Anchor Management

Virtually every scene I approach with a camera is beautiful, but a beautiful scene is rarely enough for a great image. Human experience of the world differs greatly from what the camera captures—the photographer’s job is to understand and use those differences. I’ve always felt that viewers of an image are more comfortable exploring the frame—and therefore tend to linger longer with the image—when…

Right Vs. Left

Two photographers approach the same scene: One can clearly visualize a uniquely beautiful image, but he has no idea how to achieve it. The other is so intent on finding the hyperfocal point for her lens’s “sweet spot” focal length and f-stop that she barely registers the beauty before her. While most photographers don’t fall at these extremes of the creative/analytical continuum, the vast…

That’s so fake…

We’ve all heard it: “That’s so fake,” or “You Photoshopped that,” or some other derisive barb implying that an image is trying to be something it isn’t. But before you say that about this image, let me say that I processed it five times, each time dialing down the saturation, attempting to create something that would appear credible to the dubious masses. And with…

Escaping Summer

(If you subscribe to my Image of the Month e-mail and this post seems familiar, it’s because I borrowed the text from my June message.) I just checked the date of my last post, I couldn’t believe how long it’s been. But I have a good excuse, I swear: I’ve been busy. Busy taking pictures, busy leading workshops, busy checking in and out of…

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…

Reckless at Bandon

  January In January Don Smith and I flew to Oregon to get eyes on the damage caused by the Eagle Creek fire in advance of our (now just completed) annual Columbia River Gorge photo workshops. Not knowing what we’d find there, we allowed lots of time to scout new locations to replace the ones we lost. Fortunately the fire damage, while tragic and…

Are you insane?

Are you insane? Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. Hmmm. For some reason this reminds me of the thousands of good landscape photographers with hundreds of beautiful images they can’t sell. These photographers have a good eye for composition, own all the best equipment, know when to be at the great locations, and are virtual…

Permanent Change

Surrounded by towering granite walls that seem so permanent, Yosemite Valley is America’s poster-park for enduring beauty. But in the grand geological scheme, there’s nothing permanent about Yosemite. In my lifetime Yosemite has been visibly altered by drought, flood, and rockslides (not to mention human interference). Predating my arrival, Yosemite’s Anglo conquerors had a profound affect on the flora and fauna that prevailed in…

Snow Job

I’m afraid that making a living as a photographer sometimes means exchanging time to take pictures for time to make money. On the other hand, my schedule is mine alone, which means when there’s something I really, really want to photograph, such as a moonrise or fresh snow in Yosemite, I can usually arrange my schedule to make it happen. The moon shoots I…

Compromise less, smile more

Night photography always requires some level of compromise: extra equipment, ISOs a little too noisy, shutter speeds a little too long, f-stops a little too soft. For years the quality threshold beyond which I wouldn’t cross came far too early and I’d often find myself having to decide between an image that was too dark and noisy, or simply not shooting at all. Because…