Moon Over Yosemite

Large or small, crescent or full, I love photographing the moon rising above Half Dome. The alignment doesn’t work most months, so those months when the alignment is right, I do my best to be there. For last week’s Yosemite Winter Moon photo workshop I’d planned three moonrises: Thursday and Friday we got lucky with the never reliable December skies, but Saturday night concerned…

Moving the eye

With virtually every still camera now equipped with video capability, the last few years have seen an explosion of nature videos. When done well, videos of nature can be quite effective, conveying motion and engaging both eyes and ears to reveal the world in a manner that’s closer to the human experience than a still image is. But like other sensory media whose demise has been anticipated by the arrival of…

Seeing the whole frame

Photographers are responsible for every square inch of their frame—not just the primary subject, but every other point of visual interest, and the relationships of those points to each other. Nevertheless, there’s a natural tendency give too much attention to the primary subject at the expense of the rest of the scene. The result is moments in nature that felt special in person fall flat in an image. I’m a…

Sanity check

Are you insane? Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Hmmm. For some reason this makes me think of the thousands of aspiring landscape photographers with portfolios brimming with beautiful images that they can’t sell. Despite a great eye for composition, all the latest gear, insider knowledge of the best locations, and virtual guru status with Photoshop, somehow they haven’t managed to separate themselves from the large pack…

How do you do that?: Properly expose a full moon

The problem Cameras struggle to capture simultaneous detail in bright highlights (the moon) and and dark shadows (the landscape)—capturing one or the other is easy, but both? Not so much. A full moon is daylight bright, but because a full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise (more or less, depending on exactly how full the moon is when it rises/sets, and the elevation of the horizon the…

Supermoon

The media tends to distort facts and blow events out of proportion. Perhaps you’ve noticed. The latest example is this week’s “supermoon,” an event heralded on TV, in print, and online like the Second Coming. Okay, now for a little perspective. Despite hype to the contrary, a supermoon occurs at least twice, and up to five times, in a year. In fact, our last supermoon was all the way back…

How do you do that?: Big Moon

The Secret for Supersizing the Moon (This is not a composite) A few days ago I saw a picture of an oversize moon above the Golden Gate Bridge; beneath the picture someone had commented that the image was obviously was faked because the moon isn’t that big. Though I didn’t scrutinize the picture, I suspect that the commenter’s accusation was right, but for the wrong reason. While some photographers take the easy (and deceptive) approach and just…

Yosemite Moon

I’m a relationship photographer. By that I mean I’ve never been one of those photographers who expands his portfolio by adding new locations. Rather, I like to get a feel for a place, not just the where and when of its photo opportunities, but its history, geology, flora, and fauna. I much prefer digging deeply into one scenic area to visiting a large variety of scenic…

Eye on the sky

I spend much of my photography time chasing the moon. Most of my trips factor in the moon’s phase and location—usually to catch a full or crescent moon rising or setting above a particular landmark, and often to photograph a landscape by moonlight (full moon) or starlight (no moon). But sometimes the moon catches me less than fully prepared, and I need to improvise….

Tips to improve your full moon photography

Have you ever seen a glowing full moon suspended above a beautiful landscape and been moved enough to grab your camera? And how many times have those pictures actually matched your memory of the moment? Not too many, I’d guess. Either your landscape was completely black, or (more likely) the moon was an ugly white blob. You’ve just experienced an example of the human eye’s vastly superior dynamic range—while…