As far as the eye can see

“As far as the eye can see.” How many times have we heard, and even uttered, those words without really considering their true meaning? Just how far can the eye see? Adults use the expression to convey wide open spaces, and as a kid I remember arguments on the playground about who had seen the farthest, trying to one-up each other with our ocular feats. To me the words “as…

Being a better fisherman

“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”  ― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It I don’t fish. But then, Norman Maclean’s words really aren’t about fishing anyway. I’m reminded of his quote every time I see photographers frozen by minutia, mired in the moment by small distractions that matter very little on the…

Megapixels are overrated

As regular readers know, in November I switched to Sony, replacing my 22 MP Canon 5D Mark III DSLR with the mirrorless 36 MP Sony a7R, plus three Sony lenses. My decision to switch had nothing to do with resolution and everything to do with the Sony’s image quality, dynamic range, and high ISO performance. Oh yeah, and the compactness of mirrorless. And after watching other DSLRs surpass…

Seeing the light

On the first night of this year’s Yosemite Horsetail Fall photo workshop I’m pretty confident that my group got to photograph what will turn out to be Horsetail’s only truly red display of the year. I’d love to say that this was due to particular genius on my part, but mostly it was just plain good luck (with maybe just a little bit of experience…

Mirrorless and my telephoto renaissance

Going smaller Like most people, my original expectation for my nascent mirrorless world was a significantly lighter backpack, and indeed, I haven’t been disappointed. In my Canon days my primary pack was an F-Stop Tilopa with a medium ICU (F-Stop’s interchangeable internal module for storing and organizing gear), which held my 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35 f/2.8, 24-105 f/4, and 70-200 L lenses, plus a Zeiss 28 f/2…

The real California

I love driving the Sierra foothills east of my home in Sacramento, one eye on the road, the other scanning for gnarled oaks I can photograph against the sky. To my very California eyes, these are the scenes of home—not the palm trees and surf boards most people picture when they think of my home state. California’s oak trees’ inherent beauty stands out when they’re silhouetted against a sunset…

New trick, old dog

Way back in 2008 when I got my first live-view camera, a Canon 1DS Mark III, I couldn’t understand what all the hubbub was about. I’d been looking through a viewfinder for thirty years and saw no reason to do things any differently. But when a 5D Mark III entered my life in early 2012, its improved live-view interface caused me to waver a bit—in particular the live-view focus capability, an on-screen level,…

Going for bokeh

  In this day of ubiquitous cameras, automatic exposure, and free information, a creative photographer’s surest path to unique images is achieved by managing a scene’s depth. Anyone with a camera can compose the left/right/up/down aspect of a scene. But the front/back plane, a scene’s depth, that we human’s take for granted, is missing from a two-dimensional image. Managing depth requires abstract vision and camera control beyond the skill of most…

Customize your camera

A recent mishap forced me to replace my Canon 5D Mark III (a story for a different day). A quality backup and good equipment insurance made my accident no more than a minor inconvenience, but setting up my new camera this morning reminded me of a few camera settings I consider equal parts essential and obscure (or taken for granted). So essential that I…

Striking lightning (before it strikes you)

Let’s start with the given that lightning is dangerous, and the distinct possibility that photographers are stupid. Combining the two is a recipe for disaster. Add a shear, one-mile deep canyon with lots of exposed outcrops and…, well, you get the idea. Okay, seriously, lightning is both dangerous and unpredictable. Before attempting anything that requires you to be outside during an electrical storm, it behooves…