Photograph the Eastern Sierra

This is an edited and updated version of my Eastern Sierra article that appeared in the September 2016 edition of “Outdoor Photographer” magazine Eastern Sierra Skirting the east side of  the Sierra Nevada, US 395 enchants travelers with ever-changing views of California’s granite backbone. Unlike anything on the Sierra’s gently sloped west side, Highway 395 parallels the range’s precipitous east flank in the shadow…

How a polarizer works

Some people couldn’t care less how a polarizer works—they’re satisfied knowing what a polarizer does, and how to make it happen. But if you’re like me, you also need to understand why things behave the way they do. Put simply… A polarizer eliminates reflections. On the surface that not might seem so desirable for someone who likes photographing reflections as much as I do, but reflections…

Dressed for chill

A regrettable reality of my life is that the best conditions for photography are usually the absolute worst conditions to be outside. Fortunately, I’ve been hardened by decades of San Francisco Giants games at Candlestick Park, the coldest place on Earth. As a photographer, I continue to embrace my mantra for warmth at the ‘Stick: Too much is always better than not enough. For me it’s all about…

Photographic matchmaking

While everyone loves a pretty scene, I’m afraid our aesthetic sense has been numbed by the continuous assault of “stunning” images online. A picture grabs our eyes on Instagram or Facebook and we reflexively click Like and move on to the next (similarly) stunning image. The photography equivalent of pop music, formula fiction, or (most) network television, these images exit our conscious about as fast as they entered because they fail to make…

Fall color explained

Like most photographers in the Northern Hemisphere, my fall color season is about finished. But things are just ramping up along the streets near my home in California’s Central Valley (where winter doesn’t really begin until December, and spring’s first blooms start to pop up at the end of January—sorry). While there’s not a lot for me to photograph in my neighborhood, the opportunity to partake of the visual feast…

Yosemite Autumn Reflection

Tomorrow I start the final workshop in the busiest workshop season I’ve ever had—since mid-August I’ve led 8 of my own workshops, and assisted Don Smith with 2 of his, in four states from Hawaii to Utah. I’ve photographed lots of great stuff, and met many fantastic people, but I’m looking forward to a few consecutive days in my own bed, and an opportunity to share more new images…

Happy Nature Photography Day!

Today is Nature Photography Day. Of course every day is Nature Photography Day in my world, but if designating a day to remind everyone the joys of photographing nature helps drive people outdoors with their cameras, I’m all for it. Nature photography can be enjoyed in many forms. For some it’s simply the passive act of viewing images that inspire vicarious travel or that rekindle happy memories; for others nature…

Doing the math

A few days ago Sony asked me to write a couple of small pieces on “my favorite landscape lenses.” Hmmm. My answer? My favorite lens is the lens that allows me to do what I need to do at that moment. In fact, to avoid biasing my creativity, I consciously avoid approaching a scene with a preconceived notion of the lens to use. What…

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…

Snow day

From my front door I can be in Yosemite Valley in less than four hours (including a stop for gas and another for Starbucks). I enjoy the drive and am not averse to doing a one day up-and-back when I think something special is in store. And nothing is more special than a chance to photograph Yosemite with fresh snow. My most recent Yosemite…