Breathtaking Comet NEOWISE

When I was ten, my best friend Rob and I spent most of our daylight hours preparing for our spy careers—crafting and exchanging coded messages, surreptitiously monitoring classmates, and identifying “secret passages” that would allow us to navigate our neighborhood without being observed. But after dark our attention turned skyward. That’s when we’d set up my telescope (a castoff generously gifted by an astronomer…

Garbage in, garbage out

True story: I once saw a guy taking 10-second exposures of the moonbow at the base of Yosemite Falls, hand-held. When I gently suggested that his image might be a little soft, he assured me that he would just sharpen it in Photoshop. I won’t deny that digital capture and processing has given photographers more flexibility and control than ever, and processing can indeed correct…

Yosemite Full Moon Bingo

Do you have little games you play in your head? Private challenges that range from small amusements to all-encompassing obsessions—things like guessing how many miles until this desert highway crests that distant rise, or how many peanuts in a row you can land in the cocoa mug on the coffee table, or guessing the current time to the minute before looking at the clock. You…

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

(Offered with apologies to the Rolling Stones) I looked that night at the reflection My focus app in my hand I pondered my focus selection About six feet from where I stand You can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometimes, you just might find You get…

The Milky Way Saves the Day

I’m a one-click photographer (no composites or blending), so all of my Milky Way images were captured in a single frame. I stress a lot before and during a photo workshop. A lot more than people know, and a lot more than I probably should. Some of that stress probably helps me ensure things go smoothly, but some things are just plain irrational because…

Endless Possibilities

This picture from last February features two beautiful photographic phenomena, one with (literally) thousands of cameras trained on it, the other virtually ignored. You might be surprised to learn that for most, the “main event” about to take place in this scene wasn’t the moonrise, it was the light on the thin stripe of waterfall trickling down the diagonal shoulder of El Capitan (the top…

It’s All About Relationships

Think about how much our lives revolve around relationships: romance, family, friends, work, pets, and so on. They’re such a big part of human existence that it’s no wonder most of the significant compositional choices photographers make involve relationships between elements in our scenes, either to one another or to their environment. A pretty sunset is nice, but a pretty sunset over the Grand Canyon especially nice….

Yosemite for the First Time—Again

On Wednesday I made a quick trip to Yosemite to meet my (old and new) friends and fellow photography pros Don Smith and Ron Modra, plus Ron’s wife MB. Since I’d never met Ron and MB in person (though from conversations with Don I felt like I already knew them), and Ron had never been to Yosemite, I broke my personal rule to stay clear…

Get Out of the Way

(And Let the Scene Speak for Itself) As aggressively as I seek creative ways to express nature with my camera, and as important as I think that is, sometimes a scene is so beautiful that it’s best to just get out of the way and let the scene speak for itself. I had one of those experiences last month at Tunnel View in Yosemite….

Thinking Inside the Box

Roll over, Ansel Several years ago, while thumbing through an old issue of “Outdoor Photographer” magazine, I came across an article on Lightroom processing. It started with the words: “Being able to affect one part of the image compared to another, such as balancing the brightness of a photograph so the scene looks more like the way we saw it rather than being restricted…