Feeding a growing photographer

Uniqueness When I started photographing nature, I couldn’t really identify (nor did I think about) what exactly it was that I wanted to show people—I just knew that I wanted to enjoy and record beautiful scenes. This was good enough for me, and the fact that thousands (millions?) of other photographers were capturing similar images, of similarly beautiful scenes, was no concern to me. But when I decided to make…

Visualize, pursue, execute, enjoy

  I probably worked harder capturing this image than any other image I’ve ever photographed. Worked hard not in terms of physical exertion, but rather in patient pursuit over several years and painstaking execution in difficult conditions. Photographed late last month in Yosemite, this image is something I’ve visualized and actively sought for years. While I have no illusion that this image will be as popular as some of my more conventional…

A camera’s reality

I knew the dogwood bloom in Yosemite had really kicked in this week (quite early), so when the forecast called for rain in Yosemite on Tuesday, I cleared my schedule and headed up there for the day. It turns out I only got an hour or so of rain and solid cloud cover before the sun came out and started making things difficult, but it was…

Going for bokeh

  In this day of ubiquitous cameras, automatic exposure, and free information, a creative photographer’s surest path to unique images is achieved by managing a scene’s depth. Anyone with a camera can compose the left/right/up/down aspect of a scene. But the front/back plane, a scene’s depth, that we human’s take for granted, is missing from a two-dimensional image. Managing depth requires abstract vision and camera control beyond the skill of most…

Customize your camera

A recent mishap forced me to replace my Canon 5D Mark III (a story for a different day). A quality backup and good equipment insurance made my accident no more than a minor inconvenience, but setting up my new camera this morning reminded me of a few camera settings I consider equal parts essential and obscure (or taken for granted). So essential that I…

My photography essentials, part 2

A couple of weeks ago the editors at “Outdoor Photographer” magazine asked me (and a few other pros) to contribute to an upcoming article on photography essentials, and it occurs to me that my blog readers might be interested to read my answers.Here’s my answer to the second of their three questions: What are your three most important non-photo pieces of gear that you rely…

A rite of spring

Today it’s gray and wet in Sacramento, a refreshing break from our ridiculously warm and dry winter (sorry, pretty-much-everywhere-else-in-the-U.S.). Usually by the end of February my thoughts have turned to spring, but this year I find myself feeling a cheated of winter (and wishing the rest of you would have shared). As miserable as it can be, I’ve always loved winter photography—not just snow…

It’s more than a hole with red rocks

Still charged with energy from the Grand Canyon lightning/rainbow Three Strikes morning, I decided to change things up and visit some of the trip’s more intimate, albeit less spectacular, images, scenes that portray the underrated diversity of the Grand Canyon’s beauty. Despite a wealth of options, I knew immediately that I wanted to start with a wildflower discovery the second group made at East…

A background check we can all agree on

*    *    *    * Distractions We photographers often concentrate our attention so closely on our primary subject that we’re oblivious to the subject’s surroundings, forgetting that everything in our frame potentially competes for attention with our subject. Eye-pulling distractions frequently skulk about the frame’s edges, but for most photographers a more insidious problems is the stuff lurking in the background. Regardless of…

It’s not a click, it’s a process

A landscape image isn’t just a click, it’s a process that starts with an idea, a plan for the best way to organize and emphasize the scene’s significant elements, then improves with each subsequent click until the photographer is satisfied. The first click is like a writer’s draft, and subsequent clicks are the revisions. After each click, a photographer should stand back and evaluate the image on the LCD…