A Day in the Life

My eyes pop open at the very first piano note of Pat Metheny Group’s “Minuano.” It’s 4:10 a.m., precisely 30 minutes before I’d told my group we’d be taillights-up-the-road for the day’s sunrise shoot. No matter how soothing the day’s chosen wakeup tune, any wakeup time that starts with a “4:” is jarring. Since my rule is to be at the cars to load…

Beam Me Up

I won’t lie: The primary reason I go to the Grand Canyon in monsoon season—and for that matter, the primary reason most people sign up for my Grand Canyon monsoon workshops—is to photograph lightning. But as we all know, lightning is a fickle phenomenon, even during the Grand Canyon’s usually electric monsoon season. Because lightning is never guaranteed, I always do my very best…

Wait for it…

Landscape photographers have a couple of ways to make nice images. By far the most important is the ability to see the special but less obvious, then know how to compose and expose that special vision in ways that clarify and convey the previously unseen beauty. But sometimes we just need to know when to show up and where to point the camera, and…

Thank You, Dad

Last night I completed a 30-hour odyssey that started in Sacramento, included stops in San Francisco, Fiji, and Aukland, before finally reaching its merciful conclusion in Queenstown, New Zealand (one car, one taxi, one bus, three airplanes, and lots of airport walking throughout). So forgive me if I’m not in shape (or in the mood) for writing a new blog. Instead, in honor of Father’s…

It’s a Wide, Wonderful World

I used to consider my 16-35 lens ultra-wide (by many definitions, it is), and as such, all the focal width I needed—the difference between 12mm and 16mm didn’t seem enough to justify another lens. I photographed in blissful ignorance until 2015, when, on a spring morning in Yosemite, I borrowed a friend’s Canon 11-24 lens. With the help of my Metabones adapter, I mounted…

Tapping the Essence

Spend enough time viewing landscape images on Facebook and Instagram and it soon becomes clear that dramatic spectacle and saturated color generates the most fan attention. Fueled by this knowledge, photographers seeking online praise try to outdo the drama and color of prior images, both their own and others’, with every shoot. The unfortunate consequence is a photographic feedback loop where one ostentatious image…

Hidden Gem

Yesterday I wrapped up my eighth Grand Canyon raft trip. I had no idea on my first one in 2014 that I’d still be doing this trip 8 years later (with number nine already on the schedule), or that it would have such a profound effect on my life. But here I am. Most people’s perception of the Grand Canyon comes courtesy of expansive…

Breaking Murphy’s Law

Rain Curtain Lightning, Lipan Point, Grand Canyon Sony a7RIV Sony 24-105 G 1/8 second F/9 ISO 160 Things go wrong. Or, as more succinctly attributed to 20th century aerospace engineer Edward Murphy, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” In my previous post I wrote about some of the physical hardships nature photographers endure while chasing their shots. This got me thinking about…

What Would Michael Scott Do?

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. — Wayne Gretzky” — Michael Scott  Rules are important. The glue of civilization. Bedtime, homework, and curfews constrained our childhood and taught us to self-police to the point where as adults we’re so conditioned that we honor rules simply because we’ve been told to. (Who among us doesn’t always wait for the signal to change, even…

2021 Highlights: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Last week I shared a brief summary of the year just passed; this week I offer the fruits of all that labor. Leading photo workshops for a living, I spend a lot of time in places I’ve visited many times, but it seems each spot feels more a part of me with each visit. This year in particular, I sought opportunities to add the Milky…