Path of Least Resistance

What follows are philosophical meanderings inspired by this image from last month’s Grand Canyon workshops. Rather than repeat myself, if you want to read about this electric evening, read my recent My Favorite Things post. One of the things I love about a still image is the opportunity to gaze and ponder the scene at my own pace. And pondering this image, it suddenly occured to me that…

My Favorite Things

Maria von Trapp had them, you have them, I have them. They’re the favorite places, moments, and subjects that provide comfort or coax a smile no matter what life has dealt. Not only do these “favorite things” improve our mood, they’re the muse that drives our best photography. Sometimes they even inspire dreams about making a living in photography. But sadly, turning a passion into a…

A Day in the Life

My eyes pop open at the very first piano note of Pat Metheny Group’s “Minuano.” It’s 4:10 a.m., precisely 30 minutes before I’d told my group we’d be taillights-up-the-road for the day’s sunrise shoot. No matter how soothing the day’s chosen wakeup tune, any wakeup time that starts with a “4:” is jarring. Since my rule is to be at the cars to load…

Beam Me Up

I won’t lie: The primary reason I go to the Grand Canyon in monsoon season—and for that matter, the primary reason most people sign up for my Grand Canyon monsoon workshops—is to photograph lightning. But as we all know, lightning is a fickle phenomenon, even during the Grand Canyon’s usually electric monsoon season. Because lightning is never guaranteed, I always do my very best…

Wait for it…

Landscape photographers have a couple of ways to make nice images. By far the most important is the ability to see the special but less obvious, then know how to compose and expose that special vision in ways that clarify and convey the previously unseen beauty. But sometimes we just need to know when to show up and where to point the camera, and…

Before and After

Reflection, Lake Wanaka Willow Tree, New Zealand Sony 𝛂1 Sony 24-105 G 1/20 second F/11 ISO 100 I’m sitting in the Queenstown, New Zealand airport waiting to board the first of four flights that will total 26 hours and land me a mere 2-hour drive from home. While I’m still coherent, I’ll attempt to whip out this week’s (slightly late) blog post, using low…

Tapping the Essence

Spend enough time viewing landscape images on Facebook and Instagram and it soon becomes clear that dramatic spectacle and saturated color generates the most fan attention. Fueled by this knowledge, photographers seeking online praise try to outdo the drama and color of prior images, both their own and others’, with every shoot. The unfortunate consequence is a photographic feedback loop where one ostentatious image…

Just a Dash of Rainbow

I’ve spent the last week moving, and with my annual Grand Canyon Raft Trip for Photographers launching Tuesday, I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging (and much else). But I’m still committed to posting a new blog each week, so I’m sharing a new image from one of this spring’s Yosemite workshops, and a brief description of its capture. I also dusted…

Watch Your Weight

Dynamic vs. static Photographic composition is all about managing the tension between dynamic and static: the dynamic component is the way the eye moves through the frame, while the static component is the overall balance of the scene’s elements. To synergize these two potentially conflicting factors, I think in terms the “visual weight” of my frame’s contained elements. Like gravity for the eye, visual…

Making a Scene

Think about what goes into making a landscape image. If the scenes and conditions are our raw materials, then it would be logical to say that our camera gear is our tools. But in addition to cameras, lenses, and other physical photography hardware, I’d say that our photography toolkit also includes the techniques we employ to deal with nature’s fickle whims. And speaking of…