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…

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…

Yosemite Spring

There are many (many!) beautiful sights in Yosemite, but when most people think about Yosemite, they think about waterfalls and granite. The granite is forever (virtually), but Yosemite’s waterfalls come and go with the season: exploding from the granite walls in spring, most of Yosemite’s waterfalls are bone dry by summer’s end. And some years are better than others—three springs ago, Bridalveil and Yosemite…

Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM Lens: First thoughts

Today Sony announced the lens I’ve been waiting for: the Sony 24, f/1.4 GM. I got a sneak preview of this lens on Maui last week, and again once I got home home. Hurricane Olivia, my workshop (no one was supposed to see me using the lens), and food poisoning significantly limited my use of it, but I did get to play with it…

Yosemite Moonbow

Even though your spellcheck says it doesn’t exist, I promise you that a moonbow is a very real thing indeed (and I have the pictures to prove it). Some argue that “lunar rainbow” is more the technically correct designation, but since that moniker just doesn’t convey the visual magic, I’m sticking with moonbow. This won’t be on the test Because a moonbow is a…

Silent Night

One perk of being a photographer is the opportunity to experience normally crowded locations in relative peace. That’s because the best nature photography usually happens at most people’s least favorite time to be outside: crazy weather and after dark. A couple of weeks ago in Yosemite I got the opportunity to enjoy both. After spending a snowy Sunday guiding a couple around Yosemite Valley in a snowstorm, I…

The night sky and me

My relationship with the night sky started when I was ten. Astronauts were my generation’s cowboys, so when I was given a castoff, six-inch reflector telescope by an amateur astronomer friend of my dad, I jumped at the opportunity to explore the celestial frontier on my terms. On clear nights my best friend Rob and I dragged that old black tube onto the front…

Beware the “expert”

Rules are important. The glue of civilization. And after a childhood constrained by bedtimes, homework, and curfews, it’s no wonder that as adults we honor rules simply because, well, simply because. (I mean, who doesn’t wait for however long it takes and with no car or cop in sight, for a light to change?) As much as civil society relies on universal obedience, not all “rules” are created equal. And…

Don’t settle for the trophy shot

Trophy shot: A beautifully executed capture of a frequently photographed scene. In Monday’s post I wrote about relationships in nature. They really are everywhere, these juxtapositions of landscape, light, and sky that we photograph by virtue of our timing, position, and creative vision. In their pursuit, photographers label photo spots a “sunrise location” or “sunset location,” research the best time to photograph pretty much every popular landmark, plot the when and where of the moonrise, and…,…