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 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 public…

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…

Endless Possibilities

This picture from last February features two beautiful photographic phenomena, one with (literally) thousands of cameras trained on it, the other virtually ignored. You might be surprised to learn that for most, the “main event” about to take place in this scene wasn’t the moonrise, it was the light on the thin stripe of waterfall trickling down the diagonal shoulder of El Capitan (the top…

It’s All About Relationships

Think about how much our lives revolve around relationships: romance, family, friends, work, pets, and so on. They’re such a big part of human existence that it’s no wonder most of the significant compositional choices photographers make involve relationships between elements in our scenes, either to one another or to their environment. A pretty sunset is nice, but a pretty sunset over the Grand Canyon especially nice….

Small Steps and Giant Leaps

The memory of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon has personal significance to me. To honor the 50th anniversary of that achievement, I’m sharing an updated version of my story, first posted five years ago. July, 1969 I had just turned 14. I was into baseball, chess, AM radio, astronomy, and girls—not necessarily in that order. Of particular interest to me in 1969…