Let’s get vertical

Who had the bright idea to label horizontal images “landscape,” and vertical images “portrait”? To that person let me just say, “Huh?” As a landscape-only photographer, about half of my images use “portrait” orientation. I wonder if this arbitrary naming bias subconsciously encourages photographers to default to a horizontal orientation for their landscape images, even when a vertical orientation might be best. Every image contains implicit visual motion that’s independent of the…

Think before you shoot

True story: I once had a woman in a workshop who put her camera in Continuous mode and every time she clicked her shutter, she held it down and waved her camera in the general direction of a scene until the buffer was full. When I asked what she was doing, she said, “There’s bound to be a good one in there somewhere.” We were in…

Who needs vacations?

I was hungry, wet, and cold. With the blacktop obscured by a slippery white veneer, I carefully followed my headlights and a faint set of parallel tire tracks through the tree tunnel. Though the storm that had lured me to Yosemite was finally clearing, that show was lost to the night and dense forest canopy. But even without another clearing storm to add to my Yosemite portfolio, I was quite content with…

Dinner is overrated (and I have the pictures to prove it)

In my Snow day post a few days ago, I shared the story of an overnight dash to Yosemite to photograph snow. I wrapped up that long day photographing various Yosemite Valley views in the frigid damp, bundled at Tunnel View, waiting in vain for the storm to clear. The sky was darkening quickly, and when a dense cloud engulfed my view I decided my (pretty sweet) day was…

Is a tripod really necessary?

If you’re content with derivative snaps of pretty scenes, a tripod may not be for you. But for those who agree that, rather than regurgitating a rough representation of the world as we know it, landscape photography should reveal deeper, less obvious natural truths—things like relationships between diverse elements, an intimate exploration of larger scenes, detail and pattern lost in the blur of motion—there is no substitute for a…

Reflection season

It’s reflection season in Yosemite, that time of year when the falls are dry and the Merced River slows to a glassy crawl. Plugging in the golds and reds of autumn makes this my favorite time for creative photography in Yosemite, and explains the volume of Yosemite autumn images in my portfolio. It also explains why I’ve been to Yosemite three times this month. The month’s first visit, with my Eastern Sierra workshop group, we photographed high…

The best time of day

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 red. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m describing the very world we live in, before the sun’s light and warmth draw out the dirty, noisy, oblivious masses. As a nature photographer,…

Out of my depth

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about appreciating the small stuff. Writing that article opened my eyes to how much I’d gotten away from aspects of photography that give me great pleasure, and that were a big part of my photographic style. Not completely away, but far enough to notice a difference when reviewing my images from the last year or so, a year that coincides with my switch…