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…

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…

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…

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…

Where did you get those shoes?: Storytelling for landscape photographers

Let’s have a show of hands: How many of you have been advised at some point in the course of your photographic journey to “tell a story with your images”? Okay, now how many of you actually have a clue as to what that actually means? That’s what I thought. Many photographers, with the best of intentions, parrot the “tell a story” advice simply…

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…

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…