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…

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…

Fallen color

When you’re surrounded by beautiful scenery, it’s easy to overlook the small details that make a scene special. But there’s no substitute for the pleasure that comes from spending a little time in a scene, identifying its intricacies, and creating an image that conveys this connection to others. Capturing these intricacies can be the most rewarding aspect of photography, because they’re almost always uniquely reflective your…

The shot less taken

I’ve never been much of a New Year’s resolution person, but the start of a new year is an opportunity to take stock and regroup. This year I’ve been thinking about the proliferation of derivative images online and in magazines, images that are, no matter how beautiful, simply reproductions of thousands of previous image. Photographers see something they like and go out try to get it themselves. I understand the…

Letting motion work for you

Of the many differences between our world and our camera’s world, few are more significant than motion. Image stabilization or (better yet) a tripod will reduce or eliminate or photographer-induced motion, but we often make compromises to stop motion in our scene, sacrificing depth of field or introducing noise to shorten the shutter speed enough to freeze the scene. But what’s wrong with letting the motion work for you? While it’s impossible to duplicate…

Seeing in the dark

One of the great joys of the digital photography is the ease with which our cameras reveal the world after dark. Scenes that are merely shadow and shape to the human eye are recorded with unseen color and detail by a digital sensor, and stars too faint to compete with moonlight shine brightly. After a lifetime of refusing to sap my enjoyment of the night sky by attempting to photograph it…

Yosemite Valley: Worth getting up for

Yosemite isn’t an inherently great sunrise location. Because most of the views in Yosemite Valley face east, not only are you looking up from the bottom of a bowl, you’re composing toward the brightest part of the sky, at the shady side of your primary subjects (Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls). This is one reason I time my workshops to include one more sunset than sunrise….

If at first you don’t succeed…

In early November of 2007 I took a picture that didn’t quite work out. That’s not so unusual, but somehow this one stuck with me, and I’ve spent seven years trying to recreate the moment I missed that night. On that evening seven years ago, the sun was down and the scene I’d been working for nearly an hour, autumn leaves clinging to a log in the Merced River,…

Seven reasons photographers love rain

The difference between a photographer and a tourist is easily distinguished by his or her response to rain: When the rain starts, the photographer grabs a camera and bolts outside, while the tourist packs up and races for shelter. Seven reasons photographers love rain Smooth, (virtually) shadowless light that eliminates the extreme contrast cameras struggle to handle, and enhances color saturation Clouds are vastly more interesting than blue…

A simple how and when of fall color

  Few things get a photographer’s heart racing more than the vivid yellows, oranges, and reds of autumn. And the excitement isn’t limited to photographers—to appreciate that reality, just try navigating New England backroads on a Sunday afternoon in October. Innkeeper logic But despite all the attention, the annual autumn extravaganza is fraught mystery and misconception. Showing up at at the spot that guy in your camera club told you was peaking…