The dark night

How to offend a photographer Gallery browser: “Did you take that picture?” Photographer: “Yes.” Gallery browser: “Wow, you must have a good camera.” Few things irritate a photographer more than the implication that it’s the equipment that makes the image, not the photographer. We work very hard honing our craft, have spent years refining our vision, and endure extreme discomfort to get the shot. So while the observer usually means…

Let’s all take a breath and step away from the ledge

National Forest Service commercial photography policy (it’s not as bad as you think) I’ve received a number of inquiries (some quite panicked) in the last few days asking my opinion about the “new” National Forest Service policy regarding commercial photography. I’ve actually read some media accounts that imply that simply whipping out your iPhone and snapping a mountain lake risks a $1,000 fine. After doing…

Nuts and bolts at the Grand Canyon

The bolts started around 1:15; the nuts showed up about ten minutes later. There were 14 of us. We were stationed on the outside viewing deck of the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim, tripods, cameras, and lightning triggers poised and ready for action. The “action” we were ready for was lightning, and more specifically, the opportunity to photograph it. The storm had started fairly benignly, poking…

The right stuff at the Grand Canyon

I’ve been to the mountaintop  Personal growth should be a lifelong journey. But as a longtime tripod evangelist, I considered many truths carved in stone. Granted, like everyone else, my tripod use (and selection) evolved through my formative photography years. On my path to (perceived) enlightenment, I made the same mistakes most photographers make, mistakes like settling for the tripod I could afford rather than tripod I needed, which…

Shocking truths about lightning

While working on an upcoming “Outdoor Photographer” magazine article on photographing lightning at the Grand Canyon, I’ve been revisiting the images from my August workshop with Don Smith. While I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface with the trip’s lighting images, it’s clear that at least half of my captures came on that amazing final morning, when we witness two hours of…

We have met the enemy and he is us…

It seemed like such a good idea at the time. The Grand Canyon North Rim, fall color, and maybe even a thunderstorm or two. What could possibly go wrong? Well, let me tell you…. I’ve wanted to do this trip in the fall since my first visit to the North Rim. On my visit in August I polled local experts for the best time…

A star is born

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of sunstars (a.k.a. starbursts). Cool as they are, sunstars have become ubiquitous to the point of cliché. So why do I shoot them? Because sometimes there’s little else you can do when the sun intrudes on the scene you came to photograph. In other words, they’re often more of a lemonade-from-lemons kind of thing. Despite their…

It’s more than a hole with red rocks

Still charged with energy from the Grand Canyon lightning/rainbow Three Strikes morning, I decided to change things up and visit some of the trip’s more intimate, albeit less spectacular, images, scenes that portray the underrated diversity of the Grand Canyon’s beauty. Despite a wealth of options, I knew immediately that I wanted to start with a wildflower discovery the second group made at East…

The reason I do this

August 2013 Nature photographers plan, and plan, and plan some more, but no amount of planning can overcome the fickle whims of Mother Nature. Few things are more disappointing than a long anticipated and perfectly executed shoot washed out by conditions beyond my control. But when all of nature’s variables click into place, the world becomes a happy place indeed. And when nature ups…

Too close for comfort

After wrapping up our first Grand Canyon Monsoon workshop, Don Smith and I stayed a couple of extra nights on the North Rim to check-out potential locations for the second workshop. Saturday morning Don and I left our cabin with every intention of scouting (I swear) some remote, west-facing vista points, but black clouds and rolling thunder in the east (which we already knew quite…