Near and Far, Now and Then

Glow, Milky Way Above Kilauea, Hawaii Sony a7SIII Sony 14mm f/1.8 GM ISO 6400 f/1.8 15 seconds So what’s happening here? (I thought you’d never ask.) The orange glow at the bottom of this frame is light from 1,800° F lava bubbling in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater atop Hawaii’s Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. It’s also a beautiful example of the final act of our planet’s auto-recycling process….

Paradise Found (Again)

On Friday morning I said goodbye to Hawaii until next year. Leaving Hawaii, I always make sure to reserve a seat on the left side of the plane so I can plaster my eyes to the glass on takeoff for a farewell look as we parallel the shoreline. There’s Onomea Bay and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Akaka Fall, Umauma Falls, Laupahoehoe Point…. It’s…

Confessions of a Happy Photographer

More than anything else, photography needs to make you happy. When photography was my hobby, that wasn’t really a problem—I photographed what I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted, with no pressure to please anyone else. Pretty nice. But, as I mulled turning photography into my livelihood (nearly 20 years ago!), I couldn’t help thinking about the photographers who had become unhappy after…

Return to Paradise

I’m still working my way through my Grand Canyon images, but because life goes on, I “had to” spend the last week leading a workshop on my favorite Hawaiian island, Hawaii. (It’s a tough job, but…) Until last year, I’ve spent a week each year since 2010 on Hawaii’s Big Island. And while I’d love to blame COVID for the missed year, it just so…

The Motion of the Ocean

Silky water images take a lot of flak for being overused and unnatural. Sure, long exposures that blur a rushing creek into a white stripe, or smooth crashing surf into to a gauzy haze, can be trite (no judgement—these effects can also be beautiful). But the argument that motion blur in a water image is always invalid because it’s not “natural” just doesn’t hold…

The Sky’s the Limit

I sometimes rail against camera clubs for their rule-bound creative constipation (yes, I know there are exceptions). On Hawaii in September I was reminded that I’m not immune to the same malady. Because Nature doesn’t have a monopoly on beauty, earlier in my photographic life I was somewhat less discriminating with my choice of subjects, photographing anything outdoors that I found beautiful. Many of…

Making Mountains

A couple of years ago I was blessed to witness one of our planet’s most spectacular phenomena: an erupting volcano. Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island has been in near constant eruption for centuries (millennia?), slowly elevating Hawaii’s slopes and expanding its shoreline with lava that cools and hardens to form the newest rock on Earth. This island building process has been ongoing for the…

Compromise less, smile more

Night photography always requires some level of compromise: extra equipment, ISOs a little too noisy, shutter speeds a little too long, f-stops a little too soft. For years the quality threshold beyond which I wouldn’t cross came far too early and I’d often find myself having to decide between an image that was too dark and noisy, or simply not shooting at all. Because…

You had me at Hilo

I’m writing from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where it’s 37 degrees and trying to snow. It’s hard to believe that in the two weeks that ended last Friday I was enjoying the sun and surf of Hawaii in flip-flops and shorts. Trying to hold on to paradise as long as possible, I’m sharing (a slightly modified version of) my article in the current Really Right Stuff…

Rules are a crutch

Aloha from Hawaii! Let’s have a show of hands: Who feels like their photography has stagnated? Let me suggest to all with your hands up that what’s holding you back may be the very rules that helped elevate you to your current level of proficiency. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that rules are important, the glue of civilization. Bedtimes, homework, and curfews got…