Making Mountains

A couple of years ago I was blessed to witness one of our planet’s most spectacular phenomena: an erupting volcano. Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island has been in near constant eruption for centuries (millennia?), slowly elevating Hawaii’s slopes and expanding its shoreline with lava that cools and hardens to form the newest rock on Earth. This island building process has been ongoing for the…

Happy Earth Day to You

I have many “favorite” photo locations—many are known to all; others aren’t exactly secrets, but they’re far enough off the beaten path to be overlooked by the vacationing masses. And while I always like to have a spot or two at my favorite photo destinations where I can count on being alone, I’m usually happy to share prime photographic real estate with a kindred…

He Ain’t Heavy,…

… He’s My Sony 12-24 f/4 G (With apologies to The Hollies.) The road is long, with many a winding turn… But that’s no excuse to cut corners. Probably the question I am most asked on location is some variation of, “What lens should I use?” While I’m always happy to answer questions, this one always makes me cringe because the implicit question is,…

It’s All a Blur: Photographing Moving Water

One of the questions I’m asked most is how to blur water. It’s really not that hard when you know how to control your exposure variables, and in fact if you’re photographing moving water in the right light, it’s easier to blur the water than it is to freeze it. Here are the essential elements for blurred water: Sturdy tripod: The longer the shutter is…

Putting the Gorge in Gorgeous

I recently spent some time going through and processing a bunch of Columbia River Gorge images, from many years of visits, I haven’t had time to get to until now. This is the first of several I’ll be posting over the coming weeks. The first time I visited the Columbia River Gorge, I couldn’t believe I’d lived my entire life without visiting here. For…

Should I or shouldn’t I?

I get a lot of questions in the field during a photo workshop, but about 80% of them are some version of, “Should I do it this way or that way?”: “Should I use a polarizer (or not)?” “Should I shoot this horizontal or vertical?” “Should I shoot this wide or telephoto?” “Should I include that rock or leave it out?” “Should I…?” Sometimes…

Weather or not

When the weather gets crazy, do you sprint for cover or reach for your camera? Your answer may be a pretty good indicator of your success as a landscape photographer. It’s an unfortunate fact that the light, color, and drama that make the most memorable landscape photos all come when most sane people would rather be inside: at sunrise, when the rest of the world…

Dynamic Juxtaposition

Much of my photography is about juxtaposition of elements with the landscape. Sometimes that’s simply combining static terrestrial features, but when possible I try to add something more dynamic, such as meteorological subjects like lightning or a rainbow, or celestial objects like the Milky Way or the Moon. The challenge with dynamic juxtapositions is timing—while the meteorological juxtapositions are usually a matter of playing…

Tapping the joy

The downside of turning your passion into your profession is that so many decisions are no longer based on the pleasure they bring. Since my early 20s, I’d been very happy as an amateur photographer, picking my photo destinations and the images I clicked for the sheer joy of it. But I knew becoming a professional photographer risked preempting that joy with photography decisions designed…

A few words about the “supermoon”

I used to resist using the supermoon label because it’s more of a media event than an astronomical event, and it creates unrealistic expectations. But since the phenomenon appears to be with us to stay, I’ve changed my approach and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to educate and encourage. What’s the big deal? So just what is so “super” about a “supermoon?”…