Moonbow: Nature’s little secret

  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. Despite their seemingly random advent and location in the sky, rainbows follow very specific rules of nature—there’s nothing random about a rainbow. Draw an imaginary line…

Returning to the scene of the crime

Clueless. That’s one word that would describe my state the first time I attempted moonlight photography. It was about eight years ago, right here in the Alabama Hills. Though exposure and focus were more guesses than decisions, I ended up with a lucky shot of the Big Dipper suspended above moonlit granite boulders and an obsession was born. The other thing I remember about…

Two out of three ain’t bad

I scheduled my Yosemite Comet ISON photo workshop way back when astronomers were crossing their fingers and whispering “Comet of the Century.” Sadly, the media took those whispers and amplified them a thousand times—when ISON did its Icarus act on Thanksgiving day, its story became the next in a long line of comet failures (raise your hand if you remember Kohoutek). But anyone who…

The calm above the storm

If you’ve ever taken off in a violent storm, watched the exploding sky just beyond your window, felt the plane buck until you verged on panic, then suddenly broken through the clouds into utter peace, you might appreciate the dichotomy depicted in this scene. *    *    *    * Overwhelmed by the euphoria the Grand Canyon workshop’s final sunrise was this moonlight experience on…

Favorite: The Big Dipper

I’ve decided to turn my new Favorites gallery into an irregular series on each of the images there. *   *   *   * This image of the Big Dipper above moonlit granite boulders in the Alabama Hills will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first moonlight “success.” I was still coming to terms with the low…

All I want for Christmas….

I returned late last night (well, early this morning) from my 2013 Yosemite Moonbow and Wildflowers photo workshop will lots of great new images and two fewer teeth. True story. The images I can verify; the teeth you’ll need to take my word for. Read on. Chapter One: In the big inning Twenty years ago I lost my two front teeth in a freak…

March madness

*    *    *    * Scheduling most workshops at least a year in advance, it’s easy to forget that distant dates will eventually become current dates. And so as 2013 approached I started looking somewhat askance at my spring schedule. Hmmm…, only four days at home from March 7 to March 29—what in the world had I been thinking? Ten days circling…

Photographic reality: Accumulate light

  “Photography’s gift isn’t the ability to reproduce your reality, it’s the ability to expand it.” (The fourth installment of my series on photographic reality.) Before getting too frustrated with your camera’s limited dynamic range, remember that it can also do things with light that your eyes can’t. While we humans experience the world by serially processing an infinite number of discrete instants in real time, a…

The definition of breathtaking

Death Valley is notorious for blue skies–great for tourists, but a scourge for photographers. Clouds add interest to a scene, and filtering harsh sunlight through clouds reduces contrast to a range a camera can capture. To mitigate harsh sky problems, I schedule my annual Death Valley workshop for winter to maximize the chance for clouds. And hedging my bets further, I time each workshop…

Digital photography the old fashioned way

Photoshop processing sometimes gets a bad rap. There’s nothing inherently pure about a jpeg file, and because a jpeg is processed by the camera, it’s actually less pure than a raw file. As a general rule, the less processing an image needs, the better, but sometimes raw capture followed by Lightroom/Photoshop processing is the only way to a successful image. I’ve always considered myself a film shooter…