Snow day

From my front door I can be in Yosemite Valley in less than four hours (including a stop for gas and another for Starbucks). I enjoy the drive and am not averse to doing a one day up-and-back when I think something special is in store. And nothing is more special than a chance to photograph Yosemite with fresh snow. My most recent Yosemite…

Are you a photographer or a tourist?

Years of leading photo workshops and reviewing the work of others has convinced me that to capture great images and maintain domestic bliss, you need to decide before the trip whether you’ll be a tourist or a photographer. You just can’t have it both ways. (I say this completely without judgement—there are times when I opt for tourist mode myself, and on a recent Mexico cruise I…

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…

Half Dome moonrise

Last week I was in Arizona (Grand Canyon, Page, Sedona); next week it’ll be Oregon (Columbia River Gorge). But this week my focus is little closer to home, as I enjoy the familiar confines of Yosemite Valley. The big news here is the water, or rather, the lack thereof. In a lifetime of visits to Yosemite, I’ve never seen the water lower in spring than it is this…

Megapixels are overrated

As regular readers know, in November I switched to Sony, replacing my 22 MP Canon 5D Mark III DSLR with the mirrorless 36 MP Sony a7R, plus three Sony lenses. My decision to switch had nothing to do with resolution and everything to do with the Sony’s image quality, dynamic range, and high ISO performance. Oh yeah, and the compactness of mirrorless. And after watching other DSLRs surpass…

Seeing the light

On the first night of this year’s Yosemite Horsetail Fall photo workshop I’m pretty confident that my group got to photograph what will turn out to be Horsetail’s only truly red display of the year. I’d love to say that this was due to particular genius on my part, but mostly it was just plain good luck (with maybe just a little bit of experience…

The shot less taken

I’ve never been much of a New Year’s resolution person, but the start of a new year is an opportunity to take stock and regroup. This year I’ve been thinking about the proliferation of derivative images online and in magazines, images that are, no matter how beautiful, simply reproductions of thousands of previous image. Photographers see something they like and go out try to get it themselves. I understand the…

Dialing it in

  I’m a big fan of the polarizer, so much so that each of my lenses wears a polarizer that never comes off in daylight. A couple of years ago “Outdoor Photographer” magazine published my article on using a polarizer, a slightly modified version of a blog post that appears in the Photo Tips section of this blog. If you read that article, or pay much attention to what…

If at first you don’t succeed…

In early November of 2007 I took a picture that didn’t quite work out. That’s not so unusual, but somehow this one stuck with me, and I’ve spent seven years trying to recreate the moment I missed that night. On that evening seven years ago, the sun was down and the scene I’d been working for nearly an hour, autumn leaves clinging to a log in the Merced River,…

The yin and yang of nature photography

Conducting photo workshops gives me unique insight into what inhibits aspiring nature photographers, and what propels them. The vast majority of photographers I instruct, from beginners to professionals, approach their craft with either a strong analytical or strong intuitive bias—one side or the other is strong, but rarely both. And rather than simply getting out of the way, the underdeveloped (notice I didn’t say…