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’…

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…

It’s not a click, it’s a process

A landscape image isn’t just a click, it’s a process that starts with an idea, a plan for the best way to organize and emphasize the scene’s significant elements, then improves with each subsequent click until the photographer is satisfied. The first click is like a writer’s draft, and subsequent clicks are the revisions. After each click, a photographer should stand back and evaluate the image on the LCD…

Beneath the stars

October 2012 I lead photo workshops in lots of beautiful, exotic places, but I particularly look forward to the Eastern Sierra workshop for the variety we get to photograph. Mt. Whitney and the Alabama Hills, Mono Lake and Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, lots of fall color in the mountains west of Bishop and Lone Pine, and the ancient bristlecones in the White Mountains, east of Bishop. It’s…

From one extreme to another

* * * * In my previous post I wrote about California’s extremes. I used Badwater in Death Valley to illustrate, but of course there are many more examples. Case in point: the bristlecone pines of the White Mountains, just east of Bishop, across the Owens Valley from the Sierra Nevada. The more heralded, heavily traveled Sierra gets most of the rain and snow…

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…

The “Oooh” and “Ahhh” of photography

It’s a getaway weekend and you’re browsing a quiet photo gallery near the wharf. The photography is nice, but soon Vivaldi’s gentle strings mingling with the aroma of warm banana bread command most of your attention. Your brain starts bouncing between Thai or Italian for dinner, and you wonder whether you remembered to close the garage door—maybe your brother-in-law can swing by the house…

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….