In Defense of the Tripod

This is another 6-year-old brand new image, just excavated from the depths of my 2014 folder Photography without compromise If you think the main reason to use a tripod is to avoid camera-shake, you’re mistaken. In this day of phenomenal high ISO performance and stabilized bodies and lenses, acceptable hand-held sharpness is possible in the vast majority of images. But here’s a reality that’s tough to…

Out of this World

On a quiet spring morning you step from the car and are greeted by electric-pink rhododendrons basking in splashes of early sunlight. Your arms prickle at the morning chill, but you wisely decide to leave the sweater behind, closing the door as softly as possible to preserve the peace. At a mostly overgrown gap in the foliage, you part the branches and step onto…

Moonlight Magic

Rainbows demystified A rainbow forms when sunlight strikes airborne water droplets and is separated into its component spectral colors by characteristics of the water. The separated light is reflected back to our eyes when it strikes the backside of the droplets: Voila—a rainbow! There’s nothing random about a rainbow—despite their seemingly random advent and location in the sky, rainbows follow very specific rules of nature. Draw an imaginary line from…

A Lot Like Fishing—Until It’s Not

Photographing lightning is about 95 percent arms folded, toe-tapping, just-plain-standing-around-scanning-the-horizon—interspersed with random bursts of pandemonium. Usually, after all that waiting waiting around, with the first bolt usually comes the realization that you anticipated wrong and either, 1) the lightning is way over there; or 2) the lightning is right here (!). What generally ensues is a Keystone Cops frenzy of camera bag flinging, tire…

Garbage in, garbage out

True story: I once saw a guy taking 10-second exposures of the moonbow at the base of Yosemite Falls, hand-held. When I gently suggested that his image might be a little soft, he assured me that he would just sharpen it in Photoshop. I won’t deny that digital capture and processing has given photographers more flexibility and control than ever, and processing can indeed correct…

2019 Highlights: Social Distancing Edition

What have you been doing with your spring “vacation.” Sequestered here in the Gary Hart Photography World Headquarters, I’ve been spending a lot of time going through my 2019 images and have already uncovered a half dozen or so that qualify for my 2019 Highlights post. It’s a welcome relief from coronavirus news and the stress of rescheduling workshops. As I work, I’m starting…

To Polarize, or Not to Polarize

One of my most frequently asked questions during a workshop shoot is, “Should I use my polarizer here?” Of course that’s an impossible question to answer absolutely because as a creative choice, the polarizer decision is rarely absolute. While many people believe the sole purpose of a polarizer is to make the sky darker (deeper blue), blue sky is just a byproduct of the…

Near and Far: Thinking in Three Dimensions

Photography is the futile attempt to render a three dimensional world in a two dimensional medium. It’s “futile” because including actual depth in a photograph is literally impossible—but impossible doesn’t mean hopeless. One of the simplest things photographers can do to elevate their images is to think about their scene in three dimensions, specifically how to create the illusion of depth by composing elements at…

Horsetail Fall: Let the Mayhem Begin

Later this week I hope to have a new blog post featuring something from the fantastic Death Valley Winter Moon workshop that just wrapped up yesterday. In the meantime, with Horsetail Fall season just a month away, I’ve dusted off and polished my Horsetail Fall photo tips article.  For eleven-plus months each year, Horsetail Fall may just be Yosemite’s most anonymous waterfall. Usually dry or…

Another Decade in the Mirror

The change of a decade is the perfect time to reflect and marvel at the changes. So here goes… Y2K Who remembers Y2K, when computers were going to meltdown and airliners were doomed to fall from the sky? At the time I was an enthusiastic amateur photographer with a solid career in technical communications (tech writing, training, and support) for tech companies small and…