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…

Dawn’s Early Light

Imagine a world that’s so quiet you can hear nature’s every stirring, a place where each breath holds a pristine bouquet of subtle fragrances and the sky is a continuously shifting kaleidoscope of indigo, blue, yellow, orange, and pink. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m describing the very world we live in, before the sun’s light and warmth draw out the dirty, noisy, oblivious masses. The magic begins long…

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…

There’s A Draft In Here

True story: I once had a workshop participant who put her Nikon D4 in continuous mode, metered, then pressed the shutter and sprayed in a 180 degree arc until the buffer filled. When I asked her what she was doing, she shrugged and said, “It’s Yosemite—there’s sure to be something good in there.” While I couldn’t really disagree with her, I’m guessing she wasn’t seeing…

Go Big or Go Home

Like a teenager with his first car, I was itching to take my brand new Sony 200-600 for a spin. But since I don’t photograph wildlife, my ultra-telephoto lenses are used mostly for the moon, and occasionally close-focus stuff like fall color and wildflowers. And as much as I wanted to try it on the moon, I thought the fall color in my Eastern…

Waiting for the Stars

The bristlecone pines are among the oldest living organisms on earth. Some of these trees pre-date the Roman Empire by 2000 years—and they look every year of their age. The more harsh a bristlecone’s environment, the longer it lives. As with the giant redwoods, it’s humbling to be among the bristlecone pines. What they lack in bulk they make up for in character, with…

Extracting the Essence

Read about the travails leading up to this shoot in my previous post. But enough about that…. I’m afraid that when faced with a beautiful scene, photographers (myself included) sometimes settle for the obvious shot and leave more subtle opportunities on the table. But the most creative photography (though not necessarily the most popular) comes from looking beyond the obvious to find the scene’s…

I Just Love Happy Endings

By the time I made it to North Lake for sunrise, I’d already had a trying morning. After some frustrations with the cars, my Eastern Sierra workshop group had gotten on the road about five minutes later than I’d planned. Fortunately I always schedule a little wiggle room, so we were on track, but still…. Then, just a couple of miles before the turn-off…

Getting centered

What do you think would happen if I submitted this image a camera club photo competition? The sunstar and golden glow might elicit a few oohs and ahhs at first, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be long before the resident Rule enforcer dismisses it because the horizon and sunstar are centered. And while “never center your subject” is great advice for a beginner who…

A Fall Color Primer

Autumn has arrived, my favorite season for creative photography. To kick off the festivities, I’m sharing an updated version of a post I wrote a few years ago explaining the often misunderstood process responsible for it all. 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,…