Our first date: First impressions of my Sony a7R II

Just a quick note to share my excitement about my new Sony a7R II. I’ve only used it once, and didn’t really ask a lot of it, but what I’ve seen so far I like a lot. Love at first sight My Sony a7R II arrived Wednesday, but my schedule limited my use to staying home and familiarizing myself with menus and overall handling. If you’re familiar with…

The secret weapon for overcoming unsung landscapes

I travel a lot. A lot. Don’t get me wrong—I know I’m incredibly fortunate to see and photograph the things I do, but sometimes it’s nice to be home. Despite the world-class locations I get to visit, I don’t cease being a photographer just because I’m home. I spend a lot of time exploring and photographing the unsung landscapes near home, landscapes that few would cross borders…

The grass is greener

“You’re so lucky to live so close to <fill in the blank>”: Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, San Francisco, Muir Woods (and countless other coastal redwood sites), Point Reyes, the Napa Valley wine country, Mt. Shasta, Mono Lake. I hear it all the time. Okay, I’ll concede that—I’m lucky. But… Their implicit message is, “If only I lived closer to such-and-such, my photography would be so…

These are a few of my favorite things

Maria von Trapp had them, you have them, I have them. They’re the favorite places, moments, and subjects that provide comfort or coax a smile no matter what life has dealt. Not only do these “favorite things” improve our mood, they’re the muse that drives our best photography. Mine include the translucent glow of a California poppy, a black sky sprinkled with stars, a breathtaking sunrise…

Watch out for that tree…

I have a story that doesn’t really have anything to do with photography, except maybe that the experience got me thinking about my relationship with trees, and the number of images I have where a tree or trees are the primary subject. That connection was made because my story, in which a tree stars prominently, happened on the morning that I photographed this oak tree…

One part plan, one part serendipity, one part impulse

Nature photography is a particularly serendipitous art form. We do our best to get ourselves in the right place at the right time, but it’s ultimately up to Mother Nature to deliver. Fortunately, some things in nature are more certain than others. Among them is the phase, location, and timing of the moon, each of which can be anticipated with near absolute precision. Another certainty I’ve…

Looking on the bright side

There has been a lot of photographer hand wringing in the wake of Adobe’s Creative Cloud power play. I know of very few photographers, amateur or pro, who are happy to suddenly be forced to pre-pay for Photoshop upgrades they’ve always been able to evaluate before deciding they’re worth purchase. Now our choices are between biting the bullet and signing up for Adobe’s rental…

Adobe plays Monopoly with your photos (required reading for all Photoshop users, present and future)

Storm brewing Adobe recently announced the new Adobe Creative Cloud paradigm for its Creative Suite software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, et al). While Photoshop is an essential part of my workflow, I’m not a power user and earn no income from Photoshop training, so I hadn’t really given this change a lot of thought. My plan has always been to simply stick with my current Photoshop…

Color in nature

On consecutive nights last week the post-sunset sky featured a conjunction between the waxing crescent moon and Venus. This event had been on my calendar for a while, so when the first date arrived I was a little concerned to see thin clouds assembling in the west. Nevertheless, my camera and I headed to the foothills south and east of home, hoping to catch…

My very own Everest

Highway 49 is a meandering, two-lane road connecting the historical dots in California’s Gold Country. Each spring the route is framed by countless scenes like this, scenes that seem to grab your steering wheel and force you to the side of the road for a closer look. Often it’s difficult to find a place to park safely, especially on weekends, when drivers’ attention is more…