Paradise Found (Again)

On Friday morning I said goodbye to Hawaii until next year. Leaving Hawaii, I always make sure to reserve a seat on the left side of the plane so I can plaster my eyes to the glass on takeoff for a farewell look as we parallel the shoreline. There’s Onomea Bay and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Akaka Fall, Umauma Falls, Laupahoehoe Point…. It’s…

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…

Watch Out For That Tree

I’m incredibly blessed to make my living guiding enthusiastic photographers to many of our planet’s most beautiful locations. While this makes my life far too rich for complaint, let me say (without complaining) that a particular challenge imposed by frequent return visits to the same locations is finding unique ways to photograph them. My usual go-to approach at these familiar locations is to play with…

Unexpected Rewards

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 exhausted half his film…

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…

Big Moon Rising

It doesn’t take much time with my images to figure out that I love photographing the moon. Large or small, full or crescent, it doesn’t really matter. Almost every one of my moon images is the product of plotting the time of its arrival (or departure), then making sure I’m there to photograph it. Using astronomical tables and topo map software, I’ve been doing…

I Can Relate (You Can Too)

Our lives revolve around relationships: romance, family, friends, work, pets…. Even that clown who cut you off on the freeway, for a few brief (I hope) seconds, might just be the most powerful influence in your life. Like most words in the English language, “relationship” can mean more than one thing. On the macro scale are the specific personal connections that matter to us—not…