Reckless at Bandon

  January In January Don Smith and I flew to Oregon to get eyes on the damage caused by the Eagle Creek fire in advance of our (now just completed) annual Columbia River Gorge photo workshops. Not knowing what we’d find there, we allowed lots of time to scout new locations to replace the ones we lost. Fortunately the fire damage, while tragic and…

Mirrorless Metering

Because I don’t want my camera making any decisions for me, I’ve always metered in manual mode. For most of my photography life, my manual metering approach was to start with the best f-stop for my composition, spot-meter on the brightest part of the scene, and dial my shutter speed until the meter indicated the proper tone. In my film days I sometimes hedged…

It’s All a Blur: Photographing Moving Water

One of the questions I’m asked most is how to blur water. It’s really not that hard when you know how to control your exposure variables, and in fact if you’re photographing moving water in the right light, it’s easier to blur the water than it is to freeze it. Here are the essential elements for blurred water: Sturdy tripod: The longer the shutter is…

Putting the Gorge in Gorgeous

I recently spent some time going through and processing a bunch of Columbia River Gorge images, from many years of visits, I haven’t had time to get to until now. This is the first of several I’ll be posting over the coming weeks. The first time I visited the Columbia River Gorge, I couldn’t believe I’d lived my entire life without visiting here. For…

The cat’s out of the bag…

For about three weeks I’ve had to bite my tongue about two new Sony lenses I got to try out a few weeks ago. But yesterday Sony announced their brand new 16-35 f2.8 GM and 12-24 f4 G lenses and I’m free to share. I spent most of this week just outside of Santa Barbara, California with a hundred or so Sony Artisan and Creative Collective photographers at Sony’s…

The limitations of human vision

Visual “Truth” is more relative than real “Is that the way it really looked?” What photographer hasn’t heard that question by skeptical viewers? For years I used to feel slightly defensive when answering, as if my honesty was in question. Now I simply try to educate the skeptic. Without getting too philosophical, it’s important to understand that, like the camera’s, the human view of the universe is both…

Secret locations (and why they should stay that way)

As a professional photographer with a pretty large social media following, I get a lot of questions from complete strangers. What camera (or lens, or tripod, or whatever) should I buy? What were your settings for this picture? Did you use a filter? What’s the best time to photograph such-and-such a location? Because I don’t believe there should be secrets in photography, I do my best to answer…

Playing the hand you’re dealt

In family Hearts games when I was a kid, I loved to “shoot the moon” (tremendous reward for success, extreme cost for failure). But simply wanting to shoot the moon wasn’t enough to make it happen, and I didn’t really start winning until I learned to separate my desires from the reality of the moment—I know now to evaluate my cards when they’re dealt, set a strategy, then…

A sunny day solution

For wildflower photography I prefer the diffuse light and soft shadows of a cloudy day, but when Mother Nature delivers clear skies and harsh sunlight, I look for backlight opportunities. Backlit flowers and leaves glow like they’ve been plugged in, and their brilliance allows faster shutter speeds that will compensate for a small aperture and quell a flower-waving breeze. A frustrating downside of backlight is that the sun is more or less in the…

Seven reasons photographers love rain

The difference between a photographer and a tourist is easily distinguished by his or her response to rain: When the rain starts, the photographer grabs a camera and bolts outside, while the tourist packs up and races for shelter. Seven reasons photographers love rain Smooth, (virtually) shadowless light that eliminates the extreme contrast cameras struggle to handle, and enhances color saturation Clouds are vastly more interesting than blue…