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…

Our first date: First impressions of my Sony a7R II

Just a quick note to share my excitement about my new Sony a7R II. I’ve only used it once, and didn’t really ask a lot of it, but what I’ve seen so far I like a lot. Love at first sight My Sony a7R II arrived Wednesday, but my schedule limited my use to staying home and familiarizing myself with menus and overall handling. If you’re familiar with…

The secret weapon for overcoming unsung landscapes

I travel a lot. A lot. Don’t get me wrong—I know I’m incredibly fortunate to see and photograph the things I do, but sometimes it’s nice to be home. Despite the world-class locations I get to visit, I don’t cease being a photographer just because I’m home. I spend a lot of time exploring and photographing the unsung landscapes near home, landscapes that few would cross borders…

The grass is greener

“You’re so lucky to live so close to <fill in the blank>”: Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, San Francisco, Muir Woods (and countless other coastal redwood sites), Point Reyes, the Napa Valley wine country, Mt. Shasta, Mono Lake. I hear it all the time. Okay, I’ll concede that—I’m lucky. But… Their implicit message is, “If only I lived closer to such-and-such, my photography would be so…

Exceeding the sum of the parts

When I decided to make photography my career, I promised myself I’d only photograph what I love. Not because I believed that’s where I’d find my best images (I wasn’t that calculating), but simply because the only good reason I could come up with for leaving an excellent job with a great company was to do something that made me truly happy. And lucky me—today most of my time behind…

The real California

I love driving the Sierra foothills east of my home in Sacramento, one eye on the road, the other scanning for gnarled oaks I can photograph against the sky. To my very California eyes, these are the scenes of home—not the palm trees and surf boards most people picture when they think of my home state. California’s oak trees’ inherent beauty stands out when they’re silhouetted against a sunset…

These are a few of my favorite things

Maria von Trapp had them, you have them, I have them. They’re the favorite places, moments, and subjects that provide comfort or coax a smile no matter what life has dealt. Not only do these “favorite things” improve our mood, they’re the muse that drives our best photography. Mine include the translucent glow of a California poppy, a black sky sprinkled with stars, a breathtaking sunrise…

The Moon: (Sometimes) Size doesn’t matter

A few years ago I proposed an article to “Outdoor Photographer” magazine on photographing the moon. The editor at the time (not the current OP editor) replied that moon photographs don’t work because the moon appears so much smaller in a photograph than people remember it. I couldn’t argue—the moon does indeed look smaller in a photograph than we perceive it in person. But…

Watch out for that tree…

I have a story that doesn’t really have anything to do with photography, except maybe that the experience got me thinking about my relationship with trees, and the number of images I have where a tree or trees are the primary subject. That connection was made because my story, in which a tree stars prominently, happened on the morning that I photographed this oak tree…

One part plan, one part serendipity, one part impulse

Nature photography is a particularly serendipitous art form. We do our best to get ourselves in the right place at the right time, but it’s ultimately up to Mother Nature to deliver. Fortunately, some things in nature are more certain than others. Among them is the phase, location, and timing of the moon, each of which can be anticipated with near absolute precision. Another certainty I’ve…