Spring has sprung

I spent most of the last week in Yosemite and can confirm that spring has definitely sprung there. The Merced River, swollen by snowmelt, is overspilling its banks, flooding meadows and submerging riverside trails. Reflections are everywhere, and viewing the waterfalls without getting wet? Forget about it. Another spring highlight is the moonbow that colors the mist beneath Yosemite Falls. A fortunate convergence of Yosemite…

Dogwood days

People ask all the time for my favorite season in Yosemite, and I really can’t give them an answer that doesn’t sound like a press conference by a waffling politician—there are things I love about each season in Yosemite, so asking me to choose is like asking me to pick a favorite child. But I can tell you what I like about each season, and I’ve always…

Can you defend your exposure settings?

While I’m a huge advocate of manual metering (it’s all I’ve ever used), I stop short of saying everyone shoot shoot in manual mode. But I do believe that anyone who is serious about their photography should at least be comfortable shooting in manual mode. That means understanding how a light meter “sees” a scene, the information the meter returns, and how each of the camera’s three…

A new way of shooting

Regular readers of my blog know of my recent switch from Canon DSLR to Sony mirrorless. I started the transition with the Sony a7R, fully expecting to prefer it over my Canon 5D Mark III enough to justify the switch, but not so much that I’d completely jettison my Canon gear. In addition to 60 percent more resolution than my 5D III, the a7R gave me dynamic…

When seasons collide

Ever notice how the best photography happens at nature’s boundaries, the interface separating disparate elements? Sometimes it’s visual elements, like the collision of surf and shore or the intersection of shadow and light. But often we’re moved by images that capture the transition of our experience of the world, such as the color and light that happens when we shift between night and day, or distinctive elements of two seasons together in one frame. Sunrises and sunsets…

Being a better fisherman

“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”  ― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It I don’t fish. But then, Norman Maclean’s words really aren’t about fishing anyway. I’m reminded of his quote every time I see photographers frozen by minutia, mired in the moment by small distractions that matter very little on the…

A camera’s reality

I knew the dogwood bloom in Yosemite had really kicked in this week (quite early), so when the forecast called for rain in Yosemite on Tuesday, I cleared my schedule and headed up there for the day. It turns out I only got an hour or so of rain and solid cloud cover before the sun came out and started making things difficult, but it was…

Going for bokeh

  In this day of ubiquitous cameras, automatic exposure, and free information, a creative photographer’s surest path to unique images is achieved by managing a scene’s depth. Anyone with a camera can compose the left/right/up/down aspect of a scene. But the front/back plane, a scene’s depth, that we human’s take for granted, is missing from a two-dimensional image. Managing depth requires abstract vision and camera control beyond the skill of most…

(More) Yosemite spring reflections

I just wrapped up two Yosemite spring workshops, four and five day visits separated by less than two weeks. What struck me most about these two workshops was, despite pretty similar conditions (maximum waterfalls, green meadows, blooming dogwood, and lots of people), how the tremendous difference in weather  dictated a completely different approach to photographing Yosemite Valley. In the first workshop our weather was fairly static,…

Pictures, pictures everywhere

I’m always telling my workshop students that there are pictures everywhere, that we’re only limited by our ability to see them. How many shots have we just walked by because we were so focused on the larger world, or because we were simply distracted by life? But sometimes I need to be reminded to listen to my own words. Last week in Yosemite I…