If you’re following the rules, you’re not being creative

What do you think would happen if I submitted this image a camera club photo competition? It might elicit a few oohs and ahhs at first, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be long before somebody dismisses it because the primary subject is centered. And while “never center your subject” is standard camera-club advice for a beginner who automatically bullseyes every subject, reflexively reciting “Rules*” is…

Night and Day

October 2013 It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s early—so early that some would still consider it late. But you drag yourself out of bed anyway, for the promise of something most people never experience. And experience is the operative word here, because it’s much more than just the view. Or the photography. It’s the opportunity to witness the transition from night to day, to bask…

Uhhh, I can explain…

October 4, 2013 On my just completed Eastern Sierra workshop, the fact that I was in possession of three (THREE!) iPhones was a frequent source of amusement (dismay?) to my group. I thought I did a pretty good job justifying (rationalizing?) my obsession, only to return to read my daughter’s recent blog rekindling my defensive instincts (as an extremely proud but unbiased dad, I hope you take…

Favorite: Sunrise Mirror

This is the second installment in my semi-regular “Favorites” series *   *   * Some things you just can’t plan. But if you have experienced the disappointment that comes when preparation, sacrifice, and extreme discomfort end in complete failure, yet have still gone back out the next time and the next time and the next time, Mother Nature will sometimes reward you with…

Roads less traveled

Sometimes our best opportunities arise when circumstances nudge us off our charted course. One day earlier… The morning before capturing this sunrise I’d been one of hundreds of photographers shoulder-to-shoulder on the beach at Mono Lake’s South Tufa. Competing with the thousands of photographers who flock to the Eastern Sierra to photograph the golden aspen each October, my brother and I were the first…

Dark and early

*    *    *    * The key to successful sunrise photography is arriving early. How early? My rule of thumb is, if you can navigate without a flashlight, you’re too late. I know, I know, you’re sleepy and it’s cold, but it shouldn’t take more than one or two mad sprints beneath crimson skies to get you to pull back those covers…

Sunsets are red because the sky is blue

A sunset myth If your goal is a colorful sunset/sunrise and you have to choose between pristine or polluted air, which would you choose? If you said clean air, you’re in the minority. You’re also right. But despite some pretty obvious evidence to the contrary, it seems that the myth that a colorful sunset requires lots of particles in the air persists. If particles in…

Photographers are stupid (and I have proof)

When I was nine or ten my dad took me to the top of a towering granite dome in Yosemite and asked me to hold his umbrella while he tried to photograph lightning. My dad was not a stupid man, nor was he an unloving or irresponsible father. But it was the first example in my life of how the behavior of an otherwise rational…

Goosebump moments

On consecutive nights last week I had the good fortune to witness two memorable non-photographic events: Last Wednesday I watched on TV as Matt Cain pitched Major League Baseball’s twenty-second Perfect Game (and the Giants’ first ever); on Thursday night my wife and I went to see the touring Broadway production of “Wicked.” Both events were amazing, but only one moved me to tears….

Shoot the moon

Moonlight photography is both simple and rewarding. In my “Shoot the Moon” article that appeared in the April 2010 Outdoor Photographer magazine, I shared my exposure recipe and a few tips to ensure moonlight success. This post summarizes the moonlight material from that article. Equipment for moonlight photography At the very least you need a tripod sturdy enough to support your camera. And while…