Small Steps and Giant Leaps

The memory of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon has personal significance to me. To honor the 50th anniversary of that achievement, I’m sharing an updated version of my story, first posted five years ago. July, 1969 I had just turned 14. I was into baseball, chess, AM radio, astronomy, and girls—not necessarily in that order. Of particular interest to me in 1969…

What’s the Story?

Let’s have a show of hands: How many of you have been advised at some point in the course of your photographic journey to “tell a story with your images”? Okay, now how many of you actually have a clue as to what that actually means? That’s what I thought. Many photographers, with the best of intentions, parrot the “tell a story” advice simply…

Yosemite Spring

There are many (many!) beautiful sights in Yosemite, but when most people think about Yosemite, they think about waterfalls and granite. The granite is forever (virtually), but Yosemite’s waterfalls come and go with the season: exploding from the granite walls in spring, most of Yosemite’s waterfalls are bone dry by summer’s end. And some years are better than others—three springs ago, Bridalveil and Yosemite…

Natural Order

I’m often asked if I placed a leaf, moved a rock, or “Photoshopped” a moon into an image. Usually the tone is friendly curiosity, but sometimes it’s tinged with hints of suspicion that can border on accusation. While these questions are an inevitable part of being a photographer today, I suspect that I get more than my share because I aggressively seek out naturally occurring subjects to isolate and emphasize in my…

All Wet

Last Monday seemed like the perfect day for a poppy shoot in the foothills. I had the afternoon wide open—with the California media buzzing about this year’s “superbloom,” plus a forecast promising ideal conditions (calm wind and thin clouds), I couldn’t help dreaming about my own images of poppy-saturated fields. What could possibly go wrong? Getting on the road proved a little more problematic than…

Thinking Inside the Box

Roll over, Ansel Several years ago, while thumbing through an old issue of “Outdoor Photographer” magazine, I came across an article on Lightroom processing. It started with the words: “Being able to affect one part of the image compared to another, such as balancing the brightness of a photograph so the scene looks more like the way we saw it rather than being restricted…

Winter Moonrise

With a wide variety of spectacular and diverse east-facing views, I can think of no better place to photograph a moonrise than Yosemite. I especially like the December full moon because it aligns so well with Half Dome, not just on the night it’s full, but on the nights leading up to the full moon. When I realized that this year’s December full moon was…

Where there’s smoke…

Humans, we have a problem Earth’s climate is changing, and the smoking gun is ours. Sadly, in the United States policy lags insight and reason, and the world is suffering. Climate change science is complex, with many moving parts that make it difficult to communicate to the general public. Climate change also represents a significant reset for some of the world’s most profitable corporations….

Focus Magic

As we enter the fall color photography season, I’m revisiting and revising previous articles. This is the third in the series. 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. While anyone with a camera can compose the left/right/up/down aspect of a scene, the front/back plane, a scene’s depth (that we human’s take…

Addition by Subraction

Sometimes making a good photo is as much about what you leave out as it is about what you put in. The downfall of many images, both mine and others’, is the inclusion of too much visual activity—sometimes that activity is simply unappealing visual busyness, but often it’s elements that are visually appealing in their own right, but nevertheless distract from the main point…