On the rocks

Yosemite is known for its waterfalls, but I gotta say, I think I’m happiest photographing Yosemite when the falls are dry. Not that I don’t love Yosemite’s waterfalls (I do!), but when the falls are dry, the Merced River has slowed to a reflective crawl that paints reflections everywhere. And as an added bonus, when the falls dry up, so do the crowds. Last month I spent…

Reflection season

It’s reflection season in Yosemite, that time of year when the falls are dry and the Merced River slows to a glassy crawl. Plugging in the golds and reds of autumn makes this my favorite time for creative photography in Yosemite, and explains the volume of Yosemite autumn images in my portfolio. It also explains why I’ve been to Yosemite three times this month. The month’s first visit, with my Eastern Sierra workshop group, we photographed high…

The best time of day

Imagine a world that’s so quiet you can hear nature’s every stirring, a place where each breath holds a pristine bouquet of subtle fragrances, and the sky is a continuously shifting kaleidoscope of indigo, blue, yellow, orange, and red. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m describing the very world we live in, before the sun’s light and warmth draw out the dirty, noisy, oblivious masses. As a nature photographer,…

Are you a photographer or a tourist?

Years of leading photo workshops and reviewing the work of others has convinced me that to capture great images and maintain domestic bliss, you need to decide before the trip whether you’ll be a tourist or a photographer. You just can’t have it both ways. (I say this completely without judgement—there are times when I opt for tourist mode myself, and on a recent Mexico cruise I…

Channeling Wile E. Coyote

“When you want something badly enough, a few mishaps are no deterrent.” Wile E. Coyote Discovery (September 2012) Scouting locations for my Maui workshop, I scrambled cross-country down the rugged flank of West Maui’s north side, trying to make my way to a series of lava-rock, reflective tide pools. Once I’d descended to ocean level, reaching the pools still required hopscotching across wet basalt that was a disconcerting hybrid of banana peel slippery…

Megapixels are overrated

As regular readers know, in November I switched to Sony, replacing my 22 MP Canon 5D Mark III DSLR with the mirrorless 36 MP Sony a7R, plus three Sony lenses. My decision to switch had nothing to do with resolution and everything to do with the Sony’s image quality, dynamic range, and high ISO performance. Oh yeah, and the compactness of mirrorless. And after watching other DSLRs surpass…

The shot less taken

I’ve never been much of a New Year’s resolution person, but the start of a new year is an opportunity to take stock and regroup. This year I’ve been thinking about the proliferation of derivative images online and in magazines, images that are, no matter how beautiful, simply reproductions of thousands of previous image. Photographers see something they like and go out try to get it themselves. I understand the…

Dialing it in

  I’m a big fan of the polarizer, so much so that each of my lenses wears a polarizer that never comes off in daylight. A couple of years ago “Outdoor Photographer” magazine published my article on using a polarizer, a slightly modified version of a blog post that appears in the Photo Tips section of this blog. If you read that article, or pay much attention to what…

The yin and yang of nature photography

Conducting photo workshops gives me unique insight into what inhibits aspiring nature photographers, and what propels them. The vast majority of photographers I instruct, from beginners to professionals, approach their craft with either a strong analytical or strong intuitive bias—one side or the other is strong, but rarely both. And rather than simply getting out of the way, the underdeveloped (notice I didn’t say…

Staying out of the way

Previously on Eloquent Nature: Road trip! Sometimes when Mother Nature puts on a show, the best thing a photographer can do is just get out of the way. I’d driven to Mono Lake the previous afternoon to do some night photography and photograph the waning crescent moon before sunrise. After spending the night in the back of my Pilot, I woke at 4:30 and hiked down…