Enjoying Yosemite in a fog

One of Yosemite’s most underrated winter treats is the radiation fog that hugs the valley floor on cold, clear, still mornings. Unlike the advection fog that drapes the San Francisco Bay Area (among other places) when (relatively) warm, saturated air passes over the colder ocean and blows inland, radiation fog forms in place  when plummeting overnight temperatures cause airborne water vapor to condense. A sheltered valley with a cold river, soggy meadows, and a…

Photographic matchmaking

While everyone loves a pretty scene, I’m afraid our aesthetic sense has been numbed by the continuous assault of “stunning” images online. A picture grabs our eyes on Instagram or Facebook and we reflexively click Like and move on to the next (similarly) stunning image. The photography equivalent of pop music, formula fiction, or (most) network television, these images exit our conscious about as fast as they entered because they fail to make…

Fall color explained

Like most photographers in the Northern Hemisphere, my fall color season is about finished. But things are just ramping up along the streets near my home in California’s Central Valley (where winter doesn’t really begin until December, and spring’s first blooms start to pop up at the end of January—sorry). While there’s not a lot for me to photograph in my neighborhood, the opportunity to partake of the visual feast…

Yosemite Autumn Reflection

Tomorrow I start the final workshop in the busiest workshop season I’ve ever had—since mid-August I’ve led 8 of my own workshops, and assisted Don Smith with 2 of his, in four states from Hawaii to Utah. I’ve photographed lots of great stuff, and met many fantastic people, but I’m looking forward to a few consecutive days in my own bed, and an opportunity to share more new images…

The night sky and me

My relationship with the night sky started when I was ten. Astronauts were my generation’s cowboys, so when I was given a castoff, six-inch reflector telescope by an amateur astronomer friend of my dad, I jumped at the opportunity to explore the celestial frontier on my terms. On clear nights my best friend Rob and I dragged that old black tube onto the front…

There’s no “never” in photography

One question that comes up in just about every workshop is, where do I put the horizon (or in more general terms, where do I break my frame)? Behind these questions seems to be a feeling (fear?) that there’s one “best” way to treat a scene. And I’ve noticed that many beginning photographers are constrained by two “rules” they’ve heard at their camera club or online: Never put the…

The Power of Reflections

Reflection Dictionary.com: The return of light, heat, sound, etc., after striking a surface. Okay, so that’s pretty basic. How about this one? Wikipedia: The change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two different media so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated Whoa, I hope that’s not on the test. Who doesn’t love the soothing tranquility of a good reflection? And like a metaphor in writing, a reflection is an indirect representation that can be…

Think before you shoot

True story: I once had a woman in a workshop who put her camera in Continuous mode and every time she clicked her shutter, she held it down and waved her camera in the general direction of a scene until the buffer was full. When I asked what she was doing, she said, “There’s bound to be a good one in there somewhere.” We were in…

Who needs vacations?

I was hungry, wet, and cold. With the blacktop obscured by a slippery white veneer, I carefully followed my headlights and a faint set of parallel tire tracks through the tree tunnel. Though the storm that had lured me to Yosemite was finally clearing, that show was lost to the night and dense forest canopy. But even without another clearing storm to add to my Yosemite portfolio, I was quite content with…

Dinner is overrated (and I have the pictures to prove it)

In my Snow day post a few days ago, I shared the story of an overnight dash to Yosemite to photograph snow. I wrapped up that long day photographing various Yosemite Valley views in the frigid damp, bundled at Tunnel View, waiting in vain for the storm to clear. The sky was darkening quickly, and when a dense cloud engulfed my view I decided my (pretty sweet) day was…