Grand Canyon After Dark

On an impossibly balmy summer evening, this year’s first Grand Canyon Monsoon workshop group waited at Cape Royal (with more hope than optimism) for the Milky Way. We’d just photographed a beautiful sunset, courtesy of light from the setting sun that breached the nearly total cloud cover just enough for color to slip through. An essential part of our sunset success, those clouds were…

The Milky Way My Way

What’s my problem? I’ve been sharing lots of Milky Way images lately. But then, so has everyone else. And when I look at some of the other truly spectacular Milky Way images posted online, I realize I’m working at something of a disadvantage—not because of deficient equipment (not even close), a physical or mental handicap (though as I get older…), or even because I…

The Longest Day

After one of the most exhausting, exhilarating, and just plain productive photography days of my life, our van rolled into Wanaka a little before midnight and everyone’s thoughts, including my own, were on sleep. But the stars were out and the moon was not (yet), and I knew it would be at least a year before I’d get another chance like this. With a…

A Milky Way Success Story (Phew)

Several people in this month’s New Zealand workshop had stated pretty emphatically that the Milky Way was a prime reason for attending—one guy even said his wife had told him not to come home without a Milky Way picture (we think she was joking). So no pressure. I reassured everyone in the orientation that I had multiple Milky Way shoots planned, but as the workshop’s…

The Evolution of a Stargazer

In the Beginning I grew up in a camping family. My dad was a minister, so pricey airline/hotel/restaurant vacations were out of the question for the five of us, as of course were weekend camping trips. But for as far back as I can remember, each summer my family went camping somewhere. Usually it was a week or two in Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon, the California…

2018 Highlights

I’ve always struggled with the “top-whatever” end-of-year countdown of my favorite images because the choices are so subjective and mood dependent, and so many images are favorites as much for their memories as they are for their aesthetic value. And coming up with a predetermined number is arbitrary, and inevitably requires choices I don’t want to make and will almost certainly regret later. One…

The Sky’s the Limit

I sometimes rail against camera clubs for their rule-bound creative constipation (yes, I know there are exceptions). On Hawaii in September I was reminded that I’m not immune to the same malady. Because Nature doesn’t have a monopoly on beauty, earlier in my photographic life I was somewhat less discriminating with my choice of subjects, photographing anything outdoors that I found beautiful. Many of…

New Zealand Night

One of the questions I get the most about the New Zealand workshop Don Smith and I do is, “Why winter?” The simple answer is that it’s the best time to photograph there. This answer is usually followed with, “But isn’t it cold?” Not really—it’s more like a Northern California or Oregon winter, with highs in the 40s and 50s, and lows in the…

Right Vs. Left

Two photographers approach the same scene: One can clearly visualize a uniquely beautiful image, but he has no idea how to achieve it. The other is so intent on finding the hyperfocal point for her lens’s “sweet spot” focal length and f-stop that she barely registers the beauty before her. While most photographers don’t fall at these extremes of the creative/analytical continuum, the vast…

Star Struck

Nothing in my life delivers a more potent dose of perspective than viewing the world from the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Days are spent at the mercy of the Colorado River, alternately drifting and hurtling beneath mile-high rock layers that tell more than a billion years of Earth story. And when the sun goes down, the ceiling becomes a cosmological light show, each…