A few words about the “supermoon”

I used to resist using the supermoon label because it’s more of a media event than an astronomical event, and it creates unrealistic expectations. But since the phenomenon appears to be with us to stay, I’ve changed my approach and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to educate and encourage. What’s the big deal? So just what is so “super” about a “supermoon?”…

The first rule of photography: Just show up

A man with a plan It was New Year’s Eve and I was perched on a cliff overlooking Yosemite Valley, two feet from certain death and ten minutes from the rise of the largest full moon of 2018. While the death thing would have only been a problem if I’d have lost my mind, the moon’s appearance was entirely subject to the whims of…

Three Moons

This month’s Yosemite Winter Moon photo workshop group got the rare opportunity to photograph a full (or nearly full) moon rising above Half Dome at sunset on three consecutive nights. One reason it’s rare is that, as viewed from Yosemite Valley, the full moon and Half Dome only align in winter. But the real tricky part is making it happen three times when sunset…

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…