What is real?

Visual “truth” is relative Without getting too philosophical, it’s important to understand that, like your camera, your view of the universe is both limited and interpreted. In other words, there is no absolute visual truth. Instead, we (you, me, our cameras, your dentist’s dog, and so on…) each have our own view of the world that’s based on many factors—some we can control, others we…

Alone in Yosemite

Last winter I spent a glorious day by myself in Yosemite Valley, photographing the vestiges of an overnight snowstorm. Inbound to the park the evening before, a continuous strand of outbound headlights reminded me how different a photographer’s priorities are from the general public’s. For a nature photographer, the best time to be outside seems to be everyone else’s worst time to be outside,…

Just a Pinch of Moon

A couple of  weeks ago I wrote about how to photograph the moon big, the bigger the better, to overcome its tendency to (appear to) shrink in a wide angle image. But the moon doesn’t need to be big to be a striking addition to a landscape photo. To balance a landscape frame, I think in terms of “visual gravity” (or “visual weight”): how much…

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…

Waiting for the Stars

The bristlecone pines are among the oldest living organisms on earth. Some of these trees pre-date the Roman Empire by 2000 years—and they look every year of their age. The more harsh a bristlecone’s environment, the longer it lives. As with the giant redwoods, it’s humbling to be among the bristlecone pines. What they lack in bulk they make up for in character, with…

Fresh Takes

I love the iconic captures as much as the next person—scenes like Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall in February, Upper Antelope Canyon’s famous light shaft, or McWay Fall’s tumble into the Pacific, are both gorgeous and a thrill to photograph. But standing elbow-to-elbow with hundreds (or thousands!) of photographers, each recording virtually identical images that are already duplicates of thousands of prior images, while nice, doesn’t necessarily stimulate my…

It’s the People

The ability to earn my living visiting the most beautiful places in the world is plenty of reason for gratitude, but that’s not what I’m thinking about today. Today I’m thinking about all of the people my workshops have connected me with, and all the laughter and learning they have added to my life. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward…

Taking Yosemite for Granite (sorry)

Yosemite, like most of the Sierra Nevada, was carved from an intrusive igneous rock (subterranean magma that cooled without reaching the surface). This subterranean magma cooled slowly enough for its primary constituents, quartz and feldspar, plus mica and other minerals, to form crystals that fuse into an extremely hard matrix: granite. The granite waited patiently in the dark while overhead oceans advanced and receded,…

That Didn’t Suck

One evening in New Zealand I get to a lot of locations and see so many spectacular sights that they sometimes run together. But every once in a while I experience a shoot I know I’ll never forget. One of (many) highlights of the New Zealand workshop is the hike to Tasman Lake in Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park. The reward for this…

New Zealand on Ice

One summer when I was a kid my family took a camping vacation to the Canadian Rockies. Bits and pieces of that trip return to me as vague memories, but one memory permanently etched in my brain is the color of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. My dad, a very passionate amateur photographer, was frothing with excitement and must have gone through half his…