Watch Your Weight

Dynamic vs. static Photographic composition is all about managing the tension between dynamic and static: the dynamic component is the way the eye moves through the frame, while the static component is the overall balance of the scene’s elements. To synergize these two potentially conflicting factors, I think in terms the “visual weight” of my frame’s contained elements. Like gravity for the eye, visual…

Big Moon Rising

It doesn’t take much time with my images to figure out that I love photographing the moon. Large or small, full or crescent, it doesn’t really matter. Almost every one of my moon images is the product of plotting the time of its arrival (or departure), then making sure I’m there to photograph it. Using astronomical tables and topo map software, I’ve been doing…

I Can Relate (You Can Too)

Our lives revolve around relationships: romance, family, friends, work, pets…. Even that clown who cut you off on the freeway, for a few brief (I hope) seconds, might just be the most powerful influence in your life. Like most words in the English language, “relationship” can mean more than one thing. On the macro scale are the specific personal connections that matter to us—not…

Yosemite Moonrise

Though last week’s harrowing story of a sneaker wave that drenched members of the Iceland photo workshop group had a (relatively) happy ending (R.I.P., 3 cameras and lenses), it generated more responses than any blog post in recent memory. Exactly one week later, that sobering reminder of Nature’s power and ability to surprise was still on my mind when I was gifted a reminder of…

2021 In Review: Pedal to the Metal, While Tapping the Brakes…

As COVID started ravaging my workshop schedule way back in March 2020, my private mantra was, “Just hang on until August.” As we approach our third pandemic year with the Omicron variant raging, how misguided that dream feels today. While 2020 was pretty much lost to COVID, 2021 was the year things seemed poised to return to normal. And while not the Disney happy…

These Are Two of My Favorite Things

Camera or not, two of my very favorite things in nature are a rising moon, and the rich pink and blue twilight sky opposite the sun after sunset*. Once a month, in the days around the full moon, these phenomena converge, and I get an opportunity to photograph the moon actually in the best part of the sky. I spend a lot of time…

Expect the Unexpected

With so many natural variables beyond our control, and no matter how creatively we visualize, thoroughly we plan, and precisely we execute, landscape photographers go into every shoot uncertain of success. But making consistently successful images depends not only on our ability to visualize, plan, and execute, but also on our ability to recognize and respond to unexpected opportunities. The truth is, your creativity’s…

You Didn’t Tell Me There Would Be Math

Photography is an art of subtraction. While many photographers seem driven to collect as many objects of visual interest as possible, my favorite pictures usually work as much for what’s not in them than for what is. Unfortunately, it’s usually easier to see things to add to an image than it is to know what to subtract—and how to do it. The good news is,…

Making Your Own Luck

“Chance favors only the prepared mind.” ~ Louis Pasteur Successful nature photography requires the convergence of physical objects, position (relative to those objects), light, weather conditions, the right equipment, and mastery of craft (did I miss anything?). Though we can control many of these factors, the overriding element that trumps everything else is plain old luck. But despite the undeniable luck factor in photography,…

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

So much to do after two workshops in the last two weeks (and all the planning and recovery that goes with them). I had ambitious plans to return home late Friday night and hit the ground running first thing Saturday morning, so imagine my frustration to walk into my chilly house (I’d turned off the heat before I left), equal parts hungry and tired,…