Sweet moment

Last November I planned a trip to Yosemite to coincide with the full moon rising above Half Dome at sunset. When a prematurely cold storm blew through and blanketed Yosemite with snow. While the photography was fantastic, I resigned myself to waiting another year for the moonrise I’d hoped for. And I certainly didn’t complain. After a full day of photography in conditions than…

Chasing the moon (the cure for boring skies)

Whether I’m shooting on my own or (especially) leading a photo workshop, there are no weather conditions I stress about more than blue skies. As nice as it is to be outside on a sunny day, cloudless skies are not a photographer’s friend. Not only do blue skies limit productive photography time to a ninety minute (or so) window sandwiching sunrise and sunset, even…

Visual balance

Olmsted Point is one of my favorite easily accessible locations in Yosemite. I enjoy it for the different (from the more common Yosemite Valley angles) view of Half Dome, the range of wide to tight composition possibilities, and for its many foreground options. I visit Olmsted Point a lot, both on my own and with workshop groups. It’s where we shoot the final sunset…

Cameras are stupid

In a previous life I spent several years doing technical support. For me job-one was convincing people that, despite all error messages to the contrary, they are in fact smarter than their computers. Most errors occur because the computer just didn’t understand: If I misspell a wurd, you still know what I mean (rite?); not so with a computer. A computer can’t anticipate, reason,…

Discover your inner Magellan

Sometimes I wonder if humans’  inherent need for discovery has been dulled by the proliferation of artificial stimuli. Television, movies, the Internet, and video games are indeed pretty amazing, but if Magellan were alive today, do you think he’d be riveted to “The Discovery Channel” or hunched at his computer, probing Google Earth? If Magellan had a camera, would he be online mining GPS coordinates…

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would have been my father’s 81st birthday. Dad was one of those people who did everything well, but I don’t think there was anything he enjoyed more than photography. His work kept him so busy that the only time he ever got to take pictures was when he was on vacation, but he made up for lost time then. I’ll be eternally grateful…

A landscape photographer’s time

On my run this morning I listened to an NPR “Talk of the Nation” podcast about time, and the arbitrary ways we Earthlings measure it. The guest’s thesis was that the hours, days, and years we measure and monitor so closely are an invention established (with increasing precision) by  science and technology to serve society’s specific needs; the question posed to listeners was, “What…

Let’s get vertical

Whose bright idea was it to lable horizontal images “landscape,” and vertical images to be “portrait”?  To them, let me just say: “Huh?” As a landscape-only photographer, about half of my images use “portrait” orientation. Sometimes I wonder if this unfounded naming bias explains why so many people default to a horizontal orientation for their landscape images, missing some great opportunities to improve their photography in…

Shoot now, think later

Magic moments in nature are rarely static, and reacting to them as they happen is rarely productive. But taking the time to do you homework helps you anticipate these special moments well enough to consistently put yourself in position before they happen. Understanding the conditions necessary for a rainbow, anticipating a sky favorable for a colorful sunset, and  plotting the moon’s position above an…

The other ninety-nine percent

Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” (Without claiming genius) I think this applies to photography as well: Many successful images are more the product of being in the right place at the right time than divine inspiration. Of course anyone can stumble upon a lucky convergence of location and conditions and come home with a great photo, but…