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’…

Alpenglow: Nature’s paintbrush

The foreground for Mt. Whitney is the rugged Alabama Hills, a disorganized jumble of  rounded granite boulders, familiar to many as the setting for hundreds of movies, TV shows, and commercials. These weathered rocks make wonderful subjects without the looming east face of the southern Sierra. What makes this scene particularly special is the fortuitous convergence of topography and light that rewards early risers with a skyline…

Keeping it simple

Last week I guided my Eastern Sierra workshop group into the Alabama Hills to photograph the Sierra crest at sunset. We stayed until the sky darkened enough to reveal a sliver of moon low in the west, just about to vanish behind Lone Pine Peak. While my eyes easily pulled detail from the shadows of the distant mountains and nearby boulders, and simultaneously registered the…

Familiarity breeds content

Content (con-tent‘): A state of peaceful happiness…. I’ve photographed Mt. Whitney from the Alabama Hills in sunlight and moonlight, in scorching heat and drifting snow. Sharing favorite spots here with a workshop group is as rewarding as a solitary night under the stars. I’ve never photographed in the Alabama Hills without feeling better afterward than I did when I started. These feelings aren’t unique to the…