Photography and the Art of Compromise

The dilemma Photography is all about compromise. For example, if I want to freeze a dogwood bloom bobbing in the breeze, I need to go with a faster shutter speed. But a faster shutter speed reduces light, requiring a higher ISO to compensate for the lost light, which introduces more noise. I could also open my aperture to let in more light, but that…

Making Your Own Luck

“Chance favors only the prepared mind.” ~ Louis Pasteur Successful nature photography requires the convergence of physical objects, position (relative to those objects), light, weather conditions, the right equipment, and mastery of craft (did I miss anything?). Though we can control many of these factors, the overriding element that trumps everything else is plain old luck. But despite the undeniable luck factor in photography,…

My Horsetail Fall Epiphany

I’ve written quite a bit about Horsetail Fall over the last few weeks, but believe it or not, I have a few words to add. In recent years it has become fashionable for photographers, myself included, to criticize the whole trophy shot phenomenon that creates a rugby scrum of photographers jostling to get their own version of something that’s been photographed a million times…

Shared Magic

Everything was progressing perfectly. With a little strategic planning and vehicle shuffling, I’d successfully navigated my workshop group through the teeming throng to the El Capitan Picnic Area. When we’d arrived, more than two hours earlier, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and everyone was pretty confident that the Horsetail Fall gods would smile upon us this evening. Spirits were sky-high, but…

Blue Hour Photography

If you’re fortunate enough to be outside after the sunset color has subsided, but before the world is enveloped in total darkness, you may find yourself basking in the rarified hues of the “blue hour*.” It’s called the blue hour because, wait for it…, the landscape is indeed bathed in blue. (And also because it just rolls off the tongue better than “the blue…

California Burning

That my hometown topped 110 degrees several days last week isn’t especially newsworthy—100+ degrees happens maybe 20 times in an average Sacramento summer, and we hit 110 for a day or two every two or three years. But adding thunderstorms to the extreme temperatures is indeed unprecedented for California. And with the thunderstorms came the fires that have filled the sky with thick smoke…

The View from Space

Here’s my eclipse story If you follow me on social media, you know that I don’t get political online. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have political opinions, but photography needs to make you happy, and there are already too many unhappy photographers to inject politics into the mix. I’ve also learned, and I have the people I’ve met in my workshops to thank for…

Lenses: The Long and Short of it

I hope everyone is doing well. I’ve been sequestered at home since returning from Anchorage two weeks ago (visiting my daughter, a trip that seemed okay when I left, but really stressed me when it came time to fly home). Social distancing, shelter in place, quarantine, or whatever you want to call it, we’re all coming to terms with our new reality in different…

Assembly Required

Some images are so obvious that all you need to do is frame the scene and click; others require a little assembly. For example There was a lot going on visually in this January sunrise at Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley—some of it good, some of it not so good. The not-so-good was the sky, which was clear and infinitely blue—great for being…

Dawn’s Early Light

Imagine a world that’s so quiet you can hear nature’s every stirring, a place where each breath holds a pristine bouquet of subtle fragrances and the sky is a continuously shifting kaleidoscope of indigo, blue, yellow, orange, and pink. Maybe you’ve already figured out that I’m describing the very world we live in, before the sun’s light and warmth entice the dirty, noisy, oblivious masses. The morning magic begins long before…