl. Plugging in the golds and reds of autumn makes this my favorite time for creative photography in Yosemite, and explains the volume of Yosemite autumn images in my portfolio. It also explains why I’ve been to Yosemite three times this month. The month’s first visit, with my Eastern Sierra workshop group, we photographed high…