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…

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…

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…,…

Mirrorless and my telephoto renaissance

Going smaller Like most people, my original expectation for my nascent mirrorless world was a significantly lighter backpack, and indeed, I haven’t been disappointed. In my Canon days my primary pack was an F-Stop Tilopa with a medium ICU (F-Stop’s interchangeable internal module for storing and organizing gear), which held my 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35 f/2.8, 24-105 f/4, and 70-200 L lenses, plus a Zeiss 28 f/2…

Returning to the scene of the crime

Clueless. That’s one word that would describe my state the first time I attempted moonlight photography. It was about eight years ago, right here in the Alabama Hills. Though exposure and focus were more guesses than decisions, I ended up with a lucky shot of the Big Dipper suspended above moonlit granite boulders and an obsession was born. The other thing I remember about…

The cure for blue skies

A good landscape image usually involves, well…, a good landscape. But that’s only half the equation—photographers also need photogenic conditions—soft light, interesting skies, dramatic weather, or anything else that elevates the scene to something special. While we have absolute control over the time and location of our photo outings, the conditions have a significant random (luck) component. Despite being less than a day’s drive…

Favorite: The Big Dipper

I’ve decided to turn my new Favorites gallery into an irregular series on each of the images there. *   *   *   * This image of the Big Dipper above moonlit granite boulders in the Alabama Hills will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first moonlight “success.” I was still coming to terms with the low…

Later that same morning…

It’s fun to browse the thumbnails from a shoot in chronological order to see the evolution of that day’s process. While can’t always remember specific choices, it’s always clear from the progression of my images that I was indeed quite conscious of what I was doing. I can look at one thumbnail and usually predict what the next will be. This January morning in…

The secret world before the sun

Compared to the human eye, the camera’s vision has many shortcomings (as photographers are quick to lament). At the top of photographers’ list is the very narrow gap separating the brightest and darkest tones a camera can capture: dynamic range. But while the camera taketh away, it also giveth. Experienced photographers understand that what we perceive as complete darkness is really just our eyes’…