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…

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon

Here’s a brand new image that’s nearly six years old. Brand new because I processed it for the first time just yesterday; six years old because I found it after loading my pre-Lightroom raw files from 2014 into Lightroom, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and I finally ran out of reasons not to do it. Before 2015 I did…

As the World Turns

Reclined beneath a ceiling of stars, at the foot of a tree that matured long before the time of Christ, it’s pretty difficult to feel important. That sense of awe is why I love making images that juxtapose the ancient bristlecones against the Milky Way. But, with a 40% moon parked in Sagittarius and completely washing out the brilliant galactic center, I had other plans…

Moonlight Magic

Rainbows demystified A rainbow forms when sunlight strikes airborne water droplets and is separated into its component spectral colors by characteristics of the water. The separated light is reflected back to our eyes when it strikes the backside of the droplets: Voila—a rainbow! There’s nothing random about a rainbow—despite their seemingly random advent and location in the sky, rainbows follow very specific rules of nature. Draw an imaginary line from…

The Bright Side

Some of the best things that have happened in my life would not have happened had something bad not happened first. Not only does this apply to life’s important things, like relationships and careers, I can also say the same thing about my photography. In 2013, the politicians we Americans elected to serve us got in a pissing match about the budget and the…

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…

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Moon

Size matters About 15 years ago I pitched a moon photography article to a national photography magazine. I was declined because, according to the editor, “No one likes to photograph the moon because it looks too small in a picture.” While I respectfully disagree and in fact love using a small moon as an accent to my landscape scenes, that felt like a challenge…

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…

Eyes on the Sky

We tend to photograph the things we love most, but I don’t think that necessarily happens consciously. For example, I never appreciated the role the sky plays in my photography until someone pointed it out a few years ago. Browsing my galleries to verify, I was amazed at the percentage of my images that include at least one of the following: the sun, the…

Go Big or Go Home

Like a teenager with his first car, I was itching to take my brand new Sony 200-600 for a spin. But since I don’t photograph wildlife, my ultra-telephoto lenses are used mostly for the moon, and occasionally close-focus stuff like fall color and wildflowers. And as much as I wanted to try it on the moon, I thought the fall color in my Eastern…