Oh, What a Night…

(Jump to the bottom for a “how-to” and my starlight photography exposure recipe) Five photographers followed bouncing headlamps through the chilly dark. Even in midday the trail through the dense rainforest surrounding Lake Matheson has a twilight feel; on a moonless winter night like this, the path becomes downright cave-like. Soon our footsteps were in sync, each tap broken by a beat of eerie silence….

Escaping Summer

(If you subscribe to my Image of the Month e-mail and this post seems familiar, it’s because I borrowed the text from my June message.) I just checked the date of my last post, I couldn’t believe how long it’s been. But I have a good excuse, I swear: I’ve been busy. Busy taking pictures, busy leading workshops, busy checking in and out of…

Greetings from Winterland

Saturday, 3 a.m.: The search for winter, and visiting an old friend When I boarded the plane Wednesday afternoon in Sacramento, the temperature outside was 100 degrees. After 24 hours of  inadequate legroom, angry infants, delayed departures, inadequate portions of bland food, suspicious customs inspectors, and a 10-minute sprint (or whatever your call moving full speed with 90 pounds of luggage) that ended in…

(Sometimes) I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good

It was 4:00 a.m. and I’d spent the last two hours photographing the Milky Way’s brilliant core above the Colorado River. In about 75 minutes the guides would be ringing the “coffee’s ready” gong, signaling the start of another day at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Collapsing my tripod, I performed a little mental math and found slight relief in the knowledge that I…

He Ain’t Heavy,…

… He’s My Sony 12-24 f/4 G (With apologies to The Hollies.) The road is long, with many a winding turn… But that’s no excuse to cut corners. Probably the question I am most asked on location is some variation of, “What lens should I use?” While I’m always happy to answer questions, this one always makes me cringe because the implicit question is,…

Are you insane?

Are you insane? Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. Hmmm. For some reason this reminds me of the thousands of good landscape photographers with hundreds of beautiful images they can’t sell. These photographers have a good eye for composition, own all the best equipment, know when to be at the great locations, and are virtual…

Snow Job

I’m afraid that making a living as a photographer sometimes means exchanging time to take pictures for time to make money. On the other hand, my schedule is mine alone, which means when there’s something I really, really want to photograph, such as a moonrise or fresh snow in Yosemite, I can usually arrange my schedule to make it happen. The moon shoots I…

Mirrorless Metering

Because I don’t want my camera making any decisions for me, I’ve always metered in manual mode. For most of my photography life, my manual metering approach was to start with the best f-stop for my composition, spot-meter on the brightest part of the scene, and dial my shutter speed until the meter indicated the proper tone. In my film days I sometimes hedged…

A Winter Morning in Yosemite

Missing snow so far this winter, I’m going through some of my old snow images and came across this one from a few years ago. I’d traveled to Yosemite with the promise of snow in the forecast, but the night before the trip’s final day I went to sleep to the steady hum of rain. The next morning dawned damp and gray—and gloriously silent….

Photography’s Creativity Triad: Depth

Photography’s Creativity Triad Rather than attempting to reproduce a scene exactly as we see it, enduring photographs reveal unseen aspects of our world. Capturing this hidden world requires understanding and mastery of photography’s “creativity triad,” the three aspects of a scene that distinguish the camera’s vision from human vision: motion, light, and depth. Photography is the futile attempt to squeeze a three-dimensional world into…