Assembly Required

Some images are so obvious that all you need to do is frame the scene and click; others require a little assembly. For example There was a lot going on visually in this January sunrise at Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley—some of it good, some of it not so good. The not-so-good was the sky, which was clear and infinitely blue—great for being…

Good Times at Badwater

When I decided to make my living as a photographer, about 15 years ago, I promised myself that I would photograph only what I want to photograph. That’s one reason, and perhaps the prime reason, I built my business around photo workshops rather than image sales. Because not only do photo workshops align with some of my personal strengths, they allow me to select…

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…

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…

Dynamic Juxtaposition

Much of my photography is about juxtaposition of elements with the landscape. Sometimes that’s simply combining static terrestrial features, but when possible I try to add something more dynamic, such as meteorological subjects like lightning or a rainbow, or celestial objects like the Milky Way or the Moon. The challenge with dynamic juxtapositions is timing—while the meteorological juxtapositions are usually a matter of playing…

Watch your back

Every once in a while we find ourselves at just the right place when Mother Nature delivers something special. When that happens, the best thing to do is stay calm and keep your head on a swivel. In January my Death Valley workshop group had one of those moments. We’d walked almost a mile to get out to dunes that hadn’t been trampled, then waited while…

Tips to improve your full moon photography

Have you ever seen a glowing full moon suspended above a beautiful landscape and been moved enough to grab your camera? And how many times have those pictures actually matched your memory of the moment? Not too many, I’d guess. Either your landscape was completely black, or (more likely) the moon was an ugly white blob. You’ve just experienced an example of the human eye’s vastly superior dynamic range—while…

Improve your relationships

Following a nice sunrise on the dunes, my workshop group had started the undulating trek back to the cars. While we hadn’t gotten a lot of color that morning, we’d been blessed with virgin sand beneath a translucent layer of clouds. Quite content with the soft, low contrast light for most of the morning, right toward the end the sun snuck through to deliver high contrast, light-skimming drama that provided about five minutes of…

Sandstorm

*    *    *    * Read my February 9 blog for more about this amazing evening on the dunes. ____________________ For nearly an hour my workshop group played in relative peace on the dunes, but about fifteen minutes before sunset the clouds dropped and our window of calm slammed shut. Just like that sand was everywhere, invading every camera, clothing, and exposed body…

Pure as the driven sand

February 2013 Sand dunes’ graceful curves and intricate textures move and intrigue the eye, and few things better convey nature’s purity than a windswept dune. Ironically, it’s the dunes’ aesthetic magnetism that hastens their demise as photographic subjects—their fragile sand, so easily sculpted by Mother Nature’s fickle winds, is hopelessly marred by any contact with the humans drawn by their beauty. While Death Valley…