Photograph the Eastern Sierra

This is an edited and updated version of my Eastern Sierra article that appeared in the September 2016 edition of “Outdoor Photographer” magazine Eastern Sierra Skirting the east side of  the Sierra Nevada, US 395 enchants travelers with ever-changing views of California’s granite backbone. Unlike anything on the Sierra’s gently sloped west side, Highway 395 parallels the range’s precipitous east flank in the shadow…

How a polarizer works

Some people couldn’t care less how a polarizer works—they’re satisfied knowing what a polarizer does, and how to make it happen. But if you’re like me, you also need to understand why things behave the way they do. Put simply… A polarizer eliminates reflections. On the surface that not might seem so desirable for someone who likes photographing reflections as much as I do, but reflections…

Moving the eye

With virtually every still camera now equipped with video capability, the last few years have seen an explosion of nature videos. When done well, videos of nature can be quite effective, conveying motion and engaging both eyes and ears to reveal the world in a manner that’s closer to the human experience than a still image is. But like other sensory media whose demise has been anticipated by the arrival of…

Photograph the Milky Way: Part One

See the Milky Way Look heavenward on a moonless summer night far from city light. The first thing to strike you is the shear volume of stars, but as your eyes adjust, your gaze is drawn to a luminous band spanning the sky. Ranging from magnificently brilliant to barely visible, this is the Milky Way, home to our Sun and nearly a half trillion other stars of varying size, age, and temperature. Size and…

Aspen abstract

I recently started rereading Ansel Adams’ “Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs,” a book I’d recommend to anyone interested in the thinking side of photography. Though much of the book covers equipment and techniques that are irrelevant to today’s digital photographer, Adams’ words reveal a vision and mastery of craft that transcends technology. Like him or not (I do!), you can’t deny that Ansel Adams possessed an…

The Range of Light

“… the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city…. Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light.” — John Muir Anyone who has spent time in or…

Happy Nature Photography Day!

Today is Nature Photography Day. Of course every day is Nature Photography Day in my world, but if designating a day to remind everyone the joys of photographing nature helps drive people outdoors with their cameras, I’m all for it. Nature photography can be enjoyed in many forms. For some it’s simply the passive act of viewing images that inspire vicarious travel or that rekindle happy memories; for others nature…

Beware the “expert”

Rules are important. The glue of civilization. And after a childhood constrained by bedtimes, homework, and curfews, it’s no wonder that as adults we honor rules simply because, well, simply because. (I mean, who doesn’t wait for however long it takes and with no car or cop in sight, for a light to change?) As much as civil society relies on universal obedience, not all “rules” are created equal. And…

Don’t settle for the trophy shot

Trophy shot: A beautifully executed capture of a frequently photographed scene. In Monday’s post I wrote about relationships in nature. They really are everywhere, these juxtapositions of landscape, light, and sky that we photograph by virtue of our timing, position, and creative vision. In their pursuit, photographers label photo spots a “sunrise location” or “sunset location,” research the best time to photograph pretty much every popular landmark, plot the when and where of the moonrise, and…,…

Getting ahead of the shot

I hate arriving at a photo destination for the first time and having to immediately hit the ground running. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the value of advance knowledge of landscape and light, and always try to factor in ample scouting time before getting down to serious shooting. On the other hand, a prime reason people sign up for a photo workshop is to shortcut the…