Style points

Conducting photo workshops allows me to observe hundreds of other photographers each year. It’s clear that each brings his or her own personality to the act of creating an image, from the way they search for compositions, to the things they notice (and don’t notice). I could go on and on about any of these differences, but today’s image really underscores a particular aspect…

Naturally saturated

Okay, let’s have a show of hands: Who read my previous post? If you did, you no doubt remember my lament that photographing a redwood forest isn’t easy. Problem number one is the bright sky that always seems to find its way through even the most dense forest canopy, scattering small patches of sunlight that simply don’t play well with the prevailing shade. Rain…

Seeing the forest for the trees

Photographing a redwood forest is an exercise in humility. Even on the brightest of days, a mature redwood forest is twilight-dark, not a problem until you realize that its nearly cave-like setting is invariably marred by random spots of daylight that seem designed to taunt your camera’s limited dynamic range. Any attempt to capture the forest’s exquisite shadow detail is peppered with distracting blown…

Making memories: Experience counts

Several of my first experiences of the world are etched forever (and exclusively) in my mind: the unfathomable immensity of the Grand Canyon; the jutting monoliths of Stonehenge; the gleaming white marble of the Taj Mahal; and the belching orange fire of Hawaii’s Kilauea Caldera. After a lifetime of vicarious marvel via books, film, and photos, I believed I was prepared to view (and photograph)…

Dogwood Bouquet

Earlier this week I had the good fortune to be in Yosemite for the peak of the annual dogwood bloom. Photographing dogwood is one of my favorite things, yet in recent years it seems I’ve been thwarted in my attempts to capture the event at its peak. Yosemite’s average peak bloom is around May 1, but that can vary by a couple of weeks;…

What’s on your hard disk?: A project for a sunny day

One of the risks of making photography your livelihood is the possibility (likelihood?) that the business will preempt the photography. Even though I’ve consciously chosen to continue photographing only what I want to photograph without concern for the marketability of an image, when I return from a trip the demands of the business often leave little time for my captures. A few days ago…

Shoot now, think later

Magic moments in nature are rarely static, and reacting to them as they happen is rarely productive. But taking the time to do you homework helps you anticipate these special moments well enough to consistently put yourself in position before they happen. Understanding the conditions necessary for a rainbow, anticipating a sky favorable for a colorful sunset, and  plotting the moon’s position above an…

The other ninety-nine percent

Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” (Without claiming genius) I think this applies to photography as well: Many successful images are more the product of being in the right place at the right time than divine inspiration. Of course anyone can stumble upon a lucky convergence of location and conditions and come home with a great photo, but…

My camera can beat up your camera (and other photography myths)

The difference between a pro and an amateur photographer Want to know how to tell a pro landscape photographer from an amateur? Here are a few telltale indicators: The pro photographer has no emotional attachment to her camera and refuses to invest any energy in the “My camera can beat up your camera” debate The pro photographer is the one with duct tape on…

Bracketing in the digital age

Remember the uneasy days of film, when we never knew whether we had exposed a scene properly until the film was processed? As insurance we’d bracket our exposures, starting with the exposure we believed to be right, then hedge our bets by capturing the same composition at lighter and darker exposure values. Today digital capture gives us instant exposure confirmation, yet the practice of exposure…