Monsoon Madness

Every August for the last seven years, good friend and fellow pro photographer Don Smith and I have done a Grand Canyon Monsoon photo workshop where we attempt to, among many other things, photograph lightning. I say “many other things” because Grand Canyon doesn’t need lightning to be spectacular. And even without lightning, the monsoon storms that build above the canyon most afternoons add…

Grand Canyon After Dark

On an impossibly balmy summer evening, this year’s first Grand Canyon Monsoon workshop group waited at Cape Royal (with more hope than optimism) for the Milky Way. We’d just photographed a beautiful sunset, courtesy of light from the setting sun that breached the nearly total cloud cover just enough for color to slip through. An essential part of our sunset success, those clouds were…

Thanking My Stars (and Moon, and Lightning, and Rainbows, and…)

So lately I’ve been thinking about the things I photograph and why I photograph them. Then the other day, after boarding a plane following my recent Grand Canyon monsoon trip, I squeezed into my seat and rummaged through my computer bag, loading the knee-jamming magazine holder on the seat-back in front of me with the two books I’m currently reading. One was “All About…

I Just Have To Share This

I don’t usually write a brand new blog in the middle of a workshop, but I have to share last night’s experience August 7, 2019 Scanning the southern horizon from the view deck of Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim, I saw no sign of lightning. Far to the south was a somewhat promising curtain of rain, maybe 30 miles beyond the South…

Chasing Rainbows

The annual Grand Canyon monsoon is known for its spectacular electrical storms, but let’s not forget the rainbows that often punctuate these storms. A rainbow requires rain, sunlight, and the right viewing angle—given the ephemeral nature of a monsoon thunderstorm, it’s usually safe to assume that the sun probably isn’t far behind. To experience a rainbow after a Grand Canyon monsoon storm, all it…

The Shocking Truth About Lightning

Every year for the last 10 (or so) years I’ve traveled to the Grand Canyon during the Southwest summer monsoon to photograph lightning. Not only have I captured hundreds of lightning strikes and lived to tell about it (yay), I’ve learned a lot. A couple of years ago I added an article sharing my insights on photographing lightning to my photo tips section. With…

Addition by Subraction

Sometimes making a good photo is as much about what you leave out as it is about what you put in. The downfall of many images, both mine and others’, is the inclusion of too much visual activity—sometimes that activity is simply unappealing visual busyness, but often it’s elements that are visually appealing in their own right, but nevertheless distract from the main point…

Stop Being So Negative!

Lightning (at a safe distance) is pretty cool. It has always fascinated me, partly for the ephemeral power that can explode a tree and disappear before my brain can register its existence, but also because lightning is a rare sight for these California eyes. What what exactly is going on in a lightning bolt? I thought you’d never ask…. The shocking truth about lightning…

Something’s Burning

Sun and Smoke, Bright Angel Point, Grand Canyon Sony a7RIII Sony 100-400 GM Sony 2x teleconverter ISO 200 f/11 1/50 second Tom Petty has a line that goes, “Most of the things I worry about, never happen anyway.” And one of the things I worry about most is, what if I schedule a workshop and the conditions are so lousy that no one gets any…

Should I or shouldn’t I?

I get a lot of questions in the field during a photo workshop, but about 80% of them are some version of, “Should I do it this way or that way?”: “Should I use a polarizer (or not)?” “Should I shoot this horizontal or vertical?” “Should I shoot this wide or telephoto?” “Should I include that rock or leave it out?” “Should I…?” Sometimes…